A look at WildStar's customization options

Eliot Lefebvre
E. Lefebvre|01.29.14

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A look at WildStar's customization options
Hoverboarding may or may not be a crime.  This doesn't seem appropriate.
How much do you like character customization? If you shrug and click the nearest "random" button when making a new character you probably don't care much. But if you like to carefully examine customization options before creating a character, and then even more carefully examine customization options after creating a character... well, WildStar's developers understand the way you work. They'd like to help, insofar as giving you a whole bunch more customization options could count as "helping."

Customizing your character doesn't end at creation -- it extends to how you play your character, how your character's outfit looks, and even how your mount looks. Not to mention, of course, that there's the housing system. The game's latest DevSpeak video about customization is just past the cut, and we got a chance to talk a little more with the fine folks at Carbine Studios about tuning your character just right.

WildStar DevSpeak - Customization
So what's the most obvious bit of customization available in the game? Your house, obviously. Houses are first available at level 14 from a quest in your faction's capital city. Do the quest, visit your house, and from then on out you have the option to instantly teleport to and from your house from anywhere in the world. Teleporting back sends you right back to where you left off, somewhat like the Town Portal spells in games like Diablo.

Housing has been talked up a lot in the game, but the developers are continuously refining the features of houses. While originally outdoor objects were placed via sockets while interiors were free-placed, the system has been changed to allow free placement outside and inside. You can also visit the houses of people who designate you as a neighbor, and edit the houses of people who designate you as a roommate, allowing you to share functional quarters and make changes as needed.

For the roleplayers in the audience -- yes, this will also work with your alts. So each alt you get to 14 is another housing plot to play around with.

On a macro level, the plots work with a system of six sockets to attach special functional and cosmetic plugs, including expeditions (dungeons that scale for group size and levels), minigames, crafting tables, and the like. While some plugs do provide a solely aesthetic purpose, the team is aiming to have enough space where people don't feel they have to overload on one sort or the other -- there's space to have pretty stuff and functional stuff without severely compromising your ability.

The team is also planning on adding more to houses over time. More houses that aren't tied to the various races of the factions, more sizes of house, potential social minigames, and so forth. The vast majority of housing pieces are meant to be cross-faction, as well, with the primary distinction coming in the very different military looks for both factions.

Chua ramen is rolling into your town.Of course, when you're out in the world people aren't seeing your house. What they are seeing is your mount. And mounts differ in more than just color and style, thanks to an elaborate system of mount customizations available across the board.

Mount customizations are separate for the two main categories of mount, hoverboards and ground mounts. Each customization is unlocked rather than consumed, so you don't need to worry about adding a sweet spoiler to your mount for fear of no longer having it. None of the modifications affect performance, letting you trim up your style in your own fashion without worrying about being faster or slower.

Yes, we were told there should probably be spinners in there for ground mounts. (They don't stop.) We were also told that while hoverboards aren't granted specific hoverboard skate parks, there are hills that can be climbed with creative spaces, and enterprising players will find plenty of places to ramp and jump along the scenery. No word on a dungeon in which you have to pull a sweet kickflip to impress the boss.

Last but not least, we got to talk a little about ability customization. The idea behind spending points on abilities in a limited action set and the like is that improving abilities is both flexible and gives alternate uses. Flexibility comes in the simple fact that you can respec anywhere at any time outside of combat, so you're never locked into having a certain ability improved. Meanwhile, higher tiers of abilities provide alternate functionality and performance, forcing you to use your favored abilities in different ways. (You can see some of that in the gallery.)

Hitting the level cap will let you bring one ability to the maximum of Tier 8. Playing at the level cap and earning more points will allow you to bring a third up to Tier 8. It's something that might well be improved in the future post-launch as players gain more power and opportunities to advance.

Meanwhile, characters can also customize their abilities via the AMP system, which is split into three basic categories -- Assault, Support, and Utility. Assault skills are damage, Support is tanking or DPS depending on your class, and Utility is useful for both. The system isn't a straight talent tree, however -- certain improvements cost more than a single point, and unlocking further tiers is reliant on spending enough points in the lower tiers first. Not to mention that there are three hybrid tiers unlocked by spending enough points in the adjacent trees...

There's a lot to customize, in other words. Our chat with Carbine didn't even get a chance to touch on the game's costuming and dye system, despite both being extensive. All in all, it's shaping up to give players a lot of freedom to play the characters they want in the ways that they want.
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