I have to tread carefully here because of the NDA but I will articulate some thoughts on Wildstar. I will state, up front, that Wildstar is a well-crafted MMO. It is quite obvious, from the moment you start the game, that the developers have worked hard making the game. They imbued it with a solid world, a good story and a quirky sense of humor sharper than anything this side of World of Warcraft.
All that being said, I will not be playing Wildstar at release. I enjoyed all the things I mentioned above but there are a few things that just turned me off. The good news is that all of the things that I did not like are completely personal preferences. From a mechanics standpoint there is nothing at all wrong with Wildstar. Bugs are few and far between, the engine runs fairly well, the quests worked. All the mechanics are solid.
Where Wildstar falls down for me is mostly in its presentation. It is simply too cartoony and bright. Oh god, is it bright. It is a veritable kaleidoscope of colors. Imagine World of Warcraft turned up to 11 and you have Wildstar. There are plenty of people out there who will love this, I am not one of them. My Saturday morning cartoon days are long behind me.
This kaleidoscope of colors extends into the combat and is even more distracting because of it. Wildstar borrows a lot from Guild Wars 2 by giving you the ability to dodge away from attacks. Almost every single ability is telegraphed by a brightly colored box, arrow or cone on the ground. The intent of this, of course, is to tell your character to get the hell out of the way and it serves its purpose. But, like what Wildstar does with WoW and graphics, it does the same when it borrows from GW2. It turns it up to 11.
The boxes and the arrows and the cones are simply too damn much. They are over-saturate the battlefield. Instead of paying attention to my character, or even my opponent, I was always looking at the ground to avoid some brightly colored box. Take a look at this video to see an example.
Do MMOs need to be dumbed down this much? I remember the days when you watched your opponent for a tell-tale animation to decide when to interrupt or line of sight him. That no longer seems to be the case. Now we need a huge neon box to tell us that the bad guy is gonna do something bad. And its not just the occasional ability, it seems to be every single ability. Every. Single. One.. Elder Scrolls Online uses this mechanic at times but keeps it toned down to the occasional ability and never in PvP. Wildstar makes abundant use of this in PvP and it just annoys the crap out of me.
Yes, you can turn off these neon DANGER boxes if you want. But if you do, you will be instantly at a disadvantage because everyone else will have them on. It would be like playing ESO in first person, while everyone else is in third. It creates too big a disadvantage to turn them off.
Even if I was able to get passed the cartoony, bright graphics and the neon DANGER boxes, the game just wasn’t interesting to me. I found the quests boring and mundane, despite the quirky humor. There was nothing that grabbed me. Nothing at all. It felt like WoW in space. I have been playing WoW for years, I don’t need to play it in space.
This is exacerbated by the fact that Wildstar seemingly offers nothing new at endgame. Endgame will consist of…..get ready for this…..battlegrounds, arenas and 20 and 40 man raids. Well, that isn’t exactly earth shattering. Haven’t we been doing that for the last 9 years in WoW? I just can’t do it anymore.
Literally, the only thing that Wildstar seems to offer that WoW does not is the action style combat. But they even screwed that up for me with the neon DANGER boxes. Its a shame because I enjoy some of the humor in the game and I actually looked forward to playing an engineer. There was a lot of things that I looked forward to in Wildstar but none of them survived actually playing the game. That is a shame.
However, as I said above, most of these are completely personal preferences. There is nothing wrong with the game from a technical standpoint. Nothing at all. There will be people who enjoy it and I am sure the game will do fairly well, its just not for me.