As you can probably assume from the title, this is going to be the last rendition of The Nexus Times. It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve made the decision to leave WildStar behind and attempt to find a greener pasture. I can remember my first visit to Nexus like it was yesterday; playing through the overkill of a tutorial more times than I can remember, in order to try out every class before I settled on the Stalker, and then teleporting to the Crimson Isles. I did initially level an Exile character, but I found the first few starting zones so mundane I scrapped that entire idea and defected to the Dominion side. The Crimson Isles were a blast, at least for a starting zone, and finally gave me a chance to sink my teeth into the game.
A BIT OF NOSTALGIA
From there on out things seemed to gradually improve. As I unlocked more skills and action bar slots the combat gained increasing amounts of depth while new and exciting dungeons/adventures became available. From an early level I jumped straight into PvP. Even at level 6 I was excited to sneak up behind unsuspecting foes and unleash a deadly combination of Analyze Weakness into a series of Impales. The burst wasn’t quite as amazing as it was at higher levels, but it still felt gratifying nonetheless. I did learn quickly, however, that stealth wasn’t something to take for granted in WildStar; it was easy to break stealth and it was difficult to catch up with faster prey. This clearly wasn’t World of Warcraft and one wrong move left me a sitting duck.
While the flashy combat mechanics and intense PvP was what drew me into WildStar, the challenging endgame kept me hooked. When I hit level 50 I tried to tank Veteran Stormtalon’s Lair in blue battleground gear. We wiped over and over until I was finally kicked from the group. This was finally a game where the dungeons weren’t face-roll easy. I don’t ever remember a dungeon in World of Warcraft ever being difficult if the tank and healer were at least semi competent, but here I was wiping in level 50 dungeons like they were raids. This meant I had to start from the bottom and work my way up instead of simply skipping what I thought was filler content.
So came the weeks of grinding veteran adventures and reputation in order to gear up and complete the attunement process. Next came a varying degree of challenging world bosses. Now I say challenging only because of how difficult it was to actually get a group to clear them and not necessarily because they were hard to kill. World bosses were probably one of the most disappointing things in WildStar for a number of reasons. First, killing about 75 percent of them was a required step in the attunement process. This wasn’t an issue on some servers, but on my server I had to follow a group of Exiles around and tag the bosses because it was the only way for me to get them done. The second reason that world bosses were relatively disappointing is because the fights seemed to drag on for ages, or required hours’ worth of material collection, and they didn’t even drop decent items. Essentially they required a lot of work with virtually no payoff unless you were on that specific step of the attunement process.
The final step in my WildStar experience involved raiding the Genetic Archives. After becoming an expert at the Veteran Sanctuary of the Swordmaiden dungeon I figured the first raid in the game wouldn’t be too much of a step up. I had clearly made a gross oversight. The first time I stepped into the Genetic Archives as a Stalker DPS I was putting up sub-par damage numbers and died on almost every single pull. That place is definitely unforgiving to new players, but the learning curve isn’t as steep as one would think. After a couple of weeks I had the first floor on lockdown, increased my DPS by 1000 (up to 5500), and greatly decreased how often I died. The week after that I transitioned to off-tank and things only looked up from there.
Previously my guild had only cleared Kuralak the Defiler and a few mini-bosses after her. After I began tanking we rolled through the Phagetech Prototypes and eventually downed Phage Maw. Every week we progressed farther and farther until we had enough time to begin learning the Phageborn Convergence fight. We had two good weeks of attempts at the Convergence, but we still needed a lot of work before we had a shot at actually killing them. Unfortunately, that’s when the progress train stopped.
Each week thereafter we began to regress. We got caught up on Kuralak for multiple days and even Experiment X-89 was rough. When my guild simply couldn’t kill the Prototypes anymore, we threw in the towel. That’s essentially where my WildStar experience ended. I never got see the inside of Datascape, but not many have or at least done so by earning it. There are still only a handful of guilds actively progressing through Datascape and none have fully cleared it yet.
A DIM FUTURE
I didn’t choose to move on from WildStar because my guild quit the game or because it was too challenging. The issue with WildStar is that content updates have been too few and far between. The content that is released is broken or bugged. Carbine had a schedule and hasn’t been able to meet it from the beginning; that speaks volumes about a company and not in the good way. There are reasons that management keeps stepping down and that 60 employees were recently laid off. Money, direction, creation and quality testing have clearly been problem areas from the start.
So far the biggest “improvements” that WildStar has seen have been a PvP map, which remained broken for weeks after its launch, and the nerfing of dungeons and the attunement process in general (although the targeted “hardcore” community was already well past this stage of the game). The bottom line is that the game needs content in droves. There’s simply nothing to do anymore. Carbine’s solution for filler content between drop 2 and drop 3 was to add a bunch of reputation grinds. Nothing is more boring than grinding content that’s already been stale for months. Sure, players can run Stormtalon’s Lair gold attempts for weeks, but after all the time I spent in dungeons during the attunement process I’d rather not go back.
Canceling Halloween and Christmas didn’t help them either. Their reason for doing so was valid, since they’re basically putting all their eggs into the drop 3 basket, but that content was supposed to be here months ago. Customers are being punished for company mismanagement. If you can’t get content out in a timely fashion hire more people, don’t fire the ones you already have. Furthermore, the holiday events would have distracted current players and possible brought back some that have been on the fence.
Logging in to see Illium almost completely deserted on a “megaserver” isn’t giving anyone a boost of hope for the game either. If I can hover around the Northern Wastes and Crimson Badlands for an hour during primetime and not get ganked on the PvP megaserver, something is seriously wrong. I honestly haven’t even tried queuing for a rated battleground in months; the last time I did it took 30+ minutes to find a fight, which we subsequently lost. Warplots are like a mythical unicorn to me; the pictures look like a beautiful and majestic carnage symphony, but I’ve never actually seen one.
THE BEST OF LUCK TO THOSE WHO STAY
I wanted WildStar to be a success, I truly did. I think the combat mechanics are a blast, the boss fights keep me on the edge of my seat, and the PvP is gratifying. I’ve even gone back to a number of MMORPGs I’ve quit over the years to try and find a reason to start playing them again. After half a year with WildStar other games like Tera, Aion, World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 just feel sluggish or clunky. However, most of them also possess something that WildStar desperately needs and that is content. There’s no point in playing a game that has nothing left to enjoy.
This isn’t coming from someone who spent 12 hours a day, 7 days a week playing the game either. I took my time leveling up my first character and spent hours with alts as well. Even though I skipped a good amount of content due to PvP leveling, I also went back and completed most of it for reputation and to simply explore the zones. I’ve killed every world boss, level up multiple professions and completed every adventure and dungeon more times than I can fathom. Drop 3 will definitely be an improvement to the game, that’s something I won’t deny, but I still don’t think it will be enough.
There’s going to be an outdoor dungeon and an additional instance, but the biggest updates will be quality of life. The problem is that many casual players have already left the game and this update is mostly for them. The gear from the new zone and instance aren’t going to be an upgrade for anyone doing raids, so they’ll see limit play at best from that part of the community. The balance and updates to PvP could draw some players back, but past updates to PvP haven’t really helped the cause. The upcoming content really needed to be here much closer to launch and new veteran dungeons, raids, PvP zones/arenas and warplot updates are what should be on their way instead. To those of you that are sticking around for the long haul I wish you all the best, but I will not be around to brave the storm.Related: Column, The Nexus Times, Wildstar