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Reloaded and Overloaded

William Murphy Posted:
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WildStar is back! Well, it didn’t really go anywhere to begin with, but to say that Carbine’s freshman game was an underappreciated title would be an understatement. WildStar has always been a bit of an underdog, and today marks the relaunch of the MMO as a Free to Play game.  And at least so far, the relaunch seems to be working from a hype perspective, because those megaservers have definitely been feeling the pressure. 

If you stayed up last night with me to play and dabble in the new WildStar, chances are that like me you also experienced some pretty hefty lag. That is, of course, if you have been playing on the Entity PVE server. From all reports last night the PVP mega-server in the NA region was doing just fine. Not sure how well things are going for the EU servers, either, as I had to log out rather quickly when my son fell out of his bed (he’s fine!).

It was quite apparent though just how much hype was suddenly riding on WildStar’s relaunch. It’s trending on Twitter, over 10,000 people were watching the livestream launch party on Twitch, and it quickly became one of the streaming services top played games last night ahead of the midnight go-live time.  The NCSOFT marketing push must have also been in full effect because the team took over Times Square in Manhattan to debut the launch trailer, and though we’re no NYC I also saw the full site takeover ads go live right at midnight here at MMORPG.com too.

I used to think it was rare for MMOs to get second chances. But these days, you can almost always expect a new MMO to have some sort of relaunch a year down the road. Elder Scrolls, Marvel Heroes, Final Fantasy, and now WildStar. But I digress. This conversion of Nexus to F2P is no mere feat of turning on a store. New dungeons, new zones, new mounts, new pets, new battlegrounds, soon a new Halloween event… it’s a massive update and one that’s going to take time to parse through.

Right now, once the servers are back up (they’ve gone down twice for emergency maintenance due to the sheer overwhelming response from gamers in its first 9 hours), I plan on diving more into the loyalty rewards I’ve racked up for being subscribed since launch. The crazy Ikthian Crawler mount almost feels worth it alone to have done so for so long.  But there are pets, mount customizations, costumes, and more to take a look at too. I can also fairly say that the 25% experience boost from being a Signature subscriber (the standard optional $15 sub) is worth its weight. I only managed to actually play for an hour or two last night, but in that short time I went from 34 to 36 and then some on my Stalker.  Add into this the XP boosts you can get from the shop, and the convenience of leveling alts quickly just became a lot more apparent. Some folks won’t appreciate this sort of thing, but as an alt-a-holic in WildStar it thrills me like nothing else.

Perhaps the most important thing to me though is the inclusion of an Auto Mouse-Look feature. If you used Lockdown during subscription-based WildStar, you’ll be familiar with this. Lockdown was a mod that turned combat in WildStar into something like TERA. That, along with the ability to sell all junk in your bags are just two of the newest quality of live changes to WildStar that go a long way towards making Carbine’s game feel more complete.

As of this writing, the servers just went live and I’m about to dive back into WildStar on my level 36, soon no doubt to be 37 Stalker. Hopefully the servers stay stable, the crowds of F2P players file in, and Entity (PVE NA) stays the same vibrant and friendly place place it was before the conversion… just with loads more happy people.  There’s a whole new butt-load of content to explore, and I’m just happy to finally be able to experience it all with more people.

The real key to WildStar’s long term success remains the same as it ever has been and ever will be for theme park MMORPGs: what comes next? How big will content updates be, how often will we see them, and how will NCSOFT and Carbine monetize the game in the future without alienating either its free or its paying playerbase? The first step towards making sure Nexus remains a viable member of the NCSOFT family was undoubtedly this F2P conversion. But where the game goes from here is just as important.

Carbine, all eyes are on you. Let’s see what the future holds. I’ll most certainly be watching… and playing.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.