Monday, September 22, 2014

Conquests, Not For Me

One of the new systems that came with SWTOR 2.10 is Conquests.  Basically, it is a changing set of objectives/missions which earn the players points.  There is a target goal of 35,000 points (sometimes less) needed to get the reward for a given week.  If you are part of a guild, you can get another set of rewards if your guild finishes in the top ten for the planet.

I have yet to come close to reaching the point goal.  I know some people find it easy to reach it on a number of characters, but for me it is a steep hill to climb.  The problem is that I have my own goals which I want to accomplish.  These don't always line up with the weeks Conquest objectives.  Some weeks I feel like just doing PvP.  Even though doing warzones gets points, I don't often feel like doing 35 or 70 of them.

Other times I just feel like decorating, doing a tactical flashpoint, or leveling an alt.  These are activities which don't provide much in the way of points.   Even if they did, I wouldn't want to grind them out.  My own tasks basically trump those of Conquest.  It also doesn't help that the rewards for the personal Conquest of pretty lackluster.  They are not something that I want to go out of my way to get.

I do feel bad that I am not really contributing to the guilds planetary conquest efforts.  Luckily, there is no scaling, so I am not a drain on the rest of the guild.  Still,  I feel like I should be participating for them.

It's a neat system, but one that was not really made for me.  My limited play time is just not a good fit for Conquests.  And that's ok.  If it gives other players something to do, I'm more than happy to have it in the game.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Episode 9: Rakata Prime

It's Friday!  For this weeks video, I played the Legacy of the Rakata Flashpoint.  This wraps up the Forged Alliances story arc with a surprise ending.  You know who is back in town!  The Flashpoint itself was pretty cool.  Great scenery but a bit on the easy side.  I don't mind too much though as I just played it for the story.

The video contains all three boss fights, abbreviated.  It was much too long with the full fights so I edited it down to a much more manageable six minutes.  Enjoy!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is Yavin 4 the next planet?

The teaser which BioWare put out didn't come out and tell us much that we didn't already know.  Or, at least that's how it appeared on the surface.  An enterprising SWTOR player dug deeper and discovered some interesting imagery used in the video.

Specifically, the weapons seen in the background seem to match that of the Massassi race as seen in a Timeline video.  This race was seen on the moon Yavin 4.  There's some debate on the forums, of course.  But it is an interesting observation.  From the reddit comments, it was pointed out that the Sith Inquisitor receives a mail after Forged Alliances which foreshadows a moon.

So we don't know anything for sure, but it seems like Yavin 4 is a good possibility.  We also don't know what kind of experience it would be, a whole planet?  Just a daily area or operation?  Could be anything.  Yavin 4 holds a lot of significance in the SWTOR lore, so I'd look forward to exploring it.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Behind the Scenes

Yesterday, the folks at BioWare held a SWTOR live stream.  Hosting it was Community Manager Eric Musco and Lead Writer Charles Boyd.  They did a run through of the Legacy of the Rakata Flashpoint.  It is basically a behind the scenes look at the dungeon.  They did this with Depths of Manaan too and it was very interesting.



Watch live video from SWTOR on Twitch

At the end of the stream was a teaser for the upcoming 3.0 expansion.  It is very short and doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.  I was hoping for a bit more, but I guess we will have to wait for a couple more weeks.


Monday, September 15, 2014

SWTOR Expansion Expectations

Last week, I wrote about my unreasonable expectations for SWTOR's upcoming expansion.  This time, I am going to cover what I am actually expecting.  I still hope and dream for more classes but that is just not likely.  So what do I think we can expect?

Level cap increase.  They have come out and said there will be a level bump.  This will most likely be to 60.  I'm not a huge fan, but I don't mind the SWTOR leveling experience.

New Planet.  Like the Rise of the Hutt Cartel, we will get a new planet to explore.  Maybe even more than one, although with only 5 levels to go through I'm not sure there will be room for more than one.  New places to look at are always welcome.

New Storyline.  We know Revan and the Revanites are back and will be the focus of the upcoming expansion.  Since they are enemies to both the Republic and Empire, we will likely just have one story line with some factional flavor.  I'd much prefer class stories, but it should still be good.

New Abilities.  I'd expect each class to get something new and interesting as we will be getting 5 more skill points.  Those skill trees might start to get unwieldy though, so who knows what BioWare has planned.

New Operation.  From the Pax Prime Cantina we know that they are currently working on a new Operation.  It'll likely be the first of a few which will be released over 3.0's patch cycle.

New Race.  They brought in the Cathar for RotHC, so they might do that again.  I'd expect Nautolan's or another popular race.  Like the Cathar, I'd think they would be in the Cartel Market.

Overall, I expect something very similar to Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  BioWare has been quite busy introducing Galactic Starfighter and Galactic Strongholds.  Considering the expansion is due this year still,  I just don't foresee anything too impressive.  I'd love to be proven wrong though.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Episode 8: Setting Up Shop

Wow, over two months of playing SWTOR and eight videos.  Time flies!  In this weeks episode, we take a little tour of my Republic Base of Operations on Nar Shaddaa.  It's still pretty sparse, but coming along nicely.  I also do a little pre-fab crafting and acquire some more decorations.  To finish it up, we place them in my stronghold.  So far, I am enjoying GSH quite a bit!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preparation

Some SPOILERS to follow.  This week, I have been preparing myself for the new SWTOR 2.10 content.  The final act of the Forged Alliances story arc happens in the Legacy of the Rakata Flashpoint.  While I have avoided most information about what happens, I do know that Revan is back.

Now I did read the Revan book, but have forgotten most of it.  I also have not really done anything involving Revan in SWTOR.  So before I witness the big reveal, I'm doing a little preparation.

As I don't have time to reread the novel, Wikipedia is here to help.  That gets us caught up to SWTOR.

In game, there are a few Flashpoints which involve Revan.  I only know the Republic side.  First is the Taral V Flashpoint.  That leads into the Maelstrom Prison Flashpoint which deals more directly with Revan.  Both are mid-range instances and are easily solo-able by my 55.  I never did these while leveling, so it has been fun to see their cinematics.

The Revan saga, as we knew it, ends in the Foundry Flashpoint for Imperial players.  As I don't have an Imp high enough,  I found a good youtube video of the Revan fight.  There is some nice dialog, and of course, no body after the fight.

Overall, it has been a lot of fun getting immersed in the story.  I look forward to seeing how Revan comes back.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Unreasonable SWTOR Expansion Wishes

With Forged Alliances Part 3 going live, we will soon find out about the 3.0 expansion.  In fact, BioWare came out and said we'll get a teaser in a week or so and the full announcement by the end of the month.  I can't wait!  But for now, it is time to hope and dream about what could be.  These are doubtful in my opinion, but a guy can dream.

Two New Classes.  One for each side.  This would be a gigantic effort to pull off.  They could be mirrors, but it would still be two new fully voiced and cinematic class stories.  If BioWare said they were doing this, it would blow me away, along with all my money.  I haven't finished the current classes, but still new ones would be fantastic.

New Starting Planet.  Since I am already asking for new classes, why not throw a new starting planet (or two) on there as well?  I really wouldn't mind them using an existing world for the new classes, but new ones would be cool too.

New Class Stories.  As much as I want to hope for new class stories, I still thinks it belongs on the crazy list.  There is just so much involved in making them for 8 classes that I just don't think it is likely.  Another chapter for each would make me quite happy though.

Mon Calamari.  I would love to see Mon Cal's as a playable race.  I have this fantasy of rolling a Mon Cal Smuggler.  In fact, I have been holding off for that very reason.  Sadly,  I'm not sure they are popular enough to make the cut.  Of course, I didn't think Cathar would be either, so who knows?

World PvP.  I'd love to see the return of open world PvP.  It is so hard to do right, especially when you just have two factions.  I'm thinking BioWare is going to keep it to events like the Gree and Rakghoul.

New Crew Skill.  More crafting?  Sign me up!  Of course, I really don't know what purpose a new one could fill.  There aren't really any gaps they could fill.  That doesn't mean BioWare won't introduce new stuff to create those gaps.

I hope I am underestimating BioWare, but I am really not expecting any of the above.  What's on your list?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2.10 Arrives

I wasn't planning on doing a blog post this morning, but I am unexpectedly working from home today.  On my way home from work last night, I was hit from behind which caused me to hit the car in front of me.  So my car is out of commission for the time being.  Fun times.  On the plus side, SWTOR version 2.10 is going live today!

Legacy of the Rakata.  This third part of the Forged Alliances story arc arrives in the form of another Tactical Flashpoint.  I won't be able to run it until Saturday, so I need to avoid spoilers until then.

Season 3.  Another season of Ranked PvP.  I still have no plans to participate, but I'm happy for those that do.

Class Changes.  A whole bunch of classes saw some balancing.  Of course, I don't play any of the advanced classes effected, so I can't speak to if they are good or bad.

For the full patch notes, head on over to Dulfy.  SWTOR.com was down at the time of this writing.

BioWare also released a new short story last week involving Rakata Prime called Remnants.  Give it a read!  I enjoyed it.

-------------------------

Kaya sprinted through the jungle brush of Rakata Prime, doing her best to ignore the scraping branches and leaves that conspired against her rushed escape. A clearing came into view ahead, but she avoided it; so far, the trees had done a good job of intercepting the weapons thrown at her by the natives who’d killed the rest of her team, and that seemed like a good arrangement to keep up. She found a trunk big enough to hide behind and pressed against it, listening for pursuers. Urgent rustling and unintelligible shouts echoed through the brush.

She’d smirked when her Exchange handler brought up the job. Smuggling antiques? Really?

Oh yes, he’d told her. Very lucrative, and quite a bit safer than spice or weapons.

He’d been the first to die, spiked in the back with one of the same cobbled-together spears Kaya could hear clanging against bark in the distance. The ambush came on the third island the team visited, while they were busy searching through a small collection of worn-down buildings, crumbling sculptures, and bits of tech that hadn’t worked in millennia. Old and useless as it all was, the locals preferred to hang onto it. They looked a bit like Ongree, with tall, slender heads and eye-stalks protruding to the sides, but their mouths were low-slung and capable of some particularly unsettling battle-cries.

Kaya checked her wrist pad— three hundred meters to the ship. She looked ahead, spotted a rocky outcropping, and darted toward it. More shouting echoed toward her, so she pointed one of her blasters backward and fired off a few blind shots in response. The weapon went into its holster as she skidded behind the cover of the rocks, her hand scrambling for one of the proximity charges she’d taken off her team’s Klatooinian security chief. Pausing just long enough to activate the charge and plant it on the rock face, Kaya barreled onward, following the edge of the outcropping as it stretched uphill.
Supposedly, these barbarians had ruled a gigantic, interstellar empire several thousand years back. It wasn’t easy to imagine, but the creatures’ persistence at least kept it in the realm of possibility. The only interesting thing that had happened on Rakata Prime since prehistory was a Republic battle in orbit, and even that was a few hundred years in the past – still ancient in Kaya’s mind.

People actually care about this junk? She had mostly stayed out of the way while the team gathered up everything small enough to carry. Her job was transportation, not labor.

We’re getting paid enough to care quite a bit. The Klatooinian didn’t like attitude on the job. He’d caught up with her after the initial attack, then collapsed at her feet, succumbing to more wounds than she’d had time to count. As Kaya approached the top of the hill, she wondered if he’d been fed the same line about Rakata Prime being an easy run. The exploding proximity charge knocked her mind back to the present, and she bolted onward.
Another clearing. She almost stopped, but then she spotted the glint of sunlight off of her ship’s engines in the distance, and nothing else mattered. Ignoring her previous thoughts on the defensive qualities of jungle foliage, she ran straight toward the boarding ramp, pulling out her comlink on the way.

“Dom, I need you to cover me! Fire up the weapons, now!” One hundred meters.

“Are you being pursued, master?” The droid’s voice didn’t show an overwhelming amount of concern.

“Dom!” Seventy meters.

The ship’s engines powered up and it rose gently into the air, turning to face Kaya at what seemed like a glacial pace.

Fifty meters.

“I think it would be best for you to drop to the ground, master.”

Kaya dove forward, skidding to a stop on the grass with a pained grunt and wrapping her arms over her head. Cannons roared to life above her, shaking the ground over and over as Dom strafed the clearing and the jungle beyond. She closed her eyes tight, shut out everything, focused on breathing. It felt like there wasn’t enough air on the entire planet for her to catch her breath, but she kept trying for what seemed like hours.

“Master?”

Kaya opened her eyes again. Dom was standing over her, one of his knobby metallic hands extended to help her up. An inferno raged through the jungle she’d just fled, its oily black smoke gushing upward like a geyser.

“We’d better go.”

* * * * *

Once the ship broke orbit, Kaya stepped out of the cockpit to check their cargo. Two medium crates, filled to the brim with useless old junk from their first two stops. Probably ninety kilos total, and six people dead to get it. To the Exchange, their lives were worth about fifteen kilos of rubbish each.
The high-pitched alarm ring of the long-range sensors brought Kaya back to the cockpit. A Republic corvette had just exited hyperspace, and it was burning toward them at full speed.

The entire system is a Republic no-fly zone. All traffic is banned, has been for three hundred years. A “historical preserve”, they call it.The Exchange handler had laughed at the notion. With the war on, it’s never patrolled. We’ve sent dozens of crews over the years, and they’ve never seen a single Republic ship.

Kaya took her seat, quickly shifting power to the engines. “Remind me never to work for the Exchange again, Dom.”

The droid was plugged into the navicomputer, his head quickly swiveling to view different displays. “I have initiated the calculations for a jump to hyperspace.”

“We’re almost in their weapon range. Hang on.” As soon as the proximity alert sounded, Kaya shoved the flight yolk forward and twisted to the right as hard as she could. Glowing lances of turbolaser fire streamed around them menacingly as the ship spiraled into a rapid dive.

“This is not an optimal trajectory for our jump to hyperspace.”

“Just give me a minute.” Kaya hauled the yolk back toward her, then fired up the boosters, pressing her back into her seat as the ship picked up speed.

“We have passed back out of their weapon range, but they are turning to pursue.”

“I guess the Republic really likes antiques, too.” Kaya eased off the boosters to give them time to recharge, leveled the ship’s pitch, and angled the shields aftward. “How long until we’re out of here?”

Dom’s response was drowned out by another long-range sensor warning. The droid checked the screen. “Another ship has exited hyperspace. Imperial. Terminus-class destroyer.”

“Well then, let’s just get out of the way so these two can fight it out.”

“They aren’t fighting, Master.”

“What?” Kaya glanced at the aft scopes. The ships were within range of each other, but neither was firing. Instead, the Imperials had turned to join the chase. “What in blazes is going on out here?”

“The Republic vessel is gaining. They appear to have shifted all power to their engines and tractor beam. They will intercept several seconds before we can jump to hyperspace.”

“Just keep us steady!” Kaya clambered back out of her seat and headed to the cargo hold, her legs aching from the chase through the jungle. The crates were secured right where she’d left them, but a coded mag-lock kept her from opening them. “Blasted Exchange!”

“Ten seconds to intercept, Master,” Dom’s voice called from the cockpit.

Kaya disconnected the cargo braces and started pushing one of the crates toward the airlock. It was slow going, and the entire ship started rumbling before she even made it out of the hold.

“We are caught in the tractor beam.”

“Just get the hyperdrive ready!” Kaya vaulted over the crate, but immediately regretted it when she landed on the other side. After hobbling painfully back out of the hold, she keyed in her override code for the exterior cargo doors. “Is it done?”

“The hyperjump is set, but—“

Kaya drew her pistols, aimed, and opened fire. The crates withered and burst under the rain of bolts, scattering their singed contents all over the hold. Hurling the blasters aside, Kaya slammed the panel for the exterior door and braced herself.

Just before the safety override kicked in and sealed the opening between Kaya and the hold, she glimpsed a cloud of smoldering antiques hurtling out into the void toward the Republic corvette. The rumble from the tractor beam’s grip eased, then stopped entirely.

“Our pursuers have lost tractor lock.”

“Punch it!”

The familiar hum of the hyperdrive kicking in was like a great electric sigh of relief. Kaya leaned back against the bulkhead, then slid down to the floor, releasing the breath she didn’t remember holding. Dom joined her a moment later.

“In order to save time, I only calculated our route as far as Cerea. What is our ultimate destination?”

“The wrong end of a disruptor, if the Exchange finds out we dumped their cargo.” Kaya rubbed her legs, trying not to think back to the ambush. “We’d better stay low for a while.”

“Raider’s Cove?”

Kaya smiled for the first time all day. “D0-M9, navigator and mind-reader.”

“I’ll begin the calculations, master.”

As she slowly worked her way back to her feet, a thought crossed Kaya’s mind. “They didn’t even ask us to surrender.”

“Master?”

“A normal patrol would talk first, try to get us to power down. They just started shooting as soon as they got the chance.”

Dom gave his best approximation of a humanoid shrug. “Barbarians don’t always carry spears, Master.”

An array of gruesome images did their best to pull Kaya’s mind back to the surface of the planet. “There are still plenty who do,” she replied morosely.

As the pair made their way to the cockpit to plan the long route ahead, Kaya wondered just how far she’d have to go to truly escape.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Collector's Edition Madness

I received an E-Mail from Trion about their upcoming expansion for Rift, Nightmare Tide.   In it, they mention there would be three collector's editions for the expansion.  Now, a CE for an expansion is nothing new, but three?  I found that to be a little much.  Then I looked at the details.

The first, Typhoon, costs $24.99.  Ok, that is pretty affordable, although that sounds more like a pre-order price to me.  It also includes things like two new equipment slots which sound required.  So maybe that is just the standard pre-order?

The second edition, Infusion, costs $49.99.  Ok, that sounds more like a true CE price.  In includes an instant level 60 character boost, plus a bunch of other items.  If I were a Rift player, this is likely where I would jump in.

Then there is the third CE, Ultimate Nightmare.  It costs, get ready for it, $149.99.  I had to re-read that a few times to make sure it was true.  I've spent that much on a CE before, but it was for the game, not an expansion pack.  The big ticket item, to me at least, is a new dimension.  It's pretty cruel that they include that in this pack.  Trion sure has some gusto pricing a CE for an expansion pack that high.

All that being said, what would I do if SWTOR followed suit?  I'd certainly be in at $50.  If they included a cool stronghold (Manaan or Rakata Prime) and priced it at $150, I'd be a bit upset, but I would give it some serious thought.  The expansion would have to contain a serious amount of content though.  I can't see paying $100 just for extra virtual items.

I hope the upcoming SWTOR expansion pack does have a Collector's Edition version.  As long as it is reasonably priced, I'll definitely purchase it.  Take my money BioWare, just not all of it :)