WildStar Is the Best MMORPG That Deserves to DieJan 19 2024 Community News WildStar
As the years went by, I expected the number of Reddit threads and video game forum posts about WildStar to decrease, but the game never really seemed to die. Although WildStar’s servers were officially shut down in 2018, the game died for me in 2015.
I always look back on my days playing WildStar fondly. Every time I go down memory lane, I try to judge whether or not I’m wearing rose-colored glasses, but I don’t think so. There are many things that WildStar does right and many other ideas that make it unique. It still has some of the most challenging and rewarding MMORPG raids ever created, one of the best housing systems ever created, and a truly unique world design; it even manages to offer a wide array of races that don’t cross over into space elves, dwarves, humans, and orcs.
Despite the amount of fun I had with WildStar, and the fact that I have yet to find another theme park MMORPG to replace it, I can now look back and understand that WildStar deserved to die. I have defended WildStar to the hilt in the past, blaming the game’s demise on NCSoft’s corporate greed with its rush to finish an unfinished game and slow response to fixing bugs, however there is a deeper issue that cannot be dismissed as simple incompetence.
WildStar Life Cycle
Given that it’s been over 7 years since I logged into WildStar, I had to piece together what I remember with my usual monthly column. From what I remember, during the first year of WildStar’s life there were 3 main phases that most players had to go through: leveling, attunement, and raiding.
It’s not unusual for MMORPGs to have a different feeling when transitioning from the leveling phase to the raiding phase with some attunement requirements in between, however WildStar was a completely different beast.
One thing WildStar does right is its tutorial. Despite being a very long introduction to MMORPGs, Crimson Isles was one of the most engaging starter zone experiences I’ve ever played. Unfortunately, after that the game transitions into a fairly typical theme park MMO experience. Accept your mission at the hub, kill or collect some stuff, then hand it back. Sure, there are some public events and trade skill related missions along the way, but nothing that really breaks the standard formula.
Personally, I didn’t care much for the leveling up experience in WildStar and even opted to complete a few levels by just doing PvP battlegrounds. While the quests are fairly generic, I think the Adventure system is a nice change in dungeons.
Instead of the typical Point A to Point B dungeon structure, WildStar creates Adventures that change based on group choice. This means there are often multiple scenarios and endings to each Adventure. Unfortunately, this often leads to debates about which final boss to fight as each boss has unique items, and most public groups often want to take the fastest or easiest adventure path.
Reaching max level in WildStar is not a huge challenge. It can be done through quests or PvP battlegrounds, and even on PvP servers there aren’t many challenges that delay players from reaching level 50. However, after reaching level 50, the difficulty increases significantly for anyone looking to raid, which is honestly the only thing to do besides PvP.
The attunement process has almost become a joke among the community because of how long and difficult it is. Many sites even created infographics detailing everything that needed to be done, and even those infographics were several pages long. At the time, there was an outcry from many casual players because some of the tasks seemed almost impossible, but after I switched to raiding, I knew that if you couldn’t complete the attunement process then raiding would also fail the range.
The main problem with the attunement process in WildStar is how unrewarding it is. It basically boils down to a few time gates, such as grinding Elder Gems, reputation, and killing world bosses. Having to kill 10 world bosses is often the most problematic as they don’t drop anything useful. This means that the only people who kill world bosses are the groups that do attunements, and those aren’t always available. I ended up getting around this a few times by tagging bosses and letting enemy factions kill them, but it does require some incentive to keep groups actively working on these bosses.
In addition to the time-limited content, there are some gear and skill checks along the way. Earning a silver medal for each adventure and veteran dungeon is no joke. It basically requires perfect runs while completing bonus challenges. Technically, you can still earn silver by dying, but having to reset fights often fails to meet the time requirements. Again, this isn’t very rewarding either since to achieve silver you already need the best drop from the veteran’s dungeon.
Finally, after completing the 11-step attunement process, players can enter the Genetic Archive raid…and be promptly slaughtered. The raids in WildStar are the best I’ve played in the entire genre, but also the most brutal.
The guild I finished the silver dungeons and adventured with was only able to kill one mini-boss in a Genetic Archives raid after a few weeks. Shortly after, I moved to another guild that managed to kill the first 2 bosses: Experiment X-89 and Kuralak the Defiler.
Experiment X-89 was mostly focused on tanking and proper positioning. The entire fight took place on a series of platforms that were destroyed based on the attacks the boss used. This leads to increasingly smaller spaces to fight in and players can be knocked off the platforms, which often leads to some hilarious deaths. I don’t think Kuralak is particularly fun, but the fight requires all attacks to be in sync or everyone will be wiped out by debuffs.
Next up is the Phagetech Prototype and Phase Maw. This prototype is one of my favorite attacks to tank in WildStar. The fight involves 4 different bosses with unique abilities and 2 active at any given time. Since the bosses phase at different times, there is a lot of tank swapping and boss stacking to maximize damage output. This also makes the fight dynamic and chaotic as you never know exactly what you’ll get in what order.
In contrast, Phage Maw is a fairly straightforward fight that mostly consists of boss kills and bombs placed around the room in turn. After a certain point, the bombs become uncontrollable and the entire raid will be wiped out regardless of how well you play, which makes most fights a DPS check.
The fifth raid boss in the Genetic Archives is the Phageborn Convergence, which actually consists of four of the five bosses that will be randomized each week in the encounter. Unlike the Phagetech Prototype, these individually felt like full bosses and my guild never made it past this point. Despite only making it to 5 raid bosses, the complexity and challenge of their mechanics still impresses me even today. I am aware that WildStar eventually released more raids, in addition to Genetic Archives and DataScape, but I hear these never lived up to the original.
A Narrow Experience
While I loved the challenging dungeons and raids in WildStar, focusing on these was also its biggest downfall and why the game ultimately deserved to die. With only one difficulty setting for its raids, WildStar’s end game was out of reach for most MMORPG players. The attunement process alone has weeded out many players and I know many more who quit after being unsuccessful for weeks in the Genetic Archives.
Aside from raiding, there isn’t much to do for casual players. The build is relatively simple and exists to support raiders. For a long time, there was no treadmill equipment available outside of raiding. All ranked PvP content gave access to the same gear, which was the equivalent of veteran dungeon drops or mini-bosses dropped from raids. After that, there’s basically nothing else to do.
The PvP side of the game is also underdeveloped. I love jumping into ranked combat when I’m not preparing for raids, but PvP rarely receives updates and when it does, it often comes with game-breaking bugs. The simplified gear between PvP types doesn’t help either. Ranked Arenas, Battlefields, and War Plots essentially give access to the same gear.
This creates issues with arena victory trading, which gives many players an early edge in raiding and PvP. Although Warplots, a 40v40 PvP death trap, sounds like the coolest thing ever, I never really experienced it because finding 79 other players to PvP with without a decent reward was literally impossible. I know a lot of raiders and hardline PvPers on my server, but I’ve only heard of a handful of people who have played Warplots.