Movement in the world
To me this is a critical element of an MMO, it may sound silly but how my character gets around makes a big difference. My first real MMO was Final Fantasy 11, a game in which your character's feet were essentially glued to the ground. I can't count the number of times I wished I could toddle off a ledge to get down faster. Then I moved to WoW, a world where you can run and jump to your hearts content. But even more importantly, your character feels like they exist in that world.
Guild Wars 2 did a similarly spectacular job of making my character feel like they were in the world on the screen. Wildstar however suffers from strange animation clipping which gave a feel of my character's model seeming to exist in her own space, ignorant of any rules of the world (like gravity). Sometimes when I jump she'll appear to teleport up onto the ledge as the animation cuts out. I applaud their attempt to make more interesting animations, but their implementation results in my character feeling disconnected. The running animations have a similar awkwardness to them, making it seem as though my character has a stick propping up her spine when she sprints.
Though before TESO fans rejoice; TESO was even worse in this regard. I am sorely disappointed that this is getting through in so many upcoming MMOs.
A style all its own
Classifying the art style of Wildstar is difficult; it's like silver-age comic sci-fi had a baby with the Firefly universe and Anime. I've commented on the proportions of the female characters before so I'll leave that puddle of glue alone.
|Exhibit A: A pregnant woman suffering from "Draenei Spine" syndrome|
|How the fuck did I end up back in Northrend...|
|Oh look, Necrons!|
The fundamental piece of Wildstar's combat are the broadcasts that accompany most attacks. Each is distinct, unique, and contains a great deal of information. The problem is that sometimes that information can be difficult to interpret on the fly and I have serious concerns about how much of it people will be able to follow in dungeons. That said, I applaud them trying to move the medium forward and from what I have seen in practice I cannot extol upon this idea enough.
Each enemy has their own special attacks that can have their own broadcasts. Now let me be clear, I am not talking about a plain old red circle. I am talking about a cog-shaped red circle that slowly fills out to show how long you have to get away, which is replaced immediately afterwards with a diamond pattern on the ground that marks the target site of an aerial bombardment. The broadcasts are simply beyond anything any other game I have experienced has tried thus far.
|Those two lines signify when the areas will be hit with the special attack...and this is one of the simpler broadcasts|
Lack of Interface
The game suffers is its UI which I found it incredibly frustrating to navigate. It is not always clear when you are supposed to use your "datacron" communicator (basically SWTOR's holocomm) to contact quest givers, nor is it easy to swap between quests or navigate the lore journal. I made numerous comments about this during closed beta, sadly they seem to have gone unheard.
|And that's just the map...|
While I am not fond of the "trinity" school of class design, there are ways to mitigate my discomfort. The first is to get rid of "pure" DPS classes (or really "pure" anything classes) which Wildstar has done. Every single class can DPS or take on another role, and between the six it is divided evenly between three healers and three tanks.
So now that I've spent the last few paragraphs telling you how awful the game is...well that wasn't really my goal. The game is great, but has some serious drawbacks I felt were worth pointing out. You might read them as "things I hope they polish before release" with the exception of course of my comments on the classes. My thoughts on them could fill a post all its own so I'll save that for another time.