So despite being in the “early access” crowd for Shadow of Revan, I actually didn’t really bother with it until just last night. Partly because I was working towards getting my first class in Final Fantasy XIV to 50 and really enjoying it, and partly because well as expansions and large patches in MMOs are wont to do: Break. So I figured a week isn’t a big deal and I’ll wait till they patch some things up and then try it out. Glad I did too. Really dodged a bullet with that whole training cost bit, huh? Am I right folks? Why are you all looking at me like you want to hurt me?
I’ve already weighed in on my take on disciplines so I won’t retread the same ground here, but there were some other new surprises waiting for me when I logged in. For instance, I can now use my formerly ‘human only’ white eyes on my cyborgs. Apparently they really loosened up on things like that. Hairstyles too I noticed. I’ll admit, I actually sprung for the pompadour for one of my smugglers. He is a space pirate after all, and what’s a space pirate without a fancy hairdo? Am I right, anime? I also found out that basic commendations rain from the frickin’ sky now. I suppose that makes sense since they changed basic commendations function to cover both classic & planetary commendations now too. Not only do you get three of the things per mission or daily on Rishi, but you also get three crates of them with 99 each for completing the Prelude mission that has you go solo through the Forged Alliances flashpoints. That’s 297. With that and the other conversions from the patch, my Jedi Guardian had hit the 1000 cap within 30 minutes of visiting Rishi – AND I ONLY OPENED TWO CRATES. Talk about wanting to make sure you are geared and ready.
So with all that out of the way, what exactly were my first impressions of Rishi? Well, it can mostly be summed up in a single sentence: “Where the heck am I?” True to the spirit of a place called ‘Smuggler’s Cove’ the layout of the first location you visit in Rishi is a confusing mish mash of boarded up walkways, run down buildings, and a seedy underbelly (and I mean that literally. The only grass is lower ground level area that’s underneath the walkways.) The introductory missions are not much better in terms of clarity. Talk to certain people who are somewhere in the city. Talk to one of these town crier droids, but you have to find a way to stop them from walking around. No details on how. Just find a way. (The answer for those who are confused is to find the interactable broken lamp posts and shock the hell out of the droid when it patrols near and then talk to it.) I stopped for the evening when I finally found those who were responsible for convincing everyone in this pirate town that I was a cannibal murderer who paints the hulls of my ship with the blood of my victims (Okay, yes. My Defender IS red, but that’s not why. I’m a Jedi for Obi-Wan’s sake. Also, haven’t I heard this somewhere before?)
I will hand it to this expansion. Rishi definitely feels like a different world than what we’re used to. Especially since it’s unclear if it’s even in the same galaxy. During the Sith Warrior opening, Quinn mentions (WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE, QUINN?) that Rishi is named after or in or something to do with the Rishi Maze – a neighboring galaxy. Wait. Now I’m confused. Is this a galaxy less far, far away or more far, far away? The last time I heard about anything from outside the galaxy, we met the Yuuzhan Vong. Sooooo… should I be worried? Actually, Wookieepedia defines the Rishi Maze as “dwarf satellite galaxy” to the galaxy. Well… that just clears everything up doesn’t it? Yeesh, maze is right. Everything about this place is confusing.
Still, the start of Rishi is definitely enough of a curiosity to keep me wandering around ‘oo-ing’ & ‘aah-ing’ at everything and ignoring quests for a good half hour. Probably more if I didn’t feel like I should PROBABLY get some sleep at some point. I’m looking forward to seeing where this expansion goes! Also, there is a pirate outfit. Like a honest to goodness space pirate outfit. I’m not saying I’m going to look for Treasure Planet. But I’m not not saying that.
So those of us who pre-ordered the new digital expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic – Shadow of Revan – were finally given the keys into early access. I personally haven’t dove into it yet. Oh I will, and there’s a spot on the Story Summaries all set for it. But I prefer to play games when I enjoy playing them. After all, I don’t get paid to do write this stuff. (As cool as that would be. This actually costs me money to do. I chock it up to hobby fees. Like glue for model kits or something.) I did however log in to check out the new gear sets, the currency conversions, and of course the new skill system dubbed “disciplines.”
Disciplines are kind of… well, they’re sort of… okay, it’s a pretty straightforward take away from World of Warcraft’s skill/talent revamp from Cataclysm. The majority of your chosen specialization’s passive and active abilities are granted to you along a per-determined track as you level and occasionally grants you points to add bonus talents that are shared for your entire advanced class that give extra benefits that are more universally useful. Unlike WoW’s revamped system, the order that you gain these passives and active abilities is not stashed away on a website, but plainly laid out in the discipline interface.
Of course the main complaint with this whole thing is that it is simply dumbing down the system and removing player choice. To which I can only respond with: Were we playing the same game? Beyond the usual argument that everyone essentially took the same talents based on min/maxing forum recommendations, there just wasn’t enough talents to give you any choice to begin with! I’m serious. In the old talent trees, you had to put 5 points in a tier to get to the next one, yes? Well, 80% of the tiers only consisted of 5 points worth of talents. So you HAD to take all of them to keep going up that tree. The only times I usually found any choice was the occasional tier that had a choice of 2 points into a PvE talent or 2 points into more of a PvP talent, in which case you choose based on your preferred content.
So how is the system being dumbed down at all? I suppose the loss of being able to hybrid-ize and go half and half down two trees is going away, but we knew that. Hell, we knew that was part of the intent of this new system. But beyond losing hybrid specs, all you’re losing is having to manually put those 5 points into the only 5 slots – in other words: busywork. Which for someone like me who field respec-ed a bunch, busy work is something I can do without. In fact I’d prefer discipline paths and the talent points to be on separate resets so I wouldn’t have to re-do the talents every time I switched from DPS to Healer.
I’d argue that this system DOESN’T dumb down the game. It is equally as dumb as it was before. Or as smart as it was? You know what I mean. Nothing has really changed, beyond you not clicking as much in the menus. Hybrids are a bane of any company who strives for a sense of “balance” (Futile as that seems to be in MMOs, or at least in the perception of the fan base of MMOs) so seeing them getting kicked to the curb is no shock. I think people are just over-reacting to change mostly. Choice was an illusion before, and now we just get it straight. Fine by me.
That’s my 2 credits on the whole mess at least.