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Carbine Studios Introduces a New MMO Experience with WildStar
NCsoft’s Carbine Studios used Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany, to debut a brand-new massively multiplayer online (MMO) experience that was four years in the making: WildStar. The game takes place in the Wild West of deep space on the mysterious planet Nexus. A polished three-act playable build of the new cel-shaded science fiction western game was playable on the show floor. Chad Moore, the creative lead designer at Carbine Studios, says he and his teammates are big fans of Joss Whedon’s “FireFly.”
Looking at the visuals, the developer is also a fan of console games. Two of the things that separate WildStar from the rest of the MMO field are the look and feel of the game. This PC game looks and plays like a console experience. WildStar offers a diverse range of locales and environments to explore. The demo featured an area high in the mountains that offers gorgeous vistas and low gravity, which opens up unique fighting options as rocks and boulders are floating around as cover.
But it retains the depth of a PC MMO. Moore says the team likes the MMO genre and this game packs enough depth for the most devoted MMO gamers. The team has taken a layered approach to gameplay, mini-quests and adventures to allow everyone from casual to more devoted players to engage in the fun, says Moore.
The game allows players to make their mark in this world by following a player path as explorers, soldiers, scientists or settlers. After the players choose one of these paths during the character-creation phase, a number of secondary objectives and gameplay mechanics become available for the players as they embark on their careers. An explorer will be able to scale huge mountains and explore hidden caves, while a scientist can scan items to unlock the secrets and mysteries behind the world. Builders can unlock new buildings for the development of towns, while soldiers can direct players against enemy positions.
WildStar also offers a variety of classes like the Spellslinger, who fires dual pistols in firefights, and the Warrior, who wields a very big sword. The role-playing game elements add to each character class. For example, with every consecutive sword swing, the Warrior accumulates adrenaline, which can be used to trigger special attacks in combat. Momentum mechanics also play into the combat, as players unlock special abilities as they successfully perform dodges and attacks in fights based on their characters and paths.
Speaking of enemies, the game offers plenty of creatures, characters and bosses to contend with. Taking a page from classic console gameplay, most enemies will follow a pattern that, once memorized, will make it easier to dodge attacks and then go in for the kill. The key to earning experience points is killing enemies skillfully, and players and clans will be rewarded for variables, including fastest kills, says Moore.
PC gamers will be able to make choices about how they want to engage enemies, especially in boss battles. The game has been built as a series of mini-games, says Moore. In any given battle, there are multiple ways to win. And the player is given an array of moves (many straight from a platform game) to solve boss battles. As the player progresses to higher-level engagements, the mini-games are stacked on top of each other, so the challenges remain fresh.
The world of Nexus is wrapped in mystery, which propels a backstory forward for those who want to unlock the reasons that the Eldan left the planet. Nexus used to be protected by giant laser guns (think Death Star) that shot any ships out of the sky. But the inhabitants, the ancient Eldan race, fled abruptly. From a gameplay perspective, this opens up plenty of treasures to uncover. But it also creates challenges, as whatever drove the Eldan away is likely something players will have to contend with.
MMO fans will be able to journey to Nexus next year, and Carbine Studios hopes that all of the work they’ve put into developing an MMO experience that blends the genres of sci-fi, western and fantasy will pay off for online gamers.
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