Happy new year!
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s finally time for me to turn my attention to going over as much of what came with 5.10 as possible. Since this was a fairly major story patch, the most significant we’ve had since 5.0’s nine Eternal Throne chapters, I decided to enact my “one-month spoiler-free” safety window, hence why it’s taken me so long to get around to posting this.
Of course, as is the way of things, this ‘safety protocol’ was rendered somewhat nullified as BioWare promptly began churning out full spoilers for the appearance of a certain character on their website and social media channels. I can’t say I blame them, as this move will undoubtedly attract several long-gone veterans just for this update alone.
Anyway, on with the stuff.
Ossus: The Characters
I’ve already touched on the returning companions in this post, so I won’t touch on them again here. This post is already the longest on my blog by over 1,000 words as it is, it doesn’t need any extra! For the remaining characters, I’ll tackle each one as we meet them chronologically, starting with the Republic before moving onto the Empire.
Republic supporters meet with Jonas Balkar on Nar Shaddaa. It’s great to see him again, even if his position within the SIS is still left far too up-in-the-air for my own liking. I don’t have anything else to say about him, so next!
General Daeruun is a fun character. His interactions with the player range from amusing to heartfelt, such as opening proceedings with a discussion about tea before launching into a sombre spiel about how the Jedi have lost their pedestal as a vital ally of the Republic since the war with Zakuul and how the Alliance can help. I really look forward to seeing how his role develops once the war begins properly. He’s also one of two characters in this update who actually has a hobby, something which very few characters have; it’s mentioned in a message from Tau Idair that he asks to paint her (I actually really want to see his handiwork!), and in his Codex entry it’s mentioned that he has several musical instruments lying around his quarters. It’s not much, but it’s a nice little bit of flavour to his character.
For those of you who may be new to this blog, Gnost-Dural is somebody who I’ve wanted to see be in-game for a very long time now, and I’d often make comments to that effect whenever possible. Indeed, my first immediate thought upon learning that 5.10 would focus on the Jedi was “I wonder if they’ll finally include Gnost-Dural?”, and I was, of course, ecstatic to learn that his appearance was nigh.
In this update, Gnost-Dural is mainly restricted to being the wise old mentor but he still finds various moments to break the mould at times. Such moments as interrupting Tau’s frenetic battle-planning to talk about her future Padawan, despite her continued reluctance to accept one, stood out to me in particular. Gnost-Dural proves himself to have been a capable leader of the colony, as his insistence to cut all communications kept them safe until their recent discovery and under his guidance the Jedi have been able to create functional farms on a dead world.
I very much enjoyed seeing his ability to work out which Sith is in command of the invasion by analysing their technique and comparing it to prior invasions. More than anything, this provides the first hint for a Republic Commander that there’s more going on behind-the-scenes for the Empire than meets the eye. His interactions with the Imperial Commander are also really nice, if disappointingly limited, and he proves himself to be a formidable opponent in the ensuing duel. I was, however, a bit disappointed to see that he no longer has his historically–green lightsaber, though; he now wields a blue one.
Nitpicking about things like this is something I tend to do a lot.
His guaranteed survival for Republic players happily opens up the opportunity for him to return in some way in the upcoming expansion, which would be great to see. While there’s of course no guarantee that he will feature at all in future updates, I’m just ecstatic that Gnost-Dural doesn’t get written out of the game entirely following his first in-game appearance.
A certain former director of the SIS could have learned a thing or two from him.
The Republic’s poster-companion is the head of the colony’s security, Tau Idair. I’m not too sure what to make of her, really. She’s an okay character and something of a reluctant Jedi, but beyond that I really don’t know what to think. She’s certainly someone I wouldn’t mind seeing come back as I would welcome another opportunity to analyse her character in a different setting. At this moment in time her character is not established enough that we can easily define what she’d be able to bring to the Alliance which nobody else can provide.
I found the moment when she reflects on killing a rational human being and feeling no different from killing the mindless Geonosians particularly interesting. Our characters – and by extension us as players – are of course very desensitised to this concept by now, so it’s nice to see a character go through the same motions that our own probably would also have gone through long beforehand. You can either sympathise with this or brush it off as insignificant, both of which are fair reactions in the circumstances. Battle really isn’t the time for psychiatry, after all.
Imperial supporters meet with NR-O2 on Nar Shaddaa. He highlights that since Kilran’s death he’s been moved on to a new master, but this isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Rather than being the 2V-R8 style protocol droid he used to be, he’s now a silver C2-N2 style protocol droid. This change isn’t addressed (or at least I didn’t bear witness to an answer), but presumably this is at the behest of his new owner for ease of infiltration.
Moff Pyron fills Daeruun’s shoes as the ‘recruiter’ of the Imperial Commander, and it’s great to see him again. It’s nice to see an influential Moff from the base-game to have survived the war with Zakuul and I’m sure he’ll be bringing more grand weapon plans with him into the expansion.
Upon arrival on Ossus, an Imperial actually meets with their poster-companion first. Major Anri of Raven Company intercepts and grills the Commander and so starts off as fairly standoffish, which is fair enough given the circumstances. She’s quickly interrupted by Malora yet is given a second attempt at conversing with the player-character shortly afterwards where she explains what’s what and becomes more lenient towards the Commander.
As a character, Anri is decent. Unlike Tau, whose character I feel needs greater exposure, Anri is someone who fits well enough in her position (to be fair, defending against the Empire is bound to be stressful for someone like Tau) that her character becomes more easily apparent. It also helps that she has soldiers from an entire company of her own to work off of at times, and a fair amount of snark often makes itself apparent in her dialogue. The scenes where she interacts with her best scout Brax are particularly fantastic at showcasing the relationship she has with her troops. I’d be curious to know whether or not Raven Company can accompany her should she agree to transfer to the Alliance under an Imperial Commander, since even though the Alliance already has a lot of troops it’ll lose Republic support and her soldiers are shown to be very capable. Plus at least that way she’d have more than a little bit of familiarity in her new surroundings.
Interestingly, Anri was based on an enemy in the Trooper storyline who never made it past the planning stages. I’m curious to know how different the two are as if this particular Anri had made it into the base-game she probably would have been one of the more memorable and popular villains.
She’s the second character in this update to have a hobby; while attacking the farms, Anri mentions that she does some gardening (“flowers, mostly”). In the follow-up mail, she states that she’s been able to move her garden to a better place and is now able to get others to tend it for her simply due to her connection to the Commander.
Darth Malora is quite a fun Sith character. In many ways I recognise a lot of myself in her; she’s very set in her ways, doesn’t completely understand why a plan of hers doesn’t go as intended, gets flustered when the unexpected happens, and doesn’t appreciate interruptions. Her biggest weakness by far is that she can’t see the flaws in her own plans even when everybody else can.
Malora is presented as fairly incompetent as a military leader. The invasion progresses slowly due to her overzealous faith in her mutated geonosians’ abilities to get things done, and nothing serious gets done until midway through the story. Such is the pace of her campaign that the Jedi are able to start the evacuation process without anything endangering the shuttles beyond sacrificing of parts to keep the colony running. You know you’ve messed up when your enemy is under greater threat from themselves than they are from you.
Similar to Gnost-Dural, Malora’s survival for Imperial players opens up the possibility for her returning in the expansion. Considering that my biggest issue with her potentially joining the Alliance was that she was a Dark Council member, and thus ‘too important’, I’m happy to say that this issue solves itself: Malora declares that her intention is to remove herself from the Empire, and thus the Dark Council, after finishing her work on Ossus. Thus, no qualms from me about her potentially joining our Imperial Commanders’ forces in the future.
There’s something which seems a bit off about Malora’s model to me, and I think it might be the brightness and lurid colour of her eyes which are throwing me off somewhat. Anyone else have any verdict on that?
Malora’s incompetence leads to her being wrested from duty once a certain someone writes himself into the story about halfway through the Imperial perspective. You know him, you maybe love him, and he’s back.
After years of speculation about his return, Darth Malgus has reared his ugly head once again. Unfortunately for me this surprise reveal had already been, well, revealed on the 26th of October courtesy of a Heroic Mission on the PTS having a cutscene with him included erroneously.
I won’t hold that against BioWare too much, mainly because I had already theorised about Malgus’s return about a week before witnessing it and, when all is said and done, I’d rather come across a spoiler unintentionally myself rather than have somebody else spoil something for me intentionally and maliciously. It just meant that when any speculation-discussions arose in our guild’s TeamSpeak server that I had to be very careful with what I said; even a slight deviance from any normal answer I would have given whenever I spoke could have been taken as confirmation that I’d seen something big.
Since my normal routine is basically just baseless speculation after speculation it’s very easy to hide behind that, especially as I already had that specific theory formulated beforehand. I’d already drilled it into enough people even before I knew the truth that beyond that point it was very easy to simply mention the words “my theories” and get the majority of people to change the conversation out of boredom. Thus, this method prevented me from even getting anywhere close to saying too much.
Being an extremely talkative and predictable old sod has its advantages sometimes.
Malgus doesn’t provide much by way of “haven’t I killed you?” resolution. He seems to be taking a leaf from Revan’s book whereby he apparently was dead but now isn’t, a line taken further by Malora’s comments that Acina ‘rebuilt’ Malgus. We don’t know exactly how many times Malgus has been seen in action internally, but we can certainly extrapolate that he hasn’t been utilised in proper combat situations: Gnost-Dural’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Sith tactics cannot explain the abrupt shift in Malora’s tactics becoming more offensive until he meets Malgus face-to-face.
It seems that BioWare have also used Malgus as a way of negating one of my own particular criticisms regarding Darth Acina and her rise to Empress. Ever since we knew that Councillors like Mortis and Ravage also survived the war with Zakuul, I made it clear that this made it very difficult for me to believe that Acina could have comfortably arisen to Empress. Vowrawn and Mortis might have accepted her power and gone quietly, but never Ravage. Reading the Codex entry for Malgus being alive and his companion blurb reveals that a particular rumour suggests that Acina used the rebuilt Sith Lord as a way of keeping any surviving Sith in-check so as to ensure her unquestioned reign. Fair play to you, BioWare – at least we now have something that can explain this particular conundrum away!
There’s one tiny aspect that is a bit confusing in regards to this, however.
Malora seems to believe that Malgus had truly died (“Impossible! You… died!”) despite also revealing that she knows about Acina rebuilding him and holding his leash. If Malgus had truly been used to keep the Dark Council in-line then Malora would know all too well that he was alive, but we don’t know how long she has been on the new Council; it’s possible that she joined long after the existence of Malgus became common knowledge and that she wasn’t in any position to be threatened with him. Since Anri reveals that Malgus has essentially become the ‘bogey man’ of the Empire it is very likely that a lot of higher-up Imperials including Malora would also have been aware of the rumours. While I can see her dismissing them until his arrival forces her to reconsider and finally accept the truth, this is something that’s likely only to remain speculation.
While BioWare are mainly relying on us all going “it’s Malgus!” and knowing him from before, that’s not to say that there isn’t a fair amount of intrigue surrounding him going forward. Notably, Malgus rose to in-game prominence as a unique Sith character because of his pragmatism and views that the Empire’s xenophobia and reluctance to adapt would lead to it tearing itself apart. We’re now playing in an era with an Empire which has changed to reflect Malgus’s vision, so how does Malgus himself now fit into things? Is he happy with the Empire being as it is or does he still secretly view it as inevitably self-destructive?
BioWare’s main focus of his character going forward seems to be his place in regards to the chain of command. As mentioned above we learn that Acina rebuilt him, but it’s also clear that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Judging by his reaction to being told that he’s being prepared for his next assignment it’s apparent that he’s been put under forced mental or physical conditioning, almost certainly preventing him from attempting to steal the throne. Whether or not this has suppressed any of Malgus’ true personality remains to be seen, but he certainly still seems to be enough of a pragmatist to forgive and forget the Imperial commander’s possible hand in his ‘death’.
I imagine that in 6.0 we’ll likely get a portion of the story devoted to Malgus finding a way to rid himself of whatever conditioning he’s been put under, especially if he convinces himself that doing so is the only way the Empire can be strong. His effectiveness in this update is not minimal by any means, but it is worth noting that his biggest enemies in this story are Jedi who aren’t necessarily at their strongest and a lone Sith. Even if she did have a fighting chance against him, Malora had utterly alienated herself from her troops so had no backup whatsoever should her resistance against Malgus have resulted in more than her being thrown off the platform.
It is worth noting, however, that in his solo-onslaught on the library in the Republic perspective of the storyline Malgus fails to kill Gnost-Dural (not that I’m complaining!). Malora retroactively mocks him for having lost his edge, but this does make me wonder whether or not Malgus’s practical viciousness actually has been somewhat compromised by his rebuilding. Another contingency measure to prevent him from getting ideas above his station or just an over-confident assumption that he’d done enough?
Although I quite enjoyed fighting alongside him in the library, his being a companion is something which I hope remains unique to rare and very specific moments in the story and not a permanent affair. He’s just far too prominent a character for me to be happy with this happening, similar to how I’d feel if Satele Shan decided to pitch up and join the Alliance. Some characters are better off being left to their own devices, and Malgus is one of them.
BioWare has also taken advantage of Malgus’s return to finally get around to including his cinematic lightsaber hilt in The False Emperor. While variants of this hilt have always existed in-game, for some reason he wasn’t given a single one of them. He always had a hilt of this style instead, something which has bugged me ever since I realised it a few years ago. They had a model visibly similar to the one he has, so why not give it to him? Even if the colour is inaccurate, at least the hilt’s the correct style! While it took a while for Satele to see her cinematic hilt integrated in-game as well, at least her replacement hilt could have been justified by this saber being destroyed in Hope rather than just BioWare not creating a unique weapon for her until the Galactic Strongholds update. Certainly, unlike Malgus’s, BioWare never included a hilt in the base-game that could be seen to take direct inspiration from her dualsaber.
Still, this extremely minor and purely-cosmetic issue that likely bugged only myself has now been resolved, even if it – of course – also means we get yet more expensivelightsabers on the Cartel Market.
“Unfortunate reality” ensues.
All in all, I’d happily see all of these characters return. I don’t know yet how happy I’d be to have certain characters potentially join the Alliance, but I’m happy to at least consider all comers.
Gnost-Dural is easily my favourite character to have been included in this update, but then he was always going to be. In choosing an alternative I would honestly struggle in choosing between Anri and Daeruun. Both of these are good fun and establish themselves really effectively, and I really look forward to seeing more of both characters in the future. I just have far too many uncertainties about the remaining characters to be truly happy with them right now.
There’s not much to say about Jonas or NR-O2, but we don’t really learn where either fits in to the grand scheme of things in the Republic and Empire. I’d love to know from loyalist-Trooper players whether or not we learn about the status of things like the SIS from Jonas given their past dealings. Similarly, while it was great seeing Pyron again I didn’t really like how we saw no more of him after the initial holo-conversation. This also meant that we sadly didn’t get to see Anri responding to a superior who she’s more than a little bit familiar with, which would have been interesting.
Tau really needs to have an extra opportunity to truly showcase herself as a character. She spends half of this story questioning her place and only at the end does she reach a point where she knows where she fits in. I’d love to see more of this fully-developed Tau and I hope that she’ll be able to serve as a strong rallying-point for any other surviving Jedi in the war to come.
It was interesting meeting the updated Malora, even if her character was mainly relegated to being the incompetent and over-confident commander who was destined to be replaced. She’s sort-of the ‘reverse Tau’, basically, having lost an established position and now no longer knowing where she fits in to things. I’m curious to see whether or not she mellows in future content now that she’s lost her command or whether she’ll end up being the same character should we eventually meet up with her again.
But hey, at least now we get to speculate about who replaces her on the Dark Council. My bet’s on Lord Hargrev.
As for Malgus… I don’t know. It’s nice to have him around again, if only to hear Jamie Glover’s fantastic voice-acting once again, but beyond that he’s much like Tau in that I really need to see more of him in different situations to get a better feel of him. We do at least know enough about him from past dealings to be getting on with for the moment. While it does feel a bit cheap to have another ‘dead’ character back in action once more, ultimately I think this will be a very good promotional move forward for the game’s storyline. Bring back veterans who liked his character, convince people that the Empire means serious business again, etc. etc.
We’ll see what the next phase of the war brings, I suppose.
Ossus: The Story
The story on Ossus is a fairly typical base-under-siege type story, with the Jedi desperately trying to get away before the Empire succeeds in destroying them. The two factions’ perspectives cannot be aligned 100%, due to some minor differences in the final act only, but it’s still absolutely great to actually get two distinct viewpoints of the same story.
Indeed, the Imperial Commander actually gets to do something personally that is mentioned in the Republic perspective – jam the colony’s communications. With the exception of the attack on the library, which is pretty much attributed to Malgus alone otherwise, this is the only time the two factions’ perspectives can be seen to directly interweave. As such, there is very little ‘conflict’ between the two viewpoints until you get to the final mission and the choice of killing or sparing the final boss.
There are various scenes which are great to see from a cinematic standpoint, such as a dogfight between Republic and Imperial starfighters and a bombing run of the Imperial base which also sees the Warcarrier make its first debut in the in-game storyline.
The Alliance remains as a separate entity, for reasons kinda hand-waved in the snippet with Jonas or NR-O2. It can continue to call itself the Alliance, the Commander still gets to be the Commander, and they still get to make serious choices where it matters. It’s impossible to work out which of the stories is the ‘canon’ version due to the amount of variance provided in this update, but I for one have come to terms with this for now. In my eyes, it’s much better to leave the ‘correct’ interpretation up to the individual rather than saying “this is the only viable route”. People can debate about it ’til kingdom come, of course, but that’s part of the fun.
While it is briefly touched upon, BioWare couldn’t really have done anything serious regarding faction choices in 5.10. This story is purely used to establish things as they are and leave a lot of doors open. Throwing in the option to seriously support one faction or the other would be a difficult thing to work in with everything else.
I’d say it’s almost an absolute certainty that we’ll get to declare public support for a different faction in the future. Among all Alliance personnel, currently only you and Lana know your true allegiances while everyone else is under the impression that you actually support your original faction. Indeed, certain characters will write to you after Ossus saying that your public support sits at odds with their own allegiances and that they will leave or be called away if things continue. While no companions leave quite yet this does serve to set up the “I actually support x faction!” public declaration which will get them to change their minds and stick around.
For the record, the companions who state their time with the Alliance is subject to change that I know of are: Aric Jorgan, Fideltin Rusk, T7-O1, Talos Drellik, and Xalek. Presumably M1-4X and major Pierce will add themselves to that list in the next expansion, and possibly Dorne and Quinn as well.
Spot the player who doesn’t have any traitors in their character roster.
The outcome of the story resulting in the death or capture of the respective final boss also hopefully sets up a further outcome in a future update. It is entirely possible that a Commander who pledges support for their opposite faction might be sent to rescue this character if they were taken hostage. We haven’t seen this happen at all in any story content thus far and it would be an excellent thing for them to add at this stage.
But then in general we haven’t really seen them play with faction choices and resulting consequences outside of the presently very superficial choice on Iokath, so anything’s game at this juncture.
Ossus: The Location
Ossus is only the second genuine planet in 5.0’s two-and-a-bit year lifespan following on from Iokath. Given that Iokath is mainly made of metal with no plantlife really visible in the daily area, Ossus is far and away the prettier of the two. I wouldn’t say it quite reaches Copero or Nathema in terms of looks, but it’s certainly continues the trend of 5.4 onwards providing some of SWtOR’s prettiest planets.
As for size, I really don’t want to gauge how big this thing is. It definitely feels big; I want to say it’s roughly the same size, if not a little bit bigger, than Yavin IV? I’ve never been good at gauging sizes of planets in this game.
|Fun fact: on the PTS the two big Jedi statues were initially implemented doing the T-pose.|
The locations on Ossus are really well done, even if the architecture does get very samey at times. The Jedi Temple is easily the most impressive location on this planet, and as a history enthusiast I simply love the Colosseum-esque aesthetic its exterior has going for it.
One of my absolute favourite things about Ossus is how the world evolves as you play through the story. When you arrive NPCs are discussing such things like what the place of the Jedi is in the galaxy now that they’ve been rediscovered. Once the story is finished these conversations turn to such matters as the fate of Zakuul, theories about Malgus, and how fun it was to just dominate Republic starfighters in dogfighting. Similarly, the Jedi colony gains several battalions of Republic soldiers and even walkers while the Imperial base shows signs of damage from the Republic attack. It’s not much, but it adds a wonderful layer of flavour to this one planet that we haven’t seen in such a long time.
It’s great to see the Heroic missions return, and the one in the Jedi Library has quickly become one of my favourite such missions in the entire game. But then I love that location, so of course it stands out to me.
There are a lot of secrets to find around Ossus, including ten Codex entries (three of which are faction-specific), a zabrak in-joke, a grappling hook, and three Datacrons. There’s a lot to keep any unguided explorer occupied, but once it’s known what needs to be done these don’t take that long at all.
|“I regret not buying that jetpack when I thought of it back on Umbara.”|
While the Endurance Datacron doesn’t give that many stats (+2), the free Tuning and purple Ossus Reputation trophy are designed to make it somewhat-desirable to repeat. While it isn’t much, I’ve been hoping for at least some incentive to re-hunt Datacrons on additional characters for quite some time so I for one am happy. Plus it results in the only Tuning that can be earned via gameplay and not via any form of Cartel Market purchase. Yay!
Most importantly, it means that we get to actually ‘meet’ Ood Bnar! Huzzah!
Really the only things I can find to badmouth when it comes to Ossus as a location are a couple of the dailies. It’s all very well creating some dailies which are quick and easy to do, but as soon as people know that they’re the quick and easy ones they can easily become anything but. I just tend to avoid Wasteland Terrors and Crossed Wires at all times now.
The World Bosses are a mixed bag for me. It’s fairly easy to work out what each of the mechanics do visually, but there still seems to be a great deal of confusion about how to properly do the droid boss in particular. The Geonosian, Kil’Cik, is fairly straightforward; tank and spank the boss, kill the adds, done. The droid boss, R8-X8, has various things, like fuel-canisters that blow up when an AoE is placed on them, which initially give the impression that you should avoid doing such a thing like the plague. However, doing this is intended – destroying the fuel canisters prevents it from refuelling which therefore lessens the amount of time Incinerate is cast and therefore stops the tanks from dying too quickly.
However, all most people see is the fact that placing the AoE on them creates big purple circles that cause damage and that automatically equates as bad and not to be done. I’ve even seen people say not to DPS R8 at the start and just wait for its shield to come down, unaware that doing so would lead to it resetting. The point I’m trying to make here is that with this particular boss it’s very easy to mistake some things as being the case based on visuals alone. There isn’t any red text saying “the boss is doing this, do this to stop it!”, which is not helpful to those wholly-inexperienced with bosses which have counter-intuitive mechanics. Indeed, even some of the seasoned raiders in my guild, including myself, initially thought that placing the AoE on the canisters was a bad thing, and it was a moment of inspiration from one of the tanks that led to us deliberately blowing them up and discovering how useful it was.
I don’t think this makes for a bad fight, per se, it’s just one which is initially very confusing and which takes a good amount of time to get to understand. If you prefer even a little bit of hand-holding, which is absolutely fair enough, R8-X8 won’t be your exact cup of tea.
Ossus is wonderful for several things, chief among them being the various item drops. From several long-gone weapon shells being reused for items which are disappointingly unmodifiable to a rehash of the Exarch gear from 4.0, there’s a lot of stuff that can only be found on Ossus and nowhere else.
The decorations they’ve crafted for Ossus have to be among the best they’ve ever done in my opinion. There are so many wonderful decorations which can be found as drops and picked up via the Reputation vendor and again it’s great that these can be (mostly) earned away from the Cartel Market. The farm decorations in particular are fantastic, and while it is disappointing that presently the Irrigated Garden decoration is unavailable I’ve been able to use them to turn my Sun Room on Rishi into a nice little allotment.
|Legitimately, this sort of thing is something I’ve always wanted to be able to have in a stronghold.|
The Achievements also contain some really great Decorations. Completing the 5-daily Patrol mission 90 times and the weekly 10 times grants you a great holotable with a planet display and an… interesting… beast skeleton, but completing 60 Heroic missions gives you easily one of the best decorations they’ve yet released:
The Orgus Din Memorial.
However, nothing can compare to the Republic-specific decoration available once you hit Legendary rank with the Ossus reputation.
Gnost-Dural being in my stronghold makes me a very happy person.
The guild-levels have brought a very refreshing update to the guild system of SWtOR. Until now a guild never really advanced beyond itself once it acquired the minimum amount of accounts required to max out the Rep and XP bonuses. Now, guilds can earn levels through Conquest and can unlock and provide several benefits for their members.
The best thing to come from the levelling system is the fact that the XP and Rep bonuses are no longer based on guild membership, but gradually increase with each level up until about 15% at level 40 I believe. Small guilds will still have to put a lot of work into Conquest in order to get those bonuses, but at least it means that they’re more likely to max them out now than they would have been before. Similarly, there’s now a CXP passive bonus which will max out at 10% at level 51.
The additional Conquest Objectives which come from perks are nice ideas in theory, but in-practice they seem a bit dysfunctional. The PvP one in particular only works if your entire team is comprised of guildies, not just the group you’re queuing with. As such, it’s become common-practice for people in my guild to enter Ranked just because it’s far easier to get this objective ticked off there than it is in regs. I’m personally not a huge fan of that being the case, but it is what it is.
The most disappointing thing about this system is that Conquest tracking is just limited to a two-week log of players completing objectives and a presently malfunctioning top-ten leaderboard. It’s not as useful for measuring how the guild does in terms of individual Conquest scores as it had the potential to be, which is a real shame. That’s not going to detract in any major way from the rest of the rework, however.
Despite the odd kinks it’s a nice system to have, and I really like the fact that they’ve prevented the passive perks from having any serious impact on PvP and Master mode Operations.
With the launch of Master mode Gods comes the adjustments to Veteran mode and Story mode. I’ve only been in to VM once since they’ve made these changes, due to being on a break from progression raiding until March, but I’ve also been listening in to my group’s progress over the past four weeks so I’ve got a fairly good idea of what their views on it are.
The consensus is that the removal of the “dual-Grace-phases” has made TYTH a slightly riskier endeavour than before, since that second Grace can now be replaced by an additional Justice. Since dual or even triple-Justice groups are quite annoying, having an increased chance to get them has occasionally led to various wipes. It’s still quite possible for the group to secure a one-shot which is all that matters.
AIVELA and ESNE was declared to be much easier than it used to be on the very first night of pulling. For context, the group had gotten up to the Nexus phase a handful of times but never with any real consistency. With the various changes, such as making it consistently easier to tank and overall damage being far less spiky, the group could get there with increasing regularity. They’ve now killed them for the fourth week in a row, with Wednesday the 2nd of January being the first one-shot.
NAHUT is a new boss for the group, but compared to the months of working on the sisters it only took a couple of weeks for them to kill the son of shadow, with a one-shot being secured on the 9th of January. It’s often been claimed by groups who have cleared the entire thing that NAHUT has always been one of the easier bosses, so this accomplishment could also have been very possible before the adjustments. We’ll never know, but from what I’ve seen of it it’s a decently manageable fight, just requiring people to know what to do with the candle and when.
The group is now working on trying to kill SCYVA, but I haven’t really been properly able to assess from conversations how they’re finding it yet. However, one thing that SCYVA provides that no other boss has done yet is trash that takes almost as much coordination to navigate through as pulling an actual Ops boss. It takes the team approximately thirty-five minutes to even get to the boss-room the first time due to the changes introduced, such as mines and Vindictive Plasma Droids in the water room.
While I’m confident that eventually the team would have downed the sisters in their original incarnation it would not have been easy at all to get them down consistently. As a direct result of the changes, however, the group is now getting up to the fourth boss on a consistent basis. After so long working on the second, this is a definite step in the right direction; thus, the adjustments have so far proven to be a godsend.
Yes, I just said it.
252 and 258 gear follow a similar concept to Galactic Command; anyone playing the game can do various activities and eventually get the gear. The difference is that rather than rely on RNG as the gear from Command did when it launched, this gear requires players to grind multiple missions for a guaranteed reward of a Masterwork Data Crystal. Two missions on Ossus give an MDC and they can also be bought twice a week from a mysterious smuggler.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any RNG elements; once it was changed so that players needed 252 gear to purchase 258 gear BioWare added three boxes of 252 gear to the Ossus weekly, each containing a few specific types of gear. It’s luck of the draw if you get a piece you need, and this is definitely one of those areas where having multiple alts to run the weekly will be almost necessary. A generic version of these boxes has a rare chance to drop in a Tier III-and-above Command Crate, and the same is true of an MDC.
Additionally, upgrading 252 gear to 258 functions exactly the same as all pre-5.0 PvP gear upgrading did in that you need to have a specific piece of gear in order to receive the 258 version. This has thrown quite a lot of people off since 5.1 onwards introduced a method of upgrading gear that only required you to have any piece of upgradable gear; for example, a 236-rating Relic of Boundless Ages could be turned in for a generic Unassembled Relic and from here you could work your way up to the 248-rating Relic of Serendipitous Assault. The re-implemented system only allows a player to upgrade a Boundless Ages Relic to another Boundless Ages Relic and not to another variety entirely.
In other words, compared to the ease of access to the majority of types of gear in the game, 258 gear has the capability to be a serious grind.
Contrary to what I’m sure some people are expecting, I’m not going to complain about this. I feel that this gear should be a grind and a half, since it’s not at all necessary for the majority of the player-base as only those working past AIVELA and ESNE in Master mode Gods will absolutely need it. It’s a pure luxury for anyone else, and nothing more. Plus, we’re drawing ever closer to a new expansion, so all of this gear is going to become obsolete later this year anyway.
In spite of my nigh-total apathy towards the new gear I am keeping an eye on the system acquired to get it. It’s possible that MDCs will be utilised again in some form in the future and if this is to be the case then I’d rather focus heavily on them then rather than worry about them when it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Burnout is a thing.
I have, admittedly, been focusing on gearing my four main characters but this is largely through the weekly box they get on Ossus. There have only been two pieces of 252 gear I have bought so far with MDCs; two pairs of Field Medic boots solely for the boot-bound Critical enhancement that these two pairs of DPS characters will never get from their own boots. That’s all I need MDCs for, and the rest I will eventually accrue will just be used to purchase any outstanding pieces if I get frustrated with the one last box or whatever. I’ll see how I feel when I inevitably get to that point.
What is interesting to compare is the proportionality of requirements for the MDC missions. While the Weekly Event mission changes seemingly every fortnight there is one universal constant; the second MDC mission requires you to either kill both world bosses or gain 50 points through Ranked PvP. I don’t know how quick it can be to fulfil the Ranked requirement, but even a somewhat-dysfunctional group for the world bosses should be able to kill them in a shorter amount of time than it takes to complete four Flashpoints.
The rotational PvP requirements are infinitely quicker in comparison to either of the PvE variants. While it might take several matches to complete the GSF version (winning three matches) it’s still far quicker to do this than it is to complete four unique Flashpoints. Meanwhile, eight medals are very easy to earn in a single Warzone although it’s not impossible to miss out occasionally. I’m curious to know whether or not it’s feasible to fulfil both ground-PvP objectives within the same match given that it’s the only time both missions can align. I don’t do Ranked so I have absolutely no idea how much a rating can increase following a win.
It is worth noting that the GSF variant is presently bugged and cannot be completed, however.
While I for one like the Flashpoint quest even I can’t deny that in comparison to the other rotational variants it’s easily the ‘sloggiest’ of the three we’ve seen so far to complete once the GSF one is fixed. The really disheartening thing is that even if the Flashpoint requirements are eventually lowered, let’s say to two, many people would still chain-run Spammer Hammer Station. /sigh…
I’m including gear in this section mainly because of the issues the community has with it. I genuinely have no issues with anything they’re intentionally doing this update myself, but I can completely understand the issues that a lot of other people are having.
Firstly, as touched upon ever-so-briefly above, it pulls something not seen in gear since the 204 mainhands which dropped from the Colossal Monolith: every modification within a particular item is bound to that item. For example, you can’t use the mods from a spare headpiece or whatever in your boots – you can only use them within another headpiece. I may have found a way around it for the one item which differentiates from the official allocation for my 252 stuff, but I can definitely understand why several people are up-in-arms about this change. For those wondering, this is not a bug but is actually intentional.
This situation is made less bearable by the fact that you cannot reverse-engineer any 252 stuff, so if the official allocation differs drastically from the stat distribution you use you have no choice but to ignore the gear entirely, find a potential workaround (if it’s possible), or re-do your entire setup. Tanks in particular get a raw deal since it’s still better for them to use the ‘bad’ 246 (or 248 if they’re very lucky with RNG in Command Crates) mods over the newer tier of gear; one of the tanks in my guild worked out that he’d lose over 1,000 Endurance just by switching from his 246 mods and enhancements to the 258 equivalents.
Secondly, right now there’s a bug with the set bonuses for 252 and 258 not applying when used alongside any earlier piece of gear. This has resulted in many a player accidentally losing a tier of their set bonus without knowing it which obviously isn’t useful in the slightest. BioWare have come out and said that this is unintentional so it should hopefully be fixed later in the month, but the damage in this regard has pretty much already been done.
The third and final thing to touch on is the crafting requirement. BioWare have said that this is intended to be the fastest way to get the gear, but in reality it just doesn’t seem like that can be the case. A group may get TYTH on farm, but (if the drop values from the PTS carried across to Live) he doesn’t drop enough materials for multiple people in the group to craft a piece of gear within the same week. This of course also requires you to have enough of the other materials as well, and you need a lot of the Charged Matter Transubstantiators for a single piece.
Compare this to doing the various weeklies and whatever and every member in the group can, theoretically, get a piece of gear in the same week, particularly if they also use alts and ferry gear across through Legacy gear. The only real thing crafting the gear has for it is bypassing 252 immediately and allowing access to craftable 258 mods and enhancements. Even then, you still need a Forgotten Curio from Master Gods to be able to craft a single mod or enhancement.
It’s a novel idea, but I just don’t think it’s an idea which will be fondly remembered as time goes on. To illustrate just how fast gearing can be in this patch outside of crafting, somebody in my guild already has his main in nigh-full-258 due to earning as many MDCs on alts as he possibly can and subsequently purchasing and ferrying gear across. He hasn’t even set foot in Master Gods. Grinding this gear is fast if you want it to be (and are able to make it be so, of course) but it can also be utterly ignored if you wish it.
The BadBugs Galore, and I’m not just talking about the Geonosians
5.10 brought with it more than a few bugs, many of which became apparent because they prevented activities from being completed.
Dread Palace and Scum and Villainy had issues which prevented groups from naturally advancing past two bosses; the door from Tyrans’ room wouldn’t open after his death and the operations team on Darvannis would sound the alarm as soon as they were attacked. The former could be worked around by groups leaving the instance then coming back in, but the latter was an absolute roadblock. Since it was only seen in Veteran and Master modes I’m guessing that the issue was because the teams were incorrectly interpreting the amount of people attacking them as being too high, which isn’t a concern in SM but is a huge no-no in both other modes.
There was originally a bug whereby if you joined in another player attacking a target at a certain HP% (I think it was something like sub-50%? It certainly didn’t trigger if you attacked while the enemy was nearer 100%) you’d also gain credit and loot once they died. This particular kill-credit issue was part of a far bigger issue that was far more noticeable for the two world bosses on Ossus. People in a full ops team wouldn’t gain credit as one unit for either boss, although leaving the group just before the kill paradoxically did. It is entirely possible that the same issue affected every other world boss in the game, but the ones on Ossus were of course being prioritised so received far more exposure.
The weekly for the Masterwork Data Crystal, the one requiring either killing both R8-X8 and Kil’Cik the Swarm Lord or gaining 50 points through Ranked PvP, could only be picked up on Tuesdays. All other days it was completely and utterly absent from the mission board.
When starting the 5.10 story, the default choices for each faction were applied automatically to everybody, even those who were already at the correct point. Deceased companions were resurrected, alive companions were consigned to the grave, and for several Inquisitors one of the choices from the base-game was retroactively re-done. This resulted in the servers being taken offline very quickly once it was discovered and although this has been remedied in the majority of ways there are still a couple of quirks that are left.
Firstly, companions who were resurrected or brought back from exile the first time around still appear in the companion roster but only as if they were resummoned from the terminal; they no longer interpose themselves into the story or excuse themselves from it. Secondly, Inquisitors who trapped Khem Val within the mind trap could still see him appear on Ossus as if this had never happened. There’s been no word on whether or not this last detail will get looked into.
The dark side variant of Jaesa Willsaam decided that she was too cool for Influence, apparently, since when she returned she had lost all of her prior Influence and refused to gain any more. How edgy.
The bugs above were all patched out at most nine days after launch. Those which are left are mostly very minor or cosmetic issues, such as the disappearance of some Decorations’ assets and the vanishing of some heads for male human and zabrak characters, but there are still a couple of gameplay-affecting nuisances out there.
If a player accepted Paxton Rall’s Alliance Alert this removed Darth Hexid from the companion roster. For some players this has resulted in her own Alert re-appearing but for others this absence affects even this. While it has been proved possible for players who regained access to the Alert to change their original answer regarding her being in the Alliance, it remains to be seen whether this will be undone when this issue is fixed or left as permanent.
Paxton himself only spouts two lines in combat – “Muahaha!” and “Ehh… not my finest hour” – and he does so with such regularity that it is currently assumed that this is a bug. We have received no confirmation about this, but given how annoying several people have said they’ve found it I imagine we’ll be seeing his commentary toned down a fair amount. I don’t find him that annoying myself, but I am curious to know what else he may be able to say.
Companions in general are reportedly bugged in that they seemingly don’t pick up when their player-ally is in combat and refuse to join in. I must admit this is one I haven’t noticed myself at all, mainly because my first opening move in combat has for the longest time been to send my tank companion in to attack first and that still seems to function as it should. I’ve just seen people talking about it a fair amount, so I felt that I should really include it here since I know somebody would likely raise it in the comments otherwise. If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick about this bug, please feel free to correct me in the comments.
The most annoying bug that’s still to be patched out is the fact that sharing missions no longer functions properly. The UI still appears for accepting missions and what-not, but clicking “Accept” doesn’t work. So if somebody joined a World Boss or last-Operations-Boss kill and realised they didn’t have the mission once the boss was at 10% there would be nothing that anyone could do to help them.
I do feel a bit guilty putting this in the “Bad” section considering that of all the releases BioWare have done 5.10 has by no means been the worst and only really one of the major gameplay-affecting ones still exists. However, it’s just the scope and range of the bugs that occurred that have just made people question how the hell those even happened that have made them especially aggravating this time around.
One thing I don’t know about is the status of a bug which prevented people from manually entering an Operation if the group they joined was already midway through it. This required the entire group to exit and reset the phase to fix, but this annoyingly wasn’t a foolproof fix. I haven’t been in an Ops group which needed this to happen since before 5.10a so I don’t know if this issue remains or not. If anyone has any more information, please provide it in the comments.
There is a small bug fix patch intended to be deployed by at least the fifteenth of January so we should receive more info this month about which of the remaining issues they’ve currently been able to isolate and repair. Seeing as they’ve said it’ll be small I’m not envisaging they’ve got fixes for every little thing at this moment in time, so please don’t get your hopes up too high.
Conclusion5.10 is easily one of my favourite updates we’ve had for a long, long time. We’ve had a story update that finally begins to establish the Republic and Empire as properly-functioning factions again, several fun new or returning characters establishing themselves for the future, and an excellent new planet that shows that BioWare is still capable of focusing on the MMO content alongside story.
That’s not to say that this update is for everybody. The story is very short, meaning that if you aren’t interested in anything that Ossus provides alongside it then you’re only going to be playing this update for maybe an hour at most if you want to do both sides of the story once. Similarly, if you really liked the story of the Alliance and preferred it to anything related to Empire vs. Republic then the story is now moving away from where you want it to be.
The bugs and certain gear issues have definitely proved something of a sore point for several members of the community. While the bugs are hopefully only a temporary blip, some of them have been some of the most aggravating we’ve had for a long while. For gear, BioWare’s decision to experiment with it to this extent now makes me wonder whether they’re thinking of repeating aspects of it in 6.0 and are using 5.10 as a trial to gauge the community’s reactions.
We shall see what we shall see.