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WildStar Column: In the Pink

By Gareth Harmer on April 16, 2014

Like the long-eared Lopp, I’ve been combing through the latest WildStar news to find the shiniest nuggets of information. And, after Carbine’s panel session at PAX East, there was a mountain of tidbits to choose from. There’s the Warplots Flick Reveal, the announcement that the game has gone gold, and a light-year long list of other details.

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If you’ve got a spare hour, I’d heartily recommend watching the panel replay, and not just for the amusing banter – there are some fantastic glimpses of both the 20-player Genertic Archives and 40-player Datascape raids. The group also touched on that all-important loot, including some interesting details that make those top-tier rewards even sweeter.  Just hearing about it got me excited about raiding all over again.

As for PvP, our very own Jean Prior managed to take a much closer look at Warplots during her trip to PAX. For everything from establishing teams to building your own death fortress, be sure to grab a look at her deep dive. But before I get into everything else, I’m going to start with one of the most overlooked parts of MMOs – the continuing story.

Discovering Drusera

It seems that Lead Narrative Designer Chad Moore has been hiding something from everyone in beta. I’ve hinted at a ghosty lady in the past – an apparition that whispers a handful of words before disappearing completely. I thought it might have been the lingering soul of Tresayne Toira, clanking chains with portents of doom, but the truth is even more interesting.

While Drusera’s own background is still unclear, her purpose in the ongoing story of Nexus has now been revealed. Those enigmatic sightings are just the prelude for something even more substantial – dedicated solo story instances, containing the most detailed lore on why the Eldan disappeared. Starting at level 35, we’ll have five of these to discover and investigate as we level up, learning about the bio-corrupting Strain, why it was so dangerous, and what the Eldan planned to do about it. Once we hit level cap, the arc will then shift from what happened in the past to what we can do about the future. Future Drusera instances will be added as part of the episodic content updates to keep the momentum going.

For Moore, the use of soloable story instances means that the most epic moments won’t be locked away in the bowels of a raid instance. Places like the Genetic Archives and Datascape will still have lore, but will instead fit into the overall world arc rather than containing anything specific. It means that lore buffs might discover something before anyone else, or learn about topics earlier than other players. Datacubes in these instances will further augment these deep lore digs.

As both a raider and lore hound, I’m actually really pleased about the use of Drusera instances in this context, as it stops story updates from being something that’s reserved for major content updates or expansions, and closer to the Guild Wars 2 model. I’m also hoping that it’ll encourage veteran players to return to earlier zones that they might not have seen in weeks or months, and look at them from a new angle. And there’s still the plug-based World Event system, where the studio can change parts of a zone to reflect that ongoing story, should they choose to.

Dat Pink Doe

Like a tag-team wrestling duo, Lead Combat Designer Chris Lynch and socio-economic supermo Joe Piepiora powered through combo after combo of Raiding punches, from some excellent footage of the previously unseen Datascape 40-player raid, through to some of the shiniest loot this side of the Darkspur Nebula. For those of us eager to take down the nastiest, biggest creatures on Nexus, this was compulsive viewing. Not every challenge will be some monster with a grudge though, as sometimes the floor itself will be trying to kill you. With WildStar’s telegraph-based combat system, the environment itself plays a pivotal role in some of the encounters we saw.

While solo players delve into dedicated story instances and PvP gladiators fight for glory in Warplots, the top-level PvE players will be hunting for the rarest treasures in raids, with Lynch promising that the experience will be very, very hard. As an example, he showed video of a couple of groups facing off against some bosses, and getting their faces ground into the dirt. As Stephan Frost mentioned during the panel, the telegraphs may start off as training wheels at level 3 but, by the time you’re facing some of these bosses, that tricycle of death will melt your face.

Instead of trash mobs, Carbine uses Base Population to fill the spaces between mini and main bosses, in an arrangement that will change from week to week. Lynch explained that their goal is to keep the excitement going, instead of meat shields you can snooze through. Because they’re more challenging to defeat, they’ll have decent loot as well. Purple quality Epic items will drop in the 20-player raid, while orange Legendaries are to be found in the 40-player Datascape.

Carbine is also trying to remove relying on random luck to get essential gear, with raid loot also available from the Elder Gem vendors. This currency is earned at level cap instead of XP, with a hard limit of 140 gems to stop players from grinding through content repeatedly. Instead, Carbine will be adding further ways to get Elder Gems, from dailies, weeklies and so on. And don’t expect to just buy this raid gear as soon as you hit 50 either – it’ll only be available for those players who have the achievement for slaying the relevant boss in the first place.

If you want the best gear though, you’ll be hunting for pinks. WildStar’s Artifacts are the most potent weapons available, with Piepiora promising that there’s something for everyone, providing you’re skilled and lucky enough to get one. These incredible armaments start off powerful enough, but can be further improved through imbuements – special quests that are tied to the weapon. The final stage imbuement for The Stalwart – a Warrior tanking sword – involved both summoning and slaying two 40-player raid bosses at the same time, making it an 80-person fight.

Personally, I feel that this is a much better approach to providing the top quality items. As Piepiora mentioned during the stream, it’s possible for further imbuements to be added later on so that the weapon stays relevant as new tiers of content are added. More importantly though, it gets rid of those anticlimactic chains where you’re scouring forever to assemble a staff or a mace, only for it to be replaced or remain incomplete as your group moves on to bigger things. With WildStar, the adventure is just beginning when you first grasp that artifact.

With the game now officially gold and discs being printed and boxed, Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney is eager to get as many players as possible in, testing and providing feedback on content in the handful of weeks left between now and launch on June 3. If you’re interested in lending a hand and trying it out, you can grab yourself a key for this weekend right here. Who knows, it might even start your own journey to wielding an artifact weapon later this year.

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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