[SWTOR] In which we raid, and in which factional timelines confuse me


It must be telling that although we spent a few hours in the Eternity Vault over the weekend in an 8 man group, all my screenshots show Spinks sitting on a speeder.

This is because Bioware have introduced the most amazing raid functionality known to man (or to lazy raiders, alternatively) – a speeder where you zone in which will neatly zoom you through the instance and drop you off somewhere near the last group wipe. This pretty much blew my mind. I don’t know if it’s because I’m profoundly lazy, or because I’ve spent too much of my life running through half cleared raid instances after a wipe. You will see from the screenshots that the Eternity Vault encompasses a bizarrely wide range of environments (snowy mountains, lava pit, jungle, and ancient mechanical vault.)

The speeder did once dump us (amusingly) in the middle of a spawn of mobs (manka cats) but otherwise was very well behaved.

Anyway, back to the raid. We now have about enough level 50s to be considering an 8-man group so decided to go take a poke at the Eternity Vault. In the event, we were one person short so we PUGged a healer (by dint of asking in general chat on the fleet).

And great fun was had by all. We didn’t quite get the last boss, as people were getting tired, but had several tries and I’m pretty sure we’ll get him next time now that everyone understands the fight. I’m going to bullet point some thoughts:

  • Nice range of encounters.
  • Lots of interaction with the environment during boss fights (which I like) such as hiding behind things, moving across lava stepping stones, splitting into smaller groups, big set piece in the last fight with platforms disappearing a la Lich King.
  • There is one fight where every raider has to kill a mob solo. This type of fight is always frustrating for healers, however fun it sounds on paper to designers.
  • Raid was well tuned for our lot, who are mostly recent 50s and not all well geared. We had a couple of close calls on the kills, which is a sign of good tuning on a first raid kill.
  • Loot was nicely distributed, everyone got something. The set pieces are pre-allocated when they drop (ie. when you loot the mob, some pieces will already be marked with the name of the raider they are destined for.) This means you won’t be picking up stuff for your companions, but does make things fairly chilled out.
  • Our PUG healer friend turned out to be a chilled out hardmode raider who was very patient about helping to explain fights to us, and said afterwards that he’d had fun. It’s easy to forget that a lot of hardcore players are nice when you only ever see them bitching at you in random groups.

Final verdict: that was fun! Raiding in a chilled out group with friends is a particular type of MMO fun that’s hard to get in any other way. I remember now why I play these games.

And that’s the difference between well tuned encounters where even if you fail, you feel that you could do it next time, and some of the hard mode flashpoints where difficulty can be a bit all over the place and it’s never clear if it’s down to execution, nonoptimal group composition, lack of gear, or not understanding the fight.

Confusing Republic and Empire Timelines

Although SWTOR gives the impression of being an open world type of themepark MMO, that isn’t entirely true. Or rather, there are some planets which are mostly open world and you could run into the other faction (if you went looking for them), and others which are not.

This is because the Republic timeline doesn’t quite match up to the Empire timeline. Or rather, the two factions quest through some planets during slightly different eras. For example, Empire on Balmorra help to put down the resistance and install Darth Lachris as planetary governer. Republic get to Balmorra later in the timeline, and they help the resistance to overthrow the Empire and get to kill Darth Lachris (at least, I did on my consular).

The odd thing is that as Empire, you never hear about any of this. As far as my empire characters know, Lachris is still in charge and if I go back to Balmorra, I could go and visit her.

Similarly, Republic retake Corellia /after/ Empire have taken the planet in their storyline. And as Empire, you will never hear about this (presumably it hasn’t happened yet?)

This means that from a RP point of view, it’s very difficult to figure out what the actual state of play is politically at endgame. I think the Republic view is the more current one and that they’re actually making good headway by the game’s (current) end. But playing as Empire, you would actually think the opposite. In a true open world game, needless to say, you could go back to those Republic held planets and actually try to re-install the Empire if you wanted to do so.

But in this type of game, you have to wait for someone to write a storyline about it. Just an interesting genre effect to think about.

15 thoughts on “[SWTOR] In which we raid, and in which factional timelines confuse me

  1. You make me want to raid now. Maybe I’ll start playing an Inquisitor, to heal on her. My SO and I usually only manage to play together once a week, so that’s why we’re still only 26.

  2. I like the two raids avaliable to us at the moment. The issue I having however is that I have all the tier two PvE raiding gear and all I need now are the hard mode operations. My guild is a bit casual then others and we have trouble forming groups up for Ops and my friends list is slowly thinning out.

    The storyline is a bit weird. It’s all one story but they don’t reflect the change to the opposite faction. SPOILER: On the Republic side we save Revan from imprisonment but he ends up getting killed/defeated if you play a Empire character.

    What happens on Taris when you go there on the Empire? Republic goes their instead of Balmorra after Coruscant(10-16). You pretty much help the Republic renovation project.

  3. Taris is the reverse as well – the Empire storyline is after the Republic one (when pubs left, it was solidly Republic held)…but the Empire now own it (to the extent that rubble don’t make trouble – Emp’s were a bit hard on the terrain)

  4. Only 43 lvl now, waiting for raids.

    As for RP and status of world – it’s an old problem that persists since WoW… For one player Illidan is dead, for another – no and so on. No solution for this.

  5. I loved my first visit to the Eternity Vault as well. 🙂 And I liked the fourth encounter even as a healer, after all I got one of the mobs with the least hitpoints. 😉 I also thought that it was a very cleverly done performance check just before the last boss.

    As for the faction stories… I know what you mean and it does feel like they chickened out a bit in an attempt to make both sides feel like they win all the time. They could have allowed players to fight a losing battle, but I suppose that would hurt the image of your character as an extremely powerful hero. (WoW also did this in a few of the revamped Cata zones, and it made some players extremely angry about their faction presumably getting shafted.) And if they just told you afterwards that oh, we lost this planet to the enemy now, people would again be mad that they weren’t given a chance to fight for it. (Also evidenced on WoW forums by Alliance outrage about the loss of Southshore just being a done deal.)

    I just can’t think of an ideal way of handling this kind of storyline. At least it becomes reasonably clear how everything pans out once you play through both sides.

  6. Something I noticed as I tried not to keep dying was how good the graphics were even for parts of the raid you couldn’t enter, i wish i had taken a screenshot as we crossed the various bridges as I thought the vista was amazing.

  7. I’m so glad to hear this – I’m an alt-aholic anymore so my highest level character is only 36 – and I’ve not really had any rush to hit end game so I’ve been playing ‘smell the roses’ alot – but this gives me hope that the end game here ‘gets it’.

    Growing up in Everquest hard core raiding – even then it wasn’t as hard core as WoW became.

    To me – a perfect raid allows you to make mistakes – the wipe happens because *too many* mistakes are made – and in WoW too often the ‘normal’ mode tuning was such that one mistake was enough to kill the raid. It certainly was in 10 man – where the loss of a single person was crippling. The raids were so tightly tuned that if you didn’t overgear the raid vastly – everyone had to be on game.

    I never had the issue with someone who wasn’t perfect DPS – the issue was someone who (due to lag, misfourtune, or just bad mario skills) would miss a ‘gimmick’ part of the dance and instantly be dead. This is frustrating. I always thought it was the moments when someone makes a mistake and you recover to a win – to be the most fun. I also found that people who played ‘hybrids’ got the chance to shine at that moment – everyone always talked about how they needed the hybrid to be a perfect replacement for the ‘healer/tank/dps’ slot they were taking – but I counted the times when our MT died and the feral druid was able to switch to bear and keep the raid going *just long enough* to beat the boss – that kind of thing is epic.

    When the raid is so fine tuned you can shave with it – those moments are lost, and the ability to relax with your friends goes out the window 🙂

  8. Well, it mostly makes sense if you base it on the principal that the Jedi Knight storyline, because holy crap some of the things you do there once you get past the boring, boring first third, is essentially Kotor 3 and work outwards from there.

  9. There’s one SWTOR story point that’s causing a lot of confusion between factions now. I don’t want to explicitly spoil it, but there’s one class story that leads to what appears to be a confrontation with the Emperor. What actually happens is revealed in a DIFFERENT class story, meaning class A thinks one thing happened, while class B finds out what really happened. Naturally as a result, many players of class A are convinced that something happened that really did not.

  10. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » The man in the coon-skin cap by the big pen wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten

  11. I thought I saw in one of your comments that you are using the Vengeance spec? I’m leveling a dps Jugg and was wondering if you had any details on how Veng is for raiding?

  12. On a side note, everything about the various character storylines is far, far better if you play as a fat guy.

    So many chubby dude makeouts.

  13. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » Terry you slag you nicked the leg of time, give it back before you get a slap

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