The Nexus Telegraph: Dissecting WildStar's surprise patch notes

Broadcasting high-fidelity surprises straight into your brain.
After I penned my last installment of The Nexus Telegraph, two things happened in very quick succession. The first is that a set of beta patch notes for WildStar were leaked to the internet by some unscrupulous individual, which prompted me and many other players to immediately shout that we wouldn't have leaked the notes if we had been selected. And there's an entire article to be written about why such an action isn't cool, how it harms the game, and why the persion responsible is a particularly toxic form of "fan."

But then the second thing happened. The powers that be over at Carbine Studios, being infinitely cool themselves, decided to save people the trouble of deciding whether or not to look at the leaks. They posted the notes themselves, which means that I can now read the notes and actually write a column about them.

Of course, as with any patch notes, we've been given an incomplete picture and can make only a few haphazard guesses about how the game will look. We also know that this is not even close to the final state of the game. But there's still interesting stuff here worth analyzing and speculating about.

I want to hold the beta in my arms.  Like a cat.First of all, let's note that the patch notes make it clear that there is a crafting minigame of some sort; there's too much there about trimming up the UI and making results clearer to indicate otherwise. This is something I had hoped for without expecting; those who read my weekly column on Final Fantasy XIV know that I love minigame crafting far more than the alternative. Since there's some sort of feedback on hot and cold, it looks like the minigame will be less about filling a bar and more about balancing between two different variables over time, possibly a pull between structure and quality?

Let us also note that there is a costume toggle. Which means that there are costumes. Which is all good.

Another interesting element to note is that Milestones (which seem to be related to the game's specializations, naturally) are not unique to classes. Both Espers and Spellslingers have access to Recovery Specialist, and while it might be a different talent under the same name for both, why in the world would you do that? For that matter, how would you make the same changes to both versions? It may be a mixture of shared and unique abilities depending on class, which is likely as close as we'll get to my earlier speculation about role abilities that are independent of class.

The game does now apparently have auto-attacks, though those look to be strictly worse than any of your active abilities. I'm not sure how this will play in practice compared to the version I handled at PAX East.

We're also seeing more clarification on the game's stats -- we know, for example, that Warriors who head down the tanking path will want to use Technology to increase their Support Power as necessary. This is both good and bad. It makes it easy to tell which sort of stats are most useful to you, but it also sort of gives the lie to previous statements that the game completely avoids stat piping. At the same time, we don't know how important Strength will still be for a tank; there are variables, but there's less variation than we were led to speculate upon.

Settlers clearly got some love in this patch, and it's clear that Settlers are not limited to finding various spots to plop down structures. It's also clear that Settlers will be able to make use of turrets in combat, which sounds unbelievably awesome. A clearer picture of how the path plays would be great, but they're starting to take shape.

Please take note that there's an oblique reference to Work Order quests. Crafting-related quests were my favorite part of RIFT and are a joy to behold whenever they exist. It sounds like there's quite a lot for players to do even just as crafters, although I wonder how much progression can be handled solely through crafting. Perhaps as a Scientist it works out well... more data are needed.

For all we know these guys are the incessant nuisance of the zones.Guilds are apparently named "circles" in WildStar, which is of course never going to be used by anyone not employed by Carbine Studios. I'm not totally certain of why companies do this, as it reeks of the terrible habit tabletop companies have of renaming everything no matter how obvious or standard. The stat is called Strength in game to game; we might as well just call guilds what they are in every game. [Ed.: Since this column was originally published, NCsoft let us know that guilds will indeed be called guilds and that Carbine has a different plan in mind for circles.]

Rest experience has been added, but the question now is whether that rest experience rate is limited somewhere. We know that rested bonuses are meant to be a big advantage to housing, but earning quintuple the amount could mean less if you quickly hit the limit. I know that I have several characters across various games who have never seen the non-rested experience state, and that's without any rate improvements.

There are a lot of tantalizing tidbits here that we sadly lack quite enough context to properly evaluate. For example, we know that leveling progress has been slowed, but how much? Is it meant to slow players down to the point that they need to do half of the content in a given area to advance to the next one? A quarter of the content? All of the content? (I tend to doubt that one, but let's be honest.) We don't know.

Having 40 active quests is great, though. I pile on quests like bacon.

Feedback, your own speculation, and a variety of other comments may be sent along to eliot@massively.com or left in the comment field down below, as you will. Next week, since I promised it earlier, I want to talk about why the game has an NDA in place and why we shouldn't be looking forward to leaks and breaches.

Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.
This article was originally published on Massively.