06/12/2016

Shintar's Galactic Command Diary, Week 1

Day 1:

I hit level 70 from completing KotET chapter seven and had earned two crates by the time I was done with the story - unsurprisingly, the first couple of Command levels come easy. After the horror stories I'd heard about the livestream where Musco got nothing but greens from the crates even at Command rank 90-something, I was pleasantly surprised to find ilevel 230 blues in mine. While they still weren't upgrades, their quality at least didn't feel insulting. None of the cosmetic items interested me either, so I just disintegrated everything - including the companion gifts because you can buy them for credits anyway, and every little counts when early estimates suggest that it might take a whole year to reach Command rank 300, even for a pretty active player. The only thing I kept was a Cybertech schematic for a purple 230 earpiece, which I sent to my Guardian alt.

Next I did some PvP, which turned out to be a much better source of Command XP than anticipated. Out of the four crates from that I got some greens and reputation trophies which I disintegrated, four more crew skill schematics for my various alts, a Pyroclastic Subteroth pet and... dun dun dun - a purple 230 set piece (legs), which really surprised me as I had read somewhere that set items wouldn't start dropping until a much higher Command rank.

In the evenings I ended up doing some uprisings and operations with guildies to evaluate how good these were for CXP. Sadly Bioware appears to have taken out the "get a bonus while in a group" concept at the last minute, as killing a gold or champion mob solo yields the exact same amount of CXP as doing so in an 8- or even 16-person group. I finished the evening with another six crates, whose entire contents I ended up disintegrating except for a Synthweaving schematic.

Day 2:

Back to work, so there was less time to play, though I still managed to acquire five crates through an intense mix of operations, uprisings and warzones in the evening. In one of the warzones we did I managed over 8.6 million healing and the other healer on my team (a Sage) even broke the 10 million mark. Warzones were also supposed to be the highlighted Galactic Command activity of the day but we noticed no difference in our CXP gains compared to the previous day - shortly afterwards this was confirmed as a bug.


Screenshot or it didn't happen.

Anyway, most notably these five crates contained: more schematics which I saved for my alts, though I'm foreseeing the need for a spreadsheet or something here to keep track of which of the various schematics I've already collected; and another 230 set piece - but since it was the legs again it ended up disintegrated. A 230 relic got disintegrated as well since it wasn't the type I actually wanted. I claimed a blue 230 implant even though it wasn't an upgrade because my main's a Biochem and I could have sworn that I'd heard somewhere that you can also learn schematics from reverse engineering, however I was disappointed to be presented with a "no research available" message when ripping it apart.

I noticed that things like pets and cosmetic gear don't actually bind on pickup and some people have opted to claim these purely to sell them on the GTN - however, since credits are not a problem for me, I'll continue to go with disintegration because that actually "buys" me progress that I can't get any other way.

Day 3:

More miscellaneous group content in the evening; end result: six crates. Light side seems to always dominate during my main play time now, which is handy for the CXP bonus. Claimed a purple 230 ear piece, a blue 230 main hand and a cosmetic bounty hunter chest piece, though I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the latter as I only decided to keep it on a bit of a whim. Collected another schematic for an alt. Everything else disintegrated.

Day 4:

A day of exciting changes. A patch was supposed to fix the bugged bonus for the highlighted Galactic Command activity, but neither me nor my guildies could notice a difference between the numbers from before and after the patch. The system remains opaque. Also, the amount of CXP you get for killing a gold mob was dramatically nerfed, from 10 to 1. Why? Because a player who goes by the name of Jerba on the forums hit the supposedly unhittable weekly cap for Command XP after only three days. Apparently he had spent all his waking hours grinding mobs until he ran into a dead end at rank 100. (He even uploaded a video, which shows the location on Tatooine where he grinded and that he had a full ops group of people happily joining him - oh, and you can see that he's German. Insert joke about German work ethic here!)

For some reason, people on the forums and on Reddit completely lost their shit about this nerf. To me it made perfect sense: The mob killing bonus was clearly meant to serve as "padding" for people's XP gains while doing the harder content, but the last thing a game like SWTOR wants to encourage is mindless mob grinding. That this was actually the most efficient way to level up was clearly a bad calculation on their part and needed to be fixed, but either way it changes little about the overall nature of the system. Though I am a bit sad that I'm now unlikely to see a repeat of my ops group clearing out the entire jungle area in Eternity Vault.


Probably unlikely to be a repeat occurrence now.

In the afternoon, we tried a couple of hardmode flashpoints to see how they held up as sources of Command XP, and they weren't too bad - though we did suffer a lot of deaths since we weren't used to things hitting that hard anymore. What we did notice however is that Bioware made a right pig's ear out of their naming conventions with the whole veteran/master thing. While for uprisings, veteran is the equivalent of hardmode and master will be nightmare, for flashpoints they decided for some reason to rename tactical to veteran and hard to master. Even in that they haven't been consistent though, and in various bits of mission text and achievements, hardmode was alternately referred to as veteran or master, while at other times both tactical and hard still had their old names. If that sounds confusing, it's because it bloody is and makes no sense.

I also ran into a thread on Reddit that claimed that Galactic Starfighter was a good source of CXP too. I did a couple of matches myself to test this and they certainly weren't wrong. What was funny though was that I hadn't done a GSF match on Shintar in ages and apparently some patch (might not necessarily have been the latest one) had reset all my main ships' weapons to "none" - so I excitedly hopped into my first match just to find that I wasn't actually able to attack anything as I had nothing to shoot with! Pfft.

All in all, I could tell that my CXP levelling is starting to slow down, as despite of playing all day (it was Saturday) I "only" ended up with seven crates by the end of it all. The contents were pretty good though: Aside from even more schematics, I ended up claiming a blue 230 off-hand and a purple 230 relic that was actually of the type I wanted, woo! I also disintegrated another relic, which bizarrely said in its tooltip that it wouldn't proc in PvP areas, which can only be a bug or mislabelling at this point.

Day 5:

Warzones were the highlighted activity of the day and this time we could actually see the bonus working. Even though it was a Sunday, I played less than I had the previous couple of days and only earned four crates. One contained the exact same relic I had claimed the previous day, forcing me to disintegrate it this time. After seeing oodles of schematics for Cybertech and pretty much all the other crew skills, I finally got my first Biochem schematic, hurrah! Oh, and a belt with set bonus.

Day 6:

After successfully besting EV and KP hardmode the night before, several guildies were keen on more hardmodes, even though we had alts in the group that wouldn't even have been considered well-geared back at level 65. Unsurprisingly, we kept running into a wall already on the very first boss of EC, hitting the enrage with quite a bit of boss health left to go. In the end people could be convinced to settle for a Dread Fortress story mode run instead, but due to the amount of "wasted" time I only earned two crates that evening, and both had all their contents disintegrated.

Day 7:

After another bout of quick maintenance, we saw the introduction of CXP boosters to the Cartel Market. I bought a bunch, but that will be a post for another time. Since I was tired from work and my guildies had a full group anyway, I didn't join for ops that night and only did a bit of PvP. Finished with two crates whose contents got disintegrated once again.

Week 1 Summary:

It feels a bit strange to admit it, but despite of all my concerns about Galactic Command, I did have fun with it this week. It helps a lot that I'm someone who enjoys participating in most aspects of the game to some extent, so I didn't feel like I was "forced" to engage in a specific activity that I didn't really like just to earn optimal amounts of CXP. In fact, it was quite a bit of fun to experiment to see how different types of content interact with the new system. The only CXP-granting activities I didn't participate in at all were dailies/heroics and pure mob grinding (before the nerf to gold mobs).

I also felt pretty lucky in that I got six pieces of gear that were upgrades for me during this first week, two of them with a set bonus. That was after 38 crates though, so on average I got one useful item every sixth or seventh crate.

That does segue nicely into the concerns that still remain though: The grind is real. As explained in the Reddit thread linked earlier in this post, someone calculated that if you managed to earn 20k+ CXP per week, you would hit Command rank 300 in a year. I hit over 90k CXP myself this week, but that was with a crazy amount of time invested for my standards and is definitely not sustainable. I suspect that my enthusiasm in the face of such a system - where even a Herculean effort on my part is nothing but a drop in the bucket - will diminish quickly. Finally, there were all the social issues that I made a separate post about: Guildies getting upset about who was and wasn't favoured by the random numbers; me kind of yearning to play alts but feeling vaguely guilty about it and then not doing it.

How has your own first week of Galactic Command been treating you? Do you want to curse me for being so lucky? I wouldn't blame you! Or have things gone even better for you?

5 comments :

  1. Since Saturday, I have since solved the erstwhile-opaque issue!

    For bonus activities such as Flashpoints, Operations, and Uprisings they not only get a small increase in reward for the mission turn-in but they also drop a "Bonus" CXP Pack which grants slightly more than usual.

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  2. I have managed to replace all my 7 gear slots with greens, blues, and browns (230, 228). I've also replaced both my implants and my ear piece. Wonder if relics drop in the system?

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    1. If you read the post, it says that I had four relics drop from my crates (though I could only use one). ;)

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  3. You know, I haven't actually got to this yet. Haven't got a character higher than 65. Haven't started KotET (and my main hasn't even finished KotFE).

    Just have no enthusiasm for SWTOR right now. Been playing ESO and single-player games. I'm sure I'll come round in a while, but at the moment my interest in the game is at an all-time low. Never has an expansion dropped before and my reaction been "uh?" Maybe it was the super summer of grind, which went down so well they decided we wanted more grind. Maybe it's something else, but somewhere inside me my SWTOR light has gone out, it seems...

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    1. I would definitely recommend checking out the story at least. Most people seem to agree that it's very good and a step up from KotFE.

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