28/01/2015

Adventures in Old Content

After the release of 3.0, when it turned out that Bioware had forgotten to adjust the commendation drops for certain types of content to the new level cap (meaning that old flashpoints and operations actually gave better rewards initially than the new ones), people asked me repeatedly if I wanted to join for some classic ops runs to min-max my commendation rewards, but I pretty much always said no at first. After more than a year of having nothing to work on but Dread Fortress and Palace, the last thing I wanted to do as soon as we got some new content was go back there! And how long have Terror from Beyond and Scum and Villainy been in the game now? No, thanks.

Of course, two months later the shine of the new operations is starting to wear off and I feel ready to mix things up with a run of classic content again every now and then. It's been interesting.

One of my main concerns in regards to the 3.0 combat changes had been how they would affect ops encounters that relied on interrupts and dispels to have very specific (shorter) cooldowns. As it turns out, Bioware applied a simple if not very elegant band-aid to at least some fights (I only noticed it in Dread Fortress and Palace, though that doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't present elsewhere). What happens is that as soon as you start the encounter, you'll receive a buff called "Classic Encounter" which resets your dispel cooldown to what it used to be for the duration of the fight.


It works well enough and was probably a lot easier to implement than going back and adjusting the fights to the new cooldowns, but it's a bit clunky as the buff doesn't appear until you pull - so you may very well be scratching your head just before the fight (like I did), wondering how you're supposed to deal with the required dispels. Also, as far as we could tell it doesn't affect interrupt cooldowns, even though the shorter cooldown on those also used to be pretty crucial to some fights.

On the Raptus fight in Dread Palace we also ran into a bug that was supposed to have been fixed in a recent patch, namely that the healing challenge is acting wonky and the NPC you're supposed to heal pretty much dies in the blink of an eye, making the challenge impossible to pass. You can still complete the encounter afterwards (at least on hardmode, which is what we did), but it sure felt odd to encounter new bugs in old content.

The thing that I found the most striking though was that all the hardmodes we did for the various classic ops weeklies were still pretty hard, even at level sixty. As seasoned veterans of the fights we generally made it through them without too much trouble, but it someone messed up too badly it still resulted in a wipe.

I couldn't help but think that this doesn't make for a great environment for casual players interested in operations at the moment. Several fights in the new story modes are hard enough to be pug killers, yet it seems that people can't even go back and steamroll the old content for a couple of easy comms. This is quite a contrast to 2.0, when both TFB and Scum were pretty accessible on story mode, and by which point Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace could easily be pugged even on the highest difficulties. (Explosive Conflict not so much, but that wasn't as much of an issue simply because there were other options.) I'll admit that it's been a while since I last pugged an operation myself, but at least from the outside the pug scene for operations looks pretty dire at the moment.

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