But Rallying isn’t the only cool feature that’s designed to help players keep playing together in WildStar. Like any good game, it will have a Mentoring as well. You can mentor down to your friends’ level at any time to join them, get XP, and appropriate rewards. Old content is never obsolete this way, and unlike ArenaNet’s system, you can choose when to do it, much more like the old CoH system, or even Rift’s current one, in this way. If you want to just power your friends through a dungeon? Go for it, but the rewards for all of you will be hampered. If you do it with Mentoring turned on, everyone can get rewards, but it’ll obviously be harder.
Now, let’s talk for a minute about attributes and Attribute Milestones. Stats are big deal in any RPG or MMORPG, but they’re often too simple or too complex, without really giving players much choose beyond “what kind of gear do I want”. Carbine’s designed a system that has your character gaining extra boosts in attributes, and even extra skills that change the gameplay of your character, simply by gaining enough of certain stats. Note that WildStar’s stats are named in a “WildStar-y” fashion: moxy is stamina, grit is magic, brutality is strength, etc.
So let’s say you’re building a Warrior, and you’re stacking Brutality. If you hit a certain number in Brutality, maybe you get some boosts to secondary stats that compliment it: damage boosts, chance-to-hit, and so forth. But then there are the major milestones in your attributes, that might even give you a brand new skill to use in combat. Conversely, you might also see some great boosts and skills in other attributes, and it’ll be your choice as to how you build your character’s attributes and how it will affect your gameplay. A Warrior will always want Brutality, but maybe he can get some killer boosts and useful skills from stacking a little moxy too. It’s a min-maxer’s dream.
Jeremy mentioned that even now, it’s fun to watch these early testers find a lot of their hidden content, called Discoveries. Little dungeons, shrines, buffs that attract monsters and give side-missions, and even little micro dungeons. There’s a lot of cool stuff in every zone that’s up to the player to explore and find. He mentioned again the Ore Worms that have a chance of spawning when you go to mine some ore. You kill it, you get to go inside its dead carcass and mine ore from its insides before it collapses in on you. The team assumes that players coming into WildStar have kind of seen it all at this point in their MMO career, so they throw as much variety and cool stuff at you as they can to ensure you’re entertained from your first step into Nexus until your last... and they hope you never take your last. But Jeremy said, along with the raids, Warplots, and more, they’ll be detailing their big plans for the elder-game in the coming months leading up to launch.
Another thing the Gaffer noted was that Houston will be opened up to players in CBT2 as well. Houston is what they’re calling their add-on and mod creation tool, and the team believes player mods are exactly the sort of thing an MMORPG should allow, because the games are all about community, and why not let that community help make the game better?
Speaking on the paths (WildStar’s sort of secondary classes that focus on killing, exploring, achieving, and so forth), Jeremy mentioned that Settlers seem to be a wildly popular path. They expected the settlers to love working on Infrastructure aspects: building towns, adding shops, and so forth. But what they didn’t expect was for people to love “Min-frastructure”: the act of keeping the cities and towns at full-tilt by turning on street lights, fixing broken fences, and signs, and so forth. It really taps into the OCD mentality of players, which spells my own doom in this game. The Scientist is another path that will be something for the completionist, as they have these sort of bingo chart of checklist full of things to research in each and every zone. Some are easy, and some are difficult, and achievers will fawn over them.
Illium is also making into this phase earlier than Jeremy and the team expected. The capital Dominion city, run by none other than Mr. Malvolio (see below). The entire city wasn’t supposed to be done, but rather just a “placeholder”, but the team came in while others were away at a preview event and did it in time for CBT2. Shows what you can do when your staff is passionate about a project. It reminded Jeremey of another feature they haven’t yet revealed (but he felt like doing so for us): HOUSING DUNGEONS.
Housing Dungeons are little things you can gain through various means to add to your housing plot. They can be solo or mini group dungeons, and are only accessible from your own private land. The team’s already designed eight, and more are coming before launch. They expect them to be a thing of pride for players to have on their plot.
Raidframes are also in testing internally, as the team preps to open up raids to the testers down the line. Raids will be dynamic experiences each week, and Jeremy wasn’t shy to say they’re designing raids for the raiders of the world. They feel like the Raider has been forgotten ever since WoW came out, and Carbine believes they can do the raid game better than anyone. To that end, the design and challenges of the raids will change weekly, and you’ll have guilds of all walks fighting it out to see who can beat it first, who can beat it fastest. One week, maybe only the elite guilds will tackle a Raid. But then the next, maybe a smaller more casual guild will have the right build and groups to get it done before anyone else. They don’t want people using walkthroughs on Youtube to beat their Raids, and the changes they’ll make to Raids each week, combined with the active nature of combat, will make sure of that. You won’t beat their dungeons by gaming the UI or following some set group build and rotation...you’ll actually have to be good at the game and work well with your teams.
Jumping over to Crafting, Jeremy talked a little bit about Coordinate Crafting and how it relates to cooking, which ties exploration into the act of finding and improving your recipes. Maybe you make a great sandwich. But then your crafting UI will let you know that you can make a better one if you find other ingredients, and it’ll act like a treasure map showing you a vague area where perhaps even better ingredients can be found... and it won’t be the same for everyone. Again, they do this because they don’t want you to just go to the internet and find a walkthrough. They want you to do it on your own, or at the very least get advice from others. But no “do A, then B, and succeed”.
The Architect, as another example, can make cool stuff for housing, quest nodes in the open world, hedge-mazes for housing plots, stuff for PVP Warplots, etc. But it’s not just decorative. Everything the Architect makes, or almost everything, is about active utilities for the game. It has to do stuff. Just like the mining with the Ore Worms, they want players actively playing the game, not watching the UI.
There will also be tons of new abilities for each class in this beta, as seen in the video on movement below. One thing Jeremy noted about the Stalker class specifically in PVP battlegrounds, is that they can’t just hide in stealth. What fun is that? So they made sure that the people spectating in Smash and Grab will throw beer cans at the stealthed Stalkers when they stay stealthed too long doing nothing. It’s like a Cleveland Browns game, I guess.
Warplots will be a diferrent story though. When the team’s ready to show them off fully, you’ll get a DevSpeak video, press demos, beta players, all of it. They’ll probably be put in around CBT3 or 4, five to twelve weeks from now. A Warplot, for those not in the know, is a giant flying fortress you design with your Warplot team. This team doesn’t necessarily have to be your guild, either. Think of it a like a guild specifically for Warplots. It’s a 40v40 PVP experience, and your team can have alternates for those times when it’s hard to have all forty online. Just the same, you can bring in “mercenary” players to fill out your team as needed. The whole thing levels up, gains weapons, facilities, buildings, and so forth that you add on it. Warplot battles will have you land your plot by another team’s (and they will be different from each other), in order to sort of raid the opposing fortress and loot it for resources and equipment. It’s construction, plus fighting, plus crafting, plus explosions and giant lasers all in one. Your Warplot will start small and grow bigger as your team gains more and more to add to it. As for how it will all work together? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
THE END... FOR NOW.
Jeremy ended our extremely informative chat by saying they’re adding a few thousand more people to CBT2. But they’ll also have a big stress test shortly after, with 15,000 more added for that test. After the test, anyone who logged in and was there to help break the servers will be added in slowly but surely to CBT2 and 3. As quicklu as the team feels the servers can handle it.
WildStar is into information-spreading mode, folks. They’re building deep into beta, ramping up to launch. If this little gem was off your radar before, I sincerely hope it isn’t anymore. Unrevealed classes and races are still coming, as is information on the elder-game, Warplots, crafting, and more. Carbine hopes to make this the Summer of WildStar, and it might be working. Their flagship title, long in the making, seems like it could be a excellent blend of themepark traditions and sandbox experimentation. If everything they’re aiming to do hits the mark, WildStar could easily knock us all off our feet and in the best way possible.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy 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.