Revisting SWTOR Part 2

Getting back to talking about SWTOR has been really difficult for me. My feelings about everything is extremely jumbled and teasing these things out is not straight foreword.

Let’s Start With The Good Things

Nothing has really changed with the level 1-50 storylines, and they are definitely still worth seeing. The best way to see all of the storylines is to level with three other friends, each playing a different class. This way you won’t have to go back through leveling again (which can get pretty tiresome) and you’ll still see all of the storylines which interweave with each other in interesting ways.

When it comes to the Rise of the Hutt Cartel there is only one story per faction, and both are worth going through once. My recommendation would be to do the Republic story first, but it doesn’t matter very much. Making the content from this expansion available to F2P people is one of the better changes BioWare has made as it encourages less stratification of the player base.

The best change which has been made recently is the addition of Galactic Starfighter. For anyone unfamiliar with this addition, it’s free-form space battlegrounds. I had more fun in these battlegrounds than I have had in a long time playing and characters can take part in battles at any level because it’s the quality of your ship and your skill which matters not the lvl of your character. Here’s a short video I made soon after this feature launch where I was playing with one of my friends.

 And Onto The Bad Things

My biggest issue with SWTOR for a long time has been how they chose to run their F2P system. This aspect has gotten a bit better over time but I still often feel like I am being strong armed into giving them money. Most things can be bought with credits, but it takes a lot to get enough, especially as a first time player. I had a bit of a leg up because I had Preferred status.

The biggest annoyance I have with the F2P model they went with is it stratifies their players. Remember how I said the best way to experience the class stories is playing with friends? Well you’ll want to make sure everyone is either subbed or is F2P together. When I first started playing again I accidentally aggro’ed  too many mobs and sadly I died. I was quite happy to see I had the option to rez right at my body. Naturally I thought to myself “oh cool, I guess they let you have a certain number of rezs at your body now.”

The next day I was working on clearing a four person Heroic with a friend. We unfortunately pulled a pack we were trying to avoid and died. Much to my chagrin I had no option to rez at my body. There was only the one time. Just once. Now for my friend and I, this wasn’t a huge deal because he was willing to run back with me. If I had been running with a group of strangers  it would have been a bigger deal. Especially since the area to rez was outside the instance and there were a few mobs which needed to be killed before zoning in which makes running back take even more time.

Another issue with playing with friends who are subbed when you aren’t is they will level twice as fast. To even this gap out the F2P player will have to spend a fair amount of time playing on their own to just stay even with their friends. Some of this discrepancy can be mitigated by buying the experience boosts in the Character Perks Menu. There are six lines and each line only affects one area. To fill out all the lines all the way would cost 150,000 to 275,000 credits depending on which lines you buy. Alternatively there is the “Ultimate Leveling Bundle” which contains all the XP unlocks for 5,125 cartel coins (4,100 sale right now) which would run $$39.99 with a few coins left over.

Another thing which really rubbed me wrong is some of the restrictions on what rewards can be selected after completing quests. I don’t in general have a big issue with not having some of the rewards available. Quests have two level of rewards, automatic and optional. Restricting optional rewards seems fine, not awesome but definitely livable. However there were a few quests where both of the automatic rewards weren’t available to me, which just really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean an automatic reward should be automatic.

So is playing F2P really worth it?

SWTOR is still a lot of fun and like I said even if nothing else interests you seeing the class stories is fun and interesting. Though my recommendation would be to sub for a month or two and see all the class stories you want and then unsub. Playing F2P isn’t really worthwhile and more than likely will just be a frustrating experience for most people. Which is just all around sad because overall I really enjoy playing SWTOR. Their current business model just makes me resent giving them money.

Let’s Talk About Guild Wars 2′s Living Story Season 2

Originally posted on Gamebreaker May 7th, 2014.

The first season of the Guild Wars 2 Living Story wrapped up back in the middle of March and the “Big Features” patch is done, so now seems like a good time to start thinking about what I’d like to see happen in the next season.

Mordremoth and the Sylvari

In the very last story instance to wrap up everything from Season 1 Taimi talked about how Scarlet has awoken Mordremoth. She sets the stage for what will likely be the first act of the next Living Story Season, Mordremoth awakening and becoming active.

We know he is starting to stir because of the tyriaquakes which have been happening ever since Scarlet set off her device. However, he’s clearly not fully awake since nothing catastrophic has happened just yet. When he does wake we should see some zone altering changes and an outpouring of plant minions.

On that note the fact this Elder Dragon will be obviously of a plant type, there should be some interesting implications for the Sylvari. I wouldn’t be surprised to be meet another group of Sylvari who represent what they would have become if the Pale Tree’s seed hadn’t been stolen. If no one else does the Priory should be able to connect the dots on it. Assuming the truth of the Sylvari isn’t just said outright, there might be some people questioning if any Sylvari can truly be trusted. Additionally it will be interesting to see how the Nightmare Court reacts to all of this. I’d expect the Sylvari to also have a lot of soul searching to do. If any of them suspect they are creations of Mordremoth’s then there would be a whole interesting moral dilemma for them to deal with. What matters more? Who created them and why or what happened to them which made them different than what they were intended to be?

seperator2Rebuilding Lion’s Arch

Currently Lion’s Arch is just a mere shadow of it’s former self, which it should be. Rebuilding this city should absolutely take a lot of time and we definitely should not get LA back to exactly how it had been before. Rebuilding too quickly or making it exactly the same again would just undermine the importance of it being destroyed.

At the same time it shouldn’t just be an NPC only rebuilding process. Instead of having the rebuilding be a small event which happens during this season Arenanet could make it longer one which spans the whole season or more. For example one part could be a collection of wood and metal to help the rebuilding. Every person who contributed could help the process along and once a certain number of materials were collected that stage would be done.

With the implementation of the megaserver Arenanet could even set to goals for the entire population of GW2 to work on together. And it doesn’t need to just be collecting materials, there’s all sorts of events which could be utilized to help players feel like they really had an important part to play in the rebuilding.

New Boss Fight

Currently in the new universal Boss Timers there is a spot for an TBD boss. Now first thing first, it is unlikely this fight will be Mordremoth himself. I’m not sure how Arenanet intends to implement Elder Dragon fights in the future but making them a reoccurring fight seems unlikely. The only way I could that working out is if we fought him until he was forced to retreat, and then after he was beaten a certain number of times the final fight would be triggered (which would probably be a different fight). After that the time slot would go back to being a held time-slot for when the other Elder Dragons are faced.

While all that is possible, I don’t think it is likely. All the other dragon fights on the timers are champions of other dragons so it probably makes sense for Arenanet to stick with this pattern. The only real issue with making the new boss fight be the Champion of Mordremoth’s is we might find ourself in a similar situation as we are with Teq. If the plan with Living Story content is truly to tell stories which have a real and tangible affect on Tyria, fighting the same bosses forever will need to be addressed at some point. The current issue of still having to fight Teq after Zaihtan has been defeated for people who have finished the Personal Story.

Pacing

I’m not too worried about this next season of the Living Story starting of as slow as the last one. Near the end Arenanet really seemed to get a handle on how to present the story in an engaging way and when to reveal important info.

What I am concerned about is better story progression overall. My biggest annoyance with Scarlet was how we were always trailing behind her and never actually prevented her from doing anything. Every time we faced her it was on her terms and while we might have accomplished little things (like destroying the nightmare tower) it was only after she had accomplished her goal for that particular endeavor.

We a absolutely should face technical failures when facing very formidable beings. But never having any real success is extremely discouraging. I’m not saying we should be given some simple tasks to get our successes and make us feel good, but we should be able to at least occasionally actually accomplish something.

guild wars 2 mmorpg features 2     Lets Talk About Guild Wars 2s Living Story Season 2The new icons

One big loose end still out there is Rox needs to go face Rytlock and wrap up the whole part about how she was supposed to help kill Scarlet to get into his warband. I was really disappointed to see there was no real personal growth and self awareness from her at the end of the last season. Braham could use some personal growth and self awareness as well.

Mr. E… Yea we still don’t know that is or really anything aside from whoever it is was trying to help Marjory. I really hope that side story is developed more.

Taimi and Zojja could really use some “on screen” time together. All of their interactions so far have happened somewhere else and the we just get a recounting of what happened from Taimi, which is just disappointing. I’d really like to see how those two affect each other over time.

All that boils down to…

A catastrophic awakening of Mordremoth, some interesting consequences for the Sylvari, a new dragon fight, new icon character development, and an engaging rebuilding of Lion’s Arch. For everything I am expecting to happen (and I am sure there will be other things I haven’t thought of) I would guess the next season will last either an entire year or maybe a bit more. What are you looking forward/hoping to see?