Carbine Studio’s upcoming Wildstar has an ambitious goal to say the very least. It seems as if the game they’re trying to build is looking to appeal to MMO players across a broad spectrum of genres while still maintaining a solid traditional MMO core to its mechanics. To that effect much of the in-game content that players will experience is going to depend on what Path they choose to take. Paths help to guide the content in a direction that suits your natural gaming tendencies. If you like to run around, climb hills, and discover new areas and artifacts, then you may find the Explorer Path more fitting than the combat-focused Soldier Path. There’s still a more traditional class system in Wildstar that features several options, but Paths exist to offer up players a more focused experience that doesn’t waste time with content you’re not interested in. Now as Carbine prepares to move Wildstar into its next Closed Beta phase they’re ready to reveal more info on the two other Paths players will be able to choose from: The Scientist and The Settler.
Along with their trusty scanbots, Scientists scour the land researching and analyzing the local plant and animal life. They can then use what they learn scanning flora and fauna to gain new skills and enhancements. They can also use their big brains to do things like solve puzzles. No puzzle solution is ever the same twice however thanks to an algorithmic system built into the game to stop players from going online and spoiling the challenge for other people, so the next time you hit a set of switches to open a door you’ll have to figure it out all over again. Scientists can also hunt down hidden lore spread throughout the world and can even find items that will lead to unique quests only available to them.
Settlers have a more industrious role to play in Wildstar and provide teams with buffs and support by building structures. It’s almost like playing as a builder from an RTS title like Age of Empires in a MMORPG environment. Settlers can gain experience by expanding villages with things like markets and pubs, as well as setting up campfires, buffer stations and vendors for other players to use at outposts scattered throughout the in-game world of Nexus. You can also play handyman and fix things around town such as lampposts that need to be relit and gather supplies to complete new city expanding buildings.
During my hands-on time with both paths I definitely leaned towards the Settler path more than the scientist and spent a lot of time wandering around town and checking out what I could build and fixing barriers for outposts. During my time with both paths, however I tended to lean more towards the non-combative fetch quests like gathering sparkling blue crystals with anti-gravity properties called “Loftite” and doing things like disarming mine fields. Super-jumping around loftite covered hills and not getting blown up by mines were achievable goals in my solo experience, taking on groups of enemies, not so much. While small 1vs1 or 1vs2 encounters were manageable, mostly due to the games telegraphed combat system, which shows you the AoE of an enemies move before they perform it and giving you a chance to dodge before you get smacked in the face by a monster, larger encounters were very challenging and are definitely going to require partnering up with other adventurers to complete.
My overall impression is that Carbine Studios is trying to build an MMO for everyone and a lot of that has to do with the Paths system honing in on what people actually want to do. Allowing players a chance to focus on their personalized experience while still interacting with other players in their own experience is definitely going to appeal to a broad range of MMO players. There looks to be plenty of challenge for players who are looking for it, but at the same time there’s a lot of casual side quests for more melancholy players. It feels like it’s endeavoring to let you do what you like within the world of Nexus. Beyond the catered paths experience things such as the intricate house building system which has you clear your own land of debris and things like undead animals in a pet cemetery before you can even build a house give the game even more depth and ways for players to spend their time outside of questing.
With all that said, Wildstar is still a ways from being released so it will be some time before we find out if it lives up to its hype and if the gameplay experience holds up beyond the brief glimpse I was given. There’s a lot of potential for success if this new franchise can deliver on what it promises. We’ll have to wait until later on this year to find out if it fully delivers.