WildStar Preview: Is Innovation Overrated?

PC Gamer has published a preview piece centered around Carbine's upcoming MMO WildStar, in which writer Leif Johnson wonders whether it can succeed against its less traditional competitors. Here's a snippet:

Carbine may have switched out specific number requirements for quests in favor of progress bars, but the "kill and fetch" quest was anything but dead on the besieged Exile mothership I battled through. The combat places a heavy emphasis on movement and area-of-effect abilities, yet the animations recalled the tab-targeting of earlier years in spirit if not in practice. Forty-man raids with rep grinds? That only marks the tip of the familiar elements in store here.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. According to Donatelli, that familiarity is intentional. "I hate reinventing the wheel for the sake of saying we did something different," he says. He used the auction house as an example, emphasizing his desire to tweak familiar models. "We say, 'This is how auction houses function in many other games, now let's see how we can add searchability to it and ease of use.'"

WildStar occasionally seems to push this philosophy to its extremes, as I can't recall a time when I didn't feel immediately familiar with its systems while playing. Even my time with the new Engineer class comfortably reminded me of my Hunter in World of Warcraft, and I quickly adapted to its idiosyncratic tweaks such as temporary armor and working with two pets at once. WildStar does have its innovative elements, but on the whole it seems content with taking the familiar EverQuest template and updating it with the best tweaks over the years and scrapping the worst.