It’s almost certain that WildStar will launch sometime later this Spring. We don’t know when exactly, but Carbine is working full tilt on polishing and refining their upcoming MMO, as well as packing in that elder game content. The work doesn’t end there either, as regular content patches are already in the pipeline.
That work is evident in two areas. Firstly, Design Producer Stephan Frost joined the forums here at MMORPG.com to hold an ‘Ask-Me-Anything.’ During the session, he highlighted several systems that we can look forward to hearing more about, including Adventures, Mount Customization and Social Systems.
Secondly, Winter Beta got its second patch yesterday. I’ll be digging into the details shortly, but the general theme is polish and bug fixing. A lot of work has gone into tuning classes and tweaking content to make it shine. There’s no new content this time around and the level cap hasn’t moved.
It also looks like the streams from Team WildStar will be back in action following a winter break. This weekend will see more detail on the stealthy stabby Stalker, as well as a long-awaited PvP match between Stephan Frost and Lead Narrative Designer Chad “Pappy” Moore. Over on Reddit, Senior Community Manager David “Scooter” Bass went into further detail on upcoming announcements, including Raids, Warplots and Battlegrounds. And it’s all happening over the next few months.
Several great questions were thrown at Frost during yesterday’s AMA. While it was light on new information (Warplots and Raids were off the agenda), it firmly illustrated where WildStar is in the development cycle. This is the final third, where features are being locked down, content is being packed in and tailored, and bugs are being brutally squashed. Tie that in with the announcement schedule I mentioned earlier, and it’s possible we’ll be seeing WildStar launch sometime between March and May.
That drive to hit a release window has meant a few casualties on the way. Fishing won’t be in at launch, although we’re likely to see the hobby emerge in a post-launch patch or content update. And, while we can pack huge amounts of customization into character faces, sliders for body shapes were something that didn’t make it. “It was an animation tech issue for a majority of that decision. Rigs and clipping were issues with sliders, and we didn't have the time to address those issues and get the game out at the appropriate time. We'll see in the future, though!”
Many of WildStar’s core systems have gone through multiple iterations. During the shutdown between summer and winter beta, several were overhauled and updated in a significant way. One of those was crafting, with the new system offering a deep and complex experience. But there’s still fine-tuning to be done, as Frost explained. “You can always work on systems to perfect them. I think that we are in a great place, but we are still tuning and looking at metrics. Econ is something we take seriously, so we will continue to watch streams, listen to Beta feedback, look at metrics etc.”
PvP also came up in the discussion, and it’s no surprise – I’m already a fan of their battlegrounds. One forum poster asked if the speed of leveling would be the same in PvP as PvE, and if we’d be able to keep ourselves geared just by playing PvP. “There is a reward stream for both to keep you leveling up in either gameplay type. We are aiming for them to take the same amount of time, but we'd have to study more beta metrics when we extend the level cap to give a completely accurate answer to that question.”
There was more good news about PvP gear. “PvP gear is only earned in PvP. We wanted to make sure that PvPers only have to do PvP to earn the gear they need. We want players to play the way they want to play, in the systems they want to engage in while playing Wildstar.”
For those who prefer endgame raiding, the good news is that there’ll be two raids available at launch. Don’t expect to go beating up raid bosses as soon as you hit level cap though. “There will be two raids, BUT it will be a ton of work accessing them day one and fairly difficult completing them.”
Another forum poster highlighted this imaginative use of game mechanics, combining a double-jump and dodge to create a “Super Dodge”. Luckily, Frost isn’t in a hurry to remove it. “You know how we say ‘The Devs are Listening?’ Well, we'll see how people use/hate/love/abuse this ability and react accordingly.”
And what about all those high-level characters that beta players have been working on? Yep, they’re getting nuked. “After closed beta, we most certainly will do a character wipe. That would give people an uber unfair leveling advantage if we let 'em keep their high level toons if we didn't! Same with open beta, but there are some other plans in the works that you will hear of in the coming months.”