How WildStar's dungeons, raids, and events challenge entire guilds

By Ozzie Mejia, Mar 12, 2014 8:00am PDT

WildStar is going to offer far more than a vast world and a variety of quests. In an effort to become the definitive MMORPG that Carbine Studios wants it to be, the game will also feature a robust dungeon system that both clings to traditional elements and also adds a number of new twists. And Shacknews got to experience part of that by going hands-on with a traditional five-person dungeon and also a much larger and more competitive 40-person Post Cap Playspace instance.

WildStar's dungeon system fully embraces the MMORPG genre's vaunted 'holy trinity' system. Five-person dungeon raids are built for parties of one tank, one healer, and three DPS characters. In order to tackle my first dungeon, I joined forces with four fellow WildStar players and picked up a DPS character to tackle Stormtalon's Lair.

Dungeon combat is fairly straightforward. The main objective was to get to the end of the dungeon and defeat the massive Stormtalon, while I was also given a number of secondary objectives. Coordination is absolutely key in dungeon runs, as enemies can quickly overwhelm your party. Bosses will also have layers of 'interrupt armor,' which will completely diminish your crowd control attacks. Recklessly rushing forward is not recommended, since downed players cannot be resurrected while in combat. It's particularly harsh, given how difficult some of the bosses can be, many of whom can deliver brutal 'Stun' attacks that require you to quickly spam the 'F' key. Stormtalon, the giant dragon himself, used some brutal area-of-efect attacks to quickly down my entire party in one strike.

Raids up the dungeon ante even more by focusing on more than brute strength. Carbine emphasizes these as 'hardcore' runs designed for 20 or 40 people. Some of the raids on display included dangerous environments, in addition to hard-hitting enemies, making these particular runs more cerebral than the average dungeon. For example, the first act of the 20-person Genetic Archives raid featured a skyward area filled with exploding eggs, which would scramble movement keys for any player caught in the blast.

One of the raid's boss battles took place over a destructible room, in which the boss could destroy a piece of the floor and send dozens of players plummetting to their deaths at once. The same difficulty principle also applies to 40-person raids, like Data Escape. The boss here, called the Maelstrom Authority, can wipe out platforms one-at-a-time and parties must plan accordingly. If the boss corners them and takes out all surrounding platforms, the party is essentially doomed.

Carbine also hopes to keep raid experiences fresh by changing elements of each raid every other week. For instance, Data Escape will contain rooms that send out two elemental mini-bosses, but the bosses will change every other week. Similarly, some rooms may contain unique events that will change every other week.

Those looking for more content after hitting the maximum level 50 cap can engage in public Faction v. Faction Post Cap Playspace events. I got to try out the one on the Malgrave continent, which tasked our entire world with stabilizing an out-of-control reactor within a 60-minute time limit, with the continent suffering worldwide consequences for failure. There are multiple tiers for this event, the first of which required gathering resources in order to find transport to the reactor.

Each faction will experience subtle differences in their session. In particular, each faction will get its own final boss, scaled to however many players are participating in the event. The boss I faced off with was a massive nuclear beast called Subject Y Titan, which came at a massive 8.5+ million HP. Beyond trying to take out the Titan, players also had to remember to hose themselves off at any opportunity, in order to avoid dying by heat exposure. Unlike raids, fallen players can be resurrected at the start of the level, though that costs precious time.

After defeating the boss, the final task was to restore the reactor's fuel cells. Upon completing the objective, our faction was informed that we had completed the task ahead of the other faction and received rewards for our efforts.

WildStar is not only upping the challenge in traditional dungeons and raids, but are actively looking beyond combat in order to provide it. Guilds need to actively work together in order to complete some of these demanding tasks and those that do will earn every bit of loot at the end. It remains to be seen whether enough guilds will have the fortitude to participate, but there's a strong foundation in place for a memorable dungeon/raid system.

WildStar is set to officially launch on June 3 on PC.

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