It is one thing to watch an online video of a game being played and it is entirely different sitting down at a computer and actually experiencing it. When we first got a chance to play Wildstar at Arkship EU 2013 I saw that cutscene of a spaceship landing into Deradune on my computer screen (that we saw in the online video weeks before) and I got excited.
Deradun is a level 6-12 zone for the Dominion faction. You start out in a Draken village, which means you will do hunting and skull collecting right away. I started with a level 7 spellslinger and at first I felt a bit overwhelmed. I missed the introductory first levels and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. There were quests to pick up and apparently some were part of special quests chains while others were your regular “run of the mill” quests. As soon as I exited the village I got more things to do in form of special Explorer missions and than there were challenge missions. Quite frankly I felt a bit overwhelmed at first. My OCD was telling me “DO ALL THE THINGS”, but within the first 15 minutes there were so many things to do that my poor brain felt a bit overloaded. Than I realized – I don’t have to do all the things. I can do the things I feel like doing at that moment.
Oh my god, “Play as you want to play” motto Carbine has been using all this time, actually shows in the game! Carbine provides you with bunch of stuff to do (and I mean bunch) and you can do whichever one you feel like doing at that moment. When I felt like questing there were many quests to do in that area. When I was bored of that I got distracted by these achievement quests where you have to (for example) kill 6 mobs in an area within 5 minutes. If you kill 10 you get a “gold medal” and better reward! I lost at least 30 minutes doing that. Soon I realized I was playing for an hour and I did not move 100 feet from the starting village. I still had stuff to do in the area and I was still having fun.
I went exploring, to see how that will work out. Oh look, there’s an oasis here protected by a circle of lasers and inside you get to kill little Aurin and there’s an achievement for that as well as a hidden cave you, as explorer path character, can enter and there are more Aurin to kill inside. OMGWTF is this big green giant monster level 11 attacking me? I better get out of here – oh look, a beanstalk I can jump up on and keep jumping and OMG what a beautiful vista from here and look, I can click on this explorer thing here and more leaves come out whaaaaat? Then a pop up comes and it says Metal Maw is waking up – would I like to teleport to the event? Apparently, Metal Maw is a public event where you get to kill a monster with other players questing in the land. You need at least several groups of low level players to do this (or one very well organized group). I don’t want to explore anymore. I want to kill giant monsters – yes, please!
This is what playing Deradune is like for the first time. You see an online video and all you expect is a copy of Barrens. Instead, you enter this beautiful looking land with adventure pouring out of every corner that is as unique as they get. Watching it being played felt nothing like actually playing it. Action oriented combat with telegraphs made it unique. New land with never before seen lore is what makes it unique. Fantastic graphics engine makes it unique. Great number of (almost fully completed) in-game systems, constantly giving you choice in what you can do, makes it unique. In short, I did not expect it to feel this fresh.
I would also like to mention the graphics engine powering Wildstar, which is probably one of the best MMO engines I have seen so far. You see the land around you and things far away look as vibrant as those close to you. As you move through Deradune you seamlessly cross into different looking parts of the land that are similar to the overall feel of the land, yet distinctly different. Best thing? You can go into other regions on the same continent with no loading screens (yay). Things are cartoon-y, but the overall spirit of the game is such as well, so you don’t really mind. Things to do are in abundance and the fun factor was high all throughout our playtime. If Carbine manages to keep the intensity they brought into this early land of Deradun I seriously think we have a winner here folks.