As it stands right now, we've had about a month to get used to the Strain drop, and I imagine we'll be seeing Daggerstone pass on live sooner rather than later. (With my luck, tomorrow.) So let's talk a little about the last patch, the upcoming patch, and what we can see about how Carbine Studios handles its patches overall.
Oh, and dropping bombs on your teammates. I'm sure that'll factor into this discussion at some point.
First patch: Dailies, story, etc.
So I was wrong in my speculation about the Northern Wilds and Blighthaven. Turns out the former is another place to hit for dailies and reputations, and the latter is the more story-oriented go-through-and-you're-done. It's also the place to hunt that orange dye I so desperately want because I'm at my happiest when I can deck my characters out in a nice eye-searing orange shade. Possibly with purple accents.
Oh yeah. You heard.
Because of other projects and my need to level the pile of alts I have in WildStar, I haven't yet fully cleared the Blighthaven story, but it's engaging enough. It's got all the comedy and drama that I would want, coupling the unsettling nature of the region with some bits of laugh-out-loud humor (the Globellum quests went back and forth between being painfully hilarious and disturbing). It's rather obvious that this was functionally a zone that was supposed to have been in for launch but wasn't quite ready for prime time, but seeing as how it was released before most people had even hit 50, I'm not going to split hairs.
The practice of re-using old starting areas as reputation zones is clever enough to merit praise. It gives you something to do there if you'd never seen them for some reason and ensures that the assets don't just waste away. Efficiency reigns. As for Blighthaven, I'm eager to have the next 50 zone not be covered in more Strain doodads; the region doesn't feel all that distinct from the rest of Grimvault, probably because it's wrapping up what Grimvault started.
But good stuff, all around. I am happy that the Elder Gems make leveling/quest zones still feel relevant even at the level cap. In Final Fantasy XIV I'm always slightly sad about all of the experience being lost as I clear quests with my 50 classes, but here it still has a benefit.
Second patch: New battleground and... well, stuff
The centerpiece of the second patch is Daggerstone Pass, which I have noted is basically identical to a Star Wars: The Old Republic battlezone. This isn't an insult, as I quite liked that map, and I'm glad to see the selection be expanded beyond two maps, one of which I've grown to dislike quite a bit. It's not exactly novel, but I like it.
Aside from that, we've got a smattering of bug fixes, several balance tweaks, and little things here and there, but no game-changers. The addition is really just a new battleground, and everything else feels more like a tuneup than a full patch.
Obviously, that battleground is important for the people who live and breathe PvP. But there's not a whole lot in here for anyone else. Then again, of course I'm biased; I enjoy PvP as a vacation destination, but it's not something I would call my bread and butter. By contrast, someone who really worries about PvP ranking beyond what it means for getting pretty, pretty cosmetic gear no doubt found the last patch to be devoid of anything interesting outside of the occasional chance to snipe at the other faction in the Northern Wilds.
It's also clearly a zone that wasn't quite ready for launch but needed a wee bit more polishing, but I'm not going to complain about pulling half-finished ideas out of mothballs and bringing them into the live game. (I still kind of want Azshara Crater.) And hey, it tells us quite a bit about what we can expect to see in patches a year from now.
No, I don't think that patches next year will be featuring elements that almost but not quite made it into launch. I fully expect we'll be planning for an expansion that includes playable Ikthians, but that's a different discussion.
What we have seen is Carbine's overall patch philosophy thus far, and as with most things it's the polar opposite of the other game that's getting the majority of my time these days. Rather than big patches that are laden with new stuff to do, WildStar's patches are going with being small and quick, thus far launching about once per month. Thankfully, no one has actually promised "a patch every month" because the surest way to miss targets like that is to declare them.
The downside is that if you prefer a style of play that hasn't been addressed in these patches, you're not getting a whole lot; the upside is that you won't be waiting long for the next one. And the first two foci make sense. PvP has been subsisting on a limited map diet for a while, so adding in some new options is well-advised.
I imagine that the next patch will involve adventure/dungeon/small-group stuff, with the patch after that either touching on raids or featuring more solo/reputation stuff. (That depends on how many people are actually working through the raiding side of the game, which I suspect is still a vanishingly small number.) The overall philosophy of rapidly switching from one part to the next, in short, works out well. If you've gotten tired of the last patch's content and this month doesn't excite you... odds are next month will.
Time will tell how well that holds up in the future, but it's a promising start.
As always, feedback is welcome down below or by email -- however you'd like to do it. I'm not picky. Next time around, I've got several topics I want to talk about, starting with what the game does very right and where it could use some improvement (which might be coming soon anyway).
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 other Monday, 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.