Whilst I have yet to kill the Nightmare Dread Council and Hard Coratanni and Revan, I have now at least been involved in each and every single Operations fight in the game in every current difficulty. Thus, I feel it's time to begin the Third Phase of "SWTOR Analysis" by looking at the Operations in the game, which encounters are the most fun or most annoying, and then looking over which Operations in full are the "best"; if the Difficulty factors in for any of these criteria, I will specify thus.
For the single boss encounters, what contributes to the "fun factor" isn't just their mechanics but their personalities, too. A fight can be rather boring in terms of mechanics but if the boss or bosses are fun to listen to, that can make quite a bit of difference.
Without further ado, the five - legitimately five this time, no Honourable Mentions - most fun Operations Encounters.
- Operation: Eternity Vault
- Level: 50
- Difficulty: All
Soa was the first "final Operations boss" and, in spite of the numerous fight-breaking bugs plaguing the fight when it first came out, has cemented itself quite nicely as one of the most unique and fun Operations bosses from the "Level 50 Era". To this day, he's still only one of a handful of bosses with a three-dimensional element, the others being Revan and to some extent Thrasher, but whilst those two go up, Soa's fight requires you to go down.
The first platform on which you fight has nothing particularly special happening. You just fight him until he starts destroying the platform, and it's here that the fun really begins. Once you negotiate your way down to the second platform - having to take stops every now and again whilst waiting for mini-platforms to drop into place - more things start happening. Soa traps players in Mind Traps and occasionally flings one around the room. Interestingly, Mind Traps can be broken open without killing the Mind inside, something which we've seen can happen in other cases such as on Tatooine with the Imprisoned One. I guess that they couldn't really introduce a "kill player if not careful" mechanic so early.
The third floor continues on from what was happening on the second floor with the Traps and the Whirlwind, etc., but is perhaps less fun because of the need to constantly re-position him under a floating Energy Pylon to break his shield.
Soa is mostly fun because of the second floor and the three-dimensional element, something which was still largely unique in terms of scale until the end of Temple of Sacrifice. His personality isn't a particularly fun one itself, but I find it's always quite fun to beat down an incredibly arrogant sod who's constantly proclaiming how much better they are than everyone else, so in this regard his personality is also quite fun.
#4: The Terror from Beyond
- Operation: Terror from Beyond
- Level: 55
- Difficulty: Hard; Nightmare
The Terror from Beyond, identified once as Lotek'k on the SWTOR Website, is one of two bosses who has two completely different areas where the fight takes place, the other being Raptus. Because he emerges from a Hypergate, you yourself get pulled into it after the first phase is complete. This in itself was a unique aspect of the Operation, much like Soa's three-dimensions, which gave it an edge over other fights at the time.
It still remains fun to this day because of the nature of the second "arena"; in the Hypergate, you don't have any discernible "range" or line-of-sight issues as you can see anyone and anything from across the map, making it an amazing Healing fight; DPS will have to be in Melee-range to damage anything that spawns, however.
I picked Hard and Nightmare modes for this specifically because there is much more to do in both of these difficulties than there is in Story; in Story you can just stick in one place until you have to move to avoid Adds or Slams or to kill the Irregularities that spawn after both Tentacles drop to recover in the second phase. In Hard and Nightmare modes, you will have to have a DPS separate from the Tentacle-killing crew to hunt Anomalies and, in the latter mode, Inonsistencies which are spawned by the Tentacles, whilst in the first phase a Hypergate Beacon spawns which sucks in a random player and needs to be killed.
There is no real personality to the boss until you defeat his six tentacles, whereby he has a "furious tantrum". He is so far the only boss to have an identified "tantrum" feature, which, when you consider that he is a giant creature which feasibly should be able to squash its puny opponents, is really quite hilarious and in a strange way sweet. He just needs to learn to deal with his emotions.
#3: Xenoanalyst II
- Operation: The Gray Secant
- Level: 60
- Difficulty: All
I'm not counting any single-boss instance as an Operation "in its entirety", despite the fact that it has a full "Lockout" system; it's easier just in this case to label them as a single boss encounter.
Xenoanalyst II was the first "Epic Enemy" introduced into the game with the Gree Event way back in Patch 1.7, and thus was rather unprecedented. He provided a proper decent fight with mechanics and is still the most fun of the four Epic Enemies. .
His personality is incredibly jovial; it's been pointed out by Shintar that he's probably the only Operations boss to be enthusiastic about having been killed. Annihilator AK-62 of the Colicoid War Games Flashpoint expresses a similar "fascination" to having been defeated, but this is more due to surprise than it is to appreciation.
The mechanics are also consistently good fun, although they can be devastating if managed incorrectly, such as his Evaluation of Thermal Tolerance. He's actually quite similar to Operator IX; he has Cores which need to be killed at the correct times and you need to click panels in order for the fight to progress. His groups of adds actually do make sense - one of the only few bosses in the game where this case is thus - and he is the only Epic Enemy to not have any floor-gunk/circles, either active or "passive", which must be avoided.
#2: Jarg and Sorno
- Operation: Karagga's Palace
- Level: 50
- Difficulty: All
If ever you hear anyone talking about their favourite Operation encounters, expect Jarg and Sorno's names to be mentioned somewhere along the line. These two were the first pair of bosses within an Operation, but just how enjoyable can a pair of rather thick-skulled Bounty Hunters be?
These two Hunters have perhaps the best personalities of any Operation bosses; they continually bounce off each other - literally, in some cases - with their constantly-differing ideas about how best to deal with the intruders, leading to several immortal exchanges. Seriously, everything these fellas shout is completely memorable, and choosing the "Best" quote is virtually impossible. The exchanges regarding the various plans and the inability to decipher between "little ones" are particularly fantastic, however.
Beyond the personalities, the fight itself is moderately fun. Sorno, equipped with his interruptible heal, jets up to an awning every now and again, leaving the team to deal with Jarg, infernal floor circles, and a Carbonite Probe Droid until he's done bombarding you from above. Otherwise, the fight is sadly a fairly staple one, save for the then-unique aspect of having two enemies to defeat as opposed to one.
Their constant back-and-forth arguing hasn't yet been properly replicated in a fight since, but I think that Master and Blaster are probably the closest to doing so. Regardless, the very fact that these two are still on their pedestal after such an amount of time is surely indicative of how fun their personalities are compared to that of any other group of bosses.
#1: The Dread Council
- Operation: The Dread Palace
- Level: 55
- Difficulty: Nightmare
If you've had dealings with the Dread Council in Story and Hard modes and think it to be a chaotic fight, just wait until you see Nightmare Mode. This has got to be probably the most chaotic fight in the game in this particular difficulty, but it's so chaotic that it is in a bizarre way fun.
What makes this fight so chaotic? Numerous things.
- All four Dread Masters leap down at once
- Tyrans and Calphayus alternate tossing a player around the map, Soa-style
- Should Bestia be pushed below 50% before any one of her fellows - even if one or two have gone up before her - all four Dread Masters leap down at full health after the fourth Master retreats and the fight begins anew
- Styrak does his Chained Manifestation as a final stand before he dies
- Brontes's Chained Reaches spawn when she reaches 40% and her Overcharged Beam can go either Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise, same as her encounter in Dread Fortress Nightmare
Beyond this, it reverts to the more standard "set-up" as Hard Mode whereby Calphayus is left to his own devices by all but the Tank and the remaining three are to be pushed to roughly 20% before the final push begins and they gather around the Dread Holocron and attempt to kill the group as one. The only thing really which is new to this particular phase is that Calphayus can still pick up a random group member and throw them around the room when the four Masters are still running around.
Basically, there aren't any wholly "new" mechanics to this fight in Nightmare Mode; just recycled mechanics from other fights, but at least these particular mechanics are fairly simple to deal with. I for one am quite thankful they didn't decide to add in the "Add summon" mechanic for Bestia from her fight in the Palace.
The Dread Masters' personalities help make this fight fun in all difficulties, of course, and there is nothing new which they say in Nightmare Mode which they don't already say in either Story or Hard Mode. I still find it very curious that, whilst they were able to get Styrak's voice actor to proclaim that the Masters "fight as one", it's still Tyrans who provides his final words ("Impossible..."), which he himself quotes later when it's his time to die.
This fight is still fun in the other difficulties, particularly Hard Mode, but the added chaos of Nightmare Mode makes it vastly more hectic and in spite of the added challenge, I personally believe that this is the most fun Operations encounter to date.
Thus concludes the first post looking at Operations. It's nice to say that there are still fun fights in past tiers, because that gives people a reason to go back through them at higher just for the experience of experiencing them, particularly in the case of Jarg and Sorno.