WildStar

Key events

Bright and colourful MMO WildStar should get a big old boost this week when it arrives, two years after launch, on Steam. The game is free-to-play but there will be various bundles available to buy.

WildStar is going free-to-play this autumn

Dev feels "strongly" that everyone have a chance to try it.

PC MMO WildStar will turn free-to-play this autumn. It was one of the last remaining big budget subscription MMOs alongside The Elder Scrolls Online, but now both games have adapted - or are in the process of adapting - their original business models.

Don't rule WildStar out yet

It's far from dead and buried, Carbine says.

The biggest bets in gaming are MMOs. They're games and persistent online services all in one, and they take longer, and cost more, than any other game to make. And then they're expected to grow and improve after launch. They're serious undertakings.

Huge WildStar content/fix patch release date

Huge WildStar content/fix patch release date

New zone with lots of new stuff next week.

A significant patch for MMO WildStar - Mystery of the Genesis Prime - will arrive 11th November, NCSoft and Carbine have announced.

The list of bugs fixed by the update is 100 pages long, apparently, but that's not all it brings: there's new content too.

The next two chapters in the game's Nexus storyline are included, and bring a new zone to explore, new bosses, new gear, new instances, new public events and so on.

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WildStar review

WildStar review

The last of the MMO-hicans.

With Blizzard halting work on Titan and CCP putting a stake through eight years of World of Darkness development, the number of blockbuster MMORPGs visible on the horizon has slumped to an all-time low. Even the likes of just-released Destiny, which shares as much DNA with World of Warcraft as it does Halo, has been eager to avoid the toxicity of being associated with gaming's unwieldiest acronym. For a breed of multiplayer game that broke so explosively across our CRTs back in 1997 and seemed so utterly dominant just a few years ago, this feels like the end times.

How we got to this ignominious level cap for the genre-without-end is a discussion for another time, but if a lingering MMORPG apocalypse is indeed upon us, WildStar is well placed to offer a rousing send off. In direct contrast to Elder Scrolls Online's rather earnest and dour fugue, Carbine's WOW-baiting debut offers up an anthology of greatest hit MMO features, with just enough new material of its own to suggest that perhaps the persistent world party may have some life left in it after all.

The focus of WildStar's storyline is the planet Nexus, recently discovered by the game's good guys, the Exiles, who, as their name suggests, are in need of a new home. Meanwhile the big bad Dominion would rather have Nexus and its resources for themselves. Thus the game opens as the persistent battle between the two sides rages on, with the player, after having chosen their allegiance, taking on the role of saviour and/or vanquisher. It's the usual stuff, basically, where you have to pretend everyone else is playing a different scenario to you, which of course they're not.

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Wildstar open beta launch date announced

The open beta for subscription-based sci-fi MMO Wildstar launches on 8th May, developer Carbine Studios has announced.

It runs for 10 days until 18th May. The game launches proper on 3rd June.

The game is available to pre-order at 34.99, which includes 30 days of game time.

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WildStar picks subs, but you can trade gold for game time

Carbine sticks up for an unfashionable MMO business model.

WildStar, the sci-fi online world due for release in spring 2014, will fly in the face of massively multiplayer fashion by charging a subscription, developer Carbine has announced. But there's a twist: you'll also be able play for free by trading in-game currency for game time with other players.

WildStar preview: Happy hunting?

WildStar preview: Happy hunting?

Carbine unveils the Dominion proving grounds.

Deradune is a good place to fight crabs. It has endless supplies of them, actually, so for a good half hour, fighting crabs is what I chose to do. Down by a silty shoreline running alongside a tidy curve of ocean, I found a gleaming radar dish that summoned crate after crate of crab-monsters for me to slice through. I was playing as a Mechari, a robot race defined by a penchant for skull-shaped face-plates, so I was pleasantly tankish, yet blessed with a couple of nimble sword attacks and - best of all - an arrogant little flourish when I stowed weapons after a kill. Class-wise, I was a stalker, a stealthy set-up which sees your offensive powers boosted if you get the knife in when your foe's facing away from you. The crabs didn't really have a chance.

Fighting things in WildStar is pretty entertaining, which turns out to be a good thing as this MMO presents an awful lot of opportunities for fighting things. Alongside better-than-average combat animations and a lovely moment where you hoover up loot afterwards, the team's made a real effort to bring something distinct to its futuristic brawls. Don't think of it as a reinvention, think of it as a rebalancing: each class still has a candystore tray for hot key actions and their attendant cool-downs, but WildStar also wants you to look up from the UI at the bottom of the screen while you work, too. It's taken the area-of-effect telegraphing templates you often see in other games, and it's built them deep into the moment-to-moment skirmishes that erupt with even the smallest of enemies. Your aggressor broadcasts their next move in a bold red circle or triangle of potential damage, you dodge out of the way and then lay down your own bright blue template in return. Movement counts, positioning counts, and crabs, it turns out, are terrible at grasping this sort of nuance. Sure, the whole thing adds another layer of abstraction onto MMO scraps - I'm gonna triangle that guy up good and proper, and then circle him into oblivion - but it's not the bloodless geometry exercise you might expect.

Focusing in on this sort of combat is one of a handful of genuinely pinchable ideas that WildStar has added to the standard MMO design, in fact. That's how this sub-set of games often seems to evolve: you get new fiction, new lore, and new heroes each time, but what really matters are the little quirks. Nobody really dares deviate from the Warcraft template too much unless they're planning something really drastic or niche, so games become defined by the neat touches and clever embellishments. A stronger emphasis on telegraphing templates to add an extra spatial zing to battles? That sounds smart, and it turns out to be a good idea. Elsewhere, now that WildStar's lurching towards a 2013 release, we're starting to see other tweaks, too. Alongside the introduction of 'paths', a system that sees you picking a playstyle as well as a class and race and faction - focusing on exploration, say, or social stuff - PvPers can look forward to something called Warplots, which brings other games' housing systems into the mix in huge shared battlegrounds where groups can really put their stamp on their surroundings. That sounds pretty smart too, as does the plan to provide regular - monthly, hopefully - story content updates for end-gamers who have hit the level cap.

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NCSoft's sci-fi MMO WildStar will launch in 2013

NCSoft's sci-fi MMO WildStar will launch in 2013

In the meantime, why not meet the Exile faction?

NCSoft's pretty excited about its new sci-fi MMO, WildStar. It's so excited, in fact, that it's just revealed that the game will be launching at some point in 2013 - no idea exactly when, though.

It's also released a video that details the Exile, who are the goodies of the game's two factions. They're scrappy hicksters, by the looks of it: a rebel alliance who have come to the mysterious planet of Nexus in order to find a place to live. Just like that bit in Arrested Development where Buster tries to make a new home for himself under a front yard trampoline in Santa Ana.

Alongside humans, Exile players will be able to pick between Granock and Aurin characters, along with a mysterious fourth race that has yet to be announced, if we're understanding the video correctly. Granock are rock people, who should be good at fightin' and fumin'. Aurin have bunny ears and tails and really care about the environment.

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WildStar

Craft your own war.

Once, we dreamed of worlds where we could be anyone, do anything. That day may yet come, but in 2011 the grand fantasy of a sandbox MMO is one that is served only by boutique or elder games which determinedly reward the eternal ardour of their existing fans but struggle to add that surface level of gloss and accessibility necessary to draw a gigantic crowd.

NCsoft Carbine MMO announcement soon

NCsoft Carbine MMO announcement soon

Blizzard-packed studio at Gamescom.

The "next big MMO" from NCsoft is poised for a mid-August Gamescom reveal.

Developed by Carbine, the project claims to have made "some dramatic steps forward" in the genre.

"We have developed some new ways of making online games; games that can adapt to you instead of the other way 'round," wrote Carbine executive producer Jeremy Gaffney.

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