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The Nexus Telegraph

The Nexus Telegraph: Is WildStar a World of Warcraft clone?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

This isn't a metaphor.  Metaphors are subtle.
No.

That was quick, so we can all -- oh, wait, no, I need to write more. Also saying we can all go home is pointless; most of you are reading this from home. All right, we'll start over. This is one of those things that gets trotted out every time a new game comes along, and in WildStar's case it comes out twice as regularly, since it's the first game in history to use colorful and stylized graphics other than World of Warcraft, except that it isn't.

It's kind of ridiculous, and it's a bit of a pet peeve. As someone who has played World of Warcraft extensively, I find the list of similarities between the two pretty shallow, and it comes across more as a way of dismissing the game without bothering to learn about it. So let's talk about where WildStar does take its cues from Blizzard's game, where they differ, and why saying it's just a clone is absurd.

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The Nexus Telegraph: What it means that you can buy Wildstar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

The answer comes, crashing through the window... yes, father.  I will launch the game.
On March 10th, I opined that we were close to seeing a release date for Wildstar, along with the end of the NDA and a real change to beta structures. On March 12th, Carbine Studios announced all of that. Prescient? Possibly.

All right, no; I just made an educated guess that turned out to be educated completely right. Astute readers will remember that I also made an educated guess about Medic and Engineer that turned out to be more or less completely accurate, as well, so I am apparently on the same wavelength as the people over at the studio. I didn't find out I was right on the money until you all did.

That having been said... do I need to stress that this is a huge deal? Here's a game that fell under the "most anticipated" header for this site two years in a row, and now it's finally going to be a thing. We're finally moving out of beta testing and into launch. So let's talk about the impending launch, the pre-ordering, and all that comes along with both.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Between the lines of WildStar's quiet weeks

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Quiet is a relative thing.
Did you miss us? I know, it was probably weird not seeing an installment of the Nexus Telegraph last Monday, since I sort of have a reputation for turning in everything early and without fail. (Like the week when I had no power and still turned in my columns.) But there's no need to worry; we're still going live biweekly.

Or were you mostly missing the weeks in which we were absolutely swamped by WildStar news? It certainly seems a lot more quiet lately. We've gone from big system reveals to a few tidbits here and there; the two big stories over the past two weeks have been confirmation that we're not getting another big wave of beta invites and that the game's default UI is being revamped. These are both worth talking about, but in this case I think the silence actually says quite a bit all by itself.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's NDA and impending release

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I hope it's been good, I hope you've had fun.  I wish it had been longer.
The release date approaches for WildStar, and that day is... entirely unclear. Maybe it'll be next month; maybe it'll be six months from now. The official word is still silence. Mirroring that silence are the game's current testers, still under an NDA that prevents them from talking about the game even as we in the press can talk about much of the content and leveling currently in place through both text and streams.

Are these relevant points to discuss? Yes, they really are, especially in the wake of two prominent illustrations of what can be done with testing phases and NDAs. So let's talk about the NDA, the lack of a release date, and how those elements might tie into one another. Especially as we're coming off of a weekend when more people got to try out the game, it's important to talk about when the gates and the lines of communication will be opened.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Stuff the endgame needs in WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

There should be a wide-open space.
I'm going to go ahead and totally dispense with any vagueness here because we already know that WildStar will have a raiding endgame and a PvP endgame. That's great, that's valuable, that's absolutely nothing. That's exactly what lots of games launch with. It's what lots of games consider their bread and butter.

It's also not going to cut it. If WildStar sells itself on providing the exact same endgame that we've seen in every other game ever, I'm hesitant to say "it will fail," but it sure as heck won't be dazzling anyone three months out from release.

You can't make a game with the selling point of "play however you like" and then surreptitiously add "except when you get to endgame, and then you'd better raid, buddy." With that in mind, let's talk about what the game needs in terms of endgames that we don't see on a regular basis.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Making it how you'd like in WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, Crafting, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I made that!  Well... all right, I didn't.  But I'm going to unmake it!
I freely admit that I have not dived heavily into crafting in the WildStar beta, for the same reason that there is a lot of stuff in the WildStar beta that I have not heavily invested in. That reason is simple: I plan to be playing this game for a long while, and I'd really like to avoid burning out before it even releases. I didn't adhere to that rule in the Final Fantasy XIV beta and kind of felt the pinch, so this is a rule I learned the hard way.

That having been said, I've fooled around with it enough to be really excited after the last interview I had regarding the crafting experience. What I heard confirmed my limited experiences and offered some interesting food for thought. There are a couple of elements that might seem counterproductive and a lot more that are worth looking forward to in the future.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's greatest opponent is WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Do you want to be yourself, or do you want to be a second-rate copy of someone else?
Your real opponent is pretty much always yourself.

I could spend the next several years of my writing career trying to be a better writer than, say, Justin Olivetti. I'd fail, for starters, because look at the guy. But even if I could succeed, I'd never be living up to my potential. I'll always be the guy trying to be better than the last thing Justin wrote, never coming up with my own things, never really advancing myself. The only way to be truly good is to try to be the best writer I can be, regardless of who else is out there.

What does this have to do with WildStar? Simple. I mention other games here, other releases looking at the same window, but WildStar doesn't need to be better than those games, up to and including The Elder Scrolls Online. WildStar needs to be the best version of itself that it can be. Its only real opponent is itself, not other titles.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Everyone's got active combat, and so does WildStar

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

If you are confused, get out of the red; if telegraphs hit you, soon you'll be dead.  Your skills lay blue templates on the ground, use them as guides as you're moving around.  Stand just outside of the bad, now face west - think about rotations, wonder why you haven't, now stand in the place with a cure, now face north - think about the red that just popped up and wonder why you're still standing there.
WildStar is launching with active combat, but let's be totally honest about something: The whole telegraph system is not exactly as special now as it might have seemed, say, three years ago.

Guild Wars 2 has active combat. Ditto TERA, ditto DC Universe Online. The Secret World makes use of telegraphs all over the place (which kind of feels like a kludge, but so does most of the game's combat system, so there). Even Final Fantasy XIV -- a game I have noted on many occasions as having a much slower and more tactical combat pace -- makes heavy use of telegraph mechanics. And The Elder Scrolls Online is certainly launching with a more active combat system, to boot.

There's more to WildStar than telegraph markers, though. So it's time to talk about what the game actually does in terms of combat that's interesting and novel. We've been told that the active combat of the game is a big deal, but is it actually revolutionary, an evolution, or just another thing?

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Exiles of WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Cold as the northern winds on December mornings...
It's a truism you can see in literally any project you undertake: As a project wears on, standards for success slip lower and lower.

The Exiles of WildStar have seen their major project go on for a very long time now. It started with Brightland's rebellious activities, yes, but at the time, those were actions of protest. That was a long time ago now, down what seems like an almost unfathomably far road. The Exiles of today certainly aren't fighting to reverse policies or change the Dominion; they're fighting for a home.

We're introduced to the game's setting as a conflict between two opposing factions, but let's not mince words. The heart of the conflict has been over for a very long time now. The Exiles lost. What players will be jumping into is not the latest part of an ongoing struggle but the last stand of one faction that survives partly on the simple ignorance of its greatest enemy.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's great big sexist elephant in the room

Sci-Fi, Culture, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Let's see.  The two of them are nearly the same height, except she winds up at that height largely because her torso is significantly shorter and her legs are significantly taller.  Her shoulders are barely broader than her lower both while his torso is nearly as wite as her torso is tall.  His standing pose is relaxed, hers is thrusting her chest outward.  His arms are nearly as thick as his legs, while hers are thinner than her artificially elongated and slender neck.  I can keep going.
There's a subtle problem in WildStar that we've all seen lurking around the edges. It's not huge, and it's not glaring, but it's there, and it's pretty obvious. It's the elephant in the room, and much like the traditional elephant, it's something absolutely no one wants to actually point out because it is not fun to point out.

But it's pretty obvious as soon as you look at the races that the male Mechari are built like linebackers and the female Mechari are wasp-waisted blowup dolls in a permanent pair of heels.

I've been a fan of WildStar since its first teaser trailer, and while I'd hoped for detailed character customization, the beta came without any body sliders or any other options for customizing a character's build. And while the Mechari are easy to cite as problematic (mostly because none of the other women has high heels as part of her feet), this sort of subtle and passive sexism weaves its way into the game on a consistent basis.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Cassians of WildStar

Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Best in their minds, at least.
Imagine, for a moment, that your self-esteem has been validated completely by an external force. In fact, let's turn that up a little more -- let's say it's been validated by every single person you've ever idolized. Imagine that they all showed up at your front door and said you were awesome and that if you would just give them your cat, you would be granted a marvelous dominion over everything.

First of all, it would be time to say goodbye to the cat. Second, it would mean that from that moment on, your future actions would all be entirely validated no matter what you did. Seriously, how could it ever be otherwise? Every authority you respect came around to tell you that you are supremely awesome, and you are apparently the last person any of them talked to.

This should give you the barest hint of what it's like to be one of the Cassians in WildStar. You are born into greatness, into a legacy of being the greatest thing ever, and you don't just have to live up to that legacy -- you have to outdo it.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's year in review

Betas, Sci-Fi, Culture, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Because sometimes you might forget who the author is, right?
I started this column early in December of 2012, which means that as of now I've been writing about WildStar once a week for a little over a year. It's also nearly the end of the year, which makes it an ideal time to write about the changes that we've seen to the game over the past year. So I'm just going to go ahead and ignore the slight discrepancy and use this column for both year-in-review elements.

Obviously it's not exactly possible to look back at the changes to the game over the past year, since we're talking about a game still in the midst of its testing cycle. But we started the year without even knowing about one of the game's factions beyond a vague mention, much less the game's lore and classes. So let's look back at the last year of news and the last year of columns in their entirety.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Aurin of WildStar

Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I don't like shooting people, I'm not good at it - I mean, I am good at it, but I don't feel like it's normally justified, but you are... never mind.
The Aurin aren't the same as their allies in WildStar. The humans are still fighting a long, lonely war against the Dominion for slights that were so long ago the Dominion has likely forgotten about them. The Granok persist in their fight out of a dogged need to make their exile from the homeworld seem palatable. And the Mordesh have a long history of loathing to go along with being undead monstrosities, for which they (somewhat unfairly) blame the Dominion.

But the Aurin? They aren't fighting for anything. They were dragged into this war by humans, propelled by a promise that grows ever more unlikely in its potential fulfillment. All that the Aurin wished to do was help people in obvious need, and their thanks -- and ultimate reward -- seems to trap them in an endless cycle of violence in which they're not naturally inclined to participate. In some ways, they're the most victimized race of the Exiles because they're limited by not just the Dominion but their fellow faction-mates.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Talking a bit about WildStar's beta

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Surprise again!
As you probably saw last Thursday, the 1-15 beta experience in WildStar had its NDA lifted for us schlubs in the press, allowing us to chatter on quite a bit about the game. We've seen articles discussing the early levels, we've seen streams, and we've been treated to a surfeit of information on the game in its current beta state.

I talked about all of that, and I want to talk about it some more because I am really excited about it. After playing the game through to 15, I've got a lot of stuff to look forward to as well as some definite criticisms. So above and beyond what I've already said, I want to talk some more about WildStar's beta.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's last two classes

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Classes, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Domo arigatou, Mr. Robotos.
In the wake of last week's class reveal, I'm going to start with a piece of information that was actually revealed shortly thereafter but might have been missed. According to the development team, the Chua can be Medics as well. So now, WildStar's full class and race layout has been made public, and what seemed to be a single odd omission is now corrected.

You might recall that I did some serious class speculation when we didn't even know what the last two races were going to be back in March. Now we know the last two classes of WildStar and I can see how good my aim was. And once I'm done congratulating myself on fitting together pieces of obvious information, we can talk a little more about what the last two classes are actually doing within the context of the game. That seems fair, doesn't it? I'm glad you agree.

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