Wildstar – The big hope for jaded WoW players?

A while ago I was working on a longer writeup concerning Carbine’s upcoming, and to this date still somewhat below-the-radar Wildstar MMO and how implementing Bartle playstyles (“paths”) for questing is one of the more ingenuous ideas I’ve come across in what otherwise appears to be yet another classic themepark formula. I had some nifty reviews and videos ready to elaborate on the concept – but then I lost interest along the line, not least due to the overall cartoony look of the game. As shiny and polished as Wildstar’s graphics may be, I simply don’t see myself seriously playing goofy Disney characters in candyland. That may be too harsh a judgement right now, but the developer keeps emphasizing the focus on being a “friends&family” game which, while no issue in itself, has me personally skeptical about things like gameplay or content difficulty. I have a feeling I won’t be this MMO’s target audience and that’s actually fine by me.

Yet, there’s certainly more to say in favor of Wildstar; for example the brilliant player housing concept announced recently, brought to my attention thanks to Bhagpuss. WOW!!! I have been waiting for non-instanced player housing now since….Ultima Online probably. I crossed some guild towns in Age of Conan but those involve tremendous amounts of time and guild dedication, not to speak of an endless material and harvesting grind. No, I’m speaking of your very personal home the way we got it in Skyrim – and how awesome would that be for an MMO? This far, we kept hearing the same excuses from most developers: space issues. Can’t plant personal homes on the servers….y’know, virtual worlds have serious space limitation issues!

Riiiiiight.

Be that as it may, Carbine actually used their thinking cap and came up with a splendid solution that makes use of the endless possibilities of virtual spaces – flying islands! That’s epic WIN for you, short and sweet!

Still, my overall impression of Wildstar remains; few innovations aside, it looks the way WoW should be looking today and feels like the next evolutionary step for players who are still attached to Blizzard’s franchise and overall concept. This is especially true for the combat too which is good old, conservative holy trinity between tank, healer and DPS (rejoice ye grumpy healers!). Wildstar’s launch is currently still a secret but expected to follow either very late in 2012 or more realistically sometime in early 2013. That makes me think it may launch perfectly around a time when WoW players are feeling “done” or jaded with their first look into MoP; some of them may actually start looking for something a little shinier, with few new ideas but not too many fundamental, revolutionary changes.

Given that Blizzard will never feature a WoW “sequel” and that Titan will be vastly different, there’s definitely a market share to grab for the first developer that makes a serious attempt at Blizzard’s cake: a wide-spread target audience, conservative group setup, a shiny cartoony world, while also introducing more novel features like (semi-)active combat , questing archetypes and awesome player housing.

If I was still a vivid or even mildly interested WoW player today, I’d say Wildstar is exciting news for the current WoW crowd out there and – should MoP fail to enthrall – a silver lining on the horizon?
Either way, I’ll keep a closer eye on this title from now on, if only to see what other surprises Carbine will conjure up until next year!

15 comments

  1. There are two main things that put me off Wildstar.

    1) Bunny girls. Do not want.
    2) There was some notion of different playing tracks for people who liked exploring or combat or crafting. But what if you like a bit of all of those things, which I actually think is the norm for MMO players. I think they’re filling a niche that didn’t need filling.

    1. Jep, the bunny girl from the trailer is what put me off too, well the characters in general are very Disney or Pixar. not my kinda thing, somehow I feel I’ve outgrown goofy, cartoony style since WoW.

      The Bartle playstyles I actually find rather refreshing; I’m not sure how restrictive they truly are, but there’s no reason why you cannot have alts for different playstyles (afaik you can also always switch ingame). it’s surely great replay value. given that many players are bored with certain types of MMO quests, I found it a rather interesting take on the matter.

      there’s also the option to experience a quest you already finished in a new way with a friend; so from that PoV you have 4 different ways to solve and experience every quest in the game. this is similar to the quest solving options in GW2 – only there it’s more fluent.

    1. Indeed, that is a very furry, half-bunny / half-fox (long bushy tail?) girl. if you watch one of the trailers you get a better look. ;)

    2. Upon seeing the trailer, my first thought was this was some sort of Pixar flick. She does have some furry characteristics, but she’s more human than anything else. After Tera, I was really worried that we’d end up with panty shots of furries or something. Yeah, the obligatory huge rack is there, but nothing else that I can see.

    3. nah, they’re gonna keep this game safely PG-13 to keep broad appeal, so no danger of anything close to Tera. like WoW the only sexism they’re no doubt gonna have here and there will be on the “endearing side” rofl….

  2. As I was saying in my post that you kindly linked, I really don’t think we have anything like enough hard information to judge yet. Most of what’s being said about WildStar seems to be wishful-thinking and projection. Carbine are releasing very structured PR that suggests a lot while actually saying very little.

    I believe some of the people behind the game worked on vanilla WoW so the similarities might be a lot more than co-incidental.

    Reactions to the bunny-girl threw me a little. The whole Playboy connection went straight over my head. I love playing animal races and I just saw her as a rabbit/squirrel kind of animal creature, the way a Raki in Vanguard is sort of but not exactly a fox or a Ratonga in EQ2 a something like but not precisely a rat. That the game had animal races was the first key selling point for me.

    It also never occurred to me that the Bartle paths gimmick would be exclusive. I can’t claim I’ve read the PR material as closely as I could have but I assumed that if you wanted to you would be able to do all that content on the same character and any “choice” would be purely cosmetic.

    We won’t really know until there’s some kind of beta and someone actually plays the thing.

    1. I agree; I had written off WS somewhat before reading your article, but you inspired me to put it back on my radar. the player housing is ingenuous – if they come up with more such stuff, who knows where they can go. there’s definitely a market for this kind of stuff still.

      I missed playboy connections tbh, to me all the characters of the first trailer were simply too goofy and screaming Pixar; the girl is sugary cute and the whole furry culture has never been my type of thing. ;) hehe…no I get what your saying about animal races. at the same time it’s a very stereotypical choice they made for the only female in the group. I think that’s the main concern with this.

      as for the Bartle choices I actually would love to have the game turn everything into explorer mode, very personally speaking!

    1. It certainly has its appeal; and then there’s the aspect of low system requirements which is always an advantage.

      artistically speaking though I’d say many MMO players also prefer a bit more grown-up design and settings these days (also consider the first MMO generation keeps getting older), maybe in general or because they’re satiated of WoW’s graphics. cartoony can look dated fast and some of the more reaistic 3D games out there today are simply stunning. not sure how far the cartoon style can still evolve from where Wildstar has taken it. it feels limited to me.

      …and zomg, it’s Pangoria!!! =D /wave

    2. I’m not sure whether to agree with Pangoria but there’s one more thing to note. The cartoony style is quite rare among western MMOs. I understand that’s because most of the fans prefer the dark and realistic styles but it leaves those who don’t and don’t like Korean and Chinese games with little choice.

  3. Cartoony graphics age better than ‘realistic’ graphics, and our brains accept cartoony beings more easily as ‘real’ than ‘realistic graphics’ because the later always have flaws that our brains donn’t like.

    It’s cartoony graphics are certainly one of the reasons why WoW does as well as it did.

    Now if WildStar will have the same fluidness, low-system requirements and preferably more character choices in the future, I can see this title doing well, especially if they go opposite to WoW’s current destrcutive trend of removing more and more player-choice (incoming ‘Dynamic’ Quest rewards, killing-off everything but end-game PvE etc.)

    1. I agree and disagree; there is a time for everything. WoW did well with the cartoony style, but times change and there’s such a thing as players having been there done that. just because WoW did well 8 years ago with this design doesn’t mean new games do today. that said, there will always be a place for maybe one or two such MMOs – and that’s why I believe Wildstar could certainly take on some of WoW’s market share in the future – not only for its graphics, but also.

      Today’s more realistic games look a ton better than only few years ago; I agree there were quite some ugly 3D RPGs etc. in the past where cartoony would’ve been preferable – but today, look at games like Dragon’s Dogma or Rage and you know it’s a winner. the PC is made for this shit! :D

  4. I already said it over at bhagpuss’s, but what surprised me most was the style of the video trailer. It immediately reminded me of Ratchet and Clank, a game series I absolutely loved, and played until the PS3 we had at work got stolen in a burglary last year. :(

    If they manage to transform this slightly over-the-top style into their game, I’ll be very pleased. Of course, we still know next to nothing about Wildstar, so I’ll drink some more tea and play my Templar in TSW.

  5. I can see WildStar being a huge success. The world is very similar to the WoW world, right colours, cartoony, whimsical.. Its very pretty. Also they took all the good things from WoW and added a very interesting combat system to it. Lets face it the tab-targeting style is not what we need anymore. I think its going to be a success.

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