A firsthand tour of a WildStar adventure

Eliot Lefebvre
E. Lefebvre|02.18.14

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A firsthand tour of a WildStar adventure
Yes, not very friendly at all.
WildStar's beta test is ramping up further and further. It's ramping up enough that pretty much everyone who isn't in the beta already is looking for a way to get in on it. Now's your chance! Hit this link for a giveaway that will grant you a chance to win a beta key for Wildstar. And one of the things you'd be able to see within the beta, if you were in, are the Adventures that have been all the talk of press releases lately.

So what is an Adventure? Well, the DevSpeak video past the break will give you a nice top-level overview of that, so you could just go with that. Or you could ask me, because I got to make my way through one with the development team at Carbine Studios, getting a firsthand look at how the content is supposed to work and what's cool about it. That's also past the break.

The adventure we were being shown was the Hycrest Insurrection. If you're not familiar with WildStar except in passing, it's all right, you don't need to know anything about Hycrest except that it's a farming village and the Dominion is bad, bad, bad. Farmers hate Dominion, farmers contact Exiles, Exiles send in strike team to liberate the village, Exiles hopefully do so in a way that does not involve a lot of innocent citizens dying.

After our team was air-dropped in, we had a choice of three potential routes for the adventure. We chose what was probably the least subtle, going hunting after Dominion scientists and killing them, but there were other options available that would involve more sneaking. And even with our somewhat stealthless choice, there were still enemy patrols, spotlights, and a strong impetus to be a little bit more careful in dodging fights rather than chasing them.

With the scientists dead, we were given another choice of task, which again resulted in a fairly obvious raid on a Dominion prison compound. It's important to note that we were choosing these more straightforward paths, and even with the obvious path, we had a touch of other bits of gameplay. Making our way to the prison compound involved almost Assassin's Creed-style gameplay, blending into crowds only to spring out and eviscerate enemy guards.

It is possible that taking our inspiration from William Wallace was a poor fit for a stealth-based mission.After fighting through the prison and releasing the guards, we had to disable a Chua war-blimp, which exploded and left us scurrying for shelter... shelter that got a resistance barn blown to smithereens, because the Dominion was still watching us.

Stealth may have been advisable.

Lucky for us, we were offered a choice to potentially grab control of the Dominion's defense network, and we took it. That involved dropping into a bunker underneath the ruined barn which was now a bit more "exploding" and "full of fire" than OSHA regulations would otherwise allow. Of course, if we had made other choices, we might not have put the Dominion on high alert and could potentially have gone through the non-death-maze version of the tunnel.

Weapon codes were grabbed, a Dominion counterattack was foiled via the time-honored tactic of stabbing people in the face, and the group as a whole ran out to begin the final phase. The last part along our path involved an escort mission which was far less miserably annoying than those two words might suggest, since the man we were escorting moved at a reasonable clip forward and only had slight suicidal tendencies manifested by trying to tank things we weren't yet fighting.

Having been subtle at no points up until now, our team dispensed even further with subtlety here, rallying the town's population in armed rebellion, leading the citizens forward and sending them up against the Dominion-installed mayor. He had a big pile of health and shields, we had about a hundred angry villagers with sticks alongside our own instruments of injury.

Yes, he died to a concentrated sticking via farmers.

Our last goal was to kill the Dominion general who had overseen the security of the town, but to the surprise of no one, after we'd been completely obvious about everything he had an escape route planned. We were also told that this was a direct result of our own choices -- if we had been more subtle, we would have a chance to take him out, instead. Having played through the whole adventure, I completely believe it.

We only did a little prison raiding, really!  A little bit!The obvious point of comparison are the Flashpoints of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which also feature choice as a central mechanic, but the way Flashpoints handle it is significantly different. Those choices are entirely about dialogue and your own moral compass -- at best, you're clearing some enemies you might otherwise fight later. Here, your choices are changing the structure and layout of the content that you're fighting through.

As for rewards, you get a nice pile of shinies for clearing the dungeon with a higher medal (acquired by going faster, killing more, and dying less), and in the build we played there was a reputation vendor for the Adventure just outside of the entrance point. So it wasn't lacking in bonuses, either.

Overall, it was a fun romp, and I'm eager to see how the other Adventures play out in the game. The choices had a significant impact in how the whole experience played out, and I'm curious how the others will play in the long run. I'm also kind of interested in going back and stopping that stupid general... but that's for the live game.
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