Yearly Archives: 2021

Maps and Legends

Well, things sure got exciting this week for fans of the Old Republic era of Star Wars with the announcement of a “remake” of Knights of the Old Republic.

Remastering, remaking, reforging fan-favorite video game classics is common these days and it seemed inevitable that KOTOR’s turn would come sooner rather than later. Indeed rumors have been kicking around for quite a while already.

Details are scant, so this is a great time to indulge in all manner of speculation and hysterical over-reaction. What is the difference between a remake and a remaster? Is the story changing? Is the gameplay changing? Your guess is as good as mine. In fact, it’s probably better.

But baseless speculation can be fun, so I will indulge myself and wonder what Knights of the Old Republic, the remake means for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

In the short term I suspect, very little if anything at all. The remake is a couple years away, at least, so if SWTOR intends any direct cross-over with KOTOR, it will likely come at the end of the Legacy of the Sith expansion’s life cycle or as part of the next, next expansion.

Nevertheless, KOTOR casts a long shadow over SWTOR, and even though Revan seems have gotten their last hurrah at the start of this year, the setting of Legacy of the Sith’s forthcoming operation clearly evokes the mass shadow generator from KOTOR2. Still, if I’m being honest, I hope SWTOR doesn’t wade too deep into the KOTOR nostalgia pool. At this point, it would feel like going backwards to dig up Revan yet again or bring back Malak or Bastila. These days, I am far more interested in learning about Malgus’ interest in Darth Nul than knowing if Nihilus’ spirit is still rattling around somewhere.

There is also speculation that the remake will allow Disney to backdoor KOTOR into the official Canon. While there have been allusions to Revan here and there recently, KOTOR hasn’t quite made the jump into the “Canon.” Long time readers of this blog may have noticed that I rarely mention “Canon” and “Legends.” This is because in my mind there is literally no difference between the two. The Star Wars stories I like are the stories I like, and I do not care on which side of an imaginary line they are supposed to lie.

That said, the line does seem to matter to many fans. If Lucasfilm declares that the KOTOR Remake is “Canon” and SWTOR gets to slide in on those coattails as well, and if this encourages someone who otherwise would not to try either or both games, then I say, “Great!” I hope the KOTOR Remake is a success for the people who make it and the fans who play it. I hope it appeals to new and old players alike. And if it leads players who want to continue to explore the Old Republic era to SWTOR, I say again, “Great!”

There are many terrific Star Wars stories to be found in the Old Republic setting, and I hope as many people as possible get to experience them.

Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

Finally, let’s take a look at the star map featured in the brief story beat “Whispers in the Force” included as part of the latest game update. This holographic display depicts the route Heta Kol seems to be following through the Minos Cluster to the very edge of the galaxy. Before I begin, I do want to say it was nice to see Akaavi Spar again. I always found interactions with her fun on my Smugglers, even if they rarely saw eye to eye. After her disappointingly brief return during Fallen Empire, I feared she wouldn’t get any screen time again. However, her Mandalorian background makes her a logical choice to use in this stage of the story for both Republic and Sith aligned characters, and I’m always glad to catch up with an underrated favorite.

As for the map itself, some of these worlds will be familiar to even the most casual Star Wars fan, but there are others whose lore stretches back to the very earliest days of Star Wars‘ Expanded Universe. If you’re a fan of West End Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game, you might recognize Elrood and some of the worlds mentioned here.  In the time of the movies, Eraidu is known as the homeworld of Grand Moff Tarkin. The shipyards at Sluis Van were a target of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Timothy Zahn’s first trilogy of novels. In the Old Republic era, Karideph was visited by both Jedi Master Orgus Din and Havoc Squad under the command of Harron Tavus prior to the events of SWTOR, so there is no shortage of rich history associated with this corner of the Galaxy.

Does this mean, we will be visiting the Force Nexus on Dagobah or massing our fleets near Sullust? No, probably not. But the story seems to leading into a part of the galaxy were weird stuff has been known to happen, and I don’t think they just pulled the Rimma Trade Route out of a hat, but we’ll have to wait a bit more to find out for sure where Heta Kol is headed. It should be interesting.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General SWTOR

Here’s Where the Story Ends

Despite SWTOR being in an end of expansion lull, there is a lot of stuff worth discussing happening in the lead up to the Legacy of the Sith expansion, and I’ve been struggling to snatch one notion out of the ether to discuss. Prompted by Shintar’s recent review and motivated by a desire to get my own hot take on the record before the weather turns cold, I’ll start with a long overdue look of the flashpoint, Secrets of the Enclave. Beware! There will be some light spoilers ahead.

Secrets of the Enclave is a lush and loving tribute to one of the Knights of the Old Republic era’s most famous locations, the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. Abandoned for centuries, nature has begun to reclaim the complex, and it’s fun to explore the ruins like a Star Wars equivalent of Indiana Jones.

The flashpoint is not long, but players will move through a remarkably diverse series of environments, starting outside among Dantooine’s rolling hills, then down into caves leading into the ruin, and finally through the crumbling libraries and halls and council chambers of the enclave itself.

The previous flashpoint, The Spirit of Vengeance was criticized for its copious trash packs and over-tuned bosses, but Secrets dials those issues back, and players in all modes should have no problem making their way through. I especially appreciate that power-ups have made their way from Uprisings into the flashpoint, even if they are not necessary to overcome any of the challenges facing the players. An experienced group should not have any problem with the flashpoint even on the Master Mode difficulty, with the optional bonus boss presenting the flashpoint’s greatest challenge.

All of Onslaught’s flashpoints have experimented with new mechanics and graphics to telegraph special attacks, and it’s cool to see the trend continue. Secrets may be the first time SWTOR has used a fear mechanic in the game and seeing friends react to it was most amusing! I hope to see more of these types of innovations in future flashpoints and operations.

Like other recent flashpoints, Secrets has plenty of weird achievements and unique decorations to discover. However, this time around, the drop rates for the decorations is quite low on Story and Veteran modes. If you want to farm those cool decos, you’ll have to start running Master mode!

Regarding the story of the flashpoint, I think it’s interesting that while Darth Malgus is the MacGuffin driving the action, Secrets is more about what happened to people Malgus has left in his destructive wake. Aryn Leneer and Darth Krovos are quite literally haunted by Malgus, and it’s fascinating to see their differing reactions, from Aryn’s fear to Krovos’ denial. Likewise the supporting characters get moments to shine as well. For Republic players, it’s satisfying to see Arn Peralun coming into his own as a Jedi. And on the Sith side, I kind of adore Darth Rivix. He clearly has his own agenda and has no interest in being another Alliance flunky. Figuring out how my characters want to deal with him and watching other players’ reactions has been a treat. Secrets continues Onslaught‘s tradition of also taking time to revisit characters from SWTOR‘s rich history. I was happy to see the return of Leeha Narezz from the Jedi Knight story, but not surprisingly the years seem to have burdened her with a great deal of anger towards the Sith.

All that said, however, if Secrets of the Enclave is to be the conclusion of Onslaught’s story, it feels lacking. If you’ll forgive the metaphor, Onslaught seems to be ending on an ellipsis instead of an exclamation point or question mark.

Compare Onslaught to SWTOR’s previous cliffhangers. Shadows of Revan’s climax has us saying “Oh, shit! The Emperor’s back, and he’s pissed!” The final chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire asks, “Did we just make things worse by allowing Vaylin to claim the Eternal Throne?”

Onslaught, by comparison, is ending with open-ended questions.

Darth Malgus is out there, and he’s up to something…

Heta Kol is out there, and she’s up to something…

Heta Kol remains a cypher, and Malgus’ motivations are opaque. I feel like we needed at least one more story beat to bring either or both of those plot threads into focus or together to build excitement for the next part of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, Secrets of the Enclave is a terrific addition to the game; it is arguably the strongest of Onslaught‘s new flashpoints, and whether or not you’re a KOTOR fan, it’s worth a visit.  But Legacy of the Sith is still a ways off, and storywise it feels like we’re just cruising towards it, and I wish Onslaught‘s finale accelerated the stakes a bit more in the lead up to our next big adventure.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Onslaught

Didn’t We Just Leave This Party?

This week, let’s take another look at the two Mandalorian posters that were introduced in the Spirits of Vengeance flashpoint and can also be found by players as stronghold decorations. In the most recent Game Update, the posters were revised and now no longer translate into English but into Mando’a, Star Wars‘ Mandalorian spoken language.

It seems that I may be inadvertently to blame for this change because of the translations of the posters I made earlier this year, something I learned to my surprise when I tweeted about the update a month ago.

I confess I had some complex reactions to this discovery. First, it’s honestly a very cool feeling to know that I got to have even a small effect on the game, but I was also somewhat abashed when I realized that my little blog led to extra work for someone on the art team at Bioware. For what it’s worth, that also meant that I also had to revise my recreations as well, so what goes around comes around. It’s like poetry, I guess; it rhymes.

If you compare the updated posters to their original versions, you can see that there were some additional changes made, especially to the banner from the Ash’ad ship, the Seeker’s Vigil. The revised graphic now features deeper and richer hues of the traditional Mandalorian red and green colors. While I can’t say if it’s intentional or not, this particular color palette specifically recalls to me the fresh coat of paint Boba Fett applied to his armor late in season two of The Mandalorian.

Despite a large number of weird alien texts seen in SWTOR and across Star Wars lore, Star Wars does not have a full Constructed Language or “conlang” like J. R. R. Tolkien’s Elvish, Star Trek’s Klingon or Game of Thrones’ Dothraki to call its own. The origins of the Mando’a language stretch back to The Knights of the Old Republic, but it’s been used frequently in both SWTOR. as any Torian stan can attest, and in many recent animated and live action Star Wars adventures.

For now, Mando’a vocabulary is mostly limited to the kind of things we can imagine Mandos most care about: honor, glory, battle, that sort of thing. It’s not yet at the point where you can have a conversation about the weather, your favorite Grav-Ball team, or how much better Hamlet is in the original Mando’a. It’s not unreasonable to think the language might be further fleshed out in future seasons of The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch.

The use of Mando’a, however, does present something of a dilemma for this humble translator. My recreations thus far have all been direct, letter for letter copies of the originals, even when they are not meant to have any actual meaning in English. However, in the future I may be tasked with not only transliterating Mandalorian letters in to English letters, but also translating Manda’o into English.

I’m wondering how far I should go. My goal for this project has always been to present SWTOR’s alien writing in a way that makes it feel as familiar to players as to their characters, but Mando’a is likely as unfamiliar to most folks as Aurebesh, and since Mando’a grammar is different from English, any full translations I make may lean towards my interpretation of the text rather than direct translation. This is a dilemma faced by any translator, of course, but I must admit learning to speak Mandalorian is not a skill I thought I would need when I started this blog!

For now, however, in regards to these two posters, we know exactly how they are meant to be translated thanks to their original iterations, but in the weeks to come, we might just get to find out how clever an alien linguist I am! Wish me jate’kara!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Mandalorian to English

Limitless Season

This week, somewhat coincidentally, I completed two goals I set for myself in SWTOR this year. The first is that I hit level 100 in the current Galactic Season without using any skips or catch-ups. When I started, I hadn’t specifically intended to do it in the minimum amount of time but when Ted from the State of the Old Republic podcast, compared skipping a day of Seasons to a snow day off from school, I began to make sure to complete all my objectives as they came up. As great as snow days are in the middle of February, they always come due as extra time in the classroom in June. Therefore I resolved to diligently complete my SWTOR homework so that I could jump straight into summer vacation at the end of the Season.

The second goal is that I completed the Limitless achievement, which saw me hit Renown rank 999 on one of my characters. I know I am far from the first to complete this one, but when I passed rank 500 earlier this year, I resolved to push the rest of the way through.

When it comes right down to it, I am like many MMO players who gain satisfaction from filling in bars, be they Experience, Reputation, Achievement or Legacy based. I’m not exhaustive in these pursuits, and if I’m being honest, I don’t always know why I set out to complete some tasks and not others. As far as the Galactic Season goes, however, I was motivated to unlock the Stronghold, and I once I’d gotten that far, I didn’t feel like it was significantly more work to get the rest of the way to the century mark. The Limitless achievement comes with a matching Legacy title and 20 sweet, sweet Cartel Coins, so I guess that was my goal. I’m sporting the title right now, but I don’t think of hitting the millennium rank of Renown so much as a feat of strength as a test of endurance.

I realize the term “grind” means different things to different people, but to me it is working towards a goal that can only be reached through specific, repeated, and monotonous gameplay. The classic example I’d cite is the Wintersaber Trainers reputation grind from vanilla World of Warcraft. Although it was made considerably easier to gain in later expansions, originally the only way to get reputation with this faction was to complete three and only three repeatable quests, the easiest of which was in a high traffic area with randomized mob spawns The reputation awarded by completing each quest filled only the merest sliver of that bar. When I did the grind, it required countless hours over months of running back and forth across the same zone killing the same mobs. It was a tedious, mind-numbing, and often frustrating process. I had different priorities back then, and I can’t possibly imagine doing it again, but I sure did love the Wintersaber mount I came away with after all that work.

Thankfully, nothing in SWTOR comes close to that. I hesitate to call earning Seasons levels or even the Limitless achievement a grind. At their very core, all I had to do was log on and play the game. I did play a lot to be sure, but not enough to drive me crazy. As I made my way through Galactic Seasons, I definitely developed a preference for certain objectives. The only ones I opted to avoid were the objectives to kill mobs. Finishing the Ossus weekly and still having to hunt down a dozen or so bugs was for me the least fun part of the first Galactic Season. I would truly prefer to lose a GSF match (and I lost a lot!) than mindlessly hunt mobs. But I know folks who disagree and look forward to those objectives. I can see the appeal of going out, playing your character and fighting monsters. On a very basic level, that’s what it was all about, but it’s not for me. While I absolutely hope to see a greater variety of objectives next season, I generally felt like the objectives I did get or rerolled kept me busy doing different enough things over the stretch.

When Season two comes around, will I jump into it again? To some extent, probably, but I don’t think I’ll be quite so zealous about keeping up. The strongholds were the only vendor rewards I didn’t already have. Since I have a head start on the second one for next season, I expect I’ll take it easy and enjoy the rewards as they come, unless there is something surprisingly amazing on next season’s track,.

I do have mixed feeling about the Limitless achievement. The main way I like to keep SWTOR fresh is by playing different characters from day to day, but to complete the achievement in a timely fashion, I really had to focus on just one, my Operative. To be clear, I did not complete the achievement in the quickest, most efficient manner possible. I certainly ran more than my fair share of Master Mode Red Reaper stealth runs, but I also made every attempt to mix things up with visits to all the daily areas and quick heroics in the course of each week. Even so I did get bored of the character, and might have run out of steam if not for the two double XP events this year. It’s not my proudest achievement, and if it gets reset or revised during Legacy of the Sith, I think I’ll give it a pass.

Panic at the PTS

Speaking of Legacy of the Sith, our first look at the expansion’s class changes have just appeared on the PTS, and there are major changes coming down the pike. I highly encourage everyone to check them out, give them a fair shake, and share their considered, thoughtful and polite feedback on the official forums. Player feedback had a big effect on how Onslaught turned out, and it’s important to let Bioware know how these changes will affect players. Remember that no one ever made a point by screaming like a monkey lizard. Be cool like Fonzie, not Salacious frakkin’ Crumb.

 

8 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith, Onslaught

Legacy of the Sith

This past Friday saw the long anticipated announcement of SWTOR’s next expansion timed to coincide with its tenth anniversary.

Legacy of the Sith is expected to launch during the holiday season at the end of this year and seems to feature an array of release content in line with Onslaught. Although the story will be set on one planet instead of two, based on the preview images I expect we’ll be spending more time on Manaan than we did on either Onderon or Mek Sha. Once again, it looks like the capstone of the story will be a flashpoint, this time exploring Sith ruins on the planet Elom. Likewise, we’ll be able to venture into a new Operation that continues the Czerka story started on Dxun, but with a rather more horrific setting.

The expansion will also come with some system changes, most notably Loadouts and Combat Styles. Being able to hot swap specs and gear and action bar layouts is something that is long overdue to SWTOR and it’ll be nice to not have to remember how to set up action bars for my countless alts! Combat Styles promises to be interesting. SWTOR has already separated character leveling from story progression, so it’s probably natural that they’d sever gameplay from story as well.

A common complaint about SWTOR is that having each Advanced Class associated with only one weapon type limits players ability to be inspired by famous characters from Star Wars lore. Clone Troopers and bounty hunters use every weapon under the twin suns, and even Luke and Anakin dual wielded lightsabers on occasion. Combat Styles will allow players to swap out their characters’ actions and skills for the moves of any other advanced class so long as it is another Tech class if they use blasters of any type or a Force class if they use a lightsaber.

There is already precedent for this in SWTOR lore; Satele Shan, Jace Malcom and Darth Malgus show off moves from multiple advanced classes in SWTOR’s introductory cinematics, and it will be cool that players will soon have some of that flexibility too. My very first SWTOR character was a Smuggler and as much as I enjoy playing the story with him, I never particularly cared for the Gunslinger’s static crouch and shoot gameplay. With Combat Styles, I’ll be able to switch to a Mercenary’s run and gun ability set while maintaining the two-gun action I associate with gunslingers in popular culture.

I’m curious to see how Combat Styles play out within the game. I fear there might be some negative social aspects, but I wonder if it will really affect my large roster of alts. I have a Sentinel and a Guardian and a Sage and a Shadow and a Sniper and an Operative and a Mercenary and a Powertech and many, many more. In theory, Combat Styles will mean you really only need to maintain one Force-using character and one Tech-based character on each faction to have access to all roles and specializations. Personally I think I will probably stick to my roster of alts to cover those bases. It seems wildly out of character for my Sage to start slamming her Lightsaber into the ground like a Guardian or my brash Gunslinger to be sneaking around like an Operative.

Many of Legacy of the Sith’s changes will come with and, I suspect, require under-the-hood updates to the User Interface. Over the last couple of years, the SWTOR team has been updating elements of the UI, and to be honest the changes haven’t always gone off without a hitch, so we might have to experience some growing pains while they work the kinks out, but I hope it will be worth it in the long run.

While I am very much anticipating Legacy of the Sith, I must admit this was not the most exciting expansion announcement ever. I hate, hate, to compare SWTOR to World of Warcraft, but, man, Blizzard can do expansion announcements. They’ll run a teaser where they tear a hole in the heavens and show off new a class or race or host of customization options, and it’s a drag that SWTOR just can’t compete with that level of hype. As much as I wish otherwise, I fully understand the days of SWTOR launching an expansion with a Blur cinematic are in the past. The story sounds neat; the concept art looks amazing; Combat Styles should be interesting, but I think the announcement was missing a little something extra. Something to make players sit up and say “Holy cats!” or “Fork yeah!” and not “Okay, more of the same.” We all know that the SWTOR team prefers to keep the story as close to the chest as possible, but directly teasing a cool new character or an unexpected bit of lore might’ve been in order.

I don’t think more of the same is a bad thing, but it’s maybe not exciting. I consider Onslaught a successful expansion, and the good folks at Bioware absolutely should be commended for the hard work and truly fun content they produced for us despite the considerable challenges of the previous year. At the last Community Cantina event in New York City in 2019, I asked Keith Kanneg how long he expected Onslaught to last, and he answered, about two years. And it is to the credit to the hard work of everyone at Bioware that Onslaught is matching that expectation.

And that gives me hope for Legacy of the Sith. Based on the quality of Onslaught, I am very much looking forward to exploring the new expansion. I believe Keith that the tenth anniversary will last the whole year, and I look forward to the celebration ahead of us.

 

3 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Danger, Will Robinson

I was recently asked by some guild-mates to translate a sign found on Corellia, the Black Hole, CZ-198 and other corners of the galaxy. It led me to another similar sign and I thought it would be fun to take a look at both.

The meaning of these signs ought to be clear even if you don’t read Aurebesh. Triangular and octagonal hazard signs are as common a sight on this world as they are on Corellia, and it’s certainly not a coincidence that they sport the colors of our own stop and warning signs.

Both signs feature a unique symbol. I confess at first glance (especially in the second sign below) it struck me as an icon of a ram’s head, but upon closer inspection is meant to evoke our world’s biological hazard symbol. It shares many of the same basic elements, but with that twist so common in so much of Star Wars’ most iconic designs that make it familiar and different all at the same time.

This second sign comes in orange and blue flavors so I thought I should include both in this post. While not the most complicated graphics in the game, I had a lot of fun with these recreations. Matching the signs’ layouts and weathering was only the first part; duplicating the rather blurry resolution of the graphics as they appear in game was part of the process as well. In my first recreation, I included for comparison’s sake both the final result as well as my original “high res” version.

I want to thank Gloom and Rye for asking about these signs.  They aren’t the fanciest in the game, but I’m glad for the inspiration to take a closer look. As always, I welcome suggestions!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Aurebesh to English

The Absence of Justice

Hello there. Before we get started, I must admit this post is coming quite a bit later than I’d intended. The short version is that I kind of broke this site and was unable to access it for a couple of weeks. Here is my pro-tip to any aspiring bloggers: make sure you know what a plug-in is doing before you start messing with it. Everything is at last ship-shape and Bristol fashion, so let’s get back to it!

Recently, Aviriia asked me to translate a poster in Coruscant’s Justicar sector. Although I’ve examined several other Justicar posters in the past, his particular example had long been on my to-do list, but the screenshots of it I’d saved were taken at a distance or awkward angles, but I figured I’d give it a go. To my surprise (and embarrassment) I found that there was a perfect view of the poster to the immediate left just inside the sector that I’d completely missed despite countless trips to Coruscant over the years.

The poster itself fits stylistically with much of the other Justicar propaganda plastered around the zone and it shares with them the same distressed paper texture and sickly green and black palette. Like the other posters of this style, the message is fascist and ominous in tone. Given what players learn about the Justicars as they play through Coruscant’s stories, this is entirely appropriate.

As we settle into another Summer of SWTOR, I’m planning to clear out my backlog of untranslated Aurebesh. I tend to prefer tackling translations that I can discuss beyond “This is what it says,” but I’m hoping I can bang out more recreations than normal since I’ll be able to skip out on the commentary (or “useless flavor text” as a friend calls it). If there is a sign, poster or display in the game that you’ve always wondered about please let me know in the comments below or via twitter or through email. I’m always thrilled to take requests.

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to SWTOR’s big 10th anniversary celebration later this year, but in the meantime, stay cool and have a most excellent summer!

 

Comments Off on The Absence of Justice

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General SWTOR

Get Your Game On

This is just a quick post to announce the winners of this year’s May the 4th raffle!

The Grand Prize winners are Shadrenn, Davkota and Voartek! But that’s not all. The good folks at Bioware kicked in a mix of 30 day subscription codes and 450 cartel coin codes so that a baker’s dozen of players could celebrate the Star Warsiest of holidays with some extra swagger. Congratulations to Zarresh Rehiada, Cara Ligo, Valkiana, Avorme, Eksa Bendak, Obinov, Jivani, NaughtyNautolan, Sarlinn and Vashratunda! If I haven’t contacted you directly, check the in-game mail of the character for your code.

Big, big thanks to everyone who stopped by and may the Force be with you!

 

3 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR

Turn Turn Turn

Happy May the 4th! Personally I don’t need an excuse to celebrate Star Wars, but it’s always nice to get a tiny Astromech droid in the mail and check out the latest news from a galaxy far, far away. If you are actually reading this on the 4th, then you will be able to check out a special livestream event featuring a bunch of SWTOR‘s official content creators. We will be venturing into the Dread Fortress operation on its most deadly difficulty, Nightmare! You’ll be able to tune to the show on several different twitch channels, and if you have a moment, I hope you’ll stop by and say “Hello there!” There will be giveaways, mayhem and hopefully some defeated bosses!

SWTOR is primarily known for its story, but it also features a wide variety of operations for raiders of all skill levels. SWTOR‘s story mode ops are extremely accessible for brand new and inexperienced players; the intermediate Hard Modes are a fun challenge for veterans on a casual schedule; and at the Nightmare level, seasoned players looking to test their skills can face some of the greatest challenges and earn some of the rarest rewards the game has to offer.

Over the years, SWTOR has done an excellent job telling stories through group content, and I highly recommend teaming up with friends and guild-mates to check them out. Tonight’s stream will be an excellent showcase for one of SWTOR‘s most beloved operations and will feature some of the best players in the game. And I’ll be there too. Hopefully facing the right direction some of the time!

To Everything There Is A Season

Game update 6.3 “Dark Descent” launched with two new additions to Star Wars: The Old Republic both of which bear discussing: Galactic Seasons and the Secrets of the Enclave flashpoint, but I think it’s worth splitting the topics up over two posts.

Let’s start with Galactic Seasons, SWTOR’s take on the battlepass. Seasons is a system that directs players to do activities in the game and rewards them with a variety of cosmetics: a new companion, mounts, weapons, armor and, if they stick with it long enough, a new Stronghold to decorate.

Galactic Seasons is my first experience with a battlepass system, so I don’t really have any prior frame of reference. But my first impression after a week is that it’s fine. Is it a cash grab by EA, or a way for Bioware to give players more value for their subscription? Probably a bit of both.

I don’t have any particular issues with the Cartel Market. However, for a while now the gear awarded from flashpoints, operations and reputation tracks has not competed aesthetically with what we can buy from the Cartel Market. This is surely not an accident. However, an important part of the MMO experience is finding and earning rewards through gameplay, and I think SWTOR may have swung too far towards focusing those rewards on the Cartel Market and away from what players, especially casual players, can earn in the game.

Galactic Seasons does move this balance back towards gameplay a bit. There are a fair amount of unique rewards to be found by players willing to participate in Seasons. For example, the mount subscribers pick up from the very first level of progress through the Season is quite cool. Indeed some of the best rewards are front-loaded, and players can earn some fun stuff without going too deep into the system.

If there is anything that Galactic Seasons reminds me of in SWTOR’s history, it’s the Dark vs. Light event from 2016. Like Seasons, the Dark vs. Light event was all about getting players to do stuff in the game and passing out rewards to those who participate.

I would encourage folks to treat Seasons the same way. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t need to complete it in one day or one week or even one month. Look at the rewards and decide which ones you want, and pace yourself to get them. Take your time, and do what you want to do. It’s also fair that you may not be interested in all the objectives you get during a given day or week. If you don’t like PVP or grinding mobs; that’s cool. Take the day off, take the week off. We have some ability to change the objectives we really don’t want, but I don’t mind that Galactic Seasons encourages us to venture outside our comfort zone a bit. Last week, I found an excuse to revisit Galactic Starfighter after years away. I was terrible, no doubt, but I can’t deny doing a fist pump when I scored a kill during the match.

Starting next month, Seasons will have a mechanism allowing players to pay credits to catch up their progress if they’ve fallen behind. It will almost certainly not be cheap, but if you’ve got the credits, stuff like this is what they’re here for.

Are there problems with Galactic Seasons? Absolutely. Players can skip the grind completely simply by paying Cartel Coins. I know battlepasses in other games tend to have pay-to-skip options, but I think it’s a little hinky that SWTOR has one on top of the monthly subscription. However, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to spend their money, and I can’t fault players who don’t have the time to invest in the system or the credits to burn, but still want to check out some of the unique prizes.

As I see it, there are two key questions to ask about Galactic Seasons: First, is it mandatory? No. Not at all. To be brutally honest, I think many of the rewards are neat, but they’re not that neat. A character based on that alien with twenty seconds of screen time in one movie is not exactly an iconic addition to our existing roster of companions.

I might be wrong, but that’s probably fine. I think Bioware might be better off aiming for “neat” rather than “OMG I MUST HAVE THAT.” Could the rewards be neater? Yeah, I think so. The first of the two armor sets is dull, and I’m not sure we needed three different colored versions of the same creature mount. As much as I enjoy decorating, I wish the signature reward of the season packed a bit more punch than the fleet strongholds. Overall, I do believe some of the rewards are genuinely neat, but I don’t think anyone ought to feel disappointed if they miss out on them.

The second and most important question to ask of Galactic Seasons is this: Is it content? To me the answer is no. It’s something to do between actual content releases. That’s all. Every SWTOR player knows that it can be a long wait between story updates, and Galactic Seasons is a framework doling out tasks and rewards to players. Between major updates, active players traditionally self-direct themselves by choosing to play class or expansion stories, competing in PVP, clearing operations, completing achievements, etc. Galactic Seasons seems to me to be another option for players.

However, SWTOR already has two other systems for rewarding players for playing the game: Renown and Conquest, and I think Seasons doesn’t quite mesh well with them. Solo players will likely find that most objectives align with existing Conquest goals, but players focused on group activities, especially PVP and progression operations, will have to go further out of their way to complete most Galactic Seasons objectives.

I wish players had a little more leeway when it comes to the random objectives. I know Onslaught’s play-your-way philosophy leads to people grinding the fastest, easiest content, but I lead weekly guild events, and depending on the week’s Conquest theme, we might run the daily operation or hunt world bosses, but since players might have different Daily or Weekly Galactic Seasons objectives, I am put in the frustrating position of selecting to run content that rewards people unequally. This is not fair or fun for people who find themselves the odd ones out because of bad luck with objectives.

Ultimately, if Galactic Seasons doesn’t interest you, that’s fine. You can opt in or out as much as you like. Once again, it looks like players who have been subscribed at any point during Onslaught will continue to have access to the expansion’s future story updates. If you subbed for one month back in October 2019, you can still hop on and see how the war is going and find out what Malgus is up to. That content is waiting for you, no charge.

 

1 Comment

Filed under General SWTOR, Onslaught

Raffle Season

Game Update 6.3 has arrived with the Secrets of the Enclave flashpoint to explore and the “Galactic Seasons” battlepass system to work through. I’ll have more to say about both next week, but for now I’d like to celebrate the welcome approach of summer and every Star Wars fan’s second favorite holiday (after Life Day, of course), May the Fourth. Once again this year, I am in the lucky position of being able to host a raffle and share some swag from the Cartel Market with visitors of this blog!

There are three neat new armor sets on the market this week, and three winners of this raffle will be awarded their choice of one of these sets: Mythosaur Hunter, Tactical Ranger or Dark Marauder.

To enter, leave a comment below with the following information:

  • Your character name (be mindful of spaces and special symbols!)
  • Your faction
  • Your server
  • Which one of the armor sets you’d like to win

That’s it! I will accept entries for one week from this posting and will randomly select the winners on May 6 at 12 PM ET. Since I’ll be acquiring the sets from the market myself, I won’t be able to mail them until the unlock timer expires that weekend.

If you prefer not to comment publicly, I will also accept entries via email at twia@generic-hero.com or through twitter.

There are no country or server restrictions on any of the prizes that will be awarded.

This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with LucasFilm Ltd, BioWare or Electronic Arts Inc.

We’re on the honor system here, so one entry per person, please.

Good luck, and May the 4th be with you!

 

32 Comments

Filed under General SWTOR