Thoughts on 6.0 #7: The Characters, part 3 (Onderon, Mek-Sha, and Corellia)

This is the seventh post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
  4. The Locations
  5. The Characters, part 1 (Empire)
  6. The Characters, part 2 (Republic)
Onderon and Mek-Sha both provide a few interesting characters for players to interact with. Most of these characters can be interacted with by everyone regardless of their faction, but there are a couple who are faction-specific. The characters who are seen during and after Corellia are particularly interesting...


Thoughts on 6.0 #6: The Characters, part 2 (Republic)

This is the sixth post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
  4. The Locations
  5. The Characters, part 1 (Empire)
The Republic forces are essentially the defenders of the expansion, trying to stop the aggressive Empire from crippling its war effort and any necessary reinforcements. There are quite a few returning characters as well as some quite interesting new characters.


Thoughts on 6.0 #5: The Characters, part 1 (Empire)

This is the fifth post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
  4. The Locations
Much like any story expansion, Onslaught has provided us with a slew of characters to plot with, contest against, and just have fun chatting with. Some are old, some are new, and two are so obscure you wouldn't believe where they originated from.

Since the Imperials are the aggressors of the expansion, and as their story technically precedes part of the Republic's, I thought it made sense to start with the characters we meet as an Imperial Commander first. The next post will touch on Republic characters and a third post will touch on characters we meet on Onderon, Mek-Sha, and during and after the Objective Meridian Flashpoint.

Throughout these character posts, I will not be referring directly to any story moments since I tend to use a spoiler watershed until a month after an expansion's launch. These next three posts are just generic looks at each of the characters in question.


Thoughts on 6.0 #4: The Locations

This is my fourth post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the other entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
  3. Group Content
Onslaught provided two brand-new open world locations to the SWtOR galaxy. Onderon makes its grand return to Star Wars media, having been last seen in The Clone Wars in 2012, and Mek-Sha - similar to Voss, Denova, Seline, Darvannis, Zakuul, Odessen, Vandin, and Iokath - is a BioWare-original addition to the franchise.


Thoughts on 6.0 #3: Group Content

This is the third post in my "Thoughts on 6.0" series. You can read the previous entries here:
  1. Gear
  2. Crafting Changes
Onslaught was the first expansion since Shadow of Revan to provide both Flashpoint and Operation content at-launch. While Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne would also provide group-content at launch in the respective forms of Star Fortresses and Uprisings, neither of these additions were really satisfactory in comparison to what came before.

Onslaught has also shaken up the traditional "group-content balancing" formula we've been used to since Fallen Empire. Rather than raise all previous Operations and Flashpoints to Level 75, BioWare has left most pre-existing forms of group content at Level 70. The Dxun Operation, the Corellia Flashpoint, and - curiously - the Uprisings are the only pieces of group content scaled to Level 75.

What do these changes mean and how do the new things hold up? 


Thoughts on 6.0 #2: Crafting Changes

This is the second post in my “Thoughts on 6.0” series. You can read the previous entry here:
  1.  Gear
The subject of today’s post is the crafting update. Crafting is always an interesting thing to look at with each subsequent expansion to see what’s changing, what crew skills are going to be the most popular, and in general how accessible the new recipes are. 

With Onslaught, crafting has seen a great number of changes which make it one of the most controversial aspects of the expansion thus far.


Thoughts on 6.0 #1: Gear

For the past couple of years I've been occasionally pumping out a series of posts called "The Good, The Bad, and The Eeehhhhhs". These posts looked at three of the most major updates of 5.0's patch-cycle (5.0, 5.2, and 5.10) and listed each of the things that I liked and disliked about them.

I had originally planned to follow suit with a post for 6.0, but upon reviewing the first finished draft, I realised three things. Firstly, I was unhappy with one particular section (which just so happens to be the subject of today's post) and I desired to rewrite it; secondly, there was nothing which I considered on reflection to be 'bad' as a whole (thus negating a third of the title); and thirdly, it was set to be the longest post on the blog and there was still more stuff I likely could find to add.

So instead of following through with that original plan, I decided to nip these issues in the bud and break down the sections into their own individual posts. This also enables me to use these posts for International Picture Posting Month 2019 throughout the entirety of November, whereas otherwise it is entirely possible that I would just make one post on the 22nd of November and attempt to cram in as many images as possible in one go.

I haven't even finished retrieving stills from all the story footage yet.


5.0: And So, We Say Farewell

At long last, after almost a whopping 35 months, 5.0's time in the spotlight is coming to a close. I don't think anyone quite suspected what we'd be in for when Knights of the Eternal Throne launched way back on November 29th 2016; it's been an incredibly convoluted ride with its fair share of ups-and-downs and several substantial new features, retreads, and updates.

For the past two years, I've been creating posts looking back at how 5.0 had changed over the course of a year. The first time I did this it was because Eternal Throne had managed to provide a little bit of almost everything within its first year, being the first expansion since 2.0 to do so while simultaneously reaching the 365-day mark. It then just became inevitable that when it became clear that 5.0 would reach the 730-day mark that I would create another post doing the same and comparing how both years had been.

This may be considered as the third post in that particular sequence, but in looking over 5.0 I'm not going to list each and every aspect and analyse what changed. Not only would it result in an absolute shedload of retread - the only 'new' things since the last post were Ossus, Guild Heraldry, Dantooine, some brief missions for the Alliance, and new rewards for Nightlife - but it would also result in just far too much text for anyone to deal with. Both of the previous posts in the sequence were two of the longest posts I'd ever written, yet both were surpassed by my analysis of Ossus back in January!

Text overload.

Instead, I'm going to take this opportunity to look back at 5.0 and list my favourite and least favourite things to have come from it. So, with the servers currently offline for maintenance and Onslaught launching in just a few hours, permit me to indulge myself once again.


A Farewell to Galactic Command

Assuming all goes well, Onslaught will be arriving on our digital doorsteps tomorrow and with it ends the controversial system known as Galactic Command. While we're seeing a similar system, Renown, take its place the two are functionally quite different.

Command started life as the way to get gear before eventually turning into a more-or-less supplementary system. Renown is purely a supplementary system as gear is designed to come thicker and faster from other sources from the get-go. Command had various tiers which controlled what type of gear you'd be getting, while Renown only relies on your characters' gear rating to determine what gear it drops. Command had a large part of its 'income' come from CXP packs whilst Renown won't rely on these even half as much.

Finally, Command had a 'goal', a final tier that became easier to reach as time went on while Renown has no 'final' tier. While there is an Achievement for hitting Renown Rank 999, this is not something which is meant to be easy to accomplish.

It is this number that I shall be looking at today. Ever since hitting Command Rank (hereafter "CR") 300 on my first character, I decided to keep a running tally of the number of crates, and therefore ranks, that I would be acquiring from that point forth.

I can't exactly remember the reasons why I started this, but I've convinced myself that it's because I wanted to see how far I would get before CR 400 showed up. It never did, of course, but still I kept going with it. The end result is that, with nine characters above CR 300, I have a rough estimate for how much I have poured into this system across the past two years and eleven months.
  1. Miorahna - Jedi Guardian - CR 2,774
  2. Cal Pheiya - Gunslinger - CR 2,605
  3. Pippera - Sniper - CR 910
  4. Phirella - Powertech - CR 611
  5. Vhiallia - Jedi Sage - CR 523
  6. Vahnora - Sith Sorcerer - CR 498
  7. Ferok'ia - Sith Juggernaut - CR 435
  8. Jehnira - Vanguard - CR 353
  9. Vihala Relles - Jedi Sage - CR 324
Because of the nature of Command, these numbers aren't at all indicative of the amount of times these characters have actually been used throughout 5.0. Notably, my Powertech is fourth on the list because she is the one who I funnelled various CXP packs to when I decided to start acquiring 248 Hunter / Trooper gear. While she did see a fair bit of use, I don't think she would have advanced much beyond CR 200 in her natural play-time. 

To further illustrate this point, my second Sage Vihala has only been in-existence since mid-August yet she had almost managed to catch up to Jehnira, a character who has been in existence now for just over two years. Both characters gained CXP largely from doing their class stories and any quests they could find along the way, but Jehn still has the advantage due to doing ever so slightly more stuff after the fact while Vi still has got a few things left to catch up on. If either character had relied on CXP packs alongside this, they would likely both be closer to where Fero and Vahnie are. 

Additionally, this list does only include characters who reached CR 300. There are two characters who got to 70 who would still have earned their own Command crates, but the only one of those who would likely have got into double-figures wouldn't have got all too far (I want to say he got to about CR 40). 

Still, I find it quite amusing that my Guardian ended up being highest of all, given that she was actually the second character to hit CR 300. Due to the above factors I genuinely can't begin to estimate whether she saw more use than Cal, but I know the two are the most-played of all nine characters.

I'm looking forward to not needing to keep this list going throughout Onslaught. Even if one of my characters does manage to hit RR 999, it won't be for a while. Every character will conveniently have their Renown number increasing up until that point, so that's a large part of my work already done. 

Although, if they do decide to reset Renown Ranks sporadically as they've hinted at in the past, that may require a bit of list-making... 

I'll cross that bridge when it comes.


Revisiting the Consular

Although I started what seemed like a recurring series of posts relating to the various goings-on on the Onslaught PTS, it eventually became clear that this sort of thing would stop being viable pretty quickly. I had already seen several things I'd reported on be changed within a day or two after a post about the PTS and changes were becoming more substantial and reasonably fast-flowing as time went on.

Besides, it's only (theoretically) a week until 6.0 launches anyway, so to make another post so soon to the apparent deadline, when things may yet still change drastically compared to where they were on the PTS, is just horribly impractical. As such, most of my thoughts from the past however-many-updates are being collated into a "The Good, The Bad, and The Eeehhhhhs" post for a few weeks after 6.0's launch. 

Today's post, therefore, is to be on a different subject altogether. For the past two months, I've been taking a brand-new Consular through their class story.

The Consular's is not by any means my least-played story or not even the one that is the most outstanding; the latter honour goes to my Gunslinger (I think) while the former honour used to be shared across five classes; Agent, Consular, Inquisitor, Knight, and Smuggler. I've played through each of these stories in-full twice each, and the only reason why my Hunter, Trooper, and Warrior have seen more is due to my relatively turbulent history with individual characters of those classes.

Two things factor into why I decided to replay the Consular storyline. The first is because, well, my current 'main' Sage is an instant-60 so therefore lacks any class titles. The second is because the last playthrough wasn't really 'mine'; I shared the majority of the story with a friend who took their new Shadow along for the ride. Apart from forever searing my eyes with how absolutely nightmarish their character was, this meant that I never really had much opportunity to really memorise the story as a lot of the time it was drowned out either by us making silly screenshots or comparing the Light and the Dark perspectives.

Of course, that's not to say that I didn't take the opportunity to recreate the aforementioned screenshot when the time came...

Both of these points also essentially means that, now that Consular companions have been trickling back into the game, I had a particularly outdated viewpoint on every single one of them. I was keen, therefore, to not only experience an individual Consular playthrough again and to see what new things I would pick up this time around to relay back to the recent new stuff.



Further Adventures on the Onslaught PTS

As I was hoping, the PTS was brought online before I had to disappear off across the Atlantic, allowing some time to hop back on and analyse the changes.

Along with reporting on these various changes, there were some inaccuracies in my original post that really needed updating. Granted, some of these were due to updates that were announced or brought in shortly after the post was uploaded but there were some which I had completely the wrong idea about.

I get easily confused by a lot of things these days.


Half a Decade

I may not be blogging consistently these days, something which I attribute to real life goings-on (which I will not go into any more detail on), and I'm honestly surprised I've been able to keep this going on for as long as it has been.

Most of my personal endeavours have collapsed in on themselves after a year at most. Based on this history, I would never have imagined my blog to have lasted two years, let alone five. Yet here we are. Fifth year over, and the sixth is beginning.

I don't have many plans for the blog currently, at least as far as pre-Expansion writings go, as indicated by just how empty this celebration post is especially after the last couple of years. There's a post I've been working on for the past couple of months which will go live on the last day of 5.0, showcasing my favourite and least-favourite aspects of the current expansion.

Beyond that, I think it will purely be PTS-related stuff. I am already fairly certain that Phase Two will begin after I'm out of the country from next Thursday, but we're still to see Hunters hit the PTS, hopefully this weekend, so I'll try and crank a post out before I depart for new territory if I can.

There are certainly some inaccuracies in my original post regarding the PTS, either because things have since been updated (I had already noted one change, but it is clear from the Mercenary and Powertech posts that set-bonuses in general are receiving a significant update at some point) or because I had completely the wrong end of the stick (e.g. set bonus attribute gain) at the time. It would just be easier to include those corrections in a new post than adjust a post that people may no longer be reading.

Or at least I view it that way.

So, five years on. How many may yet follow? I do not know, nor do I particularly wish to know. As with a lot of things for me these days, this blog is very much on "take it as it comes" status. I daresay things won't be at all different for the SWtOR community with its absence, but it's still been a useful outlet for my thoughts across the years.

That's all there is to this year's post. Now, on to the future and what it brings.

Thank you for your readership, those of you who have stuck with it all this while.



Adventures on the Onslaught PTS: Phase 1.5

With Onslaught due to launch next month (!), BioWare have been providing us with a steady flow of details regarding Classes, their new Abilities, and their various Tacticals and Set Bonus pieces. Last week they opened up the PTS, allowing people to test out the changes for Inquisitors and Warriors, before bringing it down within that same week to prepare for the inclusion of Agents. The PTS is currently open in "phase 1.5" of testing, although it will probably be brought down again next week to prepare for Hunters and phase 2.

I missed the initial batch of testing due to being on holiday, much to my disappointment. I was able to keep up with what people were saying on the testing forums, but both their reports and the official word of BioWare was not enough to really sate my interest. Notably, we knew what the ultimate tiers of the various Set Bonus items were going to be but the lower tiers were still a mystery - BioWare had highlighted that they would mainly be stat boosts and left it at that. Additionally, we didn't know how many of these sets would or wouldn't have six pieces.

Speaking of Set Bonus and Tactical items, the only ones that had been listed were specific to Classes; we'd already been told that there would be several items which everyone could use, but we weren't informed about any of these. Granted, considering the sheer potential of 'generic' items, this is likely because all the options aren't yet finished, but it would still have been interesting to receive official word on those which were ready to go. 

Then what about the Companions? BioWare had been hinting that they'd like to give Companion re-balancing another go, given how lackluster or powerful certain characters are, but there had been no indication of whether or not they'd even started this. 

So, when the PTS came back up on Wednesday, I happily launched myself into it. I'm in the fortunate situation whereby the Classes 'ready' for testing are those which I have the most experience with (sorry, Hunters) so when it came time for BioWare to list all the sets and Tacticals, I already had a good idea in my head of which items I was going to try out.

In this overview, I will also be listing just extremely generic findings as well as Class-specific ones. If you want to know what these are but have no interest in reading about Classes, you need merely look for the screenshots of the Imperial Fleet as that will be the cutoff point for Class details.


Characters I’d Like to See Introduced or Brought Back in Onslaught

Hello again!

The SWtOR community has been buzzing recently about the new details regarding the “play what you want, how you want” gearing system that is Spoils of War. While I, too, have been caught up in the whirlpool of hype (and confusion), I am choosing to wait until we actually get to see this new stuff in-action on the PTS before I offer my thoughts on it here.

Instead today I’m turning my attention to something I care about far more than gear, and that’s the in-game story characters. I’ve been thinking a great deal about who I’d like to see, either brought back or introduced for the first time, on Onderon and Mek-Sha and I just thought “hey, why not make a post about it?”

Obviously, some characters are a given. Darths Krovos and Malgus, Empress Acina, General Daeruun, Jonas Balkar, Major Anri, Moff Pyron, NR-O2, Tau Idair, and Vowrawn are all definitely going to be back in some way or another, either because of their prominence or their popularity. I’m also considering Alec Ranin and Lord Izar from the Hearts and Minds mission to be certainties since the two outreach programs would be well-used at various points in the new story.

I am also not thinking of the remaining missing Companions because 5.0's cycle is still not over and I don't want to include them here just in case BioWare surprise us and they all turn up in 5.10.4.

I doubt it, but I'm sticking to that rule anyway!

Beyond this lot, there are quite a few names (and one concept) I’ve come up with. I don't hope to see all of these characters with the initial launch, but I would certainly like to see them at some point in 6.0's story cycle.


The First 6.0 Details

Another Star Wars: Celebration, another bunch of interesting reveals.

Of course we've had the big reveals of the Episode IX title, the first full details of Jedi: Fallen Order and its hero Cal (no relation), and, by the end of today, more information regarding The Mandalorian and the long-awaited seventh series of The Clone Wars.

However, as glorious as those reveals are, the one which is the most pertinent to this blog is the first official glimpse of the next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic.


Incursions on a very remote planet

Hello there!

It has been a while since I've last posted here. This is due to various reasons, ranging from real-life making it difficult to blog consistently (February, for example, was devoted entirely to work-experience) to not really knowing exactly what to devote a post to next. I have quite a few drafts which I've started, at least. 

Today, BioWare have announced details of the next-but-one patch, 5.10.3. At long last, after several years of it being requested by the KotOR crowd, the planet Dantooine is making its SWtOR debut

This is not the only glad tidings, however, as Dantooine will bring with it the first in-game event since the Rakghouls resurged in January 2014. That's well over five years since a new event! That said, there's actually a fair amount of familiarity to this event; the main villains of the piece are the Nova Blades from Rishi, this time sponsored by the Imperials to attack Republic settlements.

Of course, because this event needs to cater to everyone, the Nova Blades just attack anyone that happens to get in their way. Pirates; who can trust them?

Since this event is going to be the first one which has any real significance to the story, this implies that there will be a very small story update to go with it; I'm guessing this will continue the rather superficial loyalist and traitor choice from Ossus rather than expand on it or allow a faction-switching mechanic like Iokath did. It's a very safe option for them at this juncture, as then they can save the expansion itself for any bigger developments on that part. 

In the meanwhile people who actually want to defect will likely need to put up with more forced-pretending, which I can't imagine to be very fun for them. 

While I am of course ecstatic to see both a new event and one of the final two missing planets from the original KotOR at last, I have to admit I'm somewhat saddened by the implication that Dantooine will only ever be an event planet. Since it is an actual planet at least that should at least mean that we won't be restricted from travelling to it at any point like the Rakghoul tunnels. 

I would have definitely loved it to have been more significant that it is seemingly going to be, but it's not the end of the world. They may yet create more separate areas on various planets, akin to Black Hole and Section X, which I would absolutely love to see for many planets across SWtOR

April is going to be something of a month of information for SWtOR; we'll hopefully be getting info pertaining to 6.0 next weekend from Celebration in Chicago but we definitely know that they intend to give us more information for 5.10.3 later this month, presumably when 5.10.2 has launched. 

I genuinely can't wait to hear what BioWare has to say.


Thoughts on 5.10: The Good, the Bad, and the Eeehhhhhs [Full Spoilers]

Fun fact: since Manaan was used to represent Copero, Ossus is the first actual new planet seen from space since Umbara.
Happy new year!

Now that that's out of the way, it's finally time for me to turn my attention to going over as much of what came with 5.10 as possible. Since this was a fairly major story patch, the most significant we've had since 5.0's nine Eternal Throne chapters, I decided to enact my "one-month spoiler-free" safety window, hence why it's taken me so long to get around to posting this.

Of course, as is the way of things, this 'safety protocol' was rendered somewhat nullified as BioWare promptly began churning out full spoilers for the appearance of a certain character on their website and social media channels. I can't say I blame them, as this move will undoubtedly attract several long-gone veterans just for this update alone.

Anyway, on with the stuff.