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WildStar Column: The Pre-Launch Primer

By Gareth Harmer on May 22, 2014

Are you ready for WildStar? Launch day is just around the corner, with Carbine Studios’ upcoming MMO hitting shelves on June 3. Those who preorder can get started even earlier, with servers firing up on Saturday May 31. That leaves just over a week to get completely up to speed with everything the game has to offer. Whether you’ve just discovered Nexus, or loved Open Beta and want to know more, this Pre-Launch Primer covers all the essentials.

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Set on the mysterious planet Nexus, WildStar is a sci-fi themepark MMORPG that aims to offer everything a genre veteran could want. Dungeons and raids are both present for PvE, although you’ll also find adventures, shiphand missions and even dedicated story instances. PvP players will find battlegrounds, arenas, and Warplots (build a battle fortress with 39 friends and then duke it out against another team). All this is set against a rich backdrop of meaningful player lore, innovative movement and combat, and extra fun features like player housing.  Don’t worry, I’ll be going into detail on all of these and more shortly.

Development on WildStar kicked off back in 2005 by twenty or so former Blizzard employees and leads. Today, the team at Carbine Studios is made up of roughly 250 people, hailing from almost every MMO released in the last ten years. The game was unveiled to an unsuspecting audience at Gamescom 2011. Closed beta started just over a year ago in April 2013, with tens of thousands of eager gamers being invited in to test. WildStar has spent a lot of time being baked in the oven, with the developer paying close attention to player feedback.

Creating the Character

Fighting over Nexus are two opposing factions, each who believe they have a claim on the planet. The Exiles, a ragtag bunch of mercenaries, refugees and outcasts, discovered the potential new homeworld first.  The Dominion, a galactic empire spanning countless worlds, believes that Nexus is the former home of their gods and progenitors, and thus have a divine right to it. A fair amount of history has already been released, setting the scene for a global clash of the titans. And yet, lurking just beneath the surface, is the mystery of the Eldan: a super-advanced race that vanished from the planet, leaving behind secret labs and technological marvels that all point to a grand Project.

If you’re interested in playing a giant stone mercenary who delights in drinking beer and cracking skulls, the Granok are the race for you. Together with the Aurin (scrappy nature-lovers with furry ears and tails), Mordesh (gradually decaying alchemists that are only a step away from space zombies) and Humans, they make up the Exiles.  On the other side, the Dominion are composed of Cassians (like Humans, but with more class), Draken (savage lizards with long tails and horns), Chua (hamster-like creatures with a genius for making deadly weapons) and Mechari (Sentient and single-minded super-robots).

There are six classes to choose from in WildStar, each with their own specific nuances, so it’s worth experimenting with a few to find something that suits your own particular playstyle. Crucially, all of them are viable as either DPS or a support role (tanking or healing), which makes groups much easier to organize. The Warrior is your typical heavily armored tank, with a few new toys thrown in for good measure. Stealth and stab fans will love the Stalker, a medium armored assassin that can also tank if needed. For casters, the Esper uses illusions and phantasms to throw a mix of long-range spells and heals.

Searching for something a little unconventional? WildStar’s also got you covered. The Spellslinger is a ranged DPS class that uses magical pistols to shoot damage and healing. For the mechanics in the room, the heavily armored Engineer brings a team of robots, a ranged projectile launcher and the ability to tank when needed. And for healers that like to get a little close-up, the medium armored Medic carries Resonators that can kill or cure.

When creating a character, you’ll also be asked to choose a Path, ensuring that about 30% of the content is tailored to what you want from an MMO. Want to butcher everything you meet? Go Soldier. Massive lore hound?  Pick Scientist. Eager to find hidden locations and glorious vistas? Choose Explorer. And, if you’re all about building buff stations, banks and bars for your friends, then play a Settler. Paths are also designed to work together – if a Settler helps a Soldier on a holdout mission, both get Path XP as a reward. Each Path comes with a couple of nifty abilities, rewards and costumes that unlock as path levels (separate to normal character levels) are obtained.

Whatever you choose to do in Nexus, all of these merge together in something that Carbine calls ‘Layered Content.’ It all starts with movement: double-tap dodge, sprint and double-jump provide ability on the battlefield. Abilities need to be aimed, meaning you can skillfully hit two or three enemies with a single shot, or dodge out of incoming attacks. Crowd control durations are short, and half can be broken out of. And if you keep up the killing, stackable buffs encourage you to push harder. You might even unlock a challenge to slay so many mobs in a particular time, and get some tasty rewards for doing so.

As you level up, you’ll unlock new abilities that can be slotted into a Limited Action Set, which can be changed when not in combat. Eight abilities can be readied in this way, and at least two different sets can be unlocked. Augmenting these abilities are roughly 90 different Ability Modification protocols, helping to shape your character into DPS, Support, utility skills, or maybe a hybrid in between. Not all AMPS are unlocked through leveling, and a large number will have to be bought at level cap or acquired from drops or vendors throughout Nexus.

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