WildStar’s Adventure system could solve MMO end-game blues
Developer Carbine Studios recently tore the veil off WildStar’s long-hidden Adventures, infinitely repeatable quest/dungeons that twist regular game areas and tasks into radically alternate versions. Adventures will also add in unique game mechanics ranging from tower defense and stealth missions to more bizarre overhauls such as MOBA-izing the entire Adventure. These 5-man distractions-and-diversions can be accessed throughout the game, presumably after an Adventure area’s default content is cleared, but add much more to end-game play by offering valuable loot and EXP, and more importantly, lending replayability to content already experienced.
From World of Warcraft to Guild Wars 2, MMOs typically burn out once their storyline has reached its end, and then devolve into round after round of waiting on the next expansion. But by simply taking a hint from the veritable roguelike renaissance we’ve seen over the past two years, Carbine has given WildStar a means of countering expansionitis. By effectively rewriting quests and fights already experienced, the randomization of Adventures stands to prevent that most notorious issue of running out of content during the latter stages of MMORPGs.
"How about we—" "Killed it."
"Why don't we—" "Killed it twice."
"What about the new—" "TO ADVENTURES!"
What’s most promising, though, is the potential for further expansion within Adventures. Sure, it recolors the vanilla game and in theory allows for unending variety. However, as is the case with roguelike titles, random will only stay random for so long. Patterns are inherent in all game design, and no matter how many options and game modes are thrown in, repeating an area will become stale eventually—once all individual variables have become known, and further combinations are simply lighter or darker shades of gray. But in the case of MMOs like WildStar, there is a way to prolong the stay of what could be infinite content; ironically, through the use of what often drags the genre down: expansions.
Carbine’s Adventure system would stack multiplicatively with subsequent content releases, thereby expanding its already vast gameplay palette. The release of new areas and bosses would allow for them to be included in potentially all Adventures. The same can be said for the introduction of new game modes or other options. Every new quest line and raid boss will make that much more content available for Adventures to play with, meaning the variance Adventures are striving to create could remain functionally infinite, provided WildStar can maintain a healthy stream of new content.
This is the face of a Caretaker pondering the logic of Adventures. Don't question; just enjoy.
Arguably more impressive is that Adventures are canonically appropriate given WildStar’s distinct sci-fi emphasis over traditional high fantasy. That’s not to say games like Guild Wars 2 can’t make use of this proposed randomization. In fact, I’d argue that MMORPGs of all genres should take advantage of randomized content, as it’s a simple way to foster longevity within a game without the use of PvP or massive storylines. Shooters, too, could do with a page or two out of the rogue-like book, particularly where single player content is concerned.
Those indies might be onto something.