The WildStar content train is certainly still rolling. I’d previously taken a peek into Drop 3: The Defile, focusing on some of the new housing and grouping features heading our way soon. But the juiciest part – that evolving storyline – I deliberately saved until now. While at Gamescom, Technical Design Lead Nick Roth took me through a mass of new content, including the culmination of the story prologue, a new PvP arena (with a working title of Ice Box), and the first holiday event: Shade’s Eve.
Since before WildStar launched, there’s been this story brewing. The Eldan were deeply focused on this mysterious grand project, terraforming and reshaping Nexus to suit their needs. Over immeasurable time, their work reached a zenith, creating an exceptionally powerful being, a god of creation, named Drusera. Alongside that, as if her opposite, an evil force called The Entity rose up, together with a destructive biological force known as the Strain. Through dedicated solo instances and the Blighthaven zone update, that in-game history has been both revealed and continued.
The End of the Beginning
This latest zone – The Defile – is the end of that prologue. As we quest through the new zone, we’ll discover the secrets of Exanite, a golden rock that repels the Strain. We’ll uncover the mystery of the Lightspire, and the history of both Drusera and The Entity. It’s the closing of a chapter before WildStar moves on to revealing the World Story.
The Defile opens next to the Tree of Hope in Blighthaven, Drusera’s first creation, with the roots being used to tear down the Exanite wall. Beyond is a collection of solo missions, path objectives, 5-player quests and a substantial 20-player open-world raid.
It opens with the Sonic Plaza, an area where Eldan scientists were performing experiments on the properties of Exanite. No surprise, then, that both Exile and Dominion researchers have flooded into the area to discover what was being worked on, and if there are any scraps of knowledge still to be found. Players can assist their faction in the area and complete Path missions – there’s an Explorer one that involves climbing up the Eldan Resonance Tower. Incidentally, the inelegant shape and style of the tower would seem to suggest that it’s not the Eldan’s finest minds that are involved, but something thrown together more hastily.
I also got a tour of the Black Focus, a strain-tainted area with a formidable 5-player quest chain. The focus – an Eldan machine that’s usually tied to a primal force – was inactive until discovered by a Strain being called Koral the Defiler. The creature directed six terraformers at the Focus, each related to those primal elements, in order to twist it into a machine of destruction and corruption. The challenge for players is to deactivate the machine and slay Koral.
Taking Koral the Defiler down will require group coordination, particularly for an open world boss. He’ll regularly attune himself to one of six primal energies using control nodes scattered around the edge of the platform, with players having to respond by attuning themselves to the opposite. Kill him, and the Black Focus breaks, collapsing under its own weight and becoming a housing trophy to show off your sills with.
Underneath Koral’s floating platform is the gaping maw of a huge Strain Worm. It’s possible to dive inside, find new datacubes, scientist missions and even a soldier holdout. Just don’t be offended when, as Roth put it, you have to ‘exit through the gift shop.’
The new 20-player public event takes place in the region of Final Light, an area where Exile and Dominion bases are almost back-to-back. The mission is to break off a siege of the Lightspire, an Exanite tower where The Entity has been imprisoned for the last thousand years. Drusera surrounded the tower with a field of Exanite, and so a strain lieutenant named Dreadwatcher has a plan to build a bridge out of strain goop and discarded bodies.
Breaking the siege will take five stages, starting with a bombing run to take out strain worms, focusing on their exoganolia so that they can’t regenerate. From there progress is on foot, escorting NPCs through a series of holdouts and protecting them from a strain onslaught. After that, five mini bosses called Archfiends need to be taken out, who protect the power sources that feed the Dreadwatcher with energy.
With those destroyed, the fight is down to the Dreadwatcher itself. It’s a two stage fight that is tuned to 20 players, with the winged beast periodically cocooning itself to regenerate. After slaying it, Drusera will invite players to the Lightspire, to explain the secrets of the Strain, the Entity, Exanite, and how it’s all linked together. And as mentioned before, this isn’t the end of the story, just the culmination of the prologue.
Beyond the Defile
Apart from new zone content, Carbine has been working on a quirky new 5-player dungeon. The Ultimate Protogames is a Protostar-themed game show, pitching the group against a randomly selected and ordered collection of rooms. Each room has an event, and each event scores points, with the objective being to score as many as possible. Even better, there’s a medal for each event.
A new arena map is also being introduced for 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 play. With the working title of ‘Ice Box’, the battle area is huge, giving plenty of space for tactical carnage. It’s also the first arena to take place over two levels, with holes in the floor to lead people into a trap with, or to escape pursit.
And then there’s WildStar’s first holiday event. Shade’s Eve will take place in the fall, bringing new quests, new events and completely redecorated capital cities. As a first, the spooky season will also include a realm-wide progress event; as players complete holiday missions, they’ll contribute to building giant effigies in their capitals.
Roth wouldn’t be drawn on specific dates for these to go live, beyond saying that they’ll appear over the next several months. The studio is eager to make sure that the releases are extremely polished, which will likely include a healthy spell on the PTR.
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.