20/08/2014

Galactic Strongholds First Impressions

Last year I went on holiday shortly after the launch of Rise of the Hutt Cartel and had to wait until I came back to experience a lot of the expansion content. Turning the act of missing out on expansion excitement into a tradition, I managed to book myself in for just after the launch of Galactic Strongholds this year. This time I didn't have the time or energy to pre-write a couple of extra posts to keep you entertained during my absence either, so I'm afraid you'll have to do without my witty contributions for the next ten days.

I did want to get at least a brief first impressions post of the housing system out of my system though.


First off, I like the new loading screen. Overall, I still prefer the more "realistic" art style they used on the original loading screen, but out of all the ones they've done in the new stylised fashion they've adopted since Rise of the Hutt Cartel, I probably like this one the best.

After all my arguing back and forth about which stronghold to get, I unlocked them all at the basic level, but decided to only work on the Coruscant apartment for now. And by "work on", I mean that I plonked down the new legacy bank next to the door and started logging various alts to shuffle items around.


Getting down to business.

I did unlock all the rooms on Coruscant though, and promptly felt the urge to throw myself off the balcony just to see if it was possible or if I'd get stopped by invisible walls. (The answer is, I died.) Since it was advertised in the description as offering freedom from safety restrictions, I just had to know!

Relogging all my alts quickly showed just how much this new housing feature is designed to favour large legacies, as every character received a whole bunch of free items for completing the introductory quest, which were then added to my legacy furniture pool.

As the various free chairs and rugs started piling up, I decided that I should at least place a couple of them in the room I was working on. I was pleasantly surprised by how intuitive the hook system was. The only issue I had at the beginning was that I didn't know which type of item was going to be which size and I couldn't find a way to browse through them without selecting a hook first, which led to frantic switching between random hook sizes just to find the right items.


Too tired... haven't placed bed yet...

Overall I was really impressed by the system though. It's easy to use and you really don't need to be big on decorating to be able to put something together that looks at least half-decent. At the same time, if you do like to customise, you can switch between different hook layouts, shift items around on their hooks and rotate them up to 360 degrees. This strikes me as a reasonable compromise between giving people options and keeping the system simple enough that it remains easy to use. Thumbs up from me, Bioware.


Some of the decorations are kind of silly. You can place your companions, but when you're on a character that doesn't have that companion, they just appear as a hologram. I had read about that beforehand, and though I didn't like it very much, I also wasn't too fussed about it. What I did mind was finding that my Aric Jorgan hologram was wearing nothing but undies! Yikes! I guess this is because the game doesn't know which armour set to pick, considering that I have more than one trooper who has Aric as a companion. At least they could have given him some generic armour or something...


If you're a raider, you'll also get about ten million free wall decorations consisting of boss portraits. What do non-raiders put on their walls other than patriotic banners? I seem to have nothing but boss trophies to choose from.

Of course pictures like the above look less like heroic trophies and more like they should come with a caption such as "wish you were here". Or like one of the drouks should be carrying a pitchfork.


Of course this didn't prevent me from making a "boss wall" where I arranged their portraits in order of raid progression. Of all the beings I killed before...

I also visited my pet tank's Coruscant apartment and laughed at some of his silly arrangements, such as the staircases stuffed with pets. Our guild master has purchased the stronghold on Tatooine for the guild and my pet tank has already claimed one room as his office. It was quite fun to hear him lecture the guild master about how he thought the place should be decorated. Furniture is serious business, yo!

In a nutshell, I like what I've seen of the housing so far, but I think I'll need to take things slowly. It seems that Bioware added an absolute crap-ton of housing items to all parts of the game, and I need to investigate what you can get from where and whether it's worth getting for me personally. That's definitely something to look forward to in the long run though.

As for the other new features of this patch, I've run the Manaan flashpoint once but haven't really had a chance to look at the Conquest system yet. I'll be writing about all these things as soon as I get back.

7 comments:

  1. My Bounty Hunter is on Corellia right now, and I know things are different when I entered a new area and received the sign "no guild has taken control of this zone".

    I laughed.

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  2. Re:loading screens, maybe it's just me but since launch I've thought all the loading screens were kind of ugly. This one is included, though at least there aren't any people since in it since I found the people pictures the ugliest in the past.

    Re:decorating, while I root for free form so I can see what truly creative people can come up with, I know that this system works much better for me as a decorator, since I have no taste. It's quick and easy to set things up. Tat almost seems too large for me at the moment, but I can't wait to see what people come up with. Like you I've made my coruscant home the primary area of decoration for now, though I ran out of steam after decorating the downstairs portion. Overall, I am a fan of how gsh turned out. Now I just need some dark projects so I can plop down ships on landing pads.

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    Replies
    1. Aw, you didn't even like the original loading screen? I really liked how that one was done in the style of the movie posters (which I also like). In fact I still use it as my desktop background!

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    2. The loading screen changed, I did see a tutorial somewhere. I can't remember if it has to be a certain file type and/size.

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  3. My Tatooine stronghold is fully unlocked and 77% decorated! Come to Ebon Hawk on a level 1 and i'll give you a tour!

    Embarrassing how much I like this expansion...

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  4. With regard to the hook types, if you mouse over an entry in the decorations list (not click on it, just hover over it), you get a tooltip with a brief description giving the category and subcategory of the decoration, and what hook(s) it fits in. I'm pretty sure this works both in edit mode and out of edit mode if you click the 'chair' icon (the middle of the three above your decoration progress bar) to open the decorations list window.

    What continues to annoy me about the UI for decorating is the way that it seems to keep resetting the active decoration category, where I have a chair selected under Furniture, click on a floor hook, and have the decorations list change to the Technological category.

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