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The Nexus Saga Begins

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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I’ve always found WildStar’s story to be one of my favorite parts of the MMO. It’s been amorphous, starting out as this conflict between an intergalactic Dominion that was claiming its divine birthright, and a scrappy band of Exiles that were desperately searching for a place to call home. From there, it twisted into the tale of the Eldan, the incredible technology they harnessed, and their sudden yet mysterious disappearance. Now it’s shifting again, as the focus swings to Drusera, the Entity, and an even greater threat to both Nexus and the universe itself.

That change is deliberate. Everything we’ve been playing up till now is seen as a prologue to the main story: the Nexus Saga. Content drops like Blighthaven, or upcoming ones like The Defile, have simply helped to build to this point. It all begins with Carbine’s most sophisticate story instance to date: Journey to Omnicore-1. To tell me about this first chapter in the Nexus Saga, and much more besides, I sat down Creative Director and lore supremo Chad Moore.

MMORPG.com: How do players find out about Omnicore-1, and how do they get there?

Chad Moore: What happens at the end of the Defile is lots of deep, dark secrets of the Nexus project, the Eldan, Drusera, and the Entity are revealed. That begins is a quest line that is different depending on what faction that you’re in. And that leads into the ultimate mission to go into Omnicore 1 and restore the Caretaker. There’s a little bit of a transition between the Lightspire and when you ultimately go into the Omnicore. The entrance to the Omnicore is actually in Grimvault, which is one of the zones that people have played through if they’re that level in the game right now.

The Nexus Saga: Chapter 1 is Journey into Omnicore 1. So if you think of the story from the beginning to the Lightspire, including the Drusera instances, you can consider those as the prelude to what we call the Nexus Saga, which is the multi-part epic story that resolves the major threat that is revealed to you once you get to the end of the Lightspire. That whole story is about what you as the hero are going to do to save the universe, and that will involve Drusera, the Entity, iconic characters from both sides, and new and exciting characters that we haven’t yet revealed but are super awesome and cool (and that people are going to love when they meet them).

MMORPG.com: Is fixing the Caretaker the first part of fixing the greater threat affecting Nexus?

Moore: Without getting too spoilery, there’s the solution to the big threat and the danger that you learn at the end of the Defile and the Lightspire. One of the more important parts of that is that players need to be able to access some of the most forbidden and tightly held secrets of the Nexus Project, and the only being that can get access to that super secret information, if he’s working correctly, is the Caretaker. And so, in order to get that information, you’re going to have to go into Omnicore 1, and make sure the Caretaker is back to full fighting shape.

MMORPG.com: And is that knowledge the seed for the next adventure?

Moore: At the end of Omnicore 1 you get to go a little further down the rabbit hole. But of course, in the tradition of any great story, there will be yet another adventure that will be required in order to continue your epic quest to save the universe.

MMORPG.com: What was the process of putting it together?

Moore: First and foremost, we got such a positive reaction from players about the Drusera instances. As a team, that was our hope – that we would create content specifically for people who want to delve into the story, and it was those experiences that would draw them deeper into the world of Nexus and get them more invested into the overall story that we were trying to tell.

That was successful, and so what we did when we talked about the Nexus Saga, and the various chapters that are involved, we just said ‘how can we up the ante on this?’ One of the things that we hear a lot, and it’s no surprise to anyone, is that when you have full VO for any experience in the game, whether it’s quests or dungeons or whatever, is something that really helps with the immersion for the player. And so we thought ‘Hey, we don’t do this in the regular content and we have reasons for that, but if there’s ever a place to draw you even deeper and get you more invested in the story, these instances are the place that we’re going to do it.’

Those sorts of ideas are what drove the overall design. We do full VO. We do really high-resolution detailed cinematics; for the most part we were conservative in terms of doing that, and we just went over the top in doing those cinematics for Omnicore 1. We have tons of different kinds of mechanics. We have platforming puzzles, we have lots of combat. We have choice points; the experiences that are on those different paths are completely and totally unique – that is something totally new for this content that I think players will appreciate. These will be completely replayable; there will be reasons to replay them, not just from a rewards standpoint. There are tiers of rewards depending on how you perform throughout the content, so you’ll get better rewards as you perform that content better, but there are also different collectibles that are in various parts of that content that will encourage you to go back and try all the different paths. It’s pretty cool and unique from a story standpoint, but something very cool and unique, just from a gameplay experience for our players.

MMORPG.com: What prompted you to use that particular piece of the story?

Moore: We mapped out the overall outline for the Nexus Saga, and the first stage of that in terms of the story was ‘Hey, we need to get the caretaker back online.’ What’s cool about this content is that from a design and story standpoint, it coincides with the story that is taking place in the Datascape itself, which is our 40-player raid that a number of guilds are now inside and playing.

We’ve done that with a lot of our post-launch stuff, where there are different threads to the story that go through different pieces of content. I would consider the Nexus Saga to be the primary source of that information, so if you really want to dig into what’s happening on Nexus and what the Eldan were doing here and what happened to them, that is the first place to go. But tendrils of that story reach out and go into all kinds of other content, so we’ll have raids and dungeons that will tell pieces of the story as we get further along - even some of our Adventures will begin to tell some of those stories - and so the overall hope is that it’s that it’s a unique and complex tapestry of game experiences, but all of those are somehow tied to the bigger story of what’s taking place in the game.

MMORPG.com: Do you think it will also help get players interested in other types of content?

Moore: Yes. As you play through Omnicore 1, you’re checking in with the other group that’s in the Datascape and trying to do their thing, so you’re hearing about some of those locations, mechanics and experiences that the Datascape team is trying to overcome. My hope is that you’re like ‘That sounded really cool in Omnicore 1, I like Avatus as a bad guy, maybe I’d better get some of my friends together and go see if we can see how the rest of the story plays out.’ My hope is that yes, it encourages people from both sides to want to go and see the other kinds of content where the story is reflected.

MMORPG.com: It also means the end of the Red Caretaker. How do you feel about waving goodbye to that facet of the character?

Moore: I have to admit, there’s a little bit of sadness that comes with that. I have come to really appreciate what we call the ‘Crazy Caretaker’, not only his personality but also the content that comes with him. But what I will say is now that the Caretaker is restored, I think that it opens up some new possibilities for the Caretaker as a character. Now that he’s back in control and has access to all of this information, will that change his agenda, what information will he now be interested in, how will that affect stories that involve him later on? Although I will miss Avatus and the other crazy avatars that you run across on Nexus, I think it opens some new doors and new possibilities for stories in the future.

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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.