Thoughts on Recent SWTOR News and Issues

Quite a lot has happened in Star Wars The Old Republic this past week. Game Update 5.1 launched with its share of issues. But the biggest thing by far was the Group Content Announcement on ‘The Look Ahead Livestream’ this past Thursday (26th January).

New Operation

Eric Musco, Charles Boyd and Ben Irving finally revealed what the players have been wanting for far too long, an Operation. But with a catch. They would only be releasing one boss at a time; the first of which would be coming in Game Update 5.2 – The War for Iokath set to launch late March/early April.

What do we know so far about this new Operation?

  • It will be released in stages, one boss at a time and be a full 5 boss Operation by the end of the year.
  • Each boss will initially release in Story and Veteran (Hard) Mode. When the next boss is released, the previous boss will release in Master (NIM) Mode.
  • The Operation (bosses) will be 8 and 16 man mode.
  • The first boss is giant droid called Tyth. The encounter is being designed by the same person who designed the Revan ToS boss fight.

I feel conflicted about the new Operation. It’s a shame we’re not getting the whole Operation at once. But realistically I would much rather get one boss released at a time than wait until the end of the year for a full Operation. If the mechanics and gameplay in the newer Veteran Uprisings are anything to go by, the new Operations bosses should prove to be very interesting! It is nice to finally have some new 8 player + group content to look forward too.

Game Update 5.2 The War for Iokath

Besides the Operation boss, there is quite a lot coming with Game Update 5.2:

  • Master Mode (NIM) Uprisings
  • New open world, explorable planet Iokath.
  • New story set on Iokath which is a series of quests that when completed, unlocks a daily area (sounds similar to Oricon).
    • The new story involves going to Iokath with the Alliance (now that radiation is gone) to scout the planet but it turns out the Republic and Empire have also sent scouts. A super weapon is discovered and you get to decide whether to side with the Republic or Empire. Jace Malcolm is involved somehow.
    • The quests and daily’s will involve new gameplay mechanics.
    • New Reputation system to grind (faction dependent).
  • Returning companions Malavai Quinn and Elara Dorn.

I am very much looking forward to having an open world planet to explore again! The way the Devs described how the new story would play sounds very similar to Oricon. I’m glad they listened to player feedback regarding the lack of explorable planets in 4.0 and 5.0 content and are giving us the old open world questing meta back again with a new Reputation system. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Quinn and Elara play into the story.

Urgent Game Update 5.1 Issues that need fixing ASAP

There are some things that need addressing that are new in 5.1 (and some that aren’t new) ASAP.

  • AOE colour’s – AOE’s show up as green for everyone in a Warzone so it’s hard to differentiate which is a friendly or enemy AOE attack. This is especially problematic in same faction warzones. Enemy AOE’s need to be red regardless of faction.
  • No Grade 10 Mats on Jawa Scrap vendors – Please add Grade 10 mats to the Jawa Scrap Vendors. You keep giving us Jawa Scrap in Command Crates and we can’t use it to buy mats to craft new gear…
  • Class Balance – A lot of people seem to complain about this but fail to offer specifics.* Personally, I feel there are a couple of DPS classes (Sorcs, Juggs and PT’s) that could use a small DPS buff and Assassin tanks need a bit of a buff to their survivability in PvE in particular.
  • Gear costs for PvP – The cost of Tier 1 (230) gear needs to be reduced significantly so players can be on a more even playing field (I talk about this further below).

Speaking of PvP, I also wanted to address Musco’s response to why the Devs decided to change bolster:

The reason we moved Bolster down to 232 Item Rating is because of its rating relative to the best gear in the game, which is Item Rating 242. This means that someone with brand new gear entering into a Warzone is at worst, 10 Item Rating away from the best geared players. As an example, this works almost identically to how it worked prior to Knights of the Eternal Throne. During Fallen Empire, the best PvP gear in the game was item rating 208 and Bolster would raise your character to 200, an 8 rating difference. In short, the difference in power now should be almost identical to the difference that existed prior to KOTET.

Sure bolster as it is in 5.1 would work well if 230 gear was easy to get like 204 gear was really easy to get in 4.0 but it doesn’t. Introducing this change a couple of months after 5.0’s release has completely screwed up the playing field. Changing bolster in 5.1 rewards the players who had the most time to grind Galactic Command and/or the means to get gear crafted giving them a much greater advantage. Players who are more time poor or who chose not grind have been left high and dry with a very slow, grindy way to gear their characters. There is far too much gear disparity in PvP now. Returning players, in particular, are left with a very slow means to catch up gear wise to those who have played since 5.0.

I propose the following changes that should be implemented as quickly as possible:

  • Reduce the component cost of Tier 1 (230) gear significantly (like I said above). I would say the cost of Tier 1 gear should be halved at the absolute minimum. That way players can get the entry level gear much quicker creating a more even playing field.
  • Increase the amount of Unassembled Components earned for completing all types of PvP content win or loss. I would say doubling the amount of Unassembled Components earned would be a good start.
  • The cost of Tier 2 and 3 gear should also be reduced a little but not as drastically as Tier 1 gear. The grind to full BIS gear should be reduced to some degree to make it closer to how it was pre 4.0.

I feel like these simple changes would reduce the grind but much more importantly, make it easier for everyone to get the baseline Tier 1 (230) gear so that the playing field is much more even for everyone.


What do you think of Game Update 5.2? Are you looking forward to the new Operation? What do you think of the current state of PvP gearing and bolster?

*I’m also interested in your thoughts on class balance in both PvP and PvE. Which classes do you think could use a buff or a nerf? (Note I will ignore any comments that say nerf Mercs).

 

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  • SavingPrincess

    Gear-dependent PVP is a mess in every MMO and always rewards time over skill. The best PVP systems put everyone on equal ground regardless of time spent and let the skill determine the victor. The rewards for PVP are inherent, especially in ranked.

    In other words, being good at PVP is its own reward. Valor titles, public rankings, etc. are all the rewards any PVP system should *require*, with cosmetics, housing items, etc. can be added in for funsies.

    No other competitive-type game played seriously requires “external” rewards. In Street Fighter, your rank goes up, and you get a little banner notifying you of your “tier” of ranking… etc. “being good” is its own reward.

    There is no actual gameplay reason to have people be at different “power levels” in PVP. It handicaps people who have spent a long time grinding, and discourages new players from starting. Everyone should be the same item level, PERIOD.

    • I agree. SWTOR has never really had that unfortunately. The closest SWTOR has been to that was in 3.0/4.0 when gear was super cheap, quick to get and bolster worked. 5.0 was okay because of the way bolster worked, everyone was fairly even regardless of gear. But now, with 5.1 they’ve just turned gearing into a clusterfuck and screwed up bolster. :/

      I mean I’m so used to having a gearing component for PvP that it would feel weird for it not to be there especially in an MMO setting. I guess SWTOR could get rid of gear and just bolster people based on their class/role. But I’m not sure they want to take away our freedom to be able to optimise stats as we choose even though they’ve ironically made that much more costly and harder to do…

      But in any case, the first Tier of gear should be very easy to get then those who want to optimise can take the time to do so if they wish. That is really all they have to do to make PVP how it was during 3.0 and 4.0. Skill is still much more of a deciding factor regardless of gear anyway in my experience.

      I agree rewards should just be for the fun of it. Especially because of it being an MMO thing. Also PvPers wanting the chance to get similar stuff that PvEers can get. But only ranked players can get extra rewards anyway and the vast majority of people that PVP don’t do ranked.

      But anyway your comment got me thinking out load. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what they do next. :/

      • SavingPrincess

        To me (again, to me) gearing in PVP is tantamount to “less effort having to be spent in gameplay.” You could say there’s “effort in finding the right gearing recipe,” but that means effort by like, 4 people that everyone else copies.

        PVP in all games should be equal. Shooters, fighting games, MOBA’s, etc. All the best competitive experiences put their players on equal footing. Build variety in MMO PVP should be in the power selection (Which I think SWTOR should limit, but that’s a whole other topic) and team class makeup. Everyone should be given max gear stats by default and let their creativity and skill come through playstyle, organization, tactics, reflexes, etc. Not “Who spent the most time with the game grinding out matches, etc.”

        All rewards (i.e. cosmetics, etc.) for PVP/PVE should be attainable through either means. That way people who enjoy either side of the game will grind that side of the game. Don’t punish people there for PVP by forcing them to do PVE, and vice versa, same for solo/grouped content.

  • Shaun Daly

    According to reports they are adding 2 new Tiers of gear to Galactic Command, Tiers 4 & 5 with patch 5.2. I got an infraction on the Swotor forum for mentioning it.