By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), Dominion “Peacekeeper”
Welcome to part 2 of OnRPG and MMOHuts Galactic Drop WildStar reveal. Because if you can fit everything in a Galactic Drop reveal in a single article, you’re doing it wrong! There’s plenty more to cover with a look at arenas, battlegrounds, the mechanics of PvP itself, and raiding the likes of which even Warcraft is going to be jealous of. But if you missed our launch reveal, be sure to check it out for all the goodies on Warplots.
Arenas and PvP
Since before today WildStar has all but disavowed any information on the mechanics of PvP, I have the pleasure of filling you in on the details. PvP in WildStar isn’t that much different than the intense PvE on offer. Your enemies’ attacks will appear as telegraphs just like an AI’s attacks do. You’ll suffer the same CC and snare effects as well. The primary difference I’d say is that on average you can absorb a lot more punishment from a player than you can from most monsters you encounter while grinding. That might be lost on you though as dodging thinking and reacting opponents is quite a bit more of a challenge.
As CC in PvP is such a hit or miss element for gamers, it should be noted that players will experience a system in PvP typically utilized by dungeon monsters in the game known as Interrupt Armor. Interrupt Armor is a CC prevention system that gives you a free pass on getting snared or stunned immediately after suffering a status effect. Being hit by similar status effects multiple times in a row will also initiate a diminishing returns system that makes the effects less noticeable or the duration shorter each consecutive time. There’s also plenty of player skills that can actively reduce CCs effects on you, so building your hotkeys out to be a bit defensive can go a long way towards escaping CC hell.
While obviously anything goes in the open world PvP servers (including gaining experience for harassing your opposing faction once you hit the shared zones at level 22!), it should be noted that there are a few limitations on item use in instanced battlegrounds and arenas. Though it’s not a full lock out! Some potions can still be used to your advantage, so knowing a few good Technologists that know their way around the Coordinate Crafting system might give you a meaningful edge. Just be ware Pkers as knocking an opponent off in the open world will mark you as a rival and put a sort of experience bounty on your head should they track you down and get their revenge.
As for the Arenas themselves, they stand as the strategic no nonsense small party fights where individual skill matters a whole deal more so than nearly any other MMORPG on the market. Once level 30, players can queue for it from anywhere as either an individual or in a party, and the system will do its best to match them with equally leveled opponents. Though besides the experience and nifty loot bags which are on par with PvE loot bags, there isn’t much to be gained in terms of fame and fortune until the “Eldar Game.”
At level 50 players will quickly discover there is quite a difference between a freshy 50 and a veteran 50 as gear upgrades continue on. As such a player’s elo and generic power level are factored in to decide who the most ideal allies and opponents are for any player queuing for PvP at end-game. Thus if you’re slightly faster of mind than the rest, you may get a challenge by taking on other elite rookies like yourself, or you might just end up smashing heads against a dull Granok with a bit more raid experience than you to level the playing field.
Rather than battling to a time limit for points and the like, Arena matches give teams a shared respawn pool to decide the victor. This is nice if your team ends up having one member getting trashed as they can choose to sit the fight out and spare an extra life for the player carrying their team to victory.
Oh and of course loot bags in ranked matches will be a nice find for any end-game crafters looking to showcase their maximum potential. Be sure to make some friends if you intend to spend all your time in-game cracking skulls so you have someone you can turn to in order to reap the benefits of your success.
Those looking for a more massive and more casual experience need look no further than the Battlegrounds. These are level tiered instanced arenas with more specific scenario goals in place to reward coordination and planning over raw dueling. Only the two earliest ones were in a press ready state, but here’s the details we can share.
Walatiki Temple – At level 10 players will be introduced to the basics of Battlegrounds with a simple capture the flag (i.e. Tiki Masks) arena featuring a giant circumnavigatable crater in the center with two narrow bridges criss-crossed and joined by a precariously small island in the middle. Amidst the carnage in this central region, neutral masks will spawn for collection for the fastest side to snag and run with. Running is rather challenging though as teleports, jumps, and most any movement bonus skills will cause you to drop your mask on the spot. Basic dodges though are still okay.
In addition, power-ups also spawn (mostly in the outer ridge) offering increased attack power or increased movement speed. As players are pretty tanky in PvP, the attack power buffs are almost necessary to destroy a Tiki runner in time in the current build. The speed boosts on the other hand can ensure a hasty getaway for any Tiki runner that is lucky enough to stumble upon one.
One final twist of this mode is players can steal tiki masks directly from the rival base. It’s not easy but you can run them all the way across the map to steal a point directly from them. In my experience though it wasn’t so much the challenge of grabbing a mask and escaping it that hindered me so much as the challenge of getting across the map with enough HP left intact that I had a chance to make the run. HP regeneration is rather lacking in battlegrounds and without a friendly medic or powerful potion on hand, it’s best to stick in the middle and unleash hell on the enemy rather than pull any covert operations. Though a well-tuned medic/warrior team running the gauntlet on the outskirts of the crater can pose a serious threat to the other side.
Halls of the Bloodsworn – At level 15 a slightly more complex battleground becomes available. Teams face off against each other in back to back rounds, one time acting as an attacker and the other as a defender, in a game of castle siege and control point contestation. Unfortunately I never had a chance to try this mode myself but the layout of the map suggests narrow bridges and heavy fall damage can play a serious factor, meaning push back skills can play a big part in victory. The nature of it also pressures teams into more intense group PvP over small control points, as opposed to the more sporadic and spread out skirmishes players face in Walatiki Temple.
All PvP’d out by now? Ready to relax a bit in the end-game grind to calm your bones? Wrong MMO cupcake! In WildStar PvP is the vacation from the mind (and potentially keyboard) breaking challenges that await your favorite group of forty players in end-game Raiding. And while I don't have exact names of dungeons or bosses at the ready, I'm here to describe the details of some of the challenges that will soon push organized PvE to the fringes.
Raids in WildStar take on an incredible level of randomness all while remaining as nonlinear as possible. You may have five optional mini-bosses in a raid that are simply there to provide extra loot or exist to make your dungeon easier after their defeat. In other cases they may just block vital paths, forcing efficiency focused groups to seek alternative dangerous routes to hurry to the final boss for a shot at more legendary Eldan Artifacts. Though focusing solely on the bosses doesn't give credit to the power that even the basic creeps provide.
Thinking Raids, not Wiki Raids
Every element of raids is designed to make you think and force you to take a calculated reaction to stand a chance of surviving. One so called 'trash mob' for instance carries a mechanic that infinite spawns more minions unless it's stunned. However each time it becomes stunned, its interrupt armor will increase to force further CC to stop it the next time. Eventually teams will have to find the right balance between minion disposal, crowd control, and raw damage output to take the foe out before it overruns your dungeon.
And since Carbine Studios are such obvious fans of platforming, you can be sure you'll face just as much challenge from the path to the boss as you do from the monsters that stand in your way. From the usual bottomless pitfalls to plenty of lasers and even radiation requiring standing in water coolant systems to reduce your radioactivity, surprises a plenty wait to test your raid party. But one of the most wicked challenges of all came from a raid demoed in which a party is forced to navigate across a bridge filled with eggs.
Touching an egg will not only blow you and nearby allies backwards, but result in a disorient status that rearranges your arrow movement keys. And the path itself is quite narrow, meaning falling to your death after bouncing across a few eggs is more than a likely scenario. Yet fighting to the center of the raid to crush the insect boss will remove all eggs from pathways for the remainder of the dungeon, giving raid leaders the option of quickly eliminating this threat if their group isn't coordinated enough to handle it.
Boss Battles with Console Level Complexity
This same dungeon focused on the corruption of Eldan experiments features a five boss super battle. The scary part is that six bosses are designed for said battle, meaning there is always an element of randomness in terms of what you will be forced to fight. It gets even trickier as each of the bosses can channel the energy of the other four to unleash special ultimate attacks that each require a different counter strategy to survive. One such example was six or so nodes sticking from the ground that shielded the boss, and eventually summoned a swarm of additional minions from each node until they're all destroyed. With five other variants of super abilities yet to be revealed, you can imagine plenty of trial and error awaits groups trying to master this raid content.
The fun part? That's still only one of the multiple mini-bosses in the corrupted Eldan dungeon. The real boss is none other than a jumping frog mutation that challenges players atop a series of hexagonal platforms. At first he can be a bit imposing as his leap is powerful enough to send the platform he is standing on shuttering and crashing into the acid below (stay on your toes melee classes!). But the real party begins when he throws a bomb on one of your raid members' head, resulting in a legendary game of hot potato with explosive results after a few seconds pass. The uninitiated tend to panic and become living bombs, blowing away up to a quarter of the entire battleground and the slower members of their raid in an instant. The trick turns out to be jumping off the side with the bomb, minimizing damage to the battle arena and knocking yourself back into the action as the blast radius hurtles you a couple dozen meters above the arena. Beware of motion sickness in the process.
Yet another fantastic boss battle takes place on a sky bridge of sorts with 18 or so stationary platforms. The platforms are too spread out to jump across and you're up against a flying bird-like monster to make matters worse. The element that levels the playing field is a specialized grappling hook that can send you soaring from platform to platform with ease. But the variable that begins to truly test your raid's synergy is the secondary function of the grappling hook that acts as a pull to drag nearby allies to you. This comes in handy when the boss simultaneously stuns and knocks a portion of your raid party into no-man's land between platforms, and the only chance they have of survival is a friendly raid member plucking them from the abyss like a giant claw machine mini-game.
The boss will also stun players for longer durations than his build up for some powerful and potentially fatal blows, forcing their teammates to yet again snatch them from the jaws of defeat with their hooks. Yet a third function exists for this as occasionally the boss will smash an entire platform out of the equation, and teammates already on nearby platforms can snag their slower allies to safety with good coordination.
The Caretaker's Revenge
Perhaps some of the most dynamic bosses in the equation though arrive when you're eventually forced to face the dark corrupted side of the Eldan Caretaker in a his own turf, the Eldan computer world. Players will be faced with beauty amidst the constant threat of death as luxurious mansions and elementally themed landscapes are literally programmed into existence before your eyes in something clearly taking inspiration from reading code in The Matrix.
One particular battle in this scenario will pit players in a metaphorical battle between the two sides of the Caretaker's artificial brain. While defeating minions of darkness to maintain visual control of enough of the room to stay alive, players will face off against a representative of the Caretaker who grows more powerful, the further the Victorian palace is corrupted form the pleasant light interior to the hauntingly black death ensuring interior.
In terms of the elemental regions, players will be pitted against three sets of elemental regions with an elemental matching boss and supporting boss for each waiting at the end. There's nine bosses in total and the real trip of the whole experience is that you'll actually need to use the attacks of one boss to overcome the powers of the other in this twin titan showdown. The examples given mention facing off against the wind elemental who is notorious for tossing players high above the battleground, only to use gravity to turn them into a dreadfully destructive missile capable of taking themselves and any players in the splash range of the resulting crater out with them.
Against the earth boss though, players will be exasperated by an impenetrable shield. By using your character as a living missile shot up by the wind elemental, you can aim your landing directly into the waiting goliath to shatter his shield! In another instance, players can utilize rings of water formed as an attack by the water elemental to slow their descent after being launched skyward, ensuring you can survive the fall damage if you hit enough of the rings on the way down. With 9 total bosses and three pairs changing every week, you'll be learning the various mechanics for some time to come.
For those that dislike raiding because they feel individual contribution doesn't play as much of a factor, the Caretaker's dungeon throws a bone by forcing your group to break up into five man groups at one point to complete challenges as squads rather than united. Be sure to bring five tanks and lots of healers to prepare for it.
Perhaps the scariest raid boss displayed was the Caretaker himself. Prepare to face the larger than life maniac as he attempts to 'delete' you from his world. Players will be forced to jump across a Tron-esque landscape of floating and corrupted squares as they dodge telegraphs that in some cases, such as the 'delete all data' command, encompass the entire arena. Unfortunately the devs turned on God Mode during this display so I can't share any trade secrets of how to prepare for this living representation of the Eldar Game. Best of luck to those hardcore enough to think they can win!
PvE is Srs Bsness
I mean that with no sarcasm implied. See raiding is the only way to acquire certain Eldan Artifacts of legendary quality. These rare weapons, armor,and trinkets start off broken, but in the hands of a masterwork level crafter can be forged over time and through countless quests into unparalleled equipment. Meaning those crafters playing with the sole goal of getting their name known throughout the server better get in good with the major raiding factions to be among the first honing these mysterious pieces.
Beyond that, Carbine Studios decided to do something rather sweet to add a competitive element to raids. Each week when the randomization of the bosses and other elements in these dungeons changes, it will do so across all servers. The race will then be on to see which server can figure out how to clear the current iteration of the dungeon first. I would be rather disappointed if appropriate event rewards weren't on the line to award the leadership and coordination of the winning server's raid party.
Oh you thought I was done? Galactic Drop means really really big. There's more info on the way regarding the Eldar Game and public events so chill. The Dominion takes care to keep its citizens well educated on all things Nexus.