WildStar’s Strain Ultradrop Brings a Frightening New Zone in Early July

WildStar has really taken hold at the Hardcore Gamer offices. We’re completely enamored, and with good reason. Carbine’s new MMO is beautiful, funny, and endlessly enjoyable. I’ve talked at length about the game’s fantastic mechanics, animation, and art design, but what keeps the player base coming back is WildStar’s embarrassment of content. I’m not far in the game at all (I’d have gotten farther, but E3 happened), yet already I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to do. And Carbine isn’t stupid when it comes to the design of their game – as much as there is at low levels, they have more than enough hardcore, post-cap content to keep you playing for months.

Amazingly, Carbine shows no signs of slowing down. Barely a month after launch, they’re already gearing up to launch new content – the first of many monthly updates to come – and this patch is a doozy. Plus, it comes with another of those highly entertaining WildStar Flicks:

The “Strain Ultradrop” gives players an entirely new high-level zone to conquer, Blighthaven, which is almost entirely dominated by the insidious “Strain.” This corrupting alien infection is the primary weapon of the ancient and evil Entity, and only the Eldan God Drusera and her army of Pell can hope to keep it at bay – although of course they need your help. There are plenty of solo quests to follow throughout the zone, many of which expand upon the Nexus world story, and a regular public event in which 20 players defend an ancient Eldan tree – one of the few power sources able to repel the infection – from Strain forces attempting to corrupt or destroy it. The event plays out like a tower defense game, and allows solo players to experience group play without having to organize a party.

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Of course, the big draw of MMOs is playing with other people, and the Ultradrop comes with plenty of group content to keep you occupied. On top of group quests and big monsters wandering the open world, groups of 5 will be able to take on a brand new story instance – The Nursery.  This sprawling facility isn’t quite as tough as a dungeon, but it does test your planning, teamwork, and reflexes, and it culminates in a challenging boss battle against Elyona the Mad, a former mentor of Drusera’s who’s fallen to the Strain’s corruption. This instance provides plenty of content for lore fiends as well, taking you to the genesis chamber where Drusera was first created. Out in the open world, you’ll find a wealth of Datacubes and journals to collect and peruse.

For those addicted to character customization, Completing the Zone’s content will reward you with a bunch of strain-infected gear, like a sick, toothy hoverboard. If you prefer traditional mounts, you’ll be able to infect them with the Strain as well using new flair. You’ll also net an array of new plugs for your homestead, including a monstrous gaping Sarlacc-style mouth-pit to keep trespassers at bay. Naturally, there’s also plenty of strain-themed furniture, allowing you to transform your crib into a cartoony HR Geiger nightmare world. Not only that, but Carbine is adding one of the best emotes in MMO history to this patch – a gruesome, Alien-style chest-bursting animation.

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On top of all that rad content, the update will also allow players to return to revisit an old area that’s undergone drastic changes. The Exile Human/Granok starting zone “Northern Wilds” has been transformed into the “Northern Wastes” by a catastrophic crash. It’s always nice to see zones evolve as an MMO ages – even as a non-player the changes Cataclysm brought to WOW impressed me – as it gives the world a real sense of progression that’s hard to capture with a “theme park” design, and adds replay value to older content.

On pretty much every front, the Strain Ultradrop impresses. It should give veteran players plenty to do between insane raids and warplot matches, while providing less hardcore players with more story once they reach the cap. The only group this update doesn’t cater to is PVP nuts, as there aren’t even any new pieces of stat-boosting gear that might shift the metagame. Not to worry, though; the drop after this one will contain a new battleground for you to play around in. Carbine is committed to giving every kind of player something new to do on a regular basis, and these Ultradrops should deliver plenty of value to justify the game’s controversial subscription fee. Strain will hit between July first and third, depending on when it’s ready, so mark your calendar and get ready for some alien-busting action