Gearing Up

Even though they are ridiculously complicated and also very grindy if you want to gear up through PvP only, I've been quite happy with the changes to gearing that came with 5.1, and I've been enjoying the new boost to Command XP as well. I realise it's a bit silly, but I actually kind of like that the newly introduced complexity encourages me plan and think about my gear acquisition again.

From my point of view, the best way to get a full set of set bonus gear is now once again through operations. If you are part of a regular group that is familiar with the content, you can easily knock out two operations a night, which means four guaranteed gear drops in 8-man (something for half the group) plus potentially some bonus loot too. My own guild has mostly been clearing hard veteran modes, which is good for set pieces with item rating 236. It feels good to finally fill those gear slots for which the Command crates have refused to provide so far.

Speaking of Command levels, I hit tier three just before the CXP event started, so the increased CXP gains have been yielding tier three crates at a nice clip. I actually got lucky and got both a 242 chest piece and a helmet out of them already. This actually does feel good now, as it feels like a lucky break and one less piece I need to actively hunt for, instead of making me think: That should have dropped thirty crates ago and why do I have no power over what gear I get?

I've even levelled my Sage healer alt to 70 and started taking her to story mode operations. Who cares about Command rank when I can get a full set of 230 from just running the content again? Good times. Now that the CXP packs that drop from the bosses are bound to legacy, I can also send those around and funnel them towards the character I want to boost the most - right now that means that the ones from my alt's runs go to Shin, but whenever she manages to complete her gear, I expect the packs to start going the other way round.

The ultimate plan is to get full 236 for my Commando (as far as possible - for example I'm not very likely to get the belt as that only drops from hard veteran mode Monolith and we've never actually killed that)... and then start looking at filling any gaps / upgrading the 236s to 242s via the PvP tokens. I'm slowly accumulating those via daily warzone matches as well; I'm just holding off on spending them for now to see what else might trickle in from the crates. Plus with just how grindy the system is right now, I kind of expect Bioware to reduce the prices in the not too distant future, which I would like to take advantage of too.

Yes, it's all bit complicated... but I have a plan again and I'm loving it.


  1. The loot system doesn't feel like a grind to you because it's designed around activities you would do anyway. Bioware's "plan" is to sell filthy casuals like me to queue up for ops and pvp. This dovetails nicely with your plan.

    The problem is that it's a tough sell for most people. Most people have tried ops and pvp, so they already know if that's how they want to spend their time. If the only reason you are doing hard group content is "for the gear", then it will be a horrible soul sucking grind.

    If you don't play the "Galactic Command approved" way, prepare to be punished or your poor life choices. You won't loot unassembled gear pieces. You won't get unassembled components. You gain CXP at slower rates. Every alt you play starts with 90 levels of tier 1 hell.

    In the old system I had options to get mid tier gear fast, and I really liked it. As soon as I was "done" with one character I'd get started on the next. The sheer GRIND factor combined with the lottery odds RNG just killed all that momentum for 5.0.

    Any "fixes" I'd suggest for GC involve changing their philosophy:

    Embrace all playstyles by having CXP gains be equal.

    Unassembled components in casual scrub activities.

    Get alts into tier 2 fast.

    Up the RNG so you don't waste 60 crates in a row.

    All of these suggestions come from my different philosophy about gearing. They would destroy the "only for the hardcore, only for the headstrong" vibe GC has now. Here's the thing though: I'm not a lone voice in the woods here.

    You'll find "my" ideas in the forums, on reddit, In a podcast, on twitch, on YouTube, maybe even on a blog or two! That's because SWTOR players have kept the casual scrubs invited philosophy that 4.0 had. Until we can get Bioware to embrace "our" philosophy, things will not improve.

    1. Oh, it feels like a grind for me alright! Just less so than before. And I'm nowhere near claiming that all the problems are solved and that everyone should be happy now. I'm just saying that it's already a lot better for me than it was two months ago. I appreciate small victories. /shrug

      I just can't agree with the way you seem to label anything as hardcore that you personally don't like. :P There's nothing hardcore about jumping into a 15-minute PvP match for example, neither in terms of time investment nor skill required. In comparison, I boggle at people who have the stamina to regularly grind out dailies... :)

    2. I am glad you're relatively happy with 5.1 and 5.1.1 changes, don't get me wrong.

      I call ops and pvp hardcore activities for two reasons:

      1.) The margin for error is much smaller than casual scrub content.

      2.) If you perform badly you're letting your team down.

      While there's no skill involved in getting into a pvp match, skill is involved if you want to win. When I pvp, I want to win, and I want to be a major reason we won. I don't want to let my "team" down.

      In contrast, even if I find a way to die during a daily, it's only myself that has to suffer. If anyone even knows I died, they'd just be amused at the epic levels of derp I just displayed.

  2. I'm even more of a filthy casual than The Nickster then. I'm currently using the boosted exp event to get characters to level 70 and grinding their trade skills and companion "levels". Weekly heroics and some random quests on whatever world I end up on are all that’s needed. Even my "main", a Sorc, has only barely started the CXP ladder climb. Gear has only one purpose for me and that is to look good (so long as the stats don’t suck!). My near-max-level characters have anything from level 40 junk through to some items of 220. Their outward appearance is often costumes made up of any nice looking green or blue gear they found while levelling, mixed with the many cartel sets I've picked up. If my daughter is watching me play, I will be using one of my female characters wearing a bright pink wedding dress!

    SWTOR is essentially a solo game for me, though all characters are in guilds of a sort. I will occasionally do the 4-person flashpoints with whatever randoms the group finder supplies. I also frequently help out newbies on the early planets as they work out how to play.

    PVP and ops have almost zero interest for me beyond being a tourist and just checking it out to see what goes on. Even the basic 4-person content is generally more hassle than its worth. Some people take their pixels entirely too seriously or just rush the content faster than I care to do. My MMO “hard” group content days are over I think. The weekly heroics can sometimes benefit from grouping up with someone to hammer though them a bit quicker, or to avoid kill competition but are otherwise entirely soloable even with junk gear.

    The point, if there even is one in this ramble, is that I’ll never be too concerned about the grind for gear as its simply not needed for any content that I’d care to participate in. The closest I’ve got to a complete set of “end game” gear was buying the ilevel 208 or 218 set (whatever was second best vendor stuff) at the end of KotFE – and every bit of that has now been replaced by random green crap in the new expansion.

    1. Sounds like you've got a pretty good thing going on there. I certainly don't spend all my time chasing better gear either, but I won't deny that it's something I care about.

      I'm just not sure where all the "filthy casual" references fit in :P, as I see way more people preferring that playstyle than talking badly about it.


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