As Onslaught’s final hours tick down, I struggled to find a topic to discuss in the lead up to Legacy of the Sith. Things like SWTOR’s tenth anniversary or the possibility of cross-faction grouping that I thought might make interesting posts seemed to work out better as quick tweets. I did consider writing about Boba Fett, but I’m not sure I’m able to untie the Gordian Knot that is my conflicting reactions to his new show.
Instead, I think it’s fair to stick to tradition and go with an overview of the Onslaught expansion. I liked it and I’m glad I got to go along for the ride. As I indicated during reviews of individual game updates, I had fun with each new story addition, and I’m sure I’ve run out of ways to describe how amazing each new location we get to visit along the way is, but I genuinely enjoyed exploring Onderon, Mek-Sha and Dxun, confronting an ancient enemy in the theatre of the mind, fighting my way through Mandalorian warships and exploring the ruins of Dantooine.
Unlike the Fallen Empire saga, Onslaught’s story has been rather more episodic with three major arcs that seem to be only lightly connected to each other. The Sith Emperor’s tale has likely come to a conclusion, although, I don’t imagine that we have seen the last of “Syl” just yet. However, the ambitions of Darth Malgus and Heta Kol, the antagonists of the other two storylines, have yet to fully play out. I wrote last year that I wish those stories had a bit more heft, but I am certain that those arcs will indeed bend in Legacy of the Sith.
The edges between the various SWTOR expansions have always been fuzzy. Is the Forged Alliance arc part of Rise of the Hutt Cartel or Shadow of Revan? Certainly the two Fallen Empire expansions elide together almost seamlessly. And I suspect this will be true for Onslaught and Legacy of the Sith as we pick up where we left off on Manaan and Elom.
I do want to briefly touch on the Swoop Rally and Feast of Prosperity events, which were added during Onslaught. I think both are worthy additions to the game. That I don’t need to equip proper gear to race on a swoop bike or even put on any at all to cook a meal of spicy glowshrooms in the kitchen is, for me, a welcome change of pace. SWTOR is filled with an endless array of ways to shoot lasers and swing lightsabers at my foes. But sometimes it’s nice to just do something different. Your mileage might vary, and I can understand that someone else might instead prefer to spend their time in the game fighting the actual star war. These events remain optional with cosmetic rewards, as they should, and I’m glad they’re here to mix things up.
Spoils of War
Onslaught’s gearing system “Spoils of War” seemed to work as intended. I’ll be completely honest, I don’t find gearing to be interesting. Getting upgrades is nice, but I’ve always considered min-maxing to be nothing more than busy work. With Onslaught, it was a relief to spend the majority of the expansion rarely if ever worrying about gear, which was, I think the chief intent and benefit of the Spoils of War system.
It wasn’t all perfect, I pushed some Veteran and Master Mode content this expansion but was rewarded with bags and bags of junk. From what I saw on the PTS, Legacy of the Sith hopes to bring back the thrill of getting upgrades from defeating more difficult content. This is a good thing!
As a Vanguard tank for my guild team, I did go through the expense of acquiring the Emergency Power set, partially from Veteran Mode Dxun, but mostly from Kai Zykken. I’m glad I finished the set, but having to spend months of Tech Fragments on spins of the dial for random loot was not a fun way to gear up. Hopefully Bioware will not repeat that experiment.
Without any vertical progression, Onslaught’s attempt to introduce horizontal progression was a mixed bag. There were countless sets for each class to collect, but most of them were not worth the space they might take up in your inventory. Moreover, I suspect most players just took the advice of fellow players or online guides about which sets and Tacticals and maybe Amplifiers to use and never gave it a second thought.
I do think there was some fun to be had with builds and sets that were not recommended as “Best in Slot.” I would swap gear, especially Tacticals, depending on circumstances, but I wonder how many other players were also doing so, even when it might benefit them. The Victor’s set, for example, was brilliant for solo play in daily areas and heroics where bonuses from other sets would rarely, if ever, make a difference. The new Sage/Sorcerer ability Telekinetic Blitz/Volt Rush was roundly derided, but when paired with the Endless Offensive set and the proper tactical, it opened up a neat way to play as a healer, even in dps spec! I don’t know how much action it saw in “real” content but I enjoyed dusting it off for runs with friends.
The Nature of Progress
Speaking of Dxun, this time around I did complete the expansion’s signature operation, the Nature of Progress, on Storymode and Veteran Mode (I’m not nearly competent enough for Nightmare!). I had a fun time learning it. Red is an excellent first boss to get a group’s feet wet and the two containment breach encounters are exciting run-and-gun fights, something that SWTOR doesn’t do very often.
Up next comes the Mutant Trandoshan Squad, quite possibly my favorite operation fight in all of SWTOR. I’ve always been fond of council fights, but I like that the bosses’ mechanics feel like natural parts of the encounter, that different group compositions need to approach the fight in different ways, and that raid members who feel up for the challenge get to perform extra duties during the encounter. And that defeating each Trandoshan requires running them over with a high speed train has not gotten old for me in the least. I love this fight when the team executes it perfectly, but I think I love it more when it goes a little sideways.
I also enjoy the next encounter against the Huntmaster, despite some desync glitches. It’s chaotic and random, but in a good way. And that it also includes comedy deaths at its climax is another point in its favor.
After all that, the final boss, the Apex Vanguard is a bit of a let down. In Storymode, its mechanics are in the hands of just one player while everyone else simply beats the boss down. Assuming the group has one person who knows what to do with the battery, Apex is probably the easiest encounter in the entire operation.
For my Hard Mode progression, I was on flare duty, which is a tense job critical to beating the boss, but it was not very engaging. I spent most of the encounter watching cool downs and running in circles around the room. To top it off, the fight is long, very long, and the final burn required, for my group at least, cresting its own separate learning curve. Wiping at 3% meant having to slog through another 10-15 minutes of fighting just to get to the same point again and again.
Overall, however, it is a fun operation, with a lighter comedic touch. It’s not as intimidating as Gods from the Machine, and I’ve had lots of fun introducing many new players to it. I think it’s a good example of why I enjoy raiding in SWTOR. I also have a bet going regarding whether ARIA, the rogue Czerka artificial intelligence from the operation, will return in Legacy of the Sith’s upcoming R-4 Anomaly operation. I’m confident I’m gonna win that dollar.
Launching into Legacy of the Sith
I try always to be sanguine about SWTOR. No, there wasn’t as much content as I would’ve liked last year. And I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed that some of Legacy of the Sith’s features are delayed, but I also know that the last couple of years have been tough on everyone. I commend the good folks at Bioware who managed to produce an expansion to be proud of. I’ll remember Onslaught as an expansion that made some difficult times a little easier to take, and that counts for a lot in my book.
I’m looking forward to seeing SWTOR’s tenth anniversary begin in earnest in a few days. I’m looking forward the new stories the game will tell. And I’m looking forward to the adventures I’ll get to have with friends old and new.
I hope to see you on Manaan and beyond next week!
Opal Vulptilla, You Say?
Just as I was preparing this post, the good folks at Bioware provided me with a fresh batch of Opal Vulptillas in search of a place to call home. To be entered in a raffle for one of these glittering beast mounts, let me know in the comments what your favorite part of Onslaught was. Just like last time, the more comments I get, the more winners I will draw!
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 one weeks from this posting and will randomly select the winner on February 17 at 11 PM ET.
If you prefer not to comment publicly, I will also accept entries via email at email@example.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.