Hello! I’m Kristen “Caydiem” DeMeza, Senior Game Designer and Shiphand mission expert here on the WildStar team. Over these past weeks, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our Veteran versions of the Shiphand missions. We’ve wanted to put these together for a long while – the team adores playing through ‘em and they’re a great diversion when leveling, but we have since learned that some players had passed them by. With their new, level-50 versions, we can bring this content to both new and veteran players.
I’m going to talk a little bit about how the sausage is made here and show you how we developed the feature.
The word “Veteran” denotes harder content at our maximum level, revamping our leveling instances to be more challenging; they already exist for Dungeons and Adventures. This is absolutely what we wanted to do with our Shiphand missions as well, but there were certain elements we needed to preserve. Solo play was still required – it’s one of the main draws of these missions. But we also wanted to ensure you could bring your friends the same way you could in normal missions. We needed to keep them scalable. The last question was also pertinent: should we balance toward having a tank and healer in the party? Our answer: nope! The charm of Shiphand missions is that you can grab your friends and go, and practically everyone has a DPS build of some variety. We wanted to keep that spirit in our new versions.
We balanced with those parameters in mind, but they’re still not a cakewalk. Scalable creatures were reworked to scale better with difficulty and group size across the board. Everything that should feel meaty and dangerous now does. We also quickly learned, through our many playtests, that having a survivability spell on your bar might be prudent – things can hit hard! - and if you choose to go through with a tank or a healer, you’ll find that things are a bit easier than you might expect in something with a “Veteran” tag.But that’s perfectly okay. Practice your tanking and healing, and prepare for your next step into Veteran adventures!
We also added a timer required in order to receive a gold medal, but don’t worry. The time is balanced to be a reasonable pace for killing everything you need to kill and doing everything you need to do. No need to skip pulls or squeeze through shortcuts in order to hit the time.
We had our baseline concept, and we made level-50 versions of our Shiphand missions – but we didn’t want to stop there. Veteran mode was a great time for us to go back and add a little bit more “oomph!” to all missions. The opportunity allowed us to enhance the storytelling of some of the missions... or maybe drop a surprise or two in here and there. Ever wonder where the Novaburn Marauders went after they raided the Steady Traveler in “Shiphand: Outpost M-13”? Yeah, they’re coming back. We added new optional and required objectives to all the Shiphand missions in their Veteran modes – not a ton of additional content, but enough to spice it up and make the level-50 experience different. For those who are familiar with the leveling versions, these new objectives will bring new life to the mission; for those who missed them as you leveled, you’ve got a richer experience waiting!
Because these rank below Veteran adventures when it comes to difficulty, deciding on suitable rewards for Veteran Shiphand missions is a tricky prospect. We still want them to be worth your time. The solution is a bit larger than Shiphand missions alone: the Renown revamp.
If you’ve played WildStar with a group, you’ve probably accumulated some Renown. Our intrepid item designers have added a whole new scope of rewards that can be purchased with your Renown points, and for fresh level-50 players this will be a great to gear up from your questing items to prepare for Veteran Adventures. You’ve got many more options, including gear that is intelligently randomized. No more strange stats you don’t care about - the gear from our Renown vendors has your primary assault and support stats in mind. You know what you’re getting when you buy them. In addition, there are tons of other rewards available, whether progression-oriented or social in nature.
What does this have to do with Veteran Shiphand missions? Quite a lot. Veteran Adventures always gave Renown, but now Veteran Shiphand missions will, too – even if you’re solo. You’ll be able to gain Renown even if your friends aren’t available, allowing you to work toward your goals regardless of the situation.
The Renown vendor isn’t the only place to look to for Veteran Shiphand mission rewards, however. When you complete a mission, you’ll get a reward that matches your medal – and not only better rewards, but more of them, too. You can receive dyes (including those coveted rare ones!), AMPs for your class, runes, gadgets, housing décor, and even a new mount or two if you get lucky!
Along with Dungeon, Adventure, and PvP dailies, Veteran Shiphands will also offer dailies for max-level players which will guide them to this new content and give a little reward on top of everything else. Don’t worry about hoofing it out to your favorite Ekose to hit up a Shiphand mission – they’ll be available in the Group Finder. If you would rather go it alone, simply check “Do Not Find Others” and then jump in solo. If you have a group of friends already, check the “Do Not Find Others” option and jump in as a group. And lastly, if you want to find other players to run with, keep “Do Not Find Others” unchecked and it will search for others out for a little Shiphand fun, seeking an ideal group of about three people regardless of their character builds.
Best of all, the Group Finder not only features Veteran Shiphand missions, but the regular ones, too. This feature arrives just in time for the all-new Shiphand mission “They Came From Fragment Zero!” which will release at the same time as Veteran Shiphands themseves! Whether jumping into TCFFZ! at its original level (6) or experiencing it the first time on Veteran mode, you’ll have a brand new mission to enjoy. We’ll talk more about that in another update, but rest assured, it’s Skeech-arific!
Excited about Veteran Shiphand missions coming your way? So are we! The team worked very hard to make them a reality and we can’t wait to see folks tearing through ‘em!
And may the Blessed Navigator guide your way to the stars.
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