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Thursday, October 15, 2015

KI Live Teases Wizard101's Polaris

Wizard101 Polaris

Every month, the Community Managers at KingsIsle have been hosting a livestream showcasing both Wizard101 and Pirate101, but never has it been so exciting as this month, where KingsIsle previewed a new world coming soon to the Test Realm - Polaris! Take a look at the footage and my breakdown here!


Welcome to Polaris!

To kick off the streaming of this new world, Leala and Tom asked T.J. Leary, the Audio Lead at KingsIsle, to stop in and not only answer a few questions, but also talk about his work in the newest Wizard101 world - Polaris.

Polaris is an interesting case already because we've visited many worlds in the past that we've never heard of, and that we don't hear about until the Test Realm opens. The fact that we're not only familiar with Polaris as a world, but that we'll also see playthroughs beforehand, is exciting.

Wizard101 Polaris

Leala guided us through the new world on her character. As she strays from the Spiral Door, we get a look at some of the NPCs in the area. We'll see Emmanuel and Prospector Zeke there, just waiting to send us searching for more things.

One of the first things you notice as she roams around is all of the buildings in the area. Some are surely just props and decoration, but the location is surprisingly large, and we don't get to see all of it in the livestream. What we can tell is that there are multiple levels within a single location, which is a big hint that KingsIsle is getting creative with their locations. When you consider how flat a lot of past worlds have been, particularly your opening areas, you should really be pleased with what's happening here.

Wizard101 Polaris

The other thing you'll notice in these images is that the quest goal names this location as Walruskberg, which is interesting given that it's inhabited by penguins and polar bears. And the two don't necessarily get along. We know from Pirate that Polaris has had or will have a Penguin Revolution, so this image below is a hint as to where we might be in that timeline.

Here, we seen a penguin polishing the boot of a polar bear guard. It seems that the bears are the ranking officials and that the penguins are the residents, though I wouldn't be so quick to group them as a species as good or bad. There are certainly plenty who seem to support what's happening here.

Wizard101 Polaris

Cold and Harsh Conditions

Polaris came with one of the coolest teasers from KingsIsle yet - a series of propaganda posters and Polaroids There's more keeping Polaris on its toes than just the winter months. There is a very militaristic feel to it, and some propoganda can be seen on the walls here, including one that says "Trust" and "Obey." The symbol looks like it's from Marleybone.

The poster next to it is a female monkey, who pirates will recognize as former Monquistan Queen Isadore, listed as the Protector of Polaris. And on that note, I should mention that Polaris is very, very different from almost all of our arc two worlds, as it's interconnected with so much of the Spiral, whereas worlds like Celestia were lost underwater, Zafaria and Azteca more remote and close tribes of people, Avalon a far-away land, and Khrysalis a barren and war-torn finale for Morganthe. Polaris, on the other hand, is active in trading and communicating with other worlds, and I do hope that KingsIsle runs with that.

Wizard101 Polaris

After the questions end, the questing fun begins. The first person we talk to in Polaris is Inspector Fouché. Joseph Fouché was a French statesmen and Minister of Police under Napoleon, so my guess is that we'll have more than one interaction with this penguin. Leala notes that this is one of the first quests in world, but if you look at her experience bar, it's filled beyond halfway to the next level. Unless she spent time handing in old side quests, that indicates that there will be some fairly extensive pre-quests to Polaris when it does come.

Wizard101 Polaris

Inspector Fouché is happy to lay down the laws of the land for you upon arriving, and he makes a couple of interesting notes. He talks about Empress Antuskette, which can only be a walrus. This makes me think that we have penguins as your standard Polaris inhabitant, polar bears as the military force, and walruses as the wealthy elitists of the world.

Wizard101 Polaris

Besides a spectacular view of the city and the northern lights in the background, the above image is also important because it explains some of the laws by which Polarians live: No magic, no singing, no fishing, no merrymaking, and no leaving the city. That's particularly troubling for wizards and penguins, who tend to enjoy magic and fishing (though I wouldn't mind sticking around in the city).

We also get a little humor out of the Inspector (though he is completely serious) when he states that there is a curfew from sundown to sunrise, and since we're in the winter months, it'll be awhile before a sunrise. It's interesting to note that T.J. Leary mentions that there's a lot of humor and whimsy in Polaris, though there policy is not that characters attempt to be humorous, but rather that they are in their own world, doing their own thing, and humor is something born out of that.

Wizard101 Polaris

Ivan the Not-So-Terrible

Leala gave us a little context for the quest by mentioning that we've come to Polaris to look for Ivan. However, the Inspector says that he's been arrested. She's then sent to a nearby Inn, where pirates again receive a nod from KingsIsle, as this is a Marleybone tavern layout. The city in general reminds me vaguely of Marleybone. The Innkeeper says that the Inspector told him to keep his mouth shut, adding censorship to our list of Polarian injustices.

We find, upon entering the back room for our first boss fight, that the Inspector there is also a penguin, confirming my thoughts that not all penguins are good.

Wizard101 Polaris

There are couple of things to note in the battle. Number one is that the death animations are really entertaining, and to me suggest that this is going to be a lot like Celestia in the way that the previous world was a very dark conclusion to an arc, and this first world is going to set the tone for the next five and contain a lot of fun and a lot of jokes.

It was surprising to me how little health the bosses seemed to have. Five thousand damage was enough to kill the minion and six thousand seemed to take out half the health of the penguin boss. In Azteca, two worlds back, the bosses would have 20,000 health. This could indicate that Polaris is scaling back a little bit, at least to start, or that we're getting a larger variance in boss power, which would be cool. Imagine lesser enemies that we don't want to classify as mobs are simply easy boss fights, and tougher enemies become the bosses with 30,000 health.

Wizard101 Polaris

Only the Beginning

When the battle is finished after an 81,000-damage Khrulhu (and a birthday cake), Leala wins a level 102+ deck (and Tom mentions receiving a level 102+ ring). Also notice that the deck has no name attached yet. Inspector Clooso (I am loving these names) pokes fun at our facial structure and then takes off.

Things start to get even more interesting when going back to talk to the Innkeeper, who reveals that Ivan is really a great guy, er... penguin... er, Pingouin (did Benedict Cumberbatch write this?), and that he was arrested when intervening with some Inspectors who were roughing them up. Now, the Innkeeper notes, he's locked in the Bastille. Sounds like a long instance we'll be visited soon.

Wizard101 Polaris

This was probably one of the coolest (no pun intended) KI Live streams, and we now know a little bit more about the world that soon awaits us in the Test Realm. Tom mentioned level 110 as being the new cap, and I'd say it's right around the corner given that we can already redeem level 110 gear off of the new Jewel Crafter's Bundle.

If this is just the first location, I can't wait to see the rest of the world. It's going to be epic.

What are you most looking forward to in Polaris?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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