How WildStar Breaks the Button-Mashing Mold with New Abilities

| 26 Sep 2013 13:00
Windstar Dev Interview

Pressing buttons simply isn't enough for WildStar.

WildStar is hands down my most anticipated game in the foreseeable future. With kick-ass dungeons, memorable characters, and a noteworthy business model, WildStar's developers have been putting out fresh-looking content like it's their job... Anyways, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Lynch, the lead combat designer, and Hugh Shelton, the class lead designer at Carbine, and ask them all kinds of questions about their latest Dev Speak video which features the special sauce for WildStar's combat sandwich: Ability Mechanics.

The first thing that became clear during the Q&A is that these guys are really looking to shake things up, and get down to the core of player engagement with the game: pressing buttons. They began by explaining the three types of abilities that are most common in MMOs: Instant Cast, Cast Time, and Channeled. For each of these tasks, the player hits a key, and then waits for something to happen. Not so in WildStar. In addition to double jump, sprint, and free-form targeting, players will be engaging with four new ability mechanic types, opening up new kinds of gameplay options for players to bash, smash, and blast their way through Nexus.


The first new ability mechanic that we were shown is Rapid Tap, where players can activate an ability that opens up a small window in which the player can reactivate the ability to trigger the attack. This allows players to choose when exactly to use each charge of an ability, whether they are dumping all of their attacks onto a stunned target, or masterfully weaving each attack in between movement and other abilities. Though the name Rapid Tap is very natural in speech and quickly describes the mechanic, the devs pointed out that they prefer the term Multi-Tap, as it more fully describes its capacity. Though there are some times that mashing the ability is the right way to use it (read: every time), Rapid Tap can be used to space and time attacks, waiting for the perfect moment.

The second type of ability mechanic that will be featured in WildStar is Charge and Release, and yes, the ability works exactly how it sounds. Players can charge up a skill for as long as they hold down the skill key (up to a maximum), and then release it, with greater impact resulting from more time spent charging the skill. Though a player could simply tap the skill to blast the least powerful version of the ability, there are multiple tiers of ability strength, indicated by dots on the cast bar. Charge and Release skills will be most common on ranged classes such as the Spellslinger or the Esper.

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