01/11/2017

Galactic Command Is Alright Now

The other day, while reading through a comment section that shall not be named, I saw someone comment on how hated Galactic Command was, claiming that Bioware was totally tone-deaf for not changing it. My first thought on reading this was: Oh my, you obviously haven't actually played the game in a while, because if Bioware has done anything in the past year it's make lots of changes to Galactic Command.

However, then it occurred to me that this person probably isn't alone in their thinking, because as I've said before: If you're a game developer, your big mistakes will make all the headlines, but your apologies and fixes after the fact won't; so there are probably a lot of (former) SWTOR players out there who left the game over their annoyance with Galactic Command and have never looked back. I can't blame them for having felt that way, it sure was quite terrible in its initial implementation! But it is worth mentioning that Bioware has done a lot to improve the system and it's really quite decent now. So let's look over the changes in case you haven't actually been keeping up with everything that's been going on with the game.

Galactic Command had loads of problems at launch. Let's start by looking back at them:

1) Non-subscribers got completely locked out of endgame gear acquisition, since all of it came out of Command crates, which could only be earned by subscribers.

2) The loot from the crates was completely random, with no bad luck protection if you kept getting the same pair of boots over and over again, and no alternate ways of filling out those missing slots (except for crafting, to some degree).

3) The loot from the crates was in general pretty crappy. Set pieces were rare, and you would get lots of greens.

4) On top of all that, the rate at which you earned these crates of potentially useless loot felt really slow. I can't find the quote now, but I think they said that their original target was for people to earn a crate about once every half hour, and I'm not sure even that was achieved by the average player.

5) The introduction of CXP boosters to the Cartel Market added a certain uncomfortable pay-to-win flavour (or whatever you want to call it) to the game.

Now let's look at how all that has changed!

1) Actually, that one is still around. At the same time, I always considered that the least of the system's problems. Of course I'm biased, being a subscriber myself, but then I also play other F2P games without their optional subscription and find it acceptable to be locked out of high-end gear progression there. /shrug. Crafted gear is still an option, just without the set bonuses.

2) First off, gear drops were added back onto operations bosses, so those serve as a guaranteed source of loot again. A currency called Command tokens was also added to the crates, and tier 1 gear for all slots can be bought for Command tokens directly from a vendor, allowing you to use them to fill the slots for which you didn't get lucky with a drop directly.

There is also a secondary currency called Unassembled Components, which can be used to upgrade tier pieces. So if you make it through the entirety of tier 2 without ever getting the right relic for example, you can use Unassembled Components to upgrade your existing tier 1 relic to tier 2. Currently this second currency only drops from PvP, GSF and nightmare operations, but the next patch will also start awarding it for disintegrating gear from crates, thereby making it accessible to everyone.

3) The number of completely crappy items has been reduced, and as you advance through any given tier, your chances of earning a set piece are constantly increasing. They also added some more extra goodies to the loot tables, such as Command XP boosts and even Grand Chance Cubes, which contain a random item from the Cartel Market and would previously only make it into the game via real money purchases.

4) I don't have the exact numbers, but the basic rate at which you gain CXP has been increased greatly several times. I think it was at least doubled... or was it even tripled? And that's just the base rate; in addition there are also a legacy and a character perk that you can unlock to increase your rate of CXP gain even more. When the system was first introduced, I felt accomplished if after a whole day of heavy farming I had six or seven crates to show for it. Nowadays a casual ops run with my guild (meaning that we do content that we can clear easily as opposed to wiping on progression) can net me 20+ crates in one go. The other night I did three daily zones with their weeklies and earned 30 crates from it.

5) The boosters still exist, however they can also be purchased from an in-game vendor on the fleet (thus without a real money requirement) and even have a chance of dropping from Command crates.

In short: While I was really unhappy with the state of endgame at the end of last year, on a basic level it has managed to return to something similar to what it was before the introduction of Galactic Command (ability to slowly earn currency to buy basic gear from a vendor, better gear can be acquired more quickly from operations drops), with the crates basically being a nice bonus that results in the occasional extra goodie at the end of the evening. If you stopped subscribing because the initial iteration of Galactic Command annoyed you, don't be afraid to give it another try!

17 comments :

  1. Galactic Command is still too long to grind to 300. Months with boosters. The drops are still too random to be of any use. Its random if loot drops, random if its a set piece, random if its level 248 gear, random if its a piece don't have (you can get a piece you already have). Thats too much RNG. You've just become apathetic.

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    1. You sure you didn't mean to call me a Biofail apologist or something? ;) Apathy is a pretty strange accusation to leave on a dedicated fan blog...

      Anything can take months if you don't play a lot, but I see people around me taking new alts from 1 to 300 in pretty much a matter of days now. It's really not that much of a grind anymore.

      And there's nothing wrong with RNG if it's just one of several options - which it is now.

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    2. It's seems, that our first Anonymous is one of the players, who left the game and never came back.

      "Months with booster.", "still too long to grind to 300.". I can tell you, mate, this is not the current state of the system.

      Just this week i pushed one char from 180 to 293 doing Master-Mode-FPs with my guild and some daily-area-weeklys.

      The droprate is near the end fantastic; my char is almost full 242 with the occasionally 246 armoring drops.

      Nonetheless i think GC is P2W because only we subscriber have access to BiS.

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  2. As a supplement to regular gearing through operations and PVP, Galactic Command is fine. With the perks and a booster and I got nearly 40 levels from twp hours of dailies this afternoon. And compared to the comms systems of previous endgames, GC is a vast improvement. If you weren't raiding or pvping, you'd grind purple comms week after week just to buy badly itemized gear that would be replaced by lower level set pieces. At least with GC, you're getting gear with good stats and set bonuses from any kind of play, which is something casual players simply could not do before. I agree with Shintar, don't hold GC's really rough launch against its current state. I'd like to see some protection against doubles, but I'm not gonna complain about getting BIS gear from running tactical flashpoints or dailies.

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    1. I actually kind of enjoy the "levelling up" aspect of it too now that it goes so fast, regardless of what's in the boxes. But then I've always liked levelling, sooo...

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  3. Just a sliiiiiiight correction here. Sorry!

    Since 5.2 and the introduction of Tier IV, Tier I stuff is now no longer upgradeable into Tier II; gear from this Tier can now be bought outright with Unassembled Components and do not require a corresponding Tier I piece.

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    1. Haha, I didn't even know that, and here I've still been hanging on to my old 230 pieces on some of my alts just in case I wanted to upgrade them later. Just one more thing to add to the complication pile.

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  4. I'd probably play the game again if there was any way for F2P to particpate in the GC system, I thought it was actually pretty cool, but since the only thing I can really see myself doing at this point is running the same Operations and Flashpoints that have been around forever, I find it's just not worth my time waiting for the updates.

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    1. You might find it worth subscribing for a month in the new year then, when the new operation is completed. By that point we'll also have more than one new flashpoint to run.

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  5. Yes the system was fixed but the question is why it wasnt released in such an optimal state? I mean they should have been able to deduce that people have been used to getting the gear fast since we had the Priority ops just before where you could gear up a toon in 1 week.

    So for me, yes, they did fix it and the system is good now. However, Im 100% sure it was all their plan to simply fill the time with something. Delaying these improvements for so long was simply then now having and new content and buying time!

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    1. Sorry, but that sort of line of thought is too "conspiracy theory" for me. They are quite capable of keeping us busy without releasing new content - see the whole Dark vs. Light event. Nobody would intentionally invite bad PR like this. Not to mention that if they had all this time and energy to come up with a master plan for how to release a broken system and then slowly pretend to fix it over time, they would have had time to do something more productive.

      No, I fully believe that whoever originally signed off on Galactic Command genuinely thought that it was a good idea - for whatever reason...

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  6. My biggest issue with Galactic command right now is that it took Bioware more than half an year to fix a completely broken and unfriendly to the players system. It is nice and working well now, but for the time they spent developing it in the first place and then fixing it, they could have left it the way it was before 5.0 and instead focus on the Operation, which for a full year of development is only 2/5 complete now.

    Of course, being a casual player myself now (and proud with it, hehe), I don't mind having access to the high-end gear through easy farm-able RNG Crap... I mean Crates. Not that I am gearing up my characters, actually. Casuals don't need to gear up, it simply is not needed for the content they (we) do. :)

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    1. Yes, I agree that it was all a sad waste of time. I just don't see the point of crying over spilled milk. A mistake was made and they are fixing it. What else are they supposed to do?

      I'm feeling quite casual myself today, after being lectured on reddit about how I'm clearly a noob with no max-rank characters and how the real average player suffers from being unable to quickly get best in slot for every single one of their dozen alts... :)

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  7. I'm impressed. How'd you get all the Anonymous comments to appear? I only get spam comments about Russian brides or "male enhancement".

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    1. Swtorista just linked the post on reddit.

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  8. I'm a regular visitor of this site. I never go on reddit.

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  9. Nice overview, Shintar. Can only agree with your conclusions. Galactic Command finally 'works as intended'. Gear is really not a problem at all for my characters. I have three raid ready characters, and could easily gear up some more without too much effort once I get into the game more seriously again.

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