Editorial

WildStar Health Check - August 26

By Lewis Burnell -
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Several nuggets of information have crept out of Carbine in the last week or two that should be music to many players ears. And if you’ve been playing WildStar, you’re likely aware of many of the games issues. Personally I think most of them are minor but you’d think from community reactions that Carbine had shipped a game that barely functioned. For those unaware, the main “issues” are the following, though I don’t agree with all of them.

PvP Gear Gap and Arena Abuse

When WildStar launched many players flocked to Arena and took part in 2 versus 2 matches. They win traded, obtained tons of Prestige and quickly obtained the best available gear. Alongside this many players (who were now well geared) began to “tank” their rating (losing on purpose) so that they could boost poorly geared or unskilled players in order to bring them up the ranks. It resulted in a huge mess within Arenas because every other match saw you pitted against opposing players in amazing gear. The Arena environment because of it became toxic and you’d pray that when you queued you didn’t face the 1800 boosters.

PvP Balance

I don’t know of a single massively multiplayer game that doesn’t have balance issues but I think a large amount of that is simply down to player perception, gear, skill and many other variables rather than the game (in this case, WildStar) being inherently unbalanced. I’ve found WildStar’s PvP to be pretty bloody good and while there’s a couple of skills that cause misery (Telekinetic Storm and Charged Shot Tier 8 amongst others) it’s in a good place. The biggest issue is likely the gear disparity between those not in 1800 gear and those that are, but that’s covered above.

Class Power

A big gripe for a lot of players is the fact that not all classes deal the same amount of damage on Raid parses. Warriors, Engineers and Stalkers are, for the most part, way out in front. Despite there being many variables to this (as with the balance issues above) Carbine have already come out and stated that classes with stances are benefiting from them much more than other classes. Despite this acknowledgement (I did the interview myself!) swathes of the player base still regularly complain that their class isn’t keeping up.

Attunement Difficulty

The Attunement process in WildStar in order to gain access to 20 man Raids is pretty epic. It’s long winded, requires you to play Veteran Adventures, Dungeons and kill a multitude of World Bosses. Players felt it was not only too difficult, but generally too long winded.

AMPs and Ability Tier Points Are Too Rare

When you hit level 50 in WildStar you don’t achieve the maximum amount of AMP points or Ability Tier Points. Instead, you have to purchase them or land very lucky on a drop. On some servers (certainly on my own) each AMP or Ability Tier Point goes for as much as 40 Platinum. Considering you need a good handful of each to max out your builds, it’s not surprising to hear why players are so frustrated.

Empty Servers

I’m fortunate that I play on a very busy server but like most massively multiplayer games WildStar has seen its fair share of players leaving after the first month. This has left some servers notably quieter than at launch and as a result, a lot of players are seeking merges. Queue times for all content, whether PvP or PvE are much longer than they were and it does have a negative impact on the play experience.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

WildStar has its fair share of bugs but I’ve yet to encounter a single one that’s game breaking. I’ve only ever had to relog a couple of times to rectify my character or /reloadui to fix most of them. That isn’t to say they don’t exist (lord there are plenty) but they’re certainly manageable. Some of the big ones are primarily linked to Skills or AMP’s/Tiers not working as intended while others include an inability to resurrect, items that are blue or higher turning white or general graphical problems.

How Are Carbine Dealing With These Issues?

Surprisingly, the vast majority of all the above are in hand. The biggest problem however is the fact that communication is slim pickings at the moment and large amounts of players aren’t aware of all the developer commentary relating to the issues. Unfortunately and due to the nature of this industry, making changes and fixing issues does take time. Massively multiplayer gamers aren’t known for their patience and will scream to the high heavens that they aren’t getting their way. Here’s what Carbine intend to do about all the above problems.

First up is The Muffin Man’s post regarding PvP. It covers a wide variety of the issues affecting PvP and it’s pretty clear he has got his head screwed on. Most of what he’s suggesting players have asked for but as noted above, it’ll take time to push out onto live servers. It doesn’t necessarily help the game in the interim but then again I don’t believe the PvP is unplayable. In fact, it’s a lot of bloody fun irrespective of the issues.

Where PvP Balance and Class Power is concerned, Carbine actually spoke to me about this several weeks ago. They discussed how stance changes would likely be coming in the next patch or two to bring the Warrior, Engineer and Stalker in line with the other classes while they continued to reiterate that PvP Balance is an ongoing effort. They highlighted the changes they’ve made in recent patches and I totally agree with the route they’re taking. Besides the couple of skills above that I mentioned, I never feel agreived in PvP by classes that are “OP!”. I don’t particularly think any are if you actually sit back and analyse where you went wrong. [Edit] As of this morning (August 27) there's also news of a PvP Ratings reset and further narrowing of the gear divide.

On a Nexus Report a few weeks ago Carbine came forward and addressed the Attunement brigade who are dissatisfied at needing to obtain Silver rating in Dungeons and Adventures in order to become Attuned. Personally I found it incredibly easy to reach Silver in all of them (it only took a day or two) yet the requirement is being lowered to Bronze (which is practically AFK worthy). If you’re seeking to become Attuned, you must be aspiring to Raid and as a result, you should be doing your Adventures and Dungeons with said guild. If they aren’t capable of quickly reaching Silver (which is incredibly easy) then you’re in real trouble and I’d argue you aren’t ready to even begin to Raid. On the flip side, Raiding is one of WildStar’s best assets and if lowering the Attunement requirement to bronze means more people partake in Raids (even if they fail miserably at them) then it can’t be a bad thing: Raids will be being played.

As for AMP and Ability Tiers as well as Empty Servers, new information has actually surfaced about both issues in the last day or two. Addressing the first, AMP’s and Ability Tiers are going to be available as one-time use items from Dungeons, Adventures, the Daily zones and PvP. It’s a brilliant move from Carbine as it’ll add a greater purpose to those zones (including PvP) and provides guaranteed progression. It won’t necessarily be easy (you’ll need to reach Beloved Reputation) but it gives players a target they can work towards, without praying to the gods in the hopes of a drop. Where servers are concerned, Stephan Frost Tweeted that Carbine are working on something to address this issue and we should hear more soon. Considering the relationship with ArenaNet, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Mega Servers were going to be a WildStar thing too. I read some time ago that the reason why servers haven’t merged is because no one server has fallen below half its capacity so it would be impossible to merge servers without causing queues. Either way, if Mega Servers happen, there’s going to be a lot of happy people.

Lastly, Carbine have come out on the forums and informed the playerbase that the next drop (Defile) would be delayed. The reason for the delay is because they want to ensure the update is as bug free as humanly possible. In reality Carbine are in a no win situation. If they adhere to a one month turn around on updates the risk of bugs is enormous but if they don’t put out content quickly, they risk upsetting the playerbase for a lack of content. I agree with their choice and I’m glad to see them being sensible in their approach to ensuring things are actually working before they leave the door.

So there we have it, the main issues clearly addressed by Carbine and while there’s no set time frame on all of it, it’s highly likely it’ll all arrive in the next couple of patches. There’s also the new Defile content around the corner (despite its delay) and the significant changes to the Rune system. I stand by the fact that WildStar is a brilliant game and that even this list of issues is minor compared to many of the games I’ve played. If you honestly believe these issues are too grave to continue playing, there probably isn’t an MMO on earth that’s right for you. I can’t wait for these changes and it’ll only make the game even better.

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About The Author

Lewis "PersistentWorld" Burnell
The only game to have distracted Lewis away from MMOG's over the last 15 years was Pokemon Red. Despite that blip, Lewis has worked his way through countless games in the genre in search of something that comes close to his much loved (and long time dead) Neocron. Having written for several gaming networks before Ten Ton Hammer, Lewis likes to think he knows a thing or two about what makes an MMOG and its player-base tick.

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