The Fallen Empire

I haven’t blogged about swtor since April, when I said that the 12x boost was coming into effect for subscribers. I thought that I would be playing a lot of swtor this past summer. I only wish that could have been true. Instead I was rather ill and not in a good way, the sort of illness where you feel too bad to even play games.

In my post about the 12x boost I said I was “wary but excited” as I worried what the boost would mean for the games longevity. I thought that if I played through all the class storylines, then I would be ‘done’ with what I loved most about the game.

I need not have worried. I only took one class through their storyline – Imperial Agent. I started another – Jedi Consular – but I’m only level 21. That is all I managed. I have yet to touch the classes of Sith Inquisitor, Smuggler or Trooper and my Sith Warrior is still on level 17 and due for a restart as it’s been so long. I didn’t even max my Jedi Knight, which is now on level 47 so very close to the end.

The release of the next expansion reminded me it’s been a while since I played. I actually forgot to cancel my sub so I have another six months as it renewed by accident. So what are my current thoughts on the game?

Swtor listens or they play the game themselves
Back when I played Warcraft, I read The Grumpy Elf’s blog. Something he said occasionally was “do the warcraft devs even play their own game?” He wondered that because the changes they made were so bad, that it made him wonder if they knew the reality.

Now, perspective is everything. I know nothing about class balance in swtor, or about gearing or about anything ‘serious’. I just play around with the classes, questing my way through the galaxy. Therefore I don’t know if any of the changes they make are considered bad, by people who know what they are doing in this game. I just know how they feel to me.

In the 4.0 update they removed stats from companions gear. I was then sad because I had vendored the original companion gear long ago. That was the best most cohesive look but obviously I needed more competitive stats if I wanted to use the companion. I hoped that maybe swtor would open up a vendor, where I could buy the look for the companion. Instead, the next day, I got a ton of in game mail where they gave me all the starter companion gear. They had either listened or thought about it and that was a really nice touch.

They also boosted companions. Now some people won’t like this as “QQ game is faceroll” but it’s not supposed to be difficult when questing. That’s story mode, it’s supposed to be fun, not corpse running 10x as despite blowing all cooldowns, medkits etc. I still can’t kill the boss/get past that pack etc. I love not dying, I love feeling like the hero. They can make the game hard for flashpoints or operations, I don’t mind dying occasionally out in the world on a quest end boss, but I like not dying repeatedly. The companion being able to heal me, or deal nice damage, it just makes everything smoother and more enjoyable.

They made more companion changes too. Like being able to change their specialism, so my favourite companion can accompany me no matter what I need them to do. They also changed affection to influence. I said in my last swtor post that I had been roleplaying my Jedi Knight as a bit of a Jedi Bounty Hunter out for the credits. However, that had been harming my companion reputation so I picked ‘good’ choices. With the change I can roleplay however I like, the companions still have an opinion but it doesn’t affect the ‘influence’.

Finally there was the change to companion quests. They are now tied to character level, not affection (or influence as it is now) so I can do the whole companion storyline when I reach max level. I was concerned about this as I know if I take a character up to level 60 and Fallen Empire, then I lose access to companion quests so I wanted to complete them before then. Well, problem solved. Plus they give a nice chunk of XP. I took my Imperial Agent from level 49 to level 51 doing all the companion quests.

I also learned there’s only one real companion quest line, likely for the first or the second companion the character encounters. The Imperial Agent has Kailyo, the Bounty Hunter has Mako and the Jedi Knight has Kira Carsen. Kira is why I say second companion could have the quest, as the first companion the Jedi Knight has is T7-01 the droid. The rest were just conversations that I knocked out on the ship.

Wow that’s a lot on companions but still things are much better now in relation to them. From what I have read about Fallen Empire companions have even more of a role in that expansion.

A change they made in the past was to do away with the big talent trees and move to a discipline system. There’s less choice to be made and hopefully it’s less important to get it right. In this 4.0 patch they removed/streamlined a lot of stats, so I hope that I might actually be able to understand this someday. I rarely worry about it unless I struggle to kill things. I’m waiting for people to play 4.0 a bit and write me up a guide I can read if I start to run into trouble.

Oh and I mustn’t forget to mention the change to levelling. The 12x XP boost has now been retired, though it can’t be ruled out that it may return again as a subscriber perk in the future. However, the levelling process is now much smoother and faster anyway. They now highlight the planet story quests in purple, and you only have to do those and the class storyline to level. In the past the planet story quests were lost among all the additional planet quests, plus you kinda had to do everything or you wouldn’t level up enough for the next planet.

Now, I’m not saying the additional quests aren’t worth doing but they were extra, adding to the planet story rather than bringing any new story in themselves. The planet story would for example send the character against the Gormak on Voss. The additional quests would just be some sob story that would send the character against the Gormak for another reason. I didn’t mind these quests but it did lengthen the whole process. In my opinion levelling takes a long time anyway. I love levelling in swtor but I was sick of Hoth by the time I was done the old way.

This means I don’t mind so much that I missed out on using the 12x XP boost to it’s maximum benefit. I can still level up the other classes and enjoy their storyline without it taking forever. I don’t feel like swtor are trying to rush people to max level, I do still feel like they offer a good journey which is something I never felt about Warcraft. However, making the process smoother is good no matter what.

The plan moving forward
My Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent are both on Ilum, as I never did that planet quest. My Jedi Knight is just about to start Corellia and finish their class storyline. When I logged onto my Bounty Hunter I knocked out all the remaining companion quests, I’d already done Mako’s ages ago as her affection had been maxed. I then finished Corellia as apparently I had never done so and that’s when I discovered how much my Bounty Hunter sucks.

There is one problem with swtor and that’s the advanced classes. I have bitched about this before, but it’s a choice made at level 10 that is permanent. My Bounty Hunter was the first character I made, way back when the game was still new and had only been out a week if that. There weren’t the guides to read and so I made a choice without knowing the consequences. I’m locked into the advanced class and there are three specs within that, but I don’t know whether changing would help.

I literally can’t kill anything. Well, ok that’s a lie. I can kill stuff and I don’t die every pull because Mako can now heal me, but it takes forever and a day. My time to kill stat is appalling, it’s so boring and not at all fun. As I said I finished Corellia, went to Ilum and give up, I just don’t want to play that character anymore. Which is a shame because I like the roleplay aspect of the Bounty Hunter but the class itself, it’s just not fun.

However, I do still have a high level Empire class as my Imperial Agent is level 51 the same. Now, that class is super fun to play. The animations are good, stuff just melts and it’s a nice roleplay experience too as I get to play secret agent.

The tentative plan I have in mind at the moment is to finish Ilum on the Imperial Agent so I’ll be ‘done’ with the basic game Empire side. Then finish the Jedi Knight and do the last couple of planets Republic side. I could then do Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion stuff if I want. However, before I do the Shadow of Revan expansion I have more ‘basic’ game stuff to do.

There was that article on Massively before SoR was released with a list of things that must be seen from the ‘basic’ game before doing the Revan quests. That was the Sith Warrior storyline, the Revan quest arc of Drummond Kaas and a few of the flashpoints. That’s a point, at some point swtor introduced ‘solo flashpoint’ mode, which means I can go back and do some (admittedly not all) of the flashpoints for the story without having to group up. Again another brilliant change, it doesn’t take away from the possibility to group up if people want to, but allows for multiple play styles, if you want to play solo then you aren’t penalized.

So perhaps after I do Hutt Cartel on Empire and Republic, I’ll run through that list before I then move onto tackle Shadow of Revan. At that point I’ll have a level 60 Imperial Agent, a level 60 Jedi Knight, a level 51 Bounty Hunter (as I probably won’t have touched it) and a level 50 Sith Warrior.

In regards to Fallen Empire, one of the big things about it is the role that companions play. All classes basically fall into the role of the ‘outlander’ which is the hero of the previous ‘galactic war’ who has been frozen in carbonite for a couple of years. In the meantime this Eternal Empire has come out of nowhere and the Empire and the Republic are gone. The character then has to put together an ‘alliance’ to find this new threat, which can draw from the companions across all the classes as well as some new people.

That makes me think that it would be nice to have met all the companions before I do the Fallen Empire stuff. Plus the thing with Fallen Empire is that it basically locks you out of a lot of stuff, it has a bit of a story reset, therefore I need to be very sure that I have finished everything pre-Fallen Empire before I start that quest on a character, otherwise I’d have to role another one and begin again.

With that in mind I could run the remaining classes to level 50 before starting Fallen Empire, so Jedi Consular, Sith Inquisitor, Smuggler and Trooper. Wow, that is kind of unequal in terms of faction representation, perhaps I’m secretly for the Empire.

Given how I play, a list this long means swtor will probably have released the expansion after, the next expansion, before I get into the Fallen Empire stuff at the rate I’ve been going. Actually that’s probably a bit unfair, it might be the expansion after that. That’s a shame as I’ve seen the video for Fallen Empire and heard so much about it, I want to play but I want to do it right too. I do have a level 60 premade option. I could boost say a Bounty Hunter (and pick the right spec this time) and do Fallen Empire without it affecting anything else, as that would be like a bonus character.

I will have to think about it. If I did that I would still run into the ‘issue’ of not knowing the other class companions when it came to recruiting for my alliance.

I really like this game. Every time I start playing again, after taking some time away, I wonder why I stopped. I always enjoy this game and there’s a lot of game to enjoy. I suppose part of that is because I play by dipping in and out, therefore there’s still a lot of the game left. However, I do think there is a lot to the game anyway. I guess it’s a matter of perspective again.

There’s more that I have yet to explore, like the strongholds, I still know next to nothing about them. For all my ‘concern’ back in April, there is still a lot of game left and even with my renewed interest in playing I’m not about to run out anytime soon.

The only negative thing about swtor at the moment, is that it’s NaNo in a few days. Now, was really not the time to get interested in gaming again.