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WildStar Interviews: Focused on Customization

By Michael Bitton on January 29, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an AAA MMO put as much emphasis on player customization as Carbine Studios has with WildStar. Released just this morning, the latest DevSpeak video focuses squarely on the myriad ways Carbine will emphasize customization in the game. As a “fussypants” myself, I have to say I was genuinely excited by what I saw. We recently had an opportunity to discuss most of what was shown in the video in greater detail, so let’s get right to it.

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Housing

We’ve known about WildStar’s housing customization for a while now, after all, it was the subject of the game’s very first DevSpeak video. But things have changed somewhat since then and we’ve learned a bit more about the feature overall.  You don’t have to take my word for it, the latest DevSpeak video makes the variety on offer readily apparent, but there are some more nuanced details to talk about. For one, you can change lighting on a room to room basis and you can even change the lighting of your entire plot. Day? Night? A constant barrage of fireworks in the sky? No problem!

 

One of the more interesting and recent changes is Carbine’s shift away from a socket based system for exterior house design.  Previously, the interior decor of your house was free reign, but the exterior required you to place certain objects in specific sections, or sockets. Now, you’ll have the same freedom of options for decorating the exterior as you would the interior of your house.

Keep in mind that you’ll still be limited by the plugs/sockets system for amenities on your plot, however. There will be a limit to the amount of vendors or other amenities you can add to any given plot (2 large, 4 small). There is a bit of a workaround, though, and that leads into the next subject on housing: neighbors and roommates. In WildStar, you can add friends as a “neighbor” and this allows you to visit their house and utilize their amenities. You can also add a friend as a “roommate” which gives them permission to decorate your house. This can be done with your alts, too. This means you could technically daisy chain a bunch of plots together across a number of your own characters and, in a sense, bypass some of the limitations you’ll encounter. 

Another key social feature of housing is the ability to allow visitation rights. If you allow visitation rights on your property, random players can come by and check out your house. If you don’t have a ton of friends in the game, this could be a really awesome way to meet other players. 

For progression, you’ll acquire items for housing through many areas of the game, ranging from PvE content like dungeons, achievements, or even crafting. You’ll get your first house, a smaller plot, at level 15, and then later on you’ll get a larger plot. Houses will also be race and faction specific. For example, you won’t be able to have a Chua house as a Mordesh, but decorative props will be mostly neutral (90%+).

One of the few examples where you’ll find some faction-limited customizations is with ‘biome plugs’.  Biome plugs allow you to unlock the ability to pull from a chunk of a zone and use it as the aesthetic for your plot. These plugs are unlocked through the reputation system and you won’t be able to earn reputation for zones exclusive to the opposite faction, making for one of the few cases where you’ll be limited by your faction in terms of housing customization.

 

Mounts

Everyone loves mounts, but it’s no secret that they’ve been somewhat marginalized with recent MMO releases where teleporting around is often a readily available option. WildStar is going a bit old school with mounts. As such, you’re going to need mounts in the game to get around as Carbine feels being able to fast travel just makes the world feel much smaller. In addition to offering a variety of mounts, including a hoverboard and racial mounts (such as a Chua ball), you’ll also be able to customize your mounts. Again, you can see the variety in the DevSpeak, but to be more specific, your mount will not only be a method of travel in WildStar, but also a status symbol.

Pieces of flair, as Carbine described them, can be unlocked to decorate your mount, with separate customizations available for your hoverboard and ground mounts. After all, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to have a bowl of ramen on your head as you ride around on your hoverboard, though Carbine’s example here does offer a fairly hilarious visualization that almost seems appropriate for this particular game. Like housing, these customizations can be unlocked in a variety of ways, and some will be harder to acquire than others, offering players a way to use their mounts as a sort of trophy display. Customizations are all unlocked permanently for your character, too. This means you don’t have to worry about burning a really cool customization on a single mount. Want a ramen bowl on all of your ground mounts? Go for it. 

Chua... in a hamster ball? Yep, awesome.
 

It’s also important to note that aside from some key differences between the two types of mounts (hoverboards and ground mounts) all mounts of a given type will be functionally identical, making your choice of mount a purely personal style choice.  As for those differences, Carbine didn’t want everyone to just ride around on hoverboards, so while hoverboards can double jump and travel over water, ground mounts will have a much higher jump height in general to compensate.

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