Much like the last two years, this heralds a look back over the past twelve months' worth of posts, seeing which the most popular were and allowing me to provide a commentary of them. This will purely be looking over the posts made after the Third Year Anniversary post, and I feel the need to make this distinction because otherwise the Curing Bergola Post would top the list in two ways; firstly, for still being the most-read post on the blog, and secondly for managing to acquire 700 views over the past twelve months - more than twice that of the most popular post written between the previous August 9th and this one.
Not that that last detail is particularly impressive; this is only the thirtieth post in all that time. Still, it's nice to know when my peak-blogging was.
So, without further ado, the indulgent bit that only a few people care for:
#10: Starfighter Assault: Galactic Starfighter By Another Name - 108 Views
While the rest of the game didn't have a lot going for it at-launch (mainly due to the lootbox controversy) Battlefront II impressed me with its space-combat mode. As this post title suggests, I found it very similar to SWtOR's GSF mode - so much so that I would encourage anyone who plays GSF religiously to at least check out videos of Starfighter Assault. Since making this post, my main concern has been addressed; rather than rely largely on RNG to get a good Star Card set, you can now actually level up your ships by playing as them and upgrade your ability set that way.
While this change is much-warranted, the execution does make Starfighter Assault pretty much as painful to get into for new players as GSF, since levelling up to get decent upgrades takes a long time: a lot of Cards are level-locked.
There's not a lot else to say about this one. Starting off on the right foot!
#9: Community Reactions: Saying too much by saying little - 112 Views
Ooh, this one. Readers may or may not recall that shortly before Game Update 5.4 the Data-Miners leaked a crucial story point. It's hard to really provide commentary on this since it's still spoiler-territory for people who have yet to see the newest story, especially as even namedropping the individual involved would give the game away to those people.
What I've just summarised above is basically the exact same situation that social media saw when the data-mining was announced, but with an added twist. Many, many people took to Twitter to announce their utter shock and dismay that something would be happening while stating that they won't spoil anything, unwittingly making it plainly obvious exactly what was going to be happening.
Kudos to the people who formed the various spoiler-groups to keep discussions away from the public, but unfortunately the damage had already been done by that point.
Incidentally, if you're reading this and have yet to experience any of the post-Iokath story updates, I would advise avoiding reading Posts #6, #5, and #4 on this list as they tackle this subject far more directly.
#8: The Road to Somewhere: Spring 2018 Edition - 147 Views
This was the first of two Roadmaps this year so far; it covered the future of Gods and announced the returns of five popular Companions as well as the Arcann Romance, and got on a lot of people's nerves by announcing that yet more Augments would be coming in with 5.9.
6.0's gear will be nothing but Augments at this rate.
This isn't the only Roadmap post to feature on this blog, so I'll do a round-up commentary on both of them with the next one.
#7: Thoughts on 5.4 - 160 Views
5.4 was the first Patch of 2017 to bring a new Flashpoint and it just so happened to be include the data-mined story development mentioned in Post #9. I can assure anyone who hasn't done the story that there are no specific spoilers within this particular Post.
Indeed, this was also the first time that BioWare accounted for spoilers getting through early; the actual individual in the story is replaced with a mysterious hooded mook. He's so mysterious, in fact, we never learn his name.
This was also the first time we'd seen BioWare's environmental team go all out in creating a lush jungle planet since... Zakuul, I guess? As we later saw in the subsequent two Flashpoints their work for Umbara would later be surpassed, but for what it was - differences from The Clone Wars aside - Umbara was a wonderful environment to explore.
Once you got off the laggy train, that is.
#6: We're on the Road to Somewhere [October 2017 Edition] - 161 Views
This was the Roadmap where BioWare announced their Server Merges, teased the future of the latest story (I still consider their choice of "planet you probably wouldn't expect to return to" to be a cop-out), and announced the numerous changes coming to Galactic Command and Unassembled Components. Perhaps most surprising of all, however, was the reveal that a new GSF map was coming out.
There was much rejoicing from behind this computer desk.
When this Roadmap first came out I was still under the staunch impression that Gods would be getting that Master Mode and Tier V of Galactic Command would come with it. This Roadmap did little to throw me from this outlook, although this could simply have been to misunderstanding-through-bias particularly with regards to his assertion that no additional Command Tiers would be added "this year".
Both of these Roadmaps have fulfilled their goal well enough; this goal being simply to inform players of the intentions for the allocated time-frame. Players looking for something more... substantive... would obviously come away disappointed and even to me the present state of ambiguity is only getting more and more concerning as time goes on.
At-present the most-recent Roadmap takes us to 5.9.2, with only hints as to further content. Even with the Spring Roadmap's comments on Gods' Master Mode being canned this itself is now slightly ambiguous due to Achievements for it popping up on the 5.9.2 PTS; the only thing we know for sure at this moment in time is that those were on the PTS in error, as evidenced by their utter removal in one of the last PTS builds.
Exactly why they were there in error is presently unknown.
#5: 2018 Companion Returns: Volume 3 - 185 Views
5.9 saw the return of Mako, Akaavi, and Felix Iresso for Class Companions, and in completing the latest story gave players the opportunity to reunite with their newest absent ally.
Mako and Akaavi were dealt a very bad hand in their return. While these missions themselves are shallow in themselves, nothing is more shallow than one half of a pair of Companions literally waiting outside after a couple of lines of dialogue while their partner gets the more significant discussion. Smugglers who never knew Mako and Hunters who never knew Akaavi would learn nothing about either from this mission. In other words this is the Elara Dorne and Malavai Quinn situation all over again, something which I highlighted last November I never wanted to see again!
Iresso at least received a proper spotlight, although his mission is one of a few which sets up a Companion wanting to have no more to do with their original faction despite the Commander having the option to join this side in the upcoming war. They'll join us because we're neutral and we'll join them because we can no longer be neutral. The Alliance loves to be confusing.
Just a small correction for the end of this post here; I wrote I was disappointed that a certain outcome wasn't possible when actually it is a bit later on. That's what I get for not wanting to take risks, I guess?
#4: 5.0: One Year Later - 189 Views
If there's one thing I seem to excel at, it's writing long blog posts. This was no exception, being approximately 8,000 words, and I believe it's the longest post on the blog so far.
5.0 is now the longest-lasting expansion of SWtOR's history, so it's understandable that a lot of things will have changed during this time. The fact that 2.0 had still added more within its 603-day lifespan than 5.0 has in its (currently) 619-day lifespan is not exactly endearing, but then 5.0 has been playing "pick up the pieces" since... day one, really. Galactic Command was initially a giant mess, and any post-Eternal Throne story content was created based around the Zakuul myths they were originally going to expand upon. While it is great that they were able to get it out there, the execution has left things feeling a bit aimless.
That is, until the next chunk of story content finally begins to set up 6.0 properly.
At the end of it all, there was one thing I missed in this big summary; the fact that Companions now gain Influence when they return from a Crew Skill mission. The amount of Influence they get is rather pitiful, but it's certainly a reliable way of gradually gaining Influence with a lot of the Companions otherwise left gathering dust in the Contacts list.
Here's to this coming November and '5.0: One Year Later': One Year Later!
#3: 2018 Companion Returns: Volume 1 - 203 Views
This was the first time we'd seen Companions - in this case, Corso, Risha, and Andronikos - return in the 'new' Alliance Alert; unlike the previous ones, these Alerts were fully-voiced by both the Player Character and the Companion(s) involved. There was also another twist to these Alerts - they were only being given to specific Classes. With the eventual exception of Mako and Akaavi, who were both given to both Smugglers and Hunters, every single Companion returned to us in one of these Alerts has been given back to only their original Class.
This was both popular and unpopular. With 4.0 getting players used to forming allegiances with several Companions across either faction and potentially realising that they had a great Companion for a particular character (e.g. Vette and Gault with Smugglers, T7 with Troopers, Xalek with Warriors, etc.) suddenly some potential great partnerships (Andronikos with Smugglers, for instance) were being nipped in the bud before they could even happen.
Additionally, compared to the early ones, these new ones were seen to be very shallow.With the very minor differences in the small "follow the trail" moments at the start of the Risha/Corso and Akaavi/Mako Alerts, every single Alert has followed the exact same practice; go to a place, have a conversation, boom there's your Companion back. At least a lot of the earlier Alerts actually had proper and varied gameplay! That's correct, folks, I'm comparing even my least favourite of the original Alerts - Last of His Kind and Forgotten Treasures - favourably to the newer ones in some regard. That's bad.
What isn't bad about this new style of Alert is that due to the fact that they're all Class-specific they can theoretically write in a more satisfactory reason for them being elsewhere and then returning. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case in the vast majority. Andronikos's tale is unlikely albeit exceedingly romantic, Risha's had her entire reason-of-being from the Smuggler Story completely gutted, and Corso... just kept being Corso, I guess?
Bottom line is, these new Alerts initially sounded really good as they'd get us back with our Companions in a more personalised mission, but in reality the missions left a fair amount to be desired.
Also they completely wasted the opportunity to have Vette and Risha have a scripted reunion scene. Booooooo.
#2: Personalised Companion Lists I'd Create for my Characters - 281 Views
Since 4.0 came out I've made it no secret that in the future I'd love to have the ability to chop and change the Companion list, leaving only those who I think fit perfectly with the specific Classes. As already touched upon above a fair number of these options are no longer possible since at the time of writing (November 2017) we had no idea that the Companions beyond Raina Temple would mostly be Class-Specific.
Although this change-of-pace makes a point within this Post all the more prudent; unless Doc manages to be a part of the main story somehow, the only Companions to actually be trained in medicine and be available to all Classes are Elara Dorne, who refuses to join anyone who allies with the Empire, and Eckard Lokin, who isn't necessarily the most... reliable or trustworthy person to have as a physician. Say what you will about the Alliance, but its healthcare really needs some serious tending-to.
#1: 2018 Companion Returns: Volume 2 - 342 Views
Since the other two Posts about the new Alerts expressed annoyance with them, will I make it three-for-three with this Post? Actually, no, as at the time I found myself coming away with a far better impression of these new Alerts for Ashara and Vector.
Since then I've slightly reconsidered my opinion about Ashara's character, as despite the fact that she claims to be an equal to the Inquisitor it's practically impossible for her to actually be an equal; the Inquisitor is a fully-trained Sith with the help of between two and five Force Ghosts while we don't actually know how far Ashara has developed her powers from her days of basically being an abductee and a failed Padawan forced to study the ways of the Sith. Her personality has definitely matured noticeably, though - or maybe my not talking with Ashara since 2015 is giving me a warped perspective.
Additionally, this bout of Alerts brought in the Arcann romance which I proceeded to witness on my Guardian. Even without the romance, it's absolutely excellent to get a little mission outside of a Chapter just to have a discussion with a Companion and this is something which honestly I wouldn't mind getting again in the future even for characters like Lana and Theron. Just having the opportunity to pick their brains without a crisis or other major story event going on would be excellent and in fact I don't think we've ever seen Lana and Theron truly 'at peace'. There's always been something in the offing that keeps them looking to the future.
Hey, I might not like either of them but even I'm willing to learn more about them as actual in-universe people.
Since this is the final post to touch on Companion Alerts, I thought I'd do a brief summary here. Of all the Alerts we've seen in 2018 my personal favourite does have to be Arcann's, simply for the reason listed above. Vector, Ashara, and to some extent Felix and Andronikos have all had decent Alerts afforded to them, even if some of the stuff they're spouting is rather hard to believe convincingly.
Amusingly enough, the Alerts I dislike most are also the ones I thought I'd like the most; the paired returning of Risha and Corso and of Akaavi and Mako. Three of these Companions are characters I really like, yet the actual content of the Alerts are easily the most disappointing. While Vector is similar to Risha in that he loses part of his character through abandoning the Empire, at least he still has a 'true' home among the Killiks; Risha just has nothing.
The Akaavi/Mako Alert is disappointing not because of story developments, but simply because one half of the team does very, very little while the other gets the spotlight. Even if it's to cater the Alert more to the Class who knew the spotlit-Companion more, it's not right that newer people get absolutely no information about the other Companion other than "they stuck a gun in my face" and "my friend likes them so that makes them my friend now".
In spite of my gripes about the various Alerts we've seen already in 2018, I'm really looking forward to seeing the missions for the remaining Companions. We've now got confirmation that the plan is to give every outstanding Companion back within the 5.0 cycle, so we're hopefully in for a fun ride over the next few months.
So there we have it. Companions rule the Blog.
As I teased on Twitter eight days ago, I'm doing another giveaway to celebrate hitting four years on the clock. Now, last year's giveaway was nothing short of a shambles. Half of the items were exceedingly lackluster which meant that it wasn't really worth promoting. This year, however, I hope to have remedied this unfortunate detail to the extent that all but one of these prizes were acquired in April.
I'm nothing if not ridiculously over-prepared.
Like last year, this giveaway is a mix of armour sets, vehicles, and Decorations, as well as a single weapon, and there are a grand total of thirteen prizes - well, technically twelve with two copies of one item being up for grabs - this year, not eleven as previously reported. Once again I've tried my hand at tacky-salesman-pitch writing for each of these, so sincere apologies for all that you're about to read.
If you want to be in with a chance of winning one or more of these items, please comment on this Blog Post with your item(s) of choice and the name of the character you'd like to receive it/them on. You must be on the Darth Malgus server in order to be eligible to receive something.
Good luck! The items are as follows:
Giveaway Armour #1: Revan Reborn's Armour
Are you in awe of the galactic legend known only as Revan? Whether you revere him for his power as a Sith or his wisdom as a Jedi, this armour will be the finest addition to your collection.
Giveaway Armour #2: Revered Master's Robes
Have you always wanted to feel like a proper Jedi yet the robes most planetside weavers sell aren't traditional enough for you? Then this is the look for you! Now you can let everyone know that you aren't one of those militarised Jedi Generals, but a true peacekeeping force for good.
Giveaway Armour #3: Sensuous Dress
If your ideal social activity is partying with exclusive clientele, then looking good is crucial. This elegant dress is perfect for any social event, showing that you are above all a being of supreme confidence and etiquette.
Giveaway Armour #4: Shae Vizla's Armour
Any armour good enough for one of the galaxy's best bounty hunters has to be good enough for the rough-and-tumble mercenaries of the galactic underworld. Whether you endure drunken brawls or full-pitched battles, this armour will see you through the thick and thin of any conflict!
Giveaway Armour #5: Temple Guardian's Armour
Is studying in the Archives too tedious for a Jedi with your ambition? By donning this armour, you too can join the prestigious ranks of the Temple Guardians, defending the Jedi Temple against enemy incursions and internal struggles, and gain the opportunity to earn the respect and gratitude of even the Masters of the Jedi Council through your duty.
Giveaway Mount #1: Corellian Stardrive Flash
Feel like showing support to your brave Republic comrades sacrificing their lives in the pitched fleet battles? This miniature replica of the beloved Flashfire Scout ship will allow anyone who sees you to recognise your solidarity. Glory to the Republic!
Giveaway Mount #2: Dathomir Rancor
Do you desire a faithful animal companion yet the majority aren't big and frightening enough for your tastes? A rancor may be the perfect choice for you! Nobody would dare mess with anyone who is proven capable of taming such a vicious creature!
Giveaway Mount #3: Koensayr Monocycle
Are traditional speeders too predictable or, well, traditional for your liking? Fancy speeding through the galaxy in style? Why not try this state-of-the-art monocycle?
Giveaway Mount #4: Overlord's Command Throne
Are you a Sith Lord with a flair for the dramatic? Or perhaps an Imperial patriot with a love of ergonomic chairs? Riding around in a throne such as this would leave nobody in doubt as to your power or your loyalties. Long live the Empire!
Giveaway Decoration: Arrangement: Luxury Spa
Have you always wanted a place where you can just unwind and let the stress of the war just be washed away from you? This luxury spa is just the item for you! Be forewarned, though, such an item requires a lot of space; our contractors certainly can't put this beauty absolutely anywhere!
Giveaway Weapon: Cathar Honor Sword
Many a Sith or Jedi treat their weapon as their closest ally, and this sword is a powerful weapon for any to wield. Whether you wish to respect the pride of the Cathar or sully their legacy through delicious irony, this weapon is surely ideal for many a discerning combatant.
Giveaway Flair: Corrupted Command (x2!)
Yup, you read that correctly. Not one but two of these Flairs are included as part of this giveaway. Enjoy catching many a passer-by's eye as you romp around the Galaxy while you have this beside your portrait.
Once again, best of luck to any entrants. The giveaway will remain open for two weeks this time, so you have until the 23rd of August to express your desire for one or more of these items.
In general, it's hard to believe I've managed to keep this going for a fourth year. I've had a fair amount of distractions this past year, with a lot of my writing time being taken up by a new University course which will continue for the next three years.
All that remains is to thank any readers of this blog, both long-term and relative newcomer, for reading any of my ramblings. I appreciate I'm not always the easiest to follow, but I sincerely do appreciate any time you've spent on this site. Hopefully things will pick up across the next twelve months, but only time will tell.
Here's to the next year of finding things to ramble on about!