So hello, subscription MMOs. We meet again.
I would really like to be able to tell you all about Wildstar. I’d like to be able to tell you about healslinging, which is shooting people in the face with love (seriously) (well, and sometimes also the back) (but always with love). I’d like to be able to tell you about how completely charming cartoony pulp wild west in space is, and how the slow build of lore (told through Precursor-narrated datacrons) makes reading the in-game database so much fun. I’d super like to tell you about how the delightful dynamic combat makes even Kill Ten Rats quests super fun, and how learning which effects have which telegraphed shapes is more of a delicious jigsaw puzzle than previous frustrations of learning just how wide a frontal cone attack is (frownyface at you, SWTOR). I’d like to be able to talk about how utterly satisfying it is to doublejump to the top of a mountain and see giant terrifying killer death robots rampaging through Archeology Excavations Gone Wrong hundreds of miles below you.
I’d like to be able to talk about all of these things, but I can’t.
I can’t because a month after release, even with rested XP and my authenticator XP buff, my “main,” Brittany Morris, Spellslinger Extraordinaire, is level nineteen (and even then only just barely).
It’s not because leveling is hard, or isn’t any fun. I actually really love exploring (Brittany is, of course, Explorer path) and the art design in the entire game is like a delicious chocolate chip cookie made of many tinier chocolate chip cookies, for an infinite recursion of joy. I love posing in double-whipped pistol stance and spraying bullets of love and also death in a wide swath in front of me and I love ridiculous zero-g jumpy puzzles and god knows I love building silly web apps for in-game data. It’s not even that I’m making a 200-mile move in two weeks with two tiny children and not nearly enough packing, though that’s the excuse I should probably be using. But no, the reason why I am still level 19 is because there’s a small problem with the leveling game, and the problem is this: at level 14, you get a house.
You guys. YOU GUYS.
Housing is everything I loved about SWG (oh, SWG, how were you so very very good and so very very bad ALL AT THE SAME TIME) with the added benefit of furniture and other delicious decoration available though quests and challenges and not just through two weeks of grinding out the architecture profession (but hey, architects do make some seriously badass shit). One thing SWG didn’t give me was the option of scale, which Wildstar does marvellously — you can have a teeny little mushroom garden or a giant Wonderlandian mushroom forest with the same items, just differently scaled. It’s GLORIOUS.
There are enough individual unique pieces of plain-old construction material (2x4s, wall panels, floor panels) that you can even construct your own house from scratch or buy a pre-fab house — for example, I’m using the rocket house, because OF COURSE I AM USING THE ROCKET HOUSE — and build out the inside yourself. So far in my experience the pre-fab houses are just big empty spaces, but you can put in walls and stairs and build out additional floors inside and it’s awesome. A real conversation in my real-life actual house went like so: “Honey, you should know it’s probably bedtime.” “I can’t, I’m fixing my staircase!” “It will keep until tomorrow.” “But what if someone comes to visit?!”
Because you can visit. Like SWG, you can set your house private, public, or neighbor-only, and those people you have authorized can come party at your house. No option for personal auction houses for crafted materials yet, though — ALAS (this is okay because I do not understand the Commodity Exchange at all anyway). I love visiting other people’s houses and seeing what awesome things they’ve done with painstakingly placed Algoroc Bent Trees and Neon Beer Signs, but I am admittedly terrified they will be there when I show up. Like hello, stranger with the open house! PARDON ME I AM JUST ADMIRING YOUR STAIRCASE I PROMISE I AM NOT A CREEPER
My very favorite thing, and the reason why I spend 98% of my gaming time holed up on my plot, is that UNLIKE SWG, you don’t get just a house: you get a house and some land. You can plug a bunch of prefab things into it, like raid portals and crafting stations and zero-g jumpy puzzles that award you fancy dyes or plushies (NOT KIDDING, PLUSHIES, SERIOUSLY PLUSHIES) but that is not important. What is important is that any decor you can put in your house you can also put OUTSIDE your house, which means: TREEHOUSE TO THE STARS, MOTHERFUCKERS.
I haven’t made it to the upper limit yet (at least I’m pretty sure there’s a ceiling, there has to be a ceiling), and I’ve been too busy actually building it to decorate it, but you guys. 2x4s to climb up a tree to floating Escherian platforms hanging in midair is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me in a game. To ANYONE. The only problem is this tendency I have to accidentally delete the piece of floor I’m standing on, which sends me plummeting to my death because I have done this more than once and my Explorer slow fall has a cooldown. Don’t do this, you guys. Send to Crate is THE WORST, take it from me.
Considering how expensive housing decoration is and how you DO get decor rewards from quests and dungeon drops, the common wisdom would be to level first and decorate later. I tried that! That’s how I got from 14 to 19. But every time I leave to go shoot some angry bees in Galeras (not kidding) I start thinking about how cool it would be to make a giant plushie petting zoo on the top floor of my giant treehouse, and I port back. I can’t help it, it’s like a sickness.
So I guess that’s all you need to get me to pay a subscription fee: giant plushies and infinite 2x4s (which would also make a good band name).