We reflect on a year of news from WildStar Online
If there's one thing that makes WildStar unique, it's attitude. It exudes from every design aspect, from the short and snappy quest dialogue to character and monster animation. It's apparent in every blast of news from Carbine Studios, like the morally dubious Protostar Corporation. This is a game that's screaming to be unleashed, as if boldly declaring that I'll be kicking ass from the moment I land on Nexus. And with beta anticipated early in 2013, I'm already drooling in anticipation.
We chose WildStar to represent the fourth day of Christmas because of a unique feature: Paths. While there are some of us that spend hours tweaking a character's appearance, and choosing a name and class, the Path asks us to select one of four distinct play styles. The Explorer is interested in finding hidden pathways to secret areas, while the Scientist is focused on unlocking the mysteries of Nexus. The Settler is concerned with bolstering villages and outposts, while the Soldier generally wants to kill things.
The Path system is loosely based around the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, which attempts to classify players from the aspects of online gaming we find most appealing. While most MMOs include content for the various Bartle categories, WildStar is the first that intends to tailor the leveling experience to our preferences. If Carbine manages to pull it off, the result will be an MMO that's more in tune with our individual likes than any other out there.
This year has also seen a huge influx of news, with David "Scooter" Bass and Loic "Atreid" Claveau sharing details of ongoing development almost every week. WildStar Wednesdays have become a staple of almost every MMO watcher's calendar, with updates from narrative design, music and sound design, animation and art, and gameplay systems. Executive producer Jeremy Gaffney also gets in on the action, sharing regular 'State of the Game' briefings on how development is progressing.
While the regular news releases have created a clear window into the various aspects of MMO development, WildStar watching is also an interactive experience. Under the banner of 'WildStar Uplink' Bass and Claveau ask for community feedback on our gaming preferences. The conversation also goes full-circle, with game developers responding through an Uplink Analysis.
While we've watched the continued evolution of Metal Maw, the unveiling of new zones and the discovery of Nexus lore, 2012 also introduced Protostar Corporation. This 'commercially aggressive' organization, headed up by CEO Phineas T Rotostar, will likely be a regular feature on Nexus, from helping us to reach the planet, to supplying us with a home to call our own. Protostar is even willing to tell us the true meaning of Winterfest, for a price.
We've also seen the combat system take shape, moving to a dynamic approach that seeks to keep us on our toes. Early indications look promising, with clear ground markings highlighting the devastating mob attacks. There's also a desire to mix things up, with more powerful creatures combining the attacks of earlier, simpler ones. We're not just talking simple melee, ranged and area attacks here - chain attacks, waves, cascade bombardments and more are all included to keep the action fresh. While other MMOs have started using this combat style, WildStar's implementation could become the most engaging and satisfying.
Next year is where everything changes gear for Carbine. WildStar is currently in a closed alpha, with a closed beta planned for early in 2013. We'll also see the Dominion unveiled as the second faction in all their bad-ass glory, along with new classes and races to get excited about. There's even talk of flamethrowers, trade skills, big raids and huge PvP combat still to come. Considering how much we already know about WildStar, there's a lot still to discover.