While I was trying to come up with a title for this post and eventually settled on putting "saying goodbye to NiMs" in there, I realised that I never commented on the piece of news which came out of Gamescom and announced the "real" goodbye to NiMs: Bioware stating that they won't bother creating nightmare modes for any new operations going forward. I didn't really see anyone else talk about it either. Not even a quick scan of the Dulfy comments on that post revealed any outrage about it. I guess it's because that comment only served to confirm what a lot of us had already been expecting for a while. (Except for a certain guildie of mine, who was convinced that despite of the difficulty of ToS and Ravagers hardmode, it would be no trouble for Bioware at all to add another difficulty on top of it. We told him that he was nuts.)
If operations take up too many development resources relative to how many people play them, taking out the top difficulty makes the most sense. Progression raiders can't even complain about that right now because ToS and Ravagers hardmode were already more difficult than some previous nightmare modes anyway, so it's not as if players weren't being challenged. It was the middle-of-the-road guilds that ended up with the short end of the stick this tier, facing a wacky progression curve that made it hard to stay motivated. We will see if Bioware addresses this whenever they release their next new operation. Either way, nightmare mode going away was a surprise to very few of us.
The latest bit of news - which is what I actually meant to refer to in the post title - is about something slightly different however. As a reminder, Bioware said that in Knights of the Fallen Empire, all operations currently in the game will be endgame content again, on all existing difficulty levels. Except, well... Eric Musco came out with a post last week that stated something that a lot of us already knew, which is that Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace NiM don't really measure up to nightmare modes that were released later, since Bioware's first attempts at nightmare modes included no new mechanics, just bigger numbers on everything.
"With the changes we are making in Fallen Empire,
all Operations will now be at max level, this means the differences
between Hard and Nightmare EV and KP, just don’t stack up against the
difficulty differences found in other Operations," he continued. Awesome, I thought - does that mean they'll be updating these to include some new mechanics? Nope. Instead they'll simply remove them so that all the remaining nightmare modes will be at least roughly on par.
That wasn't what I would have hoped for, but I can hardly claim to be upset either. Of course it helps that I've had three and a half years to run this content over and over again, so that I maxed out all my Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace achievements ages ago. But to anyone who might be worried about missing out: Well, first off you still have the chance to run these now, as they only require a small group by now and are ridiculously easy with players being ten levels higher. But more importantly, Musco speaks the truth. EV and KP NiM are really exactly the same as on story and hard, only with higher numbers. No actual "content" is being removed here. If you've never been, feel free to watch this 2013 video of mine summarising a guild run of both KP and EV NiM (warning: some foul language):
The lesson here is: 1) People in my guild are silly. 2) There really isn't anything in there that you won't still also be able to see on the lower difficulties.
The other piece of news that Musco shared with us is that major changes are coming to conquests. Several events will have their personal targets lowered (though not Total Galactic War), but most importantly, crafting will be turned into a one-time bonus. My gut reaction is that this is a great change, even if I'm not sure if my small guild will ever be able to make it onto the scoreboard again with no crafting. My days of finishing a Total Galactic War with six characters having hit their target are certainly over.
But really, it was not a very exciting way of playing. Being able to accumulate oodles of points for a minimal time investment was just way overpowered. Now you'll have to actually play to hit your target, always. I've heard people say that this will make it even harder for small guilds to achieve a place on the scoreboard, but I'm not so sure about that. What it really does is cut down on the advantages of having lots of alts and being rich, and I see no reason to assume that people with those attributes are more likely to be in a small guild than in a large one. Big guilds have also had people crafting for silly amounts of points. And well, when it comes down to having more active players, bigger guilds have always had an advantage. Either way, I'm curious to see what sort of scores we'll actually see on the conquest board after this change. I'm pretty sure that the times of guilds finishing with ten million points or more are over.
Even if I think that the proposed changes sound good for the game overall, I doubt that they will really do much to alleviate my own conquest fatigue. With no new incentives I don't think that I will suddenly start working on my personal target with more gusto again, but I've heard that in KotFE one of the rewards will be rare crafting materials that you won't be able to get any other way, which would certainly be exciting. Personally I also think that they should look into adding more repeatable PvE objectives. But mostly I'm just happy to see that they are still paying attention to conquests and trying to improve them, even if activities like this are not going to be their main focus in the upcoming expansion.