Iokath is Good, Actually

I feel like I’m overdue for a Dumb Top Five list, and while we have a moment to catch our breath between Legacy of the Sith announcements, I thought I’d pick a particularly hopeless lost cause to champion. For the record, I’m not trying to pick a fight with anyone in particular. The simple fact of the matter is that whenever anyone mentions Iokath, it is almost always in the context of how much they hate it.

However, long time readers will know that I’ve always offered at least lukewarm support of Iokath so, sure, if I’m gonna die on a hill, let that hill be the machine world run by SCORPIO. So as part of this project’s goal to spotlight parts of the game that some players might have overlooked, here are my top five reasons why Iokath is actually good.

Iokath is Just Cool

Questing across the inner surface of a Dyson sphere is one of those mind blowing scifi concepts that can be difficult to wrap our heads around.

Iokath dwarfs the largest sentient made structures in all of Star Wars lore. The closest thing to Iokath SWTOR players will have encountered is Kuat Drive Yards, the artificial ring around the planet Kuat, and that’s not even close at all. Iokath is a sphere whose perimeter is likely similar to the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, and encloses and draws in the entire radiant output of a star! There are whole other planets orbiting inside of Iokath! Iokath’s surface area is several hundred million times that of the Death Star! It’s an astonishing notion to think about. Its makers are also responsible for the Gravestone, the Eternal Fleet and the pantheon of Zakuul’s Machine Gods, some of the most terrifying powers in the history of the entire galaxy.

So next time you’re on Iokath, look up and know that’s not sky you’re seeing. It’s an endless expanse of technology enveloping everything around you within an Astronomical Unit.

Iokath is Easy

This is probably where I’m gonna lose people. “Iokath is confusing!” “It’s a pain to get anywhere!” On my early visits, I certainly agreed, but whoever designed Iokath, I’d argue, did make it easy to traverse. Once I began to understand how the teleporters and trams connected across the zone, I discovered I had no problem getting from one quest area to the next. Armed with that knowledge, everything else came together.

The dailies lead players to two main areas: the Weapons Factory in the south of the main Expanse, and the instanced Docking Ring section near the Alliance Fleet Spire where players zone-in. There are other quests involving killing various types of droids, and those can be completed anywhere on Iokath. Otherwise there are a some other missions with objectives in the general Expanse area. These objectives are either near the faction bases, or accessible via teleport pads or tram stations.

Once I collect the dailies (Yes, I know. I’ll get to that later), I’ll decide whether I just need to turn around and drive back to the Docking Ring, or head to the Weapons Factory by quick-travelling to the Superweapon Command at the bottom of the map, then taking the tram to either Superweapon Command Entrance where the teleporter zaps me right next to another tram station that will drop me at the factory. It sounds more complicated than “Hop on your speeder and drive to the green arrow on the map,” but I get around Iokath quicker than I do Yavin or Section X.

I believe that having the missions spread out around the zone and questing be somewhat non-linear is fine, more than fine even. Exploration should be a part of the RPG experience and not every map needs to funnel players in a straight line from start to finish. It’s okay to let players find their own path or wander around a little.

Iokath is Fun

Fun is relative, of course, and in matters of taste there can be no disputes. The CZ-198 daily area is brilliantly designed to shuttle players through the zone in a non-stop frenzy of combat and quest object clicking, but sometimes I just want to do something different, and Iokath does a pretty good job scratching that itch.

I’ll concede that some people absolutely loath vehicle quests, but I don’t mind most of them. Rolling around as a seemingly harmless, chirping mouse droid and blowing an enemy walker to smithereens is good for a laugh. The turret daily is nigh impossible to fail and nice when I’m just looking to kick back and only press one or two buttons for a bit.

Above them all, I love the walker daily the most. I will never not enjoy stomping enemies into dust beneath my metal toes, blasting robots into next week with laser beams and raining missiles down on my foes.

If I just want to run around and kill mobs, SWTOR offers plenty of ways for me to do that, but I appreciate that Iokath at least wants to mix it up a bit with some oddball quests and and overall more relaxed pace. At the very least, the odds of having to compete with other players for quest objectives and mobs are significantly less on Iokath. If you in an anti-social mood, it’s the place to be.

Iokath has Good Rewards

First off, if you’re looking to score some Conquest points, Iokath will net you a bucketful. Assuming the values don’t change in 7.0, the weekly alone should still complete a character’s personal conquest.

In addition, the reputation rewards are nothing to sneeze at. The Iokath Annihilator armor set is, in my opinion, the best Sith themed reputation set in the game. The Republic counterpart, the Iokath Technographer set is a bit of an acquired taste, but its glowing piping and animated visor are as distinctive as anything you’ll find on the Cartel Market.

Each faction’s reputation vendor also has a decent selection of decorations. Personnel decorations are always useful for populating an empty stronghold, and I especially like the light cast by the Iokath Wall Lamp from the Republic vendor.

And if you want a big, pointy speeder to cruise around in, both faction’s vendors can set you up.

Iokath is Bad, Actually

In good conscience, I cannot gloss over the reasons people dislike Iokath. First and foremost, even though the weekly quest requires that we complete ten dailies, the quest terminal doesn’t actually offer enough quests to complete the weekly in one go. It seems, by design, Iokath is not meant to be completed in a single day.

This is fundamentally at odds with how nearly everyone, including myself, approaches daily areas. We want to get in and out all in one trip. People already don’t want to go to Iokath in the first place, expecting them to go back at least twice a week is silly.

To make matters even more confusing, the selection of quests offered on any given day rotates on a daily basis so that I may not be offered enough quests in a specific area to make going there a good use of my time.

My strategy when approaching Iokath is to collect quests early in the week and then check back later as the selection changes so that I get not only enough missions to complete the weekly but enough in the areas where I want to go. However, this tends to leave my mission log clogged to overflow when I’d prefer to leave room for others I want to complete that day.

To put it mildly, this is not at all player friendly design. If it were up to me, I’d put all the missions on the board and let players pick and choose the ones they want to do. At the very least, there should always be enough quests to complete the weekly, and if not every quest will be available, the ones that are should share common objectives and destinations to make completing them efficient.

Is Iokath good? No, but it could be. It should be! Players should not be expected to jump through extra hoops just to complete some dailies. Instead of keeping things fresh, the narrow and random selection of missions causes frustration and works to make visiting Iokath feel worse than it needs to be. Let players choose which dailies to take. Yes, someone will math out the most time-to-credit efficient path to take to complete the weekly in the fastest possible time, but I think that’s preferable to almost no one ever going there at all. And if other players want to mix things up and discover the joys of crashing around in a walker or grab a couple friends and take on the Colossus Droid, so much the better.

I like Iokath. I really do. When I manage to score a good mix of missions, it’s one of my favorite weekly areas. And if it could get out of its own way, I think more people might like it too.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Dumb Top Five, General SWTOR

6 Responses to Iokath is Good, Actually

  1. Todd

    I like the _look_ of Iokath, just not the _feel_. It’s a great idea with lackluster execution, IMO.

  2. Dantooine also requires two daily visits to complete the weekly, and even though I LIKE the Dantooine area aesthetically (far more than I like Iokath), I still don’t bother. Your point about wanting to get the weekly done as a daily is valid, and it’s why I do the Black Hole and CZ-198 weeklies every week on multiple characters. The self-contained execution is an experience I prefer.

    Though I imagine from the developers’ perspective, a player’s expectation to complete a WEEKLY goal of DAILY objectives in a singular day renders moot the whole concept of a “weekly.” They create weekly objectives to drive multiple days of engagement each week, so if we engage for only one day a week, the design execution seems not to meet the design goal. Except … I DO engage with the Black Hole and CZ-198 objectives across multiple days … just on distinct characters. I’d rather run CZ-198 today on Character One, and again tomorrow on Character Two, than run Iokath today on Character One, and again tomorrow on Character One. That sense of completion at the end of each visit on two separate characters is my preference, and that would be true even if they averaged the total reward so that there’s no meaningful distinction in xp/reputation/credits/etc between the two. My total engagement isn’t changed, just my experience of it.

    I suspect they have sufficient internal data monitoring to inform them whether or not players prefer the Black Hole/CZ-198 experience over the Dantooine/Iokath experience, and will adjust accordingly in 7.0. I just hope, naturally, that MY preference is the statistical winner. Black Hole, Yavin, CZ-198, Iokath, Oricon … they’re all ghost towns when I visit them, so it may not really matter. I’m rarely less than 25% of the total population in those areas even on the Satele Shan server, and I’m often 100% of the population.

    • TWIA-Mark

      I think your comparison to Dantooine is spot on. Now that I’m done with the rep and have the rewards I want, I’ll complete the weekly at most once during the event across my legacy. However I am all in on the Gree and Rakghoul events even though I’ve long since maxed those out. I think Ossus did a decent job splitting the difference. You can complete the Ossus Weekly in one go, but the daily patrol gives an extra incentive to split them up over two days. Completing five Ossus dailies is super quick, but trying to do all ten starts to feel pretty long, so I don’t mind splitting that one up as much. But like you said, if someone is looking to complete conquest on multiple characters it makes more sense to stick with a one-and-done zone like CZ or Black Hole.

      I also agree that the developers had hoped drive more people to Iokath by portioning out the dailies, but it clearly had the opposite effect. I don’t think reducing the number of quests to complete the weekly would hurt if BW wants to still rotate the quests a bit, but I’d definitely wish all the related missions were available at the same time.

  3. I think Iokath is cool looking and the decos are worth getting. I did have a droid companion drop while doing dailies, so that was really cool, I like that companion a lot. But, I did not care for the daily missions on Iokath, it seemed too hard to do them to want to go back and repeat them.

  4. I rarely do the Iokath Dailies in spite of the fact I actually like Iokath. Most because as you said it requires you to go back the next day to complete the Weekly, but it really is a beautiful place and I always explore for a bit the few times I do go there. The design of the place was really well thought out.

  5. Anonymous

    The rewards are cool and it’s good that enemies usually drop reputation tokens. It sucks for nonstealth characters though because the enemies are densely packed together in the expanse

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