WildStar: Uncovering the Eldergame (Part 1)

Cyglaive dives into WildStar's Eldergame PvE Content.

It’s no secret that there was, in fact, a WildStar press event last week, considering the amount of teasing that was happening on Twitter. Well, today I can finally talk about some of the bigger points that came from the event. If you’re wondering what could be bigger than the announcement of a release date and pre-order options for the game, think 20 brave souls risking it all to defeat a legendary evil, or 40 friends charging into battle as they destroy an enemy fortress, or even a single brave warrior out to discover the truths of an entire planet.

That’s right folks, we’ve got the scoop on WildStar’s Eldergame content, and there’s plenty of it!

Those Who Fight Further

To kick off our talk about WildStar’s Eldergame, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t discuss the one content type that everyone’s heard of—Raids. Whether you’re a PvE player or a PvPer at heart, you’ve probably heard stories of groups banding together to fight some of the most epic bosses the MMO genre has to offer. To the more casual player, once they hit level cap in most games, they’ll proceed to make an alt or focus on solo or small group content. However, to the dedicated, level cap is where the adventure really begins.

Raiding brings a large band of players together for a common goal and proceeds to throw the most difficult bosses at them, all in order to test their strengths and their wits, as well as giving them a shot at coming out with some of the best equipment in the game. WildStar’s raids are no different in that regard and aim to give players some of the most interesting and complex boss encounters they’ve seen before.
Ahead of the big “raid reveal” that’s due in the next few weeks or so, I got the chance to speak with WildStar’s very own lead Dungeon and Raid Designer, Brett Scheinert, and its Lead Combat Designer, Chris Lynch, as they further explained Raiding in WildStar.

If you don’t already know, WildStar will be launching with two Raids, the 20-man Raid “Genetic Archives” and a 40-man Raid known as “Datascape”. Each will have its own unique bosses, challenges and loot. However, gaining access to these won’t be as simple as walking in with your raid group. You’ll need to go through an “Attunement Process”, a series of tasks that will take you all across Nexus, but grant you access to the raid once completed.

“The Attunement process will actually lead into the 20-man Raid and then completing that will gain you access to the 40-man Raid. The attunement process itself is still being built, but currently is being set up to have a whole bunch of steps and require a bunch of unique quests and things to craft and stuff like that, so that it’s an interesting process that takes a lot of work, but hopefully is still fun to do in order to gain access.”

While the team wants the attunement process to be fun, they’re definitely going to be looking at player feedback in order to determine whether or not to use attuning for future raid tiers. So if you end up loving it or absolutely hating it, be sure to let them know!

As far as the Raids themselves go, I asked how many encounters players can expect to see and the answer I got—a lot!

“A lot! The 20-man raid has five event rooms, six bosses 10 mini bosses and a whole bunch of different non-boss trash encounters. The 40-man has seven bosses, 16 mini bosses, two giant event rooms, and a whole bunch of other stuff going on in there.”

Aside from just bosses, mini bosses and certain events within the Raid drop loot as well. While these drops tend to be slightly weaker than taking on a full-fledge boss, it’s still pretty good loot by comparison. Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these mini bosses are optional; however, clearing them can make your journey to the actual “big bads” a lot easier, especially when running back after they clean the floor with your entire Raid group. A few extra pieces of loot along the way are always a welcome sight to the dedicated Raider.

Another noteworthy mention is that these events and mini bosses can change from week to week. In fact, there are random elements that change weekly for both Raids, but do stay the same across all servers. So those looking for the “World First” title won’t have to worry about other servers getting the “easy boss” while you’re stuck with the difficult one. However, according to Chris and Brett, even the mini bosses, events and “trash mobs” shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“One of the things I would say is that the trash mobs themselves can almost be considered bosses, because of the amount of time and effort we do put into our “base population.” We try to include a specific puzzle for every pull or encounter.”

“So there’s a specific strategy or something we want players to figure out for each pull, even if it’s just a random group of mobs in each room.”

At this point I’m sure the thought of loot drops has crossed most of your minds, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of it and those who take the time to master the hardest content in the game will be rewarded appropriately.

“The way items progress in our game is that common items are white, uncommon items are green, the rare items you get from like Dungeons and Adventures are blue, the 20-man raid content drops purple epic items, [and] the 40-man content drops orange legendary items...”

“Legendary Items” in WildStar aren’t on the same tier as say, Legendary items in World of Warcraft. So before you panic, they aren’t handing out free Legendaries to everyone who takes down a 40-man raid boss. There is, however, another tier which is probably closer to what you’re thinking of. These are the “Artifact Weapons.”

“The tier above that is the Artifact Weapons. There’s only a few in the game at launch and the way they’re set up is, once you get one of them, it is more of a piece of the weapon, rather than a completed product. Then, through a process that we have on weapons throughout the game called “Imbuements”, you do additional quests and challenges and tasks in order to empower the weapon and get it to its full potential. At which point it becomes a very rare, and a very, very powerful and unique weapon.”

Artifact Weapons are essentially the rarest of the rare and Brett also mentioned that each one has a unique skin that doesn’t match anything else in the game and are typically themed around the instance they come from. While these weapons definitely sound insanely difficult to get, you can bet that everyone who passes you with one of these bad boys, will be in awe.

Shifting gears a bit, let’s talk strategy. Every Raid member knows that there are usually multiple ways to defeating a boss, the hard part is figuring out the boss mechanics and executing your strategy to a fine degree. In relation to this, I asked Brett which encounters he thought would give guilds the most trouble at launch.

“The hardest one is definitely the final boss of Datascape, but I’m just going to stop there (laughs). We spent a lot of time on that and made it exceptionally complex.

I think one of my favorites is actually one of the ones in the video, and it might just be because Genetic Archives is available in beta and I’ve seen lots and lots of guilds fight Experiment X-89. The entire room is a series of hexes and during the fight they get destroyed, and players have to manage the platform they’re fighting on, on top of attempting to defeat the boss. Watching guilds figure that out and learn that encounter has been very, very interesting, and also very helpful for us as far as balancing and tuning and stuff like that.”

Another big part of strategy when Raiding is Raid composition. How many Tanks do you need? How many Healers do you need? What classes should you bring? These are all things every Raid Leader asks, but luckily we got the answer to at least some of these questions. For 20-man raids it’s presumed that you’ll most likely have two to three Tanks, and for 40-man you’ll want around three to five of them. Healers and DPS can vary, depending on your group or strategy.

In conjunction with this, I asked Chris Lynch if he expected to see some unique builds from players in a raid group, due to the sheer number of members in the party compared to your standard 5-man Dungeon or Adventure where you have the typical Tank, Healer and DPS roles.

“We definitely try to make sure that each of the classes has as many builds as possible within it, so we do want hybrids to be viable. I’d also say that in Raids you’re probably going to see a lot of people exploring a little bit more because we have the Utility side of the AMPs tree. In the Utility side of the AMPs tree we try to include at least one ability that’s unlocked that is very useful to groups.

For example the Stalker has one called Bloodlust and basically when you click it, it grants life siphon to the entire party. We try to include abilities like that on every single one of the classes so that if a Raid has too many DPS or too many Tanks or whatever, they have other options that they can go through that actually help empower any other members of the group.”

Because of WildStar’s AMP and Ability Tiering systems, I could definitely see Hybrid or Support builds becoming more prevalent in the “Raid Scene”. For example, instead of having a Medic mostly healing, maybe have them focus on granting buffs to the group through the use of probes, so they can survive the encounter better. This is something I’m definitely curious to see when launch comes around.

Wrapping up my interview, I decided to ask the one question that’s I’m sure has crossed everyone’s mind at some point or another: What if 40-mans don’t pan out the way they thought? Is there a backup plan?

“I don’t want to make promises and say ‘we’ll always’ or ‘we’ll never’, but right now what we’re trying to bring back with the 40-man Raids is the feeling that people got the first time they started Raiding. The first time as a huge group—a community feeling—that when you overcame something that was exceptionally difficult and complex, you finally get it… and the elation, and the awesome items. I think that those are some of the most memorable moments from MMOs from pretty much anyone we’ve talked to. That’s what we’re aiming for [with the] 40-man raids.

Having that many people and working together on encounters that are that big. Our hope is with the encounter design, that the organization of it is not a detriment and is more fun because you have more people and you’re accomplishing more things simultaneously in a group.”

“Our motto is ‘The devs are listening’. So we’ll listen to how the players respond in the game and try and cater to what they want to see.”

As with many development aspects of WildStar, the devs are open to feedback and are tracking what players like and dislike. As far as the life-expectancy of 40-man Raiding is concerned, we’ll just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, if you want the best loot, you better start gearing up!

Going At It Alone>>

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