WildStar Previews 40-Man Raid Mechanics

| 12 Dec 2013 22:30
WildStar Engineer Social

It's been half a decade since 40-Man PvE raids were popular. Why has WildStar decided to revive this relic of MMO past?

40-Man raids have long since been considered a thing of the past. Abandoned by World of Warcraft in 2007, they were deemed too unwieldy for endgame content. Though I have had some of my fondest raiding memories in 40-man raids, I still remember the agony of coordinating 40 people to accomplish anything, let alone taking down a complex boss encounter. Yet, WildStar's developers at Carbine Studios have confirmed that their end-game content will feature a 40-man raid, reviving the old-school style. I recently chatted with the WildStar team, including Design Director Mike Donatelli and Senior Community Manager David "Scooter" Bass, to find out more on their goals for 40-man raids.

Donatelli said telegraphs will be at the heart of WildStar's combat, and that they'll be a core component of nearly every boss fight. By the time that WildStar players have reached max level and are raiding, avoiding telegraphs will be second nature to them. Despite telegraphs being a major component, though, they're far from the only trick that Carbine will be employing for their encounters.

Large raids in WildStar won't just be about min/maxing damage over time to kill the boss before he kills you (though that is obviously important). One of the things Donatelli thinks will separate WildStar's raiding experience from others is the challenge of coordination and organization, part of which is created by having 40 people in a raid. "In other big raids, you go into a big room, everyone beats the shit out of a big-ass boss ... and if you don't stand in the fire, and don't go over here, and everybody does that, then you win." Instead, the style they're employing requires players to work together out of combat and come up with plans on how to effectively overcome the challenges the raids present.

"What we try to do is go, hey, you've got 40 guys. Why don't we split 10 guys off and make them go to a different wing and have to beat a generator down while there are hundreds and hundreds of bad guys spawning trying to stop them?" Donatelli said. "And there are five teleporters that can be used once to get back and forth between them and the room [where you're fighting the main boss], and if you take the teleport you can't go back. So if the tank goes down on the far side, you need to decide who's going to peel off and go over there, and make sure you can afford to give up that spot for the fight. And that's more than just avoiding fire."

The increased requirement on coordination also raises the 0barrier to entry for raiding in WildStar. Because players can and will be coordinating for these encounters using VOIP systems such as Skype or Ventrilo, WildStar's developers have created encounters that are designed with these kinds of tools in mind. Because WildStar's combat is so action-intensive, effective communication will need to go beyond text chat, and will likely require players to use third party programs to communicate.

WildStar
WildStar

"Back in the day you'd make a boss fight that had everyone in one place because you needed that to communicate," Donatelli said. "Then people got smart and they started calling each other, and as the bosses got harder and harder, it became more and more important. Nowadays, if you don't have this, you can't even compete. You've gotta be on the radio with 40 people. Encounters need to be designed to expect it, because people are doing it."

I was also curious to find out why Carbine had decided to pursue 40-man dungeons, given their troublesome reputation. David Bass explained that they feel confident that 40-man raids will be an achievable goal for raiders in WildStar. Although he admitted that not every guild will be able to man a 40-person raid alone, guilds can work together to tackle the challenges, and that they're working on developing systems to help coordinate organization and loot distribution. Bass was also willing to admit that 40-man raids are something of an experiment in WildStar. "I think that 40-man raids will be a success, but even if they aren't, there's only one 20-man and one 40-man raid in the game right now. If the 40-man doesn't get much attention, then we've just made one and we'll keep going with what works."

Bass also explained that WildStar's raid encounters will feature weekly variance, meaning that while some encounters may be present for one week, there will be other encounters the following week. Encounters individually will also be variable, meaning that there will be slightly different elements within each encounter that differ between fights. An example of this would be if a boss activates a large moving laser during one encounter but enables cluster grenades instead during a second encounter. WildStar's raids will also feature challenges, such as beating a boss under a certain time limit, within certain conditions, or with a certain extra variable added into the mix. These challenges will most likely be the WildStar equivalent of Hard Modes, granting players prestigious rewards for completing encounters in interesting ways.

All in all, WildStar's raiding scene seems to be shaping up nicely. Although the game's content is still untested, the preview that Donatelli offered me certain whet my appetite for laser-fueled boss fights. To get your hands on WildStar's beta, you can sign up on the website, or stay tuned to WarCry for more information.

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