The current state of WildStar
At a recent press event in California, Carbine Studios and NCSOFT addressed the current state and future of the upcoming sci-fi MMORPG WildStar. While a release date will be announced very, very soon, Jeremy Gaffney, president of Carbine Studios, filled us in on what makes WildStar special, shared some Beta stats, and told us what's coming in the future.
What is WildStar?
There are plenty of things that make WildStar different from all the other MMORPGs on the market. Mainly, it's the personality of WildStar that sets it apart. Its rich, original lore, setting and art style – influenced by Star Wars, Aliens, Firefly, space operas, and 1940s-50s sci-fi – all feel fresh. From the characters you meet to the design of everything, to the animations, WildStar stands out. It's not afraid to be over-the-top and humorous; you can see examples of that just in the notification that you've leveled up. The “Dev Speak” videos that Carbine releases definitely help players get acquainted with what they're going for.
The combat in WildStar stresses player skill, even when it comes to tanking and healing. Carbine calls the combat “free form targeting.” Every skill telecasts itself on the ground – both yours and the enemies'. So even with your basic attacks, you can miss if you don't line up the shot. Healing works the same way, so parties are going to be able to tell who the best tanks and healers are. You also choose a Path when you create a character. Paths allow players to branch out beyond their character classes by giving players quests and abilities depending on the Path they choose. The current Paths are Soldier, Explorer, Scientist and Settler.
The problem with most MMOs that launch is that they lack an end-game. Once players reach the level cap, there's really nothing to do outside of running the same one or two dungeons over and over. That's not a problem in WildStar, as it offers something for everyone. At level cap, there are multiple, deep game styles, including Elder Game content for PvP, Raids, Groups and Soloers.
For players that prefer PvP, endgame consists of Arena matches and Warplots, but you could still do Battlegrounds too. PvP opens up early on with Battlegrounds, giving the player the choice to level via PvP, with Arena matches opening up at 30. But Warplots are the big draw here. For hardcore Raiders, 20 and 40-man raids are available at launch, and they are not for the faint of heart. 40-man raids will give the best loot in the game, but beating a boss – even the mini-bosses – will take a lot of learning, patience and death.
Not in a large raiding guild? That's fine – for players that prefer small groups, veteran dungeons are available to you. There are also Adventures, which keep things fresh with the chance to “choose your own adventure”, with random elements and player choice mixed in with a heavy helping of risk vs. reward. For the solo player, who usually gets ignored by MMOs, there are story instances, housing, and PCPs (Post Cap Playspaces) that act as huge public quests with multiple parts. In addition to all of this, Carbine has frequent, big monthly contend drops/updates planned.
Most of what I mentioned is already playable in the Beta test. Speaking of Beta, how is it going?
In 2011, WildStar had 140,000 Beta sign-ups. Now, there have been over 1.4 million Beta sign-ups, which is really impressive for a new IP. Just in the last five-months alone, there have been 800k new sign-ups, with no duplicate accounts factored into that number. The problem is the number of people who have played the Beta. Thus far, there have been 160,307 players who have played the Beta at least once, and they have created a total of 505,514 characters.
Of those characters, 45% have been in the Dominion faction, 55% with the Exiles. Character breakdown by Class is:
Engineer – 17%
Esper – 16%
Medic – 13%
Spellslinger – 20%
Stalker – 17%
Warrior – 17 %
As for Paths, here's what player have chosen:
Explorer – 26%
Soldier – 31%
Scientist – 22%
Settler – 21%
After the Winter Beta, Carbine also had a survey to guage player response. A little over 41,000 replied to the survey. Here's the two questions' averages that stand out the most when rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the best:
Fun during playsession: 4.26
Likelihood to purchase: 4.35
What's in store for the future?
A launch date announcement is coming soon, but what is Carbine hard at work on right now? The next patch is all about polish. Actually, from now until launch, the whole team will be polishing everything, from crafting and the auction house to a costume and dye revamp. But the next patch will focus on a HUD overhaul and a streamline UI... and also polish. In addition, getting good loot will be a bigger, cooler celebration (much like how they revamped the notification that you've leveled up).
The devs at Carbine Studios are listening (they even say so in their Dev Speaks!). So when the game does launch, and you're going through the 150 to 200 hours it takes to reach level cap, learning what the Eldan were doing and why they disappeared, Carbine will be releasing their big, monthly content updates post-launch.
Stay tuned for more looks at WildStar this week, including content about end-game, housing, and PvP.