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WildStar: Reimagining Ancient Game Mechanics

Posted Tue, Oct 01, 2013 by Dalmarus

WildStar may be lighthearted and humorous at its core, but it’s clear that Carbine has every intention of making this a full-fledged MMO with all the trimmings. We still may not have a release date, but as the development team at Carbine Studios plugs away at the game, the community team continues to feed us bits and pieces of information. 

The Devspeak videos they’ve provided to the public are certainly entertaining, but they’re also informative for those that look beyond the quick laughs. Despite what the hype of the marketing team would have you believe, WildStar isn't reinventing the wheel or even adding any revolutionary systems… or is it? 

WildStar is full of subtle changes and differences from what players have become accustomed to and I think most gamers are ready for something different. Taken individually, the game mechanics so far appear to be nothing new. Mobile spell casting? Seen it. Dodge mechanics? Seen ‘em. What about crowd control? Yep, seen that too. While I don’t think any of this is truly new, that doesn’t mean we’re not seeing some new spins put on each of these.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the new mechanics the development team has talked about. First up? Crowd control. I am, without any doubt or exaggeration, a huge proponent of the need for proper crowd control in MMOs. For groups to succeed in EverQuest, it was a mandatory skill. Whether you depended on your Enchanter for mezzing, your Druid for animal charms, or a character that filled the role of off-tank, you *had* to be able to control the movements and actions of multiple adversaries. 

Over the years, this skill (and even its inclusions in games) has been going the way of the dodo. Crowd control these days means making sure the tank is able to agro everything in an area and keep them all beating on his (or her) armor. I won’t lie – it drives me crazy. I miss the days of the teamwork that used to be required to handle large pulls. WildStar isn’t going back to a system that old, but they are doing something very new in terms of controlling those around you. 

Along with players having multiple methods of CCing a mob (stun, sleep, knockdown, etc.), they’re also making sure you have a chance to not lose control of your own character. There’s nothing as frustrating as getting hit with a stun and having to stand there as your character gets beat to a bloody pulp. With their new system, your character will always have an opportunity to get of the proverbial jail, depending on the situation at hand. Dazed characters will be able to fast-tap a key to break the stun. Disarmed characters can run to where their weapon flew off to. Blinded characters can still cast, but they may miss. These ideas, along with some others detailed in an earlier Devspeak video will give combat and crowd control a very welcome facelift.

 

Next up? Ability mechanics. Even though it’s not something completely new, I’m a fan of how their aiming system is currently looking. One of the big changes from what players are used to is the ability to cast while moving. This isn’t a new concept, but when combined with the rest of the combat system, it is something that’s going to be very refreshing to MMO veterans as well as newbies. Unlike other implementations we’ve seen of this from past games (such as Vanguard: Saga of Heroes), players will be able to cast most of their abilities while moving at full speed. This even includes most charging spells. 

That’s something new that I can’t think of any game trying it before – charging spells no longer have to get to full charge to be used. We’ve seen that the battlefield is clearly going to be changing rapidly, making a standard charge spell mechanic frustrating at best, and desk-flipping at worst. With this new system, players will be able to use their charge-up abilities without the fear of them being completely wasted if they suddenly have to dodge out of the way of an incoming attack. 

The game is still in a closed beta state, but I think it may be something new and exciting not because of each individual mechanic, but because of the way each system interlinks and depends on the others. Four months ago, I talked about the importance of interlinking game mechanics. EverQuest did a brilliant job of it and while I think it’s too soon to tell, the WildStar team may well be on the verge of something special as well. 

Can the team at Carbine pull off a minor miracle by attempting to bring a subscription-based game to the market after everyone else has adopted a free-to-play model? That’s a topic for another day, but I do think WildStar is definitely a title to keep an eye on. What do you think though? Are these mechanic changes something to get excited about? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter!
 

"That’s something new that I can’t think of any game trying it before – charging spells no longer have to get to full charge to be used"

Not entirely true. Champions Online has something like that.

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