06/12/2014

A Curious Levelling Experience

Yesterday morning I "finally" hit 60. 55 to 60 was a rather curious levelling experience.

 
Before Rise of the Hutt Cartel came out, it had already been talked about that limiting yourself only to the quests on Makeb wasn't going to be enough to make it all the way to 55, so I had been prepared: I "saved up" a whole bunch of completed dailies and did a level 50 flashpoint or two while levelling. In the end I hit 55 with no issues, I believe while doing the weekly mission that follows Makeb's main storyline.

With Shadow of Revan, we had a lot less information about the nitty gritty of how things were going to work in the expansion content, but with two whole new planets I was optimistic that the new quests would take me all the way to 60 - probably foolishly optimistic.

After talking to some guildies who hadn't completed the Forged Alliances arc before 3.0, it seems that the levelling curve is balanced around you doing all those flashpoints in solo mode first and gaining a good one a half levels before you even start on Rishi. Since I had already done all of that however, I ended up hitting a wall at 58, even with full restedness and while having an XP boost active for the entire time.

On Rishi it had seemed like the XP was flowing freely, but the story on Yavin 4 was a lot shorter than I had expected. Bioware had promised beforehand that they were implementing a new system that would allow you to see the culmination of the Revan storyline solo as well as in a group. Story-wise they set this up quite nicely: Once you're ready to assault Revan's forces, you basically get to choose between leading a small strike team yourself (aka do the operation) or "encourage" the troops by doing dailies for them.

Being a happy raider myself, I picked the operation option. Except... I was still level 58 and now seemingly out of quests. I don't know if it's technically possible to enter the new operations at 58, but even if it is, that was hardly going to be ideal. My pet tank encouraged me to reset the quest and switch to the solo option - and low and behold, a whole new bunch of dailies appeared, which allowed me to gain another level. It seems kind of odd to me to initially lock these behind having to make the choice to solo, especially as they do unlock for everyone anyway once you've completed the story.

We also ran one of the new tactical flashpoints as a random, but sadly the XP in there wasn't great. And going back to the 55 hardmodes seemed terribly unappealing, especially as Bioware completely removed all quests from them. I hope that this is just an oversight (as they seem to have converted the old 55 HM weekly into a new 60 HM weekly, without considering that this would leave the 55s with no missions associated with them whatsoever).

After the troops on Yavin 4 have been sufficiently "motivated", you're given a solo mission to face off against Revan himself, aided by the all friendly NPCs that have been at your side throughout the course of story. In an extreme twist of irony, this SOLO mission was launched bugged, and one of the possible workarounds is to form a full group of four (even though only one of you will get credit for the quest) and power through it as a team, which is what me and some of my guildies eventually opted for. To make sure that everyone got credit, we had to repeat the whole thing four times. Oh joy.

Basically the problem is that Revan as a hostile NPC is an absolute beast that spams stuns and knockbacks like nobody's business, so that you rely heavily on the friendly NPCs being alive and taking some of the pressure off you. Satele's constant AoE heal in particular is invaluable when you're actually attempting the fight on your own. If the fight works as intended, that's fine... but all too often it bugs out.

The issue is that there are two points in the fight where Revan is supposed to pull everyone in and then traps all the NPCs while standing in the middle of the area himself, immune to damage and emitting a light AoE damage pulse but not doing anything else, while little power orbs of sorts float about which you can use to free your allies and resume the fight.

 
The thing is, more often than not this mechanic bugs out. If you're lucky, he'll pull everyone in, but not trap anyone and just continue fighting right on. If you're unlucky, he'll trap the NPCs but then continue whacking you, and as you're unable to free the NPCs you die quickly without their assistance.

People have suggested various workarounds on the forums, from taunting at the right time to "doing nothing" for most of the fight, to simply forming a group as we did. I've seen someone theorise that the bug is triggered by dots ticking on Revan right as he's supposed to become immune to damage, so that he immediately goes back to normal fighting.

I'm sure that this bug will be fixed soon, but I can understand why people are pissed off that such a blatant issue that stops the story dead in its tracks made it onto the live servers. For me, it meant that I spent my evening fighting Revan over and over again to get everyone in my group the quest credit without actually making any progress levelling. Fortunately completing the mission unlocked the daily hub in full, so that I could go out and get the last little bit of XP I was missing from more dailies. But it sure was an odd experience.

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