WildStar Hands-On

2 Sep 2011  by   Paul Younger
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At Gamescom NCsoft and Carbine Studios unveiled their new MMO, WildStar, to the crowds. Having seen the title at the show in Germany, and also at last week’s PAX, we thought now would be a great time to rely the new info and our thoughts.
Walking around the show floor at Gamescom you couldn’t miss the stylish imagary of WildStar, which reminded us of Don Bluth’s work on the classic laserdisc title Dragon’s Lair. Remember that classic? So, when we were subsequently told that the art team was indeed partialy influenced by the Don Bluth style it came as no huge surprise and it’s a great choice in our opinion.
Based on their press presentation, it’s clear that Carbine are on a mission to revitalise the MMO genre. Carbine are going for mass appeal with the visuals with a highly styalised game world and characters; WildStar, from a visual perspective, could stand the test of time better than most.
Instead of classes, Carbine are introducing what they call ‘Player Paths’ which will allow players to choose how they want to play in the game world. Each of these player paths will come with their own unique skills that other paths will not be able to take advantage of. For example, if you fancy yourself a bit of an explorer then the Explorer Path will allow you to see areas that another Player Path would not be able to see. It’s all about making a choice based on how you would usually play an MMO.
Whether this will make a huge difference when plaing the game for longer periods of time remains to be seen. The path system does mean that to get access to all the special skills offered by each path, teaming up with others will help greatly in progression.
Questing is an area that the development team has been looking at with interest (the usual ‘kill ten rats’ scenario really doesn’t cut it any more). Carbine want to up the ante by offering side challenges to even the most mundane of quests. For example, you may need to kill ten rats but there’s extra goodies up for grabs if you can do it within a certain timeframe or in a different way depending in which Player Path you have chosen. These side challenges are what Carbine call ‘layers’. 
Ultimately you still have to kill ten rats (or yetis in the case of the demo) so we’re not talking massive changes to the standard MMO quest mechanics. We’re not entirely sure that these ‘layers’ push the boundaries of MMO questing, players usually just want to level as quickly as possible so these could merely act as a distraction for some. However, completionists will likely love the layers idea and there’s always the extra loot to look forward to.
There are some neat ideas being introduced but we’re still not quite sure if everything that is being touted is really that far removed from what’s happening in the genre currently. WildStar appears to be a slightly different take on the more popular game mehanics we see in today’s games. Will this be enough to take on the big boys of the MMO world? Maybe. Given the hordes of MMOs due for the release over the next few months, a lot depends on when the game is actually released. 
Having said that, the game does stand out visually; the small section of the game world we tried does look fantastic and it appears to play very well. Carbine have the experience to have create an easy to use interface that is pretty much pick up and play for anyone familiar with the genre.
We look forward to seeing more of the game in the coming months and let’s hope Carbine really surprise us as development continues.
To get a further taste of what Carbine are attempting with WildStar, watch the press presentation below.
Pax 2011 Wildstar Presentation
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