Power Swords! Updated Mechanics! Hoverboards!?
Last Wednesday, Carbine Studios began its 6-week-long campaign to inform the world about the playable classes in WildStar, their upcoming sci-fi MMORPG. While we will have to wait a few more weeks to learn something completely new (such as the Engi[DACTED] and Me[DACTED] classes that have already seen their names whispered in the wilds of the internet) week one kicked it all off with the reintroduction of a classic archtype – the Warrior. After all, we already knew they would carry a sword and swing it around with gleeful abandon, but the reveals this week demonstrated how far the Warrior class has come, along with some interesting teases of gameplay systems that will get fleshed out in the coming weeks, so there’s plenty to recap.
We also got to see hoverboards, because HOVERBOARDS. We should probably get on with this before I just end up typing that repeatedly.
The week began with release of a new DevSpeak video dedicated to the sword-wielding destroyers, reminding us of the basics – they get a nuclear-powered sword, they wear heavy armour, and their M.O. is to deliver the hurt right up in the grill of their enemies. This was reflected with the reference to 80s-style wrestling moves, with power kicks and “bitch slaps” contributing to the very physical and powerful look of their abilities. In short, it was a confirmation of the style Carbine had previously demonstrated for the Warrior, but for extra clarification I've made a helpful visual guide to ensure you know exactly what the warrior is about.
What we didn’t know was that Carbine had been paying attention to worries of melee-focused players that ranged classes would simple have their way with them from a safe distance, and so they gave the Warrior class arm cannons to compensate. It can shoot enemies, grapple and pull them within swinging distance, be used as a buzz saw, and water flowers. Along with the reintroduction of the Warrior’s leap ability to be free-form once again (so it can be used to out of combat for general traversal or, in free-fall emergencies, to escape from certain gravity-based death) in addition to its combat uses, the end result appears to be a highly mobile and incredibly powerful front-line combatant in both PvP and PvE scenarios.
Along with some of the usual blasts of lore on the dedicated page on the official website, the team at Carbine delivered many new tidbits of information via two sources – an AMA over on Reddit, and a livestream of the game (now archived) that not only demonstrated the improvements to the Warrior, but the game in general. Now we already knew that the telegraph system would play a huge part in WildStar’s combat, but the team has been tweaking it to ensure it is as informative as possible. The result of this was a sweeping line that highlights how long a cast time is (those of you that have played The Secret World will be familiar with the concept) allowing players to know what abilities will go off (and that includes during PvP brawls.) In addition, players will be able to manually adjust the transparency of these telegraphs to their liking, or (if they’re feeling brave / stupid) turn them off entirely.
I personally think this level of personalisation is a wonderful thing, fitting in with the fully customisable UI that Carbine confirmed would be a thing last year. In fact, the developers demonstrated during the livestream that the entire UI is a series of mods put together, and that they had even used some community made mods by people in the closed beta themselves to improve the overall experience. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can check out more details about the modable Lua-based UI here.
But let’s get back to the Warrior for a moment. Previously the Warrior had two resources – Kinetic Energy which was built up during combat, and three (what I would describe as) power balls that could be spent on special abilities. Carbine realised that the latter wasn’t a fun mechanic as it slowed the down combat significantly, so only Kinetic Energy remains. The deal with this mechanic is that over time the energy gradually disappears, so the player must build it up by consistently executing moves, with powerful moves only useable once enough energy has been generated. I suspect that keeping it up at higher levels will be a challenge during more chaotic fights, but that presents the choice for the player – move out of the way of trouble to avoid damage, or keep swinging to retain that energy (and high damage.)
One of the more interesting answers over on the AMA was regarding the way Warrior can protect fellow players. For instance, Defense Grid is an ability that creates a protective zone for those standing in it, while Plasma Wall (when powered up to a high tier, something we’ll cover later on) provides a defensive buff to allies standing closely behind the Warrior. This to me suggests that group fights, especially raid encounters, will require a strong focus on player formations along with situational awareness, something that beyond the general MMO rule of “move when the boss does X” and fan favourite “don’t stand in the fire” has not really been explored. Considering the highly mobile nature of WildStar I suspect it won’t be an easy thing to master, which both excites and frightens me, and makes me wonder how this line of thinking will work in regards to healing. I suspect that question will be (somewhat) answered when we see the Esper class in the next set of class (re)reveals.
The rest of the information that caught my eye from this week’s Class Drop, while still relating to the Warrior, was more general but none the less interesting. For instance, not all abilities are tied to the Global Cooldown (or GCD as we MMO types know it as) allowing Warriors to use their Leap ability whilst waiting for their next big move to recharge – again demonstrating Carbine’s wish to keep the player doing something at all times. Next up was a look at Ability Tiering, which in a nutshell is like this - As players level up, they are able to upgrade their abilities effectiveness through a tier system, making them more powerful or faster to cast. This was done in response to players wanting a more individual feel for their characters, with an example given where a Warrior who had a high tier for Leap would be able to jump around twice as often (another reason for ranged types to be very afraid of them and their deadly pinball-esque ways.)
The livestream also teased another progression system with the Advanced Modification Protocols System (or AMPs) which is WildStar’s take on skill trees. While the system will not be in the Winter Beta (boo) we were given a chance to see how it will works, with six sections – each with their own specific focus like damage, support (healing / tanking), or hybrid – in which to place skill points that boost stats or improve Proc chance. The dev team explained that some of these would unlock through completing content, or finding them as drops in the world, or even bought using the auction house in-game. This kind of variety intrigues me, as we could be seeing certainly unlocks being reserved for only the most skilled players (or those with the most virtual currency.)
Another interesting topic that was brought up during the livestream was the importance of grouping up with others. The developers pointed out that the content could be solo’d, but those who do group up would earn renown – a currency type that could be spent on such things as player housing to unique benefits. Considering the social aspects of housing, I find this a really great move by Carbine, as certain other MMOs have, for the most part, felt like it was punishing players who decided to group together, and it appears to not be the case with WildStar.
Last but by no means least, the livestream ended with the reveal of the hoverboard mount – a form of transport that producer Stephan Frost once teased me as the mount that would (to put it politely) cause some fans to poop their pants (I’m not even kidding, check out the quote here.) We were treated to seeing the hoverboard in game in all its hovering glory, flying on water (take that, McFly!) and generally doing sick jumps.
I probably would have said that was enough, but then we got to see something else. You see, it turns out that WildStar has a day / night cycle,
Okay, not that exciting - but what if I said that when it's night time the animals of Nexus go to sleep?
Fine, that’s a nice cosmetic touch and all, but let’s not pat them on the back just yet.
So, what if I told you Carbine put in the ability to tip over animals as they sleep standing up, with an achievement to go with it?
Yes, you read that right – there is a variation on COW TIPPING in WildStar, and you're rewarded for doing it.
And on that bombshell, I’ll be back next week with a wrap-up of the info we get from the Esper Class Drop, which starts from Wedesday. If you want to learn more about the Warrior class, be sure to check out the content on the official website.