Carbine Studios was founded by 17 former Blizzard employees that worked on World of Warcraft. The team has grown over the years as it’s been working on a new, colorful, action-oriented MMO. Wildstar focuses on sanding down MMOs’ rough edges by removing the tedium and guesswork from combat. During a demonstration in Cologne, Germany at Gamescom 2013, Carbine Studios outlined Wildstar’s unique approach to crowd control and telegraphing enemy attacks.
Crowd control is a fundamental part of any MMO. Characters keep groups of foes in check by casting sleep spells, binding enemies with roots, or disarming them. Being the victim of these tactics in player vs. player moments is frustrating due to the complete lack of control. Wildstar reintroduces player agency to make these moments less terrible. When you’re disarmed in Wildstar your weapon is actually knocked from your hand, and you can shorten the effect by running towards it and grabbing it. Being blinded doesn’t impact some hidden dice roll, but instead causes the screen to constrict and dilate with darkness like slowly blinking your eyes. Instead of being frozen in place, an enemy can limit your movement with a tethering move. These are just a few examples of keeping players engaged and moving.
Another MMO standby Carbine Studios wants to eradicate is the confusion that can go into dodging attacks. The majority of attacks in Wildstar are telegraphed by area-of-effect cues that appear as red blotches on the ground. These hints allow you to dodge incoming fire or lure a boss’s strike towards one of his minions instead. This visual indicator is taught early on and remains constant throughout Wildstar, reducing frustrating deaths. Carbine showed off a boss battle where a dragon forces the party into the eye of a whirlwind, then peppers in lightning strikes within. The standardized telegraphing system gives Carbine the leeway to do flashy battles like these without becoming cluttered or confusing.
These are just a few reasons to be excited about Wildstar. The sci-fi MMO also has a business model that gives players the opportunity to purchase 30 subscriptions using in-game currency (similar to EVE Online). Carbine Studios’ experience with World of Warcraft shines through in in its design and passion. These developers are clearly willing to do what it takes to remove the annoying bits from their MMO while retaining the fun. Wildstar is due for release on PC next year, but you can (possibly) try it out now by signing up for the beta.