On Tuesday I bit the bullet and bought Wildstar – in a box, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to play until nearly July! (Downloading large files – Wildstar weighs in at over 20 GB – over a rate-limited, metered connection is an exercise in patience.) I still ended up downloading nearly 1.5GB in patches during the install, but it was finally ready to go Sunday morning.

(An aside: Wildstar comes on three DVDs. Remember when World of Warcraft came on four CDs? That’s a maximum of about 2.6 GB, as I recall. How times have changed!)

Wildstar feels an awful lot like Guild Wars 2 mixed with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Like GW2, it has a very mobile combat system; in fact, Wildstar‘s is even more mobile and quick-paced, since nearly every ability can be used while moving and abilities are generally skillshots rather than attached to a specific target. Like SWTOR, the quest system is dynamic, and again Wildstar takes it a step farther. While I haven’t run into class-specific or race-specific quests, a third character customization, path, has abundant custom quests, and certain aspects of the world do change based on your race and class.

The races of Wildstar are divided into two factions: the Dominion and the Exiles. This actually is a little frustrating, not only because faction-based player divisions feel a little outdated but because the Dominion are so blatantly the Bad Guys in a way the Horde and even the Sith never were. They are an empire based, at least from what I’ve seen, almost entirely on the idea that they deserve to rule, and the Exiles having rejected their rule – in at least two cases because the Dominion destroyed their planets – is seen not only as an affront but as a reason to treat the Exile races as Less Than.

The Dominion are so outright evil that I almost expected the Emperor to be Snidely Whiplash. A recent post on Mapjabbit talked about an Exile-side “torture” quest, a fair way into the game, that turned out to not actually involve significant torture at all. Meanwhile, one of the very first quests as a Dominion character asks you to assault citizens with a shock prod to convince them to undergo a mind probe, and when some of those citizens are identified as disloyal, they are, in groups, incinerated, dissolved, or transmuted into horrifying ooze-beasts that provide the character’s first combat encounter.

If you’re prepared to accept comedic sociopathy, you can probably withstand Dominion-side play. If you’d rather a more light-hearted game… well, Exile appears to be the more common faction for a reason.

Anyway. I’ve logged less than 10 hours playing so far (across four alts) and I haven’t even reached level 10 – but if someone asks you what I’ve been playing, now you know!

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