Hey all, Senior Game Designer Evan “Verizal” Graziano here. I know it’s been a while since you last heard from me, but I’m back and have a lot to talk about regarding the reward changes you’ll be seeing in the WildStar Free-to-Play update. Steve "Meerkat" Engle has already gone into a bit of detail on the item stat overhaul that will be taking place, so I’m here to talk a bit more about the changes we’re making to how you’re actually going to be obtaining item rewards.
So first off, lots of things are changing—lots of things. And since nobody likes giant walls of text, or long preambles, I’m going to get into a few of the more notable changes right away.
A lot of times, when rewards were handed out from quests, it could seem like the ones you got were for every class/spec other than the one you were playing at the time. But we’ve spent a fair amount of time reworking quest rewards to make sure that they not only provide a more reasonable progression, but are also usable and useful rewards more often. You should now always see viable quest rewards—whether you’re playing as a Warrior tank, a Medic healer, a damage-dealing Spellslinger, or another combination entirely.
Vendor offerings also felt unstructured, and there could be a lot of repetition in their selections. Gear was frequently overpowered or underpowered compared to quest rewards, and the available consumables regularly invalidate the need for items that Technologists and Cooks had dedicated time to making.
With the upcoming changes, we’re trimming down vendor inventories, and removing or reducing the items that previously encroached on rewards players obtain through gameplay. This also allows us to place more of an emphasis on those vendors that we do want to stand out, making Corporate vendors and Reputation vendors all the more worthwhile. We’ve also gone through a number of quest and vendor hubs in the game to clear out some of the less necessary vendors.
We’ve made passes to improve both leveling and end-game instances. For leveling instances, our goal was to improve the overall quality of rewards to account for the greater challenge you sometimes find when completing instances with other lower-level players. We’ve also made adjustments to more closely match what you’d see in end-game instances, as well as improvements to end-game itemization.
This is probably one of the more difficult areas to cover, so I’ll do my best to be available on the forums for any follow-ups.
Until then, I’ll list a few key points:
One of the biggest issues with the previous item stats is that they didn’t provide a lot of overlap for gear to be usable by multiple classes and specs. When they did, it was frequently because the item wasn’t ideal for anyone, generally resulting in the item being destroyed by the group. With our new stats, this is going to be much less of an issue, which allows for us to offer multiple options at a given item level while still keeping loot tables more concise and predictable.
Item Level Banding
Item level banding is a fancy way of saying loot is grouped together in an item level ‘band’ within or across a similar range of content. Although more an issue in raids than anywhere else, we’ve done our best to cut down gear bands to 1-2 item level groupings per tier of content. For example, Veteran Adventures give item level 68/70 gear, Veteran Dungeons reward item level 78/80 gear, and Genetic Archives can earn you item levels as high as 96/100.
Better Loot Distribution
In dungeons and raids we now make a distinction between minibosses and bosses. No longer will final bosses be the barrier that stands between you and the higher tier of loot. Instead, the best quality gear will be distributed amongst all bosses, leaving only the more unique and powerful drops as the final rewards. This includes, but is not limited to, rare Runes, Décor, Artifact and other imbuement items, and rare Tradeskill and Runecrafting materials.
While these will certainly end up being some of the more front-facing adjustments, you’ll also see a number of changes to Challenges, Contracts, world loot, and more on the PTR.
With all of these changes, there is one last question I hear a lot: “How will this impact my items?” Don't sweat. Unlike some of the passes on itemization rewards made in the past, this will be a more seamless transition. Probably the single biggest change is that we’re going to be removing a large amount of superfluous gear from the game, loot which we’ve deemed no longer necessary due to redundancies caused by stat changes or because they're no longer a reasonable reward for the content that drops it. But don’t worry; they’ll be automatically replaced with an equivalent item, and all remaining gear will be updated to the new stat system—you won’t be required to obtain new items to get the new stats. Simply put, for any piece of gear that your character is currently wearing, it will be automatically updated or a replacement will be provided. If you have affected items in your inventory or bank, we'll mail equivalent replacements to you in-game.
But what about gear you've used for costumes? Fear not! All appearances for removed items will be retained in the holo-wardrobe as long as you have already stored them there. But even if you haven’t stored them, we're taking extra time to ensure these appearances—if not the exact items—are still available elsewhere in the game. We've even gone back through all pre-existing items that are sticking around to ensure that appearances will remain unchanged upon first login.
We’ve put a lot of effort into trying to help players achieve minimal downtime between logging in for the first time post-update, and being able to jump back into the content. We’ll be looking for your help on the PTR to ensure the conversion goes smoothly for everyone.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our WildStar teaser and the recent Cosmic Rewards and Deep Dive: Discoveries articles. We look forward to hearing from those of you helping to test these changes in the Closed Beta (sign up here), and I’ll see you in the forums!
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