The future of free-to-play WildStar is a bright one

Why now is the perfect time to return to planet Nexus

One of the things about WildStar when it first launched was its difficulty. It harkened back to the days of Vanilla Wow with 40-man Raids. Those are gone, and they are now 20-man. Dungeons have also been tweaked to retain the challenge, but to not be so difficult and demanding early on.

“What we saw was that a lot of people jumped into the dungeons once they got to the correct level range, but what was happening was not a huge percentage of those people were actually succeeding in the early dungeons. So you saw this massive drop off in this engagement,” Moore explained.

So what they did was create a level 10 training dungeon to teach players the most basic mechanics needed to be successful in WildStar’s other dungeons. They also tweaked the challenge level in early dungeons. All of the bosses and mechanics are the same, but they’ve been dialed down a bit to instill some confidence in players early on.

This is just one example of how Carbine has spent the past year tweaking systems in the game to make them more accessible and enjoyable. "The game today is just far and away a better game than when we launched," Moore said. "A lot of the problems that we had from a design standpoint, we’ve spent the last year solving those problems, making our systems more accessible."

"So much of our time over the past year has been suring up the core of what WildStar was when we launched," he continued. "Now that we’re getting to the end of that, we’ve begun to look more towards the future."

Going free-to-play also doesn’t mean the end of new content. It’s the exact opposite for Carbine, actually, as Moore assured me they are “super committed to continuing to give our players a AAA MMO experience.” Obviously that involves new content, and some of that comes in the form of special events, like the recent Shade’s Eve Halloween event. Looking ahead, there’s also a winter event planned, but that’s not all.

WildStar Omnicore

We asked about the possibility of new races or classes. "Those sort of things have come up," Moore told me. "Things like ‘where are we going, will we be going to other planets?’ Some of these really cool exciting questions that you get to ask when you have a sci-fi MMO, I think everyone out there should know those are things we’re already thinking about and looking forward to be able to share now that we’re past the transition."

There's also the next chapter in the Nexus saga on the way. For those unfamiliar, this is basically the episodic story that takes place after you get to the end of progression.

The first chapter, Journey Into OMNICore-1 released earlier this year, and Carbine has every intention of continuing it. “Now that you understand what the true danger on planet Nexus is, the Nexus saga is all about your job as the hero resolving that problem.”

As previously revealed, Chapter 2 will be called “Vault of the Archon” and will be coming up “at some point.” Beyond that, Moore assured there’s a “ton of stuff” Carbine is currently working on right now that will lead us into 2016 and beyond.

If you enjoyed WildStar when it first launched, it's still the same great game now as it was then — better even with all of the tweaks Carbine has made over the past year. If you're an MMO fan who hasn't yet played it, there's no better time than now to jump in and get your ass to the Nexus.

When WildStar released all the way back in 2014, we immediately fell in love with it. The sci-fi setting, the charming characters, challenging combat, and the unique take on the MMO genre — it was pretty amazing. But as we’ve seen in the past, the MMO subscription model is dead — or dying. And WildStar, like so many others before it, felt the pinch. But, where others have failed, WildStar has succeeded in successfully transitioning to a more friendly free-to-play model. As of September of this year, WildStar went entirely free-to-play, removing any sort of barrier to entry and opening up its expansive universe to millions of gamers. And now, more than a month later, it’s clear this is the perfect time to return to planet Nexus.

Regardless of how many MMOs out there now embrace the free-to-play model, there’s always the fear that it translates into pay-to-win. WildStar does not fall victim to that. MMOs never really end, but it’s possible to progress to the level cap without spending a cent, and things you can purchase with NCoin are limited to cosmetic items, like costumes, mounts, dyes, etc. From a gameplay standpoint, everything that made WildStar so great at launch is still there and you’re not held back by any free-to-play restrictions.

Of course, WildStar still needs money to operate, and Carbine will be rewarding you, even if you spent money with them in the past. The “Cosmic Rewards Program” provides rewards to players who have either in the past spent money on WildStar or are currently spending money in the game.

WildStar cosmetic items

For those who previously played, Carbine has kept track of your information, and when you boot up the free-to-play version, you’ll immediately see that you’ve accrued some percentage of “Cosmic Points,” which can be spent on unique items created just for that system. Again, these are purely cosmetic. The system continues to monitor your purchases, so if you buy anything from the in-game store, you’ll still earn Cosmic Points.

CREDD, formally WildStar’s unique business model, still exists, but now gives you a month of “Signature Service.” This is basically a continuation of the sub, giving you extra bonuses, increased drop rates for loot, reputation increaes, and XP bonuses. If you redeem CREDD for a month of Signature Service, you’ll also get Cosmic Points. What’s cool about this is you don’t actually have to spend any real money to gain access to the Cosmic Rewards Program.

“We’ve tried as much as we can with how we are approaching the free-to-play model to reward not just players who are spending money, but players who are spending their time,” explained creative director Chad Moore. “Free players are getting access to the same kind of rewards as players who actually spend money.”