I’m standing in the middle of the Exile Base, looking out on a scorched mess of a field. Like a Chua in a Mordesh suit, I’m in the unfamiliar territory of Daggerstone Pass, WildStar’s newest PvP battleground. By my side are an assortment of press and Carbine devs – we all play, but we might as well be a ragtag bunch of nobodies. And far in the distance, seasoned and trained, our bloodthirsty opponents: the players.
The start of the match is approaching fast, so I make some final adjustments to my action set and leap on my hoverboard. The open-air map is vast, so it’s refreshing to be able to mount up and charge around. Skype crackles to life; there’s some brief talk about splitting up and rushing to the objectives – three satellite uplink towers that loom in the middle ground. Before any of us realize, the timer hits zero and the force field drops. The game is on.
Welcome to Sabotage
I kick into gear and join Bardic – lead group content designer Jen Gordy – in a sprint to the Eldan Bunker. Another group led by MuffinMan – lead PvP designer Kevin Lee – races towards the abandoned Mine. We’ve sent a couple to No Man’s Land in the middle, but it’s a ruse to distract the enemy while we focus on the other two control points. With any luck, we’ll get a healthy head start in the strafing war before the bombs come into play.
WildStar’s Sabotage starts off feeling like a slow-death control point game. Control an uplink tower and airships start strafing the enemy base, chipping away at the delicate Fusion Core that lies at its center. The more towers you control, the faster it heads towards a fiery demise. So far, so straightforward.
As I close in on the Bunker, it looks like our opponents also got the memo, with three of them trying to activate the tower. I switch my Engineer into tank mode and hop off the board, my heavy gun winding up with an opening volley. Suddenly, their telegraphs snap towards me – I’ve interrupted their capture, earning their undivided attention. Activating my mech suit, I try to stay up long enough for the others to take them down.
But it’s not happening – not today. PvP gear has been changed on the PTR, with those PvP stats now having much more of an impact. Their attacks melt through my heavy armor like the combined fury of a thousand suns, dropping my health bar from hero to zero in the blink of an eye. As I lie in the dirt, staring up through a blue haze, a realization hits me like a rocket to the face. We’re up against a PvP fixed team that’s probably dripping in the stuff. I make a mental note to visit the gear vendor later, if only to return the stomping-shaped favor.
Talisman of the Underdog
If Daggerstone Pass was a normal control point battleground, that would be the end of the story. Our superior nemesis would steamroll, pushing us back off the control points and trapping us in our own base. In WildStar, however, there’s usually a way for the underdog to strike back. This time, it’s with Bombs.
A short time after the gates open, bombs periodically spawn at each faction’s base. Even if the enemy has a stranglehold on all three control points, there’s enough space in the map to sneak a bomb through from one side to the other. This isn’t a job for those who take the scenic route, as a timer starts as soon as the bomb is picked up. Fail to get rid of it before the timer hits zero and say hello to the graveyard guy.
Then again, there are far more subtle – and entertaining – ways of using the bomb. There’s waiting around until the bomb has hardly any time left, then charging into a group of foes clustered round a tower and watching them all drop as it explodes in their face. Or there’s picking up the bomb that someone just dropped at your fusion core, discovering there’s plenty of time left on the fuse, and charging back at them. You can even drop it at the feet of your turtling teammates, if you’re in a particular trollish mood. It’s all in the glorious name of sabotage.
Truthfully though, those bombs were lethally chaotic in our inexperienced hands. They can’t be carried while mounted, so we’d often get caught and cut down. Or we’d charge in as a group, only to drop the thing and kill everyone from both sides, leaving a carcass-strewn crater of embarrassed silence. But I can see how, once we’d mastered the technique, they’d be an effective way of turning the tide.
Because the map is more open, the combat telegraphs are much more effective. Even though it’s a 15v15 match, there’s plenty of space for small skirmishes and squad combat, rather than the massive brawl that’s found in Walatiki Temple or the Zerg rush of Halls of the Bloodsworn. For those looking for a more tactical and strategic feel to their PvP battlegrounds, Sabotage might be what you’re looking for.
Personally though, I think Walatiki still has my heart. I guess I’m embracing my chaotic Chua tendencies, but I still love the rapid carnage that it brings, masks or no. But I can certainly appreciate what Carbine’s delivering in the next content drop, and I’d certainly have no complaints if it cropped up on random play.
If you’re interested in giving Daggerstone Pass a go for yourself, it’s currently available to play on the PTR, along with the newly specced PvP gear, costume support in PvP, and a range of other tweaks and bug fixes. Don’t worry if you’re not level 50 either, as anyone with an active account can now access the special boosts and vendors to get into the action. When the update drop goes live later this month, the battleground will open up from level 30.
Will you be dropping the bomb when Sabotage goes live, or have you already put Daggerstone Pass to the test? Sound off with your own experiences in the comments.
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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