MMOs, by their very definition, are social games. When you get Massive amounts of players together, they are going to want to communicate with each other, and there are always systems in place to make that happen. In WildStar, there are several Social Systems available, but not all of them work the way you would expect them to, and at least one of them has fallen victim to counter intuitive game design decisions. But let's take this one step at a time, so that you understand where I am coming from with both my praises and my gripes.
The social systems you have access to when you first start the game are fairly basic. After a fresh character is created, you find yourself in the tutorial starship belonging to your appropriate faction, and your channels for interacting with others are the standard MMO methods: /s (Say) will talk to whoever is standing nearby, /w (Whisper) and /aw (Account Whisper) will message someone privately, /y (Yell) will shout loud enough to reach more people, and you have access to the a zone-wide chat channel /z (Zone) that will make sure everyone in your current map will know your opinion on your topic de jour. No real surprises so far.
Then you have the extended chat channels, /t (Trade), /v (PvP), /i (Instance) and /a (Advice). Each one is meant for discussing particular topics and can be hidden from your chat box at your convenience. Want to sell a cool blaster you just found? Need to ask how why a certain quest giver isn't responding to you? There's a channel for that. While having a separate Advice channel is pretty novel, these are still pretty much what you would expect from a modern MMO.
Where things start to get interesting is the inclusion of user created Chat Circles. At least, I thought that was where they started to get interesting - after some rudimentary exploration, it turns out that they are just a fancy way of referring to a custom chat channel, akin to the Linkshells in Final Fantasy XI or XIV, or custom numbered channels in World of Warcraft. They do allow you to set moderator-like ranks, though, and have an easy-to-use graphical interface, so that's a plus.
There are also the standard Social Lists that we have come to know as essential tools for managing all those people you meet out in the digital wonder: a Friends List and an Ignore List. There is even a third list, Rivals, which I can only assume is for keeping track of greaser that stole your girlfriend and is going to challenge you to a race around Dead Man's Bluff on the night of the prom. If only I had a Credd for every time *that* happened to me.
Jumping ahead a little (don't worry, I will backtrack) you will find yourself able to establish a Guild at level 12. For the mere cost of 10 gold coins, you can create your own custom decal design (from a combination of background icon, foreground icon and optional "scan lines") and gather up a group of adventurers that will all work towards a common cause, which in this case is building up a currency called Influence and unlocking a tiered selection of Guild wide perks. It definitely gives some added incentive to get a Guild going beyond just gaining access to a /g (Guild) channel.
Now enough about what works, what I really want to talk about (read: complain about) is what doesn't. If you currently feel that Carbine can do no wrong, or that WildStar is the next "WoW Killer", you may want to stop reading here. I won't hold it against you. For the rest of us realists, its time to press on.
Coming back around (I told you I would backtrack), there is one social channel that you have access to from the very beginning of the game that is horribly broken, and that is the /p (Party) chat. Not that I am saying that /p doesn't work, because you can still effectively communicate through it. But I assert that forming Parties with your friend (and with strangers, for that matter) has some serious issues in the low levels, and its not directly from any fault of the Party system itself. The issues stem from the fact that the developers seem to have forgotten that people in Parties *like* to play together.
After the end of the faction-specific starship tutorial area (around lvl 4-5), players are finally allowed to set foot on the world of Nexus. The problem stems from the fact that, based on what race you have chosen, your characters arrive in different starting zones, and sometimes even different locations within those starting zones. While having different starting zones based on race is nothing new - it's been pretty much a standard MMO trope since the days of EverQuest - in almost all other games you can run (or corpse run, depending on how unlucky you are) to meet up in a common location. I can't begin to count how many times I've made the lvl 2 Night Elf dash through Wetlands in order to avoiding the mind numbing starting quests of Teldrassil in WoW. But lets say, for sake of argument, you want to dash your Aurin through Everstar Grove > Celstion >Thayd > Agoroc and finally meet up with your friend playing in Northern Wilds? No go, pal. At the end of Everstar Grove is a portal that you *must* be on the appropriate quest to pass through, effectively locking you in the zone for 3-5 hours of questing and leveling without your friend. This is why when we attempted to play our first GameGeex live Twitch stream of WildStar, you only got the "Party A" experience while "Party B" adventured off on it's own.
If that isn't aggravating enough, check out this scenario: Mandifesto and I made two Warriors, a Human and a Granok, as a test. We both selected to go to Northern Wilds to start off, and we were placed in different parts of the zone. I took my Human Warrior and ran over to where her Granok Warrior was standing, and I wasn't able to take any of her quests. Same class, different race, no quest available. I had to return to where I had started and we each quested individually until we met up together as our quest chains merged, roughly 45 minutes or so later.
I know this may sound like a lot of whining, but this is an honest and serious complaint - When I play MMOs, I almost always do so to play with my friends, and it strikes me as frustrating when there are game mechanics in place to actively prevent that from happening. When it comes to game play time, I seem to have less and less as the years go on, and an even smaller percentage of that coincides with times that my wife can also play. So on the rare occasions that the stars align and we can both play something, I would rather that we play a game together than to have both of us separately playing the same MMO a mere 4 feet from each other because the designers decided we can't play together. That, in my opinion, constitutes a failure in the party system, one that puts a tarnish on the otherwise brilliant gem that Carbine has crafted.