27/10/2019

Reaping the Spoils of War

I'm a bit hesitant to pass judgement on a new gearing system after less than a week of dealing with it, mostly because I actually remember my first week of Galactic Command being decent fun too, even if my enjoyment dropped off rapidly after that. That "new feature glow" combined with the generally happy buzz surrounding the release of a new expansion probably does a good job of covering up many flaws in the beginning.

That said... I do feel confident in saying that Spoils of War already feels a lot less scary and confusing than I thought it was on the PTS.

Basically, the first step you have to take is to work on very straightforward vertical progression up to item rating 306, which is the current maximum. It feels safe to say that there's no reason to care about amplifiers at all before you get there, and if you happen to pick up any set bonus gear, just stow it away for later.

Almost everything seems to be personal loot now, and yours is based on your character's average item rating, so your number one priority is to ensure that this is always as high as possible, regardless of whether the stats on said gear are actually good for you. (I shamefully wore a pair of bracers with defense on them for a few hours because they were higher level than what I was wearing at the time and it helped to boost my average.)

Work in progress.

So if your current item rating is 272 for example, your personal loot drops will all be in a narrow range around that, say 268 to 274. By equipping every 274 piece that drops you slowly raise your average item rating, meaning that the range for potential loot also slowly climbs upwards, and so on and so forth, until you reach the cap.

Then you can start mixing and matching the max-level gear you actually want to keep and start including items with set bonuses. (As set bonuses are now bound to armour shells again, you can save the ones you got with lower item ratings and then just replace the modifications in them with higher level ones.)

At that point you can start building sets for different purposes, and also have a think about what sort of amplifiers you would like to have on them. (While it's a bit like playing slot machine, you can always re-roll the amplifiers on a given piece of gear, if you do want to bother.) Theoretically. I'm not actually up to that stage myself yet.

One thing that Spoils of War has in common with Galactic Command is that you're meant to be able to gear up from "playing your way", by taking part in pretty much any activity in the game. Just like with Galactic Command, this is technically true, but doesn't feel very well-balanced yet at this point.

The first couple of days, when all I was doing were dailies and the new operation on story mode, progress felt pretty slow, but ever since I was tipped off that master mode flashpoints were the place to be right now, things have sped up a lot.

Flashpoint bosses are such loot piƱatas at the moment that we've already got used to having a mini break after each one to sort out what loot to equip and which of the many gear drops to disintegrate - after all, raising your item rating now might already result in the next boss dropping something better. I'm not at 306 yet, but getting there, and some of my guildies have already achieved that particular milestone.

It does feel a bit grindy even so, and if I had to go through this whole shebang on every single one of my alts I wouldn't find it very appealing... but the nice thing is that since all loot is legacy-bound now, you only have to go through the grind in its entirety once - after that you can send your full set of 306 to your alt and let them run around in it for a while so they'll instantly be able to collect their own set of 306 gear without having to grind their way through 40 levels of item rating first.

I can't say I mind master mode flashpoints being the current flavour of the month to do this, seeing how I've always enjoyed them, but I very much expect Bioware to still do some rebalancing to make some of the other activities a bit more rewarding, just like they had to do in the early days of Galactic Command.

9 comments :

  1. That does sound better than GC, thanks for posting these impressions of the expansion. I'm reading everything non-spoilery I can about it with interest. I'm almost to the point of wanting to sub up again. I finally feel like there is enough story content I haven't seen to justify it (Iokath was the last thing I saw). Now it's more a matter of there being a gap in my spare time line up.

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    1. If you haven't played since Iokath, then subbing for a month is definitely going to be good value for money! You've got the whole traitor story arc to go, then Ossus, and now Onslaught. Be warned that things will start out weak on Umbara, but the story gets better again after that. :)

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  2. Reminds me of maw of soul runs in WoW legion. Players did that dungeon hundreds of times because it was the most efficient to increase their stats. Eye bleedingly boring but effective.

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    1. Haha, fortunately things haven't been that bad! Of course there will always be people who just want to spam Hammer Station (and Red Reaper is apparently the place to go for stealthers), but you get a pretty good bonus reward for doing randoms, so that's very much still worthwhile, and with a selection of 30 different flashpoints you get a decent amount of variety too.

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  3. ... I think I've been feeling it to be slow and grindy, but honestly it's so much stuff dropping that I kinda lose track at points. I remember finding the first couple of weeks of GC fine - as it drops were useful and continuous - but then it slowed to a halt. By January I couldn't even imagine upping anything but my shadows/assassins and that's because they've always shared legacy gear.
    On the other hand, I've been feeling quite motivated to play; motivated enough to have tried rolling a couple characters on the European English Speaking server (I've moved some six months ago, but I don't think I could just ask for a sever transfer - too radical) to see how I like it. Who knows? I'm certainly enjoying (the idea) of doing the prologue again.
    (BUT, OMG HOW SLOW leveling feels after you've grown used to character perks, guild perks, and, most specially, XP armour)

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    1. Yep, there is definitely a risk of it slowing down and becoming tedious. But with GC the numbers were stacked against us from the start (I remember people doing the maths and saying it would take months to a year to reach Command rank 300 at the then current rates) while this looks like you'll be down to working on sidegrades, situational items or gearing alts quite quickly. Which would definitely be fine by me.

      Can't agree on the levelling though! I've never used the XP armour from the event, actively avoid XP boosts and it still feels too fast for me!

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    2. It's not that it feels too slow - it doesn't - but I can definitely feel the difference from when I have my XP armour on. My Shadow - rolled right before server maintenance yesterday - is already level 18 or 19 and I've just arrived to Coruscant (I did one pvp match for the initial mission, but no leveling outside PVE quests and no Group Finder). It's fast - even compared to my first one, which was already "easier" (it was already 4.0) but not that much (because I was ftp until I finished vanilla storyline, and the difference in XP gain is something you can really feel - AND NO SPRINT!). But it's all the things we're used to having, not only the XP gain itself - I have timers on my Qt/Fleet Pass; I have no jet boots, no money for taxis if it's not essential, no money for outfit designer, and etc etc. And the profound silence, too, that you get after being used to big guilds where there's always someone doing something.
      I'll agree - one good thing is that we don't have to grind X levels of Renown to get better gear (I've just got my first 280 earlier today), so that's good - maybe I'm just having little luck, payback from my good luck in early 5.0 - but who knows?

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  4. I'm actually surprised at how 'easy' the vertical gear grind is. It's been 9 days and I have two sets of 304/305/306 gear. They are not the most optimized, but they definitely get the job done. I've also been able to collect a full set bonus, several tacticals, and some random pieces of others through flashpoint drops.

    I was also pleasantly surprised that HM FPs are the thing to do -- the daily gives you two loot boxes and the weekly three. That's really generous (which is really surprising). I'm also happy that the queues are full, I've been getting pops as a DPS, which hasn't been the case for a long time.

    I have two things that are a little concerning:
    First, the 5k limit on tech fragments is annoying. Especially when the set bonus items cost 3k. This has led me to park a seldom used alt on the fleet and buy something when I get to ~4k fragments (someone on the official forums mentioned this as well).
    Second, the "lack" of credit gains from flashpoints and decreased vendor value for drops (something like 1000s in 5.x to 100s in 6.0). I'm down several million credits since the expansion launched and I don't feel that I have done a ton of pulling mods, though maybe I have. The 100k cost per gold mod hurts -- that's a full daily area or set of planetary heroics per mod pull. First world problems, I know...

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    1. It does go very fast. I hit 306 the other day and now keep getting more 306s that I can send to all my alts to speed up their own gearing without even having to lend out my main's gear.

      You definitely have to be spending those tech fragments constantly. The good thing is that it's all cross-legacy, so if you have any alts at all it's not hard to find useful things to buy.

      And this expansion is clearly attempting to drain some credits out of the economy, also because of the million credits every item from the fragment vendor costs on top of the fragment price! I've actually found it kind of refreshing to have a reason to keep pulling money out of my legacy bank instead of forever putting more in - but I do feel bad for newer players who may not have huge amounts of savings from years of idleness.

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