I’ve been playing the hot holy hell outta WildStar since its launch in July. I was one of the game’s detractors due to its design choices, both gameplay and artistic. After a while, though, I’d gotten over most of the design decisions (and by extension myself) and started taking the game by its merits as a game.
At launch, I was not incredibly disappointed. Though there are some quibbles I still have with the title, it’s still one of my favorite MMOs going and I see myself visiting the planet of Nexus frequently and repeatedly as The Pink Lightning, Kael Dashwind.
That said, I started hearing the sound of sizzling as my brain got fried over the tenure of my initial romp in the game. Little things that otherwise would have slid off my back began to grate, and I just found myself not having quite as much fun. Usually the three month mark is when retention gets to its lowest, and I was following the pattern. That said, I was with an amazing group of people who also played and I made a character whom I adore roleplaying as.
Even though MMOs are, by their very nature, designed to be immense time sinks, I never really did ascribe to the idea of being a content locust. I always try my best to really swirl the game’s flavor in my mouth, note its bouquet and really get immersed in its narrative and universe that was built. But for the same reason people need a vacation from their jobs or their homes once in a while, so it was with me and Nexus.
So, what to do? I got a palate cleanser.
You’ve all heard those breakfast cereal commercials that try to deflect the fact that they’re a box of sugar with sugar marshmallows and a sugar-coated toy from China inside…the little disclaimer that mentions that their box of Explodie-O’s are “part of a balanced breakfast”? That’s how I feel with regard to MMOs. They’re escapes, they’re virtual worlds that a character can be crafted to populate…but in the same way you would plan a vacation to someplace entirely different as a means to refresh and recharge, so I do with MMOs.
Balance, here, is the name of the game. With regards to Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar, they share some similarities in a brass tacks level mechanically. Beyond that, they are two different games. Two wholly different worlds that are crafted well and can only really get better as time moves on. The divergence is key–while they both may feel the same in a gameplay standpoint, they’re two separate and unique experiences.
There’s this weird stigma that there should only be one MMO title, or that achieving some mutant metric of player numbers is the only way a title from this genre succeeds. I don’t buy in to that. Ask anyone who’s locked into a single cable company if they would rather invite some competition, or think about whether or not your cellphone carrier would be as reliable or offer the deals they may offer if there wasn’t other choices around. Competition has, is, and forever will be a great thing, not only for the consumer but for the developers as well. It defeats complacency and makes those who make games think harder about how to draw people away from an established title to try theirs out.
We have choices. Divergence is a good thing…and if you’re anything like me and you feel that one MMO is beginning to wear thin, consider switching it up. Try a new flavor, or maybe hop on to a different platform entirely. You might be surprised at how much more you’ll enjoy that old, reliable standby game because you had decided to include a rotation instead of exclude all of the wonderful different options out there. Salsa would be pretty boring if all it had were just tomatoes.
I will always encourage anyone reading this to nibble different things. It’s a combination of tastes that create a balanced breakfast, after all.