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The Evolving Battleground

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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Hunting Season

It’s the third game, and I’m playing defense. We’re determined to clinch victory, and nothing is being left to chance. Even if an Exile sneaks in, they won’t be leaving alive. So far it’s working – I’ve seen off a couple of opportunists, and we’ve kept them guessing. Spawn or Steal; we were switching quickly either way.

Each side knew how crucial victory was, and the match started getting bogged down. The Pit of Death became awash with red and green telegraphs, with neither side willing to give an inch. Our defense crept forward to lend support in midfield, exposing our mask room to sneak attacks from the cave. As soon as I heard the cry from the announcer, I spun around and headed to the Exile thief, hitting Leap to close range before following it up with a stun. “They’re trying to escape, but they’re not getting very far,” I advised over Skype.

While in beta, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Walatiki Temple as I’ve leveled up, earning a solo battleground rating as I go. According to Gordy, that’s all set to change. “We’re actually going to be changing this so that your rated battlegrounds won’t start until 50. We will expect people to be funneled into the practice grounds where your rating doesn’t matter, and we’re doing that because of the player feedback and also for queue health. We’ve been looking at metrics and, prior to 50, it is really segmenting the population by doing both brackets and matching by rating. Although it was excellent testing, and I probably wouldn’t have done it any other way – just to have the system continually exercised during beta – we are going to cap it up so that rated battlegrounds are only at 50.”

Seasons will also be arriving in WildStar PvP, with the first season starting on launch day. Season 1 will then continue until Carbine needs to usher in a new level of PvP rewards – Gordy has a plan for when that will happen, but can’t share the date just yet.

Snapping back to reality, an excited voice shouts over Skype. “We only need one more to win!” We’ve just snatched a mask, and only need to bring it home to seal victory.

Another spots a gap in the Exile forces. “Go bridge!” We moved as one to help keep the opening, pushing back the Exiles as our mask carrier runs through. There’s a couple chasing him, but I use my stun on one of them as an Engineer snares another. We’ve got this.

“Nearly there… nearly there… BOOM.” We’ve won. A player short, and the Dominion have dominated Walatiki temple.

To the Victor

Although WildStar’s beta has had PvP for some time, last week marked the arrival of PvP Week, flipping the rules set from a safe open world to kill-or-be-killed. It’s also helped unearth some interesting bugs, like the Chua guards that would kill anyone regardless of faction. But that wasn’t the only issue Gordy found. “We had a system in place where, if you died to a PvP death in open-world PvP, you’re supposed to have 30 seconds of unflagging when you come back. That wasn’t working! So I fixed that – it was the result of lots of graveyard camping that I saw on Twitch and Youtube.”

It’s also given rise to some great emergent gameplay, with Lee grinning as he told me one particular story. “There was some awesome world PvP where a 40-man guild was blocking the entrance to a raid entrance, and I couldn’t help but giggle. The other guild was trying to push through a scientist so he could use his Path ability to summon everybody else in, but it was not successful.” For those of us itching to experience the PvP insanity all over again, Gordy’s also told me that more PvP servers will be fired up during open beta.

What happens to PvP once WildStar launches? One of the strong attractions about Carbine’s upcoming MMO is the high-speed update cycle, with new content arriving roughly once a month. With seasons put to one side, I was interested to know if there’d be something PvP-shaped in every patch, or if Gordy was planning on spacing it out.

“It’ll be a staggered drop cycle for us because we do want to get a lot of iteration in on the maps, but the whole post-launch schedule has a themed cadence to it. A lot of what we’re doing is looking at a particular drop, and determining whether that can fit a PvP thing in there or not. That said, we do have a lot planned - Kevin’s been mainly working on post-launch stuff now, as well as the small fine-tuning that he’s been doing for launch. We can’t wait to show you guys!”

What might those post-launch PvP things look like? Chances are, they’ll be unlike anything we’re playing at the moment, but instead be something that’s uniquely WildStar. “We also made a conscious decision for the launch battlegrounds to have game types that lend some familiarity from other MMOs, but we’ve evolved them to WildStar’s combat mechanics. We’ll probably be straying further away from that and becoming a whole holistic WildStar feel with the stuff that’s coming.”

Intrigued by the prospect of what might be waiting for us in Gordy’s PvP pipeline, I asked Lee if there was any fallout from the PvP contest. After all, Lynch did get beaten by a team that was a man down.

“There was only fallout for him. It was just me, walking by him, smirking. ‘Oh, did that hurt? Was it really that painful? Because it looked like it was.’ Luckily I had that bragging right for the rest of the day. He was like ‘We didn’t have as good healers,’ and I replied ‘Well, that doesn’t sound like a problem!’”

As they say in the Empire: Victori Spolia.


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Gazimoff

Gareth Harmer

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.