Wildstar clicked over its’ first month recently and because everyone was given a free month, now is when people are making the choice to throw the towel in and move on elsewhere. This is a good as time as any to describe what I like about Wildstar and why I am going to be sticking with the game for the foreseeable future.
1.) There are women everywhere.
There are women literally everywhere in and out of game. Everywhere you turn, there’s women NPCs doing something – helping you train your tradeskills, giving you quests, keeping up with the daily life of your faction, and chattering away about some random topic to another NPC. There’s big names like Avra Darkos, Queen Myala, Artemis Zin, Belle Walker and Sergeant Kara running the show, as well. There’s women in the overarching story like some of the Eldan you interact with via datacubes as well as someone like Drusera.
On top of all of that, I’ve noticed quite a few women in the community as well as at Carbine. Every time I look at pictures of the company, there’s always women being showcased at every level – everything from QA to senior developers.
2.) There’s very few “skimpy” armor designs forced on you.
It almost makes dressing in skimpy outfits impossible. Aside from the occasional pair of early-level booty shorts that gets foisted on you, there’s almost no boob windows and most of the armor in the game for women looks practical and badass. The cut of the armor pieces, even on the more “epic” stuff looks fancy versus being sexual. It’s such a radical change and one that I embrace, even if some people feel it’s swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction. I’m completely okay with my female character being able to costume into the same leather duster chestpiece as a male character and have it look identical.
Overall, there’s only small hints here and there of a world where women are sexualized. My nitpicks about the relative rigidity of body types aside (because they do still embody a very hourglass, typically “sexy” shape), the game balances out the sedate with the sexy with regards to women’s bodies.
3.) Community outreach, attitude and interaction is plentiful as well as positive.
I cannot tell you about how mind-blowing it is to have Carbine so innately in touch with their fanbase. Everyone’s on social media and always turning around to highligh the best and brightest efforts of the community. Whether it be devs having real time conversations with players about bugs on Twitter or joking around on the livestreams (SHADOWBLADES!), there’s never a moment where I don’t feel like my voice is being heard, praised or ultimately recognized in a meaningful way. On top of all this, I’ve generally found the community to be a lot more low-key and positive than other gaming communities. I don’t feel like an outcast for being a feminist. The forums are well moderated and chill, Twitch chat is funny versus frustrating and generally even fan-created content isn’t too overtly problematic. Gaming is overall still a hotbed of toxic behavior but Carbine really goes the extra step (whether it be having a T-rated livestream or having some of their senior developers personally talk to fans) to making me feel included and more importantly, safe.
Basically, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to go to a barbeque with some of Carbine’s more well-known personalities. That should say quite a lot.
4.) Despite the game being oriented towards “hardcore” players, there’s still a lot of stuff for a “casual.”
Whether it be questing, path missions, shiphands, adventures, crafting or housing, I don’t feel like there’s a lack of things for me to do, even as a more casual player with limited time to play. Housing in particular has been a giant draw and far and away one of the best PVE features of the game. It’s something that I’ve actively wanted in a game for so long and it’s such a great addition to Wildstar. There’s a lot of love and care in many of the other features I mentioned, but housing has really carved out a niche in my heart. Giving players the ability to goof off, create their own space or generally experiment with the tools is not only creative but will keep me around for quite a long time. I might not be building a skate park or a Rain-beer Road but I really like that I made my own 4-poster bed with drapes.
Besides extolling the virtues of housing, I truly enjoy the path system in the game. Exploration is not 100% where I’d like it to be because every game always includes invisible walls, but it gives me enough cool side content as an explorer to not care so much. Whether it’s getting to take cool pictures in lonesome vistas, or getting to stumble into a secret side room, Explorer is a great path for someone like me. I recently started Scientist on an alt and that is a great path as well. It feels like the progression through the path system is a fun character growth mechanism that is more about adding fun and additional information to the world versus progressing your gear or score.
5.) The tone is fairly internally consistent, even regarding more dark or serious elements. Nothing feels shocking or “out of place.”
I’ve written about this before, but I feel that it bears repeating. The game does not take itself very seriously, even though it has a serious story thread running through all of it, and I believe that helps balance out what could be considered slightly more darker themes are elements. Upon leveling slightly farther than when I made my last assessment, I will say there there is some troublesome content but given that the game balances it delicately with a slightly more elevated sense of humor and a touch more empathy, I don’t feel like there’s brutality just waiting around the corner to jump out at me. I don’t have this constant sense of dread or “gross” feeling. I don’t feel demoralized as a player on a regular basis, especially as a woman. Your mileage may vary in this regard but I’ve spent the game feeling fairly light-hearted even when I approach more adult motifs in the story.
6.) The game is just FUN!
“Fun” is a heavily subjective, fairly nebulous concept to pin down, but for me, Wildstar is pretty unadulterated fun. Whether it be getting immersed in the lore of the world, enjoying the light sci-fi/fantasy elements or just playing around with vanity stuff, I enjoy spending time doing everything (or nothing, as the case may be.) Wildstar has presented me with a game that I’m enjoying and I feel that that’s a big factor for me in terms of sticking around. It gives me a nice, relaxing thrill no matter what I’m doing and I find myself smiling and laughing whenever I die or level up. I won’t say that Wildstar is a shiny, polished game right now, but I’m wondering if I care all that much? Given Carbine’s trend of plowing through bugs on a regular basis and putting out content on a fairly demanding schedule, I’m enjoying being a part of a new game’s release more than I thought I would.
I don’t think Wildstar is perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t want people to think this glowing positivity means I won’t be critiquing it still, but overall, I’m pretty happy with how this MMO has turned out so far.