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WildStar Previews: Deeper into the Dominion Lands

By Gareth Harmer on February 19, 2014

Over the past few months, we’ve been carefully documenting our early WildStar experience. Everything under level 15 has come under our scrutiny, including PVP, crafting, housing, grouping and general impressions. Even yesterday we were digging into Adventures: dungeon-style instances that are packed full of choice.

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Today that changes. Carbine has lifted the level limit to level 29, allowing us to explore deeper into Nexus and report back on what we find. Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be entering the Ruins of Kel Voreth dungeon and creeping around the contested zone of Whitevale. Today though, I’m starting out in Auroria: the first post-15 zone.

Dominion Country Garden

My earlier route through Nexus was a well-trodden one. After starting out on the Dominion Arkship I headed out to the Crimson Isle – a sandy, dry and sun-bleached rock. From there I caught a shuttle to the mainland, arriving in Bloodfire Village in Deradune. The grassy savannah is home to wild and incredible creatures, along with gruesome and disturbing experimental monstrosities.

Questing around Deradune left me at level 15, at which point I moved on to the Dominion capital. According to the most recent Beta patch notes, Illium is currently going through some extensive remodeling. Building works aside, it didn’t stop me from picking up two key pieces of content: housing (which opens up at level 14) and the first Adventure (which unlocks at 15). With both of these under my belt, it was time to venture into zones unknown.

With a region of densely packed farms, Auroria is the garden of Dominion-held Nexus. The unique position next to the capital makes it ideal for highborn families looking to establish a farm, or lowborn workers seeking employment. It also makes the area an incredibly tempting target for insurrection by any means possible.

As I left Illium, I found groups of citizens from the nearby farms looking to escape a virulent plague. The town of Hycrest was in the grip of an epidemic, with many of the townsfolk looking to flee and the remainder being fatalistic about their fate. For all the bright colors, the air was rich with a gloom of despondency.  It also served as a pointed introduction on just how much of a class schism there is in Cassian society; highborn were relatively well protected while the lowborn were left to fend for themselves.

Over the course of a number of quests and missions that took me around the nearby farmland, I discovered two things. Firstly, I absolutely hate sentient vegetables and despise having to chase after my own food without the aid of explosives. And two, I found the source of the sickness and unraveled the mysteries behind it. I shan’t spoil the surprise, but the statue of me in Hycrest is quite impressive.

It’s also a world that speaks to me – quite literally. Holocrypts respond with a sarcastic comment every time you use one to resurrect. Transmat terminals assure you that nothing could possibly go wrong with high-speed teleportation. And Bounty Boards offer pseudo-factual remarks on prey and hunting in a faux Australian accent. It reminds me a lot of Red Dwarf, so much so that I keep on expecting a talking toaster to pop up somewhere.

Going Corporate

Of course, anything that the Dominion can do, Protostar Corporation can do at a lower price with a guarantee to meet the absolute minimum in quality. When it comes to farming, their solution is the Cubig – a block of genetically modified sentient meat product that purely exists to be turned into bacon. Just like with themselves, Protostar’s approach to animal husbandry is to clone the creatures, which produces unpredictable results.

It all stared when the Prime Cubig – the master cubig from which all others are made – went missing. Try copying a copy and like a bad VHS tape you get a cubig squared, inherently unstable and likely to explode in a shower of bacon bits. And then there’s the cuboars, rejected even by Protostar’s miniscule quality control and now prowling the countryside with their mutant super-porcine-powers. Needless to say, production was not going well.

The Cubig conundrum was only the start of Protostar’s problems. Sensing an opportunity to sell honey alongside bacon and bacon derivatives, the little green clones decided to harness a nearby colony of giant killer bees. Between being stung to death, mauled by grizzlies or encased in amber, employment prospects are not looking good. And then there’s the nearby Mozyk Quarry, loaded with robots that recently became self-aware and are now rejecting Protostar’s programming. Somehow, I get the feeling that Corporate aren’t going to enjoy reading those reports.

Uncivil Engineering

Beyond the farmland, Auroria stretches out into a land with mysteries tucked around each corner. WildStar’s zones are huge, incorporating a number of themes in order to avoid the nemesis of grinding fatigue. It’s why the fields and stables give way to Eldan architecture at the Windfall disgite. But by far the strangest part of Auroria lies just beyond the military outpost of Fort Glory.

Kel Voreth is a ruined city, brought about by the collapse of an early proto-society. The Osun were engineered by the Eldan as builders and engineers, crafting technology on the whim of their Masters for The Project. When the Eldan left, the Osun were left rudderless and collapsed. But, since the arrival of the Dominion and Exiles, the Osun have found new purpose fighting off the new invaders. Even though much of their old ways have been lost, they can still forge weapons, and even more diabolical things.

It also contains the Ruins of Kel Voreth dungeon; one of two that become available at around level 20. For those interested in formal group content, there’s also a Shiphand mission available at Fort Glory. I’ll be entering the dungeon myself in the next few days.

Auroria also feels like a shift in the story for WildStar. If everything up to level 15 was Act I, then Auroria starts off the Dominion’s Act II. I’m left feeling that there’s a lot of the story left to tell, and that I’m just beginning to make sense of just how large the world of Nexus really is. Either way, I can’t wait to discover more. Onward to Whitevale!

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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