Category Archives: General SWTOR

Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Road Maps!

Since I had some time to kill while waiting for the new Star Wars trailer, I figured I’d jot down some thoughts on SWTOR’s latest roadmap, as well some other related news that came out of this week’s Twitch chat and NYC Cantina.

My first impression was very positive. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it are always good things. And being exciting about what is to come makes it even better. My biggest frustration with Knights of the Eternal Throne has been the gaps between new content and not knowing when they’d be filled We’re still well over a month away from the next chapter in the story of Theron’s betrayal, and it’s disappointing to learn that the Gods from the Machine Operation will not conclude this year. I’m psyched to see what happens on Copero and the new op has been really fun so far, but I do feel like content has been released at a snail’s pace this year.

Server Mergers

Of course, the big changes coming early next month are the server mergers. These have been long anticipated and truthfully long needed. Personally, I am nervous about them. I play on Ebon Hawk, and it has been a remarkably chill place to call home. I worry that the new Star Forge server won’t be as relaxed and welcoming to new players. And the possibility of losing character names is not great either. If I have to rename any of my favorite characters, I will be pretty grumpy about it.

That said, the mergers are necessary. Those low population servers are booby traps for new players. Discovering that you can count the Fleet population on one hand, that flashpoint queues take hours to pop even at peak times and that the GTN is devoid of anything of value completely sucks. The need for multiple servers is outdated for even much more popular games, and I can’t fault SWTOR for ditching barren servers so that new players will have the chance to actually interact with others if they choose.

It will be up to the players to create a server identity worth being proud of. Should we cross paths, gentle reader, I promise I won’t freak out if you want to watch the cut scenes, don’t know the fights or want to take on a bonus boss.

Devoting as Much Space to the Hot Prospect/Satele Shan Thing as it Deserves

All’s well that ends well.

Galactic Command

The Galactic Command system has been the cause of much consternation, and living through its growing pains wasn’t always great, but I think the Bioware team has done a good job iterating it into a pretty good place, with the changes to come helping to smooth out more rough edges. There are a change or two more I’d like to see, but I suspect the next expansion/gear reset will go much smoother.

One of the things about Command XP has been that it has been something of moving target. Uprisings, PVP, Flashpoint and Ops, and dailies have all seen their time in the spotlight as the best way to gain CXP. I doubt it was intentional, but I do think this has worked out to be a good thing and has kept things a bit fresher for folks whenever they want to farm up some Command levels. Going forward, I hope this is something Bioware keeps in mind.

Cuts, Copero and Companions

Bioware dropped more hints about the content to come this week beyond the road map. The most striking has been the teaser revealing Theron’s new look. I almost feel bad for mocking his faux-hawk a few weeks ago. Good ol’ Theron; he’s always one for rash decisions.

I get the same vibe from the betrayal story as I did from “Forged Alliances” at the end of The Rise of the Hutt Cartel, so it seems likely that we’re building to a cliff-hanger for the next expansion. However, I imagine the soonest we see a new expansion would be early summer.

On the way, I’m always happy to visit new flashpoints. Copero’s design takes elements from Makeb, Alderaan, and Rakata Prime but assembles them in way that makes it feel unique. The Chiss are probably the Expanded Universe’s most enduring contribution to Star Wars lore, and I’m looking forward to exploring their culture more.

During the SWTOR team’s twitch chat last week, lead writer Charles Boyd teased the return of many still missing companions, name dropping most but not all (Come home, Nadia!), and this is most welcome and overdue news. One of my hopes for the next expansion is to see more focus on those beloved but side-lined characters and romances that haven’t seen much daylight since launch.

Catch me in the right mood and I’ll grouse that I think this expansion will probably end more or less in a state in which it should’ve launched. That may overstate things, and I’ve very much welcomed the news we’ve had this week. I hope the development teams remains engaged with the community. Since I’m eagerly awaiting halftime of tonight’s football game, I think it’s fair to borrow a sport’s metaphor: keep the chains moving, guys!

 

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Crisis on Umbara Review

This week, I’d like to share my review of the Crisis on Umbara flashpoint and story. I’ll divide this post into two sections, the first is spoiler free and the second shall delve deep into spoiler territory.

Part One: Last Train to Umbara

Crisis on Umbara is well done and is everything I want from a flashpoint. The designers did a fantastic job with the new environment, and filled it with a neat variety of new creatures and foes. Crisis is filled many cool moments, from moving through and over the train cars to escaping the crash and exploring the purple, glowing Umbaran terrain with its weird creatures including half-dinosaur, half-mantis predators and an enormous and terrifying iridescent landshark of a boss.

Each boss encounter is distinct and all the fights require some understanding of mechanics, regardless of mode. Solo and Veteran mode are appropriately forgiving, but while I wouldn’t say they are tough, these modes require a bit more personal responsibility on the part of the players than most other flashpoints. I’m okay with that. Crisis’ Solo mode is the first not to include the GSI Support Droid which is so ridiculously powerful that it makes the players irrelevant and we end up more spectators than participants in the action. In my book, this change is a good one, and while I haven’t run solo mode to death, it feels on par with a tougher planetary heroic, which is where I’d imagine it should be.

Master Mode, on the other hand, is no joke; it is easily the most difficult Master Mode Flashpoint in the game. Because of real life concerns, my usual crew hasn’t yet seen the final boss, but so far fights are big and satisfying challenges, as they should be for the toughest mode.

I do have some nits to pick however. As cool as Umbara is, I do feel like it should be darker. While the first third takes place on a high-tech train, and it’s reasonable that the outdoor boss areas be illuminated, I wish the rest of the environment had better evoked the world’s appearance in The Clone Wars where the characters were often seen in silhouette and it seemed monsters could jump out of murky shadows at any moment. Umbara’s shadowy nature is right there in its name, but both Ilum and Imperial Taris are darker, and when I recall how well another flashpoint, Kaon Under Siege used darkness, it makes me think Crisis could’ve used a bit more shadowy atmosphere.

I do want to discuss the rewards. I discovered the hard way that the Umbara stronghold was the first to be released that also did not come with an increase in the cap on the maximum number of strongholds, so I am not yet able to purchase it. Because of my attachment to the other strongholds and the time I put in decorating them, I don’t think I’ll be unlocking Umbara until the cap is raised. Given my fondness for decorating, this is a bit of a bummer.

As for the other rewards that can be purchased with Alliance Recon Data, what we have is nice. I like the armor set, and a friend whose main character is a biochemist was overjoyed to see the return of reusable stims, medpacks and adrenals.

That said, there should be more. The flashpoint currency is character, not legacy based and has a weekly cap, but the value of the currency can vary widely between different characters. If you don’t have biochem as a crafting skill and don’t want (or already have) the stronghold, there is little else worth saving up for. No recipes for other crafters, no weapons, no dyes, no decorations. It is very easy to get to the point where Recon Data becomes useless to players. While I think that should happen eventually, it shouldn’t be after only a run or two.

I am glad to see that the bosses drop decorations, and that the drop rates are not ridiculously low like they are in other flashpoints, but I must say that I’m not at all a fan of the fact that the decos are holograms. I want an actual alien landshark in my stronghold, not a holographic one.

Once again, the achievement rewards are also anemic. Where are the trophies, the titles and other weird stuff to work towards? Crisis on Umbara is the only flashpoint without a trophy decoration. What’s up with that? Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d rather have a trophy to hang on the wall of my stronghold than 20 Cartel Coins.

I made the same points regarding rewards and achievements in my review of the Iokath dailies. SWTOR has done well with these things before, and I think it’s fair to hold new content to those same standards.

I’d also like to see specific loot attached to the Master Mode version of the flashpoint. Because of the limited use for Alliance Recon Data, there should be extra incentives to run the flashpoint in its toughest mode. Given the 242 gear requirement and difficulty of the encounters, I don’t know what type of gear drops would be appropriate, but if I had a shot at a cool, rare vanity item, I’d gladly run the flashpoint again and again.

Part Two: Who Spoils the Spoilers?

The revelation of the traitor’s identity was probably and unfortunately the worst kept secret in recent SWTOR history. I’m probably being over-cautious to wait more than week before writing about it, but I’m sure there are many folks who don’t follow the SWTOR gossip and news as closely as I do. I figure better safe than sorry.

That said, let’s dive in! I managed to avoid having the traitor’s identity spoiled, but the general level of freak out in my social media feed pretty much insured that the traitor could only be Lana or Theron. Once I started the story, it was clear within the first dialogue scene that it was going to be Theron. So I can’t say I was shocked by the reveal.

Another reason I wasn’t that surprised is because it makes perfect sense that Theron is the traitor. I mean, of course, he is.

I like Theron Shan a lot, but the guy has enough issues to fill a comic book collection, and he chose a profession where betrayal is a part of doing business. First off, if the Outlander has made Dark Side choices or is even a little Sithy, the only surprise should be that it took Theron so long to make the heel turn. Nevertheless, even if your Outlander is like mine and made every Light Side choice, saved every unicorn and hugged every kitten, I buy Theron’s defection too. To him, that Outlander might seem too good to be true, and it’s not a stretch that he would pre-emptively self-sabotage the relationship. Why wouldn’t he? Ever since we first met Theron back during Rise of the Hutt Cartel, it’s been clear that he has chosen to nurse his abandonment and trust issues rather than deal with them.

Screwing things up is kinda what Theron does best, so I don’t think it’s out of bounds that he’d betray the leader of an Alliance he helped build.

I know Theron has many ardent fans, and I write this not to slag him. This stuff is what I like about Theron. It’s what makes him an interesting character. He may think he’s the James Bond of the Star Wars universe, but his Member’s Only jacket and faux-hawk reveal the truth that he’s really just a dork like the rest of us.

And Yet…

Do I think Theron has really betrayed the alliance and the Outlander? No. No, I don’t. There are two or three hints in the Crisis on Umbara story that pretty strongly suggest that he has done all this to infiltrate the mysterious Order. Indeed, going off half-cocked without checking with friends and allies first is another signature Theron Shan move. It’s exactly what he did on Ziost, and I think it’s what he’s doing here. That he wouldn’t let the Outlander know ahead of time makes sense to me given those trust issues I mentioned earlier.

We’re still in the earliest stages of this new story arc, and I’m reluctant to draw too many conclusions. We are certain to learn before long who and what “The Order” is but I’m not sure we have anything to go on at the moment. Beyond the return of Malgus anyway.

I think it might be interesting if the sincerity of Theron’s betrayal hinged on the choices the players has previously made during Knight of the Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne, but I suspect that might be a bit much to ask of both Bioware and the players.

It seems to me that Crisis on Umbara has got folks talking, jump started the next chapter of the story and has me curious to find out what happens next, so I’ve got to give Bioware thumbs up on this. Then again, I would’ve figured Theron for a Hawaiian pizza guy, so what do I know?

 

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“Scouting Iokath” Daily Quest Guide

This post is a follow-up to my review of the Iokath Dailies.

Recently I participated in a twitter discussion regarding the dailies on Iokath and mentioned that I’d worked out a quick path for completing the “Scouting Iokath” daily quest. Initially I skipped this quest assuming it was too much running around, but as I got used to traversing the Iokath Expanse. I realized I could get to the scanning points without too much trouble, and I thought I’d put together a visual guide for completing the quest.

While this might look complex at first glance, the trick is realizing that most of the travel is handled by Iokath’s trams and transporters, and the player’s own Quick Travel ability, with only a wee bit of speeder piloting on the side. Getting through the Weapons Factory will require a bit of fighting, but if you’re there anyway to work on other quests, it’s not too bad.

I want to give special thanks to FibroJedi whose screenshots of this daily came in handy while compiling this guide.

Iokath Suggestions

Since I’m on the subject, I thought I’d also make a few suggestions that might improve the questing experience on Iokath.

First and foremost, I think the Monitor and Mouse droid dailies should be revised to be more fun. As it is now, the player spends a lot of time on both quests just waiting. Waiting for the Monitor’s self-inflicted stun to wear off. Waiting as a Mouse droid for mobs to respawn (sometimes three or four times) and ever so slowly whittle down the walker. The Monitor design is really cool. Instead of looking forward to taking control of one, I actively avoid it. The mouse droid daily should be silly and funny, but, in practice, it’s a bore.

I’d like to see a revised set of abilities for the Monitor. They don’t need to be over-powered, and the notion of a major attack coming with a downside is a good one, but stuns are the worst.

As for the Mouse droid, either the self-destruct should do significantly more damage or the droid’s secondary attack should be able to debuff the walker so that it takes more damage from the nearby droids when they agro on it. This debuff could even have a short duration. Having to dart in between the walker’s legs and zap it while it’s fighting other droids could be neat.

The “Colossal Threat” quest should be a separate weekly, much like the “Walking on Hallowed Grounds” weekly on Yavin. In addition, the quest could use better rewards. The Colossus Droid is certainly nowhere near as difficult as the Revanite Walker, but as it is now, I haven’t bothered with it since getting the achievement. If it were a significant source of Power Shards or CXP or had a chance to drop a rare decoration or a pet or a mount, I’m certain there would be more interest in this quest.

Finally I’d like to see some unique quests or achievements based around the command modules that drop from the ops bosses. Having something to do or shoot for while controlling the Machine Gods out in the expanse could be fun. I think coming around a corner and seeing a player controlled Tyth raging in battle should not at all be a rare occurrence!

We will return to our regularly schedule programming next week!

 

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Turning Day Into Night Time

This week, let’s continue to examine some of Nar Shaddaa’s neon signs, focusing on two that Sith faction players will see as they enter the infamous Star Cluster Casino.

First up, we have something that at first seems to be another standard, simple advertisement exhorting viewers to travel to the Outer Rim, but there is quite a bit going on here, with several layers of graphical elements including rectangular and circular frames, two different starburst graphics as well as two different colored scattered accent shapes. Recreating this in English was a bit more challenging than I expected it would be!

This sign, which can be seen prominently on the Nar Shaddaa loading screen, is, of course, not written in Aurebesh, but looks to have been created using Erik Schroeder’s font Sith Prophesy which models the language officially known as Common Sith. This language mainly appears in Star Wars as the writing seen on Darth Vader’s chest control panels.

Given that pureblood Sith are common in SWTOR’s setting it’s not surprising that they’d have restaurants and advertising aimed specifically at them, although I confess I wonder what constitutes fine dining to a Sith.

This sign’s translation is a fairly common diner name, but I imagine it might also be a reference to Alton Brown’s beloved television show.

Manaan Stronghold Review

Patch 5.3 brought a bunch of stuff including the controversial change to tunings (I’m fine with it, especially once unlocked crystals and tunings become mail-able in legacy weapons) and the second encounter in the Gods from the Machine operation (crazy, fun fight!), but the one I’ve spent the most time with is the new Manaan stronghold. I thought I’d share a few impressions as I work my way towards 100% completion.

First off, it’s beautiful and I’ve absolutely enjoyed my time decorating. My complaints are mostly the familiar decorators’ laments about hook placement and type. Why aren’t the rug hooks where I want them? Why won’t that deco go up against the wall? Why won’t that deco fit on that hook?

Manaan does have a few specific issues. I’ve heard some folks complain that it’s too small, but after the massive sprawl of Yavin, I’m okay with a smaller stronghold. However, its size is actually deceptive. The stronghold’s main staging area is actually huge, but it kind of feels small. Yavin’s Temple Grounds area is much larger to be sure, but that section is subdivided into distinct areas (the temple roof, the bridge, the paved platform, the various clearings, the cave, the swimming hole out back, etc.), Manaan’s main area, on the other hand, is just one connected and visually identical area. I think this section could’ve been better subdivided using elements from the existing Manaan zone such as the tunnel that splits the two open areas and the side office in which we met Theron and Lana during Forged Alliances.

I welcome the generous inclusion of numerous centerpiece hooks (especially the ones on the ocean floor), but it’s frustrating that the alternative layouts for centerpieces are not great. Two out of the four options waste fully half of the hook space, and the other two can be awkward to use. This is especially the case in the two side rooms on the Underwater Observatory level. If you don’t want to place a centerpiece, getting those rooms just right can be a tricky. Personally I’d like to see an alternative layout (seen below) with both horizontal and vertical orientations for the Centerpiece hook that consists of two large hooks, flanked on either side by a mix of medium, medium narrow and small hooks.

The small wall hooks in the ceilings of those two rooms are a strange choice. I get that many large ceiling decorations might clip in those spots, but many other fixtures such as hanging lights and chandeliers would fit wonderfully. I know that Manaan’s architectural style doesn’t lend itself to large, flat spaces, but it should be up to the decorators if we care about the clipping.

Otherwise, I’m not a fan of the invisible wall outside the rooftop garden. I imagine that the entire complex is probably not fully rendered, but I do wish I could explore more. And even if I can’t decorate the interior spaces below the garden, I’d still like to place decorations on the roof down there.

My last Manaan specific nitpick concerns the elevators in the stronghold. When you exit them, your character is facing the elevator, forcing you to turn around whenever you enter a new level. You really should be facing the room as you step off the lift.

Finally, I thought I’d conclude with some general Stronghold and decoration changes I’d like to see. I like the hook system, I really do. Working within limits prevents me from going too far down the decorating rabbit hole and has sparked some creative solutions, but it could use some tweaking.

My main frustration is this: which decorations fit on which hooks has never been consistent. A café table will fit on a medium hook, but the similar-sized Dejarik table will not. Why? If a decoration can even remotely fit on a hook, we should be able to place it on that hook. I’d like to see the hooks for every decoration given another pass. There are many large decos that would fit just fine medium hooks, and it sometimes feels like the designers have forgotten the medium narrow hook even exists.

The introductory cut scene currently plays whenever you zone into Manaan, and I’ve seen this described as a feature not a bug. While I don’t want to have to spacebar through the scene every time I go to my stronghold, I will say it is sometimes cool to see that scene play once there are decorations in place. It’d be nice to have an on demand option to take the tour of a stronghold after each characters’ first visit. Could an option to watch the scene be added to the control panel that exists in every stronghold?

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy decorating strongholds, and Manaan has not been an exception. It is easily the most scenic stronghold and while, unlike Coruscant, it doesn’t feel like a place I’d live, it sure is a beautiful place to visit. I look forward to basking in the sun and putting the last decoration in place in the not too distant future.

 

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Bright Light City Gonna Set My Soul On Fire

This week, inspired by the return of the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event, I thought I’d take a look at a pair of the many neon signs that light up the night on the Smuggler’s Moon, focusing on two that are prominently displayed in the Club Vertica Casino.

This sign is written using Naboo’s Futhork font, and variations of it can be seen throughout Nar Shaddaa. In the example above, the sign is flipped and the letters are reversed, but the sign often appears with the letters properly oriented, as can be seen in the image at the top of this post. For my “translation” I’ve oriented the letters to be readable. Not that there is much to read, since the sign is as obscure in English as it is in Futhork. As I’ve said before, this doesn’t bother me, since the alien glyphs are most important as design elements. Besides the sign might make perfect sense to any native speaker of Huttese, Bocce or Mando’a.

A closer look at the graphic reveals that it is made up of several layers of different elements aside from the Futhork letters. The circle and bracket decoration can be seen in many other neon signs. In addition, a semi-scalloped circular pattern appears twice around the letters. This is a common pattern in Huttese decor. Next time you visit Karagga’s or Nem’ro’s palace, look for it on the floor of the larger halls.

This sign is also a common sight throughout the game, and is written using the non-standard Aurebesh font, Galactic Basic. Unlike the previous neon advertisement, this one can be translated; however one of the words in yellow at the base of the sign reads right to left. I would guess when it was typed on a path, the designer forgot to orient the letters “properly.” Again, for my recreation, I opted to make the sign readable in English. As for what the large initials mean, I can only guess. In fact, I’m happy to do so: how about “Jabba’s Dance Barge” or maybe “Jilasi’s Draft Boutique” or perhaps even “DJ Bareesh”? I bet that Hutt can lay down some serious beats!

Nightlife Event Review

Finally, I thought I’d offer some quick thoughts on the return of the Nightlife Event. I won’t lie; it was never my favorite. Clicking on slot machines is about as far from engaging game play as you can get. That said, I can’t deny that the event offers very neat rewards including some of the best legacy weapons in the game, and the new, interactive decorations. Fortunately, the items that interest me the most can be purchased from the vendors using Golden Certificates which are common prizes from the Kingpin’s Slot Machine. In addition, now that slots tokens drop from Flashpoint and Operation bosses, folks can participate and collect rewards without breaking the bank. This is a very nice, player friendly addition to the event.

If I really wanted the Gamorrean Companion or the Rancor Mount, I might despise the event for the monotonous click-fest and money-sink that it is. However, that I can take a pocket full of tokens awarded from a week’s worth of casual play and turn them into a dance floor for my stronghold or a Tommy Gun for my Trooper is something I won’t complain about.

I’ve said it before but, I remain hopeful that we’ll eventually see a brand, new event or at least a fresh coat of paint applied to the old events to keep them interesting for veteran players. Fingers crossed!

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Good Hair Day: Five Hair Styles That Should Be Added to SWTOR

Last month, I was pleased to see that three new hairstyles were added to SWTOR’s appearance designer. When it comes to character customization, the more the better. Inspired by Kid Lee’s video exploring the possibility of body tattoos and Xam Xam’s blog post requesting more outfits from Star Wars lore, I thought I’d add to their excellent suggestions a few of my own with another dumb top five list of looks I’d like to see added to the appearance designer.

These suggestions are drawn exclusively from the Star Wars movies, and while I’m totally cool with more popstar and hipster haircuts, I think there is plenty of inspiration yet to be drawn from the film canon.

Leia’s Buns

Yeah, I know that there are already two kinda-sorta versions of Leia’s infamous buns available already, but neither feel just right to me. Leia’s coif in the first movie is THE iconic hairstyle of the entire Star Wars saga, and I firmly believe a screen-accurate version absolutely should be available to players in the game. As far as I’m concerned this one is a no brainer.

Padme’s Braids

Padme wore her hair in a great number of styles over the course of the prequels, but I thought I’d pick one that was both not too outlandish and not too likely to cause many clipping problems. Besides, her bun of tight braids from Attack of the Clones is totally cute and functional for any character of any class.

Anakin’s Shag

Players can find decent matches for most of the male hair styles sported in the movies, but all but one of those haircuts are quite short, so I’d like to see some longer options. Anakin’s shoulder length mane from Revenge of the Sith is similar to the look sported by Kylo Ren and old Luke in The Force Awakens, and having a choice between short hair and the full Qui-Gon would be nice.

Rey’s Triple Buns

I know, I know, still more buns, but, Rey is awesome, and I’m honestly a little surprised this look isn’t already in the game. While Leia and Padme’s hair tends to be neat and smooth, I think this messier look would work well too. And again, this style shouldn’t have too many issues clipping the game’s armor.

Cassian’s ‘Stache and Scruff

Okay, this isn’t technically a hairstyle, but I’d like to see more options for facial hair. Generally you’re out of luck if you want a mustache like those sported by Lando, Biggs and Cassian or a thin beard like Obi Wan’s in both the original trilogy and Attack of the Clones. Sometimes, you just want to be scruffy lookin’.

To be honest, it was tough to stick to just hair. I’d be interested to see more tattoo options for not just humans but also Togruta and Twi-liks and Zabraks, oh my! And pity the poor Cathar whose customization options are the most anemic.

I grok that the right haircut won’t kill a boss or cap a node any faster, but it’s hard to beat the feeling you get when your character looks just the way you want them to. So I hope more customization options will be on offer in the not too distant future.

SWTOR’s 2017 Road Map

Last week, Keith Kanneg shared with us the long anticipated Road Map for the next few months of SWTOR. I’m a bit late to the party with this post and I don’t really have much to add to the general happiness with which the road map has been greeted, so I’ll keep my comments short. On the one hand, most of the announcement contained information we already knew, but having a detailed idea of what is coming and when to expect it is excellent news. I’m not the biggest fan of the Nightlife event, and class changes always make me nervous but knowing that I’ll be able to go nuts decorating a new stronghold next month and run a new flashpoint with friends after that is great information to have. I have every hope the fine folks at Bioware keep up the good work they’ve done communicating with the community lately.

 

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Why SWTOR Should Pay Tribute to Carrie Fisher

I hadn’t planned to post anything this week since I saw no point in competing with the news from Star Wars Celebration, but then I saw this and it genuinely choked me up:

It reminded me of the suggestion that many folks made that SWTOR should add a memorial to Carrie Fisher to the game. I don’t recall anyone at Bioware mentioning one way or the other about whether it would happen, but I figured I’d use my teeny, tiny soapbox to add my voice to those who have already suggested it.

A statue of a princess and a loyal astromech at House Organa on Alderaan has been the most common suggestion, and this would also be a fitting tribute to Kenny Baker who passed away last year as well. Certainly it could be done in a way that wouldn’t violate continuity any worse than “Hun Duo” and “Greepo” in the cantina on Hutta or the tableau of bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back on the Ziost Shadow.

But even if it did rip a hole in the time-space continuum, I wouldn’t care. SWTOR is not a transmission of historical documents, it’s a work of fiction, a game played and made by people in the real world. It’s only natural that it should pay tribute to someone whose contributions to Star Wars had a real effect on generations of fans.

So, of course, it should happen and I would hope the good folks at Bioware agree.

 

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Falling Down a Bottomless Pit is Never Fatal

A friend of mine who got an invite to the PTS for the upcoming patch 5.2: The War for Iokath sent me this screenshot from the new daily area’s imperial quest hub. He doesn’t know Aurebesh, but figured I could translate it for him so I thought I’d give it a go.

At first glance this seems like a bog standard Imperial recruitment poster featuring one of the game’s most beloved Dark Lords. It’s topped with an invocation of the Sith code, but its tagline, however, is a different thing entirely. Not only does it have significant implications for the future of SWTOR but for the entire Star Wars saga.

Whether this is an inside joke for folks on the PTS or kind of a big spoiler, I cannot say. Click on the thumbnail and see the translation at your own risk. You’ve been warned!

 

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Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Top Five Non-Cartel Market Mounts

This week’s post is another dumb top five list of some of my favorite mounts in the game. These can all be acquired by simply playing the game. You don’t need to spend a single cartel coin or hunt the GTN for a deal to hit the road in style. I’ve not included mounts from flashpoints and operations since you’re neither guaranteed to see those mounts drop nor win the role. In addition it’s hard to quantify mounts with epeen value; I’m not sure tentacle jet packs would be a big deal if they didn’t come from one of the toughest boss fights in the game. It’s perhaps another list for another time.

Questing: Tauntauns

SWTOR offers many snowscapes to explore from Hoth and Belsavis to Ilum and Ziost, and there is no better way to lope across these ice-capped worlds than on a Tauntaun. There are several Tauntaun mounts available from the Cartel Market and one as a reward from the Oricon questline, but the two available on Hoth are closest in appearance to those used by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. The spotted Tundra Tauntaun and the tan Mountain Tauntaun can be acquired through simple questing which will have you criss-crossing Hoth, feeding baby Tauntauns and protecting them from Wampas; do this enough times and you’ll earn enough tokens to purchase either mount. It’s not the most engaging bit of gameplay, but Hoth is quite picturesque, and if you’re looking for a relaxing, stress-free way to spend a couple hours, you could do worse.

Reputation: Infected Varactyl

Most of the major PVE reputations offer an exclusive mount or two to folks who’ve earned the respect of the game’s various factions, and it was hard to pick just one, but the Infected Varactyl from the THORN reputation vendor is a standout. As with many of the mounts on this list, there are variants available from the Cartel Market, but the Infected Varactyl’s mottled gray skin and glowing yellow eyes set it apart from its healthier siblings. You will need to earn Legend standing with THORN and gather materials that drop from bosses that appear only during the event, but I think this is a great mount for any Sith Warrior or Inquisitor.

Vendor: Gurian Shadow

If you just want to drop some credits and drive away immediately, the Gurian Shadow might be the mount for you. This is a speeder bike stripped to its essentials: handle bars, wings and a rocket between your legs. Sometimes that’s all you need. This particular version of the Gurian is only available from one vendor in the galaxy: Bleargh, the Gamorrean Black Market Trader who resides in the far end of the Outlaw’s Den on Tatooine. It’s a bit of a trek, but the Shadow’s matte black paint job and glowing red engine mark it as the best of its class.

Achievement: Aratech Speeders

There is an often overlooked quest terminal in the GTN section of the Fleets that offers four distinct Aratech Speeders as rewards for completing much of SWTOR’s original endgame group content, from killing world bosses to completing flashpoints and operations. The Aratechs are some of my favorite speeders in the game; they’re long and sleek and feel fast as heck. Between the four options, there is bound to be one to suit any taste. I’m partial to the flaming red Fire, but the slick, black Nightscythe looks good on anyone. Again, there are other Aratechs available from the Cartel Market, but for my credits, these are the best looking ones in the game.

For the Truly Dedicated: the GSI PMP-06 Pleasure Speeder

I won’t lie, unless you buy the parts from the GTN, acquiring the GSI Pleasure Speeder will not be trivial. This speeder is assembled from parts found by excavating sites using the Macrobinoculars and Seeker droid acquired from the long side quests that first appeared during Rise of the Hutt Cartel. The parts for the pleasure speeder are rare treasures from the dig sites scattered around the galaxy and it will take many, many hours to find them all. Along the way, you’ll certainly find three other speeders and a couple sets of unique Legacy armor, but at the end you’ll have one of the rarest mounts in the game. The speeder’s flame-shooting tail-pipes are over the top in just the right way and it’s glowing orange pin-striping looks fantastic on any shadowy planet. This mount is ridiculous, but I love it.

If you’re looking for a unique mount to call your own, don’t feel like you have to drop cartel coins or pay through the nose on the GTN. Look at what’s available in the game. Reputation and most event currencies are shared amongst your legacy, so check out some of those vendors you might normally pass by. You might find an over-looked gem, with low mileage and great terms waiting just for you.

 

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Top Five Dumb Wishes for SWTOR

This week, I’d like to focus on something a little different and share a short list of changes I’d like to see made to SWTOR. This is NOT a list of important things. Sure, who wouldn’t demand more story, more group content, perfect class balance, and the return of Kira? Of course I expect all that, but here some other, frivolous things I’d like to see once that other stuff is also sorted out.

Hats and Hoods and Hair

It’s one of the sad facts of life in the SWTOR universe that hats and hoods cannot share the same space as hair on our characters’ heads. The recent additions of Nico Okarr, who wears a hat without ear flaps, Vaylin, whose hair spills out of her hood, and even Koth Freakin’ Vortena, who gets to prop his goggles on his forehead, stand in stark contrast to the player characters who can do none of those things. There are tons of awesome helmets and masks that cover the whole head, but there are far fewer good examples of open-faced headgear and hats because almost without exception they must also awkwardly cover the sides and back of the characters’ heads. Likewise, it’s a shame that so many potentially cool Jedi and Sith robes are marred and rendered unusable by hoods that make the characters appear bald. It’s a nut I really hope they crack one day.

Updated Conquest

I enjoy participating in Conquest both as a solo player and as part of a guild working to place in the top ten. That said, Conquest is in desperate need of an update. Let’s invade Darvannis, Zakuul and Iokath and chase new objectives related to those worlds. In addition, don’t forget to add new Utility decorations. There are now two expansions’ worth of gathering nodes that should be included as conquest rewards. The right color crystal deco can really liven up a room, and a slicing node can perform double duty as both a stylish end table and a source of extra walking around money.

Crafting

I’d like to see crafters have more vanity items to make. That the classic color crystals from the films can be crafted remains great. Whenever I’m looking for a dye for a new outfit, there is now almost always a good choice available from my Artificer. But let’s see some more Cybertech mounts. Or how about a genetically engineered pet or companion made by Biochem? I know Tunings are the fancy new thing, but I definitely hope to see a craftable Tuning. It could be a rare recipe or call for expensive or difficult to acquire materials. I’m cool with that. Even in a video game, there is satisfaction in making something yourself. I realize and understand that items like this usually goes to the cartel market, but there should also be room for crafters to make fun stuff too.

Companion Weapons

One of the weird things about Knights of the Fallen Empire has been getting companions back who suddenly refuse to use weapons they’d gleefully carried into battle for the last few years. All those techstaves and assault cannons are gathering dust as Torian, SCORPIO, Rusk and Jorgan grab sniper rifles. Storywise, it makes sense that Jorgan prefers rifles, but I always thought it was cool when he and my Commando would unsling their big ass guns and go bug hunting like Vasquez and Drake. Certainly Lightsabers should be restricted to Force using companions, as should saber fighting styles; I don’t think Kira should be dual wielding like a Sentinel or Ashara fighting like an Assassin. And, yeah, Doc and Mako probably wouldn’t use assault cannons, but, in general, I think companions should be more versatile in the weapons they can wield. At the very least, the HKs should be able to fire any darn blaster in the galaxy. Heck, if you told me HK destroyed a factory full of skytroopers using nothing but a vibro-mop, I wouldn’t even blink. And for pity’s sake, give Blizz back his rocket launcher!

Star Wars Rebels

There is no shortage of cool material that can and should be imported, borrowed and swiped from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon (Kanan’s partial armor, Sabine’s two-toned hair, Zeb’s bo-rifle, the Inquistor’s lightsaber, etc.), but the continued absence of Loth Cats from SWTOR is the most glaring omission and a crying shame.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back to the Aurebesh next week, but I may slip in some more dumb top five lists in the future as inspiration strikes me.

 

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