Carbine Content Designer CRB_J-Tal speaks about forms of progression in WildStar.
Carbine Content Designer, CRB_J-Tal, has been spending quite a bit of time on the WildStar-Central forums lately. This week he talked about the three different progression paths players will be presented with in WildStar. And before you get stuck on the word "Path", the types of progression paths being referred to here aren't tied to the player-chosen Paths of Soldier, Settler, Explorer or Scientist that get selected at character creation. Instead he's referring to ways players can expect to progress through the game, including once they've hit the level cap and have reached the "End Game", commonly referred to by Carbine as "Elder Game".
Let's take a look at the three most common forms of WildStar's progression paths.
For PVPers, being able to do what you enjoy throughout a game's entirety is something that is required for an MMO to keep its player vs player audience entertained these days, and for good reason. No PvPer wants to be told that the content they enjoy the most is only accessible after you've reached the end of the game. Good news for this crowd - WildStar is allowing the PvP crowd to do what they love pretty much from the start. At early levels players will have access to Open-World PVP and a variety of Battlegrounds. Once you've hit level cap the doors open up a bit more, letting players participate in 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 Arena Matches. Let's also not forget one of the most anticipated PvP features--"Warplots". These 40v40 "fortress vs fortress" style matches will also become accessible upon reaching max level.
Now let's talk itemization a bit and what PvPers can expect in terms of gear progression. And yes, there will be gear progression in WildStar's PVP. PVP gear will have stats similar to other gear (Grit, Moxie, Insight, Brutality, Finesse and Tech), but it will ultimately be defined by the two necessary PvP stats, "PvP Offense" and "PvP Defense". As you may have guessed from the names, PvP Offense allows you to deal more damage to enemy players, while PvP Defense means you'll take less damage from incoming player attacks. Why have these extra stats at all? It means that if you choose to PvP, you in your full PvP gear will ultimately be better at what area you choose to focus on (beating up other players in this case), compared to someone in full raiding gear that decides to challenge you to a duel.
On the topic of raiding, let's shift over to the PvE side of things and talk a bit about a raiders progression. Getting to the point where you're able to enter a raid hasn't been changed up that much in WildStar as far as we know. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's something that most raiders are comfortable with at this point, because it feels like a natural progression through a game. You start your journey off fighting measly thugs and eventually work your way up to the dramatic "Final Boss" fight. In WildStar things work in a similar manner. You'll start doing your normal questing and leveling, then move on to some of the more challenging instanced content including Adventures and Dungeons, then you'll start doing runs through the level-cap veteran Dungeons and Adventures in order to get the gear you need to begin the first steps at raiding. Similar to PvP gear, raiding gear will also have additional stats needed to further "specialize" in your area of play.
"Raiding also has stats necessary to be your most optimal in the raid. Strikethrough (Hit - DPS), Deflect Critical (Defense - Tank), and Recovery (Mana/Focus Regen - Healer). These are pretty-much-required to be an effective raider."
We also know that crafted gear will play a significant role at Elder game, although we still have very few details on the subject. Hopefully once we get a full crafting reveal we'll be able to see where they fit in the gear progression puzzle.
Solo/Small Group Progression
Solo and small group progression is the third major form of progression in WildStar. This is for the group of players who commonly get neglected in a lot of MMOs, even though according to Executive Producer, Jeremy Gaffney, end up being around 60% of the MMO player base. And while the exact definition of a "solo" player could be defined as many different things, the truth is that there are many players who tend to fall into this "Solo/Small Group oriented" category at some point or another, no matter how frequent it may be. For players who enjoy this type of content the most in their MMO, they are often told that once they reach End Game, they either have to raid or do PvP in order to keep progressing. This doesn't seem to be the case with WildStar.
We already know of several forms of small group content such as Housing Expeditions, Dungeons, Adventures and the recently announced Shiphands. Carbine also teased us with another form of instanced content that has yet to be revealed in the "Crossing The Streams" WildStar Wednesday post. However this new instanced type could potentially fall into the PvP side of things for all we know.
Despite this already substantial list of content, WildStar seems to really be keeping solo/small group players in mind by also giving them soloable instanced content that begins at max level. Apart from quests and Dungeons, these solo story instances will help unfold the main story of WildStar and will be expanded upon with content updates so players always have more solo content to look forward to. This isn't including Path content, housing content or even crafting progression, for all of you hardcore crafters out there.
The important thing that solo/small group players should take away from this is that you'll always have some form of character progression outside of raiding to look forward to and won't have to simply "roll an alt" in order to continue having fun in game, even though that's always an option. Should you decide that you want to step into more difficult content for even better rewards, there's incentive to do so without it feeling as "forced" as it may seem in other games.
"Solo/Small Group doesn't really need any stats other than the base stats to be effective. You'll need far less Strikethrough, Deflect Critical and Recovery than you would in raiding. This allows us to tune the solo gear to be more effective for soloing while lacking key stats necessary to raid.
...There will always be some overlap - (Crafted PvP gear, a really awesome world drop that has a ton of Hit on it, Raid gear still effective for soloing, etc.) - but it should mitigate a lot of the issues inherent with a Raiding/Soloing/PvPing MMO itemization plan (i.e. getting Solo gear that's better than Raid gear, getting Raid gear that's better then PvP gear, getting PvP gear that's better than Raid gear)."
We'll have to pay close attention to WildStar's itemization and how often Carbine ends up dishing out content for the game post-launch in order to determine if this is successful or not. If this ends up working the way it sounds, players of all types shouldn't have to worry about lack of progression during or after the leveling process. With WildStar offering significant amounts of content to all types of players, Carbine seems to be making it clear that they intend to "earn" your sub each month, as some of the devs have stated, by providing a large amount of fun and quality things to do in the game.
Let me know what you think of Carbine's approach in the comments section below and what specific area you plan on progressing in. For more WildStar information be sure to check out the game's official website and stay dialed into ZAM for more WildStar news updates.
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Corey "Cyglaive" Jenkins
Follow Corey on Twitter @Cyglaive