June 3rd, a most auspicious date
So June 3rd isn't quite the "three months" that I had predicted in relation to other launches. But it does position the game in the same general ballpark, and it gives space for a month or so of refinement post-launch before that three-month "done with The Elder Scrolls Online" crowd crops up. If you'd like, imagine a boilerplate statement here about how the games may or may not share a vast audience overlap and so forth -- you all know the drill.
I'm actually very curious to see what effect, if any, this will have on World of Warcraft. Those of you who don't follow the game closely may or may not realize it, but that game is currently undergoing a drought of content or information about new content, with the current expansion over and done with and the next expansion still not in any form of public testing. WildStar's launch will coincide with a lot of people getting out of school and needing something to do over the summer, and if a whole lot of players are bored with World of Warcraft, I can see that being a major win for Carbine right there.
Honestly, the biggest problem I have with the release date is that we know it only now. I find it a little hard to believe that the date was so up in the air that we couldn't have heard more about it a month ago or even before the end of last year. Sure, I can understand holding off on that date a little just to be on the safe side, but my knee-jerk response is that we could have found out earlier.
Pre-order bonuses and points related
Former Massively writer and all-around marvelous human being Matthew Gollschewski had reason to be upset with this revelation because it ties into one of his pet peeves: the preorder bonus. Pay us now and you get extra things. And oh, the things you do get. Name reservations, headstart, a house shaped like a rocket, bag expansion, on and on the list goes. If there was ever a game clamoring for you to pre-order, this would be the one.
Similarly, I note that you get more perks before launch for the preorder than specifically for the digital deluxe edition. Why is that? Doesn't that seem a little odd?
I think the reasoning why is pretty straightforward, honestly. Wildstar is a new and untrusted game launching into the same waters as The Elder Scrolls Online and Warlords of Draenor. It doesn't have an established IP backing it; it has a studio without any sort of pedigree; it's science fiction (in the broadest sense) instead of fantasy; and it's a subscription game. So what does it want to do right away? Prove that it has some financial legs.
Cynical? Of course. Also entirely honest. This is a game that's been in development for a very long time, and now it's finally coming to release, and realistically we know what can sometimes happen to games published by NCsoft with long launch turnaround times. Do I suspect the same fate lies in store for Wildstar? No. But I can hardly blame the studio for offering every possible incentive to get people in the door early.
And the end...
On the podcast last week, we discussed the possibility that WildStar's weakness might show itself in the endgame. There's been less time to test that than any other part of the game, after all. And it's entirely possible that the first people to the level cap might find things a bit more buggy and unfinished than in the rest of the game, something that's been true of every launch endgame I can think of in the past forever of these games.
The most recent statements on endgame have me somewhat worried anyway. Comments regarding the game's raid structure, for instance, seem to imply that this is where the designers want people to be at the end of the leveling experience, which is... a terrible idea.
I'm not in agreement with Bree on the point of endgame being the worst thing ever; you finish leveling, and you reach the end of that -- it's natural. But there's a lot that can be done at the level cap that doesn't involve raiding, and we need another raid-focused endgame like I need a third arm growing from my sternum. There are a lot of games that already provide that in a variety of flavors.
WildStar is a game that has sold itself largely on the idea that you can play how you like. Unfortunately, there's no way to know pre-launch how true that's going to be. Based on earlier statements, yes, I believe there's going to be more than that when you hit the end. If not... well, I'm sure I'll have plenty of space to talk about that, too. Right now I'm busy losing myself in dreams of what might be.
Thoughts and feedback on this column are welcome down in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time, I'm going to talk about a topic I've long eschewed because I've been of the mind it would make a one-word column: Is it fair to call WildStar a World of Warcraft clone? (The one word is no. Yes, the column will be longer than that.)
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.