With our previous WildStar coverage, we’ve focused rather heavily on the PvE side of things up until now. Considering how much of it there is it’s understandable, but questing in the various zones and taking on raids alongside your fellow players isn’t the only way to kill time on Nexus. Oh no – if you want to put your skills to the test you can always dabble (or dive in completely) into the PvP offerings. I previously looked at one of the options available in an episode of Dealspwn Playthrough – with my Stalker coming up all kinds of victorious in Walatiki Temple – but last week I was invited by Carbine Studios to take part in a press event to sample the Battleground once more, and much has changed since I last ran around stealing Tiki masks. We’ll get to those details later on, though.
For now, let’s discuss how PvP fits into the delicious sandwich that is WildStar (and before you ask, yes – I’m writing this around lunchtime and I’m hungry, OKAY?) Like other MMOs that have emerged before it, WildStar has the usual modes to conduct righteous slaughter in, with open world and competative matches available, but in true Carbine style the developers have put their own spin on proceedings (thanks largely in part to the telegraph system, allowing for more action based content compared to tab-targeting mechanics.) As it stands, there are two ways to rack up the virtual kills before and after hitting the level cap – Battlegrounds and Arenas – and the best part of this is that taking part in does not distract from the levelling process. Players will earn XP based on their performance, along with loot to improve their gear, and specific crafting materials and recipes. The idea is that once a player hits level 6, it is up to them to decide if a career in hunting down the opposite faction is the right choice for them.
Groups of players can form a raid to create pre-made teams, while solo players can queue up as normal to join a random team, however we were told during the press even that, at the moment anyway, pre-made teams won’t automatically be matched up against each other. When it comes to matchmaking, players are graded with an ELO rating system to ensure that they are matched against players of the same skill. While you may think that this could lead to a small pool of players to fight against, especially while levelling, the cross-realm capability will hopefully ensure that is never an issue. Much like the mentoring system that can be activated in the open world, engaging in competitive PvP will normalise players to the same stats level. Of course, a higher level player will have access to their unlocked abilities and AMP points, but overall this allows players to focus on skill with the abilities they are familiar with. One thought I took away from all of this was that while it doesn’t completely eliminate the concept of Twinks altogether, it certainly limits their long-term effectiveness in competitive PvP, which I see as a good thing overall.
For the press event, we were sent back to my former stomping grounds of Walatiki Temple, a capture the flag style Battleground where the first team to capture five tiki masks is proclaimed the victor, and where captures can be stolen mid-game. However, this wasn’t the same as it had been, as each team now starts with one tiki mask at their base, which immediately raises the importance of defence from the word go. Meanwhile, a secondary back-door entrance has now been added to each base, meaning players must focus on more than the two front doors. The changes are for the better, as it provides more choice for the player in terms of tactics, and adds the element of surprise to contend with. All of this has been based on player feedback from the Winter Beta, once again showing that, much like the tagline for the DevSpeak videos, the devs really are listening.
While Walatiki Temple becomes available at level 6, the second Battleground in WildStar is unlocked once the player hits level 50. Halls of the Bloodsworn is similar to the Stopwatch game type, where the attacking team must capture three rooms in a king-of-the-hill style, but Carbine have once again mixed things up by adding secondary control points. Capturing these not only speeds up the time needed for attacking to capture a room, but they provide passive buffs as well. Once the attackers have captures all three rooms, or once time has run out, the teams switch roles and the match begins again. As someone who played a lot of Return To Castle Wolfenstein back in my teens, this game type really provides a nostalgic feel, but more importantly it provides something a little different to other MMOs – something WildStar, for the most part, has excelled at.
While Battlegrounds are a fun and varied experience, those looking for something a little more classic with their online slaughter will be right at home with Arenas – where two teams duke it out for all the glory. Teams share a pool of lives, with the winner being crowned once the opposing team has had theirs depleted and then been wiped out from the Arena floor. The Slaughterdome – which has been featured in quite a few videos in the past – has been designed so that savvy gamers can use the environment to their advantage thanks to the line-of-sight mechanics of the telegraphs system. Pipes and small walls can be used as cover, with the double jump mechanics providing a way to quickly move yourself out of harm’s way. Of course, the enemy can follow you, but the addition of these walls provides a tactical element to the fighting that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Pairing this with the fact that respawns are manually activated by the player, it means that teams can opt to respawn at the same time, or co-ordinate with those still in the action to pull back to the spawn point to regroup.
So, PvP may sound like fun to play, but what about the long term rewards and progression? Well, beyond the ELO rating system ensuring you always have a challenge, players can earn a specific PvP currency called Prestige. With this, players can purchase gear that is appropriate for their level and dedicated to PvP (so, bonus PvP Offense and Defence stats.) Along with XP gains, this ensures that PvP really is a credible choice for the levelling experience, be it an exclusive route for the player or use to break up the PvE content
So what about the plans for the future of PvP in WildStar? We were told that new maps are in the works with new rule sets, but it might be some time before we see them. During the press event for Adventures, me and a few other press asked if a MOBA-style game mode was possible (as one currently exists in a PVE format with War of the Wilds) and at the time UK Community manager Mark Hulmes stated that it could be possible if the interest was there. Personally, I feel it would be crazy for Carbine to not try and capitalise on the eSports popularity, but time will tell if it’s really what the people want.
Of course, there are also Warplots to consider on the PvP front, which we’ll have to wait a little while longer to discuss, but even without them it certainly looks like Battlegrounds and Arenas will be able to cater to the PvP-centric crowd. While it is a shame that content will be limited in terms of maps at launch, it should not take away the fact that the gameplay is fun and the challenges awaiting players are exciting. Personally, I can’t wait to jump into the action with my Spellslinger or Stalker (I’m still trying to decide what to roll as come launch) and cause some havoc.
If you’re interested in giving WildStar a go, we still have keys for the upcoming Beta Weekend available, but it’s a first come, first served scenario so if you want one be sure to click here and claim one!