SWTOR‘s new APAC server Shae Vizla is just over one week old, and I’d like to share an update with my progress Down Under. Looking back at my previous entry, I realized that even though I had thrown down the gauntlet for a hardcore challenge, I didn’t make it clear that I would attempt it myself. While we wait for news of the next update, I, of course, had to give the challenge a go myself. I mean how hard could it really be?
Not Great, Bob
I won’t lie. I’m on my third character. The first two died at nearly identical levels on Dromund Kaas. In both cases their deaths can be chalked up to greed and sloppiness. My first character was an Operative, and while Stealth is great for slipping past enemies, it’s also great for accidentally aggroing groups I’d skipped. My second character was a Sorcerer who died because I was certain I could easily defeat two elite mobs at once. Had I been just a little more cautious in the first case, and in the next not so frugal with med-packs (a problem I’ve had going back to my potion hoarding days in World of Warcraft), I would have surely survived.
The problem with the hardcore challenge is that dying means going again, and it can take some motivation to start over from scratch. If I’m going to be honest, after the second death in a single day, I considered giving up or worse cheating by reviving and continuing as if nothing had happened. But I’d know the truth, so after sleeping on it, it was back to the character creation screen I went.
For a long time, SWTOR front-loaded many of the key abilities of each class, so that by the time a character had completed their second planet, they had access to much of their class’s tool kit of abilities and tricks. However, these days, skills are doled out at a slower pace. This is a better experience for new players who aren’t overwhelmed with a constant barrage of new abilities at the very start of the game, but as a veteran, I do miss those extra buttons and have needed to remind myself not to play as if I have them from the start.
Third Time’s the Charm (Hopefully)
So I switched factions, and had another go at a stealth character, this time a Scoundrel. I’ve also been much, much more cautious. As I write this, I’ve just completed Act One and perfectly timed hitting level 30 with the death of Skavak. While I am very eagerly awaiting Disappearing Act and Tranquilizer dart, I feel like I pretty much have the tools I need to win any fight. At least any fight in the Smuggler class story.
After my bad luck on Dromund Kaas, I’ve mostly been sticking to story quests. The game is generous in awarding XP Boosts after each planet, but I’ve found that I’m starting to lag behind. I’ve been completing each planet’s story without out-levelling the planet, which is a new experience for me. I do want to stay within each planet’s level range, but seeing enemies whose levels are written in orange reminds me to stay frosty. However, before departing each planet, I have been padding out my xp bar with a few Datacrons and one or two heroics.
By sticking mostly to story, I’ve found that gearing has been the biggest issue. A belt I looted from a mob on Ord Mantell lasted me until level 29, and I only managed to fill my final equipment slot when I remembered that Matrix Shards can be turned into relics.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I made a Matrix Cube, and there was a fun jolt of nostalgia as I plugged the shards into the Assembly Machine on Coruscant. Matrix Cubes are such an afterthought nowadays, that I could not find an up-to-date guide on the cubes since SWTOR replaced the Willpower, Strength, Cunning and Aim stats on all gear with Mastery. Going by the numbers on the old versions of the cubes, I had a good idea I wouldn’t get one with tanking stats, but I honestly wasn’t sure until I’d fired the machine up.
Credits have not been a significant issue, especially once I completed Conquest, and I’m sitting on almost 50,000 right now. I Quick Travel whenever possible and since training is free, I don’t need to spend them on anything else. I’d hoped to keep up with crafting as I leveled, but the cost of chain running Mission skills does add up, and I’ve simply not been keeping my crafting on par with my gear. I dipped into Artifice to make a couple color crystals, but since it costs 8,000 credits to remove a color crystal, and the story awards a main and off hand weapon on each planet, I would’ve quickly gone bankrupt had I burned 16,000 credits upgrading my weapons each planet. So for now, my weapons are without Color Crystals. I find myself missing the modable weapons, especially the long lost A-300 Sonic Needler, that SWTOR used to award players from heroics and at key story points. I’ll take the green weapon upgrades for sure, but they don’t have much character compared to the old quest rewards.
Don’t Get Cocky, Kid
Now that I’m well on my way, I’m having more fun and feeling more confident that I’ll make it to Act Three without perishing. It’s definitely the “Salad Days” on Shae Vizla, and not being able to rely on Legacy Perks and all the credits I’ll ever need still feels refreshing.
“Stay on target”, I keep telling myself. “Don’t get greedy” and “Avoid elevators at all costs!” I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to do the Revan flashpoints. I feel like solo-mode flashpoints with the GSI droid would be too cheesy, but I fear they might be too much of a slog without it. I think it’s all going to come down to my mood next week.
Finally, let me finish up with a reminder that my Act Three Challenge Raffle runs until the middle of January. Show me that you’ve completed Act Three of any class story on Shae Vizla, and you’ll be eligible to win. I’ve received a bunch of entries already, but I am certain that there will be more than enough prizes to go around. Check out last week’s post for details!