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After WildStar transitioned to a completely free-to-play model in late September last year, it received a massive amount of new players. Since then, it has held regular holiday-themed events, remodeled several maps for hoverboard races, and had a handful of double XP weekends. But that's just the small stuff, really, compared to what Carbine Studios is packing for its next major update slated for Q1 2016: Destination Arcterra.
Meant for endgame max-level characters and unlocked after the Eldan content in the story, Arcterra stretches out with formidable, icy, crystalline terrain with soft, curving auroras adorning the dark sky. The sweepingly pristine art style by Frank Kitson might be comforting and picturesque, but the landscape is filled with tough enemies and two-man bosses populate the area, almost overwhelmingly so.
This introduces the zone's unique feature: “snowballing” bosses. A meter at the top of the screen will continue to build with every two-man boss that's defeated. When a certain milestone is reached, the two-man bosses will suddenly give way to five-man bosses. When enough five-man bosses are defeated, then 20-man bosses will replace them. (See where this is heading?)
Slaying 20-man bosses during Dynamic Blizzard events will reveal keys that can be used to access a special dungeon. However, these keys are both timed and limited; the first and only the first faction to obtain enough keys will have access to the dungeon for 24 hours before the entire meter is reset. Now, this feature will likely go through a few passes when Arcterra is open on the public test realm before it's ready, but that's generally how it will go.
Better yet, Arcterra will come with a unique rewards tracker and raise the power for equipment through item crafting. As you continue to complete events, dailies, dungeons, whatever, you'll obtain unique items like costumes. It's not far from the contract system that already exists in Wildstar but it's made specific to the area. To keep the playing field level, main equipment like armor, weapons, and runes can be upgraded higher and more easily. You'll be able to salvage existing weapons into specific items and parts, and you can choose how items are broken so that you can craft without having to roll the dice. Lower-level components can be transformed into higher-level components not only for item scalability but also for a more vibrant economy.
Continuing the story of the Nexus, Genesis Prime Drusera, and the fight against the Entity is the Vault of the Archon, which delves into the backstory of Drusera and how she was formed. The insidious Entity wishes to control Drusera as she can pretty much create anything she puts her mind to. Eventually, you'll discover that the Eldan had assistance from a mysterious stranger in creating Drusera. Perhaps he or she can aid you in your quest to separate the Entity from Drusera.
In the next major update after Arcterra, Carbine plans on creating a 20-man raid called Redmoon Terror, which will also be available on PTR with some raiding guilds given access. As the name suggests, Mordechai Redmoon from Skullcano Island returns, being brought back from the dead along with zombie pirates and other minions like Laveka the Dark-Hearted. Completing the raid will require proper use of new spell mechanics specific to the dungeon.
Carbine Studios is keeping to an aggressive schedule to improve and elevate Wildstar within the competitive free-to-play MMORPG genre, even against NCSOFT's other properties like Blade & Soul and the upcoming MXM. Destination Arcterra will release sometime in the next few months so you won't have to wait too much longer to play the next chapter of Wildstar. Last but not least, Wildstar will also be coming to Steam in the first half of 2016.