Knights of the Eternal Throne: The Story

Today it has been a month since the Knights of the Eternal Throne story was made accessible to Early Access players, so I thought I'd 'commemorate' this by considering the 'spoiler watershed' a thing of the past and finally begin talking about the story.

How this will work is I'll be covering each Chapter briefly in turn, then giving a final summary outlining my overall favourite and least favourite moments. The usual nonsense, y'know?

Without further ado, let's get started.


The Time of Celebrations and Reflections

It may not have escaped your attention (unless you're sensibly retracted from the world at large, in which case I applaud you for even venturing onto the internet) that today is Christmas Day. Yippee, hurray, etc. etc.

More seriously, though, I wish everyone around the world as happy a holiday season - no matter what religion(s) you follow, or whether you even avoid the entire shebang entirely - as they can possibly have. Obviously, circumstances in some parts of the world will render this an impossibility, and my thoughts are of course with those people in their times of crisis.

Above all, of course, it can't be denied that 2016 has been a rather brutal year.

Not only has the entertainment industry been purged of so many brilliant talents*, but we've seen countries in the 'civilised' western world divided and derided by democracy, votes, and manipulative media. No matter which side you took, if you could even take a side at all, I hope that you're happy with your decision, even if we can't make the best of it as easily as people might like to believe.

2016, your time is up. Let's only hope that 2017 proves to be more kindly to us all.

From the serious to the superficial.

I also can't call myself a SWtOR Blogger and neglect to touch upon the fact that this week has also been one of celebration for SWtOR; it has now surpassed five years of age. I don't have anything special planned to celebrate this like a character evolution montage across five years, mainly because I haven't actually had a single character last across every single year.

The closest is a character who was created in very early 2012 (the game came out at the end of 2011 of course), who has been all but abandoned on the Harbinger server since his replacement was created last year and even more so now that I've finally made the move I shouldn't ever have needed to make to play on The Red Eclipse. In contrast, my current main - as well as my most-dedicated-to alt - was created halfway through 2013.

At the same time, though, these years could have gone drastically different if I had joined TRE from the start. Things working out as they have, I've settled nicely into an awesome community which makes me feel that, after five years of trying to find my place, I've finally found it. This last year has proved to have been, in my opinion, the best year in SWtOR that I've ever had, and I can only humbly thank everyone whom I deem 'responsible' for this being possible.

Just a short post for this, which will also serve as the replacement for Monday's post. I've got a rather big post planned for Thursday, so I don't really have anything more to add for the otherwise scheduled post for tomorrow.

* Since writing this post, George Michael, best known for being part of the group Wham! was declared deceased by his publicist, and Carrie Fisher, of course best known for being the indomitable Princess Leia, have both died. The entertainment industry really hasn't had a good year. :(


Curing Bergola in Eternal Throne Chapter VI: The Dragon's Maw

Eternal Throne's sixth chapter, The Dragon's Maw, has already attracted a fair bit of attention for being one of the most unique Chapters released thus far. Rather than fighting your way into Vaylin's palace, your job is to simply infiltrate her party in disguise, and thus the Chapter runs very calmly for the entire first half.

Part of what makes the Chapter so interesting is that, because things are calmly-paced, there are several background moments which you can either simply observe or have a direct hand in. Most notably, these are the discussion between the Knights of Zakuul about Watcher Izax and Beast Master Oleg berating a poor assistant for being unable to cure a 'sick kid', better known as an Exoboar by the name of Bergola.

What you may not have realised during your own playthroughs of this Chapter is that there actually is a way to cure Bergola of her sickness.


Wednesday Warzones #9: What's in a Name?

Wednesday Warzones another instalment thereof it's time for!

Warzones took a week break last week, simply because for all the Warzone footage I have, I've realised that an incredibly large amount of the videos are taken from the perspective of guarding (I like to refer to myself as the 'designated guarder' of the player-groups we get going) with very few - if in fact any - interruptions from enemy players, which really doesn't result in fun watchable footage.

Indeed, it's telling that I've actually completely skipped over the entirety of October and gone straight to footage from November.

But that's those bits of footage, and this is this footage. Whilst the video itself is one of the shortest yet done, I'm rather pleased to say that this actually features the longest bit of unedited pure footage of any video thus far for the Odessen segment, which is completely unedited after the first two jumpcuts right at the start.

Additionally, people who are subscribed to Shintar's YouTube Channel who may have seen her most recent Twin Suns Outtakes video may recognise aspects of the first HyperGates. I'm personally a huge fan of two videos showing the same scenario but from two different perspectives, just because it gives it that added layer of understanding.



Ancient HyperGates (5th November):

Vhialla - Balance Sage
Jengos - Shield Specialist Tank
Zoccin - Scrapper Scoundrel
Golu - Seer Sage

Odessen Proving Grounds (6th November):

Vhiallia - Balance Sage
Teloo - Combat Sentinel
Shilu - Sawbones Scoundrel


Veteran Outlander: Chapter Difficulty, Part I

As mentioned last week, I've still got a fair few things to start talking about. Veteran Chapters, the Eternal Throne story, Uprisings, and so on and so forth. Today, I'm going to be tackling the Veteran Chapters, a new 'feature' of 5.0, whereby you can replay most of the Chapters of Fallen Empire and all of the Chapters of Eternal Throne in a harder difficulty. 

Because I want to talk about the Eternal Throne story before I discuss how each of those Chapters work as Veteran, today will be dedicated entirely to Fallen Empire's Veteran difficulty.

Let's get started!


Those Galactic Command Changes

Another friggin' Galactic Command post!

As mentioned in yesterday's post, BioWare were due to announce upcoming changes to Galactic Command in 5.1 in the evening stream.

The stream has of course come and gone, so what are the changes like?

In a nutshell: eerily similar to past proceedings.

Basically, how things will work is this:
  • Operations Bosses will once again drop Unassembled Gear Pieces
  • Unassembled Gear will scale with Ops difficulty; Story Mode drops Tier I, Veteran Mode drops Tier II, and Master Mode will drop Tier III
  • PvP - not including StarFighter - will grant a new 'currency' type called Unassembled Components, which can then be used to 'buy' a Tier I Unassembled Token of any variety, the turn-in for which is required to upgrade to Tier II and so on and so forth for Tier III
  • Combining either item with new (Bind-on-Legacy) Command Tokens - which will be guaranteed drops from each Command Pack - will enable you to purchase the gear from vendors
It's interesting to see them do almost a complete heel-turn on this. Outside of the little details, this is exactly how things used to work, and in many ways it's wonderful to see them realise that their darling system was flawed.

So, that's the facts. What are my interpretations of the above?

Firstly, this does not mean that Galactic Command is becoming worthless. You'd still need to get the Ranks to acquire the Command Tokens (that they are guaranteed drops is wonderful), so it's not as if you could go into an Operation, pick up an Unassembled Gear Piece, and hey presto, there's your gear anymore. The grind will still be present, it's just going to be largely insignificant compared to what it is now.

Secondly, Command Tokens are not only guaranteed drops in the future, but they're going to be rewarded retroactively as well. For some players this might not mean a lot depending on how much each piece costs Token-wise. For others, however, this will mean that they could be relatively 'wealthy' and able to make the most out of their winnings in Operations. The good news is that 5.1 isn't out until the 24th of January, so this is plenty of time for even relatively prolific players to get to Tier II, if not at least a quarter-of-the-way through. 

Thirdly, this change is especially fantastic because (theoretically, more details in a moment) once again we can now gear returning and new players relatively easily. Sure, there's no Highlighted Mode, but Rating 236 gear is designed for Master Mode, so gearing them up through Hard Modes isn't exactly going to be a waste of time.

As an addendum to the previous point, this will only go so far. BioWare's apparent hard-on for RNG has ensured that it will still be in existence; only the last boss has a guaranteed set piece drop, and we don't know which bosses drop what yet, if indeed this piece itself is 'set', which it may not be. Every other boss only has a chance to drop a completely random difficulty-relevant Unassembled piece. It's like NiM in the early 4.0 days all over again but even more annoying since this affects all difficulty modes.

So close and yet still so far, BioWare, but at least you've tried! 

Funnily enough, this particular aspect is particularly out-of-place considering that people who raid and do PvP (I predict we'll see an even bigger influx of these players based on this) will essentially be able to completely negate this RNG by steadily earning the specific pieces themselves. Sure, it's slower, but at the end of the day these players should eventually be able to pick-and-choose what they need rather than rely purely on RNG.

At the same time, maybe this is yet another attempt to convince people to be more involved with the wider game; certainly, if it wasn't planned, it's going to have this effect anyway because, as has been proved spectacularly by certain individuals since 5.0, players enjoy finding as many ways around the grind as possible.

Finally, Command Tokens have an as-of-yet unspecific 'extra' bonus to ensure that players who neither raid nor do PvP will be able to use them for something 'cool'. We don't yet know what these extra items will be, but it's safe to bet that they're probably going to be cosmetics such as an armour look, pets, and Decorations. Regardless, compared to being able to buy actual gear with them the purpose of these for true 'Casuals' is wholly insignificant compared to their full potential. 


As I say, it's absolutely fascinating to see them pull a complete heel-turn on this, and so quickly to boot. Based on the feedback it was getting since launch, one can see that it was basically inevitable, which again raises the question of why they thought it was a good idea in the first place

Ultimately, what this goes to show even further is that BioWare are still trying to figure out 'their' own things to include in this game, which is admirable, but in this case it has severely backfired.

This all said, I am looking forward to this change being implemented. Whether it will truly serve as more than a simple bandage in-practice remains to be seen, but at-present the potential for the system to be 'rescued' is there, but the damage has of course already been done. It's certainly a change for the better in many a Raider and PvPers' eye, but for the Solo player whose time had seemingly finally come, this change could be painful to endure.


Personal Experience with Galactic Command

I've got a lot of things to talk about for 5.0. Uprisings, Veteran Chapters, and the Eternal Throne story are all worth spending a fair amount of time on.

For today's post, however, it's yet another Galactic Command post because for all that I've been talking about it, I haven't really been talking about my personal relationship with the system.

We know that BioWare are going to change the system in 5.1 (their Stream later this evening will herald further details), so it could well be that this will be the only post of this sort.

If you know how I play this game (for those who don't: I tend to only stick to one character for activities and rarely play alts unless for a specific reason), then you may not be surprised to learn that I am already Tier II on my main Calph and have been since Tuesday. I haven't gone out of my way to earn CXP or anything; this has just come from doing everything that I would normally do on this character. Additionally, this has been done without a single CXP Booster from the Cartel Market.

I do have to admit, though, that I don't particularly enjoy being as high as I am, especially as I am unfortunately leading the charge in my guild. Whilst I don't mind this making me look like a "no-lifer", the feeling that being Tier II whilst everyone else is Tier I is in some eyes an 'I'm superior and you're inferior' implicator isn't pleasant. It really doesn't help that whilst I want to do my best to help as many people as possible with the grind the system won't allow this to be done without in some way advancing my own Command Rank and making the gulf even larger. 

I am not, and nor would I ever do so, criticising my fellows for levelling up the system too slowly. This is purely self-criticism for, if anything, playing the system too quickly, since I have never enjoyed leaving people behind. Indeed, I am extremely tempted to avoid upgrading any of my 230 items to 234 until at least three other people in the guild are Tier II just so I can stay on a roughly-similar level to those who haven't bought 234/240 Mods and Enhancements early to 'cheat' the system.

Moral high-grounds may be unnecessary in this day and age, but I'll be damned if I let greed get the better of me.

Anyway, from saying I don't enjoy boasting to unfortunately writing as if I am. I didn't keep tabs on how many pieces of green and blue gear I received, but I did try my best to keep an eye on all the purple pieces. Long story short, Calph unboxed nine purple Eternal Commander MK-3 pieces which she could actually use, missing out on an Adept Earpiece, the Bracers, the Gloves, and her Mainhand and Offhand.

The Bracers were actually the only set piece from three boxes earned by Pippera the Sniper, who hit 70 during her version of Eternal Throne's story. Being a completionist by nature, I decided to craft and eventually begrudgingly buy the missing 230 armouring, barrels, and enhancement I still needed (Earpiece notwithstanding because non-optimisation is awful) when it became clear that I just wasn't going to get lucky with earning the actual pieces.

As for duplicates and pieces I couldn't have used, I received an extra Helmet, an extra Belt, two extra Focused Retribution Relics, a Devastating Vengeance Relic, an Initiative Earpiece, an Adept Implant, and a Quick Savant Earpiece.

So at the end of it all, seventeen crates from Calph's ninety yielded set pieces, with nine of these being useful. That's really not a good return rate, even when the 'small fact' that only 14 crates need to yield something useful as a minimum is considered.

I'm looking forward to seeing how they're going to change this system. At the moment it isn't pleasant to deal with in the slightest, and I'm saying that as someone who undoubtedly got a relatively lucky spin at the wheel.


Knights of the Mass Effect

One of BioWare's most successful game series they've done has been the Mass Effect trilogy, centering around Commander John/Jane/whomever Shepard and their dealings with the Reapers and the threat they present to the galaxy.

Since Knights of the Fallen Empire was released, people have noticed more than a couple of parallels between the story of Mass Effect and the new game story of The Old Republic. As someone who only picked up the ME trilogy last September, even I have noticed these parallels.

Let's delve into the similarities between the two. Obviously, this will contain spoilers for all three Mass Effect games, the Fallen Empire expansion, and to some extent the Eternal Throne expansion as well, so be wary.


That Pesky Alignment

So last week in my Thoughts on 5.0 post I mentioned in passing that Calph's alignment had been reset, and I had no idea why it had happened.

Having managed to get her back to Light V on the Saturday, I was somewhat aggrieved to discover yesterday afternoon that this had occurred yet again.

I'm still trying to find a possible cause, but I have noticed a connection. Both times it's happened so far it's happened on days where I've done my standard Dailies runs, and I've always noticed it either during or shortly after working on those in Section X. There has to be something that's causing it, yet I just can't think what they'd have done which would make a Daily area apparently reset a character's personal alignment...

Just a short post today since I'm just so confused as to what exactly is causing this bug to occur and I'm also currently working on a long post which should be coming on Monday, hence why right now I don't have that much to say.


Galactic Command: BioWare's "Long-Game"

So let's talk in more detail about Galactic Command.

Since it was announced, virtually everyone knew that it would be controversial as all hell. It's uprooted one of the most consistent procedures of acquiring endgame gear and replaced it with a system which is based entirely on RNG and grind all wrapped up in one package.

As tedious as it is right now, it could have been a lot worse: initially the system was going to be tied to our Advanced Class with no consideration for our Disciplines, so a Commando Healer could get DPS gear whilst a Shadow DPS could get Tank gear. Thankfully they fixed that quite shortly after the system was announced.

But that's a hypothetical "in the past" situation. What about in the now?


Thoughts on 5.0

So 5.0 is here, and by the end of today everyone who missed out on Early Access will have access to the Eternal Throne story.

Compared to other expansion launches, how did this one hold up?