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The Nexus Telegraph: Stuff the endgame needs in WildStar

Eliot Lefebvre

I'm going to go ahead and totally dispense with any vagueness here because we already know that WildStar will have a raiding endgame and a PvP endgame. That's great, that's valuable, that's absolutely nothing. That's exactly what lots of games launch with. It's what lots of games consider their bread and butter.

It's also not going to cut it. If WildStar sells itself on providing the exact same endgame that we've seen in every other game ever, I'm hesitant to say "it will fail," but it sure as heck won't be dazzling anyone three months out from release.

You can't make a game with the selling point of "play however you like" and then surreptitiously add "except when you get to endgame, and then you'd better raid, buddy." With that in mind, let's talk about what the game needs in terms of endgames that we don't see on a regular basis.

Oh, you don't want to get together with a dozen near-strangers and slam your head against progression content every week?  Sorry, I've got nothing for you.A small dungeon endgame

One of the reasons I really enjoy Final Fantasy XIV is that you can happily spend most of your time at endgame in four-person dungeons. I love small-group content. It places higher emphasis on the individual, it's quick, it's satisfying, and it's exactly what I like to run in an MMO for group content. And I find it astonishing that this is one of the few games wherein there's a serious ability to get a whole bunch of really great stuff just by doing small-group content.

This is something that deserves, nay, needs to be in WildStar. There are people who have small groups of friends to play with that genuinely prefer small-group style content, and there are people who just prefer it as an overall endgame model. There's a selection of level-agnostic instanced content that's going to be in the game as it stands -- that should be available as a legitimate method of progressing in the game, not just a filler bit while you wait for the raid.

There are lots of ways to go about this. Make all the gear dependent on currency instead of drops; raiding and dungeons could just award currency toward these more powerful items. Or have a different set of items that rewards small-group play over larger groups, like set bonuses that only activate when you're with four people. If you build it, people will play it and enjoy it.

A solo endgame

Any time you mention soloing in MMOs, some bright spark invariably pipes up with, "But it's an MMO! You're supposed to be playing with others!" But there are lots of ways to play with other people. Maybe you're more into roleplaying, maybe you like solo challenges, maybe you want to have a non-group option for play, maybe you're between raid groups, or maybe anything in the world. People like to play solo sometimes, for many different reasons, and they deserve an option for progression.

We've been promised many times that this will be a thing and that the game will have regular story updates, but we haven't actually been told anything beyond that. We haven't been shown what things you can do solo other than questing and housing. And if that's it, fine, but we need to be shown that there are compelling reasons to take part in these activities. We, as potential players, need to be shown that players who are playing solo are considered real, legitimate players and not just people to be properly funneled into the raiding mechanism.

Everyone stand back!  We're going to BUILD our way out of this one!A crafting endgame

Yes, there needs to be a crafting endgame, too, and not just in the sense of "make consumables for people doing other things." If you want to step out and just craft, that should be encouraged.

There's a consistent emphasis on the idea that crafting is a side activity, a distraction from the main game, and that winds up shortchanging people who enjoy crafting. If you like to craft, you should have plenty of opportunity and reason to craft. You should be able to kick back and specialize, providing some really useful custom-made goods that people can seek out. There should be a space for the dedicated crafters.

Part of that means that you should have the ability to keep pace with the power of all the other endgames. But this also means that you should be able to craft with specialization in mind, with depth and personal preference. A crafter should be free to be a crafter. No, the game is never going to offer crafting in the same way that Final Fantasy XIV does (where you can completely abandon non-crafting professions by about level 15), but it can still make building items a legitimate endgame choice.

A horizontal endgame

Admittedly, this one is not exactly an endgame progress option like the others. Horizontal progression can be everywhere in a game. It extends through every level of gameplay, placing a focus on doing different things rather than doing the same things at higher power. But it's also something that far too many games have forgotten as they launch.

You know what the biggest failing of Star Wars: The Old Republic was, in my mind? It wasn't the amount of raid content it launched with; it was that it launched with the exact same endgame every other themepark has. Start punching, finish up with this tier, work up to higher-power punching festivals. Rinse and repeat. You can do this literally anywhere, but don't you want to do so here?

WildStar keeps selling itself on the strength of letting you play how you want, and part of that means having an endgame option for everyone. While you can't necessarily offer everyone's ideal endgame, you can at least make a serious effort to not just offer the same vertical chain of progression that shows up everywhere.

Those options, to me, are a lot more interesting than hearing about more raiding stuff over again. I have games that give me that choice. Give me some new choices, not the same ones with different mechanics.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to Next week, let's talk about release dates, NDAs, and whether or not people have been unable to talk for too long.

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.

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