I've got a lot to catch up on from the last three weeks; we've seen PvP changes, a new Stronghold and even a new playable Species, and each of these things are worth commenting on. I also have a little something extra to follow up on courtesy of Zernebog which should be complete soon.
3.3 brought in the first arguably fundamental changes to SWtOR's "staple MMO components" of this year: we'll of course be seeing fundamental changes to Operations in Knights of the Fallen Empire but before this, a similar "re-defining" change has occurred to PvP.
By "re-defining", I mean that with the changes it is simply easier to get "properly introduced" to and geared-up for PvP, which hopefully will result in the diminishing of PvE-geared players and increasing the general quality of PvP combat. Balance is, of course, another issue - as is people simply not understanding the potentials of their classes - but that's something I won't, and realistically can't, tackle in this post.
The question regarding these particular changes is: has it worked?
As far as I'm concerned, yes it has. I don't know what the general consensus of the community is, but I haven't particularly tried to look.
The changes to the gear-cost, coupled with the fact that you can now legally transfer 100, 500, or 1,000 Commendations at a time between your Legacy characters, has significantly reduced the amount of grind needed for entry-level gear, which now costs 4,075 Warzone Commendations in its entirety, not including the optimal mods/enhancements if needed. You can earn this amount in a little under two days if you are a prolific enough player.
Ranked Warzone Commendations have also been removed and any in-existence were converted to Warzone Commendations. This means that the cheaper "Ranked" gear can now be bought using standard Warzone Commendations and can be saved up for doing normal PvP alone without the need to break the barrier of Ranked PvP.
Quality of gameplay is only really affected by gear in Arenas, where a PvE-geared player can be much more of a detriment than in the majority of cases in an 8-man squad. Arenas, of course, are the battleground for Ranked PvP and it is obvious that the gear-cost changes are meant to increase interest in Ranked and therefore increase the amount of people participating. Whether or not this has worked, it still may be too early to say.
One change which many in the community are happy didn't make it is the change to AoEs no longer interrupting caps unless they were of the stun or knockback variety. Having witnessed this change on the 3.3 PTS, I myself am still in two minds. In theory, it should allow for more strategic play but in practice an entire team of 8 planting a bomb on Voidstar became a viable strategy. Not ideal.
So where do I fit into this? Am I actively "investigating" as I inferred I would be once before, or am I sitting unsure on the sidelines?
When I got wind of their introducing Legacy Commendation Transfers, I promptly resurrected a deleted low-level Scoundrel to engage in sub-30 PvP and earn Commendations in place of anyone else; amusingly enough, my Sage is currently still sitting in his full Obroan set back when he was the "PvP main". The Scoundrel managed to earn over 8,000 Commendations, but with donations from other characters who had unspent Commendations this escalated to over 11,000.
These have all gone to buying a full Exhumed set for Pippera the Sniper; thankfully, because of how Sniper gear works at the moment with stat distribution across both Professional and Field Tech sets, I was able to locate whole gear pieces with "ideal" stats with no need to buy any further mods or enhancements. I want to say Marauders also have this benefit, but it's still quite worrying to think that some classes have this financial benefit over others.
Although over the last three days I've managed to completely reimburse myself and earn a further 1,000 Warzone Comms on top of this in combat, I will not be buying any Dark Reaver pieces; I'll instead be saving up for when Knights launches. I don't exactly know my own reasoning for doing thus, as the expansion is still nearly three months away. I think I underestimated how much I would actively end up becoming involved with PvP as a result of this.
In spite of my own incoherence, this does bring me to realise that absolutely anyone can save up to have enough to buy a full set of both "Unranked" and "Ranked" PvP gear sets whenever a new gear tier is launched. Quite how this shall affect proceedings will be very interesting to see.
Whether or not I shall be engaging in Ranked is another matter; I will not be engaging in Solo Ranked, but at the same time I don't know whether my guild has plans to install teams or not. It would be a shame to miss out completely with the opportunity to enter being much closer than it was before. That absolutely gorgeous Gladiatorial Nexu has temporarily restored my faith in the design team for PvP rewards, even if the weapons have left much to be desired...
So, yeah, the PvP changes have succeeded in making PvP much more accessible; I'm not the only one caught in the "easier-entry" appeal, and I'm certain that I won't be the last. Of all the changes made to the peripherals surrounding PvP, I think this has to be a lot of people's favourite, and I hope that it eventually proves and continues to be as successful as the developers are clearly hoping it will.