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The Nexus Telegraph

The Nexus Telegraph: The basics of crafting a WildStar build

Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Have I used this before?  I think I've used this before.  Please, let me know if I've used this before.
There are few things I love so much as writing a column for June 30th only to find out on the 30th that the patch I'm discussing is going live on July 1st. You know, when it's too late to change anything. I really would have been happy to have found that out before the day.

But, hey, WildStar's first patch came out, and now I've had a couple of weeks to explore it a bit. Am I happy with it? Sufficiently, yes, although I haven't yet digested it in full. For one month out from launch, I can't complain much.

Of course, that's not the first thing that I want to talk about today. I want to talk about builds. Rather than giving you the absolute best-of-the-best builds for tanking and DPS and so forth, which I can't quite do, I want to help you figure out how to make a build that works. It's a satisfyingly interactive, and there are lots of very functional options however you choose to build your character.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's first dose of Strain

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Not that I can't think of some people who will totally want this one.
The funny thing about launches is that they're like every other aspect of the game industry: They're based on momentum. Create the feel that you're coming out with new content on a quick basis and you get points from players, even if it's inevitable that some of this content is stuff that was almost-but-not-quite ready for launch and just had to be trimmed back a little before we first got to dip our toes in the official swimming pool. You can see the zones on your map in WildStar right now, even.

Does it matter to me? Nope. I have to admit it doesn't. I'm satisfied.

The bulk of the news this month has been about the game's first major patch, which is due for "early July" without a harder date. I have not yet gotten to go hands-on in this content; I've been too busy focusing on the live game and advancing there (up to 50 on one character, at least!), but let's talk a little bit about what's being added in the patch. Fair warning: Spoilers may ensue.

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The Nexus Telegraph: The first week in WildStar

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, Opinion, WildStar, Dungeons, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Come on baby, don't fear the reaper.
Full launch for WildStar has come and gone, the servers have been up and running for a week, and I've been hacking away at various enemies of the Dominion like a good soldier. As I write this, my main is 23, although I'd probably be a fair bit higher by now if I hadn't stopped quite so many times for roleplaying and to decorate my house. (Not too much of that, though, I need to afford that spacious house once I get to a valid level.)

It's safe to say that I'm enjoying the game a whole lot. Server loads seem to have largely stabilized, at least from my end, and the fullness of time has given me more opportunities to run more stuff and really enjoy a wider variety of what's in the game. There's some good stuff, some annoying stuff, and some things that kind of cut both ways at the same time. So let's just dive in, shall we?

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's headstart (launch) is here!

Sci-Fi, Launches, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

It's all for keeps.
Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. We've been waiting for it for a very long time, but you can indeed play the game now. WildStar is no longer a vague promise of what might be in the future, it has well and truly launched, and it's inherited all of the launch issues that come along with every single MMO launch, along with an assortment of people certain that we've never seen anything like this before.

Hey, guess what I'll be talking about with today's column.

I haven't had nearly as much time in the headstart as I would have liked at this point, largely due to the dread specter of Real Life minimizing my free time between launch on Saturday and when this column is being written (which is not five minutes prior to posting, if you were curious). But I've got some impressions just the same, and whilst I don't think they really qualify for first impression status, you came here to read about WildStar's launch, and that's just what I want to talk about.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Preparing for WildStar's launch

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I'm excited.  Are you excited?  I am.
When you read this, dear reader, you will be less than two weeks away from early access to WildStar. Unless you've come here just to let everyone know you don't want to play the game, in which case you might want to find slightly more joyous hobbies? Just a thought.

The obvious thing to do pre-launch, of course, is to reserve your name, but that didn't work out for everyone so well, and I'm betting that if you were going to do that by now, you would have done it. (Still have a little time if you haven't, though.) What else can you do? Open beta is over. It's just getting into the meat of the game and maybe taking a day or two off of work first, right?

Obviously not; there's more stuff you can do to prep yourself for the launch psychologically and otherwise. So step into my metaphorical office, and I'll give you some suggestions about things to do before the game starts and once early access kicks off.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's pre-launch ups and downs

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I'm going to be honest with you, I just found this shot cute and decided to put it here.
We're in the home stretch before WildStar's launch now. If you haven't pre-ordered, you should do so. For all intents and purposes, the launch game is what's being used in the weekend test sessions. All that's left is the actual gameplay, and if you're an RPer, hunting down the roleplaying community to see what's acknowledged as the unofficial community roleplaying server because beta servers certainly do not have those all-important RP tags.

What? I know what side of the bread my butter's on.

A bit of discussion with a friend the other night reminded me that I can't think of a single game over the past four and a half years that I really thought launched at the right time; either they launched a bit too early or a bit too late, at best. So today, with launch less than a month away, I'd like to talk about the things that make me most displeased about the game... and the bits that make me the most hopeful.

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The Nexus Telegraph: In which no WildStar injuries happened

Betas, Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Parting is such sweet sorrow for another month or so.
My performance on the dance floor during PAX East 2013's WildStar party is the stuff of dark legends (in my mind, anyway), but it was not replicated this year. Indeed, when I tried to get into this year's WildStar community party, the entranceway was inaccessible due to the sheer mass of people. As I naturally handle crowds about as well as a Mechari handles knock-knock jokes, I opted to turn around and go back to my hotel room.

There was a Ghostbusters marathon on, so it was still kind of awesome.

This did not, however, mean that the convention was devoid of interesting stories; it just was devoid of stories in which I sustained injuries greatly impacting my normal hiking routes. So let's talk about what things really stuck out in my mind through the whole con. For my money, that comes down to the focus on the endgame and a really stupid statement. Where to start?

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The Nexus Telegraph: Is WildStar a World of Warcraft clone?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

This isn't a metaphor.  Metaphors are subtle.
No.

That was quick, so we can all -- oh, wait, no, I need to write more. Also saying we can all go home is pointless; most of you are reading this from home. All right, we'll start over. This is one of those things that gets trotted out every time a new game comes along, and in WildStar's case it comes out twice as regularly, since it's the first game in history to use colorful and stylized graphics other than World of Warcraft, except that it isn't.

It's kind of ridiculous, and it's a bit of a pet peeve. As someone who has played World of Warcraft extensively, I find the list of similarities between the two pretty shallow, and it comes across more as a way of dismissing the game without bothering to learn about it. So let's talk about where WildStar does take its cues from Blizzard's game, where they differ, and why saying it's just a clone is absurd.

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The Nexus Telegraph: What it means that you can buy Wildstar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

The answer comes, crashing through the window... yes, father.  I will launch the game.
On March 10th, I opined that we were close to seeing a release date for Wildstar, along with the end of the NDA and a real change to beta structures. On March 12th, Carbine Studios announced all of that. Prescient? Possibly.

All right, no; I just made an educated guess that turned out to be educated completely right. Astute readers will remember that I also made an educated guess about Medic and Engineer that turned out to be more or less completely accurate, as well, so I am apparently on the same wavelength as the people over at the studio. I didn't find out I was right on the money until you all did.

That having been said... do I need to stress that this is a huge deal? Here's a game that fell under the "most anticipated" header for this site two years in a row, and now it's finally going to be a thing. We're finally moving out of beta testing and into launch. So let's talk about the impending launch, the pre-ordering, and all that comes along with both.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Between the lines of WildStar's quiet weeks

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Quiet is a relative thing.
Did you miss us? I know, it was probably weird not seeing an installment of the Nexus Telegraph last Monday, since I sort of have a reputation for turning in everything early and without fail. (Like the week when I had no power and still turned in my columns.) But there's no need to worry; we're still going live biweekly.

Or were you mostly missing the weeks in which we were absolutely swamped by WildStar news? It certainly seems a lot more quiet lately. We've gone from big system reveals to a few tidbits here and there; the two big stories over the past two weeks have been confirmation that we're not getting another big wave of beta invites and that the game's default UI is being revamped. These are both worth talking about, but in this case I think the silence actually says quite a bit all by itself.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's NDA and impending release

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I hope it's been good, I hope you've had fun.  I wish it had been longer.
The release date approaches for WildStar, and that day is... entirely unclear. Maybe it'll be next month; maybe it'll be six months from now. The official word is still silence. Mirroring that silence are the game's current testers, still under an NDA that prevents them from talking about the game even as we in the press can talk about much of the content and leveling currently in place through both text and streams.

Are these relevant points to discuss? Yes, they really are, especially in the wake of two prominent illustrations of what can be done with testing phases and NDAs. So let's talk about the NDA, the lack of a release date, and how those elements might tie into one another. Especially as we're coming off of a weekend when more people got to try out the game, it's important to talk about when the gates and the lines of communication will be opened.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Stuff the endgame needs in WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

There should be a wide-open space.
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.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Making it how you'd like in WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, Crafting, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I made that!  Well... all right, I didn't.  But I'm going to unmake it!
I freely admit that I have not dived heavily into crafting in the WildStar beta, for the same reason that there is a lot of stuff in the WildStar beta that I have not heavily invested in. That reason is simple: I plan to be playing this game for a long while, and I'd really like to avoid burning out before it even releases. I didn't adhere to that rule in the Final Fantasy XIV beta and kind of felt the pinch, so this is a rule I learned the hard way.

That having been said, I've fooled around with it enough to be really excited after the last interview I had regarding the crafting experience. What I heard confirmed my limited experiences and offered some interesting food for thought. There are a couple of elements that might seem counterproductive and a lot more that are worth looking forward to in the future.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's greatest opponent is WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Do you want to be yourself, or do you want to be a second-rate copy of someone else?
Your real opponent is pretty much always yourself.

I could spend the next several years of my writing career trying to be a better writer than, say, Justin Olivetti. I'd fail, for starters, because look at the guy. But even if I could succeed, I'd never be living up to my potential. I'll always be the guy trying to be better than the last thing Justin wrote, never coming up with my own things, never really advancing myself. The only way to be truly good is to try to be the best writer I can be, regardless of who else is out there.

What does this have to do with WildStar? Simple. I mention other games here, other releases looking at the same window, but WildStar doesn't need to be better than those games, up to and including The Elder Scrolls Online. WildStar needs to be the best version of itself that it can be. Its only real opponent is itself, not other titles.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Everyone's got active combat, and so does WildStar

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

If you are confused, get out of the red; if telegraphs hit you, soon you'll be dead.  Your skills lay blue templates on the ground, use them as guides as you're moving around.  Stand just outside of the bad, now face west - think about rotations, wonder why you haven't, now stand in the place with a cure, now face north - think about the red that just popped up and wonder why you're still standing there.
WildStar is launching with active combat, but let's be totally honest about something: The whole telegraph system is not exactly as special now as it might have seemed, say, three years ago.

Guild Wars 2 has active combat. Ditto TERA, ditto DC Universe Online. The Secret World makes use of telegraphs all over the place (which kind of feels like a kludge, but so does most of the game's combat system, so there). Even Final Fantasy XIV -- a game I have noted on many occasions as having a much slower and more tactical combat pace -- makes heavy use of telegraph mechanics. And The Elder Scrolls Online is certainly launching with a more active combat system, to boot.

There's more to WildStar than telegraph markers, though. So it's time to talk about what the game actually does in terms of combat that's interesting and novel. We've been told that the active combat of the game is a big deal, but is it actually revolutionary, an evolution, or just another thing?

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