Wildstar Reloaded – Part 1: The Free to Play Model

I played Sci-Fi Western style MMO Wildstar way back when it first launched last year, and whilst my impressions were mostly positive, some of the core hooks for an MMO weren’t really ready for the big time.

2015-09-28-wildstar-reloaded-now-live

A year later, Carbine Studios are releasing the biggest content update to Wildstar yet: Wildstar Reloaded (trailer). Can this new update breathe new life into the game? And more importantly, can it encourage new players to give it a try?

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Aion Goes Free to Play

NCSoft‘s Aion is now free to play: all classes, areas, quests, equipment, professions and PvP will be freely available to all players!

European players will be requested to transfer their accounts to Gameforge, the new publisher of Aion.

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TERA Online Available to Pre-Order

Frogster, European publisher of MMO TERA Online, have announced pre-order details for the game.  Pre-ordering will allow guaranteed beta access and a five-day exclusive access to the game at launch, as well as special in-game items.

Beta testing begins on February 17th, with details on available sessions here.

TERA has been in the news over the last few weeks due to a lawsuit filed by NCsoft, and reported on by MMO Culture, and for their IP blocking which excludes players from some countries, including Russia, being unable to access Frogster servers in Europe.

Why I canned my Aion sub..

Well.. I tried to get in Aion tonight and there it was.. a 40 minute queue.
Last time I tried to play the thing was so laggy I couldn’t even turn my character on the spot without grinding my teeth..

I’d seen an “open letter” from one of NCSoft’s execs a couple of days back – reported here on Eurogamer, and wasn’t too impressed (but still willing to give the game a go, should it actually work for the rest of the free (included in game purchase) play time.

What their exec, Lance Stites said was pretty much this: there’ll be no waiving of sub fees, even temporarily, for those players who haven’t been able to get on –

Err.. if you’ve paid for a service, and haven’t got it, the least they should do is offer you some free time.. I’d have expected the second month to be free considering the mess…
But no.  Their “solution” appears to be that next month, there’ll be an opportunity for a free, one-time character transfer.. pay for another month’s sub despite not getting much service so far, and move your character to another server where hopefully, it won’t be so busy..

Aion looked beautiful, and the tiny taste of flight I had was awesome – but I’m not paying for something I’m not getting.  Sub cancelled.. and from the comments I’ve seen elsewhere, I’m not the only one.

Queuing

Aion has been plagued with long queue times since launch.

On Friday night, when I first tried to start on Aion, I was stopped dead in my tracks by queues of one hour and more, for any server.   Not too much of a surprise; I’d already seen various complaints on forums and from friends on Twitter, and I had other games as backup – for instance, Trials HD on the 360!

I tried again on Saturday morning, and got in with no problems.  So one way to beat long queues is to jump on the game at a quiet time, such as 9am on Saturday morning. 🙂

How else do you beat long queues?  Don’t disconnect.

You have to leave and do real-world things eventually though, right? wings Hence the private stores, maintaining active connections for those who wander off variously through the day, but can’t be bothered taking their turn in the queue when they want to come back.  Great for them, but bad for those waiting in the queue, as these stores hog all the space on the servers.

So NCsoft applied an update to try and stop people abusing this feature.   The update limited people to 30 minutes of store-idling, at which point the user is booted, freeing up space on the server for somebody else.  Tweets on Saturday afternoon indicated this hadn’t helped too much though, with queue times still close to an hour.

Two new EU servers were added today.  Was it foolish to expect that maybe I’d be able to get in tonight without too much of a wait?

I guess so!  I went to join, and – three hours and 18 minutes queue time.

There’s no way of migrating your character yet – so nobody with an established character is going to go on the new servers as it would mean starting over.  New people aren’t going to go there if they think they’re going to be empty; most people want to go where other users are.. we’ll see if this gets better over the next few days..

In the meantime, I believe the Left 4 dead DLC hits tomorrow 😀