So 3.2 has hit the PTS, and with it comes Ziost and the Outfit Designers, along with a whole bunch of other changes relating to minor things and class skills.
Because my last four posts have been very spoiler-laden (so too shall be the next four), I decided to write a "neutral" piece and only comment on scenery and other neutral areas when it comes to Ziost.
Ziost is beautiful. Imagine the architecture of Dromund Kaas mixed with the rugged snowy moutains of Hoth and Belsavis. Sadly, you only get to spend so long in these beautiful areas, as the majority of the story actually takes place in the more densely populated areas, even taking you to the front doorstep of the Citadel.
There are plenty of callbacks to architecture of SWTOR but also of the Star Wars films: one mission has you crawling through maintenance tunnels extremely similar to the type Luke Skywalker used after kicking Darth Vader off of the Carbon Freeze Chamber platform in Empire Strikes Back. Granted, Bespin wasn't what I was anticipating, but there are also windows with the exact same pattern as the one through which Emperor Palpatine observed the space battle above the Forest Moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, which is exactly what I was hoping to see. It's nice to see them working in other aspects from scenes in other films, of course, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the Bespin reference.
Ziost is like Oricon and Rishi combined. It's the scale of Oricon but missions and Dailies are more akin to the Rishi format. Curiously, it doesn't seem to have a Reputation faction, although it does have its own currency which can be used in conjunction with Basic Commendations to buy new (190) Blue Rating gear, which you also receive as part of the story.
One thing to watch out for though is that currently the story ends with monitoring a monitor; from what I can tell, this entails you waiting for a series of mail messages to be delivered in-full before the mission can be advanced. After a few hours of nothing, I have since come to the conclusion that the story is programmed not to end for the time being; there are other things on Ziost which we are yet to see in full, such as an instance for an Operations Boss called the Colossal Monolith, and Ziost as-is doesn't seem fully-developed yet; there's an entire area where the enemies are just Shyrack-esque Snowcaps and a 164k HP Walker. I'm sure that there are meant to be more things here in future, so I can only think that they've locked that area for future testing to get the early stuff out of the way.
Final thing is that the animation is superb. SWTOR's animation has increased tenfold since day 1, and I believe Ziost showcases the best of it. 3.0 only had a mere handful of truly impressive animations, but because it was so spread out it was perhaps lost. Here, the concentration and pacing is such that you can't fail to notice it.
The Outfit Designer is finally here! I've talked in the past about how I was interested to see it come to fruition, and it's pretty much exactly as I hoped.
Basically, you get a set of (maximum) sixteen outfits which you can unlock to place over your character's main gear set. Rather than a separate window, these outfits can be found on the character sheet itself. However, there are a couple of things to watch out for. First is that you can't just leave a slot empty, as the missing piece which corresponds from your main set will show through. If you haven't got any of the Covert Tech Armour pieces, I would heartily recommend investing in some if you want your character to have any skin showing through somehow. Second, installing a piece does not delete it, so you can reuse one piece of armour (if you have a really rare piece) over and over if you so desire. You can even delete the original piece of gear, although this isn't advised unless it's a set from Collections.
You can use any outfit you choose provided your class can actually wear it in the first place. A Trooper can have Light armour in his outfit but a Consular cannot have Heavy armour in theirs. This means that, if you want to make your class wear a "heavier" outfit than your class allows, you'd better hope that there's an Adaptive form of it somewhere.
As it is currently on the PTS, subs all get one free slot although after that it only costs 20,000 credits to unlock a new outfit and a flexible amount depending on how many armour pieces you change (say for example you like your character's main belt or pants or don't have a hat so you simply hide the main one) when first designing it. From what I've seen so far, it's 98,000 credits for a complete overhaul, and 86,000 for a near-full outfit without a new headpiece.
One thing worth noting which I adore is that if you "Unify Colours" or "Hide Head Slot" on one outfit it saves it completely. You don't have to re-unify or re-hide after changing outfits, but obviously you'd have to re-unify if you modified the chestpiece.
Two extremely minor qualms I have with this are that it doesn't affect weapons and it can't be used on companions. Weapons I would say would really only be a necessity for Jedi and Sith characters in particular, as Lightsabers are common across three of the four Jedi advanced classes, and I can't see a Warrior and Knight using the same Lightsaber when everything else in their armour design has changed. Additionally, it means low-level classes (again, Jedi and Sith notably) can't "replace" a Cartel Crystal in their weapons with a basic Blue, Red, or Green crystal. Companions, though, I can see being an issue for many more people. The Devoted Allies gear is great and all, but for the companions who actually can be seen to wear the gear, it has taken away the ability for people to control how their companions look, and this would be the perfect way to give that back.
That said, I can also see there being issues with Commandos and Snipers using Rifles and Assassins/Shadows using single-bladed lightsabers. Whilst minor, this could prove deceptive in PvP content, but then this could be negated by the class symbols. It's definitely something to be aware of, though.
Regardless of its minor limitations, the Outfit Designer is fantastic as a means to create custom looks across your Legacy. Outfit tabs are character-bound, not legacy or even account-bound, so you can have a maximum of 352 outfits saved on one server alone. And that's not including the main set, so that's 374, I believe. As a result of this, Legacy Gear now serves more as a means to an end than it ever did; now it will be used simply to ferry mods around as opposed to actual gear people can be seen wearing. And that's fantastic in my eyes as it means that people's creative spirits on characters such as a Gunslinger/Sniper duo can be unleashed. I look forward to seeing how crazy some people go with it.
Minor changes this patch include travelling and speeders, and I love both.
In terms of travelling, rather than having to unlock every speeder point and quick travel terminal, the speeder points are unlocked instantaneously upon your arrival at a certain planet, and the Quick Travel terminals just bind whenever you are nearby to them. For some planets, notably Hoth and Alderaan, this will make first-term questing so much easier. Additionally, Quick Travel has been affected yet again, this time having a base cooldown of 6 minutes and, with the Legacy buffs, this can be reduced to no cooldown whatsoever. Amazing stuff!
Speeders of yore have had their speed modified. Every speeder in the game is now Adaptive, even the Avalanche Heavy Tank and Hyrotii Scrapper! I love this change as it means that new players can just buy an 8,000 Credits Speeder and use it without any need to trade-up to a faster model. This does also mean that certain speeders can be trained at any level now, so you can send the Blue Sphere to your level 15 alt and they can use it. Very nice Quality-of-Life changes in general.
I won't touch on the class changes as I don't know exactly how they will impact the classes. You can read about them in the Patch Notes of 3.2, though, and see what you make of them for yourself.
All in all, from what I've seen, 3.2 is a very solid patch. I'll touch on the story when it officially launches, but I can safely say that the scenery and cutscene-animation of the new planet are both top-notch. The Outfit Designer and the general Quality of Life changes are also all very nice. All in all, the good feeling has indeed been sated.
Hunter story critique kicks off the Imperial story reviews tomorrow. For now, I'm going back to celebrating turning 20 today.