Maybe there's blood in the water. Maybe MMO companies around the world are sensing that maybe, just maybe, now is the time to try and take on that elephant in the room. Either way, there's a few MMO's appearing now that claim to be doing, or at least wanting to do, the next big thing. Some actually, some do but somehow it doesn't seem enough, and others are pretenders. We don't know where Wildstar fits yet, but given that they rub shoulders with ArenaNet, they're off to a good start.
The game doesn't take itself too seriously, so expect a light-hearted and... buxom, art style
Wildstar is NCSoft's new MMO and the debut title from Carbine Studio. This is a studio whose talent has come from a number of different MMO sources, so at the very least you know that the experience and the spirit is there. So many titles have come along trying to change the world however, and many from “experienced” developers, so take this belief that Wildstar will be the “next big thing” with a pinch of salt. The setting is the planets Nexus, home to the highly advanced Eldan race who have mysteriously up and disappeared on the whole galaxy. You, as a member race of one of the game's factions, are joining in an a de facto 'gold rush' to find out what happened, and how you can profit from it.
They are going to be current-trend of two factions in the game – The Exile and the Dominion, and both factions will have access to a pool of different races. There are also a number of classes, both typical and a-typical, and finally there are four career paths: Soldier, Scientist, Explorer and Settler. These 'paths' add an additional layer of content apart from the usual zone/main quests that everybody will be able to do. Carbine believe they can boil down everyone's preferences in MMO's to four vague archetypes: some people like to kill things, others like to explore, and so on.
Combat isn't the most easiest thing to change when it comes to MMO's, so don't expect anything amazingly different
It's easy to be a little frightened of Wildstar. Listening to the developers talk about their layered content and the 'Momentum' system, as they are calling it... the potential for biting off more than you can chew seems great. On top of the standard zone quests, and the path content, there are challenges, dynamic and random spontaneous quests, discoveries, content that's based on the current ecology of the zone... Even though we are assured fail safes are in place, simply trying to conceptualise all of the different things you can have going at once can sometimes be a bit mind boggling. It doesn't sound like simply a case of having a butt load of quests 'active' at once (at least, we hope it's not that simple), but varying levels and types of interaction with the game world can be engaged with at once.
So far, the most interesting thing about Wildstar is the career paths, specifically the Settlers path. They weren't talking too much about it, but from the sounds of things you could craft a game solely around this particular venture. In fact, people already are – just look at Paradox's Salem. Coming back to how the game world can be dynamically altered, the Settler can use his or her abilities to gather resources and build buildings in zones. An example of a hospital was used to explain the mechanic to us, but we're not sure what else can be built. Note that the basics that all MMO's need – crafting stations, vendors, etc... are all in place already, and anything the settler builds is a nice bonus.
Combat in this title seems a bit stylised. Since it's future-fantasy, there are swords along with the guns, and magic is present, but fused with technology. There's a lot of player feedback here to help keep it interesting and to contribute to what they call 'momentum'. If an enemy is going to do an attack, it's AOE is made clear so you can dodge it. If you're successful, you get bonus multiplier’s against them. Fail, and you don't. As always, your class will determine your combat style.
There's a lot Carbine still won't talk about: PvP, crafting, classes etc... although their cryptic reply of “it's going to be a fully featured MMO” hints at plenty more to come. Not all MMO's focus on combat, especially between players, so how significant PvP will be remains to be seen. Personally, we just want to see what the Settler path is going to be all about.
The world of Nexus will be as mysterious as it is dangerous
Wildstar has got a lot of good ideas, plus we're totally rocking the Firefly-esque vibe they have going (or “spellpunk” as they are calling it). Whilst It doesn't seem to be relying as much on dynamic content, their desire to make the game world more persistent and subject to change means that things shouldn't get stale too quickly. Plus, the differing layers of content and opportunities for co-operation mean that there should be plenty to do. Despite the game being playable at GamesCom, there's still a fair bit that hasn't been talked about yet. To use an old adage though – so far, so good. Wildstar is due out on PC. At Some point.
Most Anticipated Feature:Seeing how the Settler path is fleshed out.