Wildstar may have just launched earlier this month, but developer Carbine is already preparing a massive content update to set an ambitious pace for new content.
Titled "The Strain," the first content patch for Wildstar will be live on the game's public test realm later this week, with a final release expected the week of June 30. According to executive producer Jeremy Gaffney, it will kick off a series of monthly updates that has already been planned 16 months out from the game's launch.
This first update includes a huge amount of new, largely end-game-focused content — most notably a two new zones. One of those zones, Blighthaven, will introduce the titular Strain, an alien infection that has devastated this area of the planet of Nexus, covering it with ooze and strange monsters. New gear, mounts and player housing options based on the creepy art style of the Strain will be available for loot-hungry players to uncover.
Blighthaven is a level 50 zone that will begin with areas designed for solo players but will encourage grouping up as players progress. It culminates in an open-world dungeon with multiple wings and a final boss encounter that changes depending on how much your group cleared beforehand.
According to Gaffney, future updates will continue to have elements built for both more casual, solo players and hardcore raiders. "We're really trying to cater to multiple groups, and we've done so pretty well, I think," Gaffney told Polygon. "They say you can't please everyone, and if we have to pick one crowd, we tend to pick the hardcore. Our theory is that if the hardcore get to the end and say raiding sucks, everyone else will wonder why they should bother leveling up."
Wildstar's team hopes to continue reaching other groups beyond the traditional MMO raider as well. The next major content patch, planned for late July, will focus on player-versus-player additions.
Blighthaven also includes Guardians of the Grove, a new public group event inspired by tower defense games. If players fail to protect the giant tree at the center of this event, they'll need to complete another event where they attempt to take back the tree from the Strain.
The other new zone will look familiar to players who started on the Exile side of Wildstar. Carbine has reused the assets and geography of the Northern Wilds tutorial zone to build the Northern Wastes. This updated version of the zone has new enemies, quests and challenges aimed at high-level characters.
The Strain is what Carbine is calling an "ultra drop" — the biggest of their several varieties of content patches. While future patches may be designated as the lesser "epic drops" or even mere "regular drops." However, Gaffney promises that no matter the name, each and every one of the monthly content patches will contain a huge amount of gameplay.
"Our eyes are on World of Warcraft," Gaffney said. "That's sitting out there with 10 years worth of content, but they only really do big updates on an expansion-pack basis. We think updates every four months or six months is too slow."
To accomplish such an ambitious schedule, Gaffney says that around one-third of the Wildstar team is working on updates at any one time, with the other two-thirds of the staff working on more reactive changes and tweaks that will be included in both the major updates as well as smaller patches along the way.
"We really have such a mass of content at launch," Gaffney marveled. "I don't think anyone has ever launched with that much before." Whether that claim is right or wrong, Wildstar's amount of content is only going to get more impressive soon.