I picked up WildStar a few weeks back. I started with a 7 day trial and was sold within a few minutes. It's a great game, but it's also some damn fine science fiction.

I started on the Exiles side and from the opening scenes, it was clear: the war was over and we weren't on the winning side. We were on the run from the Dominion in an old and busted colony ship, and it had made its last jump. We made it to Nexus and that's where we were staying.

The Exiles are a loose association of four races - the Granok, the Aurin, the Mordesh, and some humans - who have been persecuted by the evil Dominion empire. The Exiles are the Rebel Alliance, the Independents, etc. This is a space western. Mal Reynolds, Han Solo, Zoe Washburn - they'd have fit right in here and been big damn heroes.

There are two main story arcs unfolding on Nexus. There's the world story arc: What did the ancient Eldan get up to on Nexus? Then there are regional story arcs: What are we doing in this area to advance my faction? Within those arcs are various sets of quests called episodes that advance the smaller stories - racial stuff, faction stuff, backstory about the leader of each race, etc.

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I started as an Aurin which is sort of a tree-hugging space squirrel from a forest world called Arboria. They are deeply in tune with the natural world around them and most of their story lines are about preservation of nature and establishing a new home on Nexus after the Dominion destroyed their home world. There's a strange dichotomy between their tree-hugging and their murderizing. Plant 10 trees! Set 10 Dominion troops on fire!

It took me awhile to figure out why a gentle race like the Aurin would be just as eager about planting trees as setting people on fire. This happened through liberal application of lore - one thing WildStar does very right. There are books, data cubes, and access panels scattered everywhere. If you want to see the story, you can. If not, pass it by. Some of the lore is funny - a dirty robot love poem called "Annihilate My Lubrication Pump" from one Freebot to an ancient Eldan murderbot. Some of it is political - hilarious 'found footage' type of propaganda from the Dominion. Some of it is deeply sad - a letter from a traumatized Aurin who can't stop hearing the screams of the trees as the Dominion devastated her home world.

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I haven't played on the Dominion side yet but I can tell you this: I hate the Dominion. I hate them. All the lore I've discovered has been cleverly skewed toward making me love the Exiles and absolutely despise the Dominion. Even when there are hints that maybe the Exiles aren't lily white in this conflict, my reaction is either to gloss over it or to feel pleased that we hurt those murdering bastards. I feel certain that Dominion players are similarly manipulated into hating the Exiles.

All in all, Carbine has done a beautiful job of telling a compelling and, at times, painful story. Not gonna lie: I have teared up a few times at things I've come across. A main character dies and there's a memorial hologram of her standing there with her head bowed. That's a nice touch, I thought. Then I noticed her dog. He stands there, staring at the hologram, his posture alert like maybe she'll start talking or petting him or being alive again as long as he keeps his eyes on her. Any minute now. Any minute.

What I'm saying is, buy this game.