12/12/2018

5.10 Launch Night

Boy, am I ever going to have a lot to say about this patch! But since a lot of it is spoilerific and I want to wait a bit with discussing spoilers, let's start by talking about a few technicalities.

The Bug

While the servers were down for patching, my guildies were joking in Discord about just how long the downtime was going to last. When the servers came up an hour early, it was my guildie Araf who uttered the in my opinion most prophetic prediction: "I won't be surprised if they shut them down again in an hour or two after finding a new hot exploit." And indeed, it didn't take thirty minutes for the servers to go down again, with a note on Twitter that they had found a "potentially severe issue".

Basically what happened is this: One of the new features of this patch is that the new story offers an auto-complete option for KotFE and KotET. If you want to just do the new stuff, without worrying about having to play through anything that came before, you can go right ahead and the game will pick some default options for you as far as story-relevant choices go. Now, the problem was that for some reason this process actually triggered for all characters the moment they started the new story, even if they had actually completed the previous storylines, effectively overwriting the player's choices with the new defaults.

I saw some grumbling about this ("Isn't this what the PTS is for?"), but in all fairness, I could sympathise with Bioware on this one. It was a bug that was triggered by the new story content, which hadn't been on the PTS, and while they obviously must have done some internal testing, I could easily see how this sort of thing could have been overlooked. If your chosen character had made the most likely choices, the default overwrite wouldn't trigger any noticeable changes, but even if it did, you would have had to immediately inspect your giant companion roster to notice any odd changes, unless they specifically affected a companion that you were actively using at the time.

It was still a pretty embarrassing bug to go live with, considering it was the kind of thing that was noticeable immediately with thousands of people jumping into the new story at once; I'm just saying I kind of feel for Bioware here anyway. Also, to give credit where it is due, Eric Musco was very good at keeping everyone up to date on their progress via Twitter, they did a full rollback to make sure that nobody lost anything, and the three hours delay until the servers were back up for good weren't too bad in my eyes. I've seen much worse in any case.

Bring A Friend!

One thing that excited me about another open world story installment was that, like Iokath, it would enable me to play through it with my pet tank again. Sure, I expected there to be some personal conversations/phases, but that's something we've had since launch. That's always been a part of the game; I just don't want it to be all there is.

Now, imagine my pleasant surprise when I found that Bioware had actually put some thought into this and tweaked the way the story phases work on Ossus. All the phases we entered for the Republic story were multiplayer phases, so that we could play together and share progress on quest objectives such as killing X mobs, but when we entered a cut scene we would each have our own personal conversation, just simultaneously - the best of both worlds really.


The only downside was that about half of the time, the new system didn't actually work as intended and bugged out. Once my quest didn't progress after a conversation, and I had to walk out, wait for my pet tank to finish and then walk in again to redo my bit. Another time we got separated into our own phases for no discernible reason (the phase wasn't marked as personal), continued on our own anyway, but when I reached the NPC at the end it wouldn't let me talk to her as the game insisted that I was a guest in my own phase and therefore not allowed to talk to anyone. I had to quit the group altogether to finish that one. The reason I'm still giving Bioware so much praise even though it was far from a smooth experience for me and my pet tank in the end is that I could at least tell that they thought about how to make it a better experience for groups and tried, which is more than they've bothered to do since Shadow of Revan.

Pew Pew!

I've mentioned before that I've been habitually playing in the PvP instance in recent months, so when we got to Ossus my pet tank and I had to decide whether I would join him in PvE or he would come join me in PvP, and he agreed to do the latter. It was surprisingly fun! We got more than a dozen Imp kills while only dying once ourselves, and there were some pretty fun and memorable moments, such as the duel against an Imperial tank/healer duo that forced me to blow every last one of my cooldowns, or the time we got embroiled in a fight on a staircase carved into the side of a cliff and many bodies went flying to their death.


With a name like that you're pretty much asking for it.

It only slowed our questing down a little - it's not like we were actively looking for fights, we'd just spar with any Imps that crossed our paths and then moved on - and actually added a nice layer of RP-like immersion to the whole thing: When we saw evil Imps burning the Jedi's farms for example, we could and would actually run up and stop them.

I have a lot of thoughts to sort out about the story, but that's for another post (or another two, or three...).

10 comments :

  1. Personally, I feel the auto-complete option could have been implemented similar to how Kotor 2 retroactively allowed you to set up Revan's gender and allegiance. A selection of options peppered in the various dialogue to allow a more suitable fit for the kind of character you are playing.

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    1. I've never played KOTOR 2, but for Dragon Age they had this whole website called Dragon Age Keep where you could "build your backstory" to base your next game on. Then again, with SWTOR being multiplayer I kind of like the idea of people with "unusual" choices actually having "earned" them by playing through the story instead of just ticking some boxes.

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  2. I finished the story in about 30 minutes or something. I don't care about dailies, am I going to have to wait another 3 months for more story content?

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    1. 3 months? You're new to the game? Or just optimistic? Can't tell...

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    2. LOL @ Anonymous 2...

      @ Anonymous 1: First off, if you play the other faction you'll have another half hour or content to play through. It's depressing to me to already see people who played only half the content complain that there isn't enough - that kind of attitude is exactly why we got settled with an annoying "one size fits all" storyline for the past three years.

      Also, I'm not sure what you expected... SWTOR's actual story content updates never take much longer than this to complete.

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    3. Thanks for your answer, I just figured there would be a little more story to play through with a whole new world. But I guess I was mistaken, I've since read that there is supposed to be a new expansion on the horizon relatively soon (6.0) which should bring more actual story content?

      Also after seizing a throne and making an alliance going back to just simple Empire vs Republic seems... boring without class stories.

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    4. Indeed, there will be a 6.0, though we don't know anything about it yet other than that it will be a thing.

      And a lot of people actually didn't care for the Eternal Alliance at all and have been longing to get back to Republic vs. Empire - myself included.

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  3. On launch night I played both faction stories and my only criticism is that the republic story pacing seems off. You're doing fairly standard quests and then just get a big reveal, a boss fight and it's over. The impside stretched it out a little and overall seemed to flow better.

    Everything else so far is really good. From the difficulty of the mobs not being one shot kills, I can actually do full rotations and use cooldowns. It feels like a game again and not a movie.

    The dailies are of the type I like, nice and simple and plenty of them. The heroics need to be approached with a little care. I even stumbled into the heroic 4 and enjoyed the challenge of soloing it on my 242 geared Jugg with a level 10 companion. It took two wipes and lots of LOS, kiting, heroic moments, cooldowns, CC, mild panic and a few expletives, but I did it.

    If 5.10 is an indication of what to expect in 2019 then 2019 could be a very good year for Swtor. It's certainly tempting me to come back to the game.

    I'd give 5.10 an 9/10, it's kept me entertained for 15+ hours so far.

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    1. Glad to hear you're enjoying it too! :D Also, fancy meeting you in that Voidstar, heh! You sure earned those MVPs.

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    2. Thanks, not played PVP for so long I can't remember the last time I did, must be over a year. So I'm really rusty at pressing the buttons and killing stuff but objectives, objectives I can do.

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