The Nexus Times: Ultra Strain Brain Drain

The first major content patch for Wildstar arrived on July 1st and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. It’s pretty unprecedented for a developer to already be pumping out major content only a month after launch, but it’s clear that Carbine has learned that when a game isn’t expanding it’s dying. While Wildstar wasn’t hurting for endgame content as much as some other MMORPGs, there was a general feeling of discontent from those that had already hit level 50. Therefore, a small but solid patch was necessary to add some distraction to the grind while we wait for new adventures, battlegrounds and bug fixes.

So what did we get in our first major patch? Ultra Strain brought two new locations: Blighthaven and the Northern Wastes. After spending my first week in Blighthaven, I can safely say it’s the right combination of disgusting and awesome. There are all kinds of new creatures that slither, pus and explode with a degree of oozing grossness. In addition to new places to explore, there are a ton of new Strain-themed customization items including costumes, dyes, emotes, hoverboards and housing items. So all in all, this might not be the biggest or baddest patch to ever be released, but there’s a good amount of content to keep the masses entertained while Carbine whips up something for the more hardcore folks.

Wildstar now has Tower Defense. What's next, a MOBA spinoff?

Wildstar now has Tower Defense. What’s next, a MOBA spinoff?


I wasn’t sure how interesting a new patch without any major endgame content would fair, but I’m honestly surprised with what we’ve received. I haven’t had time to explore the Northern Wastes as of yet, but the Blighthaven questline is both entertaining and rewarding. Endgame gear grinding is always a chore, but at least in Wildstar they try to make it fun as well. Now the main reason to spend any time in either of these locations is the new gear, which will help new level 50 players close the gap between questing and veteran instances. Each zone has a set of rare and epic gear that can be obtained through reputation grinding and massive 20+ player quests.

Currently, the most sought after of these is a daily quest, Scorched Wings, where players attempt to bring down a massive phoenix that’s been terrorizing the Keepers of Harmony. Killing the bird itself is generally not the biggest challenge, but he is a global boss with a relatively long respawn timer. This causes both Exile and Dominion forces gather and generally slaughter each other in the processes of killing Sorchwing. On a positive note, you don’t actually have to survive the encounter to get credit for it. I was rewarded with an epic pair of boots, Phoenix Inferno Striders, for my 30 seconds of combat.


You never forget your first epic, at least until you replace it.

The other major event in Blighthaven is the Guardians of the Grove, a.k.a. World Tree Defense. It’s basically a tower defense mini-game where players can plant offensive or defensive towers and have to defend the Tree of Life from wave after wave of Strain attackers. Since this is another open-world event, it’s beneficial for both factions to work together and take separate sides instead of slaughtering one another and watching the Tree of Life slowly succumb to the Strain. This is definitely my favorite out of the new events and shows that Exiles and Dominion can actually work together for a greater cause.

While those two quest are the real reason most players travel to Blighthaven, the preceding storyline is also pretty interesting. Players start off running errands for Mondo Zax and test his experiments on creatures that have shown immunity to the strain. After being Mondo’s errand boy, I moved onto the Globellum quest line, which is particularly icky but satisfying.  I faced off against a giant Strain-immune brain that also happens to have mind controlling powers. After getting close and personal with the big gelatinous mess, I was able to subdue the creature, free my allies, kill the Exile and claim it for the Dominion.

The Globellum: friend, foe, or just misunderstood?

The Globellum: friend, foe, or just misunderstood?


Even with all of the new content I could see considerable downtime for hardcore players. I’ve made a few friends along the way that barely log in now that they’re max level because they’re either stuck waiting for weekly resets or can’t handle the monotonous ranked PvP grind. Ultra Strain is was a great addition for casual and semi-hardcore players that actually take the entire week to max out on Elder Gems, but for those players that already have veteran dungeon gear, are attuned, and capped out on Elder Gems there’s not really much to do besides wait for everyone else to catch up.

I don’t necessarily blame Carbine for this because they can’t be expected to tailor Wildstar to the 1% elite community that’s already cleared everything, but the content curve does seem a little off. This is a pitfall that many games tend to fall into and even ones that initially seem to have a ton of content only require weekly logins. Having played both World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, there was a point for either when I was only logging in once or twice a week to complete certain dungeons or earn a specific amount of honor. So in order for Wildstar to continue to thrive it needs to give players a reason to login, and not necessarily daily but at least a couple of times a week.

Fixing PvP gear is something that would definitely bring additional interest and keep the lifeblood of Wildstar flowing. This is something I addressed in an earlier edition of The Nexus Times and there still hasn’t been a fix for it yet. Because PvP gear is currently outclassed by PvE equipment there’s a fundamental lack of large groups for rated battlegrounds and Warplots. I love PvP and nothing sounds more awesome than a 40v40 battle royale where players get to design their own mechanisms of destruction, but I haven’t even had a chance to test out Warplots because no one is playing them. Getting 40 people together is hard enough as it is, but good luck having anyone show up after telling them their rewards are busted.


“Unknown” means it’s never going to happen.

That’s it for this week’s edition of The Nexus Times. Ultra Strain is pretty cool, so are giant brains and trees. Also, Carbine needs to fix PvP gear ASAP. Next week I’m going to take a look at the long trek for raid attunement.

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About Nick Shively

Nick is an eSports and RPG enthusiast. He can normally be found in the deepest parts of a dungeon or in the arena slaying opponents. Nick has been a gamer since an early age and involved in the industry since 2011. He obtained a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2015.