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WildStar is an MMORPG built on Pixar-like bunnygirls, magic pistols, and home ownership

WildStar is an MMORPG built on Pixar-like bunnygirls, magic pistols, and home ownership

Looking at WildStar's Pixar-like visuals, and hearing its wacky characters voiced by the likes of Tara Strong and Jim Cummings, you might think that the game doesn't take itself seriously. You'd be wrong.

WildStar is an ambitious upcoming MMORPG from Carbine Studios. The game commits fully to its cartoonish aesthetic, with exaggerated motions and over-the-top designs, while blending sci-fi and fantasy genres with a world that utilizes technology, psychic powers, and magic, sometimes all at once.

It's basically Outlaw Star meets World of Warcraft meets The Incredibles, and it's as good as that sounds.

I took the one less traveled by

WildStar still features classes which fit nicely into the standard MMO holy trinity of tank, DPS, healer. Espers use their psychic talents to manifest spell-like abilities and enhance allies' effectiveness, Warriors get up close and personal with their heavy armor and technology-enhanced melee weapons, Stalkers are the rogue analogue with their giant claws and ability to go invisible thanks to nanomachines which inhabit their bodies, and Spellslingers fire magically-enhanced pistols.

While your class determines how you'll play through WildStar's content, it's your Path that will determine what content you see. After you've chosen a class, you'll  choose whether your character will follow the Path of the Explorer, Soldier, Scientist, or Settler. Each path presents different game play mechanics and incentives.

An Explorer, for example, can find and open hidden tunnels which run beneath the planet Nexus' surface to find additional quests, treasure, and enemies to fight. A Soldier might encounter a Holdout, where he has to either assault, defend, or survive against waves of enemies.

If you think you'd like diving into the game's lore, the Scientist path is all about collection and amassing hidden knowledge. If you want to make WildStar into a home and enjoy playing virtual real estate manager in space, the Settler path may be more your style. The game is built to suit all sorts of playstyles and, while I was disappointed to hear that there would be no Path re-speccing, the idea of a single world with multiple ways to experience it is exciting.

For the PAX East demo, I chose to play as a human Spellslinger Explorer – even though I really wanted to play as the long-eared bunnygirl Aurin. It was't long before I found my first Path-exclusive content, and I broke open a hole in the planet's surface to dive down into the tunnels below. This was where I learned about combat.

WildStar uses what Carbine is referring to as a “telegraph system” for combat. This means that both players and enemies will have to line up their attacks, with different-colored markings appearing on the ground to show where the attack will happen.

So, if my Spellslinger wants to shoot an enemy with her basic attack, I still have to make sure said enemy is within the cone that appears on the ground in front of her when I select the attack. Likewise, if an enemy tries to hit me, I can see where the attack will happen and, with good timing, dodge out of the way.

Lots of MMORPGs now feature an active dodge system of some type, but WildStar makes it a major focus, and even simple fights felt like they took effort instead of mindlessly spamming abilities in optimum cooldown-based rotation.

I didn't get to experience much variety in the enemies players could expect to fight, but a video shown to press revealed evil vending machines that rained down a hail of soda cans, voodoo mask-wearing pygmies, a mascot for a sports team captured and trained by cannibalistic monsters to hunt and kill its former masters, and space pirate priestesses raising astronauts from the dead.

It's good to have land

The other major feature shown off for PAX East was WildStar's housing system. While players won't be able to build personal homes on Nexus' surface, they will be able to own and customize a plot of land that floats above it, and invite other players to their land.

Your plot of land will start out pretty basic, but as you adventure you'll be able to expand and customize to build up virtual mansions. The cool thing is, these houses aren't just there for eye-candy and self-expression, they provide game play benefits.

Most everyone who plays MMORPGs is familiar with the trope that resting at an inn will increase how fast you accrue XP. WildStar not only gives you the most rest XP when you sleep off your adventures at home, but also gives you more rest XP the more stuff you have in your house. There's an incentive to collection and customization.

Players will also be able to turn their home into a veritable base of operations for whatever they enjoy most in MMORPGs. Like to craft? Your land can have a mine for ore and crafting bench on it. If you're big into raids and dungeons, place a personal raid portal that gives you a buff for using it. You can watch the dev speak video shown that introduced these features below:

House interiors are not connected to the exterior, so in that respect, the inside of your house is a totally different zone than the outside. Carbine said this was to help keep things running smoothly, as requiring the game to track both sets of assets was too much strain.

Other players will be able to visit your land and help out if you let them, but it's unclear as to how deep that relationship between players and property rights will go. The press was simply told teams were “in discussion” regarding the issue.

WildStar stands on four major pillars: housing, combat, personality, and episodic elder game content. I got a good look at three out of four. If the endgame can sustain the community and keep players interested, if it's as good as everything else I experienced, WildStar will be a game to pay attention to.

Carbine Studios wants to have its cake and it eat, too. It might also want your cake. And the cake of anime fans. And the cake of fantasy fans. And sci-fi fans. And furries. And homeowners.  And, and, and, the list goes on. If WildStar can deliver what it's promising – and based on my time with the game at PAX East, I think it will – it's going to be one big ball of sugary sweetness.

The game's beta is coming soon. “Really really really really really soon,” I was told. I can't wait.