WildStar launches closed beta for free-to-play model, but how much value will it give you?

Have you been on the fence about jumping into WildStar? The transition to F2P might just push you over.

Paying monthly subscriptions for MMOs has steadily become a tough sell for many consumers. People simply expect more for less and many games have had to adapt to the changing currents. WildStar will be yet another one of those games.

Now, NCSoft and Carbine Studios have officially launched the closed beta for the free-to-play transition, which is available to all players who currently hold an existing WildStar account and have signed up for a closed beta key, including those who do not have an active subscription.

Back in May, NCSoft and Carbine Studios announced the transition after only launching the game in June 2014. However, like many other free-to-play MMOs, WildStar will still have an optional subscription to upgrade player accounts to Signature Accounts which come with extra character slots among other added perks.

The developers have promised to maintain WildStar by staying "committed to ensuring that WildStar will remain AAA, offering polished regular updates and a high-quality experience." Among these updates will include:

  • A revamped character creation system that is more friendly to experienced MMO players, letting them start wherever they choose.
  • Two new areas, Alpha Sanctum, an instance that will bring players into the Nexus world story earlier in the game, and the PVP Arena Cryo-Plex, a winter-focused, multi-layered battlefield.
  • A completely randomized reward system called Madame Fay's Fortunes that lets players invest a little bit of in-game currency that can turn into a small fortune.

So the big question is - how free is this free-to-play model?

Free-to-play can be as tough a sell to a player as any subscription, especially depending on how high the developers set the pay wall. Some games let players earn experience quicker, others have unique mounts (or the use of mounts in general), but WildStar's developers are adamant that power is not for sale. Progression will continue to require both skill and effort.

The game will make use of NCoin, NCSoft's proprietary in-game store currency, but will offer only convenience and cosmetic items. The developers claim that "in almost every case, items that are available for purchase via NCoin will have equivalent items available for players that want to invest time rather than money." 

WildStar is widely considered to be a high-quality MMO, earning a score of 82 on Metacritic after it launched last year. If you've been hesitant to try a new game out, or are looking to play something without worrying about making a bad investment, WildStar looks to be among the better options out there to try out.

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Published Aug. 12th 2015

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