03/01/2017

Crafting Is (Not) The Answer

One of the big questions on mine and others' minds in the run-up to 5.0 was how the changes to crew skills were going to interact with Galactic Command and whether they would maybe significantly alleviate the RNG issues present in the system. A month in, my own answer to this question is "maybe, kind of, but not really", which probably requires a bit more explanation.

What I Like About 5.0 Crafting

First off, I do like that the changes made crafting a significant source of gear again. Crew skills have slowly been diminishing in significance over time - I remember when I used to craft and sell low-level augments, but who even bothers with those anymore when everything scales and it barely takes an hour to out-level your old gear? With 5.0 crew skills are back in the game as something relevant, at least at endgame.

I also like the way collecting schematics is almost a little mini-game of its own. I don't usually consider myself a collector (I collect neither mounts nor pets for example) but for some reason I enjoy having all the crafting recipes, even if I don't plan on actually using them all. I've got a spreadsheet to keep track of everything my various crafting alts have learned already and maintain a thread on my guild's forums where others can add what they can make.


Screenshot of said thread from our guild forums.

Crew skill schematics cannot be traded to other players as they bind to legacy on pick-up, but they can drop from Command crates as well as from the crafting crates you get for completing various PvP missions, and ops bosses seem to be guaranteed to drop at least one schematic too, usually for mods and enhancements from the earlier bosses, with the last boss of each op dropping the schematic for either an armoring, a hilt or a barrel. Schematics to craft unmoddable weapons wholesale only drop from Command crates, probably because Bioware knew that many raiders with their love for min-maxing would scoff at items with such unoptimised stat distributions. (Personally, I still like collecting those too.)

Since ops bosses also drop no gear (as of now), crew skill schematics have kind of become "the drop to get excited about" instead. The other day we did Nefra (the first boss in Dread Palace, who has a reputation for being very easy) on nightmare mode and she dropped a tier three mod schematic that our tanks immediately identified as the best in slot for tanking. They got quite excited about this and my pet tank immediately set out to get lots of them crafted.

What I Don't Like About 5.0 Crafting

While crew skill schematics are exciting to some, we also have members who don't care about crafting at all, and to them bosses basically drop nothing of interest at all right now. They'll be happy for others when they get a useful schematic, but that only really works the first time it happens, as one person getting it is enough for the whole guild (strictly speaking), and any additional copies are just a bonus. But even if you do care about crafting in general, that feeling of replacing the enhancement in your legs with something crafted can feel a bit lacklustre compared to say, prying a whole new weapon from a dead boss's hands.

I also fear that over time, crafting anything but the third tier of items will become completely pointless. People do it now because access to tier three anything is limited by the CXP grind and they'd rather have a small upgrade than nothing, but ultimately anyone will be able to craft nightmare tier gear without having to kill any nightmare bosses, so why would you make the lesser versions still? Sure, the material cost goes up as you go up in tiers, but access to materials is also only gated by time/grind so everyone can get them eventually.

More than anything else though, the system is still too heavily affected by the RNG of the Galactic Command crates. Pre-5.0, we had this vision of maybe filling that one slot that you can't get to drop from the crates with a crafted item, but in practice this isn't how it's played out for me and many others. I made it through the entirety of Command tier one with only filling half my gear slots with new stuff, and while filling the rest with crafted items would have been possible, there was always this feeling of: "But surely something must be dropping for one of these other slots soon? How bad can my luck possibly be?" Eventually I gave in and crafted myself some new implants at least since my main is a Biochemist, just to have them replaced by slightly better greens as soon as I hit Command tier two. Basically, trying to fill any missing slots with crafted items is as likely to help you as it is to cause more frustration, if thanks to the wonders of RNG it turns out that your time and money were wasted because the next day you get something better from a crate after all.

In short, it feels to me like the revamped crafting system mostly works OK on its own merits, but instead of helping to solve the problems of Galactic Command, it's gets bogged down by the same system's flaws instead.

This is my impression after one month anyway - there is obviously still a chance that things might shake out a bit differently over time. What have been your own experiences with crew skills post-5.0?

8 comments :

  1. Since the schematics drop in operations, and require mats that also drop in operations, it's a sales pitch for operations!

    For a casual player like me, who plays a lot of alts, crafting and Galactic Command are like a distant mirage. I'm as likely to get a pet unicorn as to see any gear from it.

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    1. Ok, that comment was nothing but grousing. Here's a non-grousy suggestion for fixing GC:

      The first few gear levels should be easier than they are now. The item mod schematics for those levels should drop from GC. They should also not require mats that only drop from one or two gameplay activities.

      After you get to, let's say 234, that's when the grind gets REAL. That's when you only get schematics from ops, and require ops only mats.

      That's closer to what we had in 4.0, and is not complicated to understand, so win-win.

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    2. But the schematics already do drop from GC crates too. And the mats aren't limited to operations, they also drop from PvP crates and flashpoints - I actually ended up with a couple in my bags simply from running a tactical on one of my lowbies...

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    3. I'm talking about mod, hilt, armor and enhancement schematics, which only drop in operations.

      The bigger problem with GC though, is that it only supports group queuing Right now it's heavily slanted for ranked warzones. If these activities appeal to you then that's great. If you don't like these activities then you won't hit tier 2 in 2017.

      The goal of GC is to keep us subscribed and busily working on your characters. If you don't naturally PvP, or play a lot of successful Ops, this system will fail you.

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    4. That's what I'm saying: they don't - I've got them from boxes too.

      Haven't done any ranked warzones myself, but I've seen people say that grinding KotFE chapter one is a good way of getting CXP fast. :P For all of GC's faults it seems a bit odd to me to complain that a system that now allows everyone to get the same rewards through grinding and enables you to do this completely solo if you want should still give some rewards for doing content that involves other people... it's still too grindy for everyone.

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    5. I have a set of stealth toons that I run through a set of 25 of my "favorite" heroics with weekly. My Shadow started this week at GC level 10. Twenty five heroics later he's at... (wait for it...) GC 10! At this pace he'll maybe be GC 40 by Jan 1, 2018.

      This idea that soloing makes any impact on your GC level is pure fantasy. Especially with the announced changes in 5.1, it's grind warzones or forget the whole deal.

      Bioware is going to be surprised at how many people pick "forget the whole deal".


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    6. Sounds like you're not going through the Galactic Command interface for Heroics and only going through the Heroics terminal, which is vastly inefficient for CXP gain.

      The GC interface provides a mission which grants 450 CXP when you complete a planet's Heroic missions (or Dailies if applicable). 25 Heroics may only grant 500 CXP in total but if this covers four to five planets gone through the GC Interface this will increase by at least an extra 1,800 - 2,250, which is over an entire Command Rank's worth of CXP at Rank 10.

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    7. Yes, that's correct Calph, thanks for the tip!

      I may actually see rank 90 and some tier 2 before Knights of the Next Random Empire (KONRE) raises the level cap to 75... :)

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