Category Archives: Legacy of the Sith

Farewell Charles Boyd

This past week, Keith Kanneg shared news of SWTOR’s next game update. Let’s get the easy part out of the way first: update 7.1 is scheduled for release August 2nd. This is most welcome news. The end of the second galactic season aligned with me more or less completing any gear upgrades I wanted before the new operation’s release, so I definitely feel like the summer doldrums have set in.

I haven’t spent much time on the test server this time around, since I very much want my first experience of R4: The Anomaly to be with my guildmates. I have, however, peeked into a few PTS streams now and then, and what I’ve seen suggests that this will be an exciting operation to learn. I am very much looking forward to it! Furthermore, I hope the new Manaan daily area will be a fun place to visit as well. At the very least, there seem to be enough reputation rewards including many, many decorations, to make visits there worth my while.

However, the most notable part of Keith’s post is the news that Charles Boyd is stepping down from his position as SWTOR’s creative director. Boyd has played a significant role both behind the scenes and as the public face of the game’s development team across’ almost all of SWTOR’s history and certainly since he took over as Creative Director during Fallen Empire.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most expansive Star Wars projects ever created, and that it successfully puts each player at the center of a story that feels like their own meant it had to overcome challenges that tales told in other media never even came close to facing. It’s easy for me to say that some of my favorite Star Wars adventures have taken place in SWTOR, but I can also see the influence of SWTOR in other Star Wars media from movies and TV to comics and books. I think it’s fair to say that Charles Boyd played a significant role in making that happen.

Personally speaking, it was a pleasure to meet and chat with Charles in person a few years ago and I remain grateful that he took time to answer some of my questions about Aurebesh for this blog. I wish him the best in whatever endeavors await him!

All that said, he didn’t do it all alone, and the announcement also includes an introduction to SWTOR’s Design Leadership Team. Everyone on the team has experience with the game and has at least played an active role in SWTOR’s course correction since Knights of the Eternal Throne. We have already seen their work in action, and I am certain we are in good hands.

What Does it Mean?

What does it mean? I don’t know. Why would I? I’m not looped into the office gossip, and, for some reason, no one at Bioware consults me before making major life decisions. It’s fun to speculate about fictional characters, but making hay of real people’s lives is at best rude and at worst irresponsible. People change jobs all the time, and turnover at game studios seems common after big releases. I am reluctant to look for any meaning beyond that.

I am among many long time players who aren’t happy with the support EA seems to be giving SWTOR, but SWTOR will go on. New faces can bring in fresh perspectives on familiar settings and characters, and the one thing I know for certain is that the team at Bioware are good people doing their best to make this a game worth caring about, and I am looking forward to the adventures they take us on next.

 

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Outfits, Guns and Money

This week’s game update 7.0.2 to SWTOR has delivered a long requested feature to the outfit designer: the ability to add weapons to outfit slots. The Outfit Designer has been one of the best, if not the very best, features for player customization for its ease of use and versatility, but expanding it to include weapons was a notion that seemed like it would never come down from Bioware’s infamous “Wall of Crazy.”

I know that adding weapons to outfit designer was far more complex a task than it might seem since weapons come with a host of unique characteristics: color crystals, tunings, sound effects, visual effects on individual weapons and more, things that the outfit designer wasn’t originally built to track. I imagine it took a lot of rejiggering to make weapons to work, but I’m glad it’s finally made it into the game. For me the most frustrating part of Legacy of Sith‘s launch was having to retire weapons I’ve been using for years in favor of the non-moldable gear we’re earning now. To be completely honest, I did not care for some of the weapon models I’d been sporting the last couple of months.

But now that it is here, I gotta say this upgrade to the outfit designer is darn good. Obviously its nice to be able to draw my first choice of blasters and sabers again, but it’s even neater to dust off some old favorites from the bottom of my cargo hold to use with different outfits. Since the stats on the weapon being plugged into the outfit slot don’t matter, it’s also been fun to have an excuse to craft some low level, non-moddable weapons with designs I’ve always liked.

The system does have limitations mostly related to what your active Combat Style is and the weapon skills that come with it. If you have two styles that use the same main hand weapons, say Power Tech and Mercenary, you’ll be able to share the same outfits with both styles. Off-hand weapons won’t apply to your PT style, but main hands will work for both Loadouts. However, if your Combat Style uses different weapons and you want to apply the same armor set to both, you will have to set up a second outfit with that second weapon type. This is an inconvenience and a bit of a credit sink, but spending credits is what they’re for. There is an exception is for Snipers who can apply Rifles to their main-hand slot and still access all their sniper abilities. This little loophole dramatically expands the number of options for Snipers, and at last allows rifles to be used by a ranged DPS class! I suspect this exception is because Snipers are the only class that can use two different weapon types that share the same animations.

Should the Outfit Designer allow this exception for other classes? I can see an argument for Vanguards and Operatives to use Sniper Rifles, since it wouldn’t affect their combat animations. But for the other classes the weapon types they use are so strongly tied to their “class identity” that even if there weren’t conflicts between the weapon abilities and animations, it would still seem weird to me to see a Shadow using single bladed lightsabers. Likewise a Gunslinger crouching down with a massive auto-cannon doesn’t quite makes sense to me either. In that last case, however, I would gladly make an exception for Vette so she could use her beloved Spewie again.

Finally it should be noted that color crystals and tunings cannot be stamped into weapon slots in the outfit designer in the same way dye modules can. So if you want to change your lightsaber color or blaster tuning, you’ll need to plug them onto the original weapon and re-stamp them on your outfit.

I make no apologies for caring about how my characters look. Whether it’s with the Kell Dragon lightsaber I fondly recall earning with my operations team, the blaster I got after kicking Skavak in the nuts, or a swanky rifle inspired by The Mandalorian that I just bought from the Cartel Market, I’m glad my characters will be charging into battle with their preferred ray guns and laser swords again, and I complement the designers at Bioware who have made it easier than ever to take advantage of every iron in my golf bag of destruction.

 

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First Impressions: Legacy of the Sith, Part Two

Before I begin, let me apologize for the unexpected absence. I’ve always found writing difficult, and one of the reasons I started this project was to keep that particular creative muscle limber, but it can be hard to break through the block when the real world keeps intruding. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things now that Spring has sprung!

Without further ado, I’d like to continue my first impressions of Legacy of the Sith with a focus on the story. With the benefit of the extra time between posts, I’ll also touch on my gameplay experiences over the last few weeks as well.

Manaan, Manaan, Do Doo Be-Do-Do

Legacy of the Sith kicks off with a return visit to the Manaan system. If you thought things were a mess the last time you visited, wait until you see it now.

However, before we land, there is a pleasant surprise for players: the return of our class ships which play a prominent roll in the opening sequence. Whether it’s the Millennium Falcon, the Moldy Crow or the Gravestone, a cool space ship is as an important character in a Star Wars story as a trusty droid or adorable Muppet, and I was very happy to see my characters at the controls of their beloved hunks of junks once again. I trust we’ll be taking them out for a spin more often going forward.

Upon landing, we discover that events are already in motion, and whether you are playing a Republic or Sith character, you’ll be catching up with the situation and resolving things as only you can. Both Republic and Sith players will team up with a welcome familiar face, but there are some new characters to meet along the way. Colonel Gallo is very much a soldier’s soldier, someone with whom Republic players will interact, not unlike Major Anri on the Imperial side. She gives a tired, suspicious voice to the people of Manann who yet again are caught in the crosshairs of the galactic war.

Imperial characters will meet Darth Norok, whose initial introduction is a clever fake out. When we’re finally in the same room with him, we discover he is, as Shintar pointed out, every Dark Side Sith player character’s cliché made manifest. Despite being someone who has taken the Sith code to its logical, nihilistic extreme, Norok is a totally entertaining antagonist for reasonable and unreasonable characters alike.

As we saw on Ossus and throughout Onslaught, both the Republic and Sith stories take place in the same setting, but this time around the two narratives feel more distinct. Previously it could seem like the differences between the Republic and Sith play throughs were that you were experiencing roughly the same story, just in different directions. On Manaan there is more separation in time and less overlapping events between both stories. Ever since Shadow of Revan, each of our character’s SWTOR stories has taken place on separate narrative timelines, but once again, the two factions’ stories expands on the events and backstory of the other and once again I think its rewarding to experience both versions.

Regardless, there are definitely themes shared between the tales on Manaan and Elom. The seemingly endless war between the Jedi and Sith, have left the worlds caught in the middle stuck in a hopeless situation. Is the Republic really there to help or just exploit the Selkath with a smile instead of at the tip of a lightsaber? What is victory to a Sith? Is it enough to achieve an objective or must all their enemies be driven before them, regardless of the cost?

It’s into the midst of this morass that our players arrive, and, sadly as current events show, the answers to these sort of questions are not easy to find, and while our characters may triumph, neither story seems to feel like victory for Manaan. And the war goes on.

The renewed conflict between the Republic and the Empire flared up during Onslaught, but was more or less kept in the background with the focus on Darth Malgus’ ambitions and Heta Kol’s rebellion against Mandalore. I think taking a beat to touch base with what’s going on with the war is important to establishing the setting of all the narratives strings tugging at our characters, even if we may have less personal stakes in the larger conflict.

Not for Nothing: Disorder and The Ruins of Nul

Because those stakes matter to Malgus. He’s been in this fight for decades and at the center of every up and down along the way. At this point, it’s fair to say, he’s feeling pretty down about it.

I’ve always found Darth Malgus to be an interesting villain because he’s almost sympathetic, y’know, except for all the murder and the betrayal. Certainly, several of my characters would’ve joined his New Empire on Ilum given the chance. The thought of a united Sith Empire that has its act together is a truly terrifying notion, but his coup accomplished nothing more than to cement the status quo and leave him bound in more chains than the lowest acolyte on Korriban.

At the point, we catch up with him on Elom, he’s done with it all. Free of the shackles placed on him by the Dark Council, he no longer wants to restore or remake the Empire. His goal is to burn it all down, Sith and Jedi alike.

But is he wrong? The war between the Sith and the Jedi has ravaged the galaxy for centuries with no end in sight. Of course the Sith Empire should be resisted; their every policy and petty infighting mark them as the enemy of freedom. But the story of the Jedi in Star Wars is more often than not about their inability to live up to their own standards and their failure to protect those who need it the most.

These issues are reflected in the wonderful “Disorder” cinematic. There are clear allusions to the story of Arcann, Thexan and Vaylin in this interlude, but instead of watching children struggle under Valkorion’s corrupting influence, we are confronted with the sight of a Jedi breaking up a family and forcing another child into a life they haven’t chosen. There is more going on here than we know, of course. Perhaps the machine, or Malgus, or even Darth Nul are manipulating the memories of the young Twi’lek Jedi, Sa’har Kateen. Nevertheless, as a child, how could she have possibly understood the path before her to become a Jedi? She is right to ask her master Denolm Orr whose decision it really was. I think his failure to answer in that moment speaks volumes.

I’ve often joked that if Anakin Skywalker had been able to date girls in high school and call his mom every once in a while, there never would’ve been a Darth Vader. Sure, the Jedi can teach you to move rocks with your mind and do a bunch of cool flips and splits, but they don’t seem to be the best parents. Certainly Theron Shan would agree. Valkorion’s treatment of his family is monstrous, but the Jedi tradition of separating children from their families hardly reflects well on them.

I’m glad to see SWTOR address these issues, because these kind of questions have always been at the center of the game’s stories and every choice our characters have made over the years. What kind of Jedi or Sith do we want to be? What kind of Republic or Empire do we want to represent?

I get it. It’s called Star Wars. “War” is right there in the name. If the Sith defeat the Jedi or the Republic topples the Empire once and for all, there is no game left. But that doesn’t mean the questions shouldn’t be asked. It doesn’t matter if its a Padawan hopping their first shuttle to fleet, a Trooper fighting their way across Corellia, a Dark Lord of the Sith descending upon Oricon, or a Bounty Hunter caught in a shoot out with a Smuggler in a back alley on Mek Sha. The trials never end. And the choices are only meaningful if we keep making them.

As for the flashpoint where all this takes place, the Ruins of Nul is breathtaking in its sublime beauty. I reckon its SWTOR’s most picturesque flashpoint. I took great pleasure in stopping to admire the world’s misty valleys, the snowy peaks, and the cold, grey sky. I’ve thought for a while that players could use a Sith-themed stronghold to call home, and while I had imagined that Oricon or perhaps Nathema would be the ideal place for one, I feel now that I’d love to decorate a mountainside lodge or temple on Elom.

But the thing the flashpoint is most infamous for is the Darth Malgus fight and the bugs that have vexed players and developers alike. Personally, I haven’t encountered significant issues completing that encounter, but a guildmate of mine hasn’t been able to beat it at all, and I watched another get punched through the floor seconds into our first Veteran mode pass. It’s a drag that what should be the dramatic climax to the flashpoint is instead the source of frustration for players. I hope this is a bug that gets squashed very soon indeed.

You Should’ve Killed Me When You Had the Chance

I do want to speculate a bit about what I think might be coming next in the story, but that seems like a topic for another time. Instead, I’ll quickly touch on some of the system changes introduced with 7.0 now that I’ve had some time to play with them.

I continue to love the addition of Combat Styles and Loadouts. It’s allowed me to focus on the characters I most want to play and makes swapping between roles and gear easy.

The focus of a lot, but not all, of my playtime since 7.0’s debut has been gearing. I hit the 326 item rating for my main spec recently and I don’t think it was bad process at all. I took it pretty casually, mainly along the flashpoint path, supplemented with some PVP and Operations gear. I didn’t grind world bosses or pug Nefra, I just did things with friends and guildmates and let the heroics and dailies I do for Conquest take care of the rest.

Gearing in Legacy of the Sith is an engine, and everything you do is fuel for that engine. Once it starts humming, the upgrades come at a steady pace. The problem, I think, is that it can take a bit to get that engine up to speed. It took me longer to get from 320 to 322 than it did to get from 324 to 326. I’d like to see it get a little easier for fresh level 80 players to jump-start the process. Maybe reduce the cost of 322 gear or make it a bit more likely to get those first upgrades from some of the daily sources or easier group content.

I know there have been complaints about the various currencies, but the only ones that I think serve little to no purpose are Medals of Commendation. Once you collect your first Conquest reward, you won’t ever worry about them again. I don’t know any active player who is not capped out in Medals. The cap is low compared to other currencies, but given that I have more than I need and there is nothing to burn the excess on, I just kind of think of them as pennies. The only time I notice them now is when I have to clear out a few to collect even more from the Galactic Seasons reward track.

I vacillate between thinking Bioware should get rid them altogether and wishing there were something else to spend them on. Tech Fragments are still useful to most players, but maybe Kai Zykken could start accepting Medals for his random loot. Or maybe we could purchase crafting materials like Iokath Recombinators or the OEMs and RPMs needed for gold augments. For now I keep the Medals in a jug on a shelf that I only empty when I have to.

The other thing I’ve been doing with my time is fully engaging with the new Galactic Season. The updates to the second season have given me much more flexibility and freedom in how and when I score points along the track every week. It’s so nice to be able to team up with friends and bang out objectives together. I’ve also enjoyed the change of pace from some of the more usual objectives as well, and I hope to see more of that in the future.

I also think the rewards are pretty rad. Fen Zeil may be a hatless Cad Bane, but, he still looks cool in action alongside my characters. The Thurbb mounts are a hoot, and the weapons are all very slick. I’m eagerly awaiting the addition of weapons to the outfit designer so that I can actually start using them!

So, yeah, I’m having fun in Legacy of the Sith so far. Absolutely, I am jonesing to check out the new R4 Anomaly operation, and, yes, indeed, there are many storylines flying around right now that I’m hoping to see resolved before long. Are the bugs annoying and frustrating? Absolutely.

But I’m still having a good time when I play. Since we’re at the start of the gearing cycle, the old flashpoints and operations feel a lot like they did when I first ran them back in the day, and that’s kind of refreshing. It’s satisfying to get upgrades from more difficult content, and it’s been neat playing with different combinations of skills and loadouts.

If your experience is different, I get it. Maybe you’re tired of the same operations and flashpoints you’ve run for years. Maybe the visual changes aren’t to your tastes. Maybe you’re just here for the story. Maybe you’re just not having fun. I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone they are wrong about any of that.

SWTOR has always been the theme parkiest of theme park MMO’s, and they made it easy to come and go as you please. Heck, if all you care about is the story, you likely won’t even need to re-subscribe to play the remainder of Legacy of the Sith’s story updates over the next couple of years.

But SWTOR’s not going anywhere for a while yet. There are good people working very hard to put our characters at the center of an epic story and to make it the best game they can. I’m here for that, and I hope they succeed. Because more often than not, over the last decade, I think they have.

As for me, I can’t promise my writer’s block has been crushed to powder just yet. Sadly, my plans for April Fools will have to wait until next year, but I promise, at least, to dust off the Aurebesh and get back to the translation business very soon.

 

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First Impressions: Legacy of the Sith, Part One

Legacy of the Sith launched this week and there is a lot to discuss, but I’ll try to break it down, but I am going to chop this overview into two posts. So let’s get the spicy parts out of the way first.

The big question at the heart of discussions I’ve had this week is this: Does Legacy of the Sith feel like a proper expansion? For a lot of people the answer is no. The story content, by far the game’s central feature, is the shortest of all of SWTOR‘s expansions. Both Fallen Empire expansions launched with six chapters each, Onslaught debuted with stories on Onderon, Mek Sha and a concluding flashpoint on Corellia. Legacy of the Sith comes with a single planetary arc on Manaan and a flashpoint on Elom to continue the Darth Malgus story. Compounding the issue is that some of Legacy’s launch content has been pushed to the next update even after 7.0 itself was delayed.

SWTOR does not charge extra for expansions, so to some extent the question of whether Legacy of the Sith feels like a true “expansion” is a semantic one. For bettor or worse, calling Legacy an expansion and not “Game Update 6.4” definitely attracts additional attention and anticipation that can be tricky to live up to. When push comes to shove, the scope of Legacy’s story content simply does not compare to previous expansions. And for players who care about story, and I include myself in that group, it’s fair to wish that there were more to play. But I can’t ignore the other features that have come with 7.0, even if the aren’t as literally dramatic.

Combat Styles and Loadouts

Legacy’s most significant new feature outside the story is, of course, Combat Styles. Combat Styles allow players to adopt the play styles of other classes and specializations even across the faction divide. To me, this is a very fun feature indeed. For a long time, the character I play for story has been different from the character I play in group content. Combat Styles allow me to focus on my favorite main character, regardless of whether I’m checking out the story or running an operation with friends.

But if you’re happy with your character and play style, this may be a feature you never interact with, regardless of how complex it was to implement in the game.

Combat Styles also come with the most significant class updates in SWTOR’s history. Class changes are always fraught for players. Logging on a not recognizing your character after an expansion is one of the worst feelings in MMOs, and certainly one I recognize from my time in the World of Warcraft. But as far as I can tell, my characters still play mostly like they did last week.

After 10 years, I think it’s fair to say that SWTOR’s classes got a little complicated. I used to be able to keep everything I needed on a pair of action bars with room left over for a medpack or a on-use relic. During Onslaught, I was lucky if I could fit everything into three. I’m honestly glad to see things get pared down. I’m not quite back to needing just two action bars, but I am close.

I don’t think more buttons makes the experience of playing the game more fun. Many of the abilities added over the years felt redundant or were simply extra things to keep track of during a fight without making combat more visually or rotationally interesting. Now, players willing to interact with the updated skill trees will find they can enhance their abilities in new ways. There are some new buttons, but many of the most interesting choices in the skill trees cause old abilities to function a little differently, often enhancing our ability to heal or attack a single target or groups of enemies.

Many of the abilities added in previous expansions are still options in the skill trees, but players might not be able to add everything to their repertoire that they want. The focus of this cull has been on defensive abilities, which even the most jaded player must admit have gotten out of hand over the last couple of expansions. We all love to cheese mechanics, but all that cheddar was starting to trivialize some encounters and cause significant class imbalances.

In my opinion, for most classes, the paring down of skills hasn’t been a big deal since the available options make it clear which are useful in one type of encounter, and which are a better choice for another. This isn’t quite true for all classes, however. Juggernaut and Guardians and Commandos and Mercenaries have to make a tough choice between abilities that had become popular parts of both classes’ tool kits. I feel for those players, and I agree with the notion that being forced to opt out of at least one skill that had come to be integral to their play doesn’t feel great.

LotS or Less?

I don’t think SWTOR’s user interface has aged well, and is rooted in a style well over a decade old, so I fully understand the desire to spruce it up. Over the past couple of years Bioware has updated parts of the UI, and the 7.0 changes are meant to make it more responsive with a cleaner, modern aesthetic. I am mostly fine with the new look, but it does clash with the older UI elements that are still in play, suggesting that this upgrade project is ongoing. And that’s basically the rub. Legacy of the Sith can come across less like a finished product than a work in progress.

The unfinished aspect of Legacy that stings me the most is the lack of weapons in the Outfit Designer. Right now, the gear we are collecting does not have removable mods. Since we’re at the start of the fresh gearing cycle, this doesn’t bother me. I don’t need to mod gear I’m just going to replace anyway, and thanks to the Outfit Designer its appearance doesn’t matter either. However, the weapons are we earn at level 80 also do not have removable mods, so to remain current we must use those weapons.

Jokes about Space Barbie aside, I’ve rarely if ever met anyone who doesn’t care how their characters look. We all want our avatars to look cool or ridiculous or bad-ass or sexy or funny. A big part of that are the weapons we choose to wield, whether they’re beloved quest rewards, hard won trophies from operations or PVP or even just a swanky prize bought from the GTN.

I understand that integrating weapons into the Outfit Designer comes with extra layers of complications that armor sets lack, but it truly sucks that for the first time since launch, we will have no say in what lightsabers and blasters we use. I also know it is expected that weapons will be included in the designer in the next major update, but I cannot defend the decision to force non-modable weapons on us until then.

Now What?

So where do I land on all this? To be honest, I had a feeling that 7.0’s story content would be about the scope that we got, so I am not disappointed. I truly enjoyed Manaan and thought the events on Elom were thrilling. Do I want more? I always want more! I hope Legacy of the Sith kicks into high gear in the coming months. There are epic narratives circling around the galaxy, and I want to see where they go in as full and exciting ways as possible.

I am also very happy that I get to play my favorite character in a new role. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new skill tree choices work, and that Loadouts let me quickly swap skills and roles at the click of a button is pretty darn cool.

The good folks at Bioware have said that they want SWTOR’s tenth year to be an anniversary to remember. So I intend to hold them to that, and I hope they succeed!

Next week, come back for part two of my first impressions of Legacy of the Sith, in which I discuss the fantastically impressive cinematic Disorder, the events in the flashpoint The Ruins of Nul, and what it might mean for the past and future of SWTOR. There will be significantly less hand-wringing, I promise. I can’t say the same about potential flights of fanciful speculation.

 

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Whatever Happens, Happens: Five Predictions for 2022

This week, let’s continue this blog’s annual tradition of embarrassment with my top five predictions for SWTOR in 2022!

Before we begin, I should take stock of last year’s list. Even though my predictive track record is traditionally not good, last year was a total miss. Looking over the post, I did briefly consider that the year might end with an expansion announcement rather than an actual expansion, but discarded that notion as unlikely. Ah, youth!

So this year, there is nowhere to go but up! However, it’s been tough to come up with predictions this time around. I’ve already engaged in plenty of wild speculation about Legacy of the Sith, and it’s hard to predict too much beyond what little we know already. Nevertheless, I’ll try to focus my speculation to what happens after 7.0 and what we know of its content.

Ready for Launch

I feel certain that Legacy of the Sith will indeed debut on February 15, its second announced launch date. I’ll give them a day or two wiggle room, but I don’t imagine it is a stretch to say that folks at Bioware really, really don’t want another delay. Will there be bugs and glitches? Of course there will. This isn’t my first MMO, and I’m sure we’ll have to endure some growing pains as we gear up, wait for things to get fixed and see how players are actually interacting with 7.0’s new systems.

Hopefully most bugs won’t affect the average player, but veterans know to strap themselves in and get ready for a bumpy ride for the first part of the expansion. The early weeks of Legacy of the Sith should be an interesting time in SWTOR, but hopefully not too interesting!

That Eriadu That You Do

While much of what we know about Legacy of the Sith focuses on Darth Malgus and the conflict between the Republic and the Empire, I don’t think the burgeoning Mandalorian civil war will be ignored. I have a feeling the next phase of that story will take us to the planet Eriadu. Heta Kol’s interest in Clan Cadera may be leading her to Eriadu where Clan Ordo fought alongside Torian Cadera prior to his introduction to SWTOR’s main story. That Eriadu appears on the starmap of Heta Kol’s path through the Outer Rim is probably not a coincidence. Is it a hint or red herring? I’m sure we’ll find out this year.

Beyond that, I have no idea what might be coming next. I still think Darth Malgus might meet his end on Elom, but I’m no longer feeling quite as sure as I did at this time last year. Will Darth Nul be the next big threat to the galaxy? It seems like a safe bet, but it remains too early to tell.

Origin Stories

Combat Styles and Load Outs are SWTOR’s big system changes coming with the expansion, but I fear an unintended consequence of characters having two Combat Styles is that the difference in gameplay between our characters might flatten out the uniqueness of our alts. I have many characters that I play to fill certain rolls in group content: a Shadow I made just to tank, a Sorcerer who only heals, etc. Come Legacy of the Sith when my group needs a tank while I’m playing my healer, I’ll just click a couple buttons to go from Sage to Shadow and Bob’s your uncle. While one character won’t be able to cover every single style, we’ll have more versatility in swapping roles. That’s pretty neat, especially since it will allow me to spent more time playing the characters I like the most, but I hope that doesn’t reduce out the importance of our Origin Stories especially when it comes to SWTOR’s ongoing narrative.

An Agent playing as an Operative and a Bounty Hunter playing as an Operative, should still have different story experiences. The difference can be subtle, but still feel big. For example: let’s see the return of our class ships as not only means of transport to new worlds, but also as settings for conversations. It’s become a running joke in the game itself how many of those Zakuul shuttles we’ve crashed, and I think it’s high time we take flight in our classic, iconic ships again.

I also think they can personalize the story with companion interactions. Instead of having Lana delivering the same exposition to each character, how about Troopers get their briefing from Jorgan, Consulars from Iresso, Sith Warriors from Pierce and Agents from Temple? Everyone would be getting the same information, but it would go a long way to make each play through feel different.

SWTOR has a huge cast, and wrangling them all into recording booths, especially in this day and age, must be a logistical nightmare, so I know what I’m suggesting is highly improbable, but I always like it when the game remembers that my Consular isn’t the same character as my Jedi Knight.

More Customizations

I was very happy indeed to see on the PTS several new hairstyles and complexion options in the character creator. More diverse and inclusive customizations are always welcome, and I hope what we’ve seen on the PTS is only the beginning. Obviously, I’d love to see more hairstyles, beards and make-up options for everyone! More skin colors and tattoos (including full body ink) for Mirialan, Rattataki, Togruta, Twi’leks and Zabraks! More elaborate horns for Zabraks and piercings for Rattataki! I’d love to see Cyborgs have access to weird and distinctive enhancements: glowing robotic eyes, segmented faces and mechanical jaws. How cool would it be if Valance’s half-metallic skull became an option for Cyborgs?

I could suggest new additions for days, but I do hope for more appearance options for our characters inspired by the evolving interpretations of the peoples of the Star Wars universe that we have seen since SWTOR‘s launch. I honestly don’t know how much bang for the buck new haircuts or tattoos get versus a cool armor set or weapon, but I definitely feel like the options from SWTOR’s character creator are starting to pale in comparison to the competition and the more of those we can get the better.

Once Porg Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

Look, you knew this one was coming. I seriously considered giving up on Porgs this year, and instead would’ve devoted this last prediction to a desperate hope and plea that SWTOR not embrace NFTs this year. But I want to keep the tone of this list light, and any such prediction would’ve ended with me curled up on the floor, sobbing “Please, God, no.” Beside SWTOR already has a cash shop, and while you may not like the Cartel Market, at least it isn’t preventing anyone from getting a PS5.

Moreover while watching Aviriia’s interview with Charles Boyd last fall, I couldn’t help but notice that, SWTOR’s Creative Director had a Porg perched on the bookshelf behind him. To that all I can ask is this: WHERE IS MY PORG, CHARLES? WHERE IS MY PORG?!

So this is it. I’m calling it now. 2022 will be not only the year of the Porg, but also the Loth Kitty, the Flesh Raider Baby, the Force Owl and the Rancor Toddler. I predict our characters’ menageries will overflow every wide-eyed, adorable critter the galaxy has to offer. But no Grogu, That’s just crazy talk.

So here’s to 2022! Last year was pretty quiet, and I hope SWTOR makes up for it with a tenth anniversary filled to the brim with new characters, breathtaking locations, exciting action and unexpected plot twists that we can all enjoy together. I realize this year’s predictions have ventured a bit farther into what I hope for Legacy of the Sith rather than what I actually foresee, but it seems to me that the days before an expansion are a great time to dream big. What are your hopes and predictions for this year of SWTOR? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Filed under Dumb Top Five, Legacy of the Sith

February of the Sith

Late to the party as usual, I still feel like I should comment on the big announcement that Legacy of the Sith has been delayed until February 15th of next year.  Many, many folks assumed a delay was inevitable, but this was a bigger one than expected.

This year has been especially light on story content, and I am very much looking forward to jumping back into the thick of things, so it’s a drag that I will have to wait a couple more months. But I think it’s for the best. The version of the PTS that went up this week still doesn’t feel polished, and I would expect that the expansion should launch in a state better than “mostly playable.” As any veteran player can tell you, problems, even very serious ones, that pop up in SWTOR before the December break have traditionally not been addressed until well into January. So rather than rush to meet an arbitrary deadline, the good folks in Austin will get to go into the holidays at an easier pace, and should be able to take some extra time to tighten the nuts, patch the leaks, and smooth the edges out of the expansion. In the long run, it can only be a good thing.

However, delaying the expansion one week before launch and just three after the initial date was even announced is not a good look for Bioware. Does it affect me personally? No. In fact, I’m actually kind of glad that I won’t have to worry about gearing up over Christmas vacation. I’ll spend the extra couple of months keeping on keeping on. I’ve got plenty of achievements to knock out and enough alts in need of care and feeding that I won’t be lacking things to do. But I know other folks are feeling done with Onslaught and will be taking the time to check out other games.

In addition, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that other players might’ve subscribed early to catch up on story or re-familiarize themselves with the game in anticipation of next week’s announced update. SWTOR has long been a game that allows players to come and go as they please, and someone who took Bioware at their word that Legacy of the Sith would be launching next week shouldn’t have to re-subscribe in February.

If it were up to me (and, to be clear, it isn’t) I’d say anyone with an active subscription on December 14, should automatically receive access to Legacy of the Sith. In fact, I’d go even further. Anyone subscribed at any point between now and February 15, should get access to the expansion’s story and leveling content.

Look at me, spending EA’s money!

Titans of Industry, part 3

Finally, let’s not neglect the Aurebesh any longer and take a quick return visit to the moon CZ-198 to check out this hover train car that can be found in the freight depot in the bowels of the Czerka controlled installation.

The translation of the transport company’s logo is not complex at all, and it reveals a name that is either a fairly unusual surname, or perhaps a spelling mistake. The rules surrounding the usage of “I before E” have long vexed me, so if it is in error, it’s not one I’d ever hold against someone. If we read it as “Field Transit”, then the company name is somewhat mundane. I wonder if the logo’s design suggests another possibility. Could the prominent circle be symbolic of a sun or star? If so, “Starfield Transit” strikes me as a rather more poetically Star Wars name.

Spelling error or odd name? The galaxy may never know!

 

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Who’s that Twi’lek?

Last Thursday, Bioware hosted a livestream to focus on the story of SWTOR‘s upcoming expansion  Legacy of the Sith. It was a short one, but they did not waste any time getting the news out. They shared some information about where we’ll be going and who we’ll be going there with. It was neat to see some old and new faces and places, but the developers also made sure to include two big pieces of information.

The first was entirely expected and long awaited: the expansion’s release date is December 14, 2021, less the one month from now! It will be an exciting race to the finish line. I think it would be generous to call the state of the game on the PTS “a work in progress” and I truly hope the team at Bioware will be able to get everything in working order for the launch with plenty of time to spare.

New Twi’lek, Who Dis?

The second big reveal was rather more unexpected, and I must tip my hat to the good folks in Austin for putting it out there and not remarking on it at all.

We caught our first glimpse of a mysterious new character in the lovely key art that will serve as Legacy of the Sith’ loading screen, followed by a few tantalizing frames at the very end of the teaser trailer.

Recently Bioware has been rolling out remastered versions of SWTOR‘s amazing cinematic trailers, and if you haven’t watched them in a while, it is worth it to revisit them in high definition to be reminded about what a breathtaking introduction to the game’s setting they are!

I thought the days of these types of cinematics in SWTOR were over. But when they revealed a new CGI model of Darth Malgus on the cover of Star Wars Insider, I started to wonder, but did not dare get my hopes up. However, one look at those big blue eyes, and it was immediately obvious that this shot was not rendered in SWTOR’s game engine. Something is coming, and I cannot wait to see it.

This past summer I took Bioware to task for not giving us enough to anticipate or wonder about for Legacy of the Sith, but with one loading screen and a few frames of video, they’ve excited my interest and got me asking questions!

The first and foremost is, of course, who is she? With my tin-foil-hat firmly in place, I have a theory. I think she is Darth Malgus’ daughter. While Eleena Daru came to a tragic end at Malgus’ hands, it does not strike me as impossible that she bore him a child. If true, this leads too all sorts of additional questions. Who raised her? Did Malgus know about her? Does she know who were parents are?

And I think there are some clues in what we’ve seen and heard already.

She carries a purple lightsaber, a color which Tau Idair’s voice actor Enuka Okuma aptly described in the livestream’s pre-show as a balance of the Jedi’s traditional blue lightsaber and the Sith’s red. Moreover, the figure wears black armor over white robes, imagery which again bridges the Jedi and Sith. I don’t believe any of this is by accident.

Is she Jedi? Is she Sith? Could she be neither? The notion of “Gray Jedi” is a contentious one. Personally it’s never appealed to me as a formal designation or coherent philosophy, but the concept of Jedi and Sith who exist outside their respective codes has long been a part of Star Wars and especially Old Republic lore. And Malgus’ voiceover in the teaser indicates a clear desire to break free of both the Sith and Jedi.

Is this woman part of his plan for that? His hope for that? His tool for that? And what does she think about her role in all of this?

I think the final clue comes in the name of the expansion itself. It may not be a metaphor at all. As the child of Darth Malgus, she would be the literal Legacy of the Sith.

Like I said, I have questions but no answers. And I love it!

Opal Vulpltilla Raffle

Finally, to celebrate this week’s announcements, I am lucky enough to be able to share with my community a chance to win an Opal Vulptilla mount. To enter this raffle, all you need to do is leave a comment below this post. Who do you think the mysterious Twi’lek is? What is your favorite Aurebesh letter? Will you redecorate your Manaan stronghold to reflect the war there? Which returning character will we be able to romance in 7.0 and why is it Darth Rivix? Let me know what SWTOR thoughts are on your mind! However, I must insist that you DO NOT post datamined spoilers from the PTS. I will delete and disqualify any such comments.

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

  • Your character name (be mindful of spaces and special symbols!)
  • Your faction
  • Your server

That’s it! I will accept entries for two weeks from this posting and will randomly select the winner on December 4 at 12 PM ET.

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 I look forward to seeing everyone in Legacy of the Sith!

If you’re new here, I hope you’ll take a look around. I’ve been translating SWTOR’s alien languages for more than five years now and sharing commentary about the state of the game as I see it.

 

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Filed under General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith

Welcome to the Hype Train

This week, I’m honestly not sure where to start!

Let’s take it slow and begin with a quick look at this sign seen outside the shattered Zoo enclosure at the center of Axial Park on Corellia. If you participated in the recent Feast of Prosperity event, you likely came across the sign on your way to fight Lucky the Rancor who an was objective of one of the World Boss ingredient daily quests.

At first glance you might think this sign is written in Aurebesh, but technically it’s not. Instead it uses “Galactic Basic” a font, which better matches the script glimpsed in Return of the Jedi. That text from the movie also inspired the official Aurebesh, but the two fonts don’t fully match. So while the fonts are similar, I’d say the are more step-siblings than directly related.

If you mouseover these signs near the Zoo, a pop up with alternate text appears. The literal translation indicates this is a welcome sign and its design with arrows and credit symbol are likely meant to point to a ticket booth, but the in-game translation turns this into a warning sign. In context, this make sense given that a dread-corrupter Rancor has broken from its cage, and it’s probably telling that that any authorized personnel who did enter the enclosure are no where to be found.

Legacy of the Sith Hype

The big SWTOR news is that after months of relative silence, a torrent of Legacy of the Sith information has been released, Bioware has made numerous posts about how various games systems will look in the next expansion, and SWTOR is even getting some welcome media exposure in advance of its tenth anniversary.

I should confess that I haven’t spent much time on the 7.0 Test Server. I was fairly active during Onslaught’s testing period but decided to lay off this time around so that I can go into the expansion with fresher eyes. That said I have been vicariously following the news and controversies roiling around the PTS. Nevertheless you shouldn’t consider my takes so much hot as tepid.

Some of the changes have me confused and asking “But why?” In general, however, I think I see what Bioware is aiming for, and I hope they’re able to hit their targets.

Among experienced players, the class changes have been the most fraught. I’m not up to date enough to go into any detail, but when it comes right down to it, ability bloat has become a real problem in SWTOR, and I can’t blame the developers for trying to rein it in. I don’t think we need three rows of buttons to play the game, and the sheer number of confusing and often redundant abilities makes learning the game intimidating to new players and even some veterans learning new classes.

I don’t envy Bioware this task. We’ve gotten used to having all these options, and for skilled players pushing the hardest PVP and PVE content, many if not all of those buttons find their use. Since the ability cull seems to be focused on defensive cooldowns, I’m not surprised tanks and pvp players are worried about what this means for their favorite characters.

This week saw lots of information for how Bioware intends gearing and itemization to work in Legacy of the Sith. I can’t possibly summarize it all, but basically different types of content will reward different qualities of gear. This marks an end to Onslaught’s “play your way” Spoils of War system. The last two expansions made it relatively easy for anyone to acquire the highest item rating gear, but they also fostered negative gameplay loops in that have lead to SWTOR’s group finder being dominated by Hammer Station and Toborro’s Courtyard. It’s not the player’s fault. To gear up fast of course people will run the easiest content for the best rewards.

But it’s not fun, and it’s not a great experience for new and veteran players alike who want to experience the breadth of SWTOR’s diverse group content only to be funneled into the same things over and over and over.

More difficult content will soon reward better gear. This is a good thing. I progressed through Veteran Mode Dxun and Nightmare Mode Explosive Conflict operations this year, and every single piece of equipment I got was ground into tech fragments. Honestly, it’s not a great feeling when collecting loot is more a bag-clogging nuisance than a reward for overcoming a challenging encounter.

It’s probably not an accident that Bioware has dusted off the Tionese, Columni, and Rakata names for the tiers of raid gear, since the expansion’s system is somewhat more old school in design. If you kill a boss, someone on the team gets an upgrade. There’s a reason that’s a tried and true model.

The advantage that 7.0 has over SWTOR’s earlier vertical progression systems is that everyone will have access to the same gear. No more will a solo player grind commendation tokens to buy gear with poor itemization and no set bonuses, gear which was worse than lower rated loot from operations. All players will be able to get Legendary items with “set bonuses,” and everyone will be able to collect and upgrade their equipment. There is no downside to everyone having access to good gear, and I just don’t see that changing.

But, yes, players engaging with the game’s most difficult content will have first crack at the best loot. That’s okay. Raiders make up such a small slice of the player base; let them have this.

I know some solo players are concerned about being left out in the cold. All I can say is that I’m not planning on doing much Nightmare raiding in Legacy of the Sith, so I will be in the same boat as them. I was most active raiding during the Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan expansions, and at no point did I ever have even a single character in a full set of best-in-slot gear, but I still killed lots of Hard Mode bosses, completed every flashpoint and had no problem running dailies and completing story updates. I will do the content I enjoy, collect the gear I get and upgrade it as best I can. I’m not worried.

If you are a solo player worried about gear, then let me encourage you to dip your toes into SWTOR’s truly wonderful flashpoints and operations. The group finder is not for everyone, no doubt about it, but running flashpoints with friends and guildmates is the best part of the MMO experience. There are lots of guilds that welcome players looking for a place to play at their own pace and are more than happy to introduce them to group content. Every weekend my guild hosts world boss hunts and operation runs, and we are always glad to teach folks new things. It’s never been easier to jump into SWTOR’s storymode operations, and seeing that notification when someone gets an achievement makes me smile every time.

This leads me to the announcement that Legacy of the Sith‘s new operations will not have 16 player modes. I have mixed feelings about this. I hear of few, if any, teams that progress on 16 player mode first. It’s almost always done after and only for the achievements, so I can see the value in focusing on the version of the operation that most people will actually experience. That said, I think its worth keeping 16 person modes for Storymode. Even my small guild often has more than eight on our Storymode nights, and we will bump things up to 16 person so that everyone can participate. Going even further, I’d love to see SWTOR swipe “flex raiding” from World of Warcraft for its Storymodes so that those operations could dynamically scale depending on the group size from 8 to 16 or potentially even 20 or 24!

Finally, we are racing to SWTOR‘s tenth anniversary, and still no release date has been announced. I am definitely looking forward to Legacy of the Sith, but the promised “holiday” release is looming ever closer, and it still seems like a lot of things are yet to come together. For now, I’m crossing my fingers, closing my eyes, and punching my ticket for the hype train.

 

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Filed under Aurebesh to English, Legacy of the Sith

A Billion Here, a Billion There…

The topic of inflation has come to a head recently in the SWTOR community as Hypercrates and other high value items have increased in worth beyond what the game’s auction house, the GTN will allow them to be sold for. I’m no game developer or economist, but I thought I’d add my two cents to the discussion, which in this economy won’t go far.

Inflation is a common problem in MMOs where credits are generated out of thin air and often never leave the game, but it’s been compounded in SWTOR where there have been in the past exploits allowing free credit generation and content lulls where there is little else for players to do but accumulate wealth without having much to spend it on.

During Onslaught I have made billions of credits casually selling excess crafting materials on the GTN. I typically post between two and five auctions when I log on, and then at the end of my session or the next day collect the proceeds from sales and replace what’s been sold. I’m not selling high value items, but have been making bank at a steady pace throughout the expansion.

And I’m not alone, I know many other billionaires, and I’m certain the “tres comas club” is hardly exclusive company anymore. I doubt SWTOR’s current credit sinks are making a big dent in the economy these days. The problem of how to drain trillions of credits from an artificial economy has got to be a tough nut to crack without drastic measures that enrage the rich and punish the poor.

However, there are steps that I imagine Bioware might take to cool things off in the forthcoming expansion, Legacy of the Sith.

First and almost most certainly, the day-to-day cost of doing business will increase. Expect to pay more for repairs, profession training, crew skill missions, pulling mods, and rerolling amplifiers. This is standard practice in SWTOR already, but I wouldn’t be shocked if those costs increase closer to the pace of the inflation we’ve seen. Should Tacticals and class set pieces sold by the Spoils of War vendors cost 10 million credits or more next time around, I won’t be surprised.

I make my own augments and stims, and it’s not worth it to run missions for the supplemental materials that are necessary for crafting. Instead I’ll pay a vendor hundreds of thousands of credits for the cloths, flux and recombinators needed to craft even a small stack of purple components. I bet the cost of crafting stims and augments will skyrocket in Legacy of the Sith. Likewise, if they add more craftable dyes and color crystals and other cosmetics (remember when Cybertechs could build speeders?), plan on needing expensive supplementary materials for those as well.

This is all fine. Credits are pretend money, and they’re meant to be spent and not gather dust in my Legacy bank.

I’ve also seen it suggested that the game could use more credit sinks. It is already significantly more expensive to unlock the newer strongholds than the old, and if they add new ones, opening all the rooms will surely not be cheap. I didn’t need to spend any credits catching up with Galactic Seasons, but I also didn’t hear of many people spending more than a few million on that themselves.

Would people crack open their piggy banks if Kai Zykken offered extravagant and expensive loot on an extremely limited schedule? There is some precedent for this. After game update 1.1.5 back in 2012, SWTOR added a limited time vendor that sold white color crystals for the then princely sum of 2.5 million credits, and I remember the fear of missing out was real as people scrambled to save up before the vendor went away.

I agree with the notion that Bioware would not offer Cartel Market items for sale for credits at any price, but there are rare and in some cases no longer available items from PVE and PVP content they could offer as replicas or reskins. But would that be enough to tempt a significant number of players to spend enough to the point where the economy cools down? Would you pay a billion credits for replica Wings of the Architect?

Lately I’ve been asking friends what would they spend a billion credits on, and no one has an easy answer, and I doubt there is a single magic bullet that would appeal to all players. The folks I know seem to be willing to pony up those credits up for something that has a long-term benefit to their characters or their guild. What that might be, I can’t say. A multi-passenger mount? No cooldown rocket boots? Legacy hood toggle?

Come the expansion, we might see a mix of expensive Legacy unlocks and cosmetic items added to any new Reputation vendors (and maybe some old ones as well), but I don’t know if Bioware would actually offer a billion credit item for sale, but if they do, I hope it’s spectacular.

Finally, I think it is possible that Bioware might follow the example of other MMOs and offer a way to turn credits in to Cartel Coins or game time. Since these transactions would be happening outside the GTN and player economy, Bioware would, in theory, be controlling the price and insuring that the value of credits never sink below a certain dollar or Cartel Coin amount and thus slowing inflation.

Some games allow players to purchase their version of Cartel Coins with in game credits, but I doubt this is a road Bioware would take. Perhaps instead we might see a SWTOR version of World of Warcraft’s “WOW Token” an item which can be redeemed by the owner for subscription time or cash shop credit. The Token’s real money cost is more than the regular subscription price, but it can be sold to other players for in game gold through a Blizzard controlled marketplace, not the auction house.

This allows players who are rich in the game to fully subsidize their subscription through the real life purchases of other players who don’t mind trading dollars for gold. I don’t know if this has meaningfully slowed inflation or gold selling in WOW. If I’m being honest, I’m not a fan of the WOW Token, and I’d be reluctant to see my SWTOR credits be tied to real money. It’s pretend money, and I think it’s meant to be spent on pretend things. I don’t want to feel like I have to choose between blowing a few millions credits for a cosmetic item on the GTN or saving a few bucks on my subscription. If that means inflation is a thing in the game, then so be it.

But I have friends who play WOW who do like the Token since it allows people with more free time than money to play, and people with less time to drop a few dollars and come away with enough gold to stay ahead of WOW‘s own inflating economy. As always, I do not ever want to tell people how to spend their money or their time, and it would be foolish of me to think my outside impression is correct.

My gut feeling, however, is that SWTOR won’t go down this path. At the very least I doubt Bioware has the infrastructure in place to smoothly and securely set up such transactions. But they have at least acknowledged the problem, and I hope they’ll be taking steps to address it as best they can. Who knows what the future holds? I surely don’t! Still, just to be sure, make certain you’ve got plenty of walking around cash when you get there.

 

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Filed under General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith, Onslaught

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.

 

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Filed under Galactic Seasons, General SWTOR, Legacy of the Sith, Onslaught