Wildstar Changes the Game for 2015

By Brandy,
In all, 2014 was not a great year for Wildstar. The reasons are too numerous to explain shortly. But it is no secret that the most anticipated MMO of recent memory has struggled to find its footing following release.

To start 2015 in style, though, developer Carbine recently laid out its plans for Wildstar for the coming year. They can almost be read as a second launch of the game, and it will certainly be radically different by this time next year.

Leveling Less of a Chore.
The upcoming Drop 4 will be streamlining leveling flow. On live, once players pass the Level 35 mark, many quests demand absurd amounts of kills which feel like a test of patience more than skill. Cutting kill counts would be a welcome change. There are also some lingering issues with quest flow, forcing lots of player backtrack on questing circuits, leaving a bad first impression. Drop 4 promises to correct many of those flaws, which should make the overall pace of the game more palatable.

But the declaration that Level 14 (the level which unlocks housing) is a major roadblock to casual players is almost a paradigm shift in Carbine's design philosophy, which emphasized endgame pre-launch. This can be considered hand in hand with the next point.

Casual Content a New Emphasis.
In addition to improving the leveling flow, the LFG tool in Wildstar is getting an overhaul. It will soon include the Shiphand missions, which are the "bottom" tier of Wildstar's four-tiered PvE content, the others being the Adventures, Dungeons, and Raids. Veteran level 50 versions of the Shiphands will make them relevant to players with only a few minutes to kill.

Currently, one of Wildstar's big weaknesses is that it is punishing to players who only have time for a short play session, say thirty minutes to an hour. Allowing those players to queue up for a shiphand or dungeon will hopefully make the short time feel rewarding in its own way. This comes on the heels of the recently fixed PvP queue system, which has finally adapted to allow players fresh to 50 entry instead of barring them for their gearscore.

Perhaps most surprising is the abandoning of the 40-man raid tier. Datascape, the only raid to hold the distinction so far, will be scaled back to a standard-size 20-man. Group content on the whole will be more accessible with the introduction of "training dungeons" to help those used to tab targeting adapt to Wildstar's unique (and challenging) dungeon content.

Even More Sandbox
There are also hints at a new "Contracts" feature. How this differs from dailies or the current casual content remains unclear, and its announcement will certainly turn some heads.

And while the new "barbershop" equivalent is being added in Drop 4, Carbine hints they will expand its features to further character customization.

In short, 2015 seems like it will deliver that Wildstar promise, "play the way you want to play,"

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