And then we've gotten some hints worth speculating upon, even if we haven't been told what's happening outright. So in the grand tradition of this column guessing at things only to be proven wrong not long thereafter, it's time to analyze and speculate a whole mess of things, starting with the biggest element that I didn't expect from WildStar at all, and that's all the cross-realm features. That's way more intriguing than mere class speculation.
Cross-realm... in a way
There are some people who have a real problem with the idea that we're still using multiple servers rather than playing on just one server for each game. I am not one of those people. There are different little communities in many games, and that's all right. After seeing the amount of grief roleplayers can get on dedicated roleplaying servers, I think having our own individual communities sounds like a damn good idea to me.
At the same time, not all of my relationships are based upon a shared love of roleplaying. Most of them aren't. The idea that these people can roll on the servers that they like and still sign up to play with me is pretty awesome.
WildStar's is, admittedly, a fairly halfhearted execution. You can certainly group with others, but you can't interact with them in many ways outside of simply running instanced content. This is fine if you just want a chance to play alongside your friends but less so if you really want to guest together and do anything else. At least Guild Wars 2 let you go for the whole shebang. Yes, you can argue there's not much need to just pal around, but it's fun to just derp around in the open world doing things like jumping puzzles together.
But it exists. If you'd asked me a month ago, I wouldn't have expected it to. So that's pretty wonderful.
We all know what the last two classes are
People sneaked a peek at a class list that happened to include Engineer and Medic during a recent demo. That's not datamining; that's just astute viewing. And the most recent Dev Speak all but confirms that these are the last two classes. You see a full lineup of six characters, and while you can place the weapons four of them are using... two just don't quite line up.
This also happily lines up with my class speculation. It would make the last class a melee healer because there is no way in the world that you can convince me a class dubbed Medic can't heal people. That would fit with the Engineer's being a ranged tank, since that leaves the game with a good amount of parity in options -- three tanks, three healers, three ranged DPS, three melee DPS.
If anything, the leaks just illuminate the general silliness of drawing out this reveal. It's been made, for all intents and purposes, and what we really want now are details. This is like trying to pretend that the bike-shaped present under the tree might be a creatively stacked pile of shirts, something that stops working once your audience turns six.
Quest objective redo
This is almost less of an analysis and more of an explanation because it's one of those things that people seem to either get instantly or not understand at all. And it's kind of a big deal.
See, everyone hates quests that ask him to kill any number of rats. We're tired of them. These aren't quests; they're busy work. But they're also kind of a necessary design tool in themeparks. Killing a certain number of things occupies a very real place in the overall hierarchy of things you make players do in MMOs.
The goal of these quests when you do them is maximum efficiency. If you've got a choice of seven different rats, you're killing the weakest rat that you can kill the fastest. That's the tradeoff -- least effort for maximum reward. What WildStar has changed is that trade between efficiency and productivity.
Instead of killing a number, you're killing up to a limit. So let's go back to those seven sorts of rats. If you have to kill five rats in total, the easiest rats are the ones you want. But if you have to kill 1500xp worth of rats, the easiest ones are going to take you a lot of kills. The harder rats will be a lot faster, and they might even let you get away with just two or three kills. Theoretically, you'll finish the quest in around the same timeframe either way, either with a few harder fights or a lot of easier ones.
Does it serve as a complete game-changer? Not really. If you hate questing, this won't make you suddenly look forward to the next series of kills. But it will turn that effort-and-reward ratio on its ear, at least somewhat. It also removes some counting from the setup, which is nice; any situation in which I never again find myself saying that I need just one more gazelle is fine by me.
There's more I could talk about, of course, but this seems like a fine place to mention that you can contact me via the comments below or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, assuming there's not some further revelation to discuss, I think I'm going to turn over another racial column to perhaps the least subtle of WildStar's races: the Granok.
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.