Today was an interesting day for me in SWTOR, as we set out with an allied guild to kill both the Dreadful and the Hateful Entity. We defeated the first one with ease, and came nowhere near killing the second, despite of several hours of trying.
If you've going "Dreadful/Hateful Entity, what?", you're probably not alone, as these are "secret" bosses that were shrouded in mystery for quite a long time (by MMO standards) and even now relatively little information is available about them compared to most operations bosses. Personally I never expected to get a close-up look at either, so this (somewhat unexpected) afternoon event with an allied guild that is more progressed than my own worked out nicely for me.
It all starts with Dreadtooth, the world boss in Section X. He drops an item called Dreadful Essence, which you can throw right back at him when he respawns to buff him up, stacking up to ten times. There are achievements for killing him at different buff levels, as he grows more powerful and gains extra mechanics. At level fifty it used to take a full raid group of 24 to kill him when fully powered up, though now it can be done with less. At ten stacks, he also drops a so-called Dreadful Amulet, which can be used in the cave between the first and second boss in TFB HM (16-man only) to summon the Dreadful Entity. It has an ability called "Dread Touch", which will insta-kill anyone who doesn't wear a special mask that is also dropped by Dreadtooth (at all power levels). If you manage to kill the Dreadful Entity, it then drops an item called Dreadful Orb, which in turn can be used to summon the Hateful Entity in the cave between the second and third boss in Scum NiM (again, 16-man only).
Our group started the afternoon in Section X, killing Dreadtooth over and over again to collect masks for people who didn't have one yet and to gather more Dreadful Essences to buff the boss and get a couple of Dreadful Amulets. (I'll admit that it wasn't entirely clear to me why we needed to do this as we already had at least one amulet and you only need one to actually summon the Dreadful Entity.) This got pretty boring quickly if I'm honest, simply because of Dreadtooth's half hour respawn timer, which is just short enough that you can't really go off and do much else (we did a round of dailies once, but that only took so long), but long enough that it's boring to sit around and wait. I was glad when we finally moved on to TFB.
The Dreadful Entity fight felt surprisingly easy, though I suspect that this may be down to the fact that it was originally designed for level fifty and hasn't scaled up very well. It wasn't fantastically interesting either. The entity is basically just a floating ball of lightning with bits swirling around it (like the thing you loot after having defeated the Terror from Beyond) that needs kiting around since it periodically leaves lightning circles on the floor. It also bounces people around a lot. We got it down on the first try. It also didn't drop anything other than the Dreadful Orb, which I found kind of disappointing, though we all earned the "Dread Slayer" title for killing it.
Then we moved on to Scum NiM, where we didn't do nearly as well. I think our best attempt saw us getting the Hateful Entity to 40-odd percent before its hard enrage killed everyone. I wasn't surprised, considering that in our guild we haven't even managed to kill any of the normal bosses in Scum NiM so far. Why would we fare any better against a bonus boss? The Hateful Entity definitely felt a lot harder as well - it looks just like its Dreadful counterpart, only with a red tint, and also drops lightning on the floor, but it felt - to me at least - that it bounced people around a lot more often, which made it very hard to cast anything. It also casts death marks that will insta-kill people if not dispelled, like Dread Master Tyrans does on the council fight at the end of Dread Palace, so you have to keep an eye on that as well.
The ops leader kept us "practising" for a long time even though we weren't making any progress and it eventually got very tiring, but it was still an interesting experience. I feel less ashamed about us doing so badly after having had a bit of a read around on the subject and finding out that even though it's been six months since the Hateful Entity's world first kill, even now the number of guilds that have killed it on most servers is very small. It's just that tough.
I think that both the entity fights are pretty interesting experiments on the part of Bioware. They strike me as a nod to super hardcore raiders (the kind for whom even most NiM fights are too easy), with all the trappings of a more old school raid experience: from discovering the "secret" way of gaining access to the boss to having to farm up resistance gear for the whole raid (the masks). At the same time Bioware kept the amount of assets used to create this experience to a minimum: the bosses just use an existing model with no animations, don't really have any particularly interesting mechanics and don't give any particularly great rewards (just a title, and apparently the Hateful Entity drops masks with an alternate model, using that of the Dread Masters instead of the Dread Guard look of the Dreadtooth mask). They are just hard bosses, requiring good dps, healing, positioning and co-ordination. Their sole appeal lies in the fact that their mere existence is a challenge to progression raiders: Can you beat me?
I wonder if we'll see a continuation of this entity thing, or something similar with a different theme, in the next tier of operations, or whether Bioware has decided that even with the limited investment in terms of art assets etc. it wasn't worth the effort since too few people ever saw those fights.