Do not fear, no amount of expansion excitement will keep me from working on my new bi-weekly project (mostly because these posts are easy to write up some time in advance).
I've talked about an Imperial-only flashpoint, I've talked about a Republic-only flashpoint, so for my third installment of Flashpoint Friday I'd like to talk about a flashpoint that is available to both factions, the very first of its kind in fact: Hammer Station!
By the way, if you have any suggestions as for which flashpoint you'd like me to cover next, feel free to leave a comment. Given enough time I should be able to get to all of them, but in terms of priorities I'm pretty flexible.
Hammer Station is the first of six levelling flashpoints that are available to both factions and pretty light on story. They all start from the dropship launch hangar of your respective faction's fleet, and there are breadcrumb quests on the main station and on level-appropriate planets to direct you towards them. If you're Republic, you get a holo call from Master Satele Shan to explain the situation, while Imperials get one from Darth Malgus.
Hammer Station was originally designed for levels 15-21 or so, however come Knights of the Fallen Empire it will scale to a much wider level range and be adjusted to be doable with a role-neutral group.
On Hammer Station you fight the Advozse Hegemony, so your enemies consist of Advozse and various battle droids - lots of battle droids. Hammer Station is a lowbie scavenger's dream, considering how many broken droids you get to take apart on the way.
Hammer Station is the second flashpoint that new players can potentially encounter in the game, and it feels like it was designed to challenge them at least a little at this point. Most of the trash is easy and straightforward, however there are a couple of pulls that can cause deaths or even a wipe if handled incorrectly. In fact, the most difficult one of these is almost right at the start, where a group of multiple droids that includes two strong and two elite mobs awaits. Their combined firepower is considerable, and the healer might not be able to keep up even if the tank somehow manages to get aggro on everything. What's more likely however is that a couple of mobs will go untanked and undamaged and nuke the healer, with predictable results. This is where players may want to look for their early crowd control buttons.
There are only three bosses on Hammer Station, plus a bonus boss that currently only exists on hardmode - a giant lobel.
The first boss is a spider-like tunneler droid that summons adds that don't need to be killed because they explode on their own after a few seconds, however those explosions do need to be dodged. On hardmode, the mining laser with which he attacks the tank leaves a stacking debuff that needs to be dispelled before it gets too high - a mechanic that is trivial if you know what to do, but absolutely deadly if you don't.
The second boss, Vorgan the Volcano, is a straightforward exercise in kill order, as you want to kill his healer and high dps companions first, though getting it wrong is more likely to just extend the duration of the fight instead of outright wiping you.
The final boss, Battlelord Kreshan, is fairly interesting mechanics-wise and reasonably challenging on hardmode, by combining a painful frontal arc with add summons and red circles on the floor. On hardmode he also has a knockback that can send players flying to their deaths. However, in turn you can easily get rid of his adds by knocking them off that same precipice, which makes the fight quite fun for any class that has an AoE knockback.
In the introduction by Master Satele or Darth Malgus you are told that the Advozse Hegemony is wreaking havoc in various star systems by using a space station specifically constructed for the purpose of flinging asteroids at things - originally designed by the Republic, the prototype of this "Hammer Station" was supposed to have been decommissioned ages ago. Your strike team is supposed to board the station and put an end to the Advozse's madness.
So you do. The end.
In the debrief at the end you are told that the reason the Advozse came into the possession of Hammer Station was that it was supposed to be destroyed by being sent into a star but apparently ended up veering off course or something - either way they managed to salvage it before it could meet its intended end.
After the exciting twists and turns of the Esseles (or the Black Talon on Empire side), Hammer Station initially feels like a bit of a letdown. There is no story beyond "go kill these guys" and there are no group conversations inside the instance apart from a brief interlude at a console where you can earn some light or dark side points based on how much of a disruption you're willing to create on the station's engineering level.
However, once you get over the initial disappointment of it not being more revolutionary, Hammer Station is a solid and lovingly crafted instance. There are some great views to be had, especially at one point where you cross a bridge that leads right across the shaft through which the asteroids are shot out... though your average pug is unlikely to pay attention to that. (To be honest, I didn't notice the full scale of the thing myself until Telwyn pointed it out.)
There are also some "easter eggs" for different professions to be had: archaeologists can click on a crate to give the group a small buff, and bioanalysts can open access to a room with a big treasure chest in it. In practice I haven't seen anyone actually bother with any of these however, with the exception of the scavenger gimmick, which allows you to skip a couple of trash pulls by activating a drill.
Either way Hammer Station is a fun little romp with nice scenery and interesting mechanics that hold up well to repetition.