Sarcan’s WildStar Preview

Beyond the Walls of the Thayd

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON on February 19, 2014

Winter Beta Patch Three has come to WildStar and with it, many significant changes to the game for Beta players. The ability to level to 50 now has to be at the top of the list for most. However the adjustment to the Press NDA has only been to allow coverage for content from level 16-29. So let’s take our first look beyond the City of Thayd and see what is in store for us as we continue our adventures on Nexus.  It is striking, as we gaze out past the safety of the walls to see a war torn landscape calledGaleras. It is tragic to see such a beautiful area, with great flowing white flowers and herds of beast grazing in such a state. Dominion has established battle lines right at our door step, reminding us just how tenuous our hold on our new home really is.  Let me set the tone…

With a deep sigh, we look upon the Exile refuge, the City of Thayd, nestled inside the ruins of what appears to be an Eldan fortification. The City is not a sprawling affair by any means, wedged in between broken pieces of walls, inside tunnels and high up on towers. After the extreme events that have transpired since leaving the Arkship, all Exiles look forward to the relative safety the walls offer. However, as you wonder the city you soon realize that there is much gone wrong. All you have to do is listen to the sound of war just outside the walls and see the signs of hunger within. After completing a tour of Thayd, you are asked to meet with the soldiers outside the gates to address the strife that is affecting your new home. You learn of the continuing war, the poisoning of your food sources and so much more. It is time for you to head out and do what you can for your fellow citizens.

Galeras is broad expanse of a zone that gives you the feel of the wind that is constantly blowing the grass and the flowers. There are windmills on almost every hill top. Centered on the 14-22 level progression, it’s here that the conflict between the Exiles and Dominion begins to take its true shape, and the player can see that there’s a real struggle between the two to conquer Nexus and gain a seat of power. Great War machines are constantly on the move or are lying in various states of destruction.

You start off taking down the Dommie (the Exile pet name for their enemies) spider drones and bots as an introduction to the conflict. You will also be asked to clear out some contaminated roan to the south and enticed into the Sim Core, but be careful here as this leads to your first Adventure (see Gareth’s preview of this feature from yesterday). Be sure you are ready for it by bringing some friends. So many different avenues are available to you and you have barely stepped outside the ragged city walls.

You can really start to feel the complexity of combat as you journey through Galeras. The mobs are getting tougher. They move a lot more than we have seen in the past, sometimes even dive bombing you from above. The mob telegraphs are more complex, keeping you on your toes with their ever changing geometric patterns that having trying to figure out if you need to zig or zag. But on top of all that, we are also start to see interesting environmental telegraphs that we have to dodge while also completing missions in the area. Start worrying about being attacked while dodging chemical leaks like we see here at Nibben’s Ranch.

Galeras is also home to the first opportunity to experience a dungeon. Stormtalon’s Lair lies in a windswept and desolate valley at the southern end of the zone. This area is known as the Thundercall Village and is full of creatures that our out to harness the power or are made of the wind. Within this dungeon is Stormtalon, a supreme wind creature who is worshipped as the corrupted God and rules the creatures in the area.

Galeras is a zone full of wonders to see and experience. It should be noted that unlike previous areas, this is no walk in the park. Just getting around could mean a long walk to discover the path to the top of the ruins using the ramps or finds in the slopes that will lead you to cliff side encampment. One wrong step could send you sailing down the embankments to your death. And when you finally lay eyes upon what causes all the wind in Galeras, it will take your breath away… it truly is that epic.

Heading south through a snowy mountain pass brings us to Whitevale. Opening the map we can see that this is the largest area we have encountered to this point. Thinking back to the relative size of all the previous zones, this is easily double the size of them. Interesting to think that this massive area is only designed to house your level 22-30 adventures.

The reason for this is the fact that this is our first truly contested area with Dominion, who also have firm footholds somewhere out there in this area. All previous zones you had the opportunity to see the enemy if they made the trip. Not so in Whitevale: you are pretty much guaranteed to see the other faction out questing in the same areas you are traveling. So watch your back if you are flagged for PVP as it could get dicey (and if you’re on a PVP server, you expect as much).

Whitevale, as the name implies, is a snowy covered area with its very beautiful yet imposing trees reaching for the sky. Traveling through the gentle rolling hills and rivers encased in ice is almost tranquil, especially when it starts snowing. It has a sense of the untamed wilds, a place to stake a claim if only you can survive the harsh environment. So you set out with the idea of it is just you against nature… that is until you notice the giant robot remains scatter around the area and Freebot communities either vying for your assistance or trying to kill you. Continuing on you will discover numerous outposts; places where intrepid adventures before you have attempted to scratch out a living who will need your assistance, so go forth and be the hero.

Whitevale is chock full of Eldan tech, and a smorgasbord of the nastiest baddies on Nexus that want a taste of the sweet, sweet goodness that is you. As a spread out zone, the mob density is much lighter than seen in the past, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Be careful of the local wildlife and of course the temperature as you don’t want to end up like these guys:

As you proceed farther to the southwest, we start to see the ice melting and vibrant life peeking through the snow. Protostar has gone through great pains to establish numerous bases in the area. Some have been successful while others are in need of your assistance to reclaim them for rogue robots, bandits and various species that deem all the technology laying around as theirs. Much of the zone is sprawling areas dominated with a theme. Your adventure is to explore that theme, learn about it and help or hinder as required. Whether it toxic Chua experiments to the Southeast or Squirg Zombies overrunning a Dominion Outpost, you are sure to find plenty to do.

Need a break from all the endless carnage, want a bit of humor in your day? Look no further than one of the many Lopp villages that are around and help them with their treasure hunting antics to get your chuckles on. You may also find the boat tied up at the dock that will take you to Skullcano, the next dungeon that you can tackle if you dare. Keep in mind that it is aimed for parties of a bit higher level than we are currently. But knowing where it is at and uncovering it on the map will let you queue up for it if your within level range in the future. You can also enter directly from the dock with a party of friends at any time (the level requirements will let you in earlier than the queue system).

Want to explore the hostile base camps that the Dominion are establishing? Well just head way over to the Northwest and take a look at Palerock. This well-established military base is sure to get your blood pumping. You will perform some quests in this area but be careful of going in to far as there may be guards that can kill you very quickly. And if that wasn’t enough, just across the lake they have built Deadrock Prison, a fortified area for stashing prisoners of war. You best get up your courage and get in there and rescue your fellow Exiles.

With both of the newest zones uncovered for media, it is refreshing to see there is enough guided structure in the storyline quests to keep you heading in a general direction but not so restrictive as to stifle the freedom of exploration, side missions and just random fun that can be found. This is becoming easier and easier with the progressive increase in the size of the zones. While you have tutorials that pop up occasionally as you continue your journey, they are not overdone. The natural progression of events, story, systems and character development has been paced very well.

WildStar is really shaping up to be all that Carbine Studios has promised it to be. Their so many options in each area to provide hours of entertainment just looking around at all the wonders and listening to all the music. Never mind the amount of stories, quests, and challenges that are also there. The farther we progress into the world of Nexus, the more we are aware of the Eldan and how they have affected not just the world you are on but also you, the hero. How they have manipulated and control the weather, the life that inhabits the planet… and we are still just scratching the surface at this point. While many may rush through to achieve level 50 and the Elder Game, I can say that after looking at the two new zones, I will be stopping to smell the proverbial roses. The scope and breadth of the detail is impressive. Let us know what you think as you make your own journey through Galeras and Whitevale.