WildStar Beta Weekend, Ep. 1

So what’s WildStar like?

It’s fresh. After several years of MMOs that seem to rehash the same mechanics, WildStar is the only one that seems to be willing to raise the bar. The game doesn’t treat you like a novice. The designers know they have a number of new systems and mechanics, and the game seems aware that much of the sequences of combat and exploration will be new to the players. They’ve put the effort into teaching new players how to work the systems and the environment, and while I was by no means an expert, I felt reasonably proficient fairly quickly.

If you’ve read anything about WildStar, you probably know about the highly mobile combat and the telegraph system. As I am more used to the stand-and-fire elements of World of Warcraft combat, I felt like the stereotypical redcoat faced with Native American hit-and-run warfare. ((Note: I am well aware of the historical inaccuracy of this metaphor.))

It’s at this point that one becomes fast friends with the Dash button.

Eventually you find your rhythm and begin to dodge most of the enemy telegraphs, and despite fights being a bit on the longer side, you have more health at the end of combat. Adds make life exponentially more complicated, but honestly, the frenetic pace is very enjoyable.

I’m a huge fan of the housing system as well — it unlocks at level 14, so I only got to play around with it briefly. Which brings me to my very first photo-journal!

This is Christoph R. Croake, Scientist, Spellslinger, Relic Hunter, and Technologist.

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Christoph just got an offer to visit the housing sales center by visiting the Protostar Sales Rep!

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One purchase later, and Christoph has his own sky-island.

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And starts building a house. Just a small one.

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This is where the mad science parties will happen. 

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After a few purchases, Croake has a viable living space…

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… and a tiny picnic area.

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Oooh, neighbors! Croake will invite them over for experimental chemistry dinner.

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Off to the auctioneer for some more property improvements. Where did he go?

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Whoops. Going to need a few more levels before Christoph can install his medical facilities.

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Will Christoph ever be able to have his own home research lab? How safe is it when you’re living several thousand feet in the air? Come back next beta weekend to find out!

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PAX Vid – WildStar Dev Panel

I will confess – I’ve never been to a convention. Or an expo. Or any sort of geek/entertainment/video game Mecca event thing. It’s all secondhand to me, mostly because I’ve never been able to make time for anything more involved than watching a YouTube video of Nathan Fillion being awesome. Be that as it may, I’m not totally broken up about it, because other people can judge me all they want to and I don’t care.

But the people that make the videos and put them on YouTube so that I can enjoy them later are demigods to me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to share things like WildStar Dev Panels with YOU.

Random highlights for me:

  • The Halon Ring is the first zone we see, and there seems to be a nice mixup of epic adventure elements with goofy random aspects. WildStar loves variety. They don’t want it to be a grind and they don’t want the gameplay to get stagnant.
  • Paths get benefits from questing together in WildStar. Explorers let the rest of the group get easier access to zone areas, while Scientists might unlock features of the ecology to give allies a strategic advantage.
  • Protostar is once again confirmed as a largely unethical, opportunistic, blithely greedy megacorps. Fun!
  • Housing development is not only decorative, but as functional as possible. I fully intend to have a ridiculously, excessively fortified home for at least one of my WildStar characters. Weapons platforms everywhere. Still hoping it’s nothing like Farmville, though.
  • The placement/scaling tool looks GREAT. Very intuitive for positioning/orientation/sizing, and giving full control on the housing interior arrangement.
  • Crafters will be able to make something called ‘fabrication kits’ which are apparently self-contained installations for your housing plot exterior. They can also accelerate the construction of certain features.
  • Taxi stations (WildStar’s answer to WoW’s Flight Paths, I assume.) can be built at your house.
  • Most of the stuff you get doesn’t come from vendors – either you earn it yourself or you can get it from a crafter. To me, this reinforces the point that the player is the point of the game, and it won’t be a farming/turn-in focused experience.
  • Doing random crap and poking around at the interactivity unlocks new things that may not be apparent on first scan.
  • Exploding sheep.
  • The Esper has this spinning sawblade of death thing, but it looks to be a static placement on a delay, which makes me giddy with tactical anticipation. Check around 34:44.

That’s my brief cross-section of the content. What about you – did you spy anything I didn’t?

 

Trailer Tuesday – 2/19

Wuxtry! Wuxtry!

Yeah, never doing that again. Let’s just bypass the intro.

BioShock Infinite has a new trailer showcasing Booker and Elizabeth amid all the craziness one expects from the BioShock ‘verse. I’ll always get a kick out of using telekinesis to grab a gun from across the room and then unloading on the guy in front of you. Just never gets old.

Plenty of jetpack and rocket boot love for Firefall recently as well. Cartoony is the new black, but to be honest, I am perfectly fine with that. BOOM! ZAP!

Bungie… you cannot escape your Destiny.

I know, there’s nothing in gamer culture that you can’t ultimately turn into a Star Wars reference. Well, not much, anyway.

So, Bungie’s big “secret” is out. Destiny is a solo/co-op FPS for Xbox 360 (and eventually the 720, according to a press release), with PS3 titles coming out eventually as well. No word on the PC front yet, but I can hope. The studio is not trying for an MMO-type experience, but they do want to promote a highly social game, using lots of nice key phrases like “living open worlds”, “emergent activities”, and “just enough crazy”. The following video Bungie has released gives a flood of hints and peeks that should keep the Internet busy for a few days at least. For instance, at 1:19 you can see a brief peek at what seems to be a opening menu screen with categories for The City, Chapter 3, Bounty, Strike, Raid, and Faction Wars, with a squad roster on the right side. This is obviously a game that Bungie wants you to play with your friends, and I’m assuming you can either follow the main storyline or just go into battle with a mission style of your choosing. It’s all conjecture at this point, but I like the idea of being able to choose a Bounty mission if I’m low on in-game cash, or dedicating my time to concentrating on my Faction Rep specifically.

Let me just say, I also find the video release to be intriguing in its format & scope. Equal parts mission statement and game trailer, I came away with the impression that I had just watched an action-movie-prologue/triumph-of-the-human-spirit mashup – which is exactly what I think Bungie was going for. So, well done there!