07/11/2019

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.

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The Basics

To begin with, rather than the increment of 50 additional levels we’re used to seeing with each crafting ‘upgrade’, the Onslaught crew skills have increased from 600 to 700. For the first time since 3.0, players need to pay to access skill levels 601 – 700, at a cost of 500,000 credits for each one.

The basic structure of crew skills and crafting remains the same as ever. Gather enough materials to craft the combined structures which can then be used to craft the new recipes. Craft enough combined structures to get to max-level, decide how much investment you want to put into crafting beyond that, boom, done.


When it comes to gathering materials in the open world, nodes are by far the best single source of mats. Killing a creature or a droid tends to yield only two materials and not too many of them at that. A node tends to yield numerous qualities of most of the relevant materials in one go with the numbers heavily weighted towards giving a shedload of Premium materials of both relevant types. I've seen over 20 of both Premium materials come from a node on a few occasions, but 10 - 13 seems to be the average result.

Missions are a middle-ground source of materials. Rich and Wealthy yields are easily the best source of Prototype and Artifact materials. Abundant yields are more heavily-weighted towards Premium materials but due to the time-investment required I would still cite nodes as the best source of green stuff.

It doesn't just stop with these materials. Even the various combined structures, such as Cell Grafts, come in Premium, Rare, and Artifact; supplements come in Common, Premium, and Rare; and there is even a Legendary miscellaneous material which is required for all the highest-level schematics.

Essentially, to even be ready to get on the crafting ladder you need to have hundreds upon hundreds of each type of material to even stand a chance of getting enough of everything.

Reverse-engineering is also the riskiest it’s ever been with this expansion.  Putting aside what your chances are to get a better schematic in the first place (in order from blue to gold: 20%, 10%, 5%), if your attempts to reverse-engineer a series of, let’s say, Artifact items all fail that’s dozens of Premium, Rare, and Artifact materials all consumed with only a pittance being returned.

This is particularly relevant for Augments in 6.0. As I touched on in my last post, until the new ones become farmable it’s best to use the old 228 ones since the materials for those are easy to get. The same is decidedly not true for the new stuff, at least for the time being. Maybe in a couple of months the market will have settled down enough for people to have easier access to them…?

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The Specifics

To use Biochem schematics as an example, the process for crafting is as follows:
  1. You need 10 Premium Unknown Microorganisms, 10 Premium Virulent Extracts, and 8 Standard Recombinators to craft a single Premium Curious Cell Graft.
  2. 3 of these are required alongside 10 Prototype Unknown Microorganisms, 10 Prototype Virulent Extracts, and 8 Premium Recombinators to craft a single Prototype Curious Cell Graft.
  3. 3 of these are then required alongside 10 Artifact Unknown Microorganisms, 10 Prototype Virulent Extacts, and 8 Prototype Recombinators to craft a single Artifact Curious Cell Graft.
There are also the mission items like the Intravenous Injectors from Diplomacy to throw into the mix. Crafting a usable item beyond Premium quality requires 10 of the appropriate quality Injector and any that preceded it alongside the relevant Cell Graft.

Should you be successful and acquire the Legendary schematic, in Biochem’s case the reusables, you also then need to acquire 5 Legendary Embers. This material is a rare reward earned either through deconstruction, scavenging, or crew skill missions. Wealthy Yield missions tend to yield at least one as a guaranteed reward, with one of my guildies claiming that she received six from one once. I can believe it, as the highest I’ve seen so far is four so higher than that is very possible.

Augments require additional materials than just the relevant crew skill material. I’ve only seen the schematics for the blues so far, but the recipe for these is as follows:
  1.  1x Prototype Investigation / Underworld Trading and Slicing combined structure. This requires 10 of the Premium grade 11 Researched Compounds, Underworld Metals, or Luxury Fabric material (depending on your Crew Skill) and 10 of the Premium grade 11 Sliced Tech Parts to craft.
  2. 2x Prototype Armstech, Armormech, or Synthweaving combined structure. These are fairly straight forward and require purely materials from Scavenging and Archaeology.
  3. 5x Processed Isotope Stabilizer. These are the new Isotope material and are much easier to source than their 5.0 cousins, with a lot being given out for completing random group-finder missions.
  4. 5x Solid Resource Matrix. This is the new Conquest material. You get 2 for reaching your personal target and up to 4 if your guild hits its target for the week (yield-dependent).
Yup, the blues require the new Conquest material. I can’t fault BioWare for making these things useful after the Strategic Resource Matrix just gathered dust (I still have about 748 sitting in my materials bag), but this is just one step too soon in my opinion. Sure, bring them in for Artifact onwards since those will actually be worth the investment, but the Prototypes just aren’t worth using at this moment in time.

Plus, again, should you fail with REing them to get the schematic (it is theoretically only a 10% chance to acquire the purple schematic) that’s a lot of materials just down the drain.It’s not pleasant by any means, and I can see it being a reasonably long time until these new Augments are anywhere near farmable. The Augment market is always a bit turbulent at the start of any expansion, but this time it’s particularly so.

From what I understand from a guildie who secured the Artifact schematic and crafted one, Augments are one of the few crafted objects to lack a Legendary variant - at least not one that can be gained through reverse-engineering. If this is indeed accurate, I would imagine we'll see these come in at some point since gold Augments were around in the first iteration of the 6.0 PTS. 

I won't be complaining too much if Artifact remained the highest quality Augment in this expansion, though!

Apparently the Premium armourings crafted by Armormechs require the Conquest material as well. This should not be the case, as BioWare announced they were removing the SRMs from all Premium recipes and Synthweavers don't require SRMs for their armourings. This is clearly an oversight on their part and should hopefully be fixed at some point. Regardless, this implies that the Resource Matrices are also going to be used for Prototype and higher armourings and maybe mods and enhancements as well.

Fun.

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The Materials Bag

Among the various additions to the inventory, including a brand-new universal deconstruction system, comes a Legacy-wide materials bag!



This functions just as you’d expect it to from that description. It’s just a little section of your inventory where all your crafting materials of any quality hang out until they’re used up or otherwise removed. There’s a button in the top-left corner of your inventory – but disappointingly not your various cargo bays – which will place all immediately-accessible materials into the bag. By default, this will only affect Premium materials, but it can be customised so that materials up to Legendary quality will be shifted across with a single click.



It’s very easy to compare this to The Elder Scrolls Online and its materials bag, and I would not be surprised if BioWare took inspiration from it. At least compared to ESO’s crafting bag I do not believe you need to be subscribed to have access to it in the first place in SWtOR.

Curiously, there are some items that can be put in the bag that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as “crafting materials”. Most of the various Prefabs (curiously not including the Universals), being the result of crafting, can be found there, as can the Guild Ship Encryptions. This last one in particular may seem baffling, but this is because the Nightmare Power crystals require these Encryptions as a crafting material. I don’t know if the Frameworks will also be placed within this bag, but I suppose I’ll find that out at some point once my guild starts hunting Commanders for fun again.

For many players, this bag is a god-send since it frees up a number of cargo bays, Legacy or otherwise. Since I only had one Legacy bay devoted to materials myself I can’t claim to have been similarly ‘liberated’, but I do like having just another bit of extra space. Even now that we’ve got a seventh cargo bay slot open to us.

I need a lot of space for my various collections of cosmetic gear, pets, and mounts.

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Deconstruction Changes

Deconstruction has been opened up to be far more universal than it once was, so much so that it is practically entirely separate from the crafting system. Since it used to be tied to crafting in the past, I feel this is the best place to discuss my thoughts on the new system.



Anyone can deconstruct anything, provided that said items were brand-new iwith Onslaught; items that were released prior to the expansion can still only be deconstructed if you have the appropriate Crew Skill. For these newer items, you no longer have to be a Biochemist to deconstruct that stim or an Armstech to deconstruct that barrel; anyone can open that panel and plug any eligible item into it and reap the benefits. 

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some uses in crafting still, as deconstruction is still the only way of reverse-engineering to gain access to higher-end schematics, returned materials, and Augment Kit MK-11s.

When you deconstruct a Level 75 item in SWtOR, you primarily get up to five things from it: all three qualities of Jawa Junk, Tech Fragments, and a rare chance to get the Legendary Ember. Because of this, disintegrating items in the Renown panel really isn’t worth it, since you don’t get an awful lot of stuff for doing so. Additional Jawa Junk, Tech Fragments, and especially Legendary Embers will always be useful.

There are some clunky aspects to this system, as is the way of things. If you remove the armouring, barrel, or hilt from an item you can no longer deconstruct that item even if other modifications are still contained within it. Similarly, apparently there’s a glitch that can cause the panel to consume the items but not give anything in return. I’m not particularly familiar with what causes this glitch, but I know Shintar of Going Commando has suffered from it.

I’m really pleased to see deconstruction be more universal. It makes acquiring Tech Fragments just that little bit easier and it’s particularly great to see a reliable manner of acquiring Jawa Junk. Granted, this is primarily because of the increased costs to buy stuff from those stingy Jawas…

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Conclusion

I’m not a huge fan of crafting in Onslaught. A lot of this stems from the added complications of the system to be able to craft the higher-end stuff, but there’s also a very different relationship with gearing this time around.

In the past, a crafter was able to provide a good little boost to the occasional returning player or veteran who just wants a quick bit of gear. That’s great, it kept even things like crafted armourings in a constant state of relevancy in some form. In Onslaught, gearing is just so quick and so easy for pretty much anyone, so crafting gear in this sense no longer has its place. A player could spend millions of credits getting all their 306 stuff from a crafter, or they could just do whatever they like and be geared up in two weeks under their own steam, keeping their credits to mess around with Amplifiers. 

We’re thus seeing crafting become sort-of irrelevant in certain sectors before it even has the chance to become relevant, especially with the recipe requirements. I don’t doubt that Augments in particular will maintain their own market-relevance for several months to come, but for almost everything else it’s really hard to see if it’s even worth focusing on compared to ‘raw’ gearing. Especially with the current issues faced by Armormechs. 

Biochemists once again rule the roost since securing the reusable schematic ensures that, for them, their primary crafting ladder is irrelevant beyond a certain point. Sure, everyone will still benefit from their Artifact quality crafts since everyone needs stims in particular, but for them themselves they're essentially finished once they get a single gold item of everything they need.

As much as I dislike the changes to crafting itself, I am a huge fan of the new materials bag and the revised deconstruction system. The materials bag in particular is a very welcome addition and I'm pleased to see it. 

Ultimately, my own personal opinion on crafting is rather dulled in comparison to what I'm sure a lot of people's will be. I was never really into crafting all that much apart from just getting Augments and the like done and occasionally bulk-crafting stims and adrenals for my non-Biochem alts. If I were relying on crafting for a lot of my credit income or to gear up alts, then I would probably be more peeved about the changes than I am. As it is, I see some of the changes as unnecessary but they don't affect me all that much so I'm not too upset about them.

I’m fairly sure that crafting will eventually settle down to a more reasonable and consistent level. It’s  not going to be an easy road until then.

Next up: Group Content

2 comments:

  1. Nice review!

    > At least compared to ESO’s crafting bag I do not believe you need to be subscribed to have access to it in the first place in SWtOR.

    I'm a preferred player and did a quick login when it launched and I could access the crafting bag: https://battlestance.org/2019/10/23/onslaught-is-live/ - but due to only 1 active char I couldn't play around more. Still kinda looking forward to the expansion when I'm not so bisy with WoW anymore :P

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  2. I am beginner player and i found great guide about Crafting. Check this site if you are beginner like me: snf2020.sitew.org

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