If you know me, MMO’s aren’t quite my bag. I did some City of Heroes back in the day, tried Dungeon Fighter and liked it but lost tracked, and was rather charmed by Dragon’s Nest and it’s anime-esque style for some time. I just don’t really get into them, and with the way they suck time, they better be worth it.
I think one of the next-Gen MMO’s may not also get my attention, but it looks like it’s going to try some interesting mechanics and design ideas. Welcome to WildStar Online. Let’s take a look at why I’m paying attention.
Pulpy SF With Fantasy and More: The theme of Wildstar has a lot of pulp SF feel mixed with some fantasy elements (there is magic and alchemy in the setting), and an interesting aesthetic. It feels like a living cartoon with both anime, retro, and american animation elements. The sense of humor definitely helps – and it’s not The Typical Setting in many ways (even if it’s obviously drawing on a lot of inspirations blatantly).
Diverse Lore: There’s a ton of races to play in two different factions, and they mix standard ones (Humans) with not-so-standard one (psychotic space squirrels). There’s a story behind all the action of conflicts and missing ancient races. There’s an emphasis on Lore that tells me there’s an attempt to make a world here – in fact, one of the Paths (below) lets you focus on lore.
Thought Through Mechanics And A Participating Dev Team: MMO game mechanics are kind of standardized by now – much to their disadvantage. However it’s clear the mechanics are being throughout through, and the Dev team is sharing their ideas via videos. There’s clearly an attempt – a public one – to rethink game mechanics.
Paths: For my money one of their most brilliant additions. Your usual “class” is in there (fighter, shooter, magic, stealthy), but you also pick a Path that gives you content catered to your taste – Explorer, Soldier, Scientist, or Explorer. You can seek, shoot, study, or build depending on what you like to do in a game. This is a great way to take people outside of standard classes and find a custom game experience (which of course will keep people in the game). Tellingly they seem to be based on Bartle Types, which appeals to the scientist in me.
Pay Styles: The most brilliant financial edition, people can buy “C.R.E.D.D” and it’s consumed to pay for game time by month. But players can sell it and buy it in game – so someone who has earned plenty of gold in the game can buy C.R.E.D.D. with in-game currency, but only from other players. People with plenty of time can “play to pay”, people with less time can get money, and gold farmers get screwed. It’s similar to what’s being done in E.V.E. Online as I understand.
The overall combination of the game elements has me intrigued – and it’s got house building, resources, and all the other things people love. On top of the old and the new and the borrowed, it looks like a powerful package.
MMOs haven’t evolved in awhile in my opinion. Between this and what the new Everquest are showing, I’m paying attention. If you’re in gaming or want to be, pay attention – I think we’ve got evolution happening.
Meanwhile, when Wildstar drops (or if I get in on the Beta), drop me a line. My guess is I’m going to be a Human Spellslinger Settler. Let me know and we’ll shoot stuff and I’ll build things.
And damn the psycho space squirrels.
– Steven Savage