Posted Thu, Feb 07, 2013 by Sardu
In the first installment of our epic WildStar Week extravaganza, I attempted to tackle the heaviest question out there when it comes to the wacky world of gaming: is it fun? While fun is often hard to properly quantify and is based more on a combination of reaction and reflection than a bland list of scientifically quantifiable criteria, I took a stab at doing so regardless.
For example, taking the garbage bins out to the curb each week isn’t something I’d necessarily quantify as fun. Sadly, a lot of MMO questing systems tend to devolve into the virtual equivalent of that type of repeatable, boring task. The good news is that WildStar is indeed an incredibly fun game to play. If you haven’t already taken the plunge, be sure to check out my updated hands-on impressions to discover why that’s the case.
Today I’ll be honing in on some of the key concepts that I briefly touched on in that particular article. So if you want to learn more about the Paths system, questing, elder game content, character progression, and the playable Exile races, then this episode is for you. So grab a frosty mug of the consumable liquid of your choice, sit back, and enjoy!
There are currently four known Paths in WildStar: Soldier, Scientist, Settler, and Explorer. You could almost think of Paths as a secondary class you’ll be able to select from the outset, complete with its own advancement system, quest lines, and specialized gameplay.
Of the four Paths, I had the opportunity to play as both a Soldier and Explorer through a good portion of the newly revealed Deradune map. Basic descriptions for these Paths along with some of my thoughts on the experience of playing each can be found below.
This path is largely combat-focused and allows you to “find and fight the
toughest foes in the galaxy”. One of the ways this is achieved is by
triggering and completing a series of Soldier Holdouts. You could almost
think of these like public quests that only soldiers can trigger.
Even though it takes a soldier to kick start the waves of enemy spawns, anyone in the immediate vicinity is able to participate. The more players that show up to the party, the more challenging the holdouts become, but they also become more rewarding as a result.
In Deradune, there were a total of 16 holdouts to be discovered. As you scamper around the map, you’ll be alerted to any holdouts in the area, and from there you can set your quest tracker to point you to their location. So even though this path is largely combat-focused, you’ll still need to do a bit of exploring to discover each of the holdouts on a given map.
The official description for the Explorer path notes that you will be able to “travel to the darkest corners of this mysterious planet while discovering the locations of ancient artifacts of immense power” and that you will “climb higher, dig deeper, and go farther than anyone in order to claim territory in the name of your faction.”
In a nutshell, if you’re the type of MMO gamer who hits a new map and runs directly past the quest NPCs to see what that shiny thing is on a distant hillside, or truly enjoys climbing around the terrain to see where it might lead you, then the explorer path is for you. This Path suits my playstyle perfectly, so it was my first choice for hitting Deradune on my spellslinger.
The official description here is pretty accurate. Of the explorer quests I discovered and completed in Deradune, some were essentially elaborate jumping puzzles that culminated in planting a flag for my faction, while others allowed me to open up a massive underground tunnel system.
The latter I found particularly interesting because it not only opened up a sizable chunk of new content in the zone, but the tunnels also served as a means of fast travel across the map. I would discover a new entrance which would trigger a short quest, ultimately allowing me to exit the tunnels in a different location in another part of the zone. This was somewhat reminiscent of the way sewers worked in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines for those of you familiar with that game.
WildStar is an interesting specimen when it comes to questing. For those MMO gamers who have come to expect that each new town or outpost will have a number of NPCs milling around with an exclamation mark floating over their head, that approach is certainly available. While most of these quests I picked up were standard fare in terms of the activities involved, you could almost think of these more obvious quests as a means of pointing you in the direction of additional, less obvious content.
For example, as I wandered the arid savannah of Deradune killing critters, huntress NPCs could be seen wandering the map. A UI indicator informs you of their approximate distance, and the closer they are while you defeat creatures, the better your experience will be.
Not only that but engaging creatures in combat could trigger additional challenges. So say you’re beating the snot out of a group of malverines. Above your normal quest tracker you could randomly have a challenge alert pop up informing you of the number of malverines to defeat, with a countdown timer indicating how long you have to complete the challenge.
So the idea here is that an NPC back at the outpost might have asked you to thin the malverine population, and in doing so you could trigger additional content that can lead to even more rewards if you do so in the vicinity of a local huntress. There are plenty of other variants on this type of branching content to discover while out and about, so for those of you who don’t necessarily dig the whole outpost breadcrumb questing thing will still have loads of things to do while out exploring.