In just a few short days, WildStar will flip a switch and transition from its year-plus run as a subscription game to a free-to-play model. This move will also contain one of the largest patches to ever hit the game, containing sweeping, across-the-board improvements, revamps, and new content to plunder.
It’s an exciting and scary time to be a WildStar player, for sure. The existing community is bracing itself for a massive influx of players, both brand-new and returning, and has been fielding questions for months now on what to expect when F2P goes live.
Consider this column my small contribution to the discussion. Whether you’re coming to the game for the first time or hitting it up after an extended time away, here are 10 tips that you should know to give you a boost.
1. Skip the tutorial (unless you really need it)
While we’ve had the option to bypass the tutorial for a while now, the new patch will include a middle-of-the-road tutorial for players who are new to WildStar but not MMOs. That means you can go the full tutorial route, the WildStar-stuff-only route, or jump straight into the game.
Honestly, unless you truly need to have your hand held, the tutorials aren’t necessary in the least. The beginner zones are fluffy and easy enough to serve as a de facto tutorial — and there’s always the advice chat channel.
2. Mount up early!
You can equip and use a mount the second you hit level 6, which should happen right as you transition from the beginner area to your first proper zone. Don’t have one? Mounts can be rented for a pittance from a vendor until you save up to buy one.
3. Do the solo instances and expeditions
World questing is the bread-and-butter of WildStar, as you might expect from any MMO. However, there are several points along the way where you’ll be prompted to enter solo instances (for the overarching story) and expeditions (formerly shiphands). I definitely recommend doing those, not just for the story but for the fun factor and rewards!
4. Take on challenges
Challenges got a bad rap early on in WildStar’s run, but if you have bad memories of them back then, I encourage you to give them a second look. Carbine’s made a lot of improvements to the system, and now with the F2P patch there’s a reward track in each zone that offers even more cool stuff.
5. Max your reputation
Reputation is easy enough to ignore, even though you’re accumulating it constantly by questing and fighting. Before you leave a zone for a new one, take the time to look up the reputation vendor and maybe make the effort to top off the grind to get access to the full range of purchases. There are pets and many great housing items to be had from these vendors.
6. Experiment with builds
WildStar’s limited action set can fool you into accepting a routine build early on. Don’t. Every time you level up and gain access to a new skill, swap out one of your current ones to see how the new ability fits. Keep in mind that initially you have two saved build slots available to you, so experiment often and see if a better loadout is waiting out there!
7. Get into the community
There’s a good community here in WildStar, although not without its bad apples (as in any game). Reach out to join a guild, talk in housing chat, join up with community events, or put yourself out there in a PUG. Guild membership also can benefit you with highly useful buffs and personal support.
8. Budget in advance
The new cash shop and other revenue streams that are coming with free-to-play are betting on players making rash impulse purchases. The studio has spent a lot of time deliberating this model, so the least you should do is think about what you’re willing to spend and on what — if anything at all.
Remember that you can save up omnibits to buy cash shop items, and if you are leaning toward spending money, set a budget in advance and stick to it. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t buy lockboxes. Studios will only keep selling them if you keep buying them.
9. Decide on your goals
For a themepark game, WildStar offers a surprising array of potential goals outside of simply “hitting level 50 and raiding.” I play this game with the ultimate goal of building up my housing plot and collecting neat-looking outfit pieces (yes, I’m all about the looks). Others will go the PvP route, roll up several alts, take on contracts, level up challenges, pursue paths, or roleplay. What goals do you want to set?
10. Read up on the changes
New players won’t have to worry so much about unlearning what they once knew, but veteran WildStar adventurers might want to skim through the various deep dives to understand what about the game is changing. In some ways, it’s going to be a shock to come back and see what is incredibly different, but that’s part of the thrill as well.