Monday, June 2, 2014

The Wildstar Early Access

Over the weekend I participated in the Wildstar early access period.  Participated probably isn't the right word.  I spent 16 hours over two days playing the game, according to the /played command.  I set aside the weekend for playing Wildstar, but I didn't realize how much I played.  But Carbine made playing that much relatively easy by allowing those who had pre-ordered the game to perform the download ahead of time and to launch at 0700 GMT (midnight in California).



Now, I was smart enough not to stay up all night to log into the game with the initial rush.  I heard the servers couldn't take the traffic.  I stayed safely asleep, ran errands in the morning and logged in to create my character around 1600 GMT.  That was enough time to let all the super guilds establish themselves.  I heard that the AIE guild1 from World of Warcraft swamped Stormtalon, with the server having incredibly long queue times.

In fact, although I never experienced a queue, I'm sure the reports will spread that Wildstar suffered from not having enough servers.  In a lot of cases, I think Carbine is using the old I playbook and just letting the queues happen.  I'm not sure how many servers were added, but my impression that the EU received most, if not all, the new shards.

Queues were not the only technical issues experienced.  The servers were rebooted at least three times that I can recall to install hotfixes.  Indeed, my only difficulty entering the game over the weekend occurred after one of the reboots when I received a network error after logging into the authentication server.  I'm not sure if rebooting helped, or if a network fix occurred that coincidentally occurred at the same time I performed the reboot.  Hey, stuff like that happens.

Creating my character was a bit of a challenge.  I'm not really a fan of all the races.  For the Exiles, I like the human females and the male Granoks.  On the Dominion side, I'd play the Cassian female, the Chua, with the Cassian male coming in a distant third.  But as I am holding on to the option of applying to the Gamebreaker Nation guild, I rolled an Exile human female engineer/settler.

As it turns out, the engineer can perform either the DPS or tank role.  That makes things a bit interesting.  I'm still not really sure which stats I should concentrate on.  For my build, I'm going down the utility slice of the wheel, knocking down my cool down times and increasing my resistance to crowd control effects.  Combat has a resource called volatility which powers attacks.  So I have an attack that produces volatility, one that uses volatility, one stun, one escape and two robots.  That's right, robots.

My character at level 12
The engineer is the pet class, as far as I know, of Wildstar.  I currently have two, a tank and an artillery bot, that can both come out at the same time.  The robots are nice.  I can send them in to pull, or at least draw aggro, until I eventually pull the aggro onto myself.  When all else fails, I can run away and the robots will cover my retreat.  Well, unless they die in the attempt.

The settler path is one I like.  I can build or add to objects that give buffs to all players in a zone.  On one occasion, I was able to build a mortar and was able to call down fire support to take out troublesome pockets of resistance.  Very cool.

I'm now going to complain about something that often bugs me.  My character wears heavy armor.  Yet, once I got to level 5, my character was given almost nothing but short shorts to wear.  Even the armor I could craft turned out to be yellow shorts.  Guys, I understand that Laura Kroft was cool, but really, why shorts in an area covered in snow?  The photo above has my character wearing the only long pants she owns.  Everything else looks like the below screenshot.

Emerging from an escape pod.

Aside from offending my fashion sense, I'm finding a lot to like.  The double-jump feature, while I'm not very good at using it, is fun.  At one point I was on quests hopping around a mountain with a buff that turned my character as light as a feather.  From what I can tell the game contains a lot of jumping puzzles.  If I see a lot as a settler, I wonder how many explorers see.

The crafting system holds some promise for the crafter.  Carbine addressed the issue of a lot of crappy crafted equipment in the auction house by giving an incentive to salvage the extras for parts.  Also, players gain experience by doing work orders, which means turning the items only made for leveling into an NPC for experience instead of having the gear take up space.  But don't take my description as meaning that crafted items are not good.  I'm only at level 12, but the gear I can craft as an armorer is definitely an upgrade.  Of course, that could change at higher levels.

The story is ... well, I don't want to give any spoilers.  As a new IP, Carbine needs to give players in one faction to hate the other.  A lot of people won't pay attention to the story, but for those who do, expect the story to get a bit dark.  I've called the game Loony-Toons style for a reason.  On the surface it's a lot of fun, but if one pays attention, adult themes are presented.  When I hit level 6, the announcer said, "Shit just got real," in a cartoony type of fashion.  About 10 minutes later, though, shit got real serious.  I can't go any farther because I don't want to put in any spoilers before the game even does its full launch.  Let's just say I was a bit taken aback when I realized what had happened.

I guess I should add this bit of news for all the multi-boxers who utilize software like ISBoxer2 to multi-box.  That's not allowed.  Before logging in for the first time, I actually read the EULA and knew that Carbine would probably prohibit the use of ISBoxer and other multi-boxing software.  The response from Carbine's customer service confirmed it.  The only thing I'm wondering is what protective measures Carbine is putting in place to protect their client.  I get the impression their Game Surveillance Unit is not going to fool around.  Here is section 7, paragraph D of the EULA.
(d) Carbine HAS THE RIGHT, BUT NO OBLIGATION, TO MONITOR OPERATION OF ANY SERVICE, CONTENT OR GAME AT ANY TIME AND IN ANY MATTER, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO MONITORING COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS INTERFACES, STORAGE DEVICES, RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY, OR CPU PROCESSES RELATED TO HARDWARE YOU USE WITH THE GAME. SUCH MONITORING MAY ALSO INCLUDE, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, MONITORING FOR THE PURPOSES OF DETECTING THE GAME UNDER SECTION 8(c) or 8(e). YOU CONSENT TO THE FOREGOING MONITORING AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT Carbine MAY, AT ANY TIME, AND IN ANY MANNER, COMMUNICATE ANY INFORMATION BETWEEN HARDWARE YOU USE WITH THE GAME AND ANY MECHANISM Carbine MAY CHOOSE FOR SUCH COMMUNICATIONS. YOU ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT AS A RESULT OF SUCH MONITORING Carbine MAY IN ITS REASONABLE DISCRETION TAKE ANY ACTION, OR NO ACTION WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
(i) CHANGING ANY PORTION OF THE SERVICE, CONTENT OR GAME;
(ii) SEEKING RECOURSE AGAINST YOU BY WAY OF ANY PROCEEDING Carbine DEEMS APPROPRIATE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES; AND/OR
(iii) DETERMINING THAT YOU ARE NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT AND TERMINATING YOUR ACCOUNT UNDER SECTION 3(b). CARBINE HAS THE RIGHT, BUT NO OBLIGATION, TO PROVIDE YOU WITH NOTICE BEFORE SUCH TERMINATION.
I probably will get into the EULA in another post, but I thought I should mention it now.

How do I feel the game is performing?  So far, so good.  The technical difficulties didn't interfere with my play too much.  I avoided the rush and got on a medium-pop (for now) shard.  My computer is handling the game well and I'm not experiencing glitched quests.  More importantly, I found the game fun and interesting.  Will my opinion change later?  That's always possible.  I had that happen in Star Wars: The Old Republic with the Smuggler's story line.  But for now, I'm happy.



NOTES:

1.  The AIE guild's EVE Online branch, AIEU, is a member of Brave Newbies.  Members of AIEU run the Cap Stable podcast.

2.  I used ISBoxer as my example as that is the multi-boxing software I am most familiar with.

1 comment:

  1. I'm fascinated because I've a few friends from WoW who don't like EVE and I want to game with them again. I think we'll let things stabilise and get our respective summers (them: holidays, me: the usual random wandering in EVE). I haven't heard much bad about Wildstar as yet which means it's got ESO beat. Keep on keepin' us up to date! What news of CREDD?

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