Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Grand Announcement

Last night, BioWare held their December Producer's live stream.  This was much hyped, which ultimately worked against them.  Only hype expansions.  They eventually revealed the big news was going to be subscriber rewards.  That's cool,  just another bonus.  So what is coming down the pipe?

Chapter X.  The next chapter of the Fallen Empire will release on February 11th.  This is a month later than I would have hoped, but what can you do?  Some interesting companions will be coming back with it.

Game Update.  Chapter X will also be a Game Update (4.1?).  We are getting an Arena, the Eternal Championship.  This is a solo experience, where you fight off waves of bosses.  The main reward is recruiting the Wookie companion.  It sounds like if you 'beat' it, you also get a title.  There will also be some crafting additions, nice.

Subscriber Rewards.  Basically,  If you are subscribed the 1st of each month, when there is a new chapter, you get a reward.  For February, you'll get a  mission to obtain HK-55 as a companion.  You also get 2 days early access, which really doesn't do anything for me.

Now, if you are subscribed until the end of Fallen Empire (well, maybe the end) you get a special reward.  They are introducing a 'Play as HK-55'  story/mission/quest.  So you'll take his role and go on a mission.  That sounds pretty cool, hopefully it is pretty involved.

Overall,  I liked what I heard.  To keep it in perspective, this was mainly about Subscriber Rewards, not an expansion announcement.  Getting a new reward each month is pretty good.  I like companions (even if they are shallow), and I like story (even if it is HK-55's).

Of course,  group content is still the major issue with some players.  None was announced.  I think it's time people take the hint.  It may come,  but it is clearly not what BioWare thinks is a priority.  So if it is that important to you, then tough decisions need to be made. As an aside,  I've done more group content since 4.0 launched than ever before.

January is going to be a slow month though,  since no Chapter X :(

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chapter 7 of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

Last week was pretty awful.  I was sick for almost all of it.  I'm starting to feel better, I hope.  Maybe it is just a cruel joke though, and I'll be sick again tomorrow.  Getting old sucks,  I suggest you don't do it.  Anyway, I did get some time in for Chapter 7.  It turned out to be a decently long chapter, so it took me two play sessions.  I usually keep a session to an hour.

This one was all about tracking down the Lady of Sorrows, who could help us with the Gravestone.  She, of course, lived in the underbelly of Zakuul.  So there was much linear fighting in decent environments.  Noce to see some new scenery.  Turns out the Heralds of Zildog (ugh, what a name) are involved.  They are 'keepers of the peace',  and of course want us dead.

The big choice here was whether or not to take Senya or Koth in with us.  I chose Koth.  I just don't trust Senya, aka the Mother of the bad guys.  I still plan on dumping her if I get the chance.  Give me a soldier any day.

Long story short, we find the Lady of Sorrows and it turns out to be SCORPIO.  She's an AI/Droid companion of the Imperial Agent.  My agent has not gotten to her yet, now I really want to.  The really interesting part is that it is revealed that the Eternal Fleet is run by machines just like her.  So that's where she comes from.

Knights of the Fallen Empire is full of shady characters.  Lana, Senya, SCORPIO, Emperor, Arcann, the sister are all pretty untrustworthy. I really just want to take Koth and HK-55 and eliminate them all.  Koth isn't even that likable, he's just the lesser of all the evils.

Overall, it was a good Chapter.  I hope it is the model for what BioWare plans to release monthly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vague Hype!

I've been remiss about pasting lately.  Part of it is illness related, part is Fallout 4.  Anyway, so the big psuedo-news of the day is that there is a SWTOR producer's stream coming on December 1st.  There will be some kind of BIG announcement.  They capitalized it, not me.  The tweet specifically mentioned subscribers, but who knows if that is meaningful or not.

That brings us to the problem of vague hype.  It's really only useful for angering your customers.  People's imaginations will run wild, then when the truth ends up being much more low key, rage!  a BIG announcement could really be anything.  Hell, it could be bad news.  Maybe the game is shutting down, that's pretty big.

It's too early to talk expansion, and that's the only thing I'd consider BIG (except for the game shutting down).  So yeah,  I really don't know what this could be about.  I'm going to go with some new subscriber incentive.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chapter 5 of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

I managed to break myself away from Fallout 4 and get some SWTOR time in.  I'm still doing a chapter a week, which brings me to #5.  The Gravestone ship is almost fixed up, but Arcann's forces have found us.  We fight them off to give Koth time to finish repairs.  We are then join by a new character.

Sanya, a former Zakuul Knight, is helping us out.  She also hunted Koth after he disobeyed orders, which makes things interesting.  I'm not a big fan of hers, or Lana for that matter.  The big decision in this chapter was whether to accept the Emperor's help when Lana was in danger.  I turned him away, mainly because I wouldn't have been sad if Lana was lost.  She was ok though.

I'm not really a fan of force users like Sanya or Lana.  I much prefer the normal folks, like Koth.  So,  if it comes down to it they will be the first to go.  Sanya was giving some foreshadowing that I may have to choose at some point.  It'll be an easy choice, Koth stays.

We ended up escaping the planet and were confronted by the Eternal Fleet.  Turns out the Gravestone has quite a weapons system and dispatched a bunch of their ships before entering Hyperspace.  We ended the Chapter by approaching Asylum, a port where we'll be 'safe.'

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fallout 4 Impressions - Spoiler Free

It's good.

I'm not a crazy Fallout fan, but I do like it quite a bit.  I think I played 2 and I definitely played 3. So far, this feels very much like Fallout 3, just newer.   That's a good thing, a lot of people liked it.  So far I have put about 3 hours into the game.  I've left the vault and done a little exploring.  There are a few things I like, a lot.

1)  Seeing the world before the war.  That was very cool, and really made the tragedy hit home.

2)  Crafting.  I never liked crafting in Fallout 3.  It is much better now.  I like finding junk, since it is easy to get that into usable crafting materials.  You can do quite a bit with it too, instead of just a few special weapons.  Most of my time has been playing with this stuff.  I modified my 10mm pistol to have a longer barrel, better grip, and a larger ammo clip.  Very cool.

3)  Building.  I just started to learn about how to manage a settlement.  It seems pretty awesome.  One of my tasks today is to clear out a gas station for materials.  I still don't know if there is a real purpose behind it.

I have barely even touched the main part of the game yet.  I think that's a good sign.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Halo 5 Completed

I managed to finish up Halo 5 just in time for Fallout 4 to get here.  Yay!  I'm not a huge Halo fan, although I have played most of the games.  I do like the story, style, and environments.  Halo 5 was no different, which is what I was hoping for.  There are so many epic moments that don't even involve cut scenes.  That's what makes Halo for me.

I don't usually play multiplayer, but I kind of want to try out their new Warzone mode.  It looks like it could be fun.  If I only had the time.  I wonder where Halo will go from here?  They definitely will have more content, will it be a DLC or do we have to wait for Halo 6? Kinda stinks we may have to wait 3 years for the next installment.  If only good things came quickly.

It was a good single player experience, well worth the money for me.  On to Fallout 4 today!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chapter Four of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

We left off with our craft crash landing into the Zakuul swamp.  HK-55 found some interesting debris, which when investigated revealed another crashed ship.  This chapter was mostly about getting information from Lana and getting to know Koth and HK-55.  It was actually longer than the previous sessions, taking me about 2 hours.  That was a nice surprise.

There were no major decisions,  just Koth impressions up for grabs really.  He's a soldier, I'm a soldier, so I think we'll get along.  It turns out the ship is legendary for defeating the Eternal Fleet a long time ago.  Interestingly, the fleet is controlled by mysterious bots and not Zakuul itself.  The Emperor just gained control.

What happened next was awesome.  There was an 80's work montage to fix up the ship, which some nice comedy from HK-55.  Check it out:

Once we got the ship up and running, I did some exploring.  I found a strange chamber and the Emperor appeared.  That's where the chapter ends.

This one was pretty good, mostly saved by the montage.  The Zakuul swap isn't very appealing.  It's nice when you look up and see the city, but that's about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Variety is the spice of life

While SWTOR is my primary game, I am mixing things up pretty well lately.  I do a chapter of Fallen Empire every weekend, run a Tactical Flashpoint, and do heroics throughout the week.  That will likely change once I complete the expansion and I start doing alts again.  But it leaves me with a lot of free game time. So I am spreading it around.

I am still working my way through Halo 5.  I tend to do a mission a day on weekdays.  It's really well done,  even if I am a little lost.  I think I finished Halo 4, but I never did the DLC.  So there is a gap in my lore knowledge.  The game has some very epic moment which are not even cutscenes.  That's one thing I love about Halo.  I should be coming up to the end, just in time for Fallout 4!

I've also been playing with the STO Admiralty system.  It has some interesting variety, but there isn't much gameplay.  So I just end up spending about 15 minutes a day in there messing around.  I'd like to start playing for real at some point, but just haven't lately.

Thanks to expansion hype, I have been spending some time in Guild Wars 2 as well.  My Engineer (of course) is still only level 26 I think.  The zone exploration theme really supports short gameplay, so I hope in for short amounts of time.  GW2 does some things really well.  I love how easy it is to sell items on the Trading Post.  

ESO is on the outside looking in right now.  They have a new DLC which looks really cool, but I just don't have time right now.  I want to be playing more of this game.  Someday ESO, someday.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Chapter Three of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

This post will contain spoilers. We left our hero in dreamland, frozen in carbonite.  He was just released by Lana, the Sith.  My Trooper is not a fan of Lana.  He's a soldier who has been fighting the Sith for a long time, so being buddy buddy with one isn't going to fly.  Personally,  I don't care for her much either.  She seems rather bland.  I like my Sith with a megalomaniac personality.  If she happens to be one I lose, then I won't be too upset about it.

This Chapter was all about escaping the facility.  It wasn't a prison really, more like a trophy room.  We were being chased by Vaylin, the daughter of the Emperor.  She seems like a murderous psychopath, which is always fun.  She is also very powerful with the Force, putting Lana to shame.  We also met Koth and HK-55.  Don't know much about them yet.  Although HK-55 is funny, he has a nice Eeyore moment.

Vaylin ended up ripping the side off of a building to throw at us, which happened to be this Sun Reactor thing that then proceeded to go critical.  We could save the day, or just make our escape.  I chose to help, which opened up a small area where we had to shut it down.  Lana wasn't pleased.  Oh well.  This is my show.  Then we ran into some Zakuul Knights to fight.  I made Lana spare the one who got left behind.  Again, she wasn't happy.

Koth arrived just in time with the ship, Vaylin was about to destroy us I suspect.  Great cut scene with the ship's Gatling guns.  We escaped the city, but crash landed in outside in the swamp.  That's where Chapter Four starts.

This was another good entry.  The Zakuul city environment was fantastic.  Kind of like Coruscant, but a lot different.  I'm still really impressed with the quality of everything.  I'll likely continue my adventure next weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A couple of SWTOR things

I have been really pleased with Knights of the Fallen Empire so far.  I've still only completed the first two chapters.  I need solid uninterrupted time to enjoy them, which is kind of rare on weekdays.  I may only do a chapter a week at this rate.  Instead, I do things like run Heroic missions or do a Tactical Flashpoint.  It's nice to have options.

There are a couple of things I would have liked to see from the expansion.

1)  Monolith and Fury Operation bosses in the Group Finder.  These single bosses are the only kind of raid content I have time to do.  Sadly, without them in the Group Finder, it's not worth the hassle.  Put them in the group finder and you'll have a fan of some Operation content.  Then make more single boss fights  :)

2)  Ambient sound decorations.  I think these should be on by default.  They are pretty neat, but I shouldn't have to turn them on every time I enter my stronghold.  They are background noise, not a loud jukebox.  Please make it happen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Should you play SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire?

Are you a new or old player thinking about jumping into SWTOR's Knights of the Fallen Empire today?  Let me help you make your decision.


1)  You like Star Wars.

2)  The new storyline is very high quality.

3)  You get an instant level 60, if you want so you can check out the new stuff right away.

4)  It's only $15 for the first 9 chapters, so you'll probably get you monies worth.

5) The base game is still free to play and now has streamlined leveling (always on 12xp, kind of).

6)  There is more group content available than ever before.

Don't Play

1)  You don't like the combat.  It hasn't really changed.

2)  You played all the old group content to death. They made it more accessible rather than adding new group instances.

3)  You don't like cut scenes.  KotFE has a lot of them.

4)  You are only interested in PvP.  Nothing new lately.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chapter Two of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

This post will contain spoilers.  I finally had a chance to continue on with the Knights of the Fallen Empire story.  We left off with my Trooper 'killing' the Emperor and being placed in carbonite by the traitor Arcann. I entered a dream sequence, where I was greeted by none other than the Emperor I just shot in the back.  

There was a good amount of talking, which was nice.  Clearly the Emperor just reverted to his incorporeal form.  He seemed rather normal in this sequence, talking about his life in Zakuul.  Turns out, he wants me help to help him stop his renegade children.  He also did a fair amount of taunting/pressing.  There was a lot of class specific dialog scenes in this chapter.

Most of the action in this chapter was fighting the hibernation sickness.  Apparently I was not frozen properly, so I'm dying.  As this is a MMO, I need to fight something to represent that.  Things got really interesting when they put me on a ravaged Coruscant.  Apparently, they think I abandoned them.  So I had to fight them.  Not much choice here.

At the end of the Coruscant scene I had to face General Garza, one of the main characters in the Trooper story.  There was only one choice, that I can remember.  I faced a giant Monolith from Ziost, and I had the option of asking the Emperor for power.  I chose to do it myself.  The consequences of this action are unclear right now.

The chapter ended with us visiting the Zakuul throne room, ghosts of Christmas pasts style.  However, Vaylin could sense me apparently, but did not tell Arcann.  That probably means she'll turn on him at some point.  She also struck me with a lightsaber, which corresponded with Lana waking me from the carbonite.

Knight of the Fallen Empire launches for everyone tomorrow.  Jump on in, just $15.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chapter One of Fallen Empire (Spoilers)

This post will contain spoilers!  Proceed at your own risk.  I usually never write spoilers, but I feel like I need some sort of record about my choices in Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Since they do matter, or so BioWare says.  We shall see!  Ok, on to Chapter One.

The Trooper is, and always has been, my main.  I always liked the soldier archetype so I gravitated towards him.  He is mostly a light side kind of character, but will do some dark side things once in a while to those who deserve it.  I will try to continue that play style in the new content.

I never really dealt with Darth Marr on my Trooper until Yavin IV.  He does seem like a pretty cool Sith, which means I'll work with him.  When dealing with him on his flagship, I wasn't very confrontational.  If I could somehow have him as a companion, that'd be awesome.  Would that be the case?

Anyway,  this all takes place after the fantastic trailer and Korriban has been raided.  We're going out to look for the culprits.  We get more than we bargained for when we were ambushed by an even larger fleet.  The ship gets boarded, and I make my way to Engineering fighting them off.

In the first choice of the expansion, I come across an Imperial and Republic officer.  Some soldiers are trapped.  The Imperial wants to leave them, the Republic guy, wants to save them.  I opt for saving them which opens up a small area for some more fighting.  I don't leave soldiers behind.

More fighting, then my companions call for help.  They are still on my ship but stuck in the docking area.  So I make my way there and clear the way so they can detach.  Then I am offered the choice of whether they should run or stay and fight.  I told them to get back to the Republic.  The Trooper needs no backup anyway.  It'll be interesting to see if this choice results in saving the lives of some of them.

I get to Engineering, but the battle is just about lost.  Marr meets me down there and becomes my companion for a short time.  We clear Engineering and have a big decision to make.  The ship is going down, so do we abandon ship or ram on of the enemy ships?  The light side choice is to abandon ship.  However, that's not the path I chose.  I want to take as many with me as possible, so I chose to ram the enemy.  Marr approved.  What followed was a great cinematic.  I love the face my Trooper made, check out the clip.

The next thing I know, I wake up in a jail cell.  Looks like our enemies were still able to capture us.  We meet Prince Arcann and are taken to the Throne room.  It is revealed that the Sith Emperor is also Emperor Valkorion of Zakuul.  He boats a bit, Marr stands up to him, kills a few people, and then is dispatched by the Emperor.  What a shame.  He then offers me the chance to join him, if I only kneel.

The Trooper does not kneel to anyone.  The Emperor is not pleased and motions to Arcann to kill me.  However, he instead frees me and gives me a weapon, then attacks his father.  The battle is not going well for him, but when the Emperor's back is turned I am able to shoot him.  I don't really like that I shot him in the back.  It was not a choice.  The Emperor laughs, then appears to die.  However, some Force stuff happens.

The Chapter ends with Arcann claiming I assassinated the Emperor, and they throw me in carbonite.  Arcann then presumably takes over.

When I returned to the Fleet, I had a mail waiting for me.  It was from the Republic officer.  It was supposed to be a voice recording I think, he was talking to me while he was still on the ship.  Then it suddenly ended when I think he got sucked out an airlock due to us ramming the ship.  Interesting.

Looking forward to Chapter 2!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day One of Fallen Empire

Phew, what a day!  The launch of Knights of the Fallen Empire actually went really smooth.  The servers came up in a timely manner, and no emergency maintenance that I saw.  Pretty impressive considering all of the database changes that had to happen for this update.  There will be no spoilers in this post.

Once the servers came up, I just had to log in and check things out.  I looked around the interface, checked my mail, and other housekeeping type things.  I saw that the new Cartel Pack was out, so I bought one as it was just 200 coins.  Got a mount and a new type of companion gift for herbivores.  Wonder who eats that?  Then it was time to get some work done, so I logged out.

A bit later, it was time to start preparing to play the expansion.  One of my favorite changes in 4.0 unlocks companion conversations based on story progression, not affection. That meant all of my Trooper's companions had their conversation quests unlocked.  Since you 'lose' them in Fallen Empire, I wanted to do all of these before I started.   So I ran through a lot of conversations, some good, some not so much.  Treek was actually pretty funny.  I also allocated my Utility Points, as they got reset.  Then back to work for a while.

Finally, work was over and it was time to actually play the expansion.  I have seen Chapter One a few times on the streams, but it was still pretty awesome to see first hand.  The whole process of hitting play and getting in was really well done.  Very polished.  Everything about this expansion seems very polished.  So I did Chapter One, took me about an hour.  I look at everything.  The environment was really well done.  There was a lot to look at and a lot to hear.  I made THE DECISION, which started the stuff I had never seen before.

Chapter Two kind of just starts right away, which seems weird.  I didn't want to start it yet, so I esc'd out.  Then I got my quest reward, and hit 61.  That gave me access to the new Propulsion Grenade (something like that).  It's neat, but I don't know how useful it'll be.  The content isn't exactly challenging yet.  With the first chapter done,  I took a look at crafting.  The reward I received was a bit better than my gear, but not module gear.  So, time to craft a replacement.

I'm not sure I like the crafting changes in Fallen Empire.  Some, like the new assembly components, are fine.  But the process is a bit different now.  You start by crafting Blue's, which have a 60% chance of Reverse Engineering into a Purple.  It used to be 20%.  So, there is really no effort required to make the Advanced components.  The ingredients for the Advanced Barrel's changed too.  Before it required rare Scavenging materials, now it's Slicing?  I took Scavenging because it went with Armstech... strange.  Anyway, the barrel I made was an improvement, but still only required level 54 I think.  No other useful schematics for me to buy on the vendor, so that's it for crafting at the moment.  No need to make the barrel's for any companions.  The cap is still at 500, so nothing to do there either.

Speaking of crafting, having access to HK-51 and Treek came in handy.  You lose your other companions once you start Fallen Empire, so without them I wouldn't have been able to do anything.

Overall,  I had a really good time.  Fallen Empire is very high quality, and has lots of little details when make the experience better.  For example,  the new Companion screen has a section where it lists your interactions with certain companions.  I thought that was really cool.  There are also 50 Influence levels for each companion, a previously maxed companion starts at 10.  So lots of room to grow and fill bars if that's what you enjoy.

This is one of my longest blog posts in a while, so lets cut it off here :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Werit Update

I was in a SWTOR mood this weekend, so I took a break from a little vacation and made a new Stronghold Tours.  Only one day until Knights of the Fallen Empire!  This episode is a little different.  I just go through some of my current projects and show off some of the big ticket items I have acquired.  We'll get back to other peoples strongholds soon, which are actually decent.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fallen Empire is for New Players

Only 4 days to go!   I don't think the headline is any sort of revelation to anyone that has been following SWTOR's expansion.  It was just something I was thinking about yesterday.  Eric mentioned that the Alliance info will likely come out on the day of early access since press sites were also releasing information about it.  I thought it a bit strange.  The Alliance system sounds neat and all, but enough to warrant press attention?

It likely comes down to making sure there is press coverage of the expansion.  That coverage is not directed at us (veterans), as we'll be in the game, it's for new and old players.  Just like the instant level 60, and the crafting changes, and the streamlined leveling, and the Operation/Flashpoint changes.  The new story is also directed at new players, since it doesn't require anything that has been done with the game prior.

It's a new beginning for the game.  That's not to say its a big change, the core of the game remains the same.  I'm generally fine with it as I like the direction they are headed.  Although, in the back of my mind I am curious how dire the situation was for BioWare to try this though.  Surely, they didn't do it on a whim.

The real question is, will I work a full day on Tuesday or try and play early?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Final Countdown

One week until Knights of the Fallen Empire launches (early access)!  It's also the name of an awesome song which you all should have.  One week until SWTOR's NGE (no, not really).  One week until 'the story' takes over (not really).  One week until it becomes a solo MMO (not really).  One week until BioWare forsakes all its veterans (not really).

There is a lot of hyperbole and misconceptions floating around about this expansion.  Pretty much par for the coarse for the Internet though.  Might it turn out to be bad for the game?  Sure.  Might it be great for it?  Sure.  I don't know, and I don't care all that much.  I love the game, but in the scheme of things, that's all that it is.  When put into perspective, it's not a big deal.  I'll just go with the flow.  I'd much rather see a company go for it, rather than play it safe and continue to decline.

For this last week,  I have more than enough to keep me busy.  I was playing Civilization: Beyond Earth all weekend because of the new expansion.  I spend a lot of time in MMO's, but they have nothing on 4x games like Civ.  I never lose track of time in a MMO or have a hard time shutting it down.  With games like Civ,  the opposite is true.  The downside is I don't really have the stamina to play 4x games for long streches because of that.

So the plan is to play some ESO and GW2 this week, until Fallen Empire starts for me on the 20th.  Then my Trooper will hit the Play button on Chapter 1 and enter the new era.  Can't wait.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Crafting Changes coming to SWTOR

I'm still on my mini-vacation, but had to post something on the SWTOR crafting changes.  I'll keep this short.  Overall, they are fine I guess.  Nothing is being done to make the system actually interesting.  Instead it's getting less cumbersome, which is a good thing.  However, I wasn't happy about everything.

Cybertech's are losing Armoring and Artifice is losing Enhancements.  Cybertechs get Enhancements, Artifice's get... nothing?  I do not like removing one of the primary products of a crafting profession.  Those two things are the main reason I trained those professions.  Now, I have other crafters so it isn't a huge deal for me, but it still bugs me.  It should be noted that Artifice can still create Hilts which are still important.

So sadly, I was not very impressed with the crafting changes.  I still don't see a reason to actually craft gear, don't need it (probably) for the story content which is the big ticket for the expansion.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SWTOR Hiatus

There are only 14 days left until Knights of the Fallen Empire early access begins!  Over the next two weeks, I think I will take a break from playing.  I have been covering and playing the game quite a bit lately, so I think a small break is needed.  That way, once it launches it'll feel fresher.  I am pretty excited for it to get here.  You can be sure, on the 20th I'll be playing.

So, what do I do with my game time over the next two weeks?  I'm not really sure.  There are a lot of MMO's with stuff going on.  I want to play ESO, GW2, STO, and even Rift.  Let's not forget all of the non-MMO games I still have to finish as well.  So I think I'll just jump around games and see what suits me.  What a wonderful time to be alive :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Moranthe's Lair of Shadows

It's time for a trip to Yavin IV, the newest stronghold.  Moranthe setup a nice Imperial enclave here, featuring a number of high end decorations.  I especially liked the troop of Imperial Guardsmen that were stationed at this post.  The stronghold is quite big, so this is longer than the previous installments.  Enjoy!

Decorations seen:

Fusion Generator:

Science Station:

Field Communication Post:

Tuk'ata Research Table:

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Great Level-Synch Controversy

BioWare announced that with 4.0 players visiting lower level planets will be 'de-bolstered' (i.e. have their stats lowered) to be appropriate for that planet.  They are not the first game to do this, Guild Wars 2 make a lot of use of it.  As expected, it is causing quite a stir in the community.  It has all the normal MMO hyperbole, ranging from "It will kill the game!" to "It is the greatest thing ever!"  Also many claims of quitting.  You know, normal MMO reactions.

My opinion is that it's a good thing.  I've never liked how high levels pretty much break combat formulas.  Now all of a sudden you can't even get hit by the enemies.  The only thing I like about being a higher level is not aggro'ing pointless enemies.  That's it.  But I don't really have to worry about that much.  I have no reason to go to the low level areas, except for the rare event.

BioWare isn't just adjusting levels.  They also added a scaled reward system.  You can now go do Heroic missions and get level appropriate rewards.  SWTOR features quite a few of those, which are now all relevant again.  That provides the player more variety, which is a good thing.  They also hooked up fast travel to these missions  so you don't have to travel all over the planet to get to them.  That's another good thing.  If they add in the Heroic 4's (they may have), that's more group content.  

There are some great worlds in SWTOR and the leveling system just makes them mostly obsolete.  That's a waste.  Now they can be used more.  This is another good thing.  I hope BioWare goes even further and adds new content to these old areas.  It will make the game feel more like a living galaxy.

A lot of folks think it should be optional.  I really don't have an opinion about that, as I don't know enough. Maybe it's just not feasible?  Maybe it's not how BioWare wants to move forward?  If BW wants it optional, that's fine.  If not?  That's fine too.  

I'm looking forward to taking on all those Heroics again though, it'll be a nice change of pace sometimes.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SWTOR Live Stream Highlights

Just finished up watching the SWTOR live stream, thanks to Dulfy.  I missed it live due to kids activities, such is life.  I followed on Twitter, but watching the stream was pretty awesome.  This is the kind of information a lot of us were waiting for.  Overall, I am pretty happy with everything I heard.  It looks awesome.  HOWEVER, I was sad that they still didn't talk about the Alliance system.  Apparently, we'll find out about it very close to launch for some reason.  So, what did I like?

Polish.  Everything looks so polished.  I don't know how to describe it, it all had a great look to it.  I like their new use of purple.  It all looked new.

Quality of Life.  There are lots of small changes that are really awesome.  Temporary Ability Bars now pop up for things like Huttball and your Heroic Moment.  That will make life so much easier.  Legacy datacraons?  Awesome.  Searchable collections?  THANK YOU!  So many little things which will make the experience much better.

Level Scaling.  This is the big one.  When you go to a planet with a lower level range, your stats will downgrade to the upper limit for that planet.  So a 60 on Coruscant will have the stats of a level 18.  Abilities and such are untouched, only stats.  This is sure to cause some controversy but I think it is a great change.  Levels these days just separate players and make content obsolete.  Such a waste.  BioWare has spent time to make rewards from heroic missions scalable, so you get appropriate rewards no matter what your level.  This topic deserves its own post.

Akk Dog.  Eric did show off one of the new kinds of companions you can get, an Akk Dog.  No story with this guy, just combat.  A pretty big hint that the companion system is going to be much more expanded in 4.0.

19 days to go until early access!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

Today should be an interesting day!   At 5pm EST, BioWare will be having a live stream to go over the game changes coming in Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Prior to this, the streams were just showing off gameplay.  Now we get into the functional changes.  I expect we will have A LOT to talk about tomorrow.  The timing of the stream doesn't really work for me, of course.  My daughter has softball practice during it :(  I'll try to see if the wife will go, but I hate to miss it.

We are only 20 (ok, maybe 21) days from the launch of the expansion!  I'm really behind in what I wanted to accomplish before then.  My Trooper's companions are still not maxed out in affection.  I may not make it in time!  I just get too distracted with other activities which are actually engaging.  This week I did a bunch of Bounty Contract missions, just for the currency.

In non-SWTOR news, I fired up STO last night for a change of pace.  I was in the mood to blow stuff up in my Romulan Warbird, so I did.  They announced their Admiralty system yesterday too.  I don't know, seems kind of boring.  I don't really enjoy the Duty Officer system, and this is pretty much the same.  DOFF's don't provide interesting choices or results most of the time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SWTOR Livestream Impressions - No Spoilers

Over the weekend at Twitchcon, BioWare was there showing off the Fallen Empire expansion.  They had a bunch of guest streamers who all played through a chunk of Chapter One.  I ended up watching a couple of the run throughs.  Some players knew what they were doing, others did not.  Overall, it seemed like a fun event.  Now, on to my spoiler-free impressions.

Quality.  First, the positive.  What I saw was really well done.  BioWare has really stepped up their game.  The cinematic scenes, voice acting, story, and environments were well done.  I really liked what I saw and can't wait to play for myself.  And the decisions we had to make?  They were interesting too.  It really gives me high hopes for the expansion.

Length.  Sadly, it may all not be positive.  It took streamers around an hour to play through most of Chapter One.  I think it is time to accept that might be the average length of a chapter.  That means when it launches, we might get ~9 hours of story content.  When the monthly content starts, it might be just one hour per month.  That will probably not cut it for a lot of people.  Maybe this chapter was just an aberration, but there are indications that it is not.

To BioWare's credit, they are giving players more to do than just story content.  So maybe it'll work out fine.  How long did it take you to finish Rishi and Yavin IV?  I'm going to guess around 9 hours?  I just hope the monthly content is good enough to convince a lot of people to pay $15 a month.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Tamujin's Sith Academy

This time, I hopped on my Bounty Hunter and took a trip to Dromund Kaas to check out Tamujin's Sith Academy (The Ebon Hawk).  Overall, it was a really cool Stronghold with an Imperial vibe.  Lots of neat decorations and layouts.  I especially like the use of dividers in the Med Bay, which I forgot existed.  Sadly, those suckers are expensive on the GTN!  Check it out.

Some decorations from this tour:

Diagnostic Console:

Massive Anti-Air Turret:

Mentor Processing Core:

Office Divider:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Impending Doom?

There is an interesting issue going on in the entertainment world.  Voice actors (for video games) are contemplating going on strike.  Now, I won't go into what they want or the usefulness of unions as that really isn't the point of this blog.  But it might have a major affect on MMO's and especially SWTOR.  I have no idea how their demands would affect the game financially.

BioWare uses union voice actors, so if the union goes on strike that is going to be a pretty big deal for the game.  With the game so focused on story, a strike will certainly delay production, and thus story content.  MMO players (subscribers) don't take content gaps well, so it could be really bad depending on how long it goes on.

I remember the Writers Guild strike a while ago, that screwed up some movies (ahem, Quantum of Solace) and TV Shows (Heroes).  I really hope that it doesn't adversely affect SWTOR.  It's possible they have all the voice work for Season One (Fallen Empire) completed already.  Who knows what other projects they have going which will need it though and Season Two, of course.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The wait is almost over

We received a surprise announcement from BioWare that there will be a two hour SWTOR livestream on September 30th to discuss some major features of Fallen Empire.  This has been long overdue.  There is so much we don't know about the expansion and at that point it'll be 20 days away (early access).  But that's what we got, so I won't complain.

If you are a reddit user, you have no doubt seen some interesting information popping up.  Some via datamining, and some via NDA leaks.  I certainly don't support the latter.  But in about a week we'll  see the official information about all of it hopefully.

I am most excited for [REDACTED] to be discussed.  It's a rather big change that offers a lot of potential.  It will also cause a lot of consternation in the community.  I'm also excited to finally hear about the Alliance system.  It'll play a big part of the game, but we know so very little about how it'll work with the game as a whole.

Reminder: tomorrow starts the SWTOR livestreams at Twitchcon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

It's going to be an interesting week for SWTOR.  Starting Friday, BioWare will be hosting a live stream at Twitchcon, where they will show off some of Chapter One of Knights of the Fallen Empire.  They are having guest streamers, which likely means each one will play through the same part of the demo, just using different classes and making different choices.  So it's really not for us, but more for the streamers followers.  That's ok, new blood is a good thing.

My plan is to watch one of the runs and that is it.  I do try and limit the spoilers, but a a few are alright.  We are only 27 days out from early access too!  I'm keeping pretty busy in game on alts, doing the Stronghold Tours project, and now Bounty Contract week.  This is actually the first time I have done it.  It just never really interested me before.  So far, it is neat.  I like that it is only one mission a day, it makes it very manageable.  There is quite a bit of travel though.

There was a new patch yesterday, which brought a lot of new optimizations to the game.  Nothing really stood out to me while playing though.  Of course, I never had many issues anyway, so hopefully it did help out some people.  The patch also brought some new direct buy items to the Cartel Market.  Really happy to see more of these instead of things just in Cartel Packs.  Hopefully that means it is working out financially for them.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Teevu'nas' House of Light

In this weeks episode, I looked around Coruscant for some interesting Strongholds.  I eventually came across Teevu'nas' House of Light which was pretty nice.  It's more of an elegant and serene Stronghold.  The builder did a neat thing with his trophies to make what looked to be stained-glass art.  You can see it on the thumbnail below.  It was really cool.  This time I had my UI turned off for most of it, so you should be able to get a better view, enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interesting Times

Well, it has been an interesting week for SWTOR.  Sadly, I won't really go into it due to the methods involved.  I'm still pretty positive about the expansion though.  I really wish we had some official news to talk about.  We're getting class changes, but those generally don't interest me.  I'll adapt to whatever changes are made.

On the official news we do have side, BioWare did announce they are doing a live stream at Twitchcon starting the 25th.  It looks like they will have guest streamers who will play some of Fallen Empire Chapter One.  While I really don't want any more spoilers, how can I resist watching?

Game wise,  I am doing this and that.  Still working my way through Chapter 2 on my Jedi Knight, and doing some decorating.  I also want to do more on my Bounty Hunter, oh, and start a Vanguard and play through the Trooper story again.  I'm really starting to wonder if I'll ever finish everything I want to do.  It's amazing how long content lasts when you have limited time.

Episode 2 of Stronghold Tours should happen soon.  I'm going to make more of an effort to provide links to some of the interesting decorations I see doing the tour.  I know my first question is often, "Where do I get that?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Things I Miss in SWTOR

I'm mostly ok with the changes SWTOR has made throughout the years.  I'm also pretty hopeful for the future.  There are a couple of things I do miss which have been removed from the game though.  Sadly, I think the chances of seeing either again is very slim.

1)  8 vs 8 Ranked PvP.  I like PvP quite a bit, but I really don't enjoy 4 vs 4 ranked arenas.  There used to be ranked 8 vs 8 which is much more my style.  I'd love to try and get the Ranked PvP rewards, but I just don't see it happening if I have to do arenas.  It's a shame it didn't work out, because I'd be more involved with PvP if they were still around.  With the new rewards, it may get better traction.

2) Ilum.  Coming from Warhammer Online, open world PvP was a big part of my gaming life.  I love roaming around and getting in skirmishes.  Sadly, Ilum was plagued with performance and design problems.  BioWare determined they couldn't fix it, or it wasn't worth fixing.  So it was removed from the game.  It's tough though, I really think a game needs to be designed with that kind of system in mind, rather than just having it was a distraction.

Those are a couple things I miss in SWTOR.  

In other news, I got the Cryogenics Tank from Lost Island :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SWTOR Worries

While I am really excited for Knights of the Fallen Empire, I still have worries about the game.  Most of my concerns centers around whether or not BioWare has really thought things through.  This isn't limited to BioWare of course, I have felt the same about almost every game.  They all have ideas that are neat, at first.  But when you think of them long term, they get less neat.

I thought like this about SWTOR originally.  Eight class stories, awesome!  Hmmm, how could they ever expand on this in the future?  We all know how that turned out.  New RvR system for Warhammer Online, yay!  Hmmm, it was a lot of fun the first time, but over and over?

Now, back to Fallen Empire.  The new 16 episode story with monthly content sounds awesome.  However, what happens after that in Season 2?  Do any of our choices cross over?  Will any of the new companions have roles in the new story, some may not be around?  What about the major characters that become companions,  will they play any part?  If we look 5 years ahead, will we still be on this track?

I just really hope BioWare has answered these kind of questions.  My fear is that they just made it future BioWare's problem.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stronghold Tours: Pilot

I've been looking for a new game video project for a while now.  I used to make a bunch for WAR and SWTOR.  After I finished Shadow of Revan, I kind of lost focus.  SWTOR can be tough for videos as so much is around stories and I'm not into spoilers.  I did come up with a totally unoriginal idea for a video series though, Stronghold Tours!  I'll just go around and check out other peoples houses.  For the first episode, we'll take a look at one of mine.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More than meets the eye

So, I will do this as spoiler-free as I can.  More data-mining information came out as the TOR Community DB was updated for 4.0.  That means we got a look at a lot of potential new items in the game.  There were certainly some surprises in there.  Of course, this info is subject to change and may never happen.

New Packs.  No surprise, but new Cartel packs are coming with some interesting decorations.  That includes Zakuul stuff.  Theron lovers will also be happy.  Plus, new kinds of Cartel Packs.

New Content.  Some of the items and achievements pointed to two new types of content. It is unclear whether or not they are group content or solo. They have not been mentioned by BioWare yet either.

New Crafting.  Seems there are new things to craft, besides the normal.  The one i saw had to do with Operations, and took Conquests rewards as ingredients.

New Music.  There is some excellent new music coming in Fallen Empire.

So yeah, there is more going on with Fallen Empire than just Story it seems.  We'll have to see how extensive the 'new content' is.  It could be really short for all we know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Imperial Command Center

One of the items I really wanted from the Wild Space Explorers Cartel Pack was the Imperial Command Center.  I love the technological assets in SWTOR.  They just have a great look to them.  So I was really happy when I got not one, but two, of these decorations.  I set one up in my Tatooine Stronghold which my Imperial Agent calls home.  It is kind of setup like an Imperial Base, but lots of works still needs to be done. Check out a clip of it below.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

42 Days!

We are 42 days out from the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion.  I'm just pretty much playing the game as usual.  The only exception is I am trying to get my Companion Quests done for my Trooper since he'll be the first into the expansion.  I'm almost finished with Aric, who is the one with the actual quests.  Then it is on to the rest and their conversation quests.  Imagine if they all had actual quests.

I've also been running Flashpoints solo lately as a change of pace.  I just did the Tion pair (Kaon and Lost Island).  They were pretty neat,  plus I made some decent credits.  I also managed to get the Cryo Tank decoration to drop from Lost Island.  I'll miss the option of doing Flashpoints solo when Fallen Empire moves to a scaling system.

I have plenty to keep me busy for the next 42 days, can't wait!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Buyers Remorse?

Yesterday, I bought my first ever Hypercrate (24 Cartel Packs) in SWTOR.  It's pricey, so do I regret it?  Not really.  It was fun and I did get some cool stuff.  It isn't something I am going to do regularly though,  it's just too much to spend on gambling.  I'd really be in trouble if BioWare started to sell more cool stuff directly as that is hard to resist.

So, what did I get?  Sadly, no jackpot items.  Those would be the Malgus Statue and the Jetpack.  I would have sold them and retired to some island on Rishi.  I did get some Havoc armor pieces, which are nice looking and valuable.  I have not decided whether or not to keep or sell them.  They would not change my Troopers look all that much.  I also got some Ravager pieces which I wanted for my Sith Warrior who doesn't exist yet.

Decoration wise, I got some cool stuff.  Top on my list was the Imperial Command Center, which I received two of.  I may just keep both since it is so cool.  I also got a pair of Dark Honor Guards, you know the red armor guys.  Add in a pair of Imperial Ceiling Lights which make the room a nice shade of red, and it was a good haul.  I did not get an Imperial Security Console, so I'll have to pick that up off of the GTN.

Overall, it was fun.  Between this and the Zakuul items, I spent quite a bit on SWTOR the last month.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Search for More Money

I used to play the Auction House in WoW, and traded a bunch in Eve.  Economic PvP can be a lot of fun, plus getting virtually rich is nice.  That was many years ago though.  Recently,  SWTOREconomics (aka Andrew) posted an article about cornering a market which rekindled my interest in the GTN.  So I started to look around a bit.  I'm a bit too risk adverse for his methods.

I've fallen into bad habits.  I basically rely on the Cartel Market for credits.  I don't buy much except for Stronghold decorations, some of which can be pretty expensive.  So I'll buy a pack and toss it on on the GTN.  Can easily earn credits that way.  It does suck though and still feels like 'cheating.'  It's just so easy and takes very little time.  I'd much rather earn them through in-game means though.

I'd like to use crafting as a means for credits, but have not been having much luck.  The margins just seem to be so small.  That means it'll take a lot of time, which I'd rather spend playing.  I used to make good money crafting Barrels for use during leveling, but 12xp has made that a less viable strategy.  The end-game components require high-end group content (grrr).  

I refuse to do dailies.  So,  I'll keep poking around to see if I can find a good market to get into.  I'm not the brightest bulb when it comes to money making opportunities.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Expensive Week

Yesterday, SWTOR released the Wild Space Cartel Pack.  This is one of the better ones they have done in my opinion.  There are a few interesting armor sets, and a bunch of cool decorations.  It's actually good enough for me to buy my first Hypercrate (24 packs).  Only took a couple of years to get me to buy one.  I'm still preparing for my purchase, as inventory space is key to unpacking everything.

Not only do I want the Hypercrate, they also put Treek on sale (50% off).  Treek is considered one of the best companions, functionally.  However, I care not about that.  I do not like Ewoks, so I never bought her.  Little Teddy Bears defeating the Empire, come on!  However,  it does feel like my collection is lacking something so I'll pick her up too.  So we are talking ~6500 Cartel Coins going out this week.  Yikes.

At least they aren't really charging for Knights of the Fallen Empire, so I guess it evens out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SWTOR Isn't Changing That Much

Ever since information started coming out about the Fallen Empire expansion, I have seen comments that 'the game they love is changing too much.'  This feeling is partly BioWare's fault due to the way they have been releasing information.  I think a lot of it is misunderstandings though.  The game really isn't changing that radically.

Questing.  Doing quests in SWTOR is going to be the same as it was before.  Still voiced and with cinematics.  Leveling will be almost all about your class story, like it is now with 12x xp.  It is unclear what will happen with the one-off side quests.

Combat.  Still the same, with some minor stat changes.  New ability for each class.

Classes.  No major changes, just 5 more levels.

PvP.  No changes here (sadly).

Companions.  There are mechanical changes with companions, but overall they are staying the same.  You'll still get them while you'll level up and they'll still have their quests.  There will still be romance, if that's what your into.  You'll now just be able to use them in any role, and also be able to get more of them.  You don't have to lose any companion from your class either as BioWare made a way for you to obtain them again.

Flashpoints.  They aren't going anywhere.  In fact,  they will all now have solo modes, and be available to the level cap.  So if you missed them while leveling, they are still there for you to do.

Strongholds.  Still there.

Crafting.  All indications are that it remains basically the same, but more streamlined. You'll still be doing crew skills too.

Operations.  They will now all be available at the level cap.  So if you missed any due to playing later in the games life, they'll be useful to do again.

Fallen Empire.  We'll be getting a new story, with monthly updates.  There will be some 'break' with the pre-60 game, but you'll still be able to go everywhere you could before.

Oulander.  Just a name, there will still be class specific dialog/flavor.  Although no class specific quests :(

BioWare has been building towards this since Shadow of Revan.  So I would not expect something radically different than that and Ziost gameplay wise.  There are a lot of changes, but the way you play the game will still be pretty much the same.  You may have to think on choices more :)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Things to do before Fallen Empire

We've got about 50 days before early access starts for the SWTOR Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion.  Doesn't seem that far away actually.  Things are going to change quite a bit for level 60 characters once they accept the quest.  Rumor has it some content will become unavailable at that point.  So, what should we be doing before that happens?

1)  Companion Quests.  You know, the ones we get through affection.  Since companions will be lost, now is the time to do them.  I'm grinding out companion gift missions to get this done.  Of course, BioWare said there will be a non-story way for us to access some old companions, so these *might* still be available.  I'm not going to take that chance though.

2)  Solo Flashpoints.  They are making the Flashpoints all adaptive, so that likely means no more soloing the old underlevel instances.  HOWEVER, they are adding Solo modes.  So if you want to do it the old fashioned solo way, now is the time.  No solo Operations, so if you still want to try those, do it soon.  Might want to try and solo those older Hard Mode flashpoints now.

3)  Makeb Gazebo.  They are removing the achievement that nets you this decoration.  It's part of an effort to make the Staged quests more like the rest of the quests.  Read more here:

There is probably a bunch of other stuff, but we still know so little about what's happening with the leveling experience.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Companions and their Gear

One of the big announcements to come out of the SWTOR livestream was that companions will no longer gain stats from the gear you give them.  They will still use the cosmetics though.  Instead, they grow in power as you level.  Right now, you gear them as you would yourself.  At first, I was a little worried about this change.  But, now I think it is a good one.

On the surface, gearing your companions is neat.  I like party management.  However, it quickly loses its luster.  If you have one character, you could have around 8 companions.  Ok, that's manageable.  Have an Alt?  That's 16, have 5 alts?  That's 40.  It quickly becomes unmanageable.  You end up only really using one maybe two of your companions because they have gear.  The rest just sit around.

One thing BioWare did not mention in the livestream is that individual characters are going to have more companions than ever.  We'll have 5 story companions, that's known.  We can also reclaim our classes old companions in a non-story way.  We can also get some other classes companions.  We will also be able to get companions from the Cartel Market.  It's becoming more of a collectible system than the static system we had.

I certainly don't want to spend the majority of my time collecting modules so I can use this myriad of companions.  Now, I'm sure some people do like that.  Someone always likes something you wouldn't expect.  Honestly,  these days I don't even care how my companions are geared, just that they are at level and look decent.  I'm sure I am not alone.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

SWTOR Livestream Impressions

No Spoilers here.  Last night SWTOR had their first real showing of the Fallen Empire expansion.  Overall, it was good.  There were some technical difficulties which caused an outage, and some volume issues.  The stream quality was not great either, but I don't think that's a big deal.  I can certainly wait to see it for myself.  Now, on to the actual reveal.

Demo.  They showed ~10 minutes from Chapter 3.  This looked really good.  The art and world team  did an amazing job.  BioWare seems to be continuing their focus on quality.  The cinematics were top notch.  The world we saw was detailed and expansive.  Gameplay was what you would expect, nothing new there.  So yeah, it was really cool.

Companions.  They answered a few of the most common companion system questions (no spoilers).  Now, if you already read the data mined information you probably didn't learn anything new.  If you didn't though, this was good information.  It was nice to hear BioWare come out and say it.  You can check out the official wrap-up at:

I'm sure some people will be disappointed with the presentation, not me though.  Saw some cool stuff, and am still excited for October 20th to get here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Zakuul Mount

Yeah, I bought it.  Who cares if it makes little sense lore wise?  Like the armor, it looks cool and is fun.  That's good enough for me.  Surprisingly it was only 1,500 Cartel Coins.  I was expecting something north of 2,000.  I gave it to my Zakuul loving Bounty Hunter, and he was putting around Hutta with it.

Tonight is a big night, the Fallen Empire live stream!  Normally, this would not be a big deal, but it's the first time we are really going to get non-marketing info about the expansion.  Less than two months until early access starts too.  It happens at 8pm EDT.  There is a chance I may miss it due to a family comflict, if so I'll watch it in the morning.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I recently started up a Bounty Hunter in SWTOR.  I played one a little bit back in beta, so it is mostly new to me.  The main reason he was created was so I could wear the Zakuul Knight armor, and also drive the Zakuul Dropship mount being released today.

I think the Prologues are some of the best parts of the game.  Everything feels so new, so many possibilities.  The stories are mostly pretty good on the starting planet.  They are not too big either.  You only have a few abilities, you pick your advanced class, you get your first companion.  It's just a great time.

There are still two stories I have never seen any parts of:  Sith Warrior and the Smuggler.  I'll likely get to these in the coming year.  I'm definitely going to wait until Fallen Empire streamlines the leveling process.  This Bounty Hunter will join the chapter rotation eventually.  Right now, the Jedi Knight is the true character I am working on in Chapter 2.

If only we could have even more prologues.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Enter Camelot Unchained

Late last week, I finally got around to backing the Camelot Unchained project.  It's been around two years since it started.  Wow, has it been that long really?  It has gone quick.  Anyway,  the main reason I didn't back at the start was the sheer amount of time it takes to make a MMO.  Putting money up for something I may not get to play (in any form) for several years is a tough proposition for me.

However,  the game is going strong and beta is coming up soon.  There was a delay, and the new date has not been announced yet.    However, it is a timeframe that I am more comfortable with.

Long ago, when Warhammer Online was still alive and kicking, I had a plan.  I've always been a two subscription MMO kinda player.  I wanted them to be WAR for PvP and SWTOR for PvE.  I've been missing the front part of that equation though.  With Camelot Unchained on the horizon, I will hopefully be able to fix it.

The thing I really like about CU is their philosophy of not pleasing every MMO segment.  They want a RvR focused MMO and that's what players are going to get.  It's all about that.  No PvE areas like we had in WAR.  That's fine with me as I never really ventured out of the RvR lakes.

The development team is quite open, so that should keep me busy until Beta happens.

Friday, August 21, 2015

SWTOR Happenings

A couple of SWTOR things.  Have a nice weekend!

Livestream. Eric posted some information about the August 26th livestream on the forums yesterday.  It will all be going down at 5pm PDT.  As always with any time, there was much complaining.  He also mentioned we will see parts of Chapter 3, which is mostly about us escaping from Carbonite.  Finally, we'll also hear details about how companions will work!  Will be nice to get some context around the datamined information.

Interview.  The folks over at Jedipedia were able to interview Charles Boyd, lead SWTOR writer, recently.  It was decent, and the format was cool.  Not too many new facts, but interesting background information none the less.  I think the biggest piece of info was that Satele Shan is involved, somehow.  That's not a big surprise, but glad to know the Republic is in there somewhere.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


BioWare has still been pretty quiet this week.  Eric came on to the forums to say we'll get more detailed information... soon.  I know, surprising.  On the positive side, the PAX Cantina substitute live stream is going down next Wednesday!  They really have no choice but to show us something then.  I shouldn't say that, they could just end up showing cut scenes or something.

With this weeks patch came new collection images for the Wild Space Explorers Pack.  I have to say, this one is looking to be one of their best yet.  I'm already considering buying my first Hypercrate.  There are a lot of cool items to be had.  Go check it out:

Also, still loving the Zakuul Knight armor set.  Best 1,400 coins spent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Spoils

"Well, it's about time." said Tirvix as a figure walked through the doorway.  The old gangster had his back to the door but could hear the new arrival come in.  His attention was currently in an old Plasteel crate.  It had certainly seen better days, as it had numerous scratches and dents.  A gold reflection appeared on the wall, which the new arrival couldn't help but notice.

"I was starting to think The Five weren't going to follow through with their threats." continued Tirvix, with amusement in his voice.  He then glanced over his shoulder to identify the intruder. He then let out a rather insulting laugh and went back to looking in the crate.  The figure in the doorway remained still and silent.

"This is who they send?  A nobody?  Do you know who I am, boy?  Why don't you turn around go back to your masters.  Tell them to send a professional if they want to scare me.  They will never sell their junk here!"  All amusement was gone from Tirvix's voice.

"I'm not here to scare you."  said the Human in the doorway.  He was average by all accounts, in shabby clothes.  Clearly, one of the dregs of this world.  The only thing notable about him was a scar covering a sizable portion of the left side of his face.  In his hand was a blaster, which was now leveled at the gangster.

"Oh" said Tirvix, whose voice was now calm and reflected the realization which had just come over him.  He started to turn and speak, "Well then..."  Suddenly, the blaster came to life, striking Tirvix in the gut.  He crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain.  The human started to walk over to Tirvix, but made his way to the crate he noticed earlier instead.

"The names Orbavul, by the way."  he said with a hint of amusement in his voice.  As he rummaged around in the Plasteel crate, Tirvix lay on the ground next to him holding his stomach.  "You made your point, go get help!" he managed to say, barely.

"Where did you get this?" Orbavul asked about the contents of the crate.

Tirvix angrily, "Get help, quick!"

The blaster which Orbavul held was not pointed at Tirvix again, "Where", he repeated.

"The Outer Rim, it was salvage from some wreck.  I bought the whole lot. Now will you get help?"  Tirvix pleaded.

Without a word, the Bounty Hunter fired his blaster, striking Tirvix in the head.  Turning his attention back to the crate, he said to the empty room "Yes, this will do nicely."


Ok, that's enough of my horrible fan fiction.  I had to come up with a good reason my Bounty Hunter had Zakuul Knight armor, didn't I?  I'm really happy with the armor set, it looks awesome.  Costs 1,440 CC on the Cartel Market.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Exciting Patch Day

There is a minor patch today for SWTOR, but it's a good one.  Which is nice since BioWare themselves aren't giving us much to talk about lately.  It's also a long maintenance period, but who knows what else they are doing during that time.  So what are the changes I like?

The Bounty Holding Cell Decoration now displays the force field by default, and turns off when interacted with.

This makes the decoration much more usable.  Your prisoner will actually be locked up, instead of just hanging out there when you enter the Stronghold.  Now, if they just make a layout that has a small hook inside of a medium hook, we'll be able to put this in more places.
The Zakuul Knight armor set is coming to the Cartel Market today.  link

It might even be a straight-up buy rather than in a Cartel Pack.  If so, I'll buy it instantly.  I really like the look of this set.  I'm even going to roll a new character, Bounty Hunter, to wear it.  Sure, it doesn't really make much sense lore wise.  But it looks cool, and that's enough for me.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

SWTOR Companions: Big Changes

On Friday, the data miners over at TOR community posted the first information about the changes to the companion system coming in Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Sadly, BioWare failed to deliver the information at Gamescom like they said they would.  Thus, the data miners came though.  You can check out the article here, they DO label when the spoilers start:

This is all, of course, not set in stone.  There will likely be changes.


This week will likely all be about companions on this blog.  So, lets get started with the big picture.

Right now, the companion system is pretty static.  Each class gets 5 companions (not including the ship robot) through the story.  Plus, two companions were released afterwards:  Treek and HK-51.  That's pretty much it since launch.  Some companions received some new ambient dialog for the expansions, but no new stories.  Overall, it has been pretty limited.  What you had when the game launched is mostly the same as it is now.

BioWare is fundamentally changing the system.  The new system looks to be more like a collectible system, so you will have a lot more companions to choose from.  Some of the companions will retain their heavy story focus, like the five new ones coming in the expansion.  Others may just be there to fight with, or craft for you.  In the data mining article, creatures were even listed as new companions.  So instead of five companions, you may have 20 or more at some point, ranging from some originals, to new story based ones, to more generic ones.

I'm pretty excited about the potential of this new system.  While I love the story based companions, I would like a more dynamic system where I can work to obtain even more.  For example, I think a Zakuul Knight would be a very cool companion to be able to get, even if they have no story.  I like the look of them.  Just think of the wide array of possibilities in the Star Wars universe.

So far so good!  More tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bantha's Short of a Herd

Doc is fast becoming my favorite companion.  Before it was M1-4X, but the smooth talking Doc may just be overtaking him.  If he's back in Fallen Empire, I'll have to get him.  What if I have to choose between him and 4X though?  Hmmmm.

And now for some highlights!  Videos are from Forge.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

SWTOR's End Game

Since the announcement of Knights of the Fallen Empire, the End Game of SWTOR has been at the forefront of discussion.  BioWare is doing something different with this expansion, and not adding the typical MMO trappings.  So lets talk a little about the End Game situation.  Note:  these are just my opinions, many others likely feel completely different.

Operations.  The traditional raid.  I don't mind raiding and had a brief career doing it.  Now though,  I have no interest.  I just don't have the blocks of time to devote.  It kinda stunk that BioWare used to put story conclusions in these instances.  

You know what I do like?  Single Operation bosses, like the Monolith on Ziost.  Put that in Group Finder and I'll do it.  Heck, put every Operation boss in Group Finder and I'll be a fan of Operation content.  Make it something I can do in 30 minutes.

PvP (Ranked).  I like PvP quite a bit.  However, I do not enjoy 4 vs 4 Ranked PvP.  There are a couple of reasons.  One, it magnifies the fact that I'm not that good of a player.  Two,  it can be a pretty toxic environment.  

You know what kind of end-game PvP I would like? Large scale open-world PvP.  In Warhammer Online, all I did was PvP, for years.  SWTOR used to have that in Illum, but that has long since died.

Dallies.  I don't like dallies, at all.  It's sad this is considered an end game activity, although some people do enjoy them.  The daily zones that were put out were not that great for story content either.  I have zero interest in this type of content, except for a single run through.

Alts.  I guess this can be considered an End Game activity.  With 12xp, it's one of the more fun ones.  Without 12x, it was pretty boring.  Doing the same side quests over and over does not appeal to me at all.  As nice as this is, the content will be exhausted pretty quickly.

These are just the major End Game activities, there are a number of others:  Conquest, Strongholds, crafting, achievements, and so on.  

Story. With Fallen Empire, BioWare is trying something new and making Story content an End Game activity.  Using monthly content releases, they are giving folks who don't necessarily enjoy the above activities something to look forward to.  It's certainly a challenge, as people can get through this kind of content very quickly.

Mystery. Then there is the 'mystery content.'  I think it was Lady Insanity that mentioned BioWare had some new form of gameplay coming.  That's all we know.  So it may be something, or nothing.  

What's the right kind of End Game?  I think everything above, except dallies ;)  I do hope BioWare is able to give everyone something in the coming year.  I can't wait for the story content though.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Crafting gets 'streamlined' in SWTOR

Data miners were able to find information on what crafting will look like in Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Thankfully we have them as BioWare sure isn't talking.  Maybe for good reason.  From what I saw, the changes are not necessarily all good.  We talked about the main stat change yesterday, which is, of course, a big crafting change too.  But what else are they up to?

+  No more rare but not rare green materials.  These were always just frustrating.  Lots of materials are being removed.

+  New sub-component to craft, which will let you consolidate materials and save space

-  Less to craft.  Since there are no more main stats, there is a lot less variety.  Harder to find a niche too.

-  Still no good reason to craft, beyond Conquest and Augments.  I don't need augments and don't enjoy conquest.  Conquest just does not seem profitable to me.

+/-  It seems like crafting materials from Hard-Mode Flashpoints are going to be pretty important.  This provides a good reason to run them, which is a positive.  However, for those of us that don't really like too, it means an added expense.

With crafting changes, I would have hoped for more improvements/expansion.  But, like I said, it's not all bad.  I still don't see a good reason to even have crafting.  Maybe there are interesting things to craft which have not been discovered yet.  As always, I long for SWG crafting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Main Stat Removal in SWTOR

One of the only pieces of news to come out of Gamescom was that main state are being combined in the Fallen Empire Expansion.  The main stats are:  Aim, Cunning, Strength, and Willpower.  They will all now be known as Mastery.  All items will be changed to reflect the change.  Of course, as with any change, some players hate the change and threaten to quit.  Is it really a big deal?

I don't think so.  No choice is being taken away from the player.  All Troopers had to use Aim, like all Imperial Agents had to use Cunning.  The other stats did nothing for you*.  So by replacing them with Mastery, nothing has changed really.  Only now, more gear is relevant, and there is no confusion.

* Some of the primary stats can provide a pretty small power Tech/Force power boost.

Secondary stats/Set bonuses are still there, and will remain the important choice.  One possible issue is loot competition in group content.  It will increase, but secondary stats will still matter to who wants what gear.  Plus, we have no idea if BioWare is changing the drop system.  There has been talk about more personal loot.

I hate when MMO's are dumb'ed down, sorry, streamlined.  However,  I am at a loss trying to find a reason that change does this.  It'll just make things like gearing your companions easier.  We might be losing a little flavor, but it seems like a decent trade.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Is Fallen Empire Good for Alts?

No... and yes.  Obviously, eight class stories is as good as you can get for alts.  I would love to have had that again, but it's just not going to happen.  So we need to put that behind us and move on with our lives.  So without that, or even factional stories, how can the expansion be good for alts?

You would be surprised how many people play Mass Effect and Dragon Age over and over again.  They do different classes and different choices each time.  I don't have hard numbers, but just going from what I see and read, it's more than I thought.  I never replayed Mass Effect, so that kind of replayability isn't my thing.  But it certainly is for a number of people.

I don't see myself alting too much with the Fallen Empire content.  I'll likely have 6 60's and 2 characters in the expansion.  Maybe the choices we make will be important enough to make me want to do more, we'll have to see.  I'm not counting on it.  There is only so much branching they can reasonably do, and it'll all have to come back to the same general ending.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Gamescom, one of the biggest game conferences, is finishing up today.  Overall, it was pretty cool to watch from afar.  Going into it, I was mainly interested in SWTOR, what with the expansion launching in about 2.5 months.  They had some time during the EA press conference, and two four hour Cantina sessions.  So what did we learn about Fallen Empire?

Nothing.  We got about a minute long in-game cutscene trailer and that's about it.  Everything else coming out it can be summed up as:  "We aren't talking about that right now."  Sigh.  We were supposed to find out about how companions would work, according to the Community Team.  Guess that isn't happening.  Normally, that'd be ok.  I'm a pretty easy going person.

However, Blizzard decided to announce their Legion expansion.  Guess what?  I know way more about Legion than I do about Fallen Empire.  Legion probably won't even launch for 8 months.  Remember, Fallen Empire comes out in mid-October.  That's what is frustrating.  Blizzard talks, BioWare does not.  I'm not asking for story spoilers either, just how the systems are going to work.

Mark Jacobs (DAoC, Warhammer Online, Camelot Unchained) once said something like "The longer a game has an NDA, the more you should be worried."  Well, I'm getting worried about what we're actually going to get with Fallen Empire.

If they STILL can't talk about it, how little confidence do they have in what they are doing?  Are things still in that much flux this close to launch?  What kind of half-baked systems are we going to end up with?  These are my worries.  I'm sure the story/questing will be good.  It's everything else that I worry about.  Again, the disparity between Blizzard and BioWare is concerning. They laid out their Artifact system for all to see and told us exactly how it would work.

I don't want to have to rely on data miners to get information about the game.  But they are the only ones sharing.  Maybe BioWare will release a Developer Blog today and prove all this wrong.  I can dream can't I?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Better than the SWTOR Trailer

Like I said yesterday, the in-game trailer BioWare showed off at Gamescom was decent.  It was't really gameplay, instead just in-game cutscenes.  I don't blame them for that though, traditional MMO gameplay cannot compare to what we saw with Star Wars Battlefront.  Instead, what really caught my eye yesterday was screenshots posted by Massively Overpowered.

They were much more interesting to me than the trailer.  Some great scenes were shown off.  Go check it out here:

I've included two of my favorites...

Darth Marr apparently plays a big part in the story.

I really like the look of the Zakuul Knights.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SWTOR Gameplay Trailer Revealed

During the EA Gamescom conference, BioWare did indeed show off a new gameplay trailer for Fallen Empire.  It was decent, not great though.  We do see their new cut-scene tech in action, as there is a lot more movement going on.  The end was pretty cool, where the Emperor offers a chance to join him.  Is this one of the new major decisions we'll be making?  I don't see how that could work, the rest of the game would be wildly divergent.

Would you like some spoilers for Chapter 1?  It answers a big question.  Check out this video:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

SWTOR Tonight!

Late tonight, at around 4AM EDT, BioWare will be showing off Fallen Empire at Gamescom.  Thanks to timezones,  I will not be around to see what goes on.  Instead I will be sleeping.  I don't think I'd be up that late to watch a video game reveal at any point in my life.  Thankfully, we have things like youtube that make it unnecessary.

All indications are that BioWare will show actual gameplay from the new expansion.  This would be a first for the general public.  At E3, media types got a demo but the rest of us were out of luck.  I'm not expecting to see too much, maybe a couple minutes at most.  During the Cantina on Thursday/Friday I hope we get some actual details about companions.

Notice the in game screenshot!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Darth Plagueis

I've been in a Star Wars mood as of late, so while playing SWTOR I have also been reading some of the books.  There are many.  I just finished up one called Darth Plagueis.  He was Sidious's master (Episode 4 Emperor).  Overall, I thought the book was very good.  Plagueis was an interesting character who was also quite powerful.

It was also very interesting to read how Sidious came about.  While the book was titled for Plagueis, it wasn't really about him.  The start was, but then it was all about how Sidious became Emperor.  It end shortly after the start of Episode 1 and the Naboo happenings.  I do recommend it though, it was an entertaining and informative read.

I've always found it interesting to read about Star Wars.  They made the movies, without too much background.  Since then, many different authors have been filling in the lore about how all of this happened.  Keeping it all straight must be a task, especially now that they are expansing the franchise with Episode 7.

Friday, July 31, 2015


A couple days ago, WoW announced that they are going to announce their new expansion at Gamescom. It just so happens that they are going to announce it right after they report their subscription numbers, which are almost certainly going to be down. This led to some talk about how it will affect SWTOR's expansion plans in October.

I really don't think the two will have any affect on each other.  Blizzard may be announcing the expansion, but the odds of it happening this year are quite low.  They usually take a year after announcement to release the expansion.  So while the Gamescom hype may go to Blizzard,  it will subside once October rolls around.  BioWare already announced Fallen Empire anyway.

More importantly, WoW and SWTOR are very different games, more so once Fallen Empire comes out.   WoW will add X Raids, X dungeons, and a load of mostly uninteresting quests which are just used to level the player.  SWTOR won't be releasing new group content at the start, instead concentrating on the questing/story experience and making existing content relevant for everyone.  So, I think they have different audiences now.

And playing SWTOR isn't an all or nothing affair.  With the new episodic approach, they can take a couple months off from SWTOR to play WoW.  Then, come back, pay $15 and get everything they missed.  I don't just play SWTOR (although it is my main game), and I suspect a lot of people are the same.

Plus, Star Wars.