24/04/2014

In the News: Ranked Season 2 & Galactic Strongholds

I'm a bit late commenting on the developer blog about "What's New in Season Two" because it came out while I was away, and I wasn't sure whether I should say anything about it at all, seeing how I barely even played the minimum amount of ranked games required to earn a reward in season one. I was really chuffed by the news about the addition of quests for ranked PvP though. Why? Because they might actually get me to participate more regularly. I've never been and don't think I ever will be a hardcore PvPer, but with three max-level characters in full PvP gear that I play regularly, there's no reason I shouldn't participate in ranked at least occasionally... but I honestly simply forget about it most of the time. I mean, I open up the PvP window almost every day and look at the choice between unranked and ranked and then find myself thinking something like: "I should really do some ranked matches again some time, seeing how I only need ranked comms... but I have a quest for unranked. I'll do some ranked later." And then I never do. I can see a simple daily or weekly quest adding just the incentive I need to play more often.

Imagine my surprise when I then saw people whine about this promised addition on the forums. I get it, it's the forums, but what possible downside could there be to having a quest to do ranked warzones? Well, apparently some hardcore players are worried that this will attract too many scrubs. I can hardly roll my eyes hard enough at this. Player Teclado commenting on that thread summed it up best in my opinion, and I quote:

It seems like ranked pvp is having an identity crisis. Is it hardcore? If so, you want an atmosphere that discourages casuals (which is sort of what we have now), meaning that you get longer queue times but a higher overall level of play. Is it for everybody? If so, you want an atmosphere that encourages casuals, meaning shorter queue times but a lower overall level of play. I really don't think that you're going to get the best of both. 

It's really no skin off my back either way. I can easily live without ranked. But if you want ranked play to be a super exclusive club for the PvP elite only, you really can't complain about long queue times and lack of participation.

In other news, there's been another producer letter about what's coming up in the game's future, telling us more about Galactic Strongholds while also letting us know that they've decided to delay its release by nearly two months to make sure that players will have access to the expansion's full range of features right from the start. Delays are always a bit of a shame, but I think the reasoning presented in this case is fair - we'll still get patch 2.8 in June; it will just be smaller.

Many of the additional features that they revealed also sound super exciting to me and like they'll be well worth waiting for: I'll be able to get a house on Tatooine after all, and they've confirmed that things like vehicles, pets and companions will be available as "decorations" that we can place around our stronghold.

The additional functionality for guild flagships sounds like a pretty big deal too, but I'm a bit unsure how I feel about expanding on that feature. I like the idea of guild bonuses in principle, but I've also witnessed the negative effects they can have on the community when WoW introduced guild levels and achievements in its Cataclysm expansion. Suddenly guild alliances became terribly sub-optimal and you were encouraged to stick with people from your guild for everything. In SWTOR, a change in attitudes like that would certainly affect me, considering that my guild is regularly mixing it up with several "allied" guilds right now, helping each other to fill operation spots and the like. I hope that this is something that Bioware will consider when it comes to adding any future guild perks: while they should offer additional incentive to be in a guild, they shouldn't actively discourage you from mingling with players from other guilds.

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