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WildStar Column: A Signal of the Final Stages of Development?

By Gareth Harmer on February 13, 2014

Carbine Studios is certainly blasting out the betas. It’s barely a month since I reported on WildStar’s previous update, and last week saw the arrival of even more delicious content. From the look of things, the Winter Beta 3 patch could be the most interesting yet.

The biggest news? WildStar’s beta level cap is now 50, and elder game content testing has now begun. But that’s not the only update in this patch, as lower level content, player characters and all six classes have had tweaks and polish applied. With Carbine pulling in even more players for a stress test this weekend, and several community fansites planning beta key giveaways, that elusive release date announcement can’t be far off.

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Fixes and Feature Polish

Carbine’s been teasing some of that diverse content this week, with the release of a brand new Flick on Adventures. From an interview late last year, we discovered that these will provide a different form of 5-player content, with six of them planned for launch. If the video is anything to go by, these open-world style instances will be packed with choice. Choosing who to bring could get interesting: do I pick the boneheaded warrior or the lunatic Chua esper?


While on the subject of Chua, Winter Beta 3 brought some fantastic emotes for the fuzzballs. They can now sit and glare at others, flex their muscles, or curl up and pretend to be asleep. Whether it’s an Exile Hoedown or a Dominion Ballroom, all races can now dance the night away as well. Well, it’s either that or a nearby mailbox.

Last month’s patch contained a huge amount of class changes, and this time round is no different. The tweaks and balance adjustments are a strong indicator that lead class designer Hugh Shelton and his team are taking time to listen to feedback, track statistics, and further refine gameplay. Considering the fact that some WildStar livestreamers are constantly running through Walatiki Temple, and it’s likely that they have plenty of data to sift through and analyze.

Possibly the most startling change is that WildStar seems more alive and more polished than before. Quests and other content from a number of earlier zones have been updated or had bugs mercilessly crushed. But that’s not all – a huge amount of incidental audio has been added, from cutscenes to NPC noises. Even Illium, the grand capital of the Dominion, has had some remodeling.

Enter the Endgame

The big news, though, is that Carbine has lifted the level cap. In Winter Beta 3, players can head all the way up to level 50 and start testing what executive producer Jeremy Gaffney calls the Elder Game. And yes, that includes taking the wraps off raid content. It’s encouraging to see that Carbine is making sure this gets tested thoroughly before launch, especially considering that the studio wants to make WildStar the MMO that the best raiding guilds in the world want to play.

It also means that Warplots are now open for business. We’ve not seen much of this form of endgame PvP, apart from a brief glimpse at the end of the Customization DevSpeak video. In essence, two warparties of 40 players face off against each other in customizable death fortresses, with weapons including captured raid bosses. It all sounds deliciously destructive, and I can’t wait to find out more.

 

Hopefully the waiting won’t be long, with Carbine planning to share details on a whole stack of features over the next few months. This might be in the form of amusing DevSpeaks, awesome Flicks or in-depth Livestreams, or possibly a combination.

Either way, it’s a sure signal that WildStar is in the final stages of development, with beta testers now able to experience much of what the MMO will eventually ship with. The only thing we don’t know is when Carbine plans to launch, with the date being so guarded, the studio hasn’t even told itself yet. Whenever that date happens to be, it’s likely to sit in that Spring/Half 1 of 2014. And with an open beta discussed for before WildStar hits the shelves, it’s possible that everyone will get a chance to visit Nexus before buying in.

Gareth Harmer / Gareth Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.

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