[SWTOR] Datacron madness, and recruiting via PUGs

plus10holocronn

You have to admire Bioware putting in a special cutscene for the +10 Datacron of doom.

One of the explorer type things you can do in SWTOR is collect datacrons, each of which gives your character a small permanent stat boost. They are hidden in the gameworld – some are easier to find than others and they tend to get more tricky on the higher level planets. So for starting planets, you may need to just follow hidden paths, or explore just over the next slightly awkward hill to see that familiar glow in the distance and think “ooo, datacron!!” Later on, you may find yourself doing complicated jumping maneouvers, waiting for special lifts or mechanisms, or having to use special items that must be bought from hidden vendors in the middle of nowhere.

If that sounds weird then… yes, it is a bit weird. But when you go datacron collecting (probably with the aid of a guide), you will quickly realise that Bioware put a fair amount of effort into this aspect of the game. It isn’t for everyone, especially the parts with the more annoying jumps, but it is pretty cool to follow a complex set of steps to see a part of the gameworld that you know won’t be found by everyone.

Some datacrons require more than one person working together in order to unlock the door sequence that leads to them. This might require people hitting buttons simultaneously, for example. I have found that this encourages co-operation between random players — I was stopped the other day on Quesh by a guy who wanted help getting a Datacron for example. I said  “sure!” and he showed me where it was and what we had to do. But the +10 to all stats datacron that is hidden on the Empire/Republic fleet is the big kahuna, requiring at least four or five people acting in some kind of harmony to unlock. There are buttons to press, bridges to unlock, narrow girders to edge across, slightly awkward jumps, and areas where you need to use grappling hooks in a carefully timed sequence. On Empire side, you also have to suicide on a laser at one point.

It’s nuts. We did it in guild last week and people were saying that the datacron hunt was one of the more exciting/ scary things they’d ever done in a game. (This is probably due to the part at the end where you have some careful edging along girders to do, knowing that the rest of the team is relying on you being able to do it and if you fail they will have to go back to the start.) But finally you get there, to the last door. People cheer. You open the door and click on the datacron … and you get a special cut scene where all the different coloured datacrons dance around your character and you get your +10 stat boost. That was a great use of cut scenes as an extra reward for players who managed the thing.

I’ve said before that Bioware do include puzzles in some of the raids/operations and instances/flashpoints as part of their design. This is an example of how it changes the feel of the game. It was crazy exciting and fun, and we’ll do it again when Arb gets back from holiday sometime.

In which PUGs explain tactics to us

I’ve also mentioned before how we have picked up PUG members for our raids when we didn’t otherwise quite have enough people to fill out two groups. Previously these have tended to be well geared raiders who were ‘slumming it’. Last night we picked up a healer who actually hadn’t completed EV Normal before. Bit of a change there, we thought, not used to hanging out with players who are less progressed than us.

But sure enough, before we were very far in, he was also advising us on how to avoid some of the trash mobs and giving smart tactics for some of the others. “How did you ever get past this on your own?” he sighed, as I fell off a ledge and aggroed the pack we had just been avoiding. (Gee I dunno, maybe it’s my AWESOME DPS….)

We did clear the instance and get some decent drops for him (and for me, yay!), and left the parting comment that if he or his guild wanted to raid with us more regularly, we should stay in touch.

If anyone is playing in Empire side on the Nightmare Lands EU server and is looking for a chilled out guild that does stuff together including naked dance parties and  normal mode raids, feel free to check us out. Warning: there may be dick jokes on voice chat.

[SWTOR] My experience of endgame

Here’s a couple of screenshots from Kaon under Siege, the most recent flashpoint. It has many zombies, of which the top picture shows us disposing of one (yes, this one’s a screamer). Also there are some cool darker areas where you get to grab little floaty torches, as shown below. Arb and I were a bit girly about our torches and shrieked when the torches went out, and looked frantically for the next box of torches. The guys in the group were much more stoic.

It was a good, fun instance though. Looking forwards to the next one.

kaon

So, SWTOR endgame. I don’t really have a thoughtful summary for this yet, so this is in bullet point form. My experience is based on being in a friendly casual guild where we don’t yet have enough 50s to consider ops (raids) but when there are at least 4 players on of appropriate level range and role who have time available, there will often be an instance or hard mode run.

  • Dailies: I have been sticking with the Belsavis level 50 dailies, since they’re quicker and easier than the Ilum ones. I am not doing them religiously every day, or cleaning them all out when I do spend time there. Slacker? Sure. But I’ve made enough tokens to upgrade all the armor/ hilt in my gear, and it’s possible to solo one of the [Heroic 4] Belsavis dailies by judicious death runs so my companions all now have orange weapons with blue level 50 mods (because that’s one of the quest rewards as well as the daily tokens).
  • PvP: I may have run the occasional warfront but that’s about all, I’m not gung ho for PvP.
  • Instances: Have now completed all the normal ones and one hard mode. (I’m not big on PUGs, I suppose I could but the demand for melee dps isn’t high and gearing for tanking is a work in progress.)
  • Datacrons: Gathering Datacrons (one-time permanent buffs) is a much more engaging game than I had expected. Some need pinpoint (and frustrating) jumping skills, others include odd forms of transport or exploring detailed areas of the grid you hadn’t noticed before. It’s all quite intriguing. Teppo has the patience of a saint and organised a guild run to pick some up from Balmorra and Nar Shadaa. This was enlivened by me *accidentally* attacking a PvP flagged Jedi Knight we ran into who promptly returned with a raid group. So we had a lot of running battles on Nar Shadaa in between Holocron gathering. This reminded me a lot of DaoC, where it was standard tactic to annoy a high level enemy character in the hope they’d bring their friends out to play.
  • Matrix Shards: These are a special type of Holocron. I decided to collect the three shards I was going to need for my dps warrior matrix cube relic. This probably needs to be the subject of another post because it turned out to be quite involved but I’m dead proud that I did it! Gamewise, it made for an interesting and quite engrossing solo sort-of quest.
  • Space Game: I am getting more into this. Currently stuck on Polith Minefield (I can do all of it except getting all the turrets on the minelayer right at the end – feel free to offer any suggestions! :) ).
  • Crafting: I haven’t really been bothered to do much of this except for guildies. I seem to make enough credits from dailies that it isn’t necessary.

So it probably sounds as though I don’t do much in endgame, and that would be correct. On the other hand, I’m also busy with work and often don’t have much time to log on and I am finding enough to do when I do want to be online. I need an endgame like this where most of it is purely optional because I don’t have the time or energy to grind. On the other hand, my gear is fine for hard modes at the moment, and probably decent for ops as well (the rough rule of thumb I’ve heard is 1200 in main stat), when we get round to them.

The main lure away from endgame is playing alts. I do find it awkward that the legacy system encourages players to play alts of the opposite faction but there’s no guild system that can support having characters from opposite factions. So if you do this, you lose access to guild chat and being invited to guild runs etc unless your guild uses something external like voice chat.

The other thing with alts is that if you enjoy playing in duos (which I really do in this game), the alts are off the table unless the other person is on and wants to play the appropriate alt. I may need another solo alt I think…

The big surprise for me from endgame is that I’m enjoying the Datacrons much more than I had expected, even though the really jumpy ones are immensely frustrating. SWTOR Spy have a good guide on how to find them all.