An important part of any MMO is keeping "endgame" players busy with challenging content.
One of the most popular ways to do this is with "raid" content. For those less familiar with MMO lingo, a "raid" tends to distinguish itself from typical multiplayer cooperative content by being significantly more difficult and, in most cases, requiring more players to participate. To make up for the increased challenge factor and the strong degree of organization a successful expedition involves -- not to mention the time commitment required in many cases -- raid content tends to provide some of the best loot in the whole game. At least until updates and expansions with even more challenging content and better loot arrive, that is.
Upcoming sci-fi MMO Wildstar is certainly no exception to this way of doing things, but there are a few interesting aspects of its implementation that the dev team hope to leverage in order to make the new game stand out somewhat.
A key aspect of combat in Wildstar is the "telegraph" system used to show where both player and enemy attacks are going to land. Similar implementations are used in a number of modern MMOs such as Funcom's The Secret World and Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIV, but there's an even stronger focus on them in Wildstar. Telegraphs are heavily used throughout raids in Wildstar to randomize numerous elements of the encounters you'll be fighting your way through, and are intended to make the experience somewhat more unpredictable than the heavily choreographed fights seen in some other games. This will hopefully help them feel less grindy and repetitive than in other games that demand you play the same content many times over.
Wildstar's raid dungeons see you taking on not only enemies, but also changing environments, too. Rooms get corrupted and destroyed as battles continue, and you'll often have to work together in order to ensure people don't get left behind or trapped in deadly situations. Successfully overcoming challenges -- whether they're bosses, minibosses or events -- will reward you with a wide variety of loot, so there's always an incentive to keep playing.
Wildstar's raids are intended for 20-40 players, making them some of the largest in the genre at present. They also have elements that change over time, too, so the experience will be different from one week to the next, with different events, bosses and other challenges available at different times.
The raid content is certainly ambitious, then; since the game is yet to launch, though, it remains to be seen whether it will provide sufficient challenge and interest to keep endgame players playing. Open beta is running until May 18 -- you can sign up here -- and the game itself will be out on June 3.