Pip's beloved computer station was confiscated upon entry to Manaan by the paranoid Selkath
So today 2.9 went live and has brought with it a whole host of brilliant things. As you can gather from the picture above, a new planet - Manaan - can now be visited although it is nothing more than a hub for codex entries, a flashpoint entrance, and a vendor. Part 2 of "Forged Alliances" has also been released to go with this.
Finally, the Galactic Strongholds and Guild Ships have finally made their way to us. A lot of people will be thrilled to finally deck out their own house while others are more interested in the Conquest that tides us over until 3.0 brings in its inevitable raid.
Manaan is beautiful. Just absolutely, absolutely beautiful. Whilst it is nowhere near as extensive as Ahto City was in the original KotOR, it is as good an emulation as I think we were going to get that was proportional to its size, even if both factions' areas are identical aside from the surrounding scenery. A lot of people would say that to make this new planet nothing more than a Flashpoint entrance seems redundant: why give us a new explorable planet if there's nothing actually on the surface itself worthwhile apart from a way to another, independent, instance?
As it is, I don't mind it. Whilst a new daily area would have been nice, I don't think it would have made much - if any - sense to place one on Manaan, a territory which is decidedly 'neutral' in-universe. Whilst the Flashpoint involves you killing Selkath along the way, there is no reason why any Selkath on the surface of Manaan itself would be openly hostile, as that would breach their neutrality. Thus, I'm not particularly miffed that there is nothing more to it.
Heck, at least we can visit Manaan as a normal planet! Personally, I'd find it galling if we couldn't just spend some time on the surface that wasn't as a part of a whole other instance.
The Flashpoint is just another [TACTICAL] Flashpoint. Apart from the fact that they seem to have updated the Microfilament gear cosmetics - nothing more - that drop from the bosses, there is nothing different in the workings of the Flashpoint compared to the others; no Hard Mode, can be duoed by two geared people, etc. etc.
The mechanics of each fight make them more fun than any in Tython and Korriban, though.
The first boss has two droids with shields who both transfer their shields to him; you must damage them enough so that they transfer their shields back to themselves and then kill the boss. This is more complicated than it sounds, as these droids stun, grapple, and knock you away at many points during the fight, and they even break through Hunker Down and Entrench. Whilst I do main a Gunslinger, I find this absolutely wonderful: FINALLY we're up against something that makes us move instead of just point and shoot in-cover. Finally, we're made as vulnerable as any other DPS and that's wonderful to me, it really is.
The second boss is more standard. He runs around and deals damage, leaving puddles behind him. Standing in those puddles when he channels "Flow" will deal some serious damage, stunning you all the while. He also summons two adds. Apart from the "Serious chance of death if not careful" lark, it's relatively simple.
The final boss is hectic as all heck. He occasionally leaves a debuff on you which stops you from holding threat over any other member in the group - THAT would be a fun mechanic in Operations, BioWare! - and he also has tons of adds which spawn intermittently, which will eventually murder the group if left unchecked and not dealt with. Oh, and you have a 5-minute time limit to kill him before you die and need to do it all over again for reasons in-story.
The story update is very nice. You get a confirmation on what exactly's going on and the main motive of the villains of the story, but it's still left unresolved until presumably part 3 which should be 2.10. I personally hope that that's not the end: we've still got 3.0 to come, and as that is going to be a "Rise of the Hutt Cartel" like expansion, to do away with this story beforehand would seem like a very weird decision when it's all they've got that's publically visible as foundation work for now.
No, I foresee part 3 bringing an explosive cliffhanger that will lead directly to 3.0's story and a new Operation.
Time shall tell.
Guild Ships bring with them not just another outlet of customisation, similar to Strongholds, but Conquest Events. These are four-day events in which guilds can conquer planets with each guild member working towards personal goals, bonus points for which are boosted by Strongholds.
I haven't yet engaged in the conquest activities, but for the time being I shall be focusing on as many solo-able content as I can until I can fully 'rejoin' my guild's groups in September/October. Thankfully, there are certain things one can do by oneself - level 50 SM Flashpoints, [HEROIC] Missions, and so on and so forth - so it isn't all "You must do this with an Operation Group", which I like.
There are things which do require Ops groups, of course. There are now Commanders in each faction's main-base - not sure how Balmorra and Taris work yet, though - which will flag people for PvP when they go and kill them. It's not exactly the "Open world PvP" that many have clamoured for, but you can just tell that there'll be groups of PvP-geared people just guarding their Commanders from the incoming onslaught.
At long last, we can take a piece of territory and properly make it ours. Sure, we can't construct our own house from scratch, but at least with the innumerable decorations you can get, you can make yours just that little bit more "personal".
Surveying one's personal territory
The Stronghold I've opted for is Tatooine. As soon as I saw it, with its twin sunset dominating the skyline, I knew that it was the one for me. After investigating it on the PTS throughout this last month, I found it to be even more to my liking. That spaceport is huge! I have already fully-upgraded it and am in the process of planning exactly how each room is going to work. I've decided to dedicate areas to each of my classes, with four of them being afforded actual rooms - the others will have to be satisfied with a corner.
The reason why I went with Tatooine is not because it gives me the most room, but because I wouldn't know how to effectively manage any of the other Strongholds. All of the other three have two staircases, and as nice as they are, I do not feel that I would be able to make use of those at all. They are nice, though; I've got all four bought, but won't buy another to the full extent as I have for Tatooine.
I really do like that we have to craft the Prefabs to get decorations, as now my crafting stations can have their residue stims/adrenals dusted off and something new can be duly honed.
Whilst I am slightly annoyed that other classes' companions can only be seen as holograms, this doesn't exactly detract too much from the general feel, especially with my idea of a-section-per-class.
I love the fact that the Flashpoints and Operations drop Decorations. From testing on the PTS, the Decorations have a 100% chance to drop from the bonus bosses of Hard Mode Flashpoints (where applicable: 6K-A2 and Darth Ikoral for Colicoid War Games and Red Reaper, respectively - presumably from the Rare Elite Defender, Jensyn, Soverus, the chest after Stivastin, Rasmus Blys, and the Vigilant as well). This means that PuG groups for The HM FPs have a more concrete reason to kill those four bosses now. As for Operations, I cannot verify for sure (yet) where these come from: some have said "dropped from adds", others have said "dropped from bosses only", so I'll be able to confirm at a later stage for myself.
Thus, old content is being "refreshed". Maybe not in the way some people would like, but at least they've had this little bit of a touch-up.
One thing which I am to test out yet - due to wanting to lay out the foundations of my plan and standard decorations first - is whether they've removed the NPC limit that one had on the PTS; you could only place 25 or so NPCs until you could place no more. This included pets, vendors, and animal mounts, so as an avid pet collector and someone who vastly prefers animal mounts to any sort of vehicular mount, this always was my only real criticism of the way that Strongholds worked. Some people might like this limit, but I think even they can agree that 25 - which is worse than 10% allocation across any of the Strongholds - is too small.
There are some minor updates which I absolutely adore.
Because the various pets roar/screech/beep when placed as decorations, your pet now actually does so occasionally when summoned without being right-clicked on. Because I absolutely adore collecting a vast majority of the pets and have an entire quickbar filled with most of my favourites - need to replace the Raklings now that they're not needed - I view this as excellent and really does add something to the atmosphere that makes it much more involving: Instead of having to click on your pet to hear it roar, it now actually does it by itself!
How cute is that?
First, /sleep has been changed. You actually lie down and feign sleep - your eyes are open - on whatever it is you are standing on.
Second, as you can see from the header image, you can now actually "sit" as if you were on a chair with /chair. You can use this anywhere, as long as it looks decent, be it walls, beds, Ewoks, what-have-you. I can see so many people using the benches on Fleet properly, as well as role-playing sitting at the various computers across the Galaxy; that said, you'd need to get lucky, as you can be either pondering (above), reclining, or straight-backed when you become seated, and sadly you can't choose which one you get and may need to re-/chair if the original was not to your liking.
Curiously, on the PTS, /chair resulted in occasionally-different poses to different people. For example, one of my good friends could see the pondering pose as a reclining pose, and I their recline as a straight-back, with the occasional 'perfect' pose across both computers. Not sure how BioWare have did this, but it could result in the spoiling of many postures should this be unchecked. I've yet to verify again whether they have changed this, but I doubt that it will have been changed.