For the past two weeks I've been documenting my progress with new-Vanguard Jehnira in a plan to see whether I could actually have a Trooper I considered "fun to play" since I realised how tedious I was finding Commando.
If you haven't read the previous entry, the current feeling is that this 'experiment' has been successful; I was finding Plasmatech much more fun than Gunnery, and doing the Trooper storyline and all Republic Quests again has allowed me to indulge in a game-long desire to see a Companion get from 0-to-max Affection/Influence solely through quests.
So, a week later, has my feeling changed or are things still on the up?
The most obvious place to start is with the continuation of the story. Act III is one of the most tedious slogs in general, especially on Republic side. Belsavis and Voss just drag on and on, and particularly the former Planet's storyline is wholly forgettable compared to its Imperial counterpart. And then of course there's the tedium which is Republic Makeb, which she finished on Saturday.
The Trooper story in Act III helps matters no end. After the fun and explosive first two Acts, Act III is much more passive. Whilst all three Acts are build-ups to the main event, at least Acts I and II actually have more immediate pay-off than Act III; in Act I you whittle away at the enemy's supporters, killing at most five NPCs who are very close to the main villain in the progress, and in Act II you finally get to complete your squad, although the chase to retrieve Tanno is annoying both in-universe and out.
By contrast, Act III has you meeting with two units who ultimately make very few appearances beyond their introduction. Freeing Dagger Wing and convincing Senator Evran to give up his troopers are the main reasons to be on Belsavis and Voss, respectively, and yet neither group does anything significant when the time comes to assault the Bastion at the end. Sure, Captain Marshall from Voss at least shows up, but that's about it. Heck, the Safecrackers - who you free in the second Act - have far more involvement in the assault than either of the Act III squads!
Maybe they have more significance if you play the final Mission differently and send squads to different areas, I don't know. I doubt it, though, since a call for air support is made if you tackle the Automated Route and you need to commandeer an Anti-Air gun. If Dagger Wing truly was a part of this mission it should logically be unnecessary to have to commandeer that gun in the first place.
While we're on disappointments with the Trooper story, I forgot to talk about this stand-out moment from Act I which has been changed substantially since launch.
Back in the "golden olden" days of SWtOR, the mission aboard the Justice had this awesome little mission to sabotage the inner workings whilst on the way to the bridge. If you had left one of your targets alive after Coruscant, she'll find you here, the Sabotage mission is cut short, and the Justice quest starts proper. Now, this mission no longer has you plant bombs in various strategic locations, but you're still directed to where you'd ordinarily be caught sabotaging the Hyperdrive anyway as your only objective.
Beyond this, you were originally sent trawling across the entire ship, whereas now there's just one elevator ride between the hangar deck and the bridge deck. Stop truncating things, BioWare! It's one thing for an end-of-Act mission to be made unintentionally shorter by Level-Scaling (and oh good lord Baras dies so quickly now it's not even funny), but it's another thing entirely to deliberately cut a mission down, when its length is partly what made it feel so epic in the first place. I don't yet know if any other end-of-Act missions have been cut down deliberately, but I'm certainly not keen to find out.
On the subject of things I forgot to mention last time, I also forgot to mention that Yuun's Techstaff Proficiency has also been removed from his base-Trooper self, meaning that just like his future-yet-simultaneously-present-Fallen Empire self he can only use a Vibrosword. Shame, really. I liked the diversity a Techstaff wielder brought if there was already a Techblade user in the group, such as Tanno Vik. Additionally, I believe that Qyzen Fess, as received by only the Consular, has also lost his Techstaff proficiency entirely. Yeesh.
Ah, well, at least Torian and SCORPIO still keep their Techstaves prior to Fallen Empire.
As per last time, I bookmarked my progress with Companion Influence at the end of Act III. As you may recall, Jorgan was Influence 50 right at the very end of Act II, so from this point forth M1-4X became the Companion-of-choice.
At the end of Act III, 4X was at Rank 28 with 80,080 Influence, Dorne at Rank 14 with 22,100 Influence, Vik at Rank 8 with 7,150 Influence, and Yuun also at Rank 8 with 6,760 Influence. This is an increase of 18 Ranks for 4X, 2 Ranks for Dorne, 3 Ranks for Vik, and 7 Ranks for Yuun.
Since my curiosity has been sated, I recently bought enough Gifts to get 4X, Dorne, and Yuun up to Influence 50 as well, since I'm enacting a policy of getting all confirmed returning Companions (ignoring Treek, HK-51, C2-N2, and 2V-R8) to 50 on their original Class, alongside any new Companions who I think suit the Class in general (e.g. Blizz, Gault, and Vette for a Smuggler and Pierce and Quinn for an Agent). There have been some exceptions to this rule (notably, Calph has every single Main Character at 50, but then she was my Master Mode Chapter-doer so this was a perceived necessity rather than an indulgence), but otherwise it holds true across the board.
Vik is staying where he is, though. As much as I like to have a dedicated Tank for some things (curse you, broken 4X...!), I don't want to get him up to 50 since he won't ever be given a returning point in the story beyond his reappearance in Chapter VI of Fallen Empire. Yes, I know there's the Terminal, but I'm not a huge fan of that since returning a Companion early removes all emotional impact of their appearing later on. That said, I have used it in the past, but I can count on one hand the exact number of times this is.
Still, having four Influence 50s has been very useful, since I was able to power-level Armormech on her within an hour, and Underworld Trading within two. Basically, both of the skills which my potentially-obsolete Instant-65 Merc brings to the table and nobody else. At least this way I'm covered no matter which route I decide to go down.
I have also managed to see several fights of a decent-enough length to try out the Plasmatech rotation properly for a change. From what I'm seeing, it's fun, but it definitely does have its clunky moments. Notably I'm finding it quite hard to get back into the swing of things if I get interrupted in the middle-of-proceedings (solo-mode Darth Serevin is terrible for this), but that's probably due to my current inexperience. It's still a fun spec as I'd originally perceived, but I still need it to 'click' before I can say whether or not I truly enjoy it.
I've really enjoyed going back through the Trooper storyline after all these years. Having last been completed back in March 2013, it used to hold the record for longest-time-since-completion of all eight Class stories, a distinction now held by the Smuggler story. This is something which is exceedingly unlikely to be remedied any time soon, since I believe I've chosen the more fun Smuggler Class of Gunslinger and I really don't think I'll be needing a replacement one any time soon.
At least I sincerely hope not..!
It was also interesting to see things with a more-experienced eye, since last time I did the Trooper story I was still very much unaware of the bigger picture (since despite being in-game since December 2011 I had only completed the Smuggler and Trooper stories by April 2013). I've already mentioned how I was pleasantly surprised to actually meet Jaxo's friend from the Safecrackers and a gunner aboard the Brentaal Star in the Ladies' Night mission, but something else in particular caught my eye just after starting Act III.
We all know that all but two of the Uprisings use old mission areas in their entirety. Fractured uses the Emperor's Space Station from the Knight's Act II conclusion, Inferno uses the Ord Mantell Separatist Base, Firefrost uses a phase from the Hunter's quests on Hoth, etc. The Trooper story isn't exempt from lending its own area to an Uprising. Recognise this corridor from Outpost 256?
No? Well, how about this room near the end of the corridor?
Not helping? Imagine the rooms being torn up, with claw-marks on the walls. Debris everywhere, and with trip-mines all over the place. Also throw some Rakghouls in there for good measure.
Yup, this instance becomes the location of nightmares which is Trial and Error. Nice to be reminded how pristine it all looked before Semhess had her bright ideas...
Now that I'm done recuperating from the bad memories the Master Mode version of this Uprising leaves, I'll finish off by discussing the part I've been wanting to see for some time: the Jorgan romance.
Both the Trooper and Jorgan start out being really quite idealistic. Jorgan distrusts the brass a fair amount thanks to his demotion at the end of Ord Mantell, but otherwise they're both perfectly happy to serve the Republic and denounce anyone they see as a traitor without giving them any leeway unless undeniable evidence points out the contrary. However, after rescuing the Deadeyes from their sham peril and dealing with colossal [redacted], Senior Agent Zane, Jorgan delivers a speech which is very similar to the one doled out to the Trooper by the former Havoc Squad. This is particularly noteworthy because not only can the Trooper call him out on this (one of the options being "Are you defecting?") but can even agree with it.
It's a small moment, but it's definitely interesting to see how two of the defectors' biggest critics can be seen to essentially agree with the fundamental point that they were making; that ultimately, the Republic does not care about its individual soldiers. Knowing what we do about where Jorgan goes from here, this does have a harder impact now than it ever used to, because it can definitely be observed to be a logical progression.
This is the sort of thing which makes me glad I replayed the entire story again after four-and-a-half years. As much as I remember a general overview of everything which happens, there are specific details which always get lost in the interim, and this moment here was one of them.
Wasn't I supposed to be talking about the romance? Oh, yeah. I get sidetracked a lot.
The romance for Jorgan is fine. It's nothing special, but it's definitely not the worst out there. As someone who's always kinda-liked Jorgan, I'm pleased to have seen it at long last, though.
Nothing else different really stood out to me from the other squadmates, though, but then that's of course because the only major thing which changed between the conversations this time around was the removal of the Dorne romance. Otherwise, everything was the exact same, so as much as I appreciated forming that bond with them again there was no new insight to be gleaned into any of them since they're just as I remember them being. I very much loved hearing 4X tell his tales of stopping his various foes again, though. Those are always an absolute riot.
So, two weeks on and still things are going well.
I'm thinking of taking a break on her for the time being before I send her through Forged Alliances and particularly Fallen Empire, in which time I'll probably get to work on a Powertech during the next double-XP event whenever 5.5 hits. The Hunter story is definitely one of my least favourites in general, with a decline beginning during the second Act as opposed to the third, but I'm willing to give it another shot. I last completed this story back in 2015, so two-and-a-half years is hopefully a good enough buffer zone to leave for a revisit.
We shall see what we shall see. Expect a post in a few weeks titled "Phirella the Third".