You think Wildstar’s guilds will be the same as every other MMO? Not so fast there. Wildstar has taken guilds a step further than the normal run of the mill set-up in most MMO’s.
The Wildstar Devs recognize that while most people have their guild they are a part of and they view it as the central avenue into whatever aspect of the game they are most interested in; people often form friendships outside of their guild as well and look to those people to do other activities. This is something other games have tried to address by allowing you to join multiple guilds at the same time. The main drawback of those systems is that you can usually only view the guild chat of one guild at a time. As a result you are severely limited in your ability to interact across your different guilds.
What Wildstar is doing instead is in addition to your guild they will also have something they are calling “Circles”. These will be different from guilds but have some of the same features guilds do: roster, private chat channel, name tags, and other undisclosed features. Say for example you are reading guild chat and notice there is activity in your “Firefly Appreciation Circle” well you won’t miss any of the conversation and will be able to jump right in.
Currently the limits are set at 1 guild and 5 Circles. They have not been specifically clear on if it is per character or across an account as yet, but they did say they are open to possibly increasing the limits if they find during beta 5 Circles just are not enough.
Honestly Circles is a great sounding feature which has a lot of promise. One thing I am a little concerned with, and we will have to see how it is handled, is Circles might help to contribute to fracturing in guilds. This would probably mostly be a potential issue for larger guilds, but it also could be something which might destroy smaller guilds. Also imagine being in the middle of a raid and having people not paying attention because so and so is being funny in their Circle chat.
The potential peril is all guilds develop groups of people who play together more than other people. This is a natural thing which develops among groups of people. Some people will get along better with certain other people, while different people will like others. Sometimes it is as simple as some people’s playtimes line up more than other people’s. The issue with circles though is it could very easily give people a place to talk to those friends freely without other guild members seeing. Which could be fine, or it could sow discord.
Solving those issues will probably fall to guilds themselves, and I am not sure doing otherwise would be a really good idea on the Dev’s part. For instance completely disabling Circle chat during raids by default might be an issue for people who can handle raiding with some distraction. They could give us some tools on to handle the issues on our own. Personally I think in the long run a player choice focused solution would probably be for the best.
As always though it is all very up in the air until Beta is over and we know more about where everything is falling. Overall Circles have some great potential, and very few obvious drawbacks.
For more information about guilds in Wildstar please check out their Dev Post “What is a Guild?“.