WildStar: It’s good to be bad?

wildYesterday’s reveal of WildStar’s second faction, the Dominion, has put into play the “bad” side in an effort to woo players to roll one of them.  They certainly look interesting, especially the intelligent robots (because, seriously, who wouldn’t want to play a robot?), but it’s made me think about and wonder on the appeal of the bad guys versus the scrappy good guys.

Case studies in the “good” faction vs. “bad” faction in MMOs abound, from World of Warcraft to SWTOR to RIFT.  Sometimes there’s an effort to portray the good guys as less-than-good and bad guys as “misunderstood,” but the archetypes are clearly present.  One side appeals to the virtuous, upright heroes in us.  The other side appeals to the dangerous, hard-edged anti-heroes.  It’s a tug-o-war for players’ interest, and I always find it fascinating to see how players choose between the two.

Sometimes it’s about going against the grain, either in yourself or what you perceive as the popular choice.  The bad side has a lot of allure in that regard, especially by those who want to set themselves apart from what they see as the weak carebears who are all about fluffy love.  Or whatever.  You know what I mean, though.  It’s like, “I’m rolling the evil side because I have more gamer cred and Megadeth rules.”  I saw a lot of popularity for the Empire faction in SWTOR because of this — perhaps too much popularity.  Then it gets funny when everyone swamps the bad guy boat and rolling the good faction becomes the underdog choice.

But I think WildStar will be more complicated than that.  Obviously it’s trying to appeal to the Firefly/Star Wars crowd with its Exiles (substitute Browncoats/Rebels as you will), and man has that pot been simmering in the geek crowd over the past ten years.  I get to be a somewhat-veiled Browncoat rebelling against the authoritarian fist of the military?  And I can be sassy while doing it?  Where do I sign up!  So I see a huge base of support for the Exiles and a reason to suspect that it could be the overwhelming choice.

So the Dominion has to step it up.  To be the Horde to the Exile’s Alliance and offer a slightly darker perspective that screams motorcycle gear and total bad-assery.  From the single video we saw, I don’t know how effective this is going to be.  It’s cool they have humans too, and robots, musn’t forget about the robots.  But they’re the oppressors and humorless ones at that.  They haven’t gotten much press at all up to this point and are playing at a disadvantage for the hearts of the community.

The fourth race on each side could be a major factor in swinging some votes, sure, but Carbine’s got to give us more than that if they want players to go, “Dominion?  Sign ME up!”  Their personality has to appeal in some way.  They have to be sympathetic so that players can identify with them.  And above all else, they need to exude cool at every turn so that not picking them would be a painful decision.

As it stands, I’m 90% in the Exile camp until or unless Carbine convinces me otherwise.  We’ve still a ways to go before that decision needs to be made, however, so anything can happen.

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8 thoughts on “WildStar: It’s good to be bad?

  1. FOR THE EXILES! :)

    Seriously though, I think (fear?) there will be a general skew towards the “bad” faction in WS as there has been in WoW, TOR and everything in between. So many things to learn all over again about a new game… how will population imbalance be handled? Will it even matter? etc.

    Quick! To the ArkShip!

  2. Pretty cool that both sides have humans, though. While I wouldn’t roll one, it always felt weird to me that the entire population of a species would support a single political faction…

  3. I really wouldn’t worry about it. I mostly lost interest in Wildstar after the early BunnyGirl videos so I haven’t followed it too much but look at your use of description and adjectives. The bad guys are always “cool, dangerous, hard-edged…” and the good guys are fluffy carebears (might literally be true in this case, or at lease fluffy BunnyGirls). We live in an age that adores the abstract idea of evil and decries the good guys for not being tough enough and standing on principle. I expect that they will release some “Not based on the Emperor or a Nazi, seriously” CGI and that will seal the deal.

  4. I rather liked the Dominion video, the darker humor was a nice change from some redneck chick pissing herself.

    It kinda reminded me of the Imperium from 40k and if that comparison holds then I think they’ll be strong contenders. Though I doubt it’ll be any close to a total wash in their favor like it was for the Sith in SWTOR. (Honestly, who really wanted to be a Jedi after the prequels? Not me.)

    That said, I had my heart set on being a giant rock dude and none of the non-human Dominion races really appeal to me. Though at least, unlike every other MMO I’ve played since Warhammer, Wildstar actually has good looking human models. Even more stunning, they have good looking human male models.

    Decisions, decisions.

  5. If and when I give WildStar a try, I’ll likely play the Dominion. This is mainly due to how utterly insufferable I’ve found the Exiles so far. Also, playable robots.

    That said, I did find myself really facepalming over A: the fact that they’re 100% Saturday morning cartoon villains, and B: the fact that they’re exactly the Dominion from Starcraft. Seriously, gray hair aside, that guy was Valerian, and I’m pretty sure the ship he was on was the Bucephalous.

    Still not feeling the love for this game…

  6. I wonder how many people roll a faction instead of rolling a race if you get what I mean. (Or just rolling with their friends.) I am definitely in the race camp – I also chose in WoW based on the fact Horde had no small races before Cataclysm – and while I understand my opinion may be dismissed because of it, I think people who chose race are not a small minority compared to the faction types.

  7. The thing I liked about the factions in WoW was that there was no good or bad side. No good guys or bad guys. Maybe you could even look at it as two factions of good guys with different values. The horde when it was led by Thrall was shamanistic in nature, choosing to commune with nature and respect their history whereas the alliance was, well, concerned with exploring and holding their borders. Now that I think about it, I don’t really know what the goal of the Wrynn family was. To maintain pretenses?

    Anyways, I think a successful game should try to focus on creating factions that people can relate to outside the scope of morality or “Good and Bad”. For instance, have one faction that is interested in Technology and one faction that is interested in Magic, neither of them are good or bad, or maybe they’re both good AND bad in the decisions they make and the actions they take. I’m not entirely certain if this would help with the population skewing to one side or the other, but I personally don’t like playing the bad guy as defined by current social standards. That is, the bad guy is usually an asshole, likely less intelligent than normal and more often than not, doomed to fail.

    This whole good guys vs. bad guys thing is getting old.

  8. I agree about the good guys vs bad guys thing. (add to list of ideas I want to turn on their heads*G*) Am waiting with a ton of curiosity for Wildstar, here.

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