Oricon First Impressions

Patch 2.4 brought a lot of new additions to the game today, but for me the initial focus lay on the new PvE content, as usual. As soon as I came online in the evening, Pet Tank and I made our way to Oricon, the new planet moon.

I'd say that more than anything, it's a very atmospheric place. (This is something that Bioware generally seems to do very well.) The environment definitely conveys the feeling of unease that the Dread Masters instil in people; I'm just not entirely sure whether that's a good or a bad thing. In a way it reminds me of many a typical endgame zone in your average fantasy MMO, where everything is corrupted or diseased, which... isn't exactly the kind of environment in which you want to spend all your time. Then again, Makeb is lush and beautiful and yet how often do I actually go there? Not very.

The mobs also seemed to be very densely placed, and after two rounds around the area we were already up to three hundred kills according to the achievement tracker. The heroic area in particular is quite dangerous! You never really know what you'll get with a [Heroic 2], as they can range from very easy to quite hard, but this heroic area is definitely on the tougher end of the spectrum. I can't see myself questing there on my own for long and enjoying it (and not just because killing things as a healer can be tedious).

I did really like the little storyline though (Republic side that is, haven't done the Imperial version yet), and the missions rewards were very good as well, which is always nice. I can see this being a very quick and efficient way of getting a newly dinged alt ready for entry-level endgame content.

Around our usual ops time, the guild leader threw a 16-man group for Dread Fortress story mode together (though we ended up a couple of players short of a full team). A few people in the group had tried the operation on the PTS before, but they mostly kept quiet... so we basically went in blind, without having looked up any tactics. It was a lot of fun to discover things as a group and figure out mechanics on the fly.

The first boss went down with no problems as it was mostly a tank and spank fight, but things soon got interesting. I have no idea what the puzzle component of the second encounter was supposed to be, as I just got to run through some tunnels with a couple of dps, while repeatedly clicking on crystals to open gates in front of us. I'm guessing that it's more involved on hard mode. The actual boss caused our first "wipe" by suddenly disappearing and then not showing his face again, while leaving us stuck in combat for several more minutes. This prompted a group member to at least look up what we were doing wrong, and it turned out that we had neglected to do enough damage to the boss while dealing with the waves of adds, which had automatically caused us to "lose" the fight. That definitely needs to be made clearer in some way, because simply being left stuck in combat with nothing to fight and the boss not resetting is not very intuitive. We had another wipe or two before we got the add management just right, but then we were free to continue.

The third boss was awesome fun - what's not to like about a "Pirate Rancor" as a guildie put it? The over-the-top animations of him jumping around and smashing things with his giant pipe actually had me squealing with glee. After we were done, we also spent several more minutes just running after the magnet in the room to let it drag us into the air over and over again. Sometimes it's the little things...

The fourth boss was mostly funny because his giant laser attack led to a lot of manic running around and claimed quite a few victims. It's as if someone took Golden Fury's big signature attack (and I've complained about how boring that fight is) and thought: How could I make this mechanic more interesting? I know, let's make the boss jump all around the room so people actually have to use their eyes and brains to dodge his laser. It was actually fun! Good job, unknown dev.

In the honoured tradition of end bosses being a considerable step up from the rest of the instance, Dread Master Brontes wiped the floor with us quite a few times before we had seen and learned how to deal with all of her mechanics. Ahh, one-shotting zappy tentacles! Ahh, slowly rotating beam of doom! Ahh, exploding droids everywhere! In the end we got her though, and it felt quite satisfying to finally off another one of the annoying villains that have been haunting us for something like four or five operations now. I honestly think that I've never encountered another raid boss that I genuinely wanted to kill as much as I want to be rid of the Dread Masters.

Now to wait for Bioware to fix the bug that currently makes the final encounter in Dread Palace literally unkillable and then I can't wait to see the end of that particular story!

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