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Columns: Exploring Endgame

By Gareth Harmer on July 02, 2015

Exploring Endgame

They say that life is more about the journey than the destination. While that might be true in a corporeal sense, any seasoned MMO gamer will tell you that the endgame needs to be just as robust as the odyssey we take to get there. Which brings me to the topic of this week’s WildStar column: how does the endgame experience stack up now that it’s been a year since launch?

At the time, WildStar had a reputation for being an unrelentingly hardcore game. Since then, the tone has softened, with the leveling experience being much more approachable and enjoyable as a result. But there was still an unanswered question about what I’d be able to do at level 50. Would I be faced with a dazzling array of choices once I arrived at cap, or would I be left out in the cold while only the hardcore got to enjoy endgame?

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Refreshingly, the answer is somewhat closer to the sweet buffet of content I’d hoped for. Sure, there are a few things that remain out of reach while I gear up (or complete pesky attunements) but, for the most part, the WildStar theme park is open to all comers. Now that my fresh-faced alt had just hit level cap, I decided to devour as much of it as possible. So far, it’s all good.

The Continuing Story

On both my characters, I’ve managed to hit level 50 in exactly the same place – partway through Western Grimvault. It’s left me with half a zone of story content to complete, which I’m itching to get back to just to see where it goes. But that’s not all; since launch, Carbine has added two further story zones of Blighthaven and The Defile. Both of these expand on the mystery surrounding The Entity and Drusera, and I’m ridiculously eager to get back out there and go exploring. It’s worth doing so from a character standpoint as well; instead of Experience Points, I’ll be earning Elder Points from questing and hunting, which converts to those lucrative Elder Gems.

One of the easiest ways to sap any enjoyment I have for a game is to force me to go through a monotonous daily quest grind that lacks any variety or choice. Today’s WildStar solves this with three different daily quest hubs – Crimson Badlands, Northern Wastes and the new Star-Comm Basin. All three of these are set in former starter areas, and show what’s happened since we’ve been away and busy leveling up. Star-Comm Basin is particularly fun because the controlling NPC faction (and hence the quests) change on a daily basis, mixing things up a little. Plus there’s a raid boss, for when I get that far.

Putting exploring to one side for a moment, there’s something closer to home that I’ve been putting off for too long. More specifically, my housing plot’s in desperate need of an overhaul, and I’ve got a stack of furnishings and fabkits just waiting to be used. In related news, a plethora of collectible companion pets have been released, and I’m desperately eager to get hold of a jabbit and chompacabra. And there’s achievement points, path content and lore discoveries just waiting to be found. I’m in no rush, but I do want to get round to it all. Someday.

In This Instance

These daily quest hubs – or Post-Cap Playerspaces to use Carbine design parlance – are all well and good, but they’re only one foodgroup in a balanced MMO gamer diet. Beyond that, there’s multiplayer instances, and it’s this aspect that filled me with the most dread. So far it’s been a smooth ride, but I’m only in the early stages of playing through the veteran content WildStar has to offer.

That said, WildStar’s shiphand missions have been a solid favorite of mine since the early days. These flexible instances for 1 to 5 players have been ideal for those leveling as a duo, and the new Veteran versions extend that concept into level cap. They’re still huge amounts of fun, with the Veteran versions offering a slightly different experience and more of a challenge, but they’re still a brisk 30 minute jaunt. And the best bit is that they offer Renown, which can be used to buy gear, which will prepare me for the next step: Veteran Adventures.

Which brings me to my current status – chasing through shiphand missions and blasting everything in sight, with plans to start Veteran Adventures and Dungeons over the next week or so. My success in these is going to hinge on a great unknown: discovering just how popular WildStar’s LFG tool is for endgame content. Being in a guild of two people, my options are somewhat limited. As for getting attuned to raiding, that lofty goal is somewhere in the far distance for now.

Contract Choices

Before I wrap up, there’s one final part to this endgame cornucopia. Introduced in the most recent patch, Contracts offer additional rewards for going out and playing the game. I might get a contract to kill 30 Skeech, or get 10 Super Kills by slaughtering five enemies at once, or completing a Veteran Adventure. There are also contracts for PvP content, like running the mask 4 times in Walatiki Temple, or capturing 6 points in Halls of the Bloodsworn. Completing contracts earns me some basic rewards each time, but if I do a whole boatload of them, the rewards at key milestones get huge. And just as with Star-Comm basin, the contracts offered do vary, so I’m not stuck with the same thing each time.

And that’s the thing. It’s been a week, and yet I’m left with the desperate urge to play more WildStar, do more content, and experience more of what’s on offer. I’m not left with the feeling that I’ve had with other recent MMOs, where I’ve played all the game has to offer and can move on to the next one in my stack. It’s going to be interesting to see how this holds up over the weeks and months ahead, but I’m confident that there’s enough to last me a good while.

In the meantime, Spellslinger DPS LFG!

Gareth Harmer / When he's not blasting or fireballing his way through a virtual world, Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer can be found dissecting the mechanics of online games. Chua at heart, he's also our resident columnist for all things WildStar.