26/05/2020

Inquisitorial Catch-Up

Having been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic since it launched back in 2011, I find it quite fascinating to look back at how my playstyles have changed over the years. What I used to do but no longer do, things I wouldn't have dreamed of doing at one point but now will willingly do nowadays, that sort of thing.

For example, I started on the endgame scene with a Scoundrel healer, then a Vanguard tank, and finally a Commando DPS. I remember typing in Guild Chat one day (while en-route to kill Needles as the aforementioned Vanguard) something about how DPS at endgame seemed like it would be boring, but at least as a Tank or a Healer you would actually have something meaningful to do.

I now have a cast of purely-DPS characters, so make of that what you will.

As for what I wouldn't have dreamed of doing (okay, maybe pushing it there) when I started out but now do on pretty much every character involves questing. Like most people, I'd imagine, once I'd finally worked out how to level 'properly' (let's not talk about my very first character, a Commando) I would completely stop doing quests beyond my class stories once I'd out-levelled them. Exploration was entirely incidental and was rarely ever deliberate.

I forget exactly what caused this particular switch to flip in my brain, but at some point I decided to completely reverse this decision. Map-exploration became a lot more deliberate, to the point where the majority of my characters have every single planet fully-uncovered with as many lore objects as possible discovered. Quests, regardless of how out-levelled they were, were all completed - bonus points as I would eventually find myself taking three of my max-level characters back to various planets throughout 3.0 and 4.0 and picking up where I left them off at.

Of course, as with everything, there has to be at least one outlier.

22/05/2020

An End, Once and For All!

This has been a day I've long been anticipating.


Throughout the past two days, I finally managed to drag my Powertech through her remaining chapters of Fallen Empire, completed Eternal Throne, slogged through Iokath and the Traitor arc, and took a breath of fresh air on Ossus and Onderon.

This may not seem like much, particularly to the more altaholic readers out there, but I have very specific reasons to be celebrating this.

I'm done

Never again will I have to sit through Fallen Empire and its subsequent storylines. At long last, I have all characters from each base-class caught up to one another again, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since partway through 3.0 - almost, if not over, five years ago.

Appropriately, since Phirella is the last of my characters to be going through these storylines, I thought I'd shake things up somewhat just as a "last hurrah". I hatched the idea of maybe making her my saboteur while she was finishing up her class story at the start of 6.0 and the threat of Fallen Empire et al. loomed ever nearer. So it was that when she started Iokath and eventually Ossus, she became my first and only character to support a faction opposite to her own.

I didn't look up any videos of saboteur activity pre-Onslaught as I had heard second-hand that some of the choices made by a saboteur, particularly during Hearts and Minds, were absolutely hilarious. Having now seen the speech given to Imperial troops with a character who deliberately flubs the speech, I can confirm that part of it caused me to burst out laughing. Grey Griffin's voice-acting certainly added to the hilarity, so I'm curious to hear what the other Imperial VAs sound like when delivering their own flubbed speeches.

As for the other saboteur-specific stuff? Well, it means I finally got to see Emperor Vowrawn at last as well as properly meet Jedi Master Sal-Deron first-hand rather than through someone else's recordings, so I'm happy about both of those. It's a bit too soon to gauge how other choices will impact things, especially as with letting the Republic fleet escape I proceeded to choose the Dark Side option in the subsequent conversation with Malgus. No spoilers for people who haven't done or seen the saboteur storyline yet, of course.

~~~

I don't begrudge anyone liking the Chapters as a means of storytelling. Heck, I myself can appreciate the theory behind them and some of the stuff that's been in the Chapters have been among my favourite story moments in the entire game. However, as time went on and as more and more characters of mine reached the point where Chapter I: The Hunt became their next mission, I began to feel very disillusioned with them.

More than anything, this is simply because of the sheer onslaught of cutscenes that is presented to players nowadays. When 4.0 launched with its Chapters, The Alliance was the break-point, and it made good logical sense. With each addition to the story, however, the break-point got extended further and further to the point where, unless you stop yourself deliberately (while making sure to do so in an area that doesn't launch you straight back into a Chapter the moment you enter the phase), you will be presented with all twenty-five Chapters back-to-back. At least as they were coming out we had the means to start them deliberately at our own pace!

I know, I know, people will say "you know you can stop at whatever point you like, right?" but I feel this is still indicative of the issue I have. Yes, I know I can halt a chapter after it starts and take a break, but you still can't prevent any chapters from starting outright. Once you initiate the final cutscene of any given chapter, hey-ho, it's another cutscene and possibly an entire loading screen that greets you afterward. At least with the subsequent storylines, while you mostly get given the missions automatically, you can start them from scratch whenever you desire.

I'm pleased BioWare indulged in experimenting with the Chapters as the content we're seeing now feels like a BioWare making use of the experiences they picked up from writing them while merging them with the more traditional open-world story content of the base-game.

However, I'm even more pleased - in fact, I'm going so far as to say that I'm thrilled - to have finally escaped them at long last.

Since I haven't been updating my blog in the past few months (because... reasons...), I should also follow up on my Vanguard, whose progress I also last briefly touched on back in Tasks and Signals. Like my Powertech, I've only just got my Vanguard up to all the story content within the past week, so this has been too long I've spent on Iokath this week alone.

Still, at least it meant that I finally got to see the Trooper's conversation with Elara Dorne as well as the Hunter's reunion with Torian and Mako this week. Extra rewards to be reaped for having to put up with all that other nonsense!

24/02/2020

Decoration Documentation: Rishi Hideout


Yes, yes, I know it's been almost two years since this Stronghold was released, but I realised while writing Saturday's Decoration Documentation post for the Alderaan Noble Estate that I had never published a similar post for Rishi despite its being complete all this time.

I actually had written a post for it but it ended up being deleted when I was clearing up some old drafts I wasn't happy with, but I figured it was worth giving it another go now I'm back in the mood for writing about decorating.

When speculation about future Strongholds was in its prime, I was always fairly baffled by the number of requests I was seeing for Rishi as a location. I mean, sure, it's an okay planet but it's almost certainly the most unruly planet BioWare has yet released. Setting up permanent residence on Rishi, to me, seemed like presenting the worst pirates a great big target to raid. 

This feeling is hardly lessened by the fact that this Stronghold is literally a truncated form of Coratanni Town (formerly Ruugaria) from The Ravagers, AKA formerly one of the most notorious pirate lairs on Rishi. Regardless of whether or not it's actually the same location, having a Stronghold be visually identical to an Operation area that gets infiltrated relatively easily really doesn't do much to make one feel "secure" within its confines. 

With that introduction, I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that I don't use this Stronghold for one of my characters. As a matter of fact, this Stronghold is where my Gunslinger Cal calls home. Ever since Manaan released and was 'given' to my Guardian, I've been trying to give some of my characters their own distinct homes. In the lore I've written up for my Gunslinger, she was born and raised on Coruscant, but since that Stronghold is currently dedicated to... other matters... I couldn't really use it. I'm not a fan of the Nar Shaddaa Sky Palace so I wasn't keen to use that although it would also work for Cal's smuggler background.

Rishi thus seemed like the most logical option remaining to investigate for this purpose. 

22/02/2020

Decoration Documentation: Alderaan Noble Estate


Oh, joyous occasions!

Ever since Strongholds have been a thing I've been voicing a wish to get an Alderaan Stronghold at any given opportunity. Alderaan is still my favourite planet in-game all these years later because I find it to be absolutely gorgeous, so I was keen to have any excuse to park at least one of my characters there on a nigh-permanent basis.

So when BioWare placed a teaser for the newest Stronghold on Fleet in 6.0.2 I was absolutely thrilled to discover that it was to be an Alderaanian one. I loaded up the PTS as soon as it became available to check it out and I loved what I was seeing.

Since it was announced, I planned to 'give' it to my Sage, Vihala. My Gunslinger has Rishi, my Guardian has Manaan, my Imperials have a half-finished Dromund Kaas, and my Trooper (and until now, Vihala) just has Tatooine by default.

Funny to think that the Stronghold I had put the most effort into first is now something of an afterthought...

As a result, this estate has been turned into a Jedi Academy of sorts, so expect to see more than a few Jedi themed decorations, including the occasional Jedi NPC, in the following images.

20/02/2020

Tasks and Signals

I haven't forgotten about my Thoughts on 6.0 series. I wasn't very happy with the post I had drafted up for the Onderon story so I kept it back for a bit until I could improve it to match my expectations. However, I haven't had a lot of time to go back to it with college work and such, so it's still in limbo.

Until then, I'm going to use recent goings-on in SWtOR to re-jigger my blogging capabilities and hope that that finally gets the Thoughts post up to standard.

6.1 brought with it three things which I intend to touch on in posts at some point. The first, something which I had been hoping for ever since Strongholds were introduced, is the Alderaan Noble Estate. The second, the subject of today's post because it's the easiest to write about at short notice, is a small story update, The Task at Hand, which focuses on either Task Force Nova or the Empire's Hand before setting up the 6.2 story in Signal From Noise. The third and final notable change, from my perspective, is the removal of Veteran's Edge in Master Mode Operations.

For now, though, it's time to analyse the little story update and see what happened!

20/11/2019

Thoughts on 6.0 #7: The Characters, part 3 (Onderon, Mek-Sha, and Corellia)

This is the seventh post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
  4. The Locations
  5. The Characters, part 1 (Empire)
  6. The Characters, part 2 (Republic)
Onderon and Mek-Sha both provide a few interesting characters for players to interact with. Most of these characters can be interacted with by everyone regardless of their faction, but there are a couple who are faction-specific. The characters who are seen during and after Corellia are particularly interesting...

18/11/2019

Thoughts on 6.0 #6: The Characters, part 2 (Republic)

This is the sixth post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
  4. The Locations
  5. The Characters, part 1 (Empire)
The Republic forces are essentially the defenders of the expansion, trying to stop the aggressive Empire from crippling its war effort and any necessary reinforcements. There are quite a few returning characters as well as some quite interesting new characters.