WildStar and I are in a bit of a long-distance relationship at the moment, what with me steadfastly existing in the present and her not technically having launched just yet. And sometimes she finds ways to make me upset, with clueless design or business decisions that leave me wondering what in the hell went on in the background. But then there are things that get me excited, things that remind me of why I've been waiting for this game for a while. So let's talk about some of the stuff that still gets me excited.
The way you move
Every new thing we see about combat in WildStar looks even better. I've said before that I don't care what system a game uses so long as it uses it well, and it seems like Carbine Studios has taken that to heart when designing this combat system.
While we've seen other games with an active combat paradigm, it seems like the WildStar setup is increasingly taking cues from other action-driven games instead of simply MMOs. Which is probably the right way to go, all things considered. Stuff like charge-and-release or button-tapping aren't unfamiliar if you've played many games over the past several years, but they're fairly novel in the MMO space.
More to the point, while we've seen our share of action combat over the past few years, most of those games felt less like "an MMO with action combat" and more like "action combat welded with varying degrees of elegance to an MMO." Fighting things in WildStar just looks a lot more organic than, say, TERA. How well it'll actually deliver on that remains to be seen, but especially in the light of the past week's Dev Speak I'm excited about the possibilities.
No laughing matter
It wouldn't be fair to say that most MMOs don't touch upon humor. The Secret World derives a lot of humor from its questgivers being slightly off-kilter. They're odd personalities against an even odder backdrop. World of Warcraft loves its pop culture references, which is something I feel eventually started to creep into the game a bit too much... but that's a different discussion. Final Fantasy XIV tends towards dry humor and bits of unexpected wordplay.
WildStar, however, doesn't pull any punches. It happily mixes in its humor with everything from dialogue to environment. Even the Chua aren't out of the loop here; their speech patterns are awkward, but they're still quip-laden madcap bundles of energy that are equally at home with a bit of verbal humor or some outright slapstick.
Despite all of that, the lore still feels plausible and capable of serious interaction. There's a lot of humor to be had and a lot of jokes to make, but it never falls into the trap of being a joke of a setting. Real threats and fears exist. It's an interesting game that can both capture the horror and pain of being trapped in an undead curse and still get in plenty of punchlines about space zombies.
(If we don't get a punchline or two about the Elin getting fleas, I will be disappointed.)
Those of you who read several of my columns know that I am married and enjoy playing games with my wife. MMOs are not really set up, on a whole, to reward two people playing together. Content is tuned for full groups or solo players, sometimes with some space in between. It's a rarity to find a game that just says you can gather as many people as you like and go do something.
City of Heroes did that, I'll note. With pretty much everything ever. It had its issues, but giving players a chance to group up with whomever was not one of them.
So you can imagine my reaction when we found out that WildStar would offer exactly what I was hoping for -- instanced quests that scaled for participants and allowed you to work as a team with who you wanted, or even just take them on completely solo. It was something like a high-pitched squeal, really.
Not only does this nicely handle the issue of letting groups team up in any size for something, it also does a good job of bridging the sci-fi gap while still keeping the game's action on Nexus. You still get the sense that there's a big galaxy out there with all sorts of ways to ply the stars, but you also still stay grounded in one setting. It's a clever move on the part of Carbine Studios.
Look, I'm going to be totally honest with you, it is nearly impossible for me to not be excited by the prospect of housing. My temptation to play certain games comes down more or less entirely to the presence of housing. I like having my characters own houses and I want a freaking house.
Yeah, sometimes it's pretty easy.
Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're probably used to that by now, but even so. Next week I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about the various races in a little more depth and offer a bit more speculation, starting with one of my personal points of fascination: the Mechari.
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.