Although it’s possible to spend all your time playing nothing but battlegrounds, it’s not something that I’d recommend. For one, you can use the downtime between battles to quest, picking up valuable currency and fresh gear. PvP gear from vendors doesn’t start to emerge until about level 10, making those early quest reward upgrades incredibly useful. That said, your character and everything it’s wearing is boosted up to the top of the bracket – level 14 in this case.
It’s at that level that I based myself around the Feralplain Collective – a Chua encampment in the north of Deradune. It made perfect sense: there’s a PvP vendor, a transmat portal for fast travel, tradeskill trainers and nice questing. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by a large group of heavily armed Chua?
Over time, I adapted my character to improve my PvP capability, adding further skills to my Limited Action Set as I leveled up and unlocked more slots. The biggest change, however, was switching to a more survival-based approach. The Mark IV Exo-Suit has two built-in stances: a DPS-focused Eradication Mode and a Provocation Mode for tanking. I also used Advanced Modification Protocols to improve my tankiness further, and dropped the bots from my Limited Action Set. With more control, more damage and more mitigation, my performance improved.
As I played, I also accumulated Prestige, WildStar’s PvP currency. All manner of consumables and boosters are available for those gladiators seeking an edge, but I was interested in saving up for the gear. Even if you’re on a losing steak, it’s possible to accumulate enough points to pick up something regularly. Your character also has a personal battleground elo rating, helping to ensure that you get matched with people of a similar skill level.
In the end, the hard work paid off. As a new match started, I teamed up with an Esper and Spellslinger to make a run for the first mask. We started running across a bamboo bridge before dropping down onto the level below, the Esper making the grab before the Exiles even noticed. But the run back was torture, with the Cassian mind trickster taking us on a tour of the temple via the Exile capture room. We dived back into the central bowl, avoiding the Exiles fighting around the rim, before getting the first point.
The battle continued, with each team grabbing spawns, stealing masks and edging closer to victory. In the end, we stood at four masks each, with one more needed for victory. It was getting desperate. The exiles decided to rush our base, hoping to steal a mask for a decisive victory. But they hit a wall with our defense, spinning in the mud.
An alert flashed on my screen – a new mask had spawned. I sprinted for it, hoping that the Granok and Mechari hadn’t noticed my tiny Chua. I reached it first, grabbed it, then looked at the route back. My heart sank – I’d need to fight through the Exile forces to get back to my own capture room. And there’s no way they’d miss me with the shining mask beacon above my head.
I charged forward, aiming for the shortest route, and immediately attracted attention. Both teams knew this was the victory point, and set to work trying to stop me or save me. Telegraphs were slapping down everywhere, and my shields gave out rapidly. My green health bar started to dip, but then I remembered my exo-suit’s innate ability when tanking – massive damage absorption. Smashing the hotkey, I continued to move forward, inching ever closer to my goal.
And then I made it, capturing the mask and winning the game. I got a pile of Prestige for my trouble and a reward for being on the winning side. And I couldn’t wait to dive in again.
WildStar’s battleground PvP is sometimes chaotic, sometimes strategic, but I’ve found it immensely enjoyable. I’ve always been a dungeoneer and raider in MMORPGs previously, but Carbine may have just converted me to the dark side.
Gareth Harmer / Gareth 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.