After three weeks of players stomping around the Maguuma Jungle, later today a brand new challenge arrives in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. The first wing of the much anticipated Raid content will become available for brave groups of 10-players to tackle, offering a whole new difficulty level compared to the content that has come before.
I know this because last week I was taken on a virtual tour to meet Gorseval, the first boss of three that await players in the Spirit Vale. With a group of ArenaNet employees at my side, and lead designer Crystal Reid offering me pearls of wisdom and answering my questions over voice comms, I dived in to see if the team had successfully created finely tuned epic encounters that worked with the gameplay Guild Wars 2 is known for. While I hate to paraphrase something from 'that other MMO' in a Guild Wars 2 article, there’s no other way to put it...
I was not prepared.
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If I had to describe Heart of Thorns in one word, it would be ‘humongous.’
Even after two weeks in the Maguuma Jungle I still haven’t traversed all of the new multi-layered zones, which in turn means I haven’t unlocked all of the masteries or taken part in all of the different events. Of course, all the content in the world means nothing if the game is no longer fun, but that is certainly not the case – Guild Wars 2 continues to be an enjoyable MMO experience, and Heart of Thorns adds to that with its own, non-traditional progression.
Most MMO title launches, and even expansions, tend to come with launch day issues. Less intensive titles like Destiny have fallen prey to this apparent curse, and even World of Warcraft’s servers couldn’t handle the sudden influx of players back when Warlords of Draenor launched last year. It’s something that most of us on the MMO scene have come to accept as the norm, and so we bunker up around launch time for the inevitable bumpy ride.
But it didn’t happen with Heart of Thorns. No, everything went smoothly.
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Earlier this morning NCSOFT and ArenaNet launched Guild Wars 2's first expansion, Heart of Thorns. Two very surprising facts came from that launch. Firstly, the servers held up and there were absolutely no issues - a rarity in MMO launch days. Secondly (and this makes the first fact more impressive) there are more than 7 million registered accounts when the expansion went live. It's all explained on a brand new infographic, which you can see for yourself after the jump.Click here to read more...
I tried convincing a number of friends to play WildStar when it launched last year. Many liked the idea of fast, twitch-based combat in an MMO, as well as the idea of taking part in challenging large-scale raids, but they were too put off by one thing – the subscriptions. No matter how much I tried, the monthly sub was too much to get over in an age where most other online games had scrapped them. In the end I couldn’t blame them – hype for the game waned very quickly as the initial subscription levels dropped, and Carbine Studios seemingly went through a rather turbulent time during the second half of 2014.
There was something of a rebirth at the start of the year, though. New content began to arrive in the form of new instances and mission types, and then back in May Carbine announced that WildStar would switch to being Free-To-Play this year. In fact, by the time you read this article the switch will already have happened – you can download and play the entire game for free right now – but at the end of last week I was invited to speak to Product Director Mike Donatelli & Creative Director Chad Moore over the phone to discuss the imminent relaunch of their MMO title.
As always with anyone at Carbine, the conversation was fun, enthusiastic, refreshingly honest, and ultimately ended in talk of hats.Click here to read more...
After months of waiting, we finally know when everyone and their rowsdower will be able to head down to planet Nexus. This afternoon NCSOFT and Carbine Studios announced that WildStar will be making the switch to its free-to-play model on September 29th. This will coincide with a massive content update that will add a new streamlined starting experience, many quality of life improvements, and additional content throughout the game. To ensure that everything is running smoothly, a second closed beta phase will kick off tomorrow.Click here to read more...
ArenaNet were very busy this week, delivering a trio of big announcements for its MMORPG Guild Wars 2. From a release date for the upcoming expansion Heart of Thorns, to the long-awaited reveal of raids, to the announcement that the base game is now free, we have all the details and reactions for your perusal after the jump.
Ahead of a busy week at Gamescom, which kicks off next Tuesday in Cologne, ArenaNet have announced that the first Beta Weekend for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will kick off on August 7th, and end on August 10th. During that time those who have pre-purchased the upcoming expansion will be able to create a brand new level 80 character to test out all of the new class specializations. This includes the brand new Revenant Class, along with all four core legends (which change the abilities and playstyle of the class), including the recently announced Shiro.Click here to read more...
Well, it’s now official – WildStar will be going Free-To-Play later this year. It was only a few weeks ago that we were were speculating on such a thing, but it appears that Carbine have been listening and are ready to start making their move. Best of all, the information we have been given so far has fallen in line with expectations and avoided the dreaded “pay to win” tag.
So, in case you haven’t seen the news, here’s what is happening. This Autumn, WildStar will be going Free-to-play with all current content – which includes all 50 levels, dungeons, adventures, raids, and PvP – available to everyone who downloads the game. Meanwhile, those who subscribe as a 'Signature' player will be given bonus XP and reputation gains, additional character slots, more costume slots, and extra bank tabs. This is on top of a microtransaction store that will deal in NCoins, allowing players to buy customisation pieces and consumable convenience items similar to subscriber perks.
Admittedly there’s still plenty of work to be done before then, and it’s a shame we will have to wait until autumn for this switch to happen, but I’m just glad more people will be able to experience WildStar for themselves. It is, after all, a fun and colourful theme park MMO.
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These days, going down the subscription route is a dangerous road to take when you’re a theme park style MMO. After all, it’s all about getting good mileage from your monthly investment. This means regular content updates, ensuring there is entertaining and challenging encounters, and avoiding a repetitive grind. This is on top of providing balanced class abilities and PvP matches, ensuring competitive play is fair and fun, and hosting it all in an interesting and engaging world. During its first few months, WildStar managed just that, which is why I gave it 9/10 in our review last year.
Its combat was fast paced and required skill, its lore rather deep (if you went with the Scientist path), and its world filled with colour & character. However, I ended my assessment on an important point – “Providing the same level of quality & regularity continues with its content updates, there will be more than enough reason to stay on Nexus.”The sad truth is that after its first content drop finally went live it became clear that something was up. Content updates were pushed back to focus on fixes and balance issues, and when the much-touted World Story instance did arrive much later than expected it felt incredibly shallow in comparison to what we were expecting.
By December it was clear that large numbers of players had given up, but that didn’t stop Carbine from issuing those fixes and slowly delivering new content for the faithful that stuck with it. Today has finally seen the long awaited Invasion: Nexus patch, adding an arkship-load of content and a huge number of changes (too many to list here, so head over to the official website for details.) However, the monthly subscription fee had ultimately been found wanting, and a year on from its launch it’s clear a change is needed for WildStar. With last month’s reports of retailers sending back their unsold copies of WildStar (and a number of digital retailers no longer selling keys) the winds of change appear to be in the air, so we’re going to look at some of the routes WildStar could take.Click here to read more...
Man, that’s a title I didn’t think I’d be writing six months ago. Despite my positive assessment of WildStar and the entertainment it gave me in its first few months, the momentum dissipated by the end of the year. While the latest content drop helped to keep the existing fanbase content for a spell, the problem was that it wasn’t enticing those who had tried the game and left, or those who had yet to even pick up a copy. As this was happening, old behemoths were proving they were still relevant with new expansions, a suckerpunch to what was meant to be a new home for disillusioned former WoW players. Meanwhile, titles like The Secret World and especially Guild Wars 2 were demonstrating how to do an ongoing storyline with style, putting the much-touted World Story instance to shame.
It was heart-breaking to see it happen, but it was ultimately understandable. Something needed to change, and fast. So with that said, this afternoon Product Director Mike Donatelli issued a statement over on the official website detailing the battleplan for WildStar. The summary of it was that Carbine Studios know "there are important areas where we can, and must, do better in 2015 — and we are.” As such, it seems to be a good time to take look at what Carbine have in store with both the announced and unannounced content and features, reflect on the issues from the last few months, and see if WildStar can restore some of that lost excitement from last summer's launch.Click here to read more...
Not to be outdone by Blizzard's earlier zinga of a deal, NCSOFT have unleashed their own set of deals by halving the current price of their flagship MMOs. The offer sees both Guild Wars 2 and WildStar fall below the £20 mark, making it an excellent opportunity to investigate two highly enjoyable online experiences.
A few bits of housekeeping - Guild Wars 2 is subscription free but contains optional microtransactions for mainly cosmetic items, although they have recently started charging for access to previous episodes of its ongoing Living Story (which, from what I hear, is worth the investment.) Meanwhile, WildStar does have a subscription of £8.99 per month, but a purchase comes with 30 days of game time, so you'll have plenty of time to decide if life on Nexus is for you. If you need more details, before to check out our review for Guild Wars 2 and WildStar for the full lowdown.
I like WildStar. I've made no secret of that fact for some time now, but it's hard to deny that, after a launch period that was filled with hope for a long and enjoyable lifespan, the enthusiasm has waned for many players who invested their time and money. There are many reasons for this - RNG nightmares for gear stats, PVP balance becoming a hot mess, and top level characters not having much to do unless they were working towards raid content. Population issues also hampered the fun, and then in-game Christmas was cancelled. Oh, and there were redundancies. Basically, there was good reason to be worried.
However, the troops are re-mobilising over at Carbine, and with the megaserver merge now live and (kind of) fixed the population situation, the long awaited third content drop is almost ready to roll. With a stronger focus on the narrative this time around, The Mystery of the Genesis Prime will tie up many of the stories that have been going on since launch, while setting up the next chapter for WildStar. Of course, that's on top of the additional group content that will be found throughout the new zone of the Defile, and I was invited by Carbine Studios to get hands-on with The Black Focus - an area that will deliver 5-player group content. It's all in our latest video preview, as I give my impressions on what I was shown, what I'm looking forward to, and if this content drop will do enough to entice disillusioned players to return to WildStar.
If you're a fan of that WildStar game that I wouldn't shut up about for 3 years, you may have seen many opportunities for get hold of some exclusive in-game goodies that were handed out at this year's Gamescom. They were quite the dapper pieces of swag, providing a top hat and monocle costume piece, a rather executive looking table for your house, and a unique dye to give your avatar a special look. You may have thought that your last chance to grab one has past... but I think you'll find that's not true. You see, I managed to procure 10 EU codes to give away, and we're going to have a little fun in the process.
So, how do you go about getting one of these codes? Simple - amuse me!Click this link to find out how to win >>
It's been almost three months since WildStar launched, and the team at Carbine Studios have already dropped two sizable content patches into the game. They're not done yet though, and so to learn a bit more about what is in store for the MMORPG I sat down with Lead System Designer Nick Roth at this year's Gamescom. We get the lowdown on the new zone of the Defile, the first in-game holiday event Shades Eve, and the all-new 5-man dungeon The Ultimate ProtoGames.
Last episode, we found ourselves desperately searching for a nobleman's daughter -- Lydia Horacos. Now, with Tideborn on our tails, and dangerous foes on all sides, Mechdusa and Bob clear out the Research Centre, and infiltrate the Eldan Tower where Lydia is being held. Will Corrigan Doon make himself useful? Can our heroes defeat Cortex Prime? What's the meaning of life?
All this and more in today's episode of WildStar: The Evil Noob.
After chasing down some illicit fraternising in the last episode, today's jaunt down to Nexus is all about a search and rescue. And killing giant birds.
Some rich noble's daughter has gone missing, and the adventurer sent to find her has gone missing too, presumed drunk. And the henchmen sent to give the drunkard a kick up the backside have also gone missing too. So it's up to us to venture into the local pub, siober up the sozzled mercenary, and try and find the daughter ourselves.
Happy Monday folks! Some bizarre activity from Virgin over the weekend meant that there wasn't as much time for WildStar as I would have liked, but I did manage to squeeze in enough for another episode of The Evil Noob.
In today's dip into the narrative waters of Nexus, things get a little bit messed up as we're tasked with conducting some internal investigations. After breaking into Commander Toric's office and hunting for salacious evidence of depraved misdeeds, we're ordered into the woods to see if we can catch him in the act.
To be honest, I probably should have called this episode Mechdusa and Bob: Sex Police!
Developer: Carbine Studios
Here we are – finally at end of the review that just wouldn’t stop coming (blame Carbine accordingly for their gigantic game, I say.) There’s still a lot to get through before the verdict, but here’s a helpful hub if you’ve missed my previous instalments or want a refresher on my previous musings on WildStar.
We begin this instalment by taking a look at the Limited Action Sets and the AMP system, which acts as the skills and talent tree for WildStar respectively. As long as players are out of combat, the flexibility and user friendly nature of the LAS is one of my favourite aspects of Carbine’s efforts. Being able to swap out abilities at a moment’s notice ensures players can try new tactics and combos, along with the option of powering up equipped abilities with Tier Points to unlock bonus effects. On top of this, being able to buy new abilities from the menu without having to travel to a trainer is a godsend, as it means players no longer have to make their way back to the nearest one upon levelling up (something a lot of MMOs still do, annoyingly.)
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Those dastardly Exiles play us for fools in today's instalment of WildStar: The Evil Noob. The Elder Cube is gone, the Dominion forces have been slightly overrun, and we're forced to make an incredibly tactical, not at all cowardly retreat.
Not until we've smashed some Exile skulls and beaten up their Warbot, though.
Man, the Dominion really has a thing against house elves. On today's episode, we're once again massacring the big-eared creatures on the hunt for a special key to unlock the power of the Elder Cube. But really trhis episode is all about new powers, and the introduction of Mechdusa's shiny new artillery bot -- Bob.