Last Call for Shade’s Eve Contest

WildStar’s Shade’s Eve housing contest ends today. You have until tonight at 11:59 PDT to submit your screen shots for a chance to win up to a year of signature service and a fancy midnight equivar mount.

Still spooky

Still spooky though.

My free time and building skills didn’t quite manage to create a reality that lived up to the idea I had for this contest. I won’t be around enough tonight to do much more than take a couple screen shots, so I’m debating whether or not to enter at all. I think I will try though, because even though I don’t have much hope for a prize I do want to make sure they get good participation. I definitely want to see more contests like this in the future! I should probably start planning my Xmas-themed plot right away, but I’m one of those folks who gets grumpy if I see Xmas decorations before (American) Thanksgiving, so I guess it will have to wait.

Want to check out my spooky house? Visit Gracie Moonshine on Entity and let me know what you think! And let me know in the comments if you’ve decorated at your place, maybe I’ll stop by to trick-or-treat!

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Cash Shop Complaints

There’s been quite a lot of fuss over the last few days about some of the holiday additions to WildStar’s cash shop. I think Syp over at Bio Break did a good job of summarizing everything, but it won’t stop me from adding my 2c.

Yup. I'm a satisfied customer.

Yup. I’m a satisfied customer.

The general complaint is that some of the biggest ticket items in the cash shop can only be used on one character. I definitely think Carbine got it completely wrong in one case: the Haunted House fabkit. Charging over $10 for an item that can only be used on one character AND that disappears forever if you decide you want to remodel your house seemed completely overboard. Fortunately that’s since been fixed. The item can still only be used on one character, but it will always be available to build when you want it. I’m still not sure if it is a good value for me, but since it does give you an entire second house on your plot it is definitely tempting.

As for the mounts, I honestly have fewer complaints there. People were a little unhappy that the cool Shade’s Eve mount was for one character only, but I saw lots of people riding them and didn’t hear too many complaints. Things didn’t start getting really salty until people found out the delorean hoverboard was a cash shop item. I feel like this is a case of people being cranky that the coolest item from a very short in-game event is only available from the cash shop. The fact that it is only usable on one character just piled on top of that.

I think that if this event and cool mount had happened a bit later after the F2P transition then people would have far less to complain about, since they’d be able to buy what they wanted with omnibits instead of cash. In the end I decided to buy the hoverboard myself because it looks amazing, and frankly because I’ve been playing for over a year and never had a subscription thanks to CREDD. Supporting the game by buying something fun that makes me smile every time I see it seems like a win win. I also know that the devs are looking into making more of the cash shop items available account-wide, so I suspect I might have access to my purchase on all my alts long before the event comes back around next year. And if not? I’m still happy. I can’t look at that hoverboard and not be happy.

Shade’s Eve!

ShadeseveAs far as in-game events go, Shade’s Eve is the real deal. For folks who expect some decorations and a couple quests out of their holidays, well, you’re kinda right…

Thayd is decked out for the holiday.

Thayd is decked out for the holiday.

But you’re also going to be a bit under-prepared for what WildStar is throwing at you with this holiday. The capital cities are decorated. And I don’t mean just a couple pumpkins sprinkled around. The entire city is completely decked out in seasonal decor, and even the lighting and music have been changed to suit the mood. I actually got lost in Thayd, a city I’ve been running around in for over a year, because the atmosphere is so very different and the whole place felt new.

There are also daily quests. They are relatively standard fare, but with that extra WildStar flavor. My favorite one has you go trick-or-treating at other people’s houses. For 50 silver you can put out some candy of your own. There’s a bit of a trick to this quest. There are several different types of candy, and you need to collect one of each. That means people are constantly calling out in housing zone chat asking for and offering different kinds of candy. In some games I could see this being awful really fast, but WildStar’s housing chat is notoriously helpful and fun, and so far everyone’s been working together to make this quest a breeze.

I love that you can run around in a spooky corn field.

I love that you can run around in a spooky corn field.

The other truly amazing piece is the quest that sends you into the holiday expedition (mini-dungeon). Most other holiday events I’ve experienced in games tend to send you to either a one-and-done boss in a box, or have some re-skinned portion of an existing dungeon set up to match the theme. WildStar instead has gone all-in and made a complete experience jam packed with atmosphere and lore. I’m hoping to put a guide together soon so I don’t want to get into too many details here, but I absolutely loved the expedition. I also think the devs made the right call by adding level scaling. It allows characters of almost any level (above 10 I believe) to group up and run it together. I soloed it on both my main and my fresh 50 engineer without too much trouble, and also ran with groups of 3-4 guildies of varying levels and it was still engaging, fun, and about the right amount of challenge.

Pray the Angel finds you there.

Pray the Angel finds you there. Or not. She’s kinda creepy too.

There’s a final note I want to make about this event as it relates to WildStar’s F2P model. I think they did it right. There are only a handful of items that are store exclusive for the holiday: the skeletal warpig mount, the haunted house fabkit, and the shade’s eve dye pack. The mount seems to be standard MMO cash shop mount fare. It is not for me but the value for the price seems fair. The dyes were a must-have, but were cheap enough to pay for with omnibits and can be applied to every character on my account so I’m happy. The fabkit is pretty sweet, it allows you to basically have a second house (a haunted house!) on your plot, and you can even fully furnish it as you choose. However, it suffers from the standard issue all fabkits have, which is that if you decide you don’t like the location or want to swap it out for something new it is gone forever. Since it is a one-use, one-character purchase (and fairly expensive too), I don’t think it is worth the cost. If they ever change those kits from single-use to something you learn and can re-use I would probably buy one myself.

All of the rest of the shade’s eve goodies can be purchased with Shade’s Silver. You earn this from dailies and from running the expedition. I ran quite a few times last night and if there is a daily cap on that currency I didn’t find it, and I earned enough to purchase the hoverboard already! Even better, it looks like most of the items can drop from the instance goodie bag. I would recommend holding off on any big purchases until later in the event, since you might get lucky and get one for free! I managed to snag the pet last night and since that was one of my must-haves I was super stoked.

I hope you all have a fantastic time with Shade’s Eve! And if you are still waffling about whether or not to try WildStar? There’s absolutely no better time!

The Perks of Prestige

This weekend marked the first of WildStar’s new in-game events. For their initial event they chose to do a double prestige weekend. If you’re unfamiliar with WildStar’s currencies, prestige is gained from PvP, and can be used to purchase PvP gear, as well as generally useful things like ability points and pets. Yes, pets are useful, they make me happy, that’s useful!

Looking very good for a fresh 50

Looking very good for a fresh 50

I spent most of my time on my main, and frankly did so much PvP that I started getting sick of it by the end. I even chose the PvP version of the weekly elder gem quest just to try to force myself to participate as much as possible. By the time I burnt out, I had obtained a full set of PvP gear, upgraded half of it, fully runed including my 8-piece class set, and yes, purchased both pets and the blackhood cosmetic gear set.

After I had my fill of PvP I swapped over to my engineer, who has been lingering at level 47 for over a week now. I started out in Grimvault, but as soon as the Crimson Badlands quests opened up I hopped over there and started working on dailies. I had full rested plus a flask of R&R to reset my rested when it ran out, so the leveling went very quickly and I hit 50 before I knew it. And what did I do immediately upon hitting 50? PvP.

It turns out that even the vendor PvP gear at 50 is a huge upgrade from leveling gear. It also turns out that the engineer prestige PvP gear is one of my favorite sets in the game. So I spent the remainder of my evening doing even more PvP, and managed to finish out the event with a full set of the prestige gear for my engineer. I love how it makes you look like one of your bots, even down to a cute smiley bot face on the chest piece.

Now that the PvP event is finished, there’s still no rest for the wicked. Shade’s Eve is already upon us. I’ll be sure to let you know how that event goes once I rush home from work and check it out today!

New to Nexus: Fashion Guide

I asked on Twitter the other day if people had any questions or specific things they would like to see in a guide, and Walks came at me with the really tough questions:

 

I certainly don’t want to disappoint my loyal readers, and it turns out there’s a lot to learn from these questions!

Costume Basics

Choose your fabulous costume from this menu.

Choose your fabulous costume from this menu.

Why wander around Nexus looking like you just picked up whatever you could find off of random monsters you killed? Costume items can be purchased for renown, prestige, or NCoin, or you can mix and match the appearance of any gear you find while playing the game normally!

Open your character sheet (default “P”) and select “Costumes” from the menu on the upper right. This basic menu lets you preview costumes you’ve already made and select which one you want to wear. Free-to-play characters can have 4 costumes, while folks who purchased the box get 6. You can purchase more from the cash shop, up to a total of 12. Changing between costumes can be done at any time and has no cost. But before you select a costume you have to put together a great look for yourself! That brings us to the next step.

The Holo-wardrobe

An empty costume, just waiting for inspiration!

An empty costume, just waiting for inspiration!

This is where the magic happens, fellow citizens of Nexus. The Holo-wardrobe can be accessed directly from the menu at the bottom left of your screen, or from the costumes tab of your character sheet. The left column is where you will choose and create your costume. The right side shows a preview of your outfit while you’re working. In the center, dye and costume options will be presented based on what you have selected on the left.

Choose your weapon.

Choose your weapon.

When you start, everything on the left will be grayed out or empty, and the preview on the right should show whatever gear you have equipped.  To use the “skin” or appearance of an item for your costumes, you must first unlock it. Clicking the “Unlock Items” button in the top center of the holo-wardrobe will bring up a list of all the items available for you to learn the appearance of. You can go through this list, see a preview of each item, and decide if you want to unlock its appearance for your costumes. Note that unlocking an item’s appearance will cause it to become soulbound to you and unable to be traded. As you find new items, you can also shift+right click on them to unlock their appearance. You start with 300 individual item appearance slots available, and more can be purchased in the in-game store up to a total of 850. Items you learn are available across your entire account, for both Exile and Dominion characters.

Oh no, two different duplicate items! Right click and delete the extras to free up space!

Oh no, two different duplicate items! Right click and forget the extras to free up space!

Now that you’ve unlocked some fancy items, let’s put them to work. You can change the appearance of any visible gear slot. That means weapon, head, shoulders, chest, hands, legs, and feet. Click on one in the leftmost column of the wardrobe and it will show all the appearances you’ve unlocked for that slot in the middle column. Items are arranged alphabetically, and you can move between pages using the small arrows at the bottom right of this section. Items with an exclamation point symbol are no longer available in the game (but you can still keep using their appearance!). Items with a red “no” symbol can’t be used by your current character. This mostly happens with weapons, since you can’t change your weapon appearance to that of a different class. Alternately, you can click the eye icon next to an appearance slot to hide the display of that item. That option is particularly useful for hiding your helm if you want to show off your cute haircut.

Dyes

I wrote a whole guide to using Dyes and finding new ones! You can find it at Wildstar Core!

Just answer Walks’ questions already

Oh right I was supposed to talk about my favorite color and class for overall looks. My favorite dye color is Northern Lights, which is one of the new ones from Cosmic Rewards. It is such a pretty, multi-hued color, with metallic blues and purples. As for which class gets the best gear, that mostly only matters for your weapons (I love Spellslingers’ pistols and Medics’ resonators so much). Otherwise, just go to the auction house or find a friendly crafter and get whatever you like. You can learn the appearance of items from any class! I like a lot of the medium and light armor, although some of the late-game heavy armor has a great tanky feel to it if you are into that. As much as I like my spellslinger, some of the medic class sets are pretty amazing. Also, don’t forget to think about PvP. Not only are the level 50 PvP sets very snazzy looking, there are also a few nice costume sets available for the PvP currency, prestige. Remember that your holo-wardrobe is shared across your whole account, so you can mix and match as much as you want!

That’s it for today! If you still have questions check out Kelzam’s guide from when the holo-wardrobe system launched, or ask away in the comments!

PvP on My Mind

In my so-called hardcore WoW raiding days I stayed as far away as possible from PvP. Sure, I saw the potential benefits, like building better situational awareness and reaction times, but I couldn’t stand the culture. It didn’t help that at the time the folks in my guild who did a lot of PvP were some of the most obnoxious members of the raid team. The few times I tried it back then I got berated by my own team and murdered by the opposition and never felt like I had the chance to actually learn what I was supposed to do.

I never did end up PvPing much in that game, with too many entrenched “experts” and understood “best practices” to bar my entry. As I’ve picked up new MMOs over the years I have given PvP more of a try, and found that it can actually be enjoyable. The best scenario for me was always games with a healthy leveling bracket. This gave me some time to learn the battlegrounds and get acquainted with strategy and abilities without the hard wall that comes at the level cap. The wall of opponents with maxed out PvP gear can make learning so miserable that you give up without even giving it a fair try. Leveling brackets tend to normalize gear and are often more about skill and maybe which abilities you’ve learned at  your level. It makes the playing field much more even and let me tell you, losing a close match is way more fun than getting completely wrecked.

All my friends are dead. This did not end well.

Walatiki Temple in a rare moment of calm.

Anyway all of this is just setup for the fact that I actually find myself enjoying PvP in WildStar. I tried some while leveling and managed to learn the battlegrounds and some vague sense of strategy. I even wrote a “guide” that is just vague enough to still be relevant today! Then with the advent of the contracts system I gave it a shot on my level 50 character too. I was happy to see that a few days of being insta-killed was enough to buy myself a minimum amount of gear and then suddenly I could actually even be useful!

Fast-forward to the present, when I found out that there’s a new PvP season and all my hard work from before can now be upgraded by spending a few gold at the season 2 vendor. Sigh. At least the sweet armor has been unlocked for my holo-wardrobe.

PvP gear this season in WildStar has an interesting twist. The basic gear can be purchased for gold, which is awesome. This allows new folks and people playing catch-up to get a complete set very quickly. The next stage of gear can be purchased for a modest amount of prestige. I’m currently filling out my set, and it feels like something that can be reasonably done in a few nights of play if you are mostly focusing your time on PvP. Again this seems totally reasonable. A week of dedicated PvP should get you relatively caught up, but still not on par with the hardcore PvPers. That last step requires imbuement items and an awful lot of prestige. Each slot of gear (excluding gadget, weapon attachment, implant, etc.) can be upgraded by using a couple imbuement items, each of which costs more than (sometime double) the original item cost in prestige. Upgrading improves the quality of the gear and adds a rune slot, but doesn’t change the item level. This is the step that separates the real cupcakes from the mini-muffins or whatever. I guess I’m as bad at baked-goods analogies as I am at PvP.

The real reason I want to pvp

The real reason I want to pvp

This long slow grind seems potentially soul crushing for someone who is not super great at PvP. Part of me wants to just throw my excess prestige at pets and costumes and then run back to questing and expeditions. However, I find I’m often really enjoying PvP in spite of myself, and each new piece of gear (and the survivability that comes with it) keeps adding to that enjoyment.The slow and steady rate of progression is a nice counterpoint to the randomness of chasing gear from raiding. It also really helps that there is a chance to win the imbuement items from both the winner and loser goodie bags from doing battlegrounds. In fact I won two of them in a row by some miracle last night.

WildStar’s first in-game event since Free-2-Play launched begins tomorrow, and just happens to be a bonus prestige event. I’m suddenly finding myself really looking forward to it. This upcoming event not only gives me a bit of a speed pass to PvP rewards, but it will also hopefully bring in even more people to the battlegrounds. The very best part is that this type of event can attract people with some interest, but doesn’t “force” non-PvP-minded folk to queue for any reason. With a little luck, that will lead to an influx of people who actually want to be there, and maybe even enough new folks to actually make me look good for a change.

Are you interested in learning to PvP in WildStar? Are you planning to participate in the upcoming prestige bonus event? If you want a buddy to hang out with and maybe laugh at, leave me a note here or on Twitter and we can fight the Dommies together! Or at least check out this helpful guide over at WildStar-Core to get yourself started!

New to Nexus 2: Combat, Abilities and You!

In part 2 of my quickstart guide to WildStar I want to talk more in-depth about combat, abilities, and AMPs.

Interrupts and Interrupt Armor

An enemy with 2 interrupt armor.

An enemy with 2 interrupt armor.

One of the core features of combat in WildStar is the interrupt system. By stopping an enemy’s cast, not only do you avoid whatever bad thing they were trying to do to you, but you also create a brief moment of opportunity during which they will take extra damage from your attacks. The game signals this by changing the color of their health bar, and showing a countdown overlay to indicate the duration of their vulnerability. Taking advantage of this while questing will help you kill big enemies faster, and give you practice with the system.

On the left, both interrupt armor have been destroyed but the enemy has not yet been interrupted. On the right, a third interrupt has been cast and the enemy is vulnerable.

On the left, both interrupt armor have been destroyed but the enemy has not yet been interrupted. On the right, a third interrupt has been cast and the enemy is vulnerable.

Dungeons and raids make interrupting a requirement, either because the boss abilities are devastating, or because you need the damage bonus to kill things before the enrage timer. Boss mobs and some strong or elite mobs in the world also add a twist to the interrupt mechanics: interrupt armor. Interrupt armor shows up as a shield with a number in it, to the right side of an enemy’s health bar. That is the number of interrupts that need to be applied before an actual interrupt can go through. For example, if an enemy has 2 interrupt armor that means you need a total of 3 interrupts to actually stop it from casting. The first 2 break the armor, and the last one  stops the cast. What this means in practice is that in group content, everyone usually brings at least one interrupt on their bars and will have to coordinate to break the interrupt armor.

The default nameplates are on the left. On the right I'm using the addon Optiplates, which can make tracking interrupt armor easier.

The default nameplates are on the left. On the right I’m using the addon Optiplates, which can make tracking interrupt armor easier.

A few more notes on interrupt armor. There’s a great addon called Interruptor that will show a small bar when an enemy is casting that indicates how many interrupt armor are remaining. It is very useful for group content when you’ll need to coordinate 3 or more interrupts. Also sometimes an enemy will have infinite interrupt armor. That means they can’t be interrupted at all. The number of interrupt armor can also change during a fight, and a good rule of thumb is if the number of interrupt armor suddenly gets a lot lower, it is probably a signal that you will need to interrupt something important soon!

Innate Abilities

My stalker's action bar, showing my expanded innate ability choices.

My stalker’s action bar, showing my expanded innate ability choices.

Each class has a special ability that is always available on their action bars (default “R”), their “innate” ability. These define the overall flavor and functionality of each class, and are important to maximizing your potential. When I first started my spellslinger, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with this ability and ignored it for several levels, all while struggling to kill things quickly enough. Don’t be like me! Read the tooltip of your innate ability and get in the habit of using it! Some general information for each class:

Spellslinger: Spell surge buffs the damage and healing of many of your abilities. It uses spell power to activate, and using surged abilities continues to deplete your spell power. Use it often, it is a big damage/healing boost!

Medic: Energize buffs shield healing. Using it replenishes your actuators and gives a situational bonus depending on your current health. Since the assault and support power buff is only given if you are above 30% health, be mindful of your health bar when you use this ability!

Stalker: You get your choice of 3 nano skins which give passive buffs. Activating any of them will activate your stealth mode. The lethal skin buffs your crit chance and damage done after exiting stealth. The evasive skin is your tanking skin, which gives defensive and threat buffs. The agile skin gives movement, dash, and lifesteal bonuses, and has a faster movement speed while stealthed.

Engineer: You get to choose between 2 combat modes for your innate. Provoke is your tank mode, which gives passive threat and defensive buffs. Activating it gives a defensive cooldown and a volatility boost. Eradicate mode is your damage mode. Activating it will give volatility regeneration and  do some extra aoe damage.

Warrior: You get your choice of 2 stances (select one by clicking the small arrow on top of your innate on the action bar). Juggernaut is your tank stance, which gives passive threat and defensive buffs. Activating it gives an additional defensive cooldown and threat boost. Onslaught is your dps stance. Activating it resets many of your cooldowns and increases your damage output.

Esper: You have a straightforward cooldown button. Spectral form gives you a defensive bonus (absorb shield  and interrupt armor) paired with boosted psi point generation.

The LAS

You might have heard people talking about this LAS thing, or seen an endgame class guide that mentioned it. But what is it? LAS stands for “Limited Action Set”, and it is shorthand to refer to your “build” (default “B” to open) or ability choices. WildStar limits you to 8 abilities at a time. Once you’ve learned more than that, you’ll have to start making choices about which ones to use and which to ignore. The game tries to give some guidance by splitting abilities into 3 categories, Assault (damage), Support (healing or tanking), and Utility (movement abilities, interrupts, buffs etc.).

My spellslinger's LAS. Mouseover the bars to see what bonuses you get for tier 4 and tier 8 for each ability.

My spellslinger’s LAS. Mouseover the bars to see what bonuses you get for tier 4 and tier 8 for each ability.

For questing, you are going to want to focus on mainly damaging abilities, with some utility sprinkled in. I like to keep at least one interrupt and one movement ability on my bars while out in the world. Depending on your play style you might want to throw a heal on your bars in addition to or instead of the movement ability.

You might have noticed that your abilities on your action bar are locked. You can assign them to different positions from the LAS menu. To remove an ability from your bar completely, click the small arrow just to the right of the ability’s icon on the list.

As you level, you gain ability  points that can be spent to increase the power of your abilities. This is what the rows next to each ability icon on the LAS menu are for. At low levels, it makes sense to assign points to the abilities you use the most or that give the biggest damage boost. Once you reach level 25 you can start spending extra ability points to unlock a special boost. These, indicated by the wider bars at tier 4 and tier 8, usually change the way the ability works in some way. Often they give some synergy with another ability, so be sure to read the tooltips so you get the most out of those bonuses!

AMPs

AMPs are WildStar’s answer to talent trees. Happily, the days where you needed to purchase or find individual AMP unlocks are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that means you have an awful lot of choices to think about while you’re still learning the game. AMPs are located on a secondary tab on the LAS menu (“B”).

My engineer's AMPs. You can see she's focused on assault abilities.

My engineer’s AMPs. You can see she’s focused on assault abilities, with some hybrid support.

Individual AMP choices are too class-specific to cover here, but there are some basic rules of thumb. The AMP wheel is divided into 6 parts. Three of them represent assault, support and utility, while the wedges in-betwen are, well, in-between (damage/support, damage/utility, support/utility). When you are starting out it is fairly safe to stick to the wedge that represents your main role to begin with. The utility wedge is where PvP-centric AMPs can be found.

You start adding AMP points from the innermost ring and work your way out, unlocking tiers 2 and 3 by spending points within that wedge. Tier 1 AMPs are just static boosts to specific stats, which cost 1 AMP point each. Tier 2 contains AMPs that start modifying your abilities or adding situational bonuses. These  cost 4 points each. Finally, tier 3 AMPs are either powerful boosts, or unlock abilities for your LAS. Abilities cost 2 points, the rest of the AMPs in tier 3 cost 6 points. Note that if you unlock an ability via AMPs you will need to confirm your AMP choices before you can add the ability to your action bar.

While you are leveling, you can choose AMPs that look interesting to you or give bonuses to abilities that you use frequently. Once you get close to level 50, I recommend checking the class forums and taking a look at some of the endgame builds that people post there. I like to have an idea of what those endgame builds look like even when I’m still low level. It lets me focus my build toward that goal, and get practice using the abilities I know I’ll be using at 50. Sometimes this can backfire though, since most of those builds are dependent on having lots of ability and AMP points to spend that you just don’t have access to before level 50.

Notice the cost of an amp reset. It keeps getting more pricy as you level. The tiny arrows circled in pink let you swap between action sets.

Notice the cost of an amp reset. It keeps getting more pricey as you level. The tiny arrows circled in pink let you swap between different saved action sets instead of buying a reset.

You can swap out abilities at any time, but to reset your AMPs once they are confirmed you will need to pay a fee that scales with your level. Luckily even at low levels you get multiple action sets, and at max level you can have up to 5. At the very least, you can keep one for PvE and one for PvP, or one for DPS and one for healing/tanking. The bottom of your LAS menu will show which set you are using, and there are small arrows to switch between available sets.

AMP and Ability Point Unlocks

You can have a total of 48 ability points and 57 AMP points, and you will not get your full amount of points simply by leveling to 50. As you play you may find items that give you additional AMP or ability points, use them! I know in particular some of these were added as path rewards. Keep an eye out for them, since they are the way you get points beyond the simple “one per level”. Once you are level 50 there are some additional ways to obtain these. AMP and ability points, as well as extra action sets can be bought from the elder gem vendor in your capital city. Points can also be earned by defeating veteran dungeons, participating in PvP, and by gaining reputation with the various end-game factions. Finally, these can sometimes randomly drop from level 50 enemies, and can be bought and sold on the commodities exchange. End-game builds assume you have all points unlocked, but this can take weeks or months of work. Don’t be ashamed to lay down some plat instead if you have it to spare and you want to speed up the process!

The Exile elder gem vendor in Spaceport Horizon, Thayd

The Exile elder gem vendor in Spaceport Horizon, Thayd

So you’re New to Nexus…

Many friends and acquaintances have been checking out WildStar now that it is free. Some are returning after a long break, others are here for the first time. All of them have questions, because WildStar is an established, complex MMO and not everything is presented clearly in-game. Many of the guides that I rely on are more focused on end-game, or are adapted from a time when Moxie was a stat (nostalgic sigh). So I figure I’ll take a stab at a super simple introduction here. The goal is adding guidance to supplement what the game tells you, rather than explaining everything from scratch. If I’ve left out something important or if you have more questions let me know in the comments and I’ll try to clear things up!

This installment will cover the basics you might want to know in your first play session, like: What is a path? How do telegraphs work? and How do I claim my login rewards?

Time for a brand new you!

Time for a brand new you!

Character Creation

Not all races can be every class. Make sure to look at each to see what your options are. Your choices are displayed under the race name. The tiny symbols can be confusing, so click on the different races if you want to see your options more clearly. Race doesn’t give any in-game advantages, just flavor. Every class has both a damage-dealing and support role. No class can both tank and heal. Check out the class descriptions if it is important that you have the option to play a specific support role.

If you can't tell if those tiny class symbols are lit or not you are not alone.

If you can’t tell if those tiny class symbols are lit or not you are not alone.

Paths are a secondary means of advancement, pick one that appeals to the kinds of things you enjoy in-game. None of their abilities will directly affect combat, but they can impact your general play experience. Scientist and settler have abilities that are particularly useful for group content (summons and repair bots), but all of the paths are fun and have cosmetic rewards. I prefer explorer myself!

Choose the one the seems the most fun for your playstyle.

Choose the one the seems the most fun for your playstyle.

If you experience a long login queue, consider transferring to or creating a character on Entity-2 or Jabbit-2. These new servers have short or no queue times and seem less laggy as well. Keep in mind you will still be able to communicate with your account-level friends on other servers, but will not be able to group with them. These servers will eventually be merged back with their originals and you’ll be able to keep your name and all your progress.

I recommend choosing the “Novice” option at character creation, even if you’re not new to MMOs. It will only add a few extra minutes of play time but should help you get acquainted with the controls and combat. You will also get to experience everything from the other two options by choosing this route.

Basic Gameplay

WildStar has a fast-paced action combat system that may take some adjustment if you’re coming from other MMOs. Most abilities are telegraphed rather than targeted. If you mouseover an ability on your action bar you can see an outline of its telegraph. “Melee” classes like stalker have more small, boxy telegraphs, while ranged classes like spellslinger have more long, narrow ones. Almost all abilities in WildStar can be used while moving, but jumping will usually interrupt your cast. The low level zones are a great place to practice aiming your telegraphs while also moving to avoid enemies’ red ones.

Check out my blue telegraph and the enemy's red one. I need to move!

Check out my blue telegraph and the enemy’s red one. I need to move out of the bad!

Some keybinds are slightly different from other MMOs. Your character screen is accessed by “P”, and inventory is “I”. The “C” key will answer calls from your datachron. You can re-bind these (and many others) from the keybinds menu if they feel unintuitive enough to bother you.

Your quest tracker is on the right side of the screen, and is set to prioritize quests close to you by default. It splits quests by category, and you can hide any category you like if you want to minimize clutter. I try to prioritize world and zone story quests because I enjoy the overall lore of the game! Clicking on the name of any quest on the tracker will display an arrow on the screen pointing you toward the nearest objective and displaying a distance. Right-clicking on a quest in your tracker will give you more options, like viewing the full quest text in your log, or hiding it from the tracker.

The “F” key will allow you to interact with most items in the world, while the “V” key will vacuum up your loot from the surrounding area. Some quests require you to use a special item or ability. For normal quests, the default key for this is “T”, while for path quests it is usually “G”. Some of this definitely got lost in the streamlined introduction zone, but when in doubt look at your quest tracker. Quests that use this will have a small box showing the ability and a tiny letter to tell you which key to press.

Challenge Begins!

Challenge Begins!

Challenges also appear in your quest tracker once you’ve discovered them. These are like optional, timed quests that are usually tied to a specific location. Starting one will give a “Challenge Begins!” voiceover and a meter at the top of your screen will track your progress. Completing a challenge at any rank will earn you some challenge points, going the extra mile for gold or silver will net you extra points. Successful completion will result in a green button at the top of your screen which displays how many points you earned. Clicking this, or opening the challenge tab on the quest log (default “L”) will show a bar with large rewards at the end and smaller rewards at intervals along the way. You can choose your rewards or see your options by clicking on any of the little treasure chests, or clicking the green arrow next to the gold chest to show an extra reward window. Make sure to check your challenge log often since the points will reset and you can start filling the bar again once you earn the highest rewards! Challenges can be repeated once every 30 minutes. Clicking the gear next to the challenge name on your quest tracker will let you restart one you’ve done before.

Possible rewards depend on what zone you do the challenge in.

Possible rewards depend on what zone you do the challenge in.

Movement

A great quality of life addition that came with F2P is perma-sprint. Out of combat you will always move at your fastest possible speed. In combat, pressing “SHIFT” will give you a shorter burst of speed, measured by a small vertical bar that will appear to the left of your character. The other important movement ability in combat is dash. Double tap any movement key (WASD or the arrow keys) to dash in that direction. You get 2 dash charges that slowly refill over a few seconds. You can use dash to quickly move out of a large enemy telegraph, and it will also let you recover more quickly from a knockdown.

Returning players may have some mounts or hoverboards waiting in their account inventory. You can start using these right away. If you don’t have these options you can buy provisional mount licenses, which allow you to summon a temporary mount to get around the early zones faster. As you level, there are vendors in the capital cities that will let you upgrade your ride speed or purchase new mounts. You can also purchase the fastest speed via the in-game shop. Speaking of which…

In-game Shop and Account Inventory

The shop is full of everything you’d expect from a F2P cash shop. There are costumes, mounts, dyes and pets galore. What you might not know is that every single item except for Madam Fay’s gambling tokens can be bought without real money. Omnibits are earned randomly through in-game activities and can be used as alternate store currency. There is a soft cap of 120 omnibits per week, after which their drop rate decreases from about 1 every 10 minutes or so to ~1 every hour or two of play time. These are those bright pink flashy loot drops you get once in a while. Omnibits are shared across your account and you can see your total at the top of the store interface.  For a detailed look at all your in-game currency you can click on the gear icon in the upper right of your inventory. Clicking on a currency here will display it on your main inventory screen right above your gold total.

This thing is loaded with fun cosmetic goodies.

This thing is loaded with fun cosmetic goodies.

When and if you make a purchase in the store, pay attention to whether it is applicable to your whole account or just a single character. You can get more bang for your buck if you stick to account-wide unlocks. Note that costumes often can only be claimed by one character, but once you add them to your holo-wardrobe all of your characters will have access!

Note how the Nexus Survival Kit is single-claim while the rest are multi-claim

Note how the Nexus Survival Kit is single-claim while the rest are multi-claim

Your account inventory can be reached either through a tiny button on the lower left portion of your screen, or through the “claim items” button at the top of the store menu. This is also where you claim your daily login rewards. Some in-game store purchases can be gifted to your friends. When you open your account inventory they will be displayed on the left side and you can choose to gift them or bind them to your account. Items on the right side are yours and can be claimed by any character. The small symbols to the right of the items tell you whether they can be claimed on all your characters (3-person icon) or only once (1-person icon). Make sure you’re on the right character before claiming any single-use items! Once you claim something from your account inventory, it will show up in your normal inventory and you can use it as you see fit!

More to come!

Phew there’s a lot to talk about! The next installment will look more closely at combat, and class abilities. Stay tuned!

Expedition Buddy!

Drop 6 renamed Shiphands to Expeditions. I figure this is a good time to pull all my guides together and remind you that shiphands expeditions are awesome and fun and still one of my favorite things in WildStar!

Introduction and Wrap-Up with useful general information.

Fragment Zero

Outpost M-13

Infestation

Rage Logic

Space Madness

Deep Space Exploration

The Gauntlet

More expeditions are in the works, and I’ll be adding new guides when they are released.

More to come!

Definitely not the end! There’s more to come!

 

 

 

Ups and Downs

This first week of Free-to-Play has certainly had its highs and lows.

This was relatively mild for Entity

This was relatively mild for Entity

On the one hand, it makes me positively giddy that there are so many people who want to play WildStar. On the other hand, all that interest has translated into some major problems for WildStar’s megaservers. After struggling for days with lag and queues on my main server, I finally gave up and rolled an alt on Entity-2.

It is worth making the switch

It is worth making the switch

Entity-2 has been a pleasant surprise. It feels a bit like the game shortly before the F2P launch – there’s always people around but nowhere near the mob on Entity. One big difference from that time is that the low-level zones are bustling again now. There always seem to be people looking for groups to kill bounty board targets and the like. Dungeon and PvP queues are cross-server, and even as a DPS I’ve had really short (~5-10 min tops) queue times.

If you are new to WildStar or coming back as a free player without a lot of social ties I would strongly encourage you to choose Entity-2 or Jabbit-2. The play experience is much better there for now. If you have friends you want to keep in touch with you can always “account friend” them and you should still be able to chat. For veteran players, if the crowds are getting you down I would encourage you to transfer or roll an alt on the new servers as well. As a bonus, making some alts there will let you keep a few extra character slots when the servers get merged again!

It is hard to believe we’re only one week into this Drop. The congestion-based issues seem to be improving a bit every day, so hopefully soon they’ll be nothing but memory. With a little luck the revitalized crowds will still be around to see the game in its best light.