Analysing Galactic Command

Tuesday post! This is a rarity but ultimately 'necessary' since this is quite a significant thing to talk about.

In a LiveStream yesterday, BioWare unveiled their new Galactic Command system.

Basically, you get Command Points by completing one of the various tasks:
  • Dailies and Heroics
  • Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne Chapters
  • Flashpoints
  • Galactic StarFighter
  • Operations
  • Uprisings
  • WarZones
The tasks in question can all be accessed via a new Galactic Command panel, which seems to act as a second Group Finder. I assume that simply going into things such as Flashpoints, Operations, and PvP counts just the same no matter how you enter them, so ultimately this is just a flashy bit of cosmetic fluff. Additionally, there is just no way they can get rid of the current Group Finder system. It may not be that good, but it at least serves a way to pick-and-choose if your Group wants to do a certain Flashpoint.

These Command Points then allow you to progress through the various ranks until you hit a (currently) unspecified Rank. Along the way, you earn not only Light/Dark points for yourself, but also for the server. For an unspecified time, these points will pool into a 'Dark vs. Light' bar which indicates which side is winning, which - according to the follow-up Blog Post - will allow for various events to occur based on which side is higher at the time:

"If the dark side is growing stronger... suddenly players may see Sith Acolytes begin spawning and attacking Alderaan and Tatooine!"

Depending on which side then wins, the winners will temporarily gain access to bonus "Command Experience" (read: total of Command Points gained) and a cosmetic item vendor. Because shinies! Losers only gain a bonus to the Light/Dark points they gain.

I do have to say at this juncture (because I won't be touching on this aspect again given what else is happening with Command) that actually making Light/Dark points mean something for those already at Light V or Dark V very nice. Much like Social Points and Valor, hitting the cap for these on a character immediately makes acquiring them through our activities pointless (hehe), but now there actually will be something to put these spare points towards.

There's also an additional reward: Command Crates.

These are interesting, and potentially really quite concerning to certain players.

For the most part, Command Crates seem to be the Alliance Supply Crates reformatted; they drop Companion Gifts, cosmetic armour and items, mounts, and pets. However, there's one further addition to these particular crates. They're designed to drop endgame gear as well:
  • Once you hit Level 70, the source of end-game gear will be Command Crates from Galactic Command.
  • Both PvP and PvE gear will come from Command Crates. Their gear is now shared as Expertise is being removed.
  • Gear will no longer drop from bosses as all gear will come from Command Crates. All cosmetic/unique drops will still remain on those bosses (Stronghold Decorations, Wings of the Architect, etc.).
This is interesting.

I personally think that more ways to get endgame gear is a good thing if done properly; I sorely miss the days when Story Mode Ops set-bonus gear dropped from Hard Mode Flashpoints, so I'd love to have seen something like this done again.

However, removing all gear from Operations is a very interesting and concerning side-effect. I personally would have preferred to have the option to gear oneself whilst still being able to get gear from Operations. This has the potential to be quite slow depending on how long it takes for the best gear to start dropping from the Rank rewards (if NiM-grade gear doesn't start dropping until Rank 30 it will take a couple of weeks at least for the first people to start getting it).

According to posts in the main Gearing Topic, the drops will be random, but they will still be tied to your Advanced Class. People familiar with how the BattleMaster gearing system worked will likely just have shuddered in fearful recollection. Additionally, hitting the Rank cap will not stop rewards from being granted; you'll simply continue to get XP as you would usually up until you hit the point where you'd usually level up, and you'd then get the reward and the process repeats ad infinitum.

Seeing as the grade of gear which drops depends on your Command Rank, any future expansions and gear-tiers will be significantly biased towards players who actually hit the cap this time around (however long this takes). This is very much a 'carrot- and-stick' approach to gearing, it seems...


I do have to say that in many ways I silently approve of a certain amount of this. I like having the option to gear for ourselves (even if it's going to take a fairly long time compared to what it used to be), although I am still highly concerned by the fact that Operation gear is just gone (more thoughts below). Actually making a lot of old content (and people have been scoffing at my doing Daily runs again! Hah!)  appealing to grind for the best gear is a strategy I approve of, as it isn't just easy street for gearing and the HM Flashpoints are actually relevant gearing places once again. 

No longer will people be able to farm Highlighted Hard Mode Eternity Vault and instantaneously get a NiM-Grade Mainhand. One thing I've been campaigning for in-game to any guildies who'd listen is the removal of KP and EV from the Priority Ops system and make HM-grade gear the highest drop from these (granted, I also campaigned that this removal should also apply to ToS, Ravagers, and any new Ops but shift the drops for these so that NiM-grade gear dropped from Hard Mode to actually give an incentive to run these as HM with no NiM mode), but their outright removal of Priority Ops for this system actually does leave a (albeit very minor) sour taste in the mouth.

At the same time, however, the notion of gearing now only being RNG-dependent is rather concerning. As I've already expressed several times, I indulge in not only Dailies and Operations but duoing HM Flashpoints (and hopefully Uprisings too) with a friend. Therefore, we are both in a very good position to start this whole grind off and keep a certain momentum going, but this definitely won't apply to everyone.

For people who either don't have a lot of time in the week to dedicate to SWtOR due to work or - heck - even dedicating what time they do have outside of set Raid times grinding in other games (I'm noticing certain parallels between this system and aspects of the Campaign system for NeverWinter, for example) this system is going to be very slow and incredibly painful even if NiM Operations provide the quickest way to get Command Points. Keeping gear in Operations would at least provide a quicker alternative for people who simply can't dedicate the required time to grinding.

It would also negate this very RNG approach. I can already hear people complaining about their sixth 248 (or whatever grade NiM-grade is) chestpiece in a row when all they need is the offhand to complete the set. 

As one of my guildies has pointed out on our guild's forums, this system makes people who only dedicate their time to Raiding (which sadly applies to a good number of people in several Raid teams across the entire game for multiple differing reasons beyond work) almost a liability since there simply is no alternative way to acquire gear. Nobody who raids would want that hanging over them. At least with the current system you can gear a new or returning team-mate relatively quickly using the Priority Ops.

It also can't be denied that making Command Subscriber-only is also a severe punishment to Free-to-Play players, who can get around their current restrictions through certain Cartel Market unlocks. If they can still access Operations through Operation passes but not the Command system, what's the point of even allowing them to still do endgame stuff?

At the end of the day, this is definitely going to be something to get used to.

In summary, I like this system in theory, but I'd like it more if it was one option for gearing rather than the option.

Links for more information here:


  1. RNG does not thrill; but the rest of it (to a casual who regularly plays a bit of everything but ops, if only a little at a time) sounds intriguing.

    1. Oh, I agree, I really do like the fact that they've made gearing more accessible to those who do everything but Ops now, for whatever reasons they have. It should (hopefully, but you never can tell how these things will go) result in everyone being on a more even playing field in the long-term.

    2. As long as they recall that, in the long term, everyone is dead^h^h^h^h unsubscribed.