Group Finding in 6.0 (hey, the Esseles is hard again)

One thing that changed with 6.0 but wasn't mentioned in the patch notes and hasn't been documented anywhere else as far as I can tell is that Bioware made some pretty impactful changes to the group finder. I wasn't aware of a lot of them myself until commenter Diana pointed out in comment that she'd noticed that her selection of available flashpoints had been greatly limited on her low-level character compared to what it used to be.

To quickly recap the setup that we had since 4.0 when Bioware first introduced flashpoint scaling: From level 10-14 you only had access to the Esseles / Black Talon, but then at level 15 all other flashpoints available through the group finder would open up on veteran mode. At 50 you'd also gain access to all master modes (minus a couple of the newer ones that had minimum gear requirements) as well as to all story mode operations.

This setup always had its pros and cons. I levelled a Mercenary purely through flashpoints shortly after 4.0 dropped to test the waters and documented her journey here on the blog. It was mostly good fun, but there were definitely some kinks: New players could be totally lost in story flashpoints that told a tale meant to happen later in the game, and lowbies in general struggled in certain places that had originally been designed for characters with a bunch of cooldowns available and equipped with a full set of utilities; bolster or no bolster.

Hearing that this had changed now, I was immediately intrigued and decided that it was probably time to level another character through flashpoint running, if for no other reason than to be able to jot down which flashpoint unlocks at which level now. In fact, this was the main reason I created Nautalie the Shadow besides wanting to check out Nautolans.

While levelling her through Tython I made good use of her stealth to throttle my XP gains when needed to make sure that I wasn't going to be too high level by the time I left the planet. In the end I was about three quarters through level ten by the time I queued up for the Esseles, which is still the only option available to characters of level 10-14.

Somewhat to my disappointment, I had to wait more than half an hour for a pop. If I had actually played instead of standing around on the fleet during that time, I probably would have outlevelled the flashpoint's range before I got a group! I did a /who and there were more than enough characters in the right level range, but if they were doing the Esseles at all most of them seemed to prefer the solo version.

On the plus side, when I finally did get a group everyone in it was pretty chill and happy to watch the cut scenes. After previous negative experiences I was hitting space bar right away to be on the safe side, but quickly noticed that other people weren't doing the same - so I asked if they wanted to watch and we had at least one self-professed newbie who had never been before, and the others didn't mind.

The only hump we ran into at the beginning was that except for the group leader none of us could enter the instance. Even while trying to walk directly through the door I kept getting an error that the group leader had selected a different difficulty setting than the rest of us. I can only suspect that they had picked up the solo mode before queueing, though I'm not sure why the game would even allow you to queue for veteran mode then. By passing leadership to me and resetting the phase, three of us were able to enter, but now the unlucky previous group leader was unable to join us, even after he had abandoned all his quests to make sure nothing was conflicting, so he eventually just left. I did feel kind of bad for him. We did make a start with the three of us plus Qyzen and eventually got a new fourth while fighting Lieutenant Isric.

One thing that was very noticeable was that the whole flashpoint felt much harder than I remembered it. Now, part of that may have been due to us having no healer, but I also noticed that the instance now scales to 70, when pre-6.0 it scaled down to its original level (I forgot, something between 10 and 15). Bolster is good and all, but a level 10-14 party scaled up to 70 is still pretty weaksauce, meaning that we had to pause and regen after every other pull, and every fight involving a gold mob turned into a proper life-or-death battle. I even died on Ironfist, after having already used two of the three kolto stations and being unable to find the third one in my low-health panic. This level of difficulty was unexpected, but actually kind of enjoyable to me personally.

Other things I noticed were that veteran flashpoints apparently now also give the "Beginner's Luck" buff, which also appears to have been added to all story mode operations with 6.0. It's basically the mechanic from the Izax fight that allows you to use your revive every thirty seconds instead of every five minutes, now applied to all group content that is supposed to be easy. Can't say I mind the idea, though it obviously wasn't relevant to us in the low teens as nobody had a combat revive yet anyway.

I was also very surprised to get tech fragments and phat grade 11 crafting loot... at level 10, in the Esseles! I mean, the number of fragments was pretty low, and currently it seems like you aren't actually able to open the crafting bags until level 75... that could turn into an inventory problem quickly. But it was still nice to get some loot that is actually relevant to endgame and my legacy.

Over the next few weeks, I'm planning to document my levelling progress in the same format I used for my Mercenary back in 2015, so prepare yourselves for some more tales of pugs. As mentioned earlier, I'll also be keeping a log of just when each flashpoint unlocks now and am planning to post that in an easy-to-read format once I've hit max-level.


  1. Hmm. Esseles was always good for a social rank or two back in the day. It'd be nice to see that again.

  2. You can (or could) put that crafting bag in your legacy bank and let a level 75 open it. That's what I did with some I got doing solo mode at a low level.

    I really ought to get back into running flashpoints, but right now leveling toons through their class stories has its hooks in me. I need more toons at max level so I can see all the story variations. :)

    1. Oh! I thought I had tried that and it didn't work at the time because the satchels were bound, but it did work when I tried again just now. Maybe I had to wait for the bind timer to expire? Or else I was just being dumb somehow.

      And see, I'm the opposite: I keep thinking how I should really make some more story progress on my alts since I want to see different outcomes, but actually going through with it is somehow a lot less compelling to me than running another flashpoint or PvP match once I'm online...

    2. "Oh! I thought I had tried that and it didn't work at the time because the satchels were bound, but it did work when I tried again just now."

      Same here. I transfered a crafting bag through my legacy bank from a level 70 to a level 75 and it didn't work. A few days later i tried again and it did work. It was weird because i didn't see any timer.

    3. Hmm. I can't remember which toon had the bags. It might have been a level 70 or it could have been a level 15. I think I'll run some flashpoints and see if I have a bind timer. It wouldn't surprise me that a lower level character might have a bit of a timer while something close to 75 could deposit the bags right away and have them opened.

      Still, at least there is a work around as I would hate to dedicate a bunch of storage space to stuff I'd rather have in the Materials storage right away.

    4. I don't think it makes a difference how close to 75 you are, as the first character on which I ran into this problem was around 72 at the time.

  3. I created a new toon a couple of weeks ago to try out life as a preferred player. I did class story and random flashpoints along with some lowbie PVP. By the time I hit 75 I'd just finished up on Ilum and I'd accumulated 5000 tech fragments, enough for the first tactical and change.

    The flashpoints seem to unlock at the same levels as they were originally intended. Kuat seems to be an oddity in that it's scaled to 70 but if you're 75 you don't get scaled down making all but the last boss a cake walk.

    1. So far the unlocks seem to be happening close to the original levels, but they don't line up 100%, e.g. Athiss unlocks at 17 when it used to be 19 and Mando Raiders at 21 when it used to be 23.

  4. Oh, you know, I also found Esseles *quite* hard in the new scaling level, but maybe it's because we did it as a duo - I was too upper level for groupfinder, so I just sat there for a few minutes and surprised-asked people into joining Esseles FP. I'm not a fan of people random jumping invites, but, hey, whatever works - I'm a competitionist, I had to do it on my way to Coruscant.
    It was challenging and my pair seemed to flip between knowing what was up and having no idea, but, we go through it! Haha


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