13/05/2016

Flashpoint Friday: Czerka Core Meltdown

In today's Flashpoint Friday I'd like to talk about Czerka Core Meltdown. Would you believe that I had virtually no useful screenshots of that place? On the plus side, when I ran it today to grab some, I got a nice chatty group with two players who were new to the flashpoint and enjoyed being shown around.


General Facts

Like its "twin", Czerka Corporate Labs, Core Meltdown was released as part of patch 2.3 in August 2013. Said patch was called Titans of Industry, just like the accompanying quest line for both flashpoints.

They were the first flashpoints to be released as role-neutral (though Bioware hadn't come up with the term "tactical" yet), though they still came with a hardmode version that required a trinity group. Both flashpoints were also part of the CZ-198 weekly quest until patch 3.2, which meant that people ran them a lot at max level (then 55)... until that requirement was dropped, that is.

Core Meltdown is a straight continuation of the story started in Czerka Corporate Labs.

Fights

The trash, consisting of guard droids and a couple of "experiments", is fairly unimpressive - like the trash in Corporate Labs, it was clearly designed to be easy on groups without a tank or healer - but at least it's not completely without variety. The bosses however range from interesting to challenging.

The first two bosses can be done in any order and are both large beasts kept in special habitats that also play a role in fighting them. (I'm actually a bit unclear on why you need to kill them to progress to the end, but hey... video game logic!)

One of them, a giant Vrblblblther, summons groups of flappy little adds and needs to be weakened by repeatedly being dragged near giant spores that you need to pop at the right time. The other one, a desert Duneclaw, is surrounded by generators that simulate a sandstorm and do heavy AoE damage. Every time one activates, you have to drag the boss towards it so that his smash attack destroys the generator and ends the sandstorm.


Since the boss needs to be directed in both fights, stable aggro is really helpful, but even if you don't have that, whoever has aggro at any given moment will have to take responsibility and lead the boss towards the right spot. This can be a considerable challenge for a pug! The Duneclaw also has the added difficulty of the sandstorms doing considerable AoE damage, which means that it's the boss most likely to result in a "wipefest" (quote from one of my puggers) if you don't have a healer and a tank and/or several of your party members are low level. If the group is reasonably balanced, it's not too bad. I also remember this boss's hardmode version being a bit of a turning point for my Scoundrel because I failed really hard at healing through the fight as a hybrid spec (back when that was a thing), leaving me with the lesson not to go back in there again unless my character was fully prepared.

The last boss, the Vigilant, is something of an odd duck. He (as well as the trash leading up to him) are obviously supposed to be these scary experimental super soldiers created by Czerka... but they all look like flesh raiders, mobs that can otherwise only be found on Tython. It's kind of hard to be impressed by something that reminds you of the wimpy enemies from the starter zone.

Mechanics-wise, the fight is also strange, as you spend more time fighting the environment - taking down static props and spawned adds - than the boss himself. He just waits until you've finished all of that, then pounces down and pretty much dies within a minute.

Story

After having defeated the corrupt Czerka special executive Rasmus Blys in Corporate Labs, it's time to secure the rest of the facility, and Blys managed to activate the mysterious "Vigilant" security system before he died. What could it be?

After having unlocked a way to the core by shutting down all the security systems, including various animal habitats, you finally face the Vigilant: Turns out the mysterious security system is basically one big monster. Once you defeat it, the facility is yours.

Conclusion

I have kind of mixed feelings about Czerka Core Meltdown. First off, it has the same pros and cons as Corporate Labs: The lack of a meaningful story and of interactive cut scenes makes it feel a bit out of place in a Bioware game but also makes it much more repeatable than many other flashpoints.

That said, I also feel that Core Meltdown doesn't come together as well as Corporate Labs. Individual set pieces are well done, but there's a certain feeling of... "What is all of this?" Finding out that the much talked-about top secret security system is just a slightly silly looking monster is a bit of an anti-climax.


On the other hand, the fights are more interesting than those in Corporate Labs in terms of mechanics, with the Duneclaw in particular being one of the more challenging bosses to be found in random flashpoints today. Depending on who you run with, that can also be a bad thing of course...

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