On Tuesday, I talked about how the overall presentation of WildStar devoured me whole, convincing me of the powerful playground the game is. Today, in this second part of Live from Nexus, I want to talk about what makes the gameplay of WildStar so strong, and why you should give this MMORPG a go.
Y’know, I did my share of game design in my life. I did, really…when I was 13. Back then, I played around in the amateur game design tool known as RPG Maker 2000, hoping I would somehow brew up the next Final Fantasy VI. I never created the messiah of RPG gaming, but I learned a lot about the complexities of game design. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that a good game is one that plays well. Yes, story and characters can carry a game, but when a game is simply no fun to play, everything falls apart. If all I want are good characters and a gripping story, I might as well watch a movie or read a book. A game is an interactive experience, and thus, the interaction should be engaging and fun. I learned that when I was 14 years old, but I’m still astounded by how many adult game designers fail to grasp this concept.
Fortunately, the guys at Carbine understand that gameplay is important: everything in WildStar supports the goal of challenging, yet fun gameplay. Combat isn’t static, tab-targeting clicking: it’s dynamic movement to dodge enemy telegraphs and positioning your character in the right way. The game is not just a string of quests sending you from the village of Questhub to the city of Questhub D.C.: along the way, you are faced with impromptu challenges that dangle cool rewards in front of your nose like a carrot. These things keep you engaged and interested, mixing good gameplay with fun activities.
Fun, that’s what Carbine has injected into every part of WildStar‘s design. It doesn’t stop at the combat and questing. The addition of the Path system, supporting your favorite playstyle, is like the developers saying: “Hey, you enjoy doing X? Well, have some cool stuff for doing that!” If you like to check every nook and cranny in the world, why don’t create an Explorer and get rewarded with a teleporting device and a cool bandana? If you’d rather chop down even more monsters, why don’t you become a Soldier and bring the pain to ALL THE MONSTERS? Carbine acknowledges different ways to have fun in an MMORPG and rewards you for doing what you like.
But that’s not all. As much as I could praise the amount of fun Carbine has injected into the game, what I think is the greatest testament to the developer’s utter devotion to enjoyable gameplay is the housing system. Now, when an MMORPG includes housing, you’ll already have me as a fan. When you do it like Carbine, you’ll have me as a lover. Not only is it fun to expand your plot with all kinds of decors (some as classy as an outhouse), but you can adjust your house to support what you enjoy. Like to craft somewhere on your own leisure, with some crafting nodes just around the corner? Put your own crafting bench on your plot along with some nodes! Want to create a cool locale to roleplay with your friends? I’m not stopping you, and neither is this game. Play the game the way you enjoy it, ’cause nobody cares what you put into your digital frontyard.
WildStar’s gameplay understands what I want out of my gameplay: simple, honest fun. Everything I do in the game is proof to that, and as long as Carbine continues to serve that goal, I can be found on Nexus. If you ever see a Spellslinger called Ikos frantically climbing some rocks on the Lightspire server, say hi and know that I’m just doing what this game wants me to do: having fun.