Ever felt like your life needed a little more turn-based Viking RPG action? You might be in luck. We’ve teamed up with Stoic to give away 5 The Banner Saga Deluxe Edition Steam keys.
Released in January 2014, The Banner Saga is a tactical, turn-based Viking role-playing game with rich, colorful graphics and a choice-based narrative structure that forces players to make some hard decisions throughout the course of the game. The Banner Saga originally started out as a successful Kickstarter campaign and is now available on Steam.
The Deluxe Edition is a $29.99 value and comes with the official soundtrack that includes 29 musical tracks by the Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory (yep, the same guy who composed the Journey soundtrack).
There are three ways to enter. Using the handy widget below, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and/or tweet about the giveaway to enter. You can enter using one method or more than one– totaling up to three possible chances to win. Make sure you use the widget below to officially enter.
The contest will run until Wednesday, August 13th at 12 AM EST.
Get those entries in, good luck, and get ready to experience some badass Viking goodness?v=14841" align="absmiddle" class="wiki-markup image-absmiddle" border="0" />
If you are like many MMORPG players who love to customize your game from character creation to wardrobe, ArcheAge is the game for you. Not only have XLGAMES presented some incredibly beautiful artwork before you even log in, but they’ve teamed up with Trion to mold the Western marketplace experience into one where players see an onslaught of mounts, gliders, and wardrobe items that make this animation addict giddy with excitement.
Alpha Update July 29th
The alpha store added new store items!
Last week’s closed beta introduced more glider choices along with elegant wardrobe attire and items to apply crests (previewed above) which had only been available for your ships and capes previously. This week 3 styles of mounts were added (previewed below) in a variety of colors which are continent specific. This leads me to believe we will see many mounts in true Trion style which is something adored by many in RIFT.
Summertime Street Cred
It appears the flavor for Summer in ArcheAge is youthful and casual with bold color choices and sleek dyes (previewed below with crest applications) to mix and match further. From accessories that include hats and bracelets to shoes as casual as flip flops to fancy high heels– yes, I was delighted at the Kiwi Splash wardrobe items shown in this article’s feature image with the Spring Breeze glider.
How to Change the Look of Your Wardrobe
Fusion Alembic as shown in the picture with the dyes toward the top of the article is the item needed to fuse the look of an Image Item with a Stat Item you would like to keep. By going to the Blacksmith and selecting H you will be prompted to enter the items in question. From what we can show you so far (to the right), you need 5 Fusion Alembic to complete the customization of a glider, the item with the blue flower being the one that slots into “Image Item.”
Be warned you will lose the Image Item upon fusion so choose wisely. We checked to see if there was any way to otherwise obtain an Image Item, and it appears you used to be able to by acquiring 6 Star Cakes from the Fairmoon Potion Stand but this most likely has been removed with the store’s addition. Feel free to let us know if this crucial vanity item can be crafted in the comments below and we’ll check it out!
Sunny day fun in ArcheAge! PUMPED for this week’s beta!
Hey there, Junkies! Vitality here, coming to you with the fruits of this week’s ArcheAge challenge. I have been tasked to search out a quick way to crush the first ten levels of ArcheAge‘s western (Human) continent while keeping the gold gained per minute as high as possible to facilitate that all-important day one land grab.
Let’s jump right in to some basic preparation tips you should aim for before starting:
Estimated setup time: One minute
Levels 1 – 7: Solzreed Fox Grind
These foxes are a straight up gold mine at this range– legitimately unbeatable when compared to all the other starter zones.
Immediately off to the right side of the initial starting point of the Nui zone you’ll see our beloved foxes.
Battlerage characters have a huge advantage here as they’re able to do a frontal cone AoE on the third strike of their starter ability (Triple Slash). This cone-like finisher attack can be hard to get the hang of because it seems like the AoE damage is allocated locally in relation to your target. This might be a little buggy.
Tab target/click through all the foes and launch an arrow to each one. Pull up to 8 foxes, but be sure not to go over the 8 fox maximum or they’ll trigger a Gathering buff which will reduce the damage they take by 80%.
Bunch them up and go to town with Triple Slash. You can hold the key and the game will repeat the action so you don’t blast your hand right out of the gate. Take advantage of the game’s auto-target nearest feature too with this.
What the heck are dynamically localized spawn timers?
If you kill a certain amount of enemies in a given area they’ll repopulate quicker, so we focus our efforts on one particular spot of 8 foxes in sets of four to set up a cyclical pulling structure. +Efficiency, bro!
Do back to back pulls until your mana runs low then loot all the coin purses. Typically non XP-gaining functions like looting or UI adjustments etc. should be done during this low-mana downtime period. This includes opening coin purses too as you’ll need at least 65 silver by the time you’re done.
Estimated time to get from levels 1-7 and average 75 coin purses (~1.5 gold): 20-25 minutes depending on local player density
Level 7: Story Quests and Bees!
Alright pro, right about this time you should be the richest person on the server, netting somewhere in the 1.5 – 2 gold range. Don’t let that go to your head– wealth’s not all about gold these days. Let’s hit the story quests on the way out of fox paradise.
Story quests are most easily recognizable by their green exclamation point as opposed to the yellow ones scattered everywhere. The importance here is that they reward you with Gilda Stars. You’re going to need as many Gilda Stars as you can get your hands on come day one. They’re the base currency for purchasing property and other similar amenities (among many other uses).
We’d be crazy to pass up early opportunities at easy Gilda Stars, especially considering the story quests in this area are just straight up pathetically fast and easy.
Since you simply need to pick up the green quests and talk to the next person down the road, I won’t bother going into too much detail for these. However when you get to Bluemist Forest you’ll have one portion of the quest which will require you to activate an item in front of the NPC. You can just click the item on your quest tracker and move on down the road. Pretty standard fare.
Smash your way through the green quests and speed barrels all the way to Wardton. You should be about 50% into level 7 at this point. After completing the story quest in Wardton you’ll notice the next quest objective (noted on your map as a green circle) is way the hell in the southeast. Yeah, right. Let’s save that for later.
Make your way to the Weapon Merchant in town which is fairly close to the last story quest turn-in. Pick up a level 7 two-handed weapon. This will cut the TTK of the bees you passed straight up in half.
Now, make your way north of Wardton to the small bee forest along the road (located marked on map to the left). Take note though, these guys aren’t as easy as the foxes. You’ll have to take your time here getting into a rotation and you won’t really be able to AoE farm these.
Typically these bees will go down in two auto attacks and two Triple Slashes. So don’t blast mana on Charge or anything else because this will decrease the number of bees you kill per downtime period significantly.
Murder these bees until level 10.
Estimated total completion time of 55 – 70 minutes total (20-25 for foxes, 30-45 for bees).
Alright, man. You made me kill bees for 30 minutes straight. Now what?
Small Farm Quest Time!
Bust your butt west to Lilyut Hills: Windshade. Hit the book in town and bind yourself there. The run should take about 6 minutes. West of the fork in the road at Windshade you’ll see a public farm. There’s a Farmer NPC there with a green plant over his head. This is the start of the small Farm quest chain. You’ll have to gather water at the well nearby and water some corn, buy a potato eye from the seed vendor, and plant it. You’ll then have to run to the Auction House vendor to the west and back. Presto! You now have access to small farm designs, wood, and tax certificates.
After you get your small farm, the same guy will send you up north to talk to another NPC to show you how to plant your farm down on the land. Don’t bother with that just yet. Instead, let’s go grab some choice land!
My personal choice land is on the northern coast of Two Crowns at Moonswept Homes. This spot gives you ideal boat access and a great crafting town with easy trade pack setups. The run takes about 20 minutes from the small farm quest if you aren’t lucky enough to catch any trams.
Cut south through Dewstone plains, down the eastern coast, and cut across the southern water channel. Make sure to stick to the right-hand side cliff because there are some pretty aggressive mobs out in the water. The mermaids off to the right are neutral. Head east across the beach until you get to Moonswept Homes. Make sure you dip into the town to get the teleport waypoint logged into your book. Then head north to the beach and find a nice spot for your farm. If it’s day one, you should be one of the first people there.
Before you head out!
Pop some geese, beans and, strawberries down on your completed small farm. You’ll need these for the large farm quest. Geese straight up take 6 hours to mature, so get them down early and be sure to only pluck the feathers and not butcher them instead!
Now run off, master of farms, the world is yours!
If you liked this guide or have any questions or suggestions for an article you’d like to see in the future please be sure to leave a comment below!
The post ArcheAge: Speed Nui Battlerage Leveling Guide for Levels 1-10 appeared first on JunkiesNation.
Perfect World Entertainment announced this morning that Neverwinter, their flagship Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG, will be brought to next-gen consoles by Cryptic Studios. The game will first be available on the Xbox One in the first half of 2015 for NA and EU gamers. Like the PC version, the Xbox One version will be completely free-to-play with an optional cash shop.
Perfect World Entertainment CEO, Alan Chen, had this to say regarding the announcement: “Consoles are a perfect fit for action-oriented MMORPGs like Neverwinter, and we are thrilled to be one of the first publishers to bring premium free-to-play titles to leading next-gen platforms. Being able to bring Neverwinter to the Xbox One is a critical achievement for Perfect World. It is our first step taking our games beyond the PC market.”
Released in 2013, Neverwinter is now entering its fourth module in August 2014 with the upcoming release of Tyranny of Dragons, Neverwinter. For more info, check out the official site.
So here we are at week two of Hearthstone‘s Naxxramas release. This week we have the Plague Wing, and Hearthhead once again had guides out in record time. Those who wanted to use Alexstraza for easy wins will be saddened to that her power’s been disabled for these battles, but I’m fine with that. I always liked the “dance” mechanic for Mr. Unclean, so I’ve actually been looking forward to that match since his hero power was first revealed. However, after last week, there was one thing I wasn’t looking forward to: destroying one of my decks again.
While I kind of like the idea of these “raids,” I dislike the single player aspect, and I dislike the fact that they’re mostly gimmicky (like most raid encounters). I think they’d be much better either being multiplayer events or using cards available to players. After all, the single player game feels more like a tutorial than the real game. How often will we know the deck our opponent is using and be asked to combat cards that would be grossly overpowered if not for (thankfully) clumsy AI? Add to it the fact that only have space to make one deck for each class and making these gimmick decks (notice the plural) causes me to have to rewrite down the decks I like, delete them, make a new deck, (hopefully) beat the encounter, save the gimmick deck’s information for later, then rebuild the deck that’s actually going to be useful to me against players.
However, this week’s card rewards excite me. Druid and priest have been growing on me, so the Stoneskin Gargoyle will probably find a lot of employment with me. Loatheb‘s a great legendary, in that it passes the “Vanilla test” (you want to be paying the same mana for a card’s power at the very least, even if it has no abilities) plus punishes your opponent’s spell casting next turn, and that’s only for 5 mana! I’m also a sucker for beast decks, so Webspinner should prove some fun considering the creatures she can summon.
Duplicate, though, could be tough. You can’t sacrifice a creature during your own turn to trigger secrets anymore, so you’ll need to trick your opponent into killing the right one, and not a dud. However, we also get Sludge Belcher. I love using taunt cards because they annoy people, but imagine cloning the belcher two times and having 2 in your deck. That’s 6 belchers plus their taunting pets. The thought alone makes me giggle.
Unstable Ghoul has some people suggesting its use in warrior decks but I’m hesitant about it. Warriors usually have fragile creatures and we’re aiming for the face. We’re not known for having the best control, and giving our opponent a bomb to trigger just seems like a bad idea. Of course, if you comboed to use that bomb, I could see some possibilities.
When I first logged in and tried to buy the new wing, I wasn’t allowed to. Relogging fixed the problem, but my brother had the exact same issue when he logged in eight hours after the wing went live.
Everything was… easy on normal. Absolutely no challenge, and I didn’t even use my best decks. Perhaps not even the best ones to tackle them. Noth got my druid spell power deck, Heigan got my beast (non-zoo) deck, though my holy priest deck felt like a natural counter to Loatheb.
The hunter challenge uses a deck of 30 Webspinners, so it’s quite random. And fun. However, out of all the matches you play, this one is a “play as many creatures as possible” encounter for sure. Even Loatheb’s board clear will give you minions to take advantage of his spores. I focused on building up my side with as many minions as possible without destroy spores, waiting until I had at least two fairly beefy minions and 2 spores to directly attack Loatheb with. This “challenge” wasn’t hard, but it was fun.
That being said, it’s only for fun. It might be a good way to trick someone into getting their own Hearthstone account, since while being fun, there really isn’t much you can learn about playing the game from an encounter like that. A new player experiencing that fight will honestly learn some bad habits they’ll need to learn to break really quickly.
The mage challenge is also quite a push over. I wasn’t really paying attention and just facerolled the game with simple combos involving pulling secrets and triggering the appropriate deaths for my minions. As predicted, duplicate was fun enough to use, and you can potentially use the combo I mentioned above. Have fun!
While normal mode felt easier, heroic felt tougher. I had to peek at a few decks to get some ideas. Certain cards were obvious, but finding the right tempo was difficult. Mage got me some close games with its on-call pings, but the cards that ultimately won the day were Lightwell, Shadow Word: Pain, Elven Archer, and Holy Nova.
Stoneskin Gargoyle, while useful, felt like it took too long to set up, especially with the druid. I had some close calls with the druid since I didn’t mind using Naturalize on an NPC. The problem was that the damage just came too fast for the druid, even when I tried mixing in some heals. I had the same issues with my mage attempts. I really felt like I needed the heals and high defense of Lightwell to push me through.
However, one thing that’s good about these new wings is the cards they introduce to the game as a whole. Arenas certainly felt different. I found myself picking rogues more thanks to their new card. Again, I’m not the best arena player. I average 3-4 wins each time, and have gotten up to 9 wins twice. This week, though, using the rogue, I had 5 and 7 wins and only made 5 decks total, so that’s not too bad for me. I don’t feel like I’ve seen as much change in the ladders matches, but honestly, I just played those for my daily quests so I could comment here. Normally I just stick to rank 20 and then do casual matches, but I pinged up and down between 17 and 14 this week, and my losses were mostly against the usual zoo decks.
I expect this week’s cards to have a larger impact on the game. While the Nerubian Egg seemed to be everyone’s pick, I didn’t feel like it shook things up too much. I mean, let’s face it: board clearing for anyone other than mages can be rather difficult and infrequent.
With the Unstable Ghoul out though, we may see that change. Everyone is counting it as anti-zoo, which has dominated arena for awhile. Just the same, its indiscriminate damage hurts your own minions as well, so I’m not sure how strong a pick it will be as a common. Too many and you can risk constantly blowing up your own side. Building heartily after getting one and never seeing a second one can equally screw you. I’m sure mages, priests, and druids will find good use for it, but I feel the other classes should really be careful with this pick.
Next week, we’ll be doing the Construct Quarter, and I’ll finally get to start playing around with a Deathrattle deck thanks to Baron Rivendare.
Update: For those looking for a deck to beat Heroic Noth and Heigan, there’s a deck that handles both. It’s not perfect, so feel free to tweak it, but it is very useable. It seems like priests are a strong pick for this week!
The post Spreading Disease Like a Dog: Naxxramas Plague Wing Thoughts appeared first on JunkiesNation.
For those of you who don’t know Mark McKenna, he’s a Inkwell Awards Hall of Famer and a veteran in the comic book industry with over 29 years of experience. Mark has worked with both Marvel and DC Comics on some of the largest names including X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, and The Justice League. His name is forever showcased on the credits of over 500 comics with over 8,000 pages inked by his hands.
Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Mark twice– once at a local comic-con and again at my hometown comic book store on Free Comic Book Day. I was impressed with his work so much that I have 6 of his prints hanging in my downstairs bathroom (is that weird?) and have picked up comics from his other project called Combat Jacks.
Mark recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the printing of the latest installment of the Banana Tail comic, the BOOnana Tail Halloween Special. So far there have been 3 Banana Tail books printed and this would be the first comic. It’s planned to be a 32-page comic book that will be catered to readers of all ages. He’s set a goal of only $3,000 for the campaign with the majority of the proceeds going to the printing of the comic. Mark is no noob when it comes to the crowdfunding arena. He’s successfully raised funds for 5 other projects.
Update: The BOOnana Tail Halloween Special Kickstarter campaign has been full funded!
Here’s the video from the campaign:
The campaign ends very soon– on Sunday, August 3rd at 1:06 EDT. If you’d like to support a worthy project head on over to Kickstarter now!
Now as a special surprise to our readers, Mark took some time to do a short Q&A with me:
1.) What drove you to crowdfund BOOnana Tail by going directly to the fans instead of taking the more conventional route? Do you think crowdfunding projects will be the new normal in the years to come?
I like crowdfunding and I believe it’s becoming an important tool for creating products from ideas that possibly couldn’t be afforded otherwise. Saying that, I do think there are issues with too much of it and everybody looking to create and produce dream projects. I think that people may get tired of it at some point…
2.) Why is the BOOnana Tail project so dear to your heart? What makes it special?
BOOnana Tail AKA Banana Tail was the first creation I thought of when my kids were very young and my dad came up with the concepts for Banana Tail and his friends. The very fact that my father came up with the ideas for the unique monkey and his pals and he’s not here to see it move along and be proud of something he helped create makes it all the more important for me. It also came along at a lean time in comics as the boom ended in 1992/93 and many creators were left wondering if they’d ever work again. I needed to keep my feet moving and create new avenues.
3.) Could you share with us what’s it like to be Mark McKenna? What does your typical day look like? I know you don’t just ink for 8 hours a day!
It’s amazing being me! Are you kidding? Everybody should want to be me for a day! LOL… Of course that’s not true. I am visiting my late 50s now and I stay in shape by running 3 times a week to keep fit and keep the vitals all moving. I am the recent parent of an empty nest, so both kids are off in college and my wife works as a big wig in the HR department at a pharmaceutical company.
I usually do my social media stuff after 8 AM, run around at 9 AM, and start to work around 11 AM. I’m not as good as I’d like to be with organization as far as what’s next in the pecking order of work to be done. Is it this commission or that one? I’d consider my organizational skills to be organized chaos, but not really chaos. Whatever is below chaos maybe. I work until I have to get dinner going. I’ve taken over the cooking since my wife went back to college to complete her Masters, and I have to say I love cooking. I’m pretty good at it too. It’s creative, so I dig it. I usually will go back to work after dinner until about 10 PM and call it a night, sitting with the Mrs. until bed.
4.) You’ve been doing this for over 29 years now, and you’ve been part of some amazing projects. What’s the most memorable project you’ve ever worked on? Please tell me it was Batman related.
Working on Detective was certainly a huge highlight for me! Inking Detective from #769 which is the original Batman series was awesome… I also loved the Parallax: The Final Night one-shot and The JLA: World Without Grown Ups which introduced the Young Justice to the DCC…
5.) For any aspiring readers looking to get into the comic industry, what advice would you give them?
Keep your work up to date, don’t show older samples, and go see pros and comic art directors at comic conventions. It’s like jumping through burning hoops, but there’s really no other way since the Marvel and DC offices don’t want new talent to solicit through their offices.
6.) Thanks for taking some time out of that busy schedule to spend with the readers of Junkies Nation! Where can we keep up with all that you have going on?
The BOOnana Tail Halloween Special Kickstarter is active for 4 more days and you can check out the rest of the Banana Tail kid’s series at www.bananatail.com. I’m also working on a 4-issue sci-fi comic called Combat Jacks. Think Aliens meets Starship Troopers. Issue #1 is out and #2 is in progress.
If you need commissions or want help packaging a comic for yourself, I’ve also created a virtual studio called Virtual Inks Inc that I front with a few super talented younger guys. It’s your “one-stop shop” for all things comics!
The post Interview: Mark McKenna on Kickstarter – BOOnana Tail Halloween Special appeared first on JunkiesNation.
There has been a lot of talk about the pirate system in ArcheAge. At first glance, pirates are free to do pretty much whatever they want to. They’re free to attack any other players, except in safe zones. They can build farms and houses wherever they want to, except the second they set foot in another continent, they should probably be prepared to die.
With the current system, pirates are vastly outnumbered and aren’t given much luxury. Even the “Pirate Island” has limited resources (as expected, pirates generally rely on stealing to get what they need) and is open to be attacked at any moment. Not only that, but it takes a whopping 3000 infamy points to become a pirate, and close to a month to get those crime points down if you decide being a pirate isn’t quite what you wanted.
But it doesn’t stop there. This third faction is accompanied by an incredibly watered down series of quests. More than likely, this is simply because it was intended to be more of an end-game feature for the guilds that get bored with the rest of the content or the people they’re playing with. After all, if you’ve got a high-level character, a somewhat organized guild, and are decently skilled in PvP, being a pirate has its perks.
Pirates are essentially their own faction, and operate as so. They can harass players from either of the factions, ambush trade routes, and essentially create something not unlike a monopoly. They also get a shorter time in jail if they go at all (dependent on area), so they’re not constantly spending their time locked up. There’s no bother with making trade packs, just stealing them, or setting a sort of “passage fee” before letting people through. Depending on how big and how powerful the guild is, the returns could be incredibly high.
Pirates seem to have been given only a semi-decent amount of land compared to the number of players. Much like the rest of players in ArcheAge, they’re dealing with bouncing between high availability of land on the pirate island to a shortage. They may get the worse end of the deal as far as land availability goes, but again, they rely more on stealing goods than creating them.
Keep in mind, like other guilds, you can create loose “alliances” from faction to faction. Pirates may get bribed to attack a specific group or area. While communication is cut off from the other continents, the mail system still works just fine from player to player. Since they can attack either faction, this creates more of a long-term advantage.
Overall, this definitely isn’t the most glamorous of groups, and if it’s any comparison to reality, the developers aren’t far off. Being a pirate is a high risk, and you shouldn’t always expect the same return. You may have high return, or you may just get nothing at all. It’s purely based on the group’s skill, numbers, and a little bit of luck.
So how can this be improved?
Well, you don’t quite want to spoil players going this route. The developers may have intended this to be a bit more realistic. Something as simple as creating more quests and overall content would definitely help this playerbase. More bosses, more areas accessible to only pirates, like some sort of safe zone that’s out of sight to other players. The pirate faction is already a very high-risk way to play the game that doesn’t really need too many other consequences. As it stands right now, it seems to be an afterthought that was never fully implemented. It’s an interesting idea, and has potential to be an even more awesome feature. It would be great to see some work on this from the developers in the future.
The first teaser trailer for the upcoming (and final) installment was released at 2:00pm central time on Monday afternoon–and yes, I did wait for the clock to tick down. It was well worth the wait, too. The trailer does a great job of setting the stage for the next movie, mixing action and drama well. It also shows those who haven’t read the book that, yes, there is more to this movie than Smaug burning things. We do, though, still get to see some delightful dragonfire action. Another great part of the trailer is the use of the song sung by Pippin (Billy Boyd) in The Return of the King–even though the song was much more dramatic and successful in the film. Overall, the trailer works really well. Watch it below:
The post The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Trailer Released appeared first on JunkiesNation.
If you haven’t had a chance to try out WildStar and would like to, Carbine’s teamed up with a whole bunch of partner sites this week to give away free trial codes. The free trial grants 7 days of free access from the time you enter the code. There are some limitations with the trial accounts, but it’s a great way to test the waters of Nexus and figure out what all the cupcake-loving fuss is about.
To get started, you’ll need to head on over to any of the partner sites Carbine’s teamed up with. The code can be redeemed here. You’ll also need an NCSoft account to redeem the code and download the game, of course.
For more info on all things WildStar, check out the official site. You can also read my recent editorial about risk-taking in MMORPG development and why WildStar made some great moves here. Don’t take my word for it, though. Try out the game yourself!
We’re past the dawn of the MMORPG clones. After World of Warcraft‘s continued success many a moon ago, we saw years of MMORPGs with the same exact UI setup, the same quest setup, the same question marks above NPC heads, the same endgame setup, the same silly currencies to grind for, the same cute fluffy pets, and well– you get the idea. The same everything practically, but with a new graphical skin and sometimes– just sometimes– a different story.
Heck, we still see games mimic WoW almost entirely. The trend isn’t completely dead. Well, when game developers aren’t creating the latest and greatest MOBA that hopes to replicate the success of League of Legends, anyways. The current dawn is pretty MOBA-flavored.
But back to MMORPGs. The problem, you see, is that both gamers and developers are starting to wise up to the tactic of “copy all the things but with shiny colors!” Gamers are starting to specifically look for games in development that aren’t like other games they’ve played. Developers are starting to– slowly but surely– create games that take small, creative risks that set them apart from what’s been made before.
One of the best current examples is WildStar. Sure, there’s no arguing that Carbine followed a ton of the same footsteps Blizzard and other developers have planted firmly in the sand years ago. WildStar is full of familiar in a shiny setting: Loaded quest hubs, old school raids, dailies, currencies, reputations, endgame dungeons, a group finder tool, nodes to harvest, trinity roles, addons, optional damage meters, an obsession with the word “cupcake”… No, wait. That one’s new. Still. Many of the reviews about WildStar come back with the line, “It’s WoW in space!” Yeah, it definitely can appear as though it is. But it’s also more.
It’s the Small Steps, Cupcake
The main story framework of WildStar takes a break from the norm. Instead of having a huge, overwhelming story unraveled within the first 20 levels, we start out in WildStar with the feeling of “oh, cool new planet!” then eventually find out about the big, deep story stuff as we near endgame. This gives us time to learn more about the planet and its people. We start off as heroes, sure, but we don’t start off as heroes who know exactly how their story is going to unfold. It’s not quite as obviously epic as SWTOR, for example, and in my book– that’s a risk. And a plus.
Raids in WildStar also aren’t a huge source of lore and endgame story. In WoW‘s current model, it’s hard to even get a sense of what’s going on in Mists of Pandaria without stepping foot in LFR. That’s partially why LFR was created, of course, but there’s always going to be a significant fraction of an MMORPG’s community that isn’t interested in raiding. Carbine remembered that and added in the solo story-based instances which is where the main story of the game takes place. This makes a whole lot of sense– even for a raid-centered game. RIFT‘s chronicle feature also does this excellently.
The odd quirky factor that makes up much of WildStar‘s general atmosphere is also a sort of risk. It’s fairly standard to have fantasy and sci-fi MMORPGs be a little “srs business”, especially during a game’s infancy. There’s a fine line between quirky and just plain ridiculous. Blizzard often rides this line precariously with many of their poop quests and pop culture references, but WildStar finds a better balance here.
WildStar is uniquely quirky. Chua are uniquely adorable and psychotic. The random insults from the graveyard-shift-working dude are odd, but uniquely WildStar odd. The game’s best (and most controversial) quirks aren’t found in other games. Even the goofy enemy art style and the character animations are uniquely WildStar. This isn’t a game that people won’t recognize in 10 years. There’s a reason many fans associate WildStar with Firefly. It’s odd, but it’s also unique. And what does that equate to? Yep. Risk. Not everyone loves WildStar‘s style, and that’s totally okay.
The game’s taken a few smaller risks, too. The attempt to make dungeons and adventures a little more competition/RNG-based was definitely a risk. It hasn’t paid off as well as the developers had hoped, I’m sure, but in theory it was a solid risk to embark upon. Changing the RNG factors as rapidly as they have post-launch was probably not the best idea on Carbine’s part, but the game’s young. The team’s decision-making process will ideally improve with time (along with their bug-nuking methods one would hope).
WildStar‘s lengthy attunement process was definitely a risk, but one well worth taking. It’s essentially proof that yes, there are still gamers who enjoy such chains. There isn’t always a need to make everything super accessible. Niche is okay. Niche can still encourage profit. If there’s any message this should send to developers it should be the idea that not every game has to aim to be the biggest MMORPG on the block. A game can still attract a good-sized fanbase and make a decent profit without being The Best MMORPG Ever™. Gaming’s pretty popular now. Give up the Blizzard dream, guys. We’ll still love you.
Why Games Need that Risk Factor
The core issue with games that mimic World of Warcraft and similar titles is the fact that copying, pasting, and re-skinning is safe. “Folks like WoW, right? If we repeat that formula we’ll have something awesome.” That’s the hope anyways. The problem with repetition is there’s no risk factor. There’s no “what if?”. What if things could be better? What if we could actually enjoy a well-populated game that didn’t feel as though we’d been there 12 times already? Of course it’s a risk. A completely new game with new mechanics, a new leveling system, and a new endgame is a huge risk. Players could leave in droves. But players could also fall in love.
As gamers get more and more complacent with things as they are, we hunger for risk. We desire change. This is part of the reason why indie games are starting to do rather well and why Kickstarter projects like Star Citizen are seriously taking off. Want something completely risky? Yeah, gotta go to the little guys for that. But here’s the kicker– if what the little guys are doing succeeds, then they’re suddenly able to compete with the big guys. That’s the power of risk.
We’re at a dawn where developers have access to communication tools like never before. They can reach out to fans, receive feedback, and even have talented fans help out with designing new content (Trove, I’m looking at you). It seriously shouldn’t just be the smaller studios and indie games pulling risks. Risks cost money. But if handled well– with receptive fan feedback– they just might be worthwhile.
And that’s why WildStar‘s efforts should be applauded. That’s why ESO‘s focus on a truly open-ended class system (although it does have its obvious balance issues) needs to be applauded. That’s why even World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor‘s focus on garrisons ought to be applauded. No, garrisons aren’t housing, but they are something new entirely– something more akin to an RTS feature. I’d love to see housing in WoW as much as the next person, but something new, unique, kind of risky? I’ll take it.
Risk doesn’t always need to come in huge hurdles. Sometimes small, risky movements can prompt larger changes. Sometimes the combining of features can spur new ideas. This is the benefit of risk, after all. While I’d love to see more game developers taking large risks with MMORPGs that make them a little more niche and thoroughly more innovative, I’m also okay with this notion of teeny risks that can add up to new features over time. We’re finally nearing a dawn of creativity of sorts. It’s about time.