[SWTOR] A live event! Starring rakghouls, pets, and blowing people up

(If you are reading this post because you are hoping to find a detailed walkthrough of the Rakghoul Plague event and associated quests and rewards, you can find that here at mmo-mechanics. I want to talk more about the storytelling and how we experienced it).

Yesterday, Bioware surprised the player base by launching an unexpected and unheralded live event, which looks as though it will last for at least a week. It starts on the fleet/s, or if you are like me starts with your partner yelling across the room “Log in, we’re going to Tatooine….”

This is because the first indication players had that something was going on was via announcements over the fleet about a dangerous contamination on Tatooine of the rakghoul virus from Taris. News terminals also appeared on the fleet, which played a cut scene of news announcers talking about the dangers and the imperial edicts that rakghouls should be destroyed.

rakghoul1

(the announcement said that people should on no account go to Tatooine, so clearly all player characters took this as a sign to head out there immediately!)

I’m a bit unclear on the actual process by which players found the event quests and location, since by the time I got there, my guild were sorting themselves out and there was a lot of voice chat around getting everyone to the right spot. Or in other words, I found out via other players rather than through Bioware’s carefully crafted cut scenes and NPC announcements in local chat. However, more patient players or people who like exploring will find all the information they need in the town by the Tatooine spaceport – wandering around and clicking on anything that glows is a good way to start.

There’s plenty of colour text and background to the situation as well, from the TV screens on Tatooine offering a news report where a reporter explains that all rakghouls or suspected rakghouls are to be terminated with extreme prejudice, while a guy transforms into a rakghoul in the background behind her and is shot by imperial soldiers, to regular NPC announcements from an imperial official on general chat.

None of this, incidentally, is delivered via quest text from an NPC with a quest symbol above its head.

When you get out into the wilds of Tatooine to chase down the crashed spaceship that released the virus and help to contain things by murdering infected sandpeople, the daily quest shows up as soon as you get into the right area. I am assured that the quest scales with level (so as long as you can navigate Tatooine safely, you can take part), and the mobs that spawn for you to kill are related to your own level.

NPC chat in local channel near the outbreak is more about people trying to persuade imperial soldiers that they aren’t infected, no really guv.

rakghoul2

This leads to the typical daily quest setup where you have to kill some mobs, locate some items, kill some more mobs, collect items, then head off to another quest area and do it again, leading to a final encounter with a slightly tougher mob, a cut scene with LS/DS choice, and a final followup. Your quest rewards can be turned in at a special vendor for a number of items including weapon crystals and a pet pale rakling, once you have collected enough of them.

But there is more, including a couple of ‘secret’ quests. The walkthrough linked above discusses those in detail, but one of them involves becoming infected yourself. There are two ways in which you can become infected. Either you pick up the virus from being in the area (on one occasion I got it after just walking into the quest area) or fighting infected mobs, or you can catch the virus if another victim expires near you.

For ease of identification, one of my guildies here models the effects of the rakghoul virus.

krellinfect

It starts with a green aura, then progresses into glowing purple, and finally ends with you as a greenish smear on the ground after having exploded messily. This can all take a varying amount of time.

If you contract the virus you have two options. Take an antidote (which are now sold by stim vendors all over the game world, and also turn up as daily quest rewards) which cures it, or let it run its course and see how many other players you can infect. There is a quest associated with infecting other players that you’ll find out about once you have expired of the plague at least once. Clearly because this is an MMO there are already forum threads by people complaining of being infected against their wishes (although you could just move away from the infected person.)

As part of the daily quests and associated event secret quests, you will also be able to unlock lore about the rakghoul plague outbreak and how the sandpeople have been trying to find a cure.

rakghoullore

As you can see here, these end up in your codex under a new heading of “Events.” And if you get bored of dailies or blowing people up and want to try a different way to get event tokens, you can take out two new world bosses that have been drafted in just for the occasion. (As earlier, check out the walkthrough link at the top of the post for more detailed information.)

We had a lot of fun with this event yesterday and I’m hoping to find more time for pursuing secret quests and blowing people up over the next week or so. Bioware have done a super job with this event, and despite including a lot of standard daily-type quests, it doesn’t feel formulaic or forced. The cut scenes and voice overs from imperial news are excellent. I love how you can find information about what is going on by just going there and getting involved, there’s no questgiver on fleet who pops something up in your quest log but all the information you need is in front of you.

I also love how adding world bosses on Tatooine encourages players to PUG, since they’re going to be there anyway and presumably all want tokens.

It’s really very nicely done indeed. And here finally are some action shots of us fighting more rakghouls in the dunes …

rakghoulfight

Thanks to Arb for some of the screenshots!

[Rift] What if you held an event and everybody came?

rift_liferift random picture of a life rift, it’s pretty cool though.

If you have been following the Rift gossip, you’ll know that the River of Souls live event that they had been running recently came to a head and an abrupt end.

The first stage of the event lasted for a couple of weeks, involved daily quests that everyone could get involved with, as well as encouraging people to focus on death rifts. You could end up with some shinies like pets and mounts and trinkets. This part seemed pretty successful to me, everyone knew that there was something going on and players did get enthusiastic about chasing all the death rifts down.

The second and third stage took place over a couple of hours that may have been announced on the bboards, but were a wash to me. Plus the last one was in a high level zone. And then the servers crashed.

Oh well, better luck next time, Trion. I’m sure it was a learning experience for them, and this was Scott Hartsman’s initial feedback. My immediate reaction was that because stage one had lasted for a fortnight, I’d kind of expected stage 2 to last for awhile as well. I also assume there was some storyline, but have no idea what it was.

Still, never mind. That’s how the cookie crumbles with dynamic content and players need to stop saying, “I must see EVERYTHING” and start saying, “OK, I can’t see everything but was the thing I was doing fun?”

riftcat

(a quest with a cat)

What I did do last weekend was run Foul Cascade (one of the instances) with a guild group, which was loads of fun. Oh how I’ve missed instances where you had to explore for an hour before you were able to find the entrance! (OK, not really but it was kind of cool the first time that we had to all explore around the place to find the entrance for this one, it’s a bit remote.)

They don’t drift far from the WoW instance model – there are a few groups of adds, and then a boss fight of some kind which may require some tactics. Rinse and repeat. And then finally you can unlock the end boss of the instance. There are also patrols.

People having access to a variety of souls and builds makes building the group much easier. I could see how in harder content you’ll often have a choice of which character should tank and which should heal and might want to tune it to the specific fight.

One of the issues though with this level of flexibility is that people haven’t always had a lot of practice with all their variant builds. I’m not really sure what the answer is to this, there’s only so much you can practice solo and with no damage meters it’s hard to gauge whether you’ve got a dps build right or not. But in friendly guild groups it’s less of an issue, and if one healer is struggling to solo heal an encounter, chances are someone can respec to help.

I still feel that people are unduly harsh on Rift’s PvE game. I do really enjoy exploring the zones (they’re quite generous about letting you run up steep slopes), gathering, and following the various storylines.  I was amused this week at the bareknuckle fighters in my current zone, where you can keep challenging all comers to a fight. Eventually there are achievements you can get if you don’t get bored of it first.  Or alternatively you could team up with a friend or two and go hunt the named mobs who are scattered around the vicinity to get special hunter tokens.

I thought they were both cool examples of random stuff to do that was scattered around the world. It’s something that WoW very much lacks these days.