I've had WildStar on my radar for quite some time, but it wasn't until after playing the game for myself that the MMO elbowed itself onto my extended list of games to watch in 2013. Carbine Studios and NCSoft recently invited us to take a look at their upcoming MMORPG, giving us a truckload of details about the game, alongside some solid hands-on time. Suffice it to say that I came away impressed, and am looking forward to seeing what direction the devs take with their new entry into the MMO genre.
First things first: we were privy to no small amount of content, some of which we can share now, and the rest of which you can check out in Part 2 of our preview, which will go up on February 13. So if you're interested in knowing more about the game's second faction, the Dominion, its races, a new class, and my hands-on impressions, be sure to check back then. Otherwise, read on for details about WildStar's story, world, and gameplay, the Exile faction, and the newly revealed Deradune zone!
For the uninitiated, WildStar is a scifi fantasy MMORPG set on the planet Nexus, with a story that focuses on the conflict between the Exile and Dominion factions. Nexus was once inhabited by the Eldan, an ancient, powerful race, whose strange magic and powerful technology are currently strewn about the planet, alluding to some crazy event in the past. Now, everybody wants a piece of the action, with your own reason for coming to the planet depending upon your character's Path.
Alongside the game's classes, which are still being revealed, WildStar features a Path system that draws upon common MMO player archetypes. These Paths include Scientists, who have come to Nexus to figure out what happened to the Eldan, and Soldiers, who are game to find and fight the toughest foes in the galaxy. Settlers have made the trip to build a new homeland, while Explorers, as you'd expect, are there for the thrill of discovering the unknown. WildStar allows you to pick a Path alongside your class, both of which will define and shape your character and experience throughout the game's content.
The Exiles are a motley bunch of outcasts, rebels, and mercenaries who deem Nexus as their hope for a new home, and are comprised of the Human, Granok, and Aurin races, presumably along with as-yet-unrevealed others. The Exile Humans are interstellar adventurers who have allied with the rock-like Granok, bad-to-the-stone galactic mercenaries. Rounding out this crew are the Aurin, cute bunny-like people who are protectors of nature. We'll talk more about the Exiles and their conflict with the Dominion in Part 2 of our preview.
The Carbine team members believe that you should be able to play the game according to your own play style, and are developing WildStar with the intention for players to level in a large, interactive world, with a variety and density of interesting content available. This world is modifiable by both the devs and players, and will offer several types of level cap content, including skill-based and competitive group raids, solo story content, and a PvP mode that is as of yet unannounced. The only thing we know so far about WildStar's PvP is the presence of Warplots, giant shared battle fortresses that can be shaped in ways similar to those found in the game's housing system.
WildStar's gameplay experience also hinges upon its dynamic combat system, which puts together freeform combat with "telegraphs." These combat telegraphs display cones and areas of effect on the ground in front of monsters as well as players, allowing you to get a sense of the "tapestry of the battlefield" and know when and where to dodge or focus your attacks and heals. They remind me a bit of a similarly employed system in Funcom's The Secret World, although WildStar's combat telegraphs provide illustrations for pretty much every kind of attack.
While Carbine has revealed a lot of information in their "WildStar Wednesday" previews, they still have a lot to share in the upcoming months, including more races, classes, and areas, details about the Scientist and Settler Paths, additional features, and info about the game's business model and live plan. They'll be announcing a bunch more at this year's trade shows and events, leading up to a closed beta soon and launch in late 2013, "when it's ready."
New Region: Deradune - The Hunting Ground
In our preview, we got to check out the newly revealed zone of Deradune, a level 6-12 area that serves as a hunting ground for a race that we can't talk about just yet. In this region, already littered with mobs, you'll find cages dropping down at random containing tough monsters to fight, all for the glory of the hunt. You'll receive more rewards for fighting near an NPC Huntress, and can expect to find a variety of quests, public events, and other activities.
Deradune is one of many regions in WildStar that have underground (or other) networks that allow for easier travel throughout the zone. Some entryways to these networks seem to be accessible by all characters, but Explorers will have the clear upper hand in being able to open more of them. For some time after an Explorer delves into the underground warrens, it'll be possible for other players to follow them, encouraging teamwork and collaboration. Along these lines, Explorers can also create things like ledges and unlock other situational objects in the world from which others can benefit. These types of Path-specific skills are an interesting way to further distinguish player characters outside of their class, and I'm interested to see what kinds of things other Paths can do.
Deradune spotlights many of the different types of content that you can expect to see in WildStar. The zone is largely quest-based, with not as many zone events as, say, Guild Wars 2, but with enough dynamic content to hopefully keep the experience fresh. About 20-25% of content in the region is Path-based, and there are public quests, such as one that allows you to collect monster skulls and add them to a central structure, which rewards you with reputation based on skull sizes and eventually spawns a "Bloodfeast" buff for everyone in the area.
The game rewards you for playing with other players, and is designed towards making some of the hallmarks of MMO questing more streamlined. Mob tagging, for example, is generous, meaning that you'll get credit and your own rewards for helping un-grouped players, but not as much experience as the person who initiated combat. It should be relatively easy to drop in and out of parties, with some incentives for grouping, but by and large, Carbine wants players to have the ability to play solo or in groups of two to three in the open world. Larger groups will be needed for dungeons and raids, while some public events and world bosses will scale. Additionally, you'll have a cell phone-type communicator that will allow you to receive calls from NPCs while in the field, letting you keep adventuring without having to run back to town every other minute.
Overall, Deradune seems to be a clear snapshot of what to expect from Carbine's MMORPG in general, and shows off the game's very charming art style and sense of humor. It has, for example, a crazy looking in-game monster that was designed based on fan input, along with quirky and memorable NPCs with distinctive personalities throughout. It also demonstrates some of the thoughtful design choices that Carbine is making with WildStar in terms of content. Something I liked in particular, for example, was hearing that while Deradune is an open world experience, players will spend some of their earlier levels in instanced areas to protect the beginning experience from the masses trying to play at release.
Be sure to check back for Part 2 of our WildStar preview, which will cover the newly revealed Dominion races, a new class, and my gameplay impressions from Deradune!
You can follow Som on Twitter and chat about WildStar @sominator.