[SWTOR] Flashpoints, romances, endgame [spoilers]

instancespinks

So Spinks is now level 50, and I think I’ve completed all of the flashpoints apart from Directive 7 (which is cool but looooong – I dropped out before we got to the end, but the guys were able to finish it) and Kaon Under Siege, which is the newest one. I’ve found them fun in general (although there’s massive hate on for Colicoid War Games, which is just an odd instance – think vehicle fights), especially the more story based flashpoints like Boarding Party/ Foundry and Battle for Ilum/False Emperor.

These pictures show:

  1. On the left, the downside to killing mobs by flinging them off high places. I’m standing on a beam, looking down at dead mobs who are way out of my reach …. and who have loot on them. Oops. However, force push is the best power evah! Flinging people off things is great.
  2. This is the equivalent screenshot to the one everyone took in Wrath of their character sitting on the frozen throne. Since Spinks is modelling a shiny black and silver set of badass armour here, she doesn’t show up too well on the leather-upholstered throne. Also it’s perhaps not the most ladylike pose, but who cares?

The levelling game in SWTOR has been one of the best CRPG experiences I’ve had in any game since Planescape. This game is no Planescape, but I don’t think the Bioware storytelling model has ever worked better. You have the multiple origins of DAO, the ‘you are a god/dess in mortal form’ of ME, and combat is genuinely more fun than either (for me at least). However flawed, the dialogue wheel has added some fun to the game, and so have the companion stories. I’ve enjoyed the various jumps in difficulty, but mostly I’ve loved feeling like a badass sith warrior and pretty much just abusing power in all of its forms.

It’s been a blast.

Endgame was always bound to mess up the nice smooth lines of story flow. There’s no interesting story way to really explain running dailies, PvP in the same battlegrounds, or regular flashpoints … or even why there are hardmodes in the world at all. The Ilum instances in particular include massive spoilers for the Ilum storyline, but you’re allowed to go run them as soon as you hit the appropriate level. They’re not gated by whether you have got to that part of the story.

Bioware pretty much have to do this, because plenty of players will not want to keep questing when they get to 50 just to get access to an instance. However, it does mean that you could innocently agree to an instance run with your guild and get massively spoiled on story.

Companion romances also have the potential to mess up the story flow. Unlike in DA2, where the progress of the romances was tied deeply into the plot, in SWTOR the romances proceed based purely on your level and the companion’s level of affection.

So, for example, you could be in a situation where the levelling storyline runs that your companion attempts to betray you, where the romance storyline for that companion is that you’ve just married them. And there’s not really much dialogue to explain either how that’s affecting the relationship or why it didn’t. (This has been a massive source of complaints on the Sith Warrior forums – I’m a RPer so I’m used to tying myself in knots to explain why my character has done fairly inexplicable things, but this one was a doozy.)

Actually, while the romances have been fun, it does my head in to imagine my character being happily married at all, and the thought of her having kids … (I’m not kid-averse, but she’s a badass sith warrior with poor impulse control, this is not perhaps the stuff of good mothering. Besides which, surely she’d rather be trashing the universe?) The marriage thing feels a bit tacked on, like a Lucasarts nod to conventional morality. ie. you can be as evil as you like, but if you have a permanent relationship, it should end in marriage/ commitment.

The DA2 relationships worked better, for me. But hey, it was still a bit of fun. Especially since the Sith Warrior romance with Quinn plays out more like an extended comedy sequence than a romance anyway. I did laugh at the conversation where he noted, “Now that we’ve agreed to get married, you could call me Malavai?” Just because it raised the spectre of ‘what on earth was she calling him in private if not his first name?’ Too much information on my character’s private life there, perhaps :)

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25 thoughts on “[SWTOR] Flashpoints, romances, endgame [spoilers]

  1. I don’t see a Sith as a hands-on mother type, but you have slaves and droids and palaces that can take care of that. I expect more of the Gormenghast “Bring it back when it’s six” approach to parenting :)

    As my Sith Assassin is also female, I’m more worried about what sort of father figure Andronikos Revel (former pirate) is likely to be.

    • It’s better than that, Quinn writes you an ‘infant contingency plan’ which includes extra security, and offers to ‘nurture the offspring’ as well as guaranteeing that this will not impair his operational efficiency. I do actually wonder if the droid might do a better job though :) (In fact, female sith warrior romance is extremely traditional but with genders reversed — he’s the one who plays hard to get, and turns out to be really into marriage and children.)

      And yeah, Andronicus :) Good luck with that!

      • IF my character spawns some offspring, she will:

        1) be the most interfering mother EVER
        2) if anyone or anything threatens them, she will turn into a DS force of fury the like of which the universe has never seen

        This actually makes me almost wish Bioware would include this as a plot factor in future updates ;)

  2. I’ve been playing a sage on the Republic side and the storyline there is great too. It adds an element of joy to the game :) I’ve only just hit lvl 40 (bit of a questaholic and a crafter too) so can’t comment on endgame yet though.

    Great moment yesterday when I was setting off an explosion and decided to ignore the on screen advice to RUN, thinking it would just be a visual effect similar to the rock downfalls in cave scenes. Erm no, it was not :D

  3. Grats on hitting 50. Though I am not sure grats is really the best term to use. I am still not very interested in the endgame that SWTOR seems to offer. Done too much endgame in WoW I suppose. But that’s what alts are for!

    Not that I have this problem. I have been so busy this year that I am still at frickin’ level 22. I had every intention of playing SWTOR for hours this weekend, but we were out and about or had guests all weekend. I seem to have replaced gaming time with social obligations, very weird!

  4. I really can’t imagine my Sith marrying any of her slaves. Using them in various more or less unpleasant ways, yes.

    And… pregnancy? I’d have thought a droid womb would do the job.

  5. See, Kadomi hits on a problem here… The SW:TOR endgame is hideously lacking if you’re not interested in conventional PvE/PvP.

    You might ask what else a player might like to be doing, but that’s the crux of the issue – there’s nothing. You can spend some time getting the mods for the gear you like the look of most, you can try to get some prototypes for your trade skills and you can try gearing up your companions or playing the GTN. Naturally, I shouldn’t forget chasing down datacrons across the galaxy.

    But other than that… Nothing of note. It’s disappointing that yet another MMO seems to think that it’s only obligation to its players is dungeons (flashpoints) and raids (operations).

    • In practice what you are probably doing is tooling around, hanging out with your guild, and marking time until the next story update. I’ll write more about my experiences in endgame now that I’m trying more of it out, but basically if you’re bored with endgame in general, there’s nothing here to inspire.

    • Question is – what do you think there SHOULD be to do at level cap that isn’t there?
      Maybe I’m a bit jaded by seeing the same debates over every game, but the nothing to do at level cap argument always takes on shades of Monty Python – “yes, but apart from all THAT what have the Romans done for us?”

      • What I would have like to see was after you finished your class story they allowed free travel space flight. Essentially imagine ME2 travel meets EvE online with Starfox flight combat. Basically you can Warp to a solar system you have discovered and travel within that system being able to move in the XYZ planes of movement. You would be able to to personalize your ship based on what you were doing.

        The other neat thing about allowing this kind of design is you then can add in Space pvp and an Empire/Republic conquer the Galaxy type setting on planets.

        I would have loved to if they somehow added Pod Racing as an endgame activity also. Being able to race against thousands of other players potentially and be ranked would have been fun.

        I’d also have like to play solo challenging instances based off of using your crew as a team instead of just one at a time. Essentially setting up basic strategy commands for your crew to follow and experience instanced content that provided challenge by myself.

        With the conquer the planet idea I tossed up above it wouldn’t be hard to place it on like a 30 min takeover timer and have various dropoffs from transports similar to rifts and invasions in Rift. Even adding on a vechicle siege setup on certain planets. There might even be a on the ground world pvp for the control of a planet assuming the space battle has ended.

        Also setting up an underground Droid Battle network where you fight droids against other players that you meet in a environment similar to world of tanks combat.

        The addition of a 3rd tier of difficulty would also be fun for flashpoints but mostly relies on them being able to produce a lfg tool with proper requirements for entering that tier of difficulty.

        Thats what I can think of sitting at home typing. Bioware should be able to produce something more with 200-300M invested in the game with a dedicated team of professional game designers. They just haven’t yet or won’t. Who knows?

      • Every time a character dings, if your only option is to raid or PvP I feel a bit disappointed. What I really hoped to see was for my ship to be more customizable on the inside, a form of player housing that could be developed far more than just “being there”. Considering I almost always log out onboard my ship, it would be nice to make it more homely.

        Some examples might be having it provide a rest bonus beyond experience, something that helps you craft, or gives you a timed presence bonus. The Legacy system could also be built into this and things like a medicinal droid (mainly for repairs) or the ability to get craft bonuses would be nice.

        Crafting itself should have been developed as its own endgame, and it really isn’t – it just polished the streamlined turd that it inherited from World of Warcraft. Obviously this isn’t all that a crafting system could be, and it could have played into the player ship idea.

        With all of those weird factions, groups, splits and hegemonies in the galaxy, I’m amazed to see no reputation system make it into the game. Again, this could easily be developed into its own endgame for those who enjoy that type of thing, or those chasing rare craft or mission patterns as well as open-slot gear.

        I’d have LOVED to have seen an RP interface to actually promote RP communities, servers and guilds. You know, something like MRP or GHI making it into the game as default rather than relying on websites to both design and drive your RP gaming.

        Companion development could have been far more in-depth, using them to both develop your crafting abilities as well as actually having them interrelate and interact with one another at endgame. They start off with certain bonuses, but the ability to work with them to change it would have been appreciated.

        I’m at work so can’t really go into it, but that’s some of the things I’d have enjoyed seeing available. Some of the bare bones are in there, I just like the idea of the potential being developed for those that want to play with their friends in an aesthetic they like (Star Wars galaxy), but have meaningful things to do that don’t require dungeon/warfront grinds.

  6. Planescape was the only BioWare game of that period that I strongly disliked, so I won’t take the comparison as much of a recommendation. I loved BG1, liked BG2 and had some time for Icewind Dale but Planescape I found to be a dismal, miserable experience, although since I gave up on it after about three hours and never went back my opinion is more a visceral negative reaction than a considered critique.

    It’s too far on to really care but just out of curiosity, why would Planescape be the high-water mark of CRPGs?

    • It had the most phenomenal story, it had the most amazing companion interactions (for a game of its age), it had the most incredible setting. And the way you found out bits and pieces about your background as you moved through the adventure was just amazing. I don’t have enough superlatives for the storytelling in that game. And some of the story puzzles were clever in a time travel sort of way (ie. involved you leaving messages for your future self); it was a smart RPG IMO from an era before the emphasis had completely switched to pure combat challenges.

      I got bored of BG1 and never finished it, some of the companions were cool and all but nothing compares to waking up on a slab in a morgue with a talking skull for company and Balders Gate is such a boring setting compared to Sigil. I suppose it comes down to taste; I can imagine liking the BG game mechanics better, but not the setting or storytelling. I started collecting the D&D Planescape boxed sets after playing the computer game, just because I loved the setting and wanted to know more about it. (They’re actually quite rare now, but very prized possessions in my house, and I love them.)

  7. Actually (at least some of) the companion romances/story arcs are definitely gated by story progression – my Bounty Hunter had maxed out Mako’s affection by about level 30, but a lot of her story arc is gated behind chapter completion, leading to having about 15 conversations on the ship once I finished Chapter 1 a few levels later. Pretty much the same thing happened on finishing Chapter 2. I’m not entirely certain about the Torian romance, but I *think* it’s also gated behind story progression. Some stuff is also level-gated (I currently have a level 48 quest, which I’m not going to do at level 43, since I have the strong feeling there will be shooting-things-in-the-face involved).

    Oh, and do Kaon Under Siege when you get a chance – it’s amazingly good, and the guildies I ran it with and I are now waiting with bated breath for the second part to release in March (it’s a two-parter like Boarding Party/Foundry or Taral V/Maelstrom Prison).

    • Yup, and even Quinn’s story arc is gated by the main plot. I’m certain of this because my Sith Juggernaut finished Act 1 a couple of days ago, using Vette as his companion (now replaced with Jaesa!)… and suddenly Quinn had tow or three conversations waiting. He hadn’t had any affection increases; it was the main plot that opened these options. I believe I’ve seen the same thing on every one of my chars at some point.

  8. I keep reading write-ups about the “end-game” in SW:TOR and other MMO’s (not that this is particularly what this article is about), and I keep coming back to the same question . . . why do we expect an “end-game” to these games? When I played Dragon Age or Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights or any other RPG on the market, there came a time, though in some cases after hours and hours of playing and replaying, when I had seen all there was to see and conquered all there was to conquer. When I get to 50 on my Sith Assassin (only a few levels away), I’m sure I’ll do like I did with my characters in WoW; I’ll run a few of the end-game dungeons and/or raids, max out my crafting, and then let the character sit until another patch or x-pac is released. This is exactly the same thing I did in the aforementioned single player games . . . In all of them, I reached a point where there was really nothing left to do, so I simply re-rolled another character or played a different game until some more content was released. In my opinion, the monthly subscription doesn’t pay for a company to make sure that I never reach a content cap; instead, I think it pays for the consistent, though sometimes delayed, updates that come, increasing the content available. This has been my biggest complaint with WoW in the last couple years. I have reached the end of the current content again, but now, since the levelling process has been so dumbed down in order to speed up reaching the “end-game” content, I don’t feel like doing it. In other games, I enjoy the story, the progression of leveling up gear, abilities, etc. and in accomplishing a completion of the “last boss.” WoW has lost what little story it had, in my opinion, and so many people try to level so quickly that the gear that can be acquired as one levels has become majorly inconsequential. I’m glad to see that SW:TOR has spent a lot of time on making the leveling an enjoyable, even memorable, experience, even if that means there is a “lack” of end-game.

    • That’s a very good point.

      In traditional RPG’s, the idea was to “complete” the game at level cap and the journey there was the content. In MMORPG’s, the endgame is where the content starts and everything before it is of less importance.

      I agree, the shift back in SW:TOR was welcome and is far better than the meaningless nonsense that Blizzard has gone for.

    • I’m all for good games that have endings. I do love me some offline J/WRPGs, after all. It’s just not something that MMOs do well (I figure they should be about player stories, not a dev narrative), and *endings* don’t play well with the subscription model. Something like a Guild Wars model would fit better.

    • Quote: “why do we expect an “end-game” to these games?”

      Having played EQ1 (which I consider the first modern MMO), I can give you a little background about what happened.

      Originally in the released game there were only 2 “level cap” dungeons and 2 dragons for raiding and that was it for “endgame” content. It really was more about the leveling.

      At one point fairly early on they paniced a little because people were leveling “too” fast — they worried they’d quit once they got to level 50. So they changed it so at certain points the exp needed to level took a big jump (the so called hell levels).

      Nothing was instanced, so gathering up BIS (best in slot) gear took a long time. Nothing was BoP (bind on pickup) so if you had the cash, you could buy stuff. Pretty much what happened was a group would camp a certain named mob in each dungeon so they could get him as soon as he spawned. When someone left, they’d just shout out for a replacement. People would sit at the zone-in waiting for a group. The most covetted drops (like the flowing black silk sash which wsa the only item that gave melee haste) usually had a waiting list of people to come in.

      When the dragons spawned, people would shout out to gather up as many people as they could since the only limit to how many people you could bring was how lagged out the server would get (around 30 or so back then).

      Later they added the first real raids (plane of hate and plane of fear) as a way to add more content for level 45-50 people did. You lost exp when you died so it wasn’t unusual to lose a few levels during a messy raid where you wiped alot.

      Leveling was so slow and the gameplay of most classes so basic, there wasn’t very many people that had level-cap alts.

      Really the purpose of raiding / endgame content is to just keep you subscribed to get your ~$15 / mo

  9. While I enjoyed the SWOTOR levelling game as well, some of the praise here kinda gelled something in my mind.

    I’m thinking we’ve set the bar for what constitutes strong storytelling and characterisation in CRPG’s a little low. Compared with something like Bastion or on a similar THIS IS A GREAT BIG GAME scale, Red Dead Redemption, for example, I’m wondering if we should be a bit harsher on the genre.

  10. Pingback: Story Ding « Tremayne's Law

  11. Pingback: [Question of the Day] What would you like to see in MMO endgames? « Welcome to Spinksville!

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