Wildstar - Hands-on with Sabotage

The second large content update for Carbine Studios' Wildstar is closing in on its release next month. Jostein has taken an early look at the new content.

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This update has a clear focus on PvP and PvP alone, with a pile of smaller adjustments and bug fixes. Although these undoubtedly will please many players, the star of the show in this update is the new battlegrounds map, Daggerstone Pass.

In our review of Wildstar, we felt something was lacking on the PvP-side of things with the straight forward, run-of-the-mill objectives in the two battlegrounds included at launch. They did little to force players into thinking strategically as a group.


Luckily, Daggerstone Pass takes a great leap forward in this regard. Each team attempts to bring bombs over from their side of the map to the enemy base in order to destroy it. Additionally, there are three control points spread out between the two bases, which slowly but surely deal damage to the enemy base while you control them. You can also choose to use the bombs as a massive AoE attack on the enemy players instead of attacking the base directly, a move which increases your strategic repertoire.

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Being able to complete your objective in several ways is the main reason why Daggerstone Pass works better than the previous maps. You can't ignore either sub-objective in order to win, but how much emphasis you put on each opens up a wide array of strategic possibilities. You can play extremely defensively, using the control points to wither down the enemy base while stopping incoming bomb runners. Another possibility is to divide your team between running bombs and grabbing control points. A third is to run in quickly as a group to deliver a bomb safely, before quickly sweeping the control points as soon as the bomb goes off.


Another factor is that this new map is twice the size of the previous two. This means that you don't constantly end up fighting in massive group battles requiring all hands on deck. There is more room to sneak about as smaller groups, or even alone, grabbing control points covertly. This supports the previous point, namely the map enables a wider array of strategic possibilities.

Strategy aside, the map also succeeds in creating intense situations consistently throughout the matches. Each time the enemy approaches your base with a bomb, your blood pressure rises. When you try to capture a control point it doesn't take more than a single hit from an enemy to interrupt the capture. When you yourself pick up the bomb, your heart goes into overdrive as you rush towards the enemy base.

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All of this aside, the map is not without its weaknesses. The 15v15 format, even on a bigger map, feels over-the-top. In the bigger confrontations that occasionally take place, the otherwise elegant combat system renders the battlefield a huge mess of attack telegraphs and particle effects. Additionally, the game engine lacks proper tools for communicating strategic ideas to your team other than through the chat function, in effect limiting the strategic play of your team.

As a whole this is still a leap forward for Wildstar's PvP, and it's apparent that Carbine Studios has managed to see where there is room for improvement and address these issues. With deeper strategic possibilities and intense situations popping up throughout the matches, Daggerstone Pass is a far stronger PvP experience than the previous two battlegrounds could provide.


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REVIEW. Written by Josten Holmgren

"With a rock solid group portion of the game, even though that lacks innovation, Wildstar manages to establish its niche in the MMO space."

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