Earlier this week in Paris, famed game creator Michel Ancel presented the upcoming open world Wild with a deep-set grin. His enthusiasm and passion for the project echo in Wild’s dizzying vistas, and his team’s purpose is clear: empower players to traverse a beautiful, dangerous world. Let them attune with the forces of nature. And grant them dominion over animals of all shapes and sizes.
In Wild, players live life as a male or female shaman, fighting to survive a world rife with predators, poison, and even bone-wearing cannibals. Ancel’s goal is to begin the story when the shaman is young, and follow him as his power and experience grows over time. With each new animal that the shaman learns to control, a new tattoo is etched across the character’s skin. This will help showcase a player’s experience where multiplayer is concerned. Different shamans will display their spiritual wisdom with different markings.
As some may have seen during the PlayStation press conference at Paris Games Week, the shaman will come to understand new animal types by communing with powerful animal divinities. We’ve seen the serpent divinity so far, manifested as a seductive, cunning woman spotted with scales. These divinities will ask things of the shaman in exchange for their power, from making a sacrifice to living life as their animal subjects. These meetings (and their subsequent trials) will surely be a highlight of Wild’s open-ended gameplay.
But Ancel wants to ensure that they avoid the common RPG structure that so many players have come to expect. The “Do X to be a good guy” direction is avoided in favor of complete player choice. Will the shaman start life by learning to control small animals like frogs? Or will he work harder to master stronger animals like wolves or bears? The choice is entirely up to the player.
The moment to moment play in Wild is a mix of survival and exploration. Players can traverse the land as the shaman, or call animal companions to ride (like the bear we saw in Paris). The shaman can also “possess” animals that he has previously mastered, seeing the world from their unique perspectives. Observe far-off terrain from the eyes of a hawk, or scout cannibal tribes undetected as a rabbit. Players can even lure predators by controlling sheep. But leave the shaman’s body unprotected, and death may come swiftly while his spirit is away.
Wild is still early in development, and Ancel did not show multiplayer in Paris. He notes that he’s been inspired by the multiplayer element of Bloodborne, and he hopes to bring similar ideas to Wild, like enabling gamers to invite other players into their worlds to either help or hinder their progress.
Wild is gorgeous in both its visuals and its creative vision. As Ancel’s team continues to build out the world, the promise of the shaman’s journey grows — and we eagerly await meeting new divinities who will grant us dominion over the wild.