I haven't ever touched on the Cartel Market properly on this blog yet, and that's mainly because there hasn't yet been all that much which I have found particularly interesting to actually talk about. That is, until these last two weeks. The first thing which of course has impacted the Market and drastically increased its worth/value has been the Outfit Designer, but I'll refrain from talking about that yet again.
The second thing which happened is the release of the first of a hopefully very promising series of packs; the Deep Core Explorer's. I won't be reviewing the armour, weapons, or the majority of the mounts as I must admit that I don't think all that much of them, but there is a lot of future promise from what remains.
First off, the Decorations. Decorations, of course, have been present in Packs since Shipment 5, and they're still kicking around to this day. Indeed, they're pretty much the only reason I have any interest in these packs any more. Are BioWare right in keeping them going, or are they beating a dead horse?
The answer is; the ones from this pack are simply the best Decorations they've done yet. This pack brought in the first of I hope many properly-themed Decoration sets in the generic Cartel Packs rather than set Decoration packs, and I honestly feel that this is the best path for them to go down. There are a lot of organisations, buildings, cultures, and planets which have a specific "set theme", and so that means we're likely due for an onslaught of very decent Decorations in the next few months.
This first theme is "Jedi Temple", and the decorations are as ornate and beautiful as can be. People who have already seen my Tatooine Strongholds post will know that I like to keep rooms "themed" to specific classes, having allocated a room to an Agent, Smuggler, Trooper, and Knight, and of course I had to experiment with these new Decorations in the Knight's room.
[caption id="attachment_353" align="aligncenter" width="660"] This was what it looked like before...[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_586" align="aligncenter" width="660"] ... and this is what it looks like now.[/caption]
I hope that you will agree with me that it now looks much better. Nearly all of the Decorations you can see (the bed is from the Cartel Certificates vendor) are from this pack, and you can get a good feel for how they all work together.
The Libraries on the back walls can be interacted with, resulting in a 20-second long cast and animation of your character "researching", whilst the Meditation Chamber - the big obelisk - can be interacted with by clicking on the lower yellow dish, resulting in a 30-second long cast and animation of your character meditating.
There are three Decorations from the pack which aren't present in this picture; they are the Commemorative Statue of Satele Shan, the Meditative Padawan (Female), and the Kel Dor Jedi Master. Both the Kel Dor and Satele statue are situated just outside this room, with the Kel Dor acting as the customary guard which I like to have outside all of my rooms.
I'm still trying to figure out how the Temple Clock (situated just above T7-01 to the right of the frame) keeps time. Whilst it can be transliterated from Aurebesh to English, it doesn't go to 60 minutes or 24 hours, but it instead seems to go to 99 hours, 99 minutes, and 99 seconds, and even then it doesn't "stay consistent". For example, I've seen it at 93 hours and then nearly three hours later it was only at 94. It's a perplexing piece of furniture, to say the least.
Hopefully the next few months and future shipments will continue this trend. It would be great to see some Sith Temple stuff and absolutely fantastic to get Mandalorian or even Pirate-themed stuff at some point. As I say, I do feel that this is the absolute best way for them to go on with where Decorations are concerned.
The new emotes which are "confirmed" to be coming out - as can be found in the Emote drop-down boxes - seem to be taking on a very "practical" and "real-world" use, which is great to see. We only got one such emote this time, the Battle Plan, but we'll be getting such things as Air Control, Sweep, Shovel, and Search in future, so it's nice to see them finally delving more into these style of emotes rather than more over-the-top emotes and dances.
That said, there is a very over-the-top emote released very recently which I easily consider the best emote of all time...
I said that I wouldn't touch on the majority of the mounts, but there is one which I simply have to talk about.
There is a line of argument which says that we have enough creature mounts; this is "Star Wars", not "Beast Wars". I respectfully disagree - myself having quite an extensive collection of creatures big and small - and this month sees the first of hopefully a very good 'series' of mounts introduced.
The Twilight Vrake may just be another standard creature to many, but there is far more to it. It's not only the first Feline mount model, which means that we'll be getting more felines such as the Whitefang (Snowblind), Krakjya, and Vorn Tiger, but it also reveals that perhaps not enough appreciation is given to the team which creates and animates the creatures in the SWTOR Universe.
I'm an avid cat-lover; always have been, always will be. Because of my long-term affiliation with the creatures, I was looking to evaluate just how successfully they managed to replicate the movement of cats in general, this being the first "proper" opportunity to analyse the SWTOR feline movement, something which can't easily be done in-combat or isn't given due time when questing.
I do have to say, the team which was put to animating these creatures pretty much got them spot-on. The running is Cheetah-like, the jump is an elegant pounce, and they even made the legs walk in unison on each side (back-left-front-left) rather than alternating (back-left-front-right) which is exactly how real-world cats walk.
Would it have absolutely ruined the Vrake (et al.) if they'd have not got this animation 'correct'? Of course not, but it really does go to show how more and more things can very easily be missed and not appreciated without proper chance to witness them. Most wouldn't give second thought to whether that hostile Vorn Tiger was animated properly. You'd be more concerned with the credits/experience you'd receive from killing it. But now that we have actual feline mounts, it's just amazing to be able to appreciate the process which went into creating and animating these beauties, more so than any creature mount we've been privy to thus far.
If I had to pick one tiny little criticism of the Vrake it's the positioning of the "wings", which are attached to the arms and not elsewhere along their backs. Whilst these wings do make them the Star Wars equivalent of a Griffon, this particular placement means that the wings move completely with the upper arms and always clash when running, which does beg the question of how they're an effective hunter. It's strange to say that because the Codex Entry for this species reveals that the headcrest resembles the face of another predator on Makeb - the Thunderhead Hawk - which they use to startle prey which strongly indicates their hunting effectiveness. That they have these great big wings clapping together each time they run just offsets that practicality somewhat. Minor nitpick, I know.
I will not be touching on the Cartel Market again. This was just a one-time-flier inspired by my actual thoughts on the sheer amount of promise shown fledging in this first Shipment 7 pack.
Regardless, I hope you enjoyed this delving into this one pack and some of the thoughts that I could get from it, and I look forward to seeing the packs in future building on this promise rather than rapidly demolishing it.