Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s Game Update 7.3 comes with the latest chapter in Legacy of the Sith‘s story and a new questing area, but today I want to focus on its other major new addition: the Shrine of Silence flashpoint.
My very short take is that I really, really like it. Indeed, I think Shrine of Silence is one of SWTOR’s very best flashpoints, and I am certain players of all skill levels will have fun exploring it. It’s been a while since I’ve done a Dumb Top Five List, but it strikes me as a good format for my review of the game’s latest flashpoint.
Its Setting and Pace
SWTOR’s flashpoints, especially in the last few years, have been amazing settings to explore. Copero is certainly one of the most picturesque worlds in all of the game’s galaxy and Elom is filled to overflowing with breathtaking and sublime vistas. But as flashpoints, Traitor Among the Chiss is choked with 20 minutes of annoying trash before groups even reach the first boss. The Ruins of Nul is marred by a button puzzle that requires backtracking and a dangerous cliffside run that isn’t so much an exciting race against time as a slog through trash mobs. And let’s leave out Nul’s infamous final boss fight that launched with a floor bug that rendered the encounter impossible to complete for many players.
None of that is a problem in the Shrine of Silence. Players are dropped into a spooky Temple of Doom-style setting, and the flashpoint’s layout smoothly moves players through its locations. The Shrine’s secret chambers and remarkably hazardous broken walkways certainly recalls parts of The Nathema Conspiracy and the Hive of the Mountain Queen, but it is made distinct by a haunted atmosphere that enhances the overall experience. In the Shrine, players will discover ties to Voss lore and mysticism going back to SWTOR‘s first visit to the world in the game’s earliest days.
I’ve run with lots of friends lately and there is always one or two times during everyone’s first visit when they stop to take in the scenery and say “Oh, wow!”
The Shrine of Silence includes three main bosses, one bonus and two mini-boss encounters, and each has their own unique flavor. The mechanics of the fight are telegraphed clearly, and if you can get out of the red circles and cones and know that some things can be interrupted, you can figure out the fights. In addition there is simple problem solving needed to unlock the shrine’s secrets. None of this requires outside guides, and I’d be shocked if most players can’t overcome these obstacles on their own. The biggest indication to me that I enjoy visiting the Shrine is that I am still, weeks after release, willing to run it on any character whether they be melee or ranged or stealth-capable or not.
Like most of SWTOR‘s recent flashpoints, Shrine of Silence has mobs that can detect or decloak stealthed characters. I don’t believe we’ll ever again see a flashpoint as ninja friendly as Red Reaper, and that’s fine. I think it is perfectly reasonable that trash can and should be used to set the pace in a flashpoint. That said, I agree with the criticisms that many of the other recent story driven flashpoint have so much trash that the overall experience feels sluggish. But that’s not the case in Shrine. The non-boss mobs are not dangerous or difficult, and players should be able to leap from pack to pack at a smooth and steady pace as they advance through the flashpoint.
Finally, players like me who love extra bosses won’t have to go out of their way to complete the flashpoint’s bonus encounters, but they are also easily skipped by groups who hate fun and just want to get to the end.
Players will of course earn the usual flashpoint gear and currencies in the Shrine of Silence, but the flashpoint also is sprinkled with additional rewards for decorators, fashion mavens and achievement hunters. All of this serves as incentives for players to make repeated visits to the Shrine. Two different decorations can drop from trash mobs, and each boss can drop boxes that contain an entire legacy armor set inspired by the aesthetic of the Voss characters we’ve met throughout the game’s history. These armor sets aren’t for everyone but there are some neat pieces to be found here, and looting them from the flashpoint’s bosses is a much cheaper option than purchasing them piecemeal from the vendor in the Interpreter’s Retreat.
The achievements associated with the Shrine include stronghold trophies (which I’m very glad to see again after their absence from KotET), but there are also achievements which unlock additional decorations on the vendors in the Retreat. Finally there is a secret achievement for truly dedicated players looking to rock the “Untouchable” legacy title.
I’m very happy to see rewards for players who journey into the flashpoint whether they are a freshly minted level 80 character or a fully decked out veteran. That said, although it is practice now for decorations based on flashpoint bosses to be holographic trophies, I have to say that I’d really prefer to put an actual giant plant monster in my stronghold and not a hologram of one.
If you are in the queue for random Veteran Mode Flashpoints and Shrine of Silence pops, you’ll be fine. The mechanics are easy to understand and explain. “Don’t stand in red stuff and avoid lightning” pretty much covers it all. If you want to skip the bonus bosses, you’ll fly through. Even if your group is wearing potato gear, healing stations should keep everyone topped off long enough to win.
No, you won’t blaze through Shrine as fast as you might through Hammer Station, but I firmly believe Hammer Station should not be the benchmark for SWTOR’s flashpoints. Instead, it feels on par with other classic flashpoints such as Battle for Ilum, False Emperor and the Czerka flashpoints, and to me that feels like the sweet spot.
However, if you queue for a Master Mode flashpoint and Shrine pops, get ready for a fight! I expect most groups in 330+ gear should have few issues with the first two bosses. However, the final boss, the Curse, is a genuine step up in difficulty. I’m wearing augmented 336 gear and both dpsing and healing this encounter was tricky. I’ve only done this fight with friends, and I truly enjoyed the challenge but random groups will definitely have their work cut out for them.
The fight feels on par with the original versions of the Gemini/Zildrog encounters at the end of the Nathema Conspiracy flashpoint, which is to say that everyone in the group will need to be able to think and act on their feet to defeat the boss. Shrine of Silence has two other extremely accessibly modes, so I don’t mind that the developers added some extra challenge on its highest difficulty.
In addition each boss has achievements associated with perfect execution or by choosing to add extra difficulty to the fight. “Make Your Own Hard Mode” mechanics are something we’ve only begun to see recently in SWTOR’s operations, but they are a neat addition for players looking to spice up their flashpoint run.
Not everyone enjoys dropping into a flashpoint with a boss that might take a few tries, especially if the Group Finder puts you there, but a dedicated and persistent team may very well enjoy rising to the challenge.
I’ve long considered Voss one of my favorite planets in SWTOR, and the Shrine of Silence is a most worthy addition to the world’s rich body of lore, so if you’ve got a level 80 character and are looking for something fun to do by yourself or with friends, I definitely recommend a visit!