So the latest expansion of Star Wars The Old Republic officially came out on October 27, 2015. As a long-time subscriber to the game, I actually got early access but as of late I have been pretty busy so I really didn’t get to play it much in the first week. If you’ve played SWTOR before then the main thing about this expansion is that it offers 5 new levels (Max level is 65 now). Oh yeah and the expansion is FREE!
There were a number of changes made to the game. Quite a few changes to companions. First, your companions no longer use equipment. Your mailbox is going to be filled with their old gear and you can vendor it all. There are some gear slots on your old companions but that is purely to affect their appearance. New companions don’t have any gear slots for customization just yet. Oh yeah, there’s quite a few new companions!
Companions can now all heal, tank or provide damage with a toggle. So if you really liked Khem Val with your sorcerer but needed a healer, Khemmy can heal!
Companion affection has been replaced with influence. If you were like me and most of your companions were maxed at 10,000 affection, they are now at influence level 10 and there are 50 influence levels. The amount of influence gained from gifts has been beefed up a bit as well. The cheap rank 1 gifts that are 200 credits on fleet stopped working at 6000 affection but I was using rank 2 gifts on Vette earlier today and at level 20 the gifts went from +100 at level 19 to +67. I believe reaching level 50 requires 250,000 influence. Conversations are no longer going to penalize you. So if you’re an evil Sith and you want to murder a bus full of Twi’lek orphans, Vette won’t give you negative influence though it says something like “Vette disproves ” and I can’t tell if that gives you zero, less influence or equal influence in comparison to an evil Jaesa standing next to you instead.
All of the crafting bonuses from companions were removed and now any companion has a crit chance based on your influence. Just like affection, increased influence will increase the speed of companion crafting and gathering. Also something that is really cool! You can now see exactly what you are sending your companions out to do. For instance with Underworld Goods and Treasure Hunting, you can specifically choose missions to bring back companion gifts. That’s been handy to have.
One of the things that irks me about changes to MMORPGs is when old content is nerfed. For instance Kotaku mentions how with this new expansion, leveling in the old planets is made easier. In the old days you had your class quests and on each planet there were a number of optional quests you could complete, each with pretty cool stories. I admit that after you go through these quests a few times on different characters, it does get tedious and skipping them is definitely something I have done when leveling up other characters. My problem with that is Bioware has removed incentives to quest. This was one of the reasons I gave up on Star Trek Online after a month and yet have been playing Star Wars for years. In Star Trek it was very easy to level and there was so much content that my character had hit the maximum level long before even completing a third of the game’s content. I didn’t continue because aside from the story, there was no reward for continuing and as a gamer I enjoy rewards for my efforts.
So how would I have done things differently? For first time characters, I would have left leveling as it was. There was never any grinding in SWTOR to begin with. So for people who enjoy experiencing all of the content as it was meant to be experienced, your first timers could have gone through. Then after progressing so far, an achievement could be granted and when creating future characters, players could be offered to have that character level at an accelerated rate. That way, just as it is now for all characters, you could quest the minimum to progress. Actually you can reach the maximum level in Star Wars The Old Republic without questing beyond level 10 if you were to level with just flashpoints and/or warzones.
Ok now for some *SPOILERS* Don’t read between the Spoilers tags if you don’t want to be spoiled as I discuss plots and stuff from the game. Feel free to scroll down past the spoilers for some shameless plugging of Star Wars merchandise.
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Ok so so far I have only gone through the new story with my Sith Juggernaut and I’m halfway through the story with my Sniper.
I gotta say I didn’t see it coming when they reveal that Valkorian (the new Emperor) is Vitiate(the old Emperor)! I assumed that we’d have a 3rd faction option where all 3 factions would be set on fighting Vitiate who would reveal himself again. It was a cool surprise.
I got to kill Tanno Vik! (twice actually) I heard your character’s companions might not all survive this patch but being able to kill the Trooper’s companion was cool. It wasn’t perfect but I took the chance to do it. I’m also fairly certain I saw Gault Rennow at the scene but he fled before I could be sure. Of course if my Troopers end up losing Tanno Vik in their story, I’ll be half upset. Fun fact, an NPC wants me to keep an eye out for Gault Rennow. I’ve also got a quest to find Yuun. Wonder what Yuun will say when he finds out I killed a member of Havoc Squad.
Getting T7-01, the Jedi Knight’s companion, was also not one of the new companions I was expecting to get with this new expansion. It makes me wonder who my other characters will have joining them. I’d still like to see Vette and Risha reunited.
SCORPIO, the Imperial Agent companion, works well with my Juggernaut’s persona. Although my lil Sith doesn’t trust anyone.
In addition to classic companions being borrowed from other classes. There are new companions too. Here’s a video of the new Akk Dog available from cartel market packs.
What I don’t like about the new story is that you have to go hunt down your old companions. There’s actually a console in your new base that lets you get around the story and get back a few of your companions that way. As far as crafting goes, since no one character is better than the others at crafting (unless their influence is higher) then it doesn’t matter too much if you are sending Lana to gather underworld goods or Kaliyo.
I actually skipped the Ziost quest story line until this new expansion came out. With no new levels and no phat lewtz, there was no point for me to go through the quests. However, I did go through with my warrior, Munianci, now that I was earning experience and I gotta say it is so much fun watching my character in the movie scenes. Granted the entire game has had cinematic moments but I’ve now been playing her for years and seeing her story continue has been a lot of fun. With the new Knights of the Fallen Empire story it has been really cool as Munianci gets power boosts from the emperor and becomes an even more bad ass sith than she was before. I mean she’s been the “Emperor’s Wrath” since the level 40s and now they are working together until she can figure out a way to kill him at least.
Then I started playing my sniper, Guoxiang, and her story is the same thing. The emperor is inside of her mind offering her super powers and I hate it. My sniper has killed countless jedi and sith force users and now the game is going to make her use super saiyan sith power? It sucks. At one point I chose a light side choice as I really didn’t want to give in to the emperor on an Imperial Agent but instead of being Dark V and -10,000, she’s now at -9900 and Dark IV. Even though alignment really doesn’t matter any longer, players can still see that my character is no longer as evil as she was before. So now I’ll need to do a quest to kill a bus full of orphans or kick a puppy in order to get her maxed out with the dark side again. If Bioware was going to force a dumb story on people then it shouldn’t affect their alignment.
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So I’ll probably follow up with another update once I’ve gotten more of the new end game content completed.