WildStar has always been a terrific candidate for a non-subscription-based business model, and at E3 2015 last week, we got a chance to chat with Carbine Studios about their flagship MMORPG’s upcoming free-to-play transition. It’s no surprise that they’ve received a great response to the transition since their announcement of it a few weeks ago, with over 100,000 free-to-play beta signups in the first day.
What’s even more exciting than the actual monetization model is the sheer number of improvements that WildStar will see when the free-to-play version releases. New players will get to dip their toes into the game with an improved tutorial that allows you to select your starting point based on your prior MMO knowledge, and a new character creation process that has embedded videos and gives you more of a sense of your class’ strengths.
Stats and itemization will likewise be streamlined for increased accessibility, in that there will only be the four primary stats of Armor, Assault Power, Support Power, and Health from now on, with secondary stats like Vigor and Deflect Chance being expanded and improved. Gear that affects these stats will also be more easy to understand and intuitive, and Carbine is confident that none of these changes will affect current player power.
WildStar’s free-to-play transition will bring with it an enhanced dungeon experience, highlighted by streamlined dungeons and the ability for players to almost entirely level up through dungeons if they so choose. As you’re playing through the 1-50 content, you can expect a new dungeon every five levels, with streamlined flow, pacing, and a consistent level of challenge.
Additionally, Carbine will be introducing a number of quality of life improvements and a rewards program with WildStar’s free-to-play update. The game’s getting a sprint revamp where you’ll basically always be sprinting when you’re not in combat, and prime (red) monsters will be sequestered in their own spaces off of the beaten path so that you’re not constantly getting stomped while questing. You’ll also finally be able to sell junk loot at the click of a button, and set navigation points from the game map. Furthermore, any investment you’ve made in WildStar, be it in the form of retail, NCoin, or C.R.E.D.D., is already being tracked by the game, and will enable you to participate in the new rewards program. The program will have several tiers, rewarding you with items like cosmetic goodies, pets, and more.
When we asked about the Sell Junk button finally being added, and removing the need for the popular add-on "Junk It", Chard and Mike were happy to say that they're glad their fans and community have been there to tweak and add things to the game that were so well-received. It only makes sense for them to make it part of the base game when the time permits. Along those lines, they both winked heavily and "nudge-nudged" when I asked them about the popular combat mod "Lockdown" which makes combat play more like TERA in terms of aiming and mouse movement. I'd keep your eyes on that one, folks.
Perhaps the best addition that will be coming with WildStar’s free-to-play transition is a good amount of new content. Alpha Sanctum, a level 15 dungeon, will fit right into the newly re-leveled instance system and get you into WildStar’s story earlier in the game. You’ll also get to try your hand at a new arena called the Cryo-Plex, an ancient Eldan facility in the frozen wastes of Nexus and the largest arena yet, with a lot of vertical level design. On top of that, WildStar will be getting housing communities, where you can plop down five housing plots and add fifteen additional official members who can build as they like. And you can invite your friends over any time! The communities aspect will not be in with the F2P update, but rather shortly thereafter. Still, it's awesome that the game's getting this much requested feature soon!
Beyond being just excited for WildStar’s adopting of a free-to-play monetization model, I’m thrilled to see how many quality of life improvements and content additions Carbine has planned for the game’s big new update. They’ve also revealed that they’re developing a version of WildStar for the Chinese market, so let’s hope that bodes well for the game as a whole.
Keep your eye on the site for more info about WildStar going free to play!