Last week, Carbine Studios held a press event in downtown San Francisco, and from what we saw there, Wildstar is looking like the MMO of 2014. One of the reasons for this is the game's player housing system through which we were given a comprehensive tour by Wildstar Senior community manager David Bass.
Bass's presentation began with a look at a nice, two-story player home with an entrance embellished with beds of white flowers and surrounded by a wrought-iron Addams Family-style fence. As we admired the outdoor seating area and firepit, we were told that each Wildstar player will be given a starting plot made up of several 1x1 and 2x1 areas called “plugs” (because as they unlock, they plug into your existing housing plot). Rather than being per-character, housing allotments are per-account and depending on the size of the house, there's a set limit to the number of items each housing plot can hold.
We were next taken inside the house's cozy interior for a look at some of the items on offer. The ground floor had been set up with a nice portrait painting and a fancy bar, complete with cushy bar stools and shelves full of booze. Carbine is obviously proud of their free placement system which allows players to position things any way they like, rather than imposing restrictive grid-alignments. They're also proud of the sheer number of individual items players will have access to. Within the house, we not only saw scores of small, individually-moveable items like bottles and steaks, we were also told that items can be linked to other items for easy re-arranging.
All items are scalable and have collision so you can create giant usable bar stools or weensy doll-house-sized setups. Some of the most fun things on display at the event were haunted windows that make it look as if there's a constant lightning storm going on outside, fog you can activate on the inside, and mannequins which can be used to display old armor sets or as someone quipped, to pretend you have friends.
Though the insides of the houses are looking amazing, the outsides have even more to offer. Not only can you place furniture and other accessories outside, you can also set up resource farms. The demo setup showed an area for mining and we were told you can visit them once per day. Bass further explained that with the game's neighbor system, players can designate their housing plots as public or allow access to specific friends. Guilds will no doubt enjoy this, although Carbine reps joked that with its all-or-nothing access setup, (meaning, whoever has access can alter the plot any way they want) players should be careful when deciding who they give access to.
In addition to gaining resources and looking cool, housing exteriors can also be populated with challenges. These—like the wine-making one we saw where you're given a set amount of time to stomp as many grapes as possible—grant rewards like special décor and additional plugs, giving players more reason to visit their own and other people's plots. Players can also set up and access a Housing Buff Board to gain useful daily buffs. While rewards and buffs are great, one of the coolest exterior features has no material benefit and is purely aesthetic—it allows you to change the sky so it does things like snow, show rainbows or have a constant firework display.
House-proud players will no doubt love all this and will enjoy buying additional Martha Stewart-ish accoutrements with Renown (a kind of social currency gained by taking part in group activities). They'll also appreciate that Carbine's adding special housing Achievements and rewards that give housing-focused players their own kind of exclusive benefits.
Toward the end of the presentation, Bass took us through one of the most fun and interesting aspects of housing—what they called the “IKEA of Wildstar.” This consists of a cathedral-sized shop where players can preview housing items in pre-made arrangements. Presumably, this is where players will not only buy furnishings, but the “fab kits” needed to build houses. As they wrapped things up, Carbine mentioned that it will be possible to teleport to your housing plot from anywhere in the game (though the teleport has a cooldown) and that theoretically, you could spend hours just visiting other people's houses for resources and challenges.
From what Carbine showed at its San Francisco event, a lot of care is being taken to make Wildstar's housing more than just an add-on to the main game. With thousands of items, exclusive Achievements and rewards as well as significant guild benefits, it's looking to be an integral part of every Wildstar player's daily routine. It's also making players like me extremely excited to set up house on the planet of Nexus.