15/06/2017

Life of the Night

The Nar Shaddaa Casinos are once more brimming with activity, which can only mean one thing; the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife Event is back, and with it come more opportunities for people to wile away the weeks spending as many Credits as they have trying their best to win the newest rare items.

05/06/2017

300 #2

The end-result of focusing on characters the way I do is that one or two end up incredibly far ahead of the rest due to the amount of time spent dedicated to the front-runners. In prior expansions, this has nearly always resulted in one character getting full set-bonus gear while everyone else is left with high-endurance Comm Gear, or a set composed from a mixture of PvP and Comm gear.

There have been two exceptions to this: 2.0 and 5.0. In the case of 2.0, this happened when Calph took over from then-main Ziodus the January after DF and DP came out, so both ended up in full Dread Forged gear during their 2.0 careers. In the case of 5.0, Calph is still far and away the 'leader of the pack' at roughly Command Rank 1,161, but finally as of yesterday evening I've got a second character at 300. For context, my next highest is Command Rank thirty-five, whilst Calph has been CR 300 since January 29th.

As I've written elsewhere on this blog, I've become quite a big fan of Jedi Guardian DPS. I was hooked on it as a 'main-backup' during 3.0, and since Miorahna became pretty much my favourite character in terms of looks during 4.0 and the Class is a hell-of-a-lot more mobile now in 5.0, my love for the Class has grown all the more. So, it seemed right that when it came to focusing seriously on an Alt, Miorahna would be the perfect choice. 

Whilst she didn't get full 242 despite reaching Tier III after the new drop-rates came in, she still got a fair few pieces of 240 and some 242. Combined with spare 246/248 Mods and Enhancements from Calph, that meant that by the time she reached Tier IV she was in at least full optimised 240 with one 242 Earpiece, Relic, and Implant, and the 242 Chest, Bracers, Belt, Headpiece, two 242 Offhands (the armouring from the second is used in her Boots as the offset piece), and full 246 or 248 Mods and Enhancements. 

She did also have 1,000 Unassembled Components, so I traded in both her Offhands to get a 248 Offhand Saber and the Generator as well as the Earpiece, meaning that she had three 248 pieces before even hitting Tier IV. After earning several more Components she was able to earn a 248 Relic of Serendipitous Assault yesterday by trading in a spare 242 Relic, which was then complimented rather nicely by the only good piece she received from the three Tier IV Crates she's so far earned; a 246 Relic of Focused Retribution.

I'm still not the best at Guardian DPS, but I was quite happy with how she coped in the final fight of Scum and Villainy yesterday evening; she did the worst of the team in terms of output at 6.8k but was only 900 DPS or so behind the leading Player, neither of which I'm sour about considering that I still haven't got the optimal rotation down for Guardian properly yet. I still mess up on which filler to use when. 

Then again, of the final bosses I'd argue that Styrak HM is probably one of the better ones for Melee, so it remains to be seen how this result translates across to a melee-unfriendly fight which still requires well-above-average DPS output...

It comes to something when, as a result of my growing respect for this Class, Miora's Imperial equivalent, Ferok'ia, is actually better geared than Calph's Imperial counterpart due to actually bothering to get both the Guardian and Juggernaut their 'peripheral' (Relics, Implants, and Earpiece) pieces crafted. Pippera still only has her 220 and 224 peripherals, not to mention 220 weapons. That Sniper's just been completely ousted from her post since 5.0 and I'm actually okay with that.

~~~

As much as the criticisms levied at Galactic Command are totally justified (and they better be, since I've thrown quite a few of them against it myself), it can be seen to work out pretty nicely sometimes. Ignoring the Mods and Enhancements sent over from Calph's spares, none of Miora's current gear was won during an Operation; it's all come from Command Crates and then been upgraded from there. I won't deny that this outcome was very fortuitous even with the new drop-rates, which are still a bit of a nuisance to deal with. I think she received about four 242 belts...

I'm very much looking forward to 5.2.2 bringing in purchasable set-bonus optimised 230 gear for Command Tokens; finally, for the first time in literally ever, all of my characters will be in optimised set bonus gear and I can begin to use them 'happily'. I legitimately can't wait.

Additionally, I am seriously tempted to pick up the Tank armour set for Miora (and craft the unoptimised Mods, Enhancements, Relics, Earpiece, and Implants), just so I can practice off-tanking. I'm not confident to say "yeah, I'll happily main-tank something", but I've been delegated as the off-tank for a good number of times for certain boss fights even when not on a Tanking class so I'd be happy to give it a proper shot. For example, I volunteered as the DPS-with-taunt for the aforementioned Styrak run whilst Calph has been an off-tanking Gunslinger for SM DF and DP runs which my guild did at the start of 5.0 and then again in early 5.1.

So based on that, I think I'll dedicate some time to learning to do it properly for a change. Just start, see how it goes, and go on from there. I'm someone who only learns what a bad idea is when it's pummelling me in the face, so I imagine that this will happen to me here. :P

31/05/2017

We're on the Road to Somewhere

After a few weeks of promising the Roadmap at the end of this month, it seemed for a brief amount of time that Keith Kanneg would unfortunately be unable to deliver it within his promised schedule. The exact reasons for the delay were not specified, which is a shame because it would have been nice to know at least some specific details regarding the various hoops which he had to jump through, but there it is.

Thankfully, he was able to circumvent these delays and posted the Roadmap earlier today. So, as several bloggers will doubtless be doing, I'll be diving in to take a closer look.

18/05/2017

Exclusive Accompaniment: Prospective Sub-Reward Companions

This post was originally scheduled to come out last Thursday, but then other things got in the way. There was an update on the upcoming Roadmap and the first tease of stuff coming in 5.2.2 by Keith Kanneg, the first slight hint at the possibility of weapons coming to Outfit Designer, and of course there's the recent trend of putting rare items and surefire popular-sellers on the Cartel Market.

Such fun! Now back to the otherwise-scheduled-as-normal post.

Since Fallen Empire, BioWare have introduced a couple of pre-established characters as subscriber rewards. Shae Vizla and Nico Okarr were both characters only seen in the Trailers before Shae became a pivotal part of the 3.0 story, and the infamous HK Subscriber Rewards scheme reunited people with the barmy Bodyguard-turned-Assassin Droid they had lost in the main story.

Since the Companion Subscriber rewards proved popular (which is also partly what led to the HK Scheme in the first place), I think there's a good chance that BioWare will repeat this experience, since they also seem keen to hand out Companions left, right, and centre at any given opportunity - one was a reward for completing the Eternal level of the Dark vs. Light Event, and just look at the amount of Companions available now via the Cartel Market.

We're still a long ways off from the next Expansion, but still I'd imagine that by now some people in BioWare are busy drumming up all sorts of plans for it and which Companions will be destined to return. As part of this, they'd also of course need to consider potential Sub-Reward Companions, so the question remains: who could it possibly be?

15/05/2017

Satele Shan's Vent of Defiance: A Look at Recent Cartel Trends

Time to talk about that Cartel Market thing again.

Everyone knows about in-game cash shops and the various issues that come with them. SWtOR's is of course infamous for the Cartel Packs chock-full of different items of varying rarity which subject anyone who invests in them to dealing with the harsh mistress which is RNG.

Over the last couple of years, some of these exclusive and rare items have slowly but surely trickled their way out of the Packs, with the only really unique example being the Tythian Lightsaber Pike, which is a very rare drop from its owner himself. The more... interesting... examples involve items which are put up for direct sale.

Items in the past which have seen this treatment have included the Temple Guardian and XoXaan armour sets, the Ziost Guardian's Lightsaber, the Eliminator's Dual-Edge Vibrosword, and the Dune Sea Bantha.

Regardless of the appeal for some of these items, it can't be denied that they pale so very hard in comparison to three of the more-recent direct-sale transferees.

A couple of months ago the Unstable Arbiter's Lightsaber - which eventually became the first Platinum rarity item - was put up for the whopping price of 7,600 Cartel Coins, while in the last fortnight we've seen the Defiant Vented Lightsaber (initially 5,700 CC before rising to 7,600 CC) and Satele Shan's armour (2,132 CC before rising to 2,600 CC) be added.

No matter your opinion on this behaviour or their reasoning behind it (can't get enough money, be so skint from lack of Subscriptions that they need the Cartel Market, or just because they run an internal betting market based on how many people give in and purchase these items; you know the sorta stuff the internet can come up with), you can't deny that this is the sort of thing which would captivate people's attention.

In particular, the initial discounts on the Defiant Vented and Satele Shan items seems to apply some form of psychological pressure beyond the fact that these items were only meant to last a week before being taken down; it's first a case of buying it before it's 'too late' and the price rises, and then it's just 'too late' in general. Psychological trickery is a key part of parting people with disposable income of their money, after all. NeverWinter Online does something similar with its "20% off Companions" (etc.) vouchers for the Zen Market.

Especially when the Satele Shan set - one of the most sought-after armour sets of all time for some reason (hint: thigh-high boots) - is the unexpectedly 'fair' price that it was, particularly compared to the very high price of the arguably less popular Defiant Vented lightsaber the week prior. Heck, even its non-discounted price of 2,600 CC isn't as bad as it could have been!

The main question I ask of such practice is who the 'main audience' is. There are those - like myself, I must admit - who just want to say that they have the item in-hand for any eventual possibilities, there are those who just want to collect everything even if they never find a use it, and then there are those who feverishly purchase everything they can and compulsively unlock them for their various Characters and Companions to use.

The 'true' answer is subjective, but you know they've won people over when you see a Trooper run by wearing Satele's armour accompanied by their Vette who is also donned thus.

~~~

Regardless of your views on the practice of putting once-rare items on the Cartel Market, a weapon of a similar design to that wielded by the main villain in a Star Wars main-Saga film did make sense as a direct-purchase item for Star Wars Day week. The choice of Satele Shan's garb is pretty much open to interpretation more than anything else since, of course, no movie connections can be made.

This move is undoubtedly proving popular in certain circles. I'm curious to know how many people purchased both that set and the lightsaber.

On a similar note, it's fascinating to see BioWare returning to the ill-fated "no more bronze items" policy regarding the aforementioned Cartel Packs. This move proved unpopular due to the higher price of unlocking silvers compared to bronze so they swiftly retreated from it, but now they've returned to it. On-paper this 'promises' better chances at getting rare items (especially since Chance Cubes are now guaranteed items rather than a part of the overall draw), but I don't think this return will prove awfully wise.

Time will tell, of course. It does make a habit of doing so.

11/05/2017

Weapons in Outfit Designer in the Works

One of the most-requested features of Outfit Designer has been the inclusion of Weapons. Whilst BioWare have mostly remained silent on this matter, Charles Boyd recently took to the Forums and stated that the team were looking at seeing if they could fit this addition into this year's schedule.

10/05/2017

Roadmap and 5.2.2 Teasing

Those of you who keep tabs on the SWtOR Developer Team will have noticed a bit of internal shuffling. Ben Irving, the controversial Game Producer who infamously instigated the "Thrill of the Hunt" 'meme' for Galactic Command has been promoted elsewhere in BioWare so is no longer a part of the SWtOR team.

In his stead, another SWtOR team member, Keith Kanneg, has been promoted, and has immediately won a large amount of support due to his empathy with the players and, more importantly, frequent communications.

Recently, he's been updating us with the progress of a new Roadmap, with the most recent update being that it will be out towards the end of this month. To tide us over, though, he's given us a small glimpse at 5.2.2, which will be out in Mid-June. 

As a summary:
  • The Nar Shaddaa Nightlife will be returning, including some new rewards alongside the original ones.
  • New Speeder Perks will be available, increasing Movement Speed by 120% and 130% respectively.
  • Companions will gain Influence from Crew Skill Missions.
  • Tier I gear will be available from a vendor for fewer than 800 Command Tokens.
  • Player Hangars in GSF will be given a free Bomber and Gunship as a starting ship, Requisition rewards will be increased, and costs for item upgrades will be reduced.
To start with, we don't know a lot of the specifics, which makes sense considering that this is just a small teaser of things to come rather than detailed Patch Note-esque notifications. We don't know whether these new rewards will be purchasable with Golden Certificates or just Jackpot rewards from the Slot Machines, how much Influence will be earned per Crew Skill Mission, and which models of Bomber and Gunship will be designated as the starting one (the Gunship could well be the GSF Early Access Subscriber one, though).

However, even though this is a very barebones tease there is a lot of potential here. 

In particular, I'm very pleased with the extraordinarily low cost for a full set of Tier I gear, which will only need to be bought in-full once per Class if you use Legacy Gear, thus meaning that only Relics, Earpieces, Implants, and certain weapons will need to be purchased multiple times for all relevant Characters. Indeed, if you have proficient Crafters as part of your Legacy you may not even need to craft these and only need the Set Bonus gear for, well, the Set Bonus alone. 

I'm also very curious to see how much Influence is given per Crew Skill Mission, since if it remains consistent regardless of each individual Companion's Rank it could very well be the cheapest (if a very long) process to get a Companion's Influence up.

Finally, I'm interested in seeing how the GSF changes impact things. I've said time and again - and I haven't been the only one, of course - that it's absolutely brutal for new Players and Characters to get into. This is due to the current high costs of upgrades and the fact that you do need to purchase several ships to counteract the quite-frankly awful starting ships. Hopefully these changes make things a lot easier for new Players to get into!

All in all, I'm pleased by what we're seeing. Not only are we getting more frequent updates and 'significant' teases of updates, but we're getting them from a person new to this role and who is thus showing a lot of promise. 

Hopefully he keeps this momentum going, because from what he's done so far, I think he's doing a fantastic job!