(It was a year ago that I said I was going to try to post here once a week. We see how well that’s gone!)

Wildstar continues to be fun, although the lag is frustrating. It’s much more of an action MMO than I’m used to – more so than GW2, which has a similar dodge mechanic that I never use – and while getting out of telegraphs was doable early on, the difficulty ramped up around level 10 and I found myself constantly taking damage.

Still, I persevere. Theande, my Mordesh medic, is level 16 now, and doggedly pressing onward. I’ve been able to assemble a mix of damage and healing skills that allow me some additional survival without sacrificing too much killing ability, and I’ve been paying more attention to Optimal Builds so that I can keep my killing capacity up. Ultimately, I can take at-level NPCs without too much trouble, and that’s really all I need. (If a higher-level enemy, or a strong at-level enemy, shows up, I can just wait!)

The game is still lovely to look at. Celestion, the Aurin/Mordesh starting area, feels like it’s been designed to ease the transition for players coming from Pandaria, with its rolling green hills and flowing rivers (and they do flow – this is the first MMO I’ve seen with water that moves your character). Thayd, the main Exile city, feels like a mishmash of each race’s sensibilities, just as a refugee city should, plus a central section lifted straight out of William Gibson’s Sprawl.

One thing I do have trouble with is Challenges. They’re intended to be done as you pass through an area – typically, they match something you’re doing anyway – but they’re timed, and since killing mobs and completing objectives takes me longer than other characters (because of both my lag and the suboptimal build I have to use to compensate for it), I rarely come through and complete a challenge on my first try. Thankfully, you can come back and try again later; at higher levels you get less XP and rewards that are less meaningful, but the completionist in me appreciates that I can finish them.

Ultimately, Wildstar is not just World of Warcraft with a hat on; it’s its own game in its own world with its own mechanics and quirks. (And lots of fun jumping puzzles – those I can do!) Someone who is expecting WOW 2 is going to be disappointed – and I know a few people who were and are – but if you can break out of the WOW mindset, it’s worth playing.

(The UI is still pretty awful, though.)

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