04/03/2016

Flashpoint Friday: Czerka Corporate Labs

Today I'd like to talk about Czerka Corporate Labs, the first of the two Czerka flashpoints that were released in patch 2.3 (August 2013).

General Facts


Czerka Corporate Labs and Czerka Core Meltdown were the first new flashpoints to be added to the game after the release of Makeb and the second set of new flashpoints to be added after launch (with the first one being Kaon Under Siege and Lost Island). They are located on the moon CZ-198, which was added in the same patch as a new daily area.

They were the first flashpoints to come with a tactical mode, though Bioware hadn't come up with the term "tactical" yet and they were only referred to as role-neutral at the time (you still had to be level 55 to do them). Hardmodes with a regular trinity requirement were also included at release.

Initially running both of these was part of the CZ-198 weekly quest, which meant that people ran them all the time. However, in 3.2 this requirement was taken away, so that the weekly now only requires an easy [Heroic 2+] mission instead.

There is still a one-time story quest that ties the two flashpoints together, called Titans of Industry for both factions.

Fights

You can tell that this flashpoint was designed as a tactical from the ground up, as the trash consists pretty much exclusively of weak and silver mobs on "normal" mode, which are pretty much pushovers and allow you to proceed swiftly and without too many breaks to heal up even in a sub-optimal group.

There is a slightly interesting mechanic in the run-up to the first boss when you have to find three security key cards, which can simply be achieved by running around and looking for the glowing, clickable things, but the process can also be sped up by whipping out your Macrobinoculars to highlight the correct location. 

For most of the flashpoint you just fight security guards and droids, until close to the end when some "experiments" come into the mix, which look like flesh raiders from Tython. These have an interesting mechanic as they come in a red and blue version, which attract each other until they self-destruct. So if you enter a room with two red ones in it, your best course of action is to free two blue ones nearby, so they'll just annihilate each other without doing too much damage to your group.

The first boss is a droid that sits in a pool of water and likes to pull people into it to electrocute them. After every other pull he also summons adds. I actually think that this fight is pretty well designed for a role-neutral group, it can just get annoying if people spend too much time running about and dps is low, as the boss has a good amount of health.


The second boss, the security chief, follows a similar design of not requiring a tank but keeping people on their feet with ground effects and the occasional add spawn.

Finally, the last boss is in a room full of imprisoned experiments, which he will release one at a time if you'll let him - people quickly found out however that it's much easier to just release them all yourself and let them annihilate each other quickly so you only have the boss to worry about afterwards.

Story

The story is that the Republic has finally decided that Czerka (a company of questionable moral standing that you encounter repeatedly while levelling and that is responsible for The Thing Czerka Found among other things) is too corrupt and wants to seize the company's assets - except that a certain chief executive called Rasmus Blys in a research facility on a moon called CZ-198 refuses to surrender and threatens to unleash a certain "Vigilant" security system upon any intruders. Republic players want to bring him to heel, and Imperials basically want to get in there before the Republic does (being urged on by another Czerka employee that wants to escape the purge).

The first flashpoint is about fighting your way through what seems to be both a laboratory as well as a corporate/show-off area until you face Rasmus himself. When you finally get to him, he activates the Vigilant system but you don't yet get to find out what it is; that part is revealed in the second flashpoint.

Conclusion


When the two Czerka flashpoints were released, my intial reaction was one of slight disappointment, as they were the first SWTOR flashpoints without a single interactive cut scene. There is a non-interactive monologue by the boss at the end, which features the cut scene pictured above (which I'll never get tired of screenshotting), but it's not quite the same.

This makes Corporate Labs a particularly quick and easy romp in a pug (no worries about people moaning to skip cut scenes), but it also means that it doesn't capitalise on Bioware's greatest strength and feels a lot like a generic dungeon that might as well be part of any other MMO. I'm always quite pleased when I get it as my random because I know that I'll get a fast and hassle-free run, but at the same time I never have the urge to actively seek it out to re-experience its story. The fact that beating up a fat CEO doesn't feel that epic after all the things players have encountered in previous flashpoints probably doesn't help.

It seems that even Bioware realised this though, as they backed away from this nearly cut-scene-free direction again after Czerka, and all the flashpoints that were released afterwards contained at least a little bit more story again.

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