E3 2015: WildStar is adding much more than F2P this fall

The fact that WildStar is transitioning to a free-to-play model this fall is old news now. Folks have been hashing out their opinions on the matter for the last month and have indeed been talking about the possibility for far longer. So what more could be added to the conversation by talking to Carbine at E3?

Information — lots of information! Sitting down with Creative Director Chad Moore and Product Director Mike Donatelli, I learned more details about the both transition itself and the mega content update coming with it. The pair also announced that WildStar will be releasing in China soon, its first step in expanding globally.

More than just a business model

Perhaps one of the key points about this upcoming change is that it involves so much more than just converting from subscriptions to free-to-play. What else is on deck? A lot of it’s what players have been asking for. Donatelli told me, “What we’ve done for the last few months is execute on player feedback.”

Different systems have been completely revamped; player stats are completely retooled, and itemization on everything is altering accordingly. The team has also made adjustments to get more people into dungeons (and at an earlier level), a new arena has been added, and the story instances are accessible even earlier. Various quality-of-life improvements have also been implemented, from an always-on sprint (outside of combat) to moving Prime monsters — those mega group bosses — to their own lairs on the edges of maps so that players don’t unexpectedly roll into them while dodging regular mobs. Another very helpful feature is the sell junk button! On top of all that, a new navigation system will be implemented so players can track a waypoint on their minimaps.

But these changes are not totally set in stone. Even though the game has launched, Donatelli emphasized that this new update will spend time in beta. In fact, the reason the conversion is happening in the fall is precisely to give players time to beta test and offer feedback. And the team plans incorporate that feedback into the final launch of the new F2P version to make sure the changes made were the right ones. And Donatelli says the team expects to make changes: “We expect people to test our transition and be like, ‘We like this more,’ or ‘If you guys do that it will be better,’ and we’re going to make those changes.”

Choose your tutorial

How many times has a veteran player who has put in countless hours in a game wanted to skip the nonsense of a tutorial? After the first few alts it becomes more than tedious to experienced players. Carbine agrees and has a solution for WildStar’s tutorial that will better cater to the individual needs of gamers. Moore stated, “We added different experiences based on your MMO knowledge.”

When players enter the game, they will have the option to choose between three levels of tutorial experiences. The novice level is a holographic simulation designed for those totally unfamiliar with MMOs, people who need to know about movement, how to talk to NPCs, etc. The intermediate level, on the other hand, bypasses all that and takes players directly to the arkship, which has been streamlined to get players into combat faster and provides details on WildStar specifics like sprinting and dodging. The final choice is the expert level that just jettisons the player directly to the first planet to begin his or her adventures already equipped with the levels and gear collected in the other tutorials.

In addition to this new tutorial selection, players are given much more information at character creation so they can make better-informed choices when getting ready to play. All races are clearly visible with important information on the selection screens, including which race/class combinations are allowed and which aren’t. As for choosing the classes and paths, the devs have also embedded videos that demonstrate aspects of these so players can see exactly what each does. The whole point, Moore said, is that “when players make choices, they understand what they make.”

Revamping stats

And then there were four. If you’ve ever been in the position where you weren’t exactly sure which stat would be best for your class (who wouldn’t want Moxie just because?), you weren’t alone. Donatelli noted that more than a few players found the current system a bit confusing, with stat names and uses not readily apparent to players. That’s why the system has been revamped. Current stats will be replaced with four primary stats: armor, assault power, support power, and health. With names like that, you can pretty well tell which one will be most valuable to which class. Pretty simple, right?

For those long-time players who delight in getting the most out of builds by tweaking every last thing, this system seems too simple. Fortunately, the new system also includes secondary stats that will allow players to fine-tune their characters to fit the playstyle they want to embrace. For instance, there is vigor: Vigor will allow players to do more damage the higher their health is. That definitely changes the dynamics and strategies in battle, as a healer would want to know to keep this DPS character’s health topped off so she’s dealing the optimal output of damage. Other secondary stats include life steal and crit; they all allow for more specialization within the classes.

Donatelli told me that the team has worked on this system for six months to make it both easy to learn and hard to master, offering players a wide range of individualized play experiences by specializing within the classes. “You can tweak your character in really interesting ways that weren’t available before,” he said. Previously, every Stalker was a crit Stalker, and that’s just the way it was done. Now, you can broaden your horizons. It’s the best of both worlds: The new players will understand the basics of the system straight away, whereas those who want to master the intricacies of all the secondaries can min/max to their hearts’ content or experiment with unique combinations.

Better dungeon diving

Donatelli explained to me that even though WildStar dungeons “are some of the most lauded pieces of content in the game, with really cool mechanics and unique and creative boss fights,” the team still “had trouble getting lots of people into that content.” Since there was really no grouping before the first dungeon, which opened at level 20, it felt like hitting a brick wall. Dungeons had such a steep learning curve that needed to be addressed. Fun fact: Donatelli says the internal project name for all this was Dungeon Smoothies.

Recently, the team earlier opportunities for players to familiarize themselves with group dynamics, starting with the ship hand min-dungeons at level 6 and then the training dungeon at level 10. Come fall, players will find that current dungeons have had their levels adjusted in order to bring people in sooner. Stormtalon is lowered from 20 to 15, and the dungeons will be available ever five levels thereafter. Donatelli pointed out that “you will now actually level through group PvE dungeon content, whereas before there were big gaps where you couldn’t.” Plus, he argues, “the pacing of the entire dungeon experience is way better now. It’s a lot more fun.”

Besides the dungeons, the story-driven instances have also been releveled, and a new one was created for level 15: Alpha Sanctum. The fact that the big overarching story that tells what’s going on with the planet Nexus was locked behind instances that players couldn’t access until level 35 meant that many players never got to the point they could experience that part of the game or even have a feel for what was going on. Now they get a sense of the story and purpose much earlier on in their play. On top of all this, the new PvP arena teased back at last year’s Gamescom will finally be added. Cyro-Plex, the biggest arena to date, is an ancient Eldan ruin covered in ice and has lots of verticality in the gameplay.

Housing: Welcome to the neighborhood

After the free-to-play transition, another new feature will hit WildStar. Whether you pop into your home only occasionally to harvest a node or spend countless hours decorating and redecorating, you might be excited by the new news on housing. Donatelli and Moore revealed neighborhoods, a new way for communities to come together. A neighborhood is a mega housing island consisting of five plots as well as communal space that players can decorate and hang out in. A player and four friends can take their existing housing plots and just plug them into the neighborhood map, and up to 20 players total can have decorating permissions as members of said neighborhood. Just think of the block parties! As Moore said, “Housing is the best feature in the whole wide world.”

To the loyal go the spoils

We already knew that there would be a loyalty program in place, and Moore and Donatelli elaborated on some of what that entails. There are multiple ways players earn credit in this loyalty program. Loyalty items will be unlocked based on the investments players have made in the game; everything from buying the game to time subscribed to buying or using C.R.E.D.D. lets players accumulate points. An important thing to note here is that it isn’t just the folks who pay cash outright that earn loyalty. Free players can also participate in the program, either by purchasing C.R.E.D.D. from other players or using the in-game “sweat currency” — called Omnibits — instead of NCoin to purchase things from the MTX store.

What kinds of things are available? The very first loyalty tier has a furry furrelope pet companion, a totally adorable chipmunk with chicken feet, and an immortal miner skill hat. There’s also upgraded crafting abilities, reduced resurrection timers, and complete access to the social systems the that first tier. “As you build it up over time, there will be additional tiers and even cooler stuff,” said Donatelli.

On top of the tiers there are a few special loyalty bonuses. For those who have subscribed since the F2P announcement, there will be other special goodies. And for the die-hard veterans who’ve maintained a subscription since the game launched, there is an extra special reward.

While the team is obviously expecting a large upswing in players once the conversion takes place, Moore said Carbine has been surprised by how many people responded with purchases of game right now in order to build up loyalty before it goes F2P — apparently there were over 100K beta sign-ups the very first day they were available.

Massively Overpowered was on the ground in Los Angeles, California, for E3 2015, bringing you expert MMO coverage from NCsoft, Blizzard, Ubisoft, BioWare, and everything else on display at the expo!
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132 Comments on "E3 2015: WildStar is adding much more than F2P this fall"

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VanagandrdeLoki
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VanagandrdeLoki

Before playing this game take this into consideration:

seanbugher
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seanbugher

Culubu No one is arguing that they shouldn’t make hard solo content. But what you’re saying is “their combat system is crap, they have nothing for casuals, my gear isn’t as good as raid gear even though i have no interest in raiding”. This makes no sense.
They have very hard small group content. 5 people dungeons. Try for golds in all of them, it’s not easy.
They also have tons of stuff for casuals. Housing is great, contracts system is good, vet shiphands, pets and toys now, the list goes on.
They’ve also stated they will be doing some hard solo content in the future, but honestly, what MMO’s out there have super hard solo content? Because I can’t even think of one. This is not the right genre of game for you if you’re looking for hard solo content.

seanbugher
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seanbugher

Culubu I played WoW for years. And now I’ve played WildStar to level cap and am 7/9 in the highest raid tier currently.
Saying WildStar is just “floor is lava” and “all you do is stare at the floor” couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s some of the most difficult content and the variety of things you must do in some fights is miles ahead of WoW.
How far have you gone into raid content? My guess is 0% based on your comment.

seanbugher
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seanbugher

ambientblue It’s not. Only out of combat will have perma-sprint. Combat will still require managing sprint and dash.

pcgneurotic
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pcgneurotic

I bought it a month ago and subbed before my free 30 days were up — one of the best MMORPG decisions I’ve made in years!

crawlkill
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crawlkill

Wildstar’s characters had a fair amount of personality, and I was interested in the cartoonish-but-not-utterly-Warcraft-goofy world they were building. I’ll certainly give it another shot when it goes subless.

MorpayneRADIO
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MorpayneRADIO

blaaznar just use an xbox controller, dl some software and have at it.

Telos_
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Telos_

LordOfBread Culubu He’s talking about the telegraphs on the ground.  Wildstar overuses them.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

Esoteric Coyote Just curious, what did you not like about it that makes you ‘bunker’ when your husband tries to get you to go back to the game?

blaaznar
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blaaznar

Wish they added controller support…

Culubu
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Culubu

Vladamyr People wont complain when there are more options, only when lacking.

Vladamyr
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Vladamyr

Culubu Vladamyr Are you saying individual content or casual?  Because if you made casual content harder the casuals would bitch non stop.

Culubu
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Culubu

LordOfBread Watching the ground all the time and move isn’t really creative/challenging/fun/cool or require skills. In better games you watch the the boss’s movements etc.

Vladamyr
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Vladamyr

Culubu Vladamyr True, but that’s not what is killing wildstar.  Quit homogenizing games to make them more like other average games.

LordOfBread
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LordOfBread

Culubu better than stand around and spam your abilities like a lazy Wow player. In Wildstar you need to move and aim your spells and dodge attacks, too much work?

LordOfBread
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LordOfBread

dunno what your problem is but to me the F2P model sounds great. I rather worry people won´t see enough incentive to actually sub, they should add more goodies to the sub, maybe monthly subscriber items like TSW does

Culubu
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Culubu

LordOfBread Nice try Carbine

LordOfBread
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LordOfBread

edit:
besides, there are lots of benefits for people who bought the box/digital download there are lots of actual B2P benefits:

http://www.wildstar-online.com/en/news/2015-05-28-wildstar-is-going-free-to-play-heres-all-you-need-to-know/
anyone interested should just buy it now or activate the humble bundle key

LordOfBread
Guest
LordOfBread

deekay_zero woolydub The list is presented wrong, it´s not the difference between free and sub in the upper part, it´s the difference between free client and paid client. If you already have the box you have all the above benefits, forever. Just pick up the box and you ahve your “buy to play” benefits

LordOfBread
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LordOfBread

Bought Wildstar on launch and it was a rocky road, but the core game is really good. My sub lapsed a couple of months ago but still have it installed and will check it out again when it goes F2P. Just can´t stand medieval fantasy MMOs anymore, the Sci-Fi/Pixar theme is cool, and… damn, HOVERBOARDS I miss them.

Culubu
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Culubu

Vladamyr yeah cuz Wildstar is doing terrific…

Culubu
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Culubu

Vladamyr Make casual content harder, give better gear, simple.

ambientblue
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ambientblue

Don’t make unlimited always on sprint. That will ruin the mechanic

ChinatsuChan
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ChinatsuChan

Mohrea ChinatsuChan Seriously though? Just take off half your armor if you want a challenge? I shouldn’t have to artificially manufacture a challenge for myself just because casuals want to take over a game that isn’t even meant to cater to casuals. If it’s too hard for you, don’t try to ruin the game for other people. There are plenty of MMOs that are designed to provide a more casual gaming experience, so why not play one of them? Maybe we could see it that way.

Mohrea
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Mohrea

ChinatsuChan This argument always comes up. Different people prefer different playstyles.
Maybe we could see it this way : If someone wants it more difficult: just take off half your armor, there you go ;)

The folks who like their sparetime without challenges can’t tweak it like that.

Vladamyr
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Vladamyr

Culubu omedon666 more socialist bullshit.  If you’re not doing the harder content you simply don’t need the better gear.

Vladamyr
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Vladamyr

dorn2 Vagrant Zero Culubu omedon666 and none of those games are doing that terrific

ChinatsuChan
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ChinatsuChan

dorn2 clchaotix BigMikeyOcho Honestly if you think WoW is doing everything right, JUST KEEP PLAYING WOW. It’s amazing how many of you people crawl out of your holes when a game decides to make big changes. Always complaining about how easy, difficult, unimaginative, or stupid a game is compared to WoW. 

A game comes out with mechanics similar to WoW? WoW clone. Not playing it.
A game comes out with different mechanics than WoW? It’s doing something wrong. Not playing it.

I have fond memories of WoW from way back, but at this point I just want it to die. I want all the servers to shut down. That stupid game has put a choke-hold on the whole industry and it’s not letting newer MMOs evolve or grow. Is that why Wildstar failed? No, I’m not that delusional. I’m just sick and tired of hearing the same complaints over and over again and seeing them choke the life out of what could have been good games. Seriously, it’s obvious you love that game and will probably keep playing it no matter WHAT changes the developers make to Wildstar. Just go play WoW, nobody is stopping you.

ChinatsuChan
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ChinatsuChan

Seems good to me, but I really hope they aren’t going to decrease the current difficulty levels. I’m getting sick and tired of people trying to make every other game as easy as WoW. Some people seem to have been spoiled to a point where they don’t want to learn more difficult content. Honestly? Don’t ruin it for the people who like a challenge and just stick to WoW. You’ll probably wind up back there anyway.

Leilonii
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Leilonii

dorn2 ColdinT Yea, there’s a reason why most games focus on 5 man content and the few that do have raids, focus on smaller raids of 8-10 players that are easier to get people for and can sometimes be done in shorter bits of time.

goettel
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goettel

“always-on sprint”

Thank Jebus.

dorn2
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dorn2

Godrickx dorn2 BigMikeyOcho 
It’s ironic that you have it so backwards.  WoW caters to the extreme hardcore.  The gear you get from Mythic raids is vastly superior to even hardcore raid gear. Mythic raiding gear is so much better than LFR it isn’t even funny.   Someone with Mythic gear litterally does 3x the damage of someone with LFR.  
They even doubled down this expansion by giving Mythic raiders special gear models again.  LFR was further nerfed and had it’s models downgraded to dungeon gear.
You’re playing the wrong game for what you want.  Wildstar can’t survive on the audience you’d like specifically because they’re all playing WoW.

dorn2
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dorn2

ColdinT 
The concept of “approachable” is different for everyone right? I mean if you’re very skilled you’re going to just be very bored with something that’s only moderately difficult.  That’s an unfortunate reality.  People have wildly variant skill levels.  Also it’s not just skill levels.  There’s teamwork, scheduling, guild drama etc etc.

So while you say Galactic Archives is pretty approachable I have to disagree partly.  The large majority of people have some hangup that makes it unapproachable.  That might be because they have poor hand eye coordination.  It might be because they don’t like raiding guilds.  Or it might be kids preventing them from making it to the raid.  It just doesn’t work anymore.  Even WoW is having problems due to this.  Players are leaving over the lack of dungeon focus.

The raiding crowd that does exist is going to stick with WoW.  If Wildstar wants to survive it can’t focus on raiding anymore.

dorn2
Guest
dorn2

clchaotix dorn2 BigMikeyOcho 
So you’re argument is that Wildstar should ignore market realities and “put those plebs in their place”?  They tried what you’re suggesting and failed.  Wildstar PROVED that WoW was right. Wildstar proved that those players are an overwhelming majority.

dorn2
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dorn2

Vagrant Zero Culubu omedon666 
There are lots of reward systems that don’t involve giving raiders an effectively higher level cap than everyone else.

Joseph C
Guest
Joseph C

Vagrant Zero Culubu omedon666 Same reason that people run Torment 6 in Diablo 3 instead of Torment 1. Give them a higher percentage at the rewards and cool achievements for clearing them at higher difficulties, with things like bonus skins and pets tacked on.
I’ll take it further. Make the raid lockout timer only apply to the difficulty you beat, and make it so if you beat the higher difficulty first, you get double drops and a lock-out for both. That way if you don’t want to “grind the easier dungeon”, you don’t have to. That way you can run the regular dungeon to gear up, and if you decide to run the harder dungeon, you aren’t losing anything.
Guild Wars 2 has a massive PvE scene still running, and guess what buttercup? The gear you get for raiding isn’t any different than AH gear, the skins you get out of them are the reward, AND the game doesn’t have a Holy Trinity! So trust me, if you’re actually smart with your rewards system, you’ll have loyal players smashing through your content endlessly, because it’s just as rewarding as a few extra numbers in your stats.

Vagrant Zero
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Vagrant Zero

Culubu omedon666 Why would anyone do the harder raids though if they gave the same level of gear as the easier tiers?

Culubu
Guest
Culubu

“really cool mechanics and unique and creative boss fights” 
No, it’s just ‘the floor is lava’ where you have to stare on the ground all the time and avoid the red, and that’s all it is.

Culubu
Guest
Culubu

omedon666 I had enough when I found out that their “raid-quality” gears for the casuals are shit-tier gears that have lower stats than non-raid gears. These devs will never see the filthy casuals as equal to their beloved ‘hardcore’.

How hard would it be to make difficult contents without the ‘getting 20 people together’ part and give us equal quality gears? I see no future for the game with these ignorant and stubborn devs.

Culubu
Guest
Culubu

woolydub They can’t do b2p even if they really want to, not enough people will buy their game with all these bad feedbacks, and they really need more people to at least solve their dead server issue.

Telos_
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Telos_

dorn2 BigMikeyOcho I find it funny that people like to rag on WoW for making content more accessible to all playstyles.  Wildstar could learn from this.

BigMikeyOcho
Guest
BigMikeyOcho

dorn2 BigMikeyOcho Ahhh yeah, that’s still not a cool philosophy to have. Being niche and advertising to the more “hardcore” playerbase is fine if that’s what they want… but that sounds like it’s just squeezing as much as they can out of the more casual players, before leaving them high and dry. Like how WoW use to be before LFR. Also, pairing a hardcore difficulty with a Saturday morning cartoon style has always felt a little off.

Telos_
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Telos_

We need cash shop info next.

Culubu
Guest
Culubu

ColdinT Have you seen character creation in Skyforge, Blade&Soul, Black Desert, FFXIV?

Culubu
Guest
Culubu

>casual players said they want to solo
>devs gonna push them to do dungeons anyway

ColdinT
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ColdinT

woolydub ColdinT The point is that f2p earn xp at the current rates. So the general leveling curve doesn’t change for them. It’s not like they will be questing and end up having to work in additional grind to stay on level.

The 25% boost is nice…but is likely something people will want for alts, not their first character.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

deekay_zero ColdinT I suppose that stuff too. Though with itemization changing, might not be needed as much.  I’m sure special dyes will be on the list as well, since the Deluxe dye and the one from Gamescon have unique looks.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

zyrusticae I’m curious what you mean? It’s about on par with most MMOs. Only thing I’d say it’s lacking is a height slider.

groo the wanderer
Guest
groo the wanderer

I recently got this in the humble bundle offer for a dollar . I will try it out but whether I end up staying or not depends on how restrictive the free to play model is . I usually end up dropping some money into a generous free to play models cash shop eventually but if its like the one in Star Wars TOR I never get to that point .

Bannex19
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Bannex19

Sad because it’s pretty good and you’re missing out.

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