Today I'd like to bring a flashpoint to your attention that hasn't thrived in the wake of the changes introduced in 4.0. In fact, the opposite has been the case: this flashpoint seems to have been pretty much abandoned, which is a crying shame considering its qualities. I'm talking about Colicoid War Game.
Colicoid War Game is one of the launch levelling flashpoints accessible to both factions that are relatively light on story and can be accessed from your faction's fleet dropship hangar. It was originally designed for levels 39-45... and is still only interesting to that level range, as it didn't receive an update to make it scale with level in 4.0. Worse, it was also removed from the group finder (which only shows you tactical, level-neutral flashpoints up to 50 now), and when I asked some guildies to run me through it so I could see the current state of affairs for myself, we found all the loot chests locked and the last boss dropping no loot. I've reported this as a bug, but I'm not sure it isn't intentional. Which is a real shame as Colidoid War Game is actually a very interesting flashpoint in many respects.
Colicoid War Game was the first flashpoint to which I dedicated a whole post on this blog... all the way back in January 2012, because it was so strange and defied our expectations of what this kind of content should be by featuring little combat and being heavily focused on puzzles and dealing with environmental hazards. In essence, it consists of four parts:
First, you are led onto a plain with four turrets. As soon as one member of your party mounts one, waves of colicoids and colicoid-shaped droids start spawning around you, which you are supposed to hold off with the cannons. At launch this event was pretty darn unforgiving as you had no opportunity to heal and the droids tended to shoot you as soon as they spawned. This was alleviated considerably when they changed the turrets to automatically emit a trickle of heals onto the people mounted on them. By this point the biggest challenge became to simply remain calm, as the turrets - very unintuitively - shoot without prompting, so you must only use the directional keys to aim then. If you end up doing anything else in an attempt to make them fire on command, such as press a mouse button, you'll end up dismounting instead. During my first run of the place, I was so good at accidentally dismounting myself that eventually my turret just vanished in disgust.
After two rounds of mowing down colicoids, you face a corridor with a few "trash" mobs. They are pretty hard hitters though, and there are multiple champions among the lot. Add to that the fact that some of the droids have an ability that temporarily makes them immune to all damage if you let the associated cast go through and you have the recipe for something that can be pretty painful for a pug... though at least this section isn't very long.
Next, you face the infamous force field puzzle. Your party has to split up to hold down various buttons to gradually unlock a way towards the end of a "mini maze", though you can cheese things a bit if you have someone with a leap in your party. To keep things interesting, there are also fire and fast respawning droid patrols that will knock you off the narrow catwalks to your death. Fun for the whole family! Like on the initial encounter with the turrets, there are two stages to this that you need to complete.
In the end you emerge into an arena that is very reminiscent of the battle on Geonosis from Episode II, where you have to fight three big beasts and finally one final giant colicoid war droid who is a fairly straightforward encounter but amusingly certain of his victory in his voice snippets.
Why do you have to do all this? Because the colicoids, an alien race of bugs whose non-sentient cousins players will have encountered on Balmorra, have issued a challenge that they will only trade their highly advanced weapons with whoever prevails in their crazy tournament, and of course neither the Republic nor the Empire can miss out on an opportunity like that (lest the other faction get there first).
Just before you get to the final arena, there is a brief cut scene where you see a team of the enemy faction emerge from the trials on the other side of a force field. You have the option to manipulate the local turret controls to make them fire at your competitors, which is pretty hilarious, though it doesn't affect the outcome either way as you don't get to fight them even if you let them live.
While Colicoid War Game's story is not particularly exciting, voluntarily entering a deathmatch competition is a nice change of pace from constantly having to hunt down generic baddies. It's similar to what the Gree event would do later by inviting players to pit themselves against alien droids to test their strength.
It's the mechanics that really make this flashpoint shine though. The turret fight is admittedly somewhat dull once you get the hang of it, but the platform puzzle never ceases to amuse me. It can create some very different experiences, from the pug that takes ages to figure out what to do, with people repeatedly getting knocked to their deaths, to the experienced group that clears the whole area within a couple of minutes. One might call it "the Huttball of flashpoints", eliciting either love or hatred in people, with little space in-between.
I was really quite upset when I realised that this flashpoint hadn't been given any love in 4.0, and even more so when I had to find out that it's also been removed from the group finder and had all its loot taken away. (All the screenshots in this post were taken in "better" aka pre-4.0 days.) I honestly don't understand why that is, as I would have thought that the puzzle mechanics would lend themselves particularly well to being adjusted for a role-neutral group - the only thing you'd really have to do is nerf the hitpoints of the droids in the second section a bit.
I sincerely hope that this complete neglect is only an oversight or at least a temporary measure if there are any particular challenges to this flashpoint that the devs are still figuring out. It would be a real shame to see this fun and unique piece of content go quietly into the night.