The life of most MMOs can be measured in nanoseconds. They’re a gamble. A risk on the developer’s part and 90% of them fail before they even come close to turning a profit. But despite being astronomically dangerous ventures, they’re everywhere. Rift, Aeon, Guild Wars, EVE Online, Star Wars the Old Republic, Age of Conan, Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy Online (any of them), World of Warcraft, the list goes on. In a market saturated with MMO mediocrity, what is there for fans of the genre to be excited about? Enter Wildstar.
For the first time since Vanilla WoW, I’m actually excited for an MMO. But what is Wildstar? And why does it deserve my enthusiasm? Firstly, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t heard of it, so far, it’s been a pretty low-key affair. Let’s fix that.
4Specific quests for specific play styles
Remember killing boars in the forest? Or goblins in caves? Or spiders in that spooky graveyard? How innovative was that right? And remember the time you complained about how mind numbingly boring leveling up was and the developers vowed to do something about it? Then a month or so later your quest log changed from ‘kill ten boars’ to ‘kill ten boars using this specialised grenade thing that you need to collect from the corpses of dead miners deep in some cave half a map away?’ Yes, those were the days.
But what if there was a better way? What if you were given quests predominantly tailored to your play style? For example, do you like to kill? Who doesn’t right? Well here’s a quest to kill some badass creature for additional loot. Like to explore? Well how about a timed run to the top of that uncharted mountain over yonder? Say hello to the Wildstar Path system. Popularised in a series of short videos, the Path system basically gives players more of the content they love. It works by giving you a choice then customises your available quests from then on. Soldier, Explorer, Scientist or Settler. (There may be more in the works; the game is currently in beta after all.) Kill, explore, learn, and build. Which would you rather be doing more often? Make your choice and away you go.
Player housing, what is this The Sims? Slow your roll for a second because this is a pretty big deal. Often times during my MMO career, I’ve wanted a little patch of land to call my own. Why exactly? Two words, ‘Player connectivity’. Your character, in any MMO/RPG setting is one of your creations. For better or worse, it’s an extension of yourself and something you invest a lot of time and effort in. You grow to love that little guy or girl. However, personalisation options are always woefully limited. Choosing from one of eight unique heads and whacking it on top of one of four differing body types, doesn’t exactly set you apart from all the other players. So how do you find a sense of connectivity if your pixel blob looks like everyone else’s pixel blob, only fatter?
How about a custom designed house built from the ground up with items you loot in the big wide world? Think about it. Remember when people were going apeshit over Farmville? The damn farm was only a few pixels wide and still, housewives with nothing to do spent innumerable hours tending to it. And beyond the simple cosmetic or sentimental value of a personal virtual space, housing in Wildstar is said to be a key component.
2A brave new world
I don’t know about you, but the thought of yet another magic filled, sword swinging, Orc infested video game just brings me to tears. OF RAGE. If third-person shooters are the dominating presence in the console market, fantasy ‘epics’ dubbed as WoW killers are the reigning champs of the PC world. You can’t click more than two pages deep before a pop up displaying the latest and greatest in Orc killing technology vomits in your face. Look, I honestly don’t care if your interpretation of an Orc paints the green skinned brutes as honourable tribesmen. And I couldn’t give two shits about savage beasts destroying your home town. I’ve seen it all before. In fact, I’ve been neck deep in it for ten years. If you want to grab my attention, let’s have a bit of variety. Give me something new and interesting. Give me races I’ve never seen before and landscapes so alien, James T. Kirk would fear to tread. Give me, Nexus.
Though the game is still very much in development, enough of Wildstar has been concretely designed to say this with certainty – your task, is to explore and dominate an alien planet known as Nexus.
To take a line from the official website:
“Nexus is one of the most mysterious and dangerous planets in the entire universe, and you just decided to make it your new home. On the plus side, there are ancient ruins, mystical forests and unexplored moons just waiting to be conquered! On the down side, most of those places are inhabited by cybernetically-enhanced monstrosities, frightening beasts and hostile alien races! The fun never ends!’”
The fact that there is no mention of space Orcs anywhere in that spiel is a huge bonus.
1Developers that actually care
As a player, when’s the last time you had an interaction with a game developer on a personal level? And I mean beyond Peter Molyneux lying to your face, or Robert Kotick, literally sneaking into your house while you’re sleeping and stealing your nan’s cancer medication money? The idea isn’t exactly alien. Notch, of Minecraft fame, custom built various in-game props at fan request. Riot Games, creators of League of Legends, trawling their community forums for interesting skin and hero suggestions. And Bioware, creators of Mass Effect, changed the god-awful ending to their sci-fi epic after the unwashed masses cried foul. Shame it skill sucked.
Following these shining examples in strong suit, Wildstar developers Carbine Studios have vowed to pay close attention to public opinion. In fact, it’s one of their core principles as developers. Since the launch of the beta (and even before then) Carbine have held a weekly podcast addressing the concerns of the fans. Bug fixes, changes to quests, characters, environments and spells, all taken directly from fan feedback. Take a lesson other developers, this is how you do business.
So what’s your thoughts on Wildstar? Are you looking forward to a new MMO? Let us know in the comments below!