So, that WildStar, eh? When it comes to PvE content, it had many, many layers, with groups of players having several ways to keep themselves busy, but besides the way Paths unlock the open world, and how instances provide a more traditional dungeon run, there is another way groups of players can band together. Carbine call them Adventures, and because of the way they are presented in-game it means that they have the potential to provide the most varied experience to those playing WildStar. To learn more about them, I was invited to take part in a Press run of one of these Adventures with two members of the EU Community Team at Carbine, Mark Hulmes and Jan Sterl.
Before we get into what sort of content you can expect from them, let’s explain how these Adventures fit into the world and lore of WildStar. The Eldan (a hyper-advanced race who lived on the planet Nexus long, long ago) left a lot of their stuff on Nexus before disappearing, and one such thing was The Caretaker – an AI construct responsible for overseeing the experiments that took place. With the arrival of the Dominion and Exiles to the planet, it now has new organics with which to perform tests in Simulation suites dotted around Nexus, and has graciously let those who discover these Sim Cores in to help with the experiments. The thing is, in the thousands of years that have gone by since the Eldan left, The Caretaker has developed some glitches that have made it, well, a little bit schizophrenic (ie. completely nuts) and so these simulations end up being a little more dangerous and random that expected.
Now what that means to us gamers is that Carbine can do things in Adventures that they could never do in the main game, which is pinned down by “traditional” rules and the existing backstory, and this translates to several game types – RPG-style story choices that affect what happens, tower defence fights that will see players fight wave after wave of enemies, MOBA-style gameplay that will have teams carrying and denying like never before, and an Oregon Trail-inspired mode that will have players trying to ensure their caravan survivals across a perilous Nexus, but we'll get into those later.
Let’s talk specifics – Adventure are instances for groups of five that can take between 30 minutes and two hours to complete, with the first ones becoming available from level 15 – Riot In the Void for the Dominion, and Highcrest Insurrection for the Exiles. Both of these act as an introduction to Adventures, giving players a straightforward look at how they will be making choices throughout each of the ones available. Admittedly I could get into serious amounts of detail about what you can expect to find in these early Adventures, but the episode of Dealspwn Playthrough (helpfully embedded for your viewing pleasure) shows you exactly what is on offer in Riot In The Void, so I’d suggest you watch. Instead, I’m going to elaborate on what I saw and what I discuss in the video.
In a way, there’s a very arcade feel on top of the story elements available, and this is due to a number of facts. Firstly, HP boosters occasionally pop up throughout the Adventure, providing sudden bursts of health for those that need it, but the inclusion of leaderboards at the end of each run really add a sense of old-school competitiveness to proceedings. Who did the most DPS? Who died the least? Who kept hoarding all of the pick-ups? It’s all tallied at the end, with each player’s contribution measured and rewarded accordingly with bronze, silver, and gold medals.
As far as first impressions go, what I experienced in this first Adventure wasn’t anything particularly new compared to what I had already experienced in WildStar – talk to this person, walk over here, pick up this, kill these people, head back for more orders. Even with the options on which mission to do, it still seemed fairly run-of-the-mill, but then again I only got to experience one set of options, which itself highlights one of the ways Adventures have a strong replayability aspect in comparison to traditional dungeons. Likewise, I discuss in the video, the fact the final boss is affected by the choices the player makes also spices up how each Adventure will turn out, and I feel these factors will contribute to what makes these pieces of group content a popular one in WildStar.
That said, it is the variety of tasks and gameplay mechanics on offer in the later Adventures that are the real point of interest. Take the Crimelords of Whitevale Adventure, where players pose as a biker gang whose hideout has been trashed. Players much follow the clues and decide who was responsible, perhaps teaming up with a rival gang to get the job done. Hulmes explained during our press run that the focus on story is what makes these Adventures a unique prospect in MMOs, and the fact that the whole thing takes place in a virtual reality means that Carbine can get really creative with what they throw at the player. I don’t just mean in terms of choices either, as players might encounter a boss or rare mob they had previously had to deal with as they were levelling, now with some crazy modifiers thrown in to make things really interesting the next time you clash.
I can already see a Rowsdower-powered Metal Maw happening – it’s both a wonderful and terrifying thought.
Of course, story isn’t the only thing on offer, as we’ve been teased with Adventures such as the Siege of Tempest Refuge and War of the Wilds. With Tempest Refuge, players are given a tower defence gain where they must build turrets and take on wave after wave of enemies in what I imagine will be something similar to Orcs Must Die!, while War of the Wilds is the MOBA-inspired Adventure I had previously mentioned. Personally, I’m very interested to see if Carbine are planning on turning that into a PvP mode of sorts (and potentially taking on LoL and Dota in the process) but for now, I think that particular Adventure could end up being the most popular one.
Actually, I take that back – Malgrave Trail could end up being a fan favourite. After all, the very thought of an Oregon Trail-inspired mode where player paths directly influence how well your caravan will do at certain things is a great twist that, once again, encourages various kinds of players to team up. That said, the idea of five Soldiers attempting to power through would be interesting, but is the fact the AI members of their caravan wouldn’t be able to identify poisonous food, all because they didn’t have a Scientist to hand, a risk worth taking? All of this on top of the choices players will have to make, such as going through a dangerous stretch of land filled with chomparabras, or go another route that’s much safer but has no water.
Yep, colour me “most intrigued.”
Now those of you who have watched the episode of Dealspwn Playthrough may have come to the conclusion that it all looked a little too easy – and I wouldn’t blame you, it was for the most part as I explain in the video – but that is rectified with the inclusion of Veteran modes at level 50, which Hulmes and Sterl promised would test the best of players. This would of course translate into the potential for better rewards, and the incoming changes that Hulmes promises to “instantaneous” rewards during the course of an Adventure (all thanks to beta tester feedback) should provide a much more satisfying experience overall.
Overall, I think Adventures have enough variety both in terms of gameplay mechanics and choices in the content to keep things interesting, and the fact Carbine can, potentially, add in more and plonk them down around Nexus, each with an even more crazy concept, means they could be a real alternative to Elder Game raiding should you not have a huge guild to team up with. Personally, with the veteran mode and the way it measures player contribution at the end, I wonder if there are any plans to include global leaderbaords to see who did the best runs overall. It’s not too far-fetched to think it’s possible, especially considering there had been murmurs of such being included for the raids in the Elder Game. At the end of the day, Adventures are yet another layer of content to the already bustling line-up of features in WildStar, and as long as the later level ones play half as good as they sound, I think Carbine could be onto a winner with them.
Man, and we haven’t even looked at the raids and Warplots yet. Hot. Damn.
Many thanks to Mark and Jan for taking the time to guide me through Adventures, and to NCSOFT for inviting me in to see even more of WildStar. Should you wish to consume even more of our content, you can of course, find pretty much everything you need to know by heading to our WildStar Hub page. Stay tuned, as we’ll be back with more WildStar coverage, including Matt’s own video series The Noob.
Actually, one more thing - you may want to check back to Dealspwn around 5pm GMT. Just saying...