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MMORPG | Genre:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 06/03/14)  | Pub:NCSoft
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WildStar Column: Welcome to Nexus

By Gareth Harmer on June 05, 2014

WildStar is here. After a year-long closed beta, stress tests, Ops week and more, Carbine’s brand new MMO is finally open for business. Like so many others, I was there for the grand opening. No more character wipes, no more bug reports; this time, it’s For Real.

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In my case, that meant having the game literally in my hands, picking a server with the rules set I wanted, and playing at my own pace with an awesome leveling buddy (and wife). I’ve noticed so many polishing touches and half-hidden easter eggs during my travels that it feels like the MMO equivalent of a digitally remastered movie.

And yet, launch week left me with mixed feelings. I started covering WildStar when it was announced some three years ago, becoming part of a close-knit community that cheered the studio on through beta. Over the last few weeks, it’s gone through the mother of all growing pains, as we’ve all moved to our own servers spread across two continents and put down new roots. It’s silly to get nostalgic over a game that’s all grown up now, but I guess that’s the closest to how it feels.

Any sniffles I might have had were short-lived. It’s been immensely gratifying to watch new players dive in and get pumped about the same things that I got stoked about in the months leading up to launch. It’s a little bit like being the hipster that knew the band before they were cool, but without the air of smug pretentiousness. Well, maybe a little.

Cue the Fireworks

Launch has also meant I can take off the Serious Hat (our own Bill Murphy is writing the review), kick back and have fun. After devouring breakfast and defeating the DDoS-enriched login boss, I could finally get down to the important job of creating characters. Gazz the Chua Engineer was my primary focus, as his dastardly grin, bouncy animation and sarcastic emotes make him immense fun to play. It was also time to play a card that I’d been keeping close to my chest – a Cassian Spellslinger named Jovinius Rufinus Nebulous. WildStar is the first new IP in a long time that manages to make the British look cool, and I felt culturally obliged to endorse it. Plus, it means I can legitimately shout ‘Pew pew pew!’ like an eight year old while questing.

While launch has been mostly trouble-free, WildStar has had a few teething troubles. Servers were crunched full of players for the first few days, with Carbine’s Live Ops team spinning up new ones every few days until the pressure eased. Free transfers are also on the way for those looking to avoid the queues without giving up on their character progress. But for those who worked to build a community of alliances and rivals, it’s left them with difficult choices to make. Hopefully the situation will become easier as server populations stabilize.

Other than that, Carbine has been rolling out frequent updates, either to hotfix game-breaking issues, crush the remaining bugs or deliver performance improvements. The studio has also decided to hold off with rolling out CREDD (the ability to buy a month of game time and trade it in-game) until server economies and populations have stabilized. We’re told that the feature will still go live with plenty of time to spare before the bundled first month runs out, for those eager economists looking to play WildStar for free.

Coming Soon

Once those launch week issues start to wear off, we can look forward to the Public Test Realm being cranked up to begin testing the first of WildStar’s monthly content updates. Carbine’s already teased Blighthaven, a new zone loaded with content for level 50 players, which will arrive in Drop 1. When I spoke to Creative Director Chad Moore, he told me that it would be loaded with new lore on what the Eldan were up to on Nexus, adding that “it is right up there in being one of the most important pieces of content that people will need to experience.” This first content update should arrive less than a month after launch, with Carbine committed to earning that subscription fee

Beyond that, further new zones will arrive in future drops, as well as tweaks and updates to the rest of the world. Drop 2 will contain a gift for PvP fans, in the form of a new 15 vs. 15 battleground called Daggerstone Pass. Not much has been shared about this upcoming feature, with Group Content Design Lead Jen Gordy adding that bomb carrying and air strikes will somehow be involved. In total, some 16 months of content updates are already planned out, from story and lore updates to new dungeons and raids.

After all, by offering regular monthly drops of new content, Carbine hopes players will stick with WildStar for the long haul. The studio has put a lot of effort into making sure that there’s plenty of game left to play once we hit level cap, and it genuinely feels like that’s only going to grow as time moves on. While it remains to be seen just how meaty these updates are, we’ll find out as soon as the PTR goes live.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my journey to level 50. Raiding, warplots and veteran dungeons can wait – I have a world full of story to enjoy.

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” 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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