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Going Galactic

Thus far in my MMO career I’ve primarily bounced back and forth between two games: World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Oh sure, I’ve dabbled here or there in other games.  Occassionally I still jump in and have a swim in the waters of Dungeons & Dragons Online (Less so now that they’ve decided to abandon Eberron for Forgotten Realms, but I could write a whole other post – and might – about that beef), and my copy of Guild Wars 2 still sits firmly installed for when I just want to wander and have fun.

So now the pendulum has swung back and I’ve decided to wander back into TOR for a bit.  Why?  Well, I won’t speak ill of patch 5.4 for World of Warcraft because by no means do I feel it was bad, but for the moment there’s not a lot of time investing fun to be had beyond leveling alts.  The Raid Finder (aka the only raiding Vry does anymore because every raiding guild I’ve ever run with boils down to petty drama bulls*&%) is more frustrating than anything when the wings are just opening.  People rushing in like cattle to the slaughter.  Best to wait until everything opens up and people start getting used to the mechanics and fights before wading into the thick of it.

WoW vs SWTOR: The Metaphor… I guess?

The Timeless Isle however IS content I can sink my teeth into.  It’s fun and open.  I like just wandering in circles and seeing what I can find.  I LOVE the trivia daily as you can imagine.  But the problem with the Timeless Isle right now is that it’s pretty much the ONLY thing to do outside of Proving Grounds (Solo) and raiding (slaughter house), so the Island is PACKED.  And the problem with the island being packed full of players running around and killing everyone and everything in sight is that the place becomes so ridiculously overfarmed the only chance to do anything is just to chest hunt.  Hey! A rare is up! Oh, it’s dead before I can reach it because 100 people were camping it. Oh another one! Hurrry scurry murray hurr-  Oh, dead again.

Then if you’re lucky to find the Island at a time when it’s NOT busy as hell, good luck having the killing power to take down the big game.  I mean, I enjoy the fact that I can at least kill my 20 elites in peace, and maybe actually tag an albatross, but at the same time it seems like some of the bigger mobs require a group effort to bring down.  So when the island is bare, you’ve got yet another problem.

Really, the only solution I’ve come to with the island is that it’s great fun, and will continue to be great fun when I’m killing things on it next expansion when I’m 95 in bad ass gear cutting my way through it solo because no one needs to gear up alts anymore.  AKA the “How Vry plans to do the Isle of Thunder achievements” plan.

However I don’t plan to just abandon World of Warcraft for months on end.  Oh heck no.  I’ve been having a ball just going back and leveling my alts.  My monk just made it to Northrend, and for the first time in a good long time I get to explore the Alliance side stories in Northrend. Which despite all the talk of Horde bias in recent years, the Alliance stuff in Northrend is REALLY good story-wise.  The Cult of the Damned infiltrating their ranks in the Borean Tundra, recovering the Ashbringer for Tirion in the Howling Fjord, reuniting with the Westfall crew in the Grizzly Hills…  there’s a lot of good stuff there.

Meanwhile it SW:TOR there’s a lot to catch up on.  I came back to just miss the bounty hunter week so I’m curious to try that out. I just finished up my Makeb reputation and am currently setting all my 55’s to complete the Section X one before moving on the new Czerka area.  And I’ve started a bunch of alts fresh to try out some new experiences in the game (Light side inquisitor, good guy agent, bad guy jedi, greedy bounty hunter) as well as have a refresher for the class storyline reviews.  Which for those who haven’t seen yet, you can find spoiler-free paragraph long class storyline summaries here now. I’ll be doing more reviews soon hopefully.

I know TOR has gotten a ton of crap over it’s short life, but I still find it quite enjoyable to play.  Okay, not every aspect of the game is amazing.  The cartel market constantly swings between “That’s AWESOME” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” for one.  But they’ve also done some pretty cool things.  Like the new flashpoints, while devoid of fun conversations, are designed to be done with any combination of classes and roles.  3 tanks and one healer? Cool.  4 DPS? Fine.  (On the Hard mode, it’s still the typical 2 DPS/1 Tank/1 Healer arrangement, but that’s fine)  This is pretty much like WoW scenarios.  Which I love.  Like a lot.

But when it comes down to it, the stories in TOR is what keeps me coming back to it over something like Guild Wars 2 or DDO.  I had 10 – TEN – different playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 & 2, 6 characters in Dragon Age 2, and yes, I loved ME3 ending and all.  Is it any shock that playing through the class stories and seeing how different choices play out is really fun for me? Even if there’s a ton that’s the same every time?  Plus they’ve done a great job of fixing up a lot of the annoyances in the game that were there at the launch.  The group finder works great, the later worlds seem to be retuned a bit, and the legacy unlocks and new travel consoles make getting around much less of a head ache.  The only thing that still drives me nuts is that with F2P or preferred, you only get 5 on-site rezes per character.  Then you have to go back to the med center always unless you buy more.  Really?  Can’t you just put a ridiculous cooldown on that one instead?  Like you can only on-site rez once per 4 hours for F2P, or 2 hours for preferred if you don’t have a medi-droid contract (first 5 is free, then you have to purchase further medi-droid contracts in the market. Or else you go on a wait list – aka long cooldown).

So if you happen to be on Begeren Colony, keep an eye out for the Vrykerion legacy running around.

One Man’s Trash…

The following is an actual NPC Conversation triggered wandering around Anchorhead on Tatooine.


Customer: Hey! This droid you sold me is a piece of junk! I want my money back!

Jawa: No refunds! You keep!

Customer: But it’s busted! Stupid thing’s vocabulator broke down as soon as I got home. Won’t say a word now!

Jawa: Vocabulator not broken! Is feature!

Customer: A feature? Don’t give me that! What good’s a protocol droid if it can’t even talk?

[SWTOR] Rakghoul Pandemic World Event Guide

Joooooin usss

ANNOUNCEMENT: As this post has been getting tons of hits as of late, I felt the need to put this note right up top and in big bold red letters: This guide is for the April 2012 Rakghoul one off event on Tatooine. It is NOT a guide for the Rakghoul Resurgence reoccurring event. For a guide to that, I highly recommend Dulfy’s guide found HERE.

Because there’s nothing to unite the player base quite like a hideous disgusting plague that will turn the infected into strange monsters, Bioware has graced us with a strange and wonderful world event on the quiet little world of Tatooine (aka The Planet Where Everything Goes Wrong… ALWAYS).  The story behind this event is that a ship infected with the Rakghoul plague has crash landed in the Dune Sea, spilling disease all over the area and infecting the wildlife and locals.  It is up to you to figure out what happened and to act quickly to try to contain the disease before all of Tatooine falls to the Rakghoul menace.

During the event you’ll also be collecting Rakghoul DNA Samples to trade in for various rewards.  You can get these by doing the daily missions.  You can also get them by ‘exploding’ from the plague.  During the missions, or from other players exploding, you can contract the rakghoul virus.  This can be treated with a vaccine that you receive from the daily missions or purchased from the rewards vendor. However, if you let the virus run it’s course (estimated to be about 20 minutes), you too will explode and infect everyone around you.  This will reward you with 5 additional DNA Samples and can be done as many times as you want during the day.  There’s even a side mission to infect 10 enemy players with the virus, but it only rewards 5 vaccinations.

Another thing to note is that the DNA Samples are NOT bound.  Meaning you can trade them or mail them, including across Legacy.  Do keep in mind that while the event is on Tatooine, most of the related mobs are level 50.

The Dailies

UPDATE: It appears that the mobs that are spawned that drop the mission items will scale to your level.  Anyone above level 27-28 (normal Tatooine level range) should be able to complete the dailies!

UPDATE: It appears that these missions are added progressively as you do them and do not all unlock at once.  You must do the day 1 daily to get access to the day 2 tomorrow, and the day 2 to get access to the day 3 the next day. As such, THURSDAY (4/19) is the last day to begin the dailies to get all the pieces of the social gear.

One of the first things you can do during the world event is the dailies.  In the North-East corner of Tatooine’s Dune Sea, you’ll find a downed star ship. Immediately, you’ll be given a multipart area daily mission that has you gather up some stuff from around the crash site and then take down the captain of the ship who has become a rakghoul.  It’s pretty simple and doesn’t take that much time once you know what you’re doing.  Mostly it’s kill this, gather that.

During that mission, you should also come across a blood sample drop that will give you a second daily that will take you to eastern Jundland to perform some tests on the sample.  This leads into the second daily where you get a light side/dark side choice to use the sample to make a cure for the local sand people who got infected, or to turn them into living biological weapons. UPDATE: It appears that additional missions are appearing go along with this one that reward different pieces of containment officer gear.  You can complete all of these dailies every day, Blood Samples is still available along with Passenger List.

Dailies Added to Event:

  • Day 1: Blood Samples. Acquired from drop in Crash Area.  Rewards: 2 Samples, choice of 1 extra sample or social boots.
  • Day 2: Passenger List: Acquired from clicking wreckage with mission indicator at the Crash Site. Rewards: 2 Samples, choice of 1 extra sample or social gloves.
  • Day 3: Hybrid Strain: Acquired from drop in Sand People area. Rewards: 2 Samples, choice of 1 extra sample or social pants.
  • Day 4: Pure Virus Sample: Acquired from clicking datapad with mission indicator in crash area. Rewards 2 Samples, choice of 1 extra sample or social helm.
  • Day 5: Recently Infected: Acquired from item with mission indicator in Sand People area near the Murals from Outbreak. Rewards 2 Samples, choice of 1 extra sample or social chest or social belt.

While you’re completing the second daily, you will automatically receive the third and final daily. Another multipart chain across the Sand People’s territory.  The big trick to this is the first part – get infected wrappings.  You need to kill the level 27-28 non-hostile infected sand people to spawn 2-3 level 50 sand people that drop the wrappings.  Beyond that it’s mostly just fetch quests that end with killing another elite.

Completing these dailies will reward you with a total of 10 DNA Samples, and the choice of 1 additional DNA Sample or a piece of social gear that looks like the Containment Troops armor that you see around the cities.

There is a final daily that I mentioned above but as Psynister pointed out in the comments, deserves repeating as it is a daily. Simply spread the plague by getting 10 uninfected players infected.  The reward is 5 vaccinations.

Tracing the Source

There is one more mission to do during the world event, and that is the tracking the source of the outbreak.  This is actually more of a hidden thing, because it requires some know how to activate the mission.  There are three items you must find in your factions main city on Tatooine (Mos Illa for Empire, Anchorhead for Republic).  There is a crashed escape pod, a crate of medical supplies and the large monitor just outside the spaceport.  You have 10 minutes after clicking the first one to find all three or else you’ll lose on of the buffs and have to go back and find the object again.  After you have found and interacted with all three, you can find a new mission available by the speeder taxi of the city.

This mission is to find 12 pieces of the crashed ship that got scattered all over Tatooine.  They aren’t marked at all, so it’s a huge scavenger hunt that will have you skirting around cliff edges and leaping down to small ledges. There are a total of 9 in Jundland and 3 in the Dune Sea.  If you want a slightly more detailed guide, I would recommend checking out the one at SWTOR-Spy.  After you find all twelve pieces, you’ll be directed to find a crate in the sand people territory of eastern Jundland.

After completing this quest, you’ll receive a companion pet: The Crimson Rakghoul!

The World Bosses

During this event, there are three world bosses that spawn across the planet:

  • Infected Trapjaw: Level 30 champion found by clicking the skull in the Dune Sea.
  • Urtagh: Level 50 champion that is found the open world PVP area of Outlaw’s Den.  Be warned that you will be flagged for PVP by entering the area, and the opposing faction may want to kill the boss themselves.
  • Zama Brak: Another level 50 champion that is found just north-west of the crash site in the Dune Sea. He has the ability to send the tank soaring into the sky and dropping large toxic fields that do high damage.

Defeating all three of the bosses will earn you their respective codex entries and award the ‘Containment Officer’ title.

Rewards

So, you’ve been collecting these DNA Samples, but what do you do with them?  Well, just north of the crash site in the Dune Sea, there’s a little jawa with a dewback named Jeelvic.  He’ll gladly take those samples off your hands in exchange for some neat items.  They include:

Black-Green Color Crystals: 75 samples for the level 31 versions or 83 samples for the level 50 versions. Depending on which stats you want. These crystals are Bind on Equip, so you can sell them or trade them.

Infected Companion Appearance Lockbox: 20 samples. A lockbox that contains one random companion’s custom ‘infected’ appearance.  I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds pretty awesome! Mr. Robot is reporting that these contain an infected appearance for a humanoid companion, and are bind on legacy.

Pale Rakghoul Companion Pet: 60 samples. A small white rakghoul that will follow you around. Remember, you can get the crimson version by doing the Tracing the Source chain I talked about above.

Hope everyone has some fun with this event!  It kinda came out of the blue and there has been no formal announcement that I’ve seen about when it began or when they plan to end it.  So let’s enjoy it while we can! 😀

I’ve Got Me The Wanderlust!

So I’m sure you can probably tell from either my twitter feed or even here on my blog that there’s been a definitive shift in attention to other things – Non-WoW things.  Well, there is a reason for that.  I’m not currently playing WoW.  Oh yes, my subscription actually lapsed in late November, and I didn’t really bother to renew it.  Oh I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking “Vry, didn’t you ragequit the game not even a year ago at the start of Cataclysm?  Are you really quitting again?”  Well, allow me to answer you, Imaginary Blog Reader.  The answer is yes and no.

This isn’t a ragequit.  Not in the least.  Not a single character was deleted.  All 11 of my darling toons are still sitting there.  No, the reason is really that I just ran out of things I was interested in doing.  Cataclysm itself has been an underwhelming game in a number of regards but mostly in the one that interests me most – story.  The story just seems so disjointed.  I’ve spoken about it here before.  I kinda get that they want to establish a number of hooks that they can come back and explore further down the line, and that answers may come in an expansion or two but that really doesn’t give me incentive to play now. Honestly, all I had to look forward to was the end of the Deathwing story arc that I found personally underwhelming.  Believe me, I’ve followed every bit of news about 4.3 and other than the once-a-month Darkmoon Faire and kupo-ing (transmogrification – and if you don’t understand the reference you are a bad nerd and should hand in your nerd card now) there REALLY wasn’t anything I was jumping for joy about.  Nothing bad really, just nothing I was looking forward too.  So I said, “Self, is this game currently worth $15 a month to you?” and I replied, “No. Not at the moment.” So I didn’t renew.  Now Mists of Pandaria?  If everything pans out they way they pitched it at Blizzcon, I’d be very interested in coming back to see how that it is.

I suppose it’s only fair to confess that I’ve been disillusioned with Blizzard’s storytelling a bit since Blizzcon.  I may play it up for cheap laughs but I really spent a lot of time thinking and theorizing about that snake in Gundrak.  Heck, I even went to the trouble of lining up the maps and figuring out that it led into that big closed up temple, not to mention all the different ideas about the unified troll empires and what that might mean for this.  Or the connections behind each of the troll empires seemingly having a powerful serpent-like god at the head of their pantheon (Ulatek and Hakkar).  But to hear that all that thought, all those potential theories, were all the result of “The art team stuck that in there. No clue what it is. HA HA HA.” was a bit disheartening.  How many other storylines or interesting things are there in the game that I am passionate about are nothing but “It’s neat and that’s all”? I suppose we can’t all be right about things like Rades.  I guess you could say I’m a bit cynical about the story of World of Warcraft now.  So for the moment, there’s something else in my sights.

Ah yes.  Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’m not going to sit here and speak of it like it is some holy grail of MMOs, that it will push the envelope and break us through to other side or anything like that.  It is WoW with a few new enjoyable mechanics, a different setting, and a whole lot more story.  But that’s where it hooks me – THE STORY. If I had to attribute one thing to keeping me playing through all of Wrath of the Lich King without burning out, despite watching two guilds dissolve around me, it was that I was completely enraptured in the story of the expansion.  Cataclysm? Not so much. Mists?  Yet to be seen.  But from the beta weekends with SWTOR?  Oh sweet evil jebus, yes the story hooked me.  Almost every class I played had something about it that made me sit up and go “Oh, I want to know what’s next!” Even the trooper! (On the other hand if I hear “It looks like you need a soldier” one more time, I’m going to punch my screen. So we’ll wait a bit on that class.) What can I say? Despite whatever glitches and bugs or ‘uninspired terrain’ *coughdragonage2cough* I’ve encountered through my treks through Bioware’s games, I’ve always been willing to work through or around them because dangit, they tell an enjoyable story.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Nothing.  It’s one of the reasons I switched to ‘Land of Odd’ instead of ‘Oddcraft’.  Because I knew there was a good chance that despite my desire to write, I might not always have the desire to play World of Warcraft.  I’ve still got a big stack of silly WoW pictures and weirdness to talk about, I’ll be posting more on SW:TOR, and I’ll continue to rant and rave about any other geeky things I come across. Be they D&D, cartoons, anime, SW:TOR, WoW, or any other video game.  This blog will continue to be about weird rantings, strange observations, and me just being a nerdy weirdo talking about stuff he enjoys and occasionally hates.  In the merry old Land of Odd, we do-as-we-please and we hope you continue to enjoy this insane ride with us.  And by us, yes I just mean me.  It’s the royal we.  Cause I’m the king here. And as king I say…  that this metaphor is becoming needlessly bloated. Yeesh.

Building Character in SWTOR

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a mere two weeks away at this point, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how exactly I want to play the game.  Which when I say that out loud, it sounds a bit weird.  You play the game the way its meant to be played right?  Well, in another Bioware creation – Mass Effect – you would routinely hear about people going paragon or renegade.  It was a defining aspect of their characters. Right up there with what gender their Commander Shepard was.  So I imagine that there’s a good deal of thought in people’s minds about whether they will be choosing to follow the Light Side or the Dark Side in SWTOR.

To be fair, the light side and dark side don’t exactly always relate to the force in the Old Republic.  Sometimes they just reflect moral choices.  Do you help the innocent people?  Do you follow orders regardless of their plight?  Do you do your job and kill the target regardless of their good intentions?  That kind of thing.  It’s not always so cut and clear as to what will be a light side or dark side option, and I remember in the few beta weekends that I played in that it was a big complaint that I kept seeing that which responses had light or dark points assigned to them were “stupid”.  Following orders from your superiors is dark side? The hell?  What if I want be a light side trooper that isn’t insubordinate?

Well, I did some thinking on that exact topic and I came to a conclusion: I’m not going to aim for any kind of alignment.  Oh yes, I might completely miss out on the dark side or light side rewards, but Bioware has said that they fully intend on adding a “gray” alignment vendor sometime post launch, and I imagine that will have a roughly equivilant selection to the other extremes.  So the question is why worry so much about aiming for a certain alignment?  Why not come up with a good character and let that decide what alignment you end up?

In my beta reaction post a few weeks ago, I mentioned my Jedi consular.  That was a character that developed quite quickly within the first few cut scenes and was based almost entirely on his voice, mannerisms, and what the NPCs were telling him.  From that little bit of information, I was able to concoct an entertaining and fun to play point of view that had this prideful and greedy consular raking in the dark side points.  But he did manage to gather a few light side points on the way.  Without spoiling too much, your given a choice in a fairly early quest to either help a group of wounded Jedi trainees get revenge on their attackers or scold them for not remembering that a Jedi does not believe in revenge.  Now if I was playing a strict dark side path, I’d go the revenge route all the way, but this holier-than-thou consular would never pass up a chance to rub these trainees noses in his pride and quickly scolded them for their anger.  Netting him some light side points and making him a huge hypocrite in the process. I liked the idea of him being a complete hypocrite.

By developing a personality first, it can be a fun surprise to see exactly what alignment you end up with.  During the Thanksgiving beta weekend, I used the opportunity to play the first few levels of every class to get a feel for their opening story and their voices to develop a bit of personality for them.  Now, I did this for every class, because I am a certified altaholic and fully plan to eventually get through each and every class in the game, even more so than WoW because of the unique story associated with all 8 base classes.  Here’s a couple that I came up with:

Jedi Knight: He wants to be a hero in a classical sense.  His goals in life are to vanquish evil, save the galaxy and get the girl.  Helpful and kind, he will risk life and limb for those in need.

Trooper: A cyborg that follows orders – always.  Almost robotic in her mentality, she can be ruthless when the mission requires it.

Bounty Hunter: He lives by a code.  Always complete the job, take any job that doesn’t interfere with an existing one, never betray your employer unless they betray you first, and never make it personal.  He won’t take a bribe regardless of how many credits they offer. After all, who wants to hire a Hunter that will turn at the slightest pay increase?

Sith Inquisitor: Betrayed by a former rival, shamed and exiled into a life of slavery, he has returned for revenge and the claim the power that is rightfully his.  He is merciless and unsympathetic.  He does not respect anyone and hates everyone.

Now those are just simple concepts, but from just that you can get a feel for how these characters would respond to a myriad of choices.  Some follow strict guidelines, others aspire toward something.  However, I think this creates a unique kind of fun of ‘how will they turn out’.  I honestly don’t know how many of these characters storylines will go, and exactly how they will progress and what alignment they will end up with come level 50.  I mean, you can easily imagine the Sith inquisitor going very, very dark side.  Considering the inquisitor starts as a slave, and I’m interested in playing a sith pureblood, you have to imagine how insanely hateful he would have to be in that situation.

From just my brief play time in the beta however, I can say that I enjoyed coming up with characters instead of just defaulting to ‘dark side’ or ‘light side’ regardless.  I always hated doing that in Mass Effect.  Especially since a high Paragon/Renegade was more or less required in parts of ME2.  So a chance to explore the possibilities of different alignments with different characters seems like such a fun route to take, I would whole heartily suggest it.  In that spirit, I offer you these handy tips for fleshing out your character:

1. Voice:  Each class and gender combination has a different voice.  What does that voice say about the character to you?  Do they sound strict and orderly?  How about egotistical or humble?

2. Look:  While your looks are customizable, you can often stumble upon one that just screams a concept into your mind.  I once made a female blood elf death knight with white skin, white hair that looked wet and dripped over her face. For some reason, it just felt right.  She immediately went frost and I quickly built her around the idea of being a cold ‘ice queen’ of a character that was harsh and practical in undeath.  She didn’t make her prey suffer, but she would also not hesitate to kill you if you wasted her time.  All of that was just came from her appearance.

3. Story and NPC interaction:  My consular was originally designed to look like Morpheus from the Matrix.  Which seemed like a good idea for a Jedi that sought truth and wisdom in ancient relics.  However, as soon as those first cut scenes took off, he completely changed gears.  The waves of compliments quickly formed in this egotistical Jedi that only cared for his own success.  The things the NPCs say to you and how you respond to them, as well as the actually plotline surrounding your character can give you a lot of ideas for fleshing out the details.  My Sith inquisitor’s concept is partially trying to fit the race I wanted with the story I was given, and viola! A twisted and dark incarnation of the Count of Monte Cristo forms in my mind.  I would recommend playing to level 4-5 and see if anything strikes you.  It takes a short enough time that deleting and re-rolling won’t feel like much of a waste, and you’ll be able to develop a character with an informed decision on where they will be starting out.

Well, that’s about all I can really say on the matter of coming up with a character.  In a game like The Old Republic, it doesn’t have to be about role-playing after all.  Since your characters all have a storyline to play through, it can help get you through some of those decisions, which dialogue options to choose, and what actions they will take.  It can make playing through the exact same quests that much more interesting because you will be coming to theme from a completely different point of view than on another play through.  I hope you give it a try.

Turning to the Dark Side: My Old Republic Beta Reactions

Please take note that these reactions are based on the beta build for the Nov. 11-13 weekend test.  As with any unreleased software, certain details may have been changed already.  You have been warned. Sort of. I don’t really know if this is actually a warning. More like a heads up.  You have been heads upped.

So with the Non-Disclosure Agreement formally dropped with a flash of yellow text across the SWTOR forums, I can finally tell you all what I think about Star Wars: The Old Republic from what I was able to glimpse during my short weekend of running around.  I actually got to play a couple of classes. I got my Jedi Consular to 11, a Sith Warrior to 12, and Trooper to level 8.  I tried to avoid the Bounty Hunter because, well, that’s what I plan on playing and I’d rather not burn myself out on that story early (albeit unlikely).

STORY

First and foremost, the story is amazing. Actually, amazing is a bit lackluster. Superawesometastic? Yea, that’s a bit more like it.  Story has always been a big part of gaming for me.  It’s the drive that keeps me attached to a game.  In WoW, I’ve only had one max level toon that wasn’t a Loremaster.  So when I say that I have never been so engrossed in the plot during my 4 years of playing WoW as I was from a single weekend of playing TOR, I want you to be aware of the context I’m saying that in.

Within minutes of starting my Consular, I was figuring out what type of character he was.  Greeted with praises and compliments from superiors, I decided that this bulking jedi (Yes, he was ‘fat’.  But it’s Kingpin fat, not Silent Bob fat. Mostly muscle.) was prideful, and hungry for ancient knowledge that will bring him more praise.  From that moment on, I knew exactly how this character would act in conversations. He sucked up to the masters, he would make dirty deals for powerful relics, and he what stoop to any low to complete the tasks he was given by his superiors.  I wasn’t bothered by the amount of dark side points he racked up, because they were earned for being who he was.  It was invigorating.

CLASSES
As I said, I only got to play a few classes during my time, and only two got high enough to explore the Advanced Class options.  I would be lying if I said the advanced class process was very impressive.  You just get a random quest, turn it in to the person standing next to your class trainer, and select your advanced class.  That’s it.  Step over and train your new skills in the newly unlocked tab at the class trainer and move on.

There was actually quite a few complaints about that.  The fact that it doesn’t have much fanfare, and the fact that its very easily missed.  After all, it just looks like any other quest.  If I wasn’t actively looking for it, I might have missed it.  Considering that without your advanced class, you won’t be able to do much beyond DPS – and you probably wouldn’t be great at that – it seems to be pretty low key.

I went for the DPS advanced class of Marauder for my Sith Warrior, and the Sage path for my Consular, since I wanted to try out healing.  Which I did.  With my one heal.  That heals about 1/8th of the total health pool of your average player.  Yea…  I’ll get to that when I talk about flashpoints.

Ultimately, each class took some getting used to. Especially the ‘no auto-attack’ concept. You just get a no cost ability that helps either build resources or just fills in while other things are on cooldown.  Luckily, you can use that ability by either pushing the keybinding or just right clicking the enemy over and over. So those who, like me, would spend your days in dungeon crawlers and RTS continuously right clicking your foes in a vain attempt to make it die faster will find that a bit comforting (or troublesome if you’re coming from WoW and forget that attacking with the filler attack does trigger the GCD and you’ll have to wait a few seconds)

FLASHPOINTS

I only got to try one flashpoint: The Esseles.  The first bump in the road was trying to find a group.  While there were plenty of people in the beta who wanted to run things, finding a group was still a pain. Mainly because the only way to find a group was to sit around the station and watch the general chat for people to put together a group.  This was mixed in with people asking about training, where things were, and debating over how much of a WoW clone the game was (that was a hot topic in general chat all weekend.)  The only other option is essentially flagging yourself as Looking For Group in the /who window.  I’m not saying a Dungeon Finder is essentially, but there’s GOT to be a step up from spamming chat channels.

Once we got our group together, we realized that there were no roles decided when we grouped up.  This caused someone to drop out as they apparently did not want to wait to see if we had a tank or heals, and we went back out to snatch another person. Finally, we had a group.  A Jedi Shadow as tank, my Sage as heals, and a Jedi Sentinel and Smuggler (lv 9) for DPS.  So we started, or joined in.  As it turned out one of our dps had decided to go ahead and start the first conversation without notifying us.

The flashpoint in terms of combat was actually pretty fun.  The trash ranged from easy to moderate, with a couple of tough mobs tossed in here and there. Nothing that gave us trouble, but was enough that if you weren’t careful, some mobs could give you some punishment if ignored.  The bosses on the other hand were the complete opposite.  It really felt like you had to know what you were doing, and we really didn’t.  People would drop from 90% to 10% in a matter of seconds, in what I would eventually find out were hazards on the ground that they were ignoring. In other words, they were dying because they were standing in bad.  In a moment of sheer hilarity, despite all the claimed hostility throughout WoW, I was called a bad healer for the first time ever by the Jedi Sentinel.  Nothing I could really do. I was spamming my one heal to keep the tank alive.  The one heal didn’t really feel too effective but it definitely helped.  I’m sure that if people had used their self-heals inbetween fights or a medpack or two it would be easier, but that’s what I had to deal with.

Halfway through, when the Jedi Sentinel yelled at the smuggler for rolling need on some smuggler gear for being greedy and that everyone should have a chance to roll on everything, the tank decided to leave.  So we tried to press on, which resulted in a dead sentinel and the smuggler and I kiting a large droid around a platform to kill it since we couldn’t get close to it while it was sparking (a massive damage AOE to everyone in melee range).  After that, we pulled out the sentinel’s companion – a small tanking droid – to get us through the rest of the dungeon.  Which actually worked pretty well! The droid kept aggro completely on the last boss, everyone stayed out of the bad, and it went down without issue.  That’s why I didn’t discount the whole experience. I imagine if we had that much awareness and tactics, the earlier fights may not have been so brutal.

CRAFTING

I didn’t get to work with crafting a lot, but from what I did get to play with it appears to have a lot of promise.  I could send companions off to do things while I ran around in the station and cities, and then gather things myself while I was in the field.  Mission skills like treasure hunting, or underworld trading seem to be companion only type things, and would cost money to send them off to do a job for you.  The ability to reverse engineer items to get back some raw materials and learn improved versions of items was pretty awesome.  I’m sure it will open up a bit more once you have more than a single companion to do the work, and I’m really looking forward to it.

CONCLUSION

So, based on this beta experience, would I leave WoW for SWTOR?  The answer is yes.  Yes, I would and I plan to.  I love story and crafting, those are my favorite things to experience in a MMO, and SWTOR has got WoW beat in that department.  Not to say I plan on being done with WoW forever.  As I said a while back, Mists of Pandaria has a lot of promise. So I may come back for that at some point.  Otherwise, it looks like SWTOR for now.

Two Players, A Companion and a Flashpoint?

Boba Fett and Jawa plush dolls

As the release day approaches, and news begins to increasingly leak out the seams that keep this tight-knit madness called the Internet, I keep finding my eyes drifting to Old Republic sites to see what all the hub bub is about.  I must say that, in theory, much of what I’m seeing seems awesome.  Very awesome.  Whether it will continue to hold once the game comes out in December, well…  that remains to be seen.  However, there was bit of news that had my eyes light up with glee:

Companion characters will NOT be allowed in Warzones or Operations, however they will be allowed in Flashpoints so long as the total number of players + companions does not exceed four.

So what you’re saying is that in Flashpoints (dungeons) you can have 4 players, or 3 players and 1 companion, OR 2 players and 2 companions?  I mean, granted, a companion is not a complete substitute for a player, but the fact that it’s an option is amazing!  If I can team up with one friend, we bring our companions and we can do a flashpoint together without trying to flag down some additional PUG members – that’s a selling point right there for me!

I am terribly when it comes to talking to people I don’t know.  I have a Charisma score of at least negative three.  PUGing in WoW is such a nightmare for me that it was damn near impossible for me to just whisper someone I didn’t know in response to them looking for a DPS.  That’s probably what contributed so much to me not doing a lot of dungeons in Burning Crusade (Second would be my complete lack of self-confidence in what people keep telling me is my ‘above average’ skill in the game.) So just having the option to cut down on unnecessary stress is enough to make me squee with delight.

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