Thoughts on 5.10: The Good, the Bad, and the Eeehhhhhs [Full Spoilers]

Fun fact: since Manaan was used to represent Copero, Ossus is the first actual new planet seen from space since Umbara.
Happy new year!

Now that that's out of the way, it's finally time for me to turn my attention to going over as much of what came with 5.10 as possible. Since this was a fairly major story patch, the most significant we've had since 5.0's nine Eternal Throne chapters, I decided to enact my "one-month spoiler-free" safety window, hence why it's taken me so long to get around to posting this.

Of course, as is the way of things, this 'safety protocol' was rendered somewhat nullified as BioWare promptly began churning out full spoilers for the appearance of a certain character on their website and social media channels. I can't say I blame them, as this move will undoubtedly attract several long-gone veterans just for this update alone.

Anyway, on with the stuff. 


2018 Companion Reunions: Volume 4 [Jedi Under Siege and Nathema Conspiracy Spoilers]

These pictures being in ascending-height order is completely unintentional.
Well, 5.10 has come at last and with it the final four reunion moments in 2018. With this patch we had the first companions since Raina Temple whose appearance requires completion of more than just Yuun's Alliance Alert, certain chapters of Fallen EmpireEternal Throne in its entirety, or the Iokath storyline.

All Republic players get to interact with Archiban "Doc" Kimble and Nadia Grell on Ossus, but only their respective former allies get to reclaim them as companions in a subsequent Alliance Alert. The Imperials aren't afforded such luxuries for Jaesa Willsaam and Khem Val, but that's due to some very specific "what-if" moments that would always have been exceptionally problematic to deal with for these companions should they have been made available to all.

In this post I will not be referring to any particular outcomes from either perspective of the 5.10 story. However, I will be making passing reference to what the Imperial characters are doing when they come across their respective companions. There are, however, far more overt spoilers for The  Nathema Conspiracy since there's a certain outcome which needs to be touched upon. 


That State of the Galaxy Report: Dark Councillors, Supreme Chancellors, and Hutts galore!

A couple of days ago, BioWare posted a 'State of the Galaxy' article setting the scene for Jedi Under Siege. Under the guise of a report by Lana Beniko (who else?) this article establishes where both of the main factions are at in terms of leadership in good detail, but also includes various tidbits that, while not crucial at this moment in time, are still good to know about at this stage.

So what is there that's of potential interest? Or, rather, what can I find to prattle on about this time around?


5.0: Another Year Later

So here we are. The 5.0 patch cycle has now started its third and hopefully final year of life. This is the only expansion in SWtOR's nigh-seven-year history to have completed two full years, and it's certainly been an interesting ride.

As some of you may recall exactly one year ago I published an article looking over 5.0's then-present history. As I described, the first year of 5.0 resulted in nearly every single game activity or function receiving something new. Has the second year managed to accomplish a similar feat or does it feel severely lacking in comparison?

Let's find out!


Character Differentiation

The one thing which has stuck with me across the years as I play SWtOR is that appearance is the one of the most important things when it comes to playing a character. I may like how a character looks in the creator, but if something is off when the character is 'born' and in the open world then I'm going to change that ASAP. 

Not even long-term characters of mine are safe from this. Several of the characters who still exist to this day have gone through various changes, sometimes even including species, for differing reasons. Sometimes it's just because a new hairstyle has come out that I want to try. Other times it's because I realised that my characters need to be more diverse than they were at a previous point.

For example, there was one time when I had six Human characters and only two aliens - a Twi'lek and a Sith Pureblood. Of those specific eight characters, only three are in-use to this day and two of these have become a Mirialan and a Chiss. 

I've recently taken this into overdrive, a recurring trend with some things these days it seems, to the extent that it is not just outfits which differentiates my characters: None of them use the same primary-Companion, mount, or even colour crystal(s) as another. Variety in species is still something of a sore point, but I'll go into that in more detail further on in the post.

This is a post which I tried to write last year before giving up the ghost without having really started. It's time to remedy this and bore you lucky, lucky people to death once again.

And hey, it is Picture-Posting Month. I might not hit my fifty images but I might as well get some mileage out of it.


Old-School Galactic Traversing: An Extreme Response to Increased Convenience

Games such as SWtOR really like to push convenience to an almost luxurious degree. In some regards it's useful, such as 4.0's unlocking all speeder points to a planet, and other times it's downright annoying. For example, I simply can't count how many times my Guild has formed up an Ops group for an Operation that launches from the Gav Daragon and somebody - who knows full well how to get to the Gav - has simply requested a Summon. 

This increased convenience has also removed a part of the charm from certain systems of the game. The biggest sore point for some is the fact that the 'rite-of-passage' nature of finding Datacrons on newer characters has been severely lessened, particularly for veteran players, due to the stat-granting ones all now being Legacy-wide. I myself feel they should introduce some small incentive for people to do them again on additional characters, but I sincerely doubt we'll ever see such things implemented.

The other day I was asked to transport a guildie to Iokath so she could farm the Grade 10 Archaeology materials there, since  she had yet to start the associated story on that character, and she commented that it had been a long time since she had manually boarded somebody else's ship.

This comment resonated with me as it touched ever-so-briefly on something which I have been taking some small issue with over the past couple of months. Outside of some very specific circumstances travelling around the galaxy is now incredibly simplistic. Sure, we've had the Daily Transport terminals and various Legacy Perks for instantly hopping to certain places for several years but now we can just instantly hop to every planet or be parked directly outside a Heroic mission just with a couple of clicks.

This is all well and good, but it pretty much negates one of the biggest joys of being inside of the Star Wars universe; owning our very own starship. With the exception of the levelling story and starting some questlines, the ship is almost entirely superfluous nowadays. Not even the combat-modifiable Training Dummy is unique to the ship anymore, courtesy of the Rishi Stronghold including one.

Indeed, it's got to the point where you don't even need a ship to travel to the majority of places in the in-game galaxy since the Heroic transportation items work whether you own one or not. This particular instance has resulted in another one of my guildies not having a ship on the majority of his former Dark vs. Light characters which he had levelled using Heroics alone the moment he could get off the starting planets. This is something of a nuisance since when we're doing something as a Guild he nearly-always chooses to wait for a Guild-ship Summons and that just doesn't work when he's using one of these shipless characters.

I will see him get a ship for all of these characters before the game is done.

I myself had been more-or-less completely ignoring the ships, save for the rare combat-parse, for the longest time until something happened in August. The Manaan Stronghold broke. My Guardian had been calling it her home and for an entire month she found herself without access to her cargo bays on the top floor. 

I could have done a couple of things here. I could have simply taken her to Tatooine or Rishi, my faction-neutral Strongholds, or I could have simply placed copies of the bays on the lower floors of Manaan thus ensuring that she could still have used it. However, since neither Stronghold really had 'her' personal flair, I chose to do something else entirely: use her starship. 

So for a month she called her ship her home, using it to travel around the galaxy 'properly' rather than simply teleporting using the galaxy map. I absolutely loved it. It reminded me very much of the early days of SWtOR when doing this sort of thing was the only option. Convenience be damned, I still love actually seeing the approach to every planet rather than just a loading screen. 

Since this time I've taken things massively to the extreme. While my characters still live in their Strongholds while being logged off the amount of 'convenient' things they do is extremely limited. I now take them down to the planet itself to board their starship in the 'proper' way when I take them out and about and whenever I'm on a planet the only automatic travel options I try to take are the speeder points. Otherwise it's travelling on-foot or by mount the entire time.

I think my recent re-indulgence in Skyrim is fairly responsible for this.

That's not to say that I've been entirely immune from speeding things up. Mainly this occurs when an Ops group I'm a part of is moving from one planet to another to complete stuff quickly, but there are some times when I'm on a planet like Iokath or Hoth that I just don't want to run through a landscape of mobs to get to the nearest available speeder point. I also can't avoid using the personal Stronghold panel to get to Tatooine since the Stronghold terminal on Tatooine itself is (logically...?) placed in a location where you can't travel to anywhere from.

More than anything, this approach is incredibly relaxing. It's exactly the same reason why I love the GSI missions, since I can take as much time as I want and need to do various activities while also drinking in the in-game scenery while travelling between various Dailies and Heroics. There are some in-game days when there's nothing better than just spending an hour or so doing quests in a relaxed manner.


As much as it may seem, I don't have too much of an issue with increased convenience. I do feel that there is such a thing as too much convenience, but this is very much a personal take on the situation at hand. I know a lot of people absolutely love being able to hop around the galaxy at a moment's notice, but for me it's resulted in a very noticeable dearth in charm as time has gone on. 

Maybe I'm more of a role-player at heart than I realise. 


Looking to the Future: The Role of the Alliance and the Stability of Leadership [Potential Spoilers]

The information given to us surrounding 5.10 provides a great amount of food for thought, even from what little we actually have. The basic summary of all we know for sure is that the player gets to travel to Ossus to help their original faction and that this is most likely the final instalment of story we'll be getting in 5.0.

From here there are two major questions which this brief summary raise:
  1. How exactly does the Alliance as a whole feature in all of this?
  2. Will this story update attempt to remedy the determinant leadership situation we've seen since 5.2?
Both of these are important not just for 5.10 but for any subsequent story as a whole. It is logical to assume that Ossus is essentially a 'teaser' for 6.0 in its entirety: the story should follow an identical structure to the form that the one on Ossus takes. As such, it ideally needs to establish the Alliance and both the Empire and Republic in a 'concrete' form to give as strong an impression about how 6.0 will start as possible.

While this is mostly conjecture, it is worth noting that this post will contain definite spoilers, particularly in the second section. If anyone reading this has yet to do the Iokath story or wants to avoid learning any names for 5.10 I would advise only reading the first section.