Prime Difficulty – Pick Your Pain

Written by Team WildStar on February 23, 2017

The Power of the Primal Matrix will soon embolden heroes on and beyond Nexus, and before it arrives we want to equip you with all the knowledge you need. We recently covered the Prime Matrix itself in more depth. For this go around we want to delve into the content and reward scaling that complements your progression through the matrix—the Prime difficulty system allows you to steadily increase the challenge of select content for greater rewards.

Prime Time

When queueing for a supported Expedition or dungeon at level 50 you’ll have the option to set a Prime difficulty level for the instance. Prime difficulties are featured on an initial selection of PvE content, which we plan to expand over time. Each time you increase the Prime difficulty of an instance you’ll face enemies with increased health and more lethal attacks, but you’ll also be boosting the effectiveness of the loot you receive. As you push to progress through greater Prime challenges, you’ll continue to become more powerful!

To begin your advancement you’ll need to complete Prime level 1 of a given Expedition or dungeon. A Silver Medal will unlock Prime level 2 for that instance, and a Gold Medal unlocks the next 2 levels—giving you access to Prime levels 2 and 3—in case you want to pick up the pace. Supported Prime instances initially include dungeons Coldblood Citadel (new!), Ruins of Kel Voreth, and Stormtalon’s Lair, and Expeditions Evil from the Ether (new!), They Came from Fragment Zero, and The Gauntlet. This list will be expanded to incorporate additional PvE content in future updates.

Burnin’ and Lootin’

Aside from receiving a deep-seeded, personal sense of glory and accomplishment, the primary motivator for running Prime content is to score better loot and continue your advancement through the Primal Matrix. Coming with the Power of the Primal Matrix update is a new scaling items feature, which gives us the ability to keep rewards relevant for you by increasing the power of an item drop in a dungeon or Expedition based on the relative difficulty of the content. Each instance available in the Prime difficulty system awards loot at a base item level, and each step up in difficulty incrementally increases that base level—meaning the item’s stats are proportionally increased.

Advancement in the Prime difficulty system, however, isn’t entirely and predictably linear. As you continue progressing through the Primal Matrix and increasing the difficulty level at which you’re running Prime instances, you’ll have opportunities for extra gear boons. Items that drop have a chance of upgrading beyond the base item level of the difficulty level you’re running, and in some cases will upgrade all the way up to the maximum level of that item. For example, you could be running Coldblood Citadel on Prime level 5 and score an item at a level that ordinarily wouldn’t drop until Prime level 9. These chance drops should give you a little extra edge as you continue to climb into higher Prime difficulty levels, particularly if you barely meet the recommended Heroism Rating, or are prone to take advantage of Gold Medal completions and skip over some difficulty levels entirely.

Gearing up through Prime instances is also the way to start stacking any of the three new character stats coming in this content update. The following new stats are only found on items that drop from Prime instances:

  • Toughness: Decreases your damage taken as your health pool decreases.
  • Tenacity: Increases your damage output on a target as their health pool decreases.
  • Hope: Increases your healing effectiveness on a friendly target as their health pool decreases.

Essential Essence

Not only do more powerful items come at higher Prime levels, the reward multipliers on Primal Essence gains increase as well—10% added bonus per Prime level. As a refresher course, Essences are what allow you to enhance your character through the Primal Matrix and progression through the matrix increases your Heroism Rating—each Prime difficulty is assigned a recommended Heroism Rating to give you a sense of suggested character power relative to the difficulty of the content.

The Key to Success

Item drops and Essence gains aren’t the only rewards meaningfully impacted by your rise through the Prime difficulty system. Our goal with lockboxes has always been to give you an extra crack at obtaining decent upgrades for your character if the loot drops on an instance run just don’t go your way. To that end, it wouldn’t be very helpful if dungeon and Expedition lockboxes didn’t also scale based on difficulty. In Prime instances, lockboxes will now default to item level 100 rewards, unless the base item level of the instance drops are higher than item level 100. In other words, if you’re running a Prime level 9 dungeon that drops gear at a base item level of 125, any lockbox obtained in that dungeon will contain gear at a base item level of 125 as well.

Tipping the Scales

Scaling items aren’t just beneficial to max-level characters progressing through Prime difficulties. The loot you find in any regular dungeon or Expedition is scaled to your character level. It’s especially helpful for characters that aren’t well into the level 50 endgame and Primal Matrix progression, and for friends and guildmates who want to play characters that aren’t the same level. If you’re level 40 and you group with players in the 20s to run Ruins of Kel Voreth, not only will every character in the group be scaled in health and power relative to the challenge of the dungeon, the loot each of you receive is scaled based on character level—you’re still eligible for gear upgrades! In addition, you benefit from running random dungeons and Expeditions in the Content Finder (default ‘N’ hotkey) to receive the Primal Essence bonus reward with a mixed-level group.


As a reminder the Power of the Primal Matrix update is available for PTR testing, and we welcome your feedback about Prime difficulties, scaling items, and everything else coming to WildStar in this update! We’re working hard to put the finishing touches on it, and hope you’ll enjoy working your way through the highest difficulties. This system will be expanded in future updates, so you’ll want to seize all the power you can get!

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