It was bound to be a slaughter. On my Exile team were 15 people connected by our professions--some of us games writers, some of us game developers at Carbine Studios; on the Dominion team were 15 organized guildmates calling themselves the Warmongers. We were decked out in standard gear provided to our max-level characters so that we might take part in player-versus-player matches on the WildStar test server; the Warmongers were clad in top-tier player-versus-player gear. Winning wasn't even a remote possibility. Neither was survival, for that matter.
Since that grueling match, WildStar's newest PvP arena and mode have been released to the game's public servers, and I'm here to say that you're in for a wild ride if you've taken to WildStar's hyperkinetic brand of online competition. The name of the map is Daggerstone Pass, and the name of the mode is Sabotage. The goal is to damage the opposition's base, and the most straightforward way of doing so is to capture one of three hold points (called uplinks), which calls in a gunship that periodically bombs the enemy's home. The more uplinks you capture, the greater the damage bonus. The cleverer way of proving your team's superiority, however, is to pick up the bombs that spawn near your own base, and carry them to your enemy's base, or even better, its fusion core. The trick here, however, is that bombs detonate once their timers count down, regardless of who is holding it, and where. This is a great way to damage an enemy's base, or to distract an aimless team while you capture uplinks. But it's also a great way to carelessly wound yourself and your teammates.
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In many ways, the map feels much like a combination of WildStar's other arenas--a bit of Walatiki Temple's mask-ferrying, and a bit of Halls of the Bloodsworn's base-capturing. Daggerstone Pass is a rather expansive bit of real estate, however, so be prepared to jump on a hoverboard or a trask if you want to keep up with your opponents. The matches I played took all manner of twists and turns. Some battles were 20-player swarms at the center uplink, where I had to frequently leap out of harm's way while thanking the Old Gods of Mikros for my spellslinger's crowd-control skills. Smaller-scale clashes often blossomed near bomb-carriers, where my fellow Exiles and I tried frantically to keep our vital teammate healed while fending off the Dominion scum who had painted a bullseye on the carrier's back.
Daggerstone Pass also has a similar feel to the game's warplots, and that's not by accident. Jen Gordy, group content design lead, told our beleaguered team that while the map wasn't ready in time for WildStar's launch, it had still served as an inspiration for the game's 40-on-40 onslaughts. Carbine is bringing more than just new battlegrounds to the table, however. Says Gordy, "When we were launching the game, we were doing some tests and realized [the launch system] wasn't going to be as effective as we thought it was going to be. We have made some changes where your healing and damage efficiency for player-versus-player combat is reduced when you're in instanced PvP and open-world PvP. You make up for that deficit using the new PvP power stat, which adds to your damage and healing capabilities. The relationship between offense and defense is now a fairly straightforward linear relationship, where before it was a little bit muddled, and it was very hard to explain how you were affected."
The result: if you aren't wearing PvP gear, you are gonna get wrecked if you're facing a better-prepared team. I can certainly attest to said wreckage, having come out of three matches versus pre-made teams with three losses and a resulting foul mood. I wasn't helping matters, of course, asking various questions about the new content rather than formulating winning strategies with the team. And let's not talk about the time I picked up a bomb and it exploded in my grasp about seven seconds later. No--let's definitely not talk about that. Instead, let's talk about the terrible WildStar puns the games writers and developers made while playing. "You guys are really Draken me down right now." "We've got 20 seconds left to Chua on the fat." "This is starting to get a bit Mechari-anical now."
You can get acquainted with Daggerstone pass once you reach level 30, but be prepared for a particularly savage display of guns and blades in this one. Let my battle scars be a lesson for everyone.