WildStar PAX East panel recap: $#@! really did just get real
It's hard to believe that I first saw WildStar at PAX Prime all the way back in 2011. It's amazing how far the game has come since then. Don't get me wrong -- even back then the game looked good, but I was still hesitant to buy into it. After all, what's another MMO in a crowded genre? Boy, was I wrong. During today's WildStar panel, titled "$#!& Just Got Real," developer Carbine Studios showed off their new MMO, which is due out in just a few weeks. And after seeing what the game has to offer all I can say is this: if you aren't excited about WildStar, you should be.
Much of the focus of the panel was on elder content, which is basically a fancy way of saying end game content.
"In your average MMO, it's very common to ship without anything to do at the top level. In many games, in the elder game, you sit and wait for developers to add stuff," Carbine explained.
"So what we've done is we've tried to make a game where there's different cool things to be doing no matter what your gameplay style is."
This includes having content for solo players, small and large groups, PvPers, and everything in between. Basically, WildStar is being designed to give players of all types something to do at the end of the game.
Carbine explained the first levels of the game are designed to teach you the mechanics of the game which, at elder game, are kicked up a notch until they go "completely bonkers" with in raids.
Now some of the content covered during the panel we already saw and reported on at a recent press event. Again, elder content like PvPing battlegrounds, arenas and Warplots or raiding in small or large group dungeons are things that have been briefly touched upon in the past. But at today's panel, Carbine went a little more in depth, revealing some new elder game areas, end game loot, and very difficult large raiding dungeons. Here are a few noteworthy highlights:
BIG NUMBERS! A.K.A. Itemization and Rewards
Carbine is very adamant about players participating in the content that you're trying to progress in in order to get rewards. This means that if you want the best PvP content, you're going to need to participate in raid PvP content like Arenas and Warplots. While participating in content will reward you with awesome items, Carbine has also created two additional systems to keep itemization interesting. This includes runecrafting and imbuing.
Runecrafting, like the name suggests, allows you to place stat boosting runes into equipment with built-in rune slots. Set bonuses in WildStar aren't linked to individual gear pieces; instead, a number of different rune sets can be collected and slotted into your gear. This means if you have the right number of rune slots available, it's possible to actually equip multiple rune sets. It's worth noting that the number of rune slots available on items can differ, even if it's the same breastplate for example.
In addition to runecrafting, items in WildStar also benefit from an imbuement system. Imbuements are quests attached to items that, when completed, unlock more power on that item. By completing these imbuement quests, you can obtain some of the best gear offered in WildStar. The really neat thing about imbuements is that it also allows Carbine to improve a weapon despite its age. So lets say a new expansion comes out, they can simply attach a new imbuement quest to that item and it can always be improved, meaning you won't technically have to ditch the item anytime new end game content is added.
So you have epic (purple) and legendary (orange) items, but there's also "epics" -- aka pinks. Artifacts are the best of the best. Each class has two types of artifact weapons, one for assault and one for support. Everybody has the ability to earn their artifact weapon assuming they are able to participate in the most difficult content in WildStar. Artifact items have really, really good stats, but if you want to unlock the full potential of these items you are going to have to do some "really crazy" stuff. For example, one artifact quest will require you to kill two 40-person bosses at one time.
Drusara (spelling?) Instances
I don't know how to spell this lady's name as she was only shown during the panel, but these instances serve as narrative-driven quests that provide the background story of Nexus. Again, these late-game instances are designed for players who are interested in the lore of the game, not just big numbers and gear.
Throughout these instances, you'll interact with iconic characters like Drusara and the Caretaker. Some faction leaders are also involved. It provides an outlet for players more interested in the story, which can sometimes be hard to tell in a large open world MMO.
Raids will kick you @$$
Simply put, raids in WildStar are hard. Like really, really hard. Raids come in 20 and 40-person sizes and serve as the obstacle between your character and awesome loot.
During the panel, Carbine explained how they worked to create raids that fit the type of combat that WildStar offers -- a focus on positioning, movement, aiming, dodging, double jumping. To that end, raids in WildStar will never have a dull moment. Even the "trash mobs" which are now called "base mobs" offer a challenge.
In addition to the challenge presented by mobs and bosses, even the environment in raids will present a challenge. This means entire rooms can present a danger, even if there are technically no mobs inside. Entire rooms, Carbine explained, can come to life and "attack" you with collapsing platforms, fire, poison, lasers, and things of that nature. And before you complain about the game telegraphing attacks, let it be known that Carbine showed off some examples of boss fights and... damn. Seriously, they showed off a clip of a 40-person group attempting a raid for the first time and they wiped almost immediately on a boss that made random platforms fall.
Carbine closed out the panel by announcing WildStar has gone gold. This means development of the base game is complete and is in mass production. Now is the time to get excited. WildStar is due out on June 3.