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WildStar Column: The Year Ahead

By William Murphy on January 05, 2012

2012 is a crowded space for the MMO industry already.  But where does WildStar Online fit in for 2012?  Sure NCsoft has GW2 (hopefully without delay), and there’s Funcom’s The Secret World, and Firefall, TERA, likely a WoW expansion, and likely Planetside 2 and a few others I’m forgetting too.  It’s a great year to be an MMO gamer, or should be.  But where does that leave Carbine’s WildStar?  Let’s take a look at what we’ve seen so far from the unveiling, and hazard a few guesses at what 2012 could bring to this interesting new sandbox/themepark hybrid MMO.

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Alpha = Looking Good

One thing’s for sure from 2011’s unveiling and subsequent press buzz: WildStar Online’s interesting, looking polished, and a whole lot of fun on the show floor.  Usually when companies unveil a game, especially in the alpha state, you get a good idea for the concept and shape of a title… but when WSO was shown this summer it became quickly apparent that the game was in a polished, playable and fun state.  Maybe it was just smoke and mirrors, but the art style, paths, and general design of the game’s content seemed rock solid with hints and teases from Jeremy Gaffney and the team about what’s to come.  It was the perfect taste of a new title, and stood tall right next to the heavy hitter Guild Wars 2 at NCsoft’s booth.

More Nexus!

I don’t think we’ll get much more than the possible beginning of beta for WSO this year, but aside from that I expect we’ll learn a whole lot more about the game in general.  First up, I’d like to know a lot more about the game’s planet: Nexus.  In the alpha state, we’ve really only seen the beginning ice-like areas, and a bit of one jungle-like place in a hands-off video.  But the setting and art-style of WildStar means the team can be as crazy or traditional as they’d like to be and I’m really anxious to learn more about this ancient place and the race (and technology) we’re hounding once we land on its surface.

More Races and Classes

I may be wrong, but I don’t think Carbine ever specifically stated that the few classes and races we saw at the shows would be the ultimate of the game’s breadth.  I expect the four paths are it as they fit the Bartle Types to a tee, but there’s a lot more room for experimentation in terms of races and classes.  Character customization looks to be a large part of the WildStar experience, so hopefully we’ll learn a good deal about all that in the coming year.

PVP Systems Anyone?

The path system presents an interesting opportunity for Carbine to avoid the current trend of “instanced PVP for gear” that’s rampant in most AAA MMOs these days.  I’m hoping they’ll take the interesting task opportunities their path system presents and run wild in some world PVP scenarios… furthermore, I’d just like to see how players will be matched against each other in general.  Will it be factional or what?  What will we fight for?  Will it just be another excuse to grind gear, or will Carbine give us a reason to care about the battles and struggles of our allies?

The Settler Revealed

Speaking of paths, the one we didn’t get to see at the shows was the Settler.  I think I speak for all of us social and building types when I say: explain now!  Or at least sometime during the course of the year.  The general idea Jeremy told us about was that a Settler player might have quests and objectives to bring people together, build up towns, install defenses, and the like.  But I’d really like know just how far they’re going to take this and I hope it’s something more than “collect materials, click button”. 

Anything I Missed?

I’m sure there is a lot more we’d all like to know about WildStar, so lay it down for me in the comments below.  You never know who might be reading, plus I’d really like to get some ammo for the hounding of the developers we’re going to be doing all year… for you!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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