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!