30/11/2016

Knights of the Eternal Throne Expansion, Day 1

I did something for Eternal Throne that I've never done for an MMO expansion before: I took the day off work. Not the Tuesday, since the servers didn't come up until shortly before the end of my work day anyway, but the Wednesday afterwards. To be fair, it wasn't so much because I was much more hyped for KotET than for any previous MMO expansion that I played on launch day but more because the end of the year is approaching and I still had a couple of unused days of holiday left. I figured I might as well use one on this.

From a technical point of view, the (early access) launch was pretty damn smooth. The servers came up slightly earlier than expected on Tuesday and upon logging in several guildies immediately commented that the game seemed to run much more smoothly than before. The inevitable bugs and such also seem to have been relatively mild so far. While visually terrifying, the fact that my character's head and arm trade places whenever she sits still on her tauntaun is more funny than annoying.


WTF

Other than that, my trooper's armour randomly changed into bounty hunter gear in a couple of cut scenes and, um... I heard there is now a bug with the last fight of KotFE chapter 16, but they are aware of it and there is a temporary workaround. There was a slightly game-breaking bug with the new Command interface apparently, but they were able to hotfix it quickly and before any serious exploitation could occur. That's pretty good going for Bioware to be honest.

The changes to the UI were slightly confusing at first but I'm getting used to them. The first Dark vs Light battle was won by the dark side on TRE within about an hour, but I blame this on the fact that the new interface element that lets you select which side you want to fight for is by default partially hidden behind the mini map so that only the dark side toggle is visible! Since then things have evened out somewhat though and I've seen both light and dark side victories.

As for KotET's story - don't worry, there won't be any spoilers in this post, only some very vague general thoughts on it. I played through the first six chapters on Tuesday evening and then the last three on Wednesday morning. I didn't feel quite as pressured to keep going as I did during the early KotFE chapters, but that's not really a bad thing. They still flowed quite smoothly from one to the next; it just felt a bit less jarring to take a break here and there to check your mailbox and stuff like that since they were a bit more self-contained.

It's hard to judge Knights of the Eternal Throne purely on its own merits because it's so obviously a direct continuation of Knights of the Fallen Empire. KotFE started off strong, drawing a lot of positive energy from players being intrigued by what had happened during that five-year time skip and who this Eternal Empire was. It floundered a bit towards the end though because almost nothing got resolved. KotET sets this right, starting us off very much in medias res, without the need to explain what's going on and who these people are (even if Bioware has said that you can start KotET without having played KotFE if you want) and gets things done. Also, while I was initially disappointed by the announcement that no more of our missing companions would be coming back for this story arc, after having actually seen the result I can't deny that it was probably the right choice to make. KotET is just so much more focused on its existing characters and finally gives them the time and attention they deserve.


I'm not yet sure in what format I'm going to present my more specific thoughts on KotET. I went with the "chapter by chapter" format for KotFE because that's how the later ones were released, but I didn't think I would need that format again for KotET since everything was released at once. However, there are so many different things to talk about in each chapter and they evoke such different emotions at times that I might as well split my "review" into chapters anyway - once I have more than one playthrough under my belt, that is.

A note on PvP, of which I've also already done a fair bit since hitting level 70: Healing seems so much more powerful than before now! It's weird to see everyone's health pools ratcheted up to about 130k, which is nearly double of what we had at level 65, and while damage and healing numbers have increased too, I don't think they've increased by as much. The result is that it feels even harder now to kill anyone, making combat feel a bit "spongy" as soon as there's more than one healer present. That might just be my own impression - I've also seen people claim almost the opposite, that fights are too bursty now - but I'm mentally preparing myself for some nerfs.

6 comments :

  1. I spent yesterday updating the mini-Reds' machines while I worked. They'd been on LOTRO a lot more lately (except the eldest), so it took quite a bit longer than I expected. Good thing I didn't need a large amount of bandwidth for work.

    I thought about logging in last night, but I guess I should be glad I didn't due to the crowds.

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    1. Are you even caught up with the current story? I don't remember you commenting on any of the post-launch chapters, just that you kept putting them off. :P

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    2. I've done the first Nine Chapters, and I've been reluctant to finish the rest. I'm kind of torn between wanting to find out what happens and being scared about staying up all night playing because I can't put it down.

      My youth, it has left me. ;-)

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  2. Oh, you've done so much already! I haven't been able to play much, unfortunately, and I started by playing through the chapters on veteran mode, which goes slow. But I enjoy it so much more than moving through piles of storymode skytroopers! And I've been feeling the same as you did, sometimes just going to my stronghold in between to check things. Less absorbed by it than with KOTFE but definitely loving it.

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    1. Isn't veteran super annoying as a healer? Or are you playing as dps? I'm definitely not interested in prolonging the fights until I go in on a dps alt...

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    2. I'm doing them specced DPS - although I've tried all specs and companion stance combinations for some of the more difficult encounters, healing always proved unfavourable. I've never really identified to one specific role on my characters, though, (apart from back in 2012, when I was totally new and only healed on my sage because I wanted to get familiar with the game first): I always try to be equally proficient at all three specs on my main characters.

      I've found the best way to survive the sometimes brutal incoming damage on veteran mode is the offence: use big cooldowns and eliminate the largest threats asap. I have been switching my utilities and the two different sage DPS specs all the time to adapt to specific fights. Fun to have to think about your approach instead of running in.

      But yeah, don't go into veteran mode as a healer. I don't even know if it's possible - perhaps if you have a high tier of the new gear. Chapter 2 (the hardest so far) I definitely couldn't do healing in 224 gear.

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