Archive for May, 2012

SWTOR – Patch 1.2 thoughs

Patch 1.2, aka “Legacy” recently deployed to live servers. It’s SWTOR’s first big patch, and aside from the usual big assortment of class changes we as MMO players are trained to expect from “X.Y” numbered patches, it added a few new features to the game, including guild banks and the promised improvements to the Legacy system.

With the Mists of Pandaria beta also opened, I had decided to stop playing SWTOR until this patch deployed, deciding to focus on a few random goals I had set for myself in WoW. And I guess the best thing I can say about this patch is that since it deployed, I have definitely spent more time in SWTOR than in WoW.

The Legacy improvements are definitely a neat feature. They allow you to create a “family tree” of all of your characters on a given server, showing how your characters are either related or associated with the other. Unfortunately, this tree does have limitations, such as the ability to only set up a single relationship at once, and a maximum of two relations for a given character.

Let me give an example. I have one character that I want to set up as  the father of two others.  I make Kid 1 the child of the father. Now what do I do with Kid 2? Do I make him the child of the father? Well if I do that, I can’t ALSO make him the brother of Kid 1. I have to pick.

This is irritating, but to my knowledge it has no effect on actual game mechanics. You’ll get all the tangible bonuses of the Legacy System regardless of how your tree looks, it’s mostly just an RP thing. I can live with that.

One feature I definitely like is that by reaching level 50 and completing Act 3 of your class quest, you unlock the ability to create any class with that character’s race. So if you finished leveling a Chiss Imperial Agent, you can now create a Chiss Jedi or Sith, or a Chiss Smuggler. It makes for some truly strange and fun characters. And if you don’t want to level an existing character to get that perk, you can also just buy it with in-game credits. It’s a pretty neat little feature, and has me wanting to scrape the credits together to make a Chiss Sith Warrior. (I like the Chiss a lot, can you tell?)

Incidentally, if you want to know, here’s how I set up my “family tree”.

I have three characters (Bounty Hunter, Jedi Knight, and Sith Inquisitor) that are essentially identical in appearance, save for haircuts.  Essentially, I made them look as much like my actual appearance as the game’s character creator would let me.

What? I’ve wanted to be in the Star Wars universe since I was a kid. This game lets me!

So I created a story where the three of them are triplets to my Jedi Consular and a Jedi mother who has since died.  The Consular’s always been something of a renegade. While he stays ultimately true to the light, he’s extremely snarky and borderline disrespectful to his fellow Jedi, and considers the Jedi rules on relationships to be foolhardy and (quietly) ignored them. Incidentally, that attitude makes him a hell of a lot of fun to play.

So whoever this mystery woman was (I haven’t exactly come up with a lot about her, since she’s only peripherally related to their story), she gave birth to three triplets, two of them strong in the Force, the other not. The pair decided to bring them to Coruscant through “intermediaries” to avoid suspicion of their Jedi peers, who would probably not particularly approve of the children’s origin. So they contracted the help of a smuggler ally to present them to the Jedi order as rescued slaves. The Jedi would take care of them, discover their Force sensitivity, and take them in to be trained as Jedi. The third would be given to a trusted foster home, where he would be given a good life his true parents could never provide, but they could at least keep an eye on him.

Unfortunately, while en route to Coruscant, the smuggler’s ship was attacked by ACTUAL slavers, and two of the children taken. Only one would make it to the temple, but he would become one of the greatest Jedi Knights of his generation. The other two would become slaves of the Sith Empire. The non-Force sensitive would grow up never realizing he had brothers and eventually escape using his wits. He would become one of the greatest Bounty Hunters in the known galaxy. The other would eventually be discovered as being strong in the Force by the Sith, and sent to their academy on Korriban, eventually becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith. All three, ironically, would share their father’s feelings on love.

So that’s the basics of the story that my Legacy tree is built on. The other characters are essentially allies or rivals of those detailed above. I think it’s a pretty good setup.

I do have one negative thing about patch 1.2 that I want to talk about, and it relates to the aformentioned Bounty Hunter. I picked the Mercenary Advanced class for him because I liked the whole twin blasters-and-rocketry motif the class had, plus he had a healing tree, which I could use in groups if I so wanted. And it was fun! I enjoyed the story a lot, it takes a lot of elements of the story of Boba Fett, and by the end you really do feel like a badass warrior that everyone in the galaxy should be afraid of.

However, they beat the heck out of the Mercenary in 1.2. They lowered the damage of his main abilities and increased the Heat cost of them as well. Heat is the resource  the Bounty Hunter uses. Each ability costs so much heat, and if your heat levels get too high, you can’t use any abilities that cost heat. Your heat dissipates over time, but the higher your heat levels get, the slower it dissipates. So basically, if you aren’t careful, you can overheat yourself pretty quick.

This was something you had to watch prior to this patch, but in 1.2, they doubled heat costs for several Mercenary abilities, including some of his healing ones, as well as reducing their damage/healing effectiveness. I have tried playing my Hunter a few times since the patch, and while it isn’t so awful that he feels unplayable, he does feel gutted. The damage reduction I can live with, that’s all an issue of trying to balance the classes, but the increased heat costs were done to “encourage more active rotations”. Basically they felt like everyone was using one ability over and over, and they wanted players to use the other ones too.

Except, this wasn’t true to begin with. Good players who paid attention were already using “active” rotations to maximize their damage. These changes don’t make any differences to our rotation, they just make it more unforgiving if we mess it up or get unlucky. It just makes the character less fun, which is the worst kind of change.  Fire mages had this same problem at the start of the Cataclysm expansion. Their spells cost so much mana, they had to gimp themselves into casting weaker spells just to conserve it. It was an extremely unfun mechanic that eventually was patched out.  Hopefully BioWare will do the same. Making classes less fun to play are terrible design decisions. Change the numbers if you must, heck change up rotations if you need to. Just make sure they’re still fun to execute.

Aighty, so there’s my random Patch 1.2 thoughts. I’ve been playing more SWTOR than ever lately, which is awesome, except I can’t stay focused on one class! I have too many things I want to accomplish! And ultimately, i guess that’s a good thing!