6.3 Preview Thoughts

Last Thursday Bioware did a preview stream for patch 6.3 - now confirmed to be named "The Dark Descent" - similar to what they did for 6.2 back in November. I didn't watch it live, but fortunately a recorded version is once again freely available on both Twitch and YouTube.

Apparently they got a lot of positive feedback about the voice actor interviews they included last time, and I can only agree with the majority that they've been great content and I'm happy to see more of them. This time around they interviewed Moira Quirk, who voices Elara Dorne and Aryn Leneer, and Gideon Emery, who voices Darth Rivix. They were both great to listen to once again, and Charles Boyd uttered the words "sexy David Bowie vampire" in the second interview, which is definitely something to be preserved for future generations.

One thing that was really funny to me personally was that, when Gideon started his interview by saying "thanks for having me" it was as if a switch had been flipped in my brain and I went "oh my god, it's Fenris from Dragon Age" - I had completely failed to make that connection when chatting with Rivix in game (I guess I was too immersed?) but the moment I heard the voice out of context it was like BAM!

Besides the voice actor interviews and a few giveaways, the stream's other two big ticket items were some talk about the story content coming up with 6.3 and the introduction of a new system called Galactic Seasons.

Secrets of the Enclave

6.3's story update will once again be delivered in the form of a flashpoint, continuing the Darth Malgus storyline and taking place in the ruins of the Jedi enclave on Dantooine. I was quite giddy to hear this, considering that I've (somewhat to my own surprise) become quite a Malgus fangirl ever since Jedi Under Siege! My only slight caveat is that this would potentially be the third time that we face Malgus as a flashpoint boss, which even I would consider overdoing it a little in this particular format.

That said, I thought it was interesting that they didn't actually confirm in the stream that we'll be fighting Malgus; they just stated that he'll be the reason we're there, so things might not actually end up going as we expect. (My dreams of a Malgus team-up are not dead yet!)

Characters confirmed to feature are Arn and Aryn for Republic players and Darths Krovos and Rivix for Imperials. These are all people I'm happy to see more of so I'm 100% on board with that.

Galactic Seasons

There is a whole blog post up on the official website about how this new system is going to work, but in a nutshell it sounds a bit like a cross between a limited time event and what other games call a season pass. Over the course of a season (currently slated to last about five months), you'll be able to unlock rewards for completing certain in-game objectives (more if you're also a subscriber) but you can also just spend money to get the rewards right away without playing, or pay credits to catch-up if you've fallen behind.

My reaction to that whole announcement can mostly be summed up as a somewhat resigned sigh. I don't really need the game to give me more stuff for doing the same things I'm already doing. I want story, content, and systems that keep me busy in a fun way. Like the basic login reward system introduced in 6.2, this feels more like another one of those free-to-play "tricks" to keep you engaged for the sake of monetisation, and I don't like that. I don't hate the idea or anything, but it just feels like another one of those little steps in an overall direction that I'm not too fond of. I do worry about one day realising that the water actually has become too hot for this frog.

Because I don't want to sound too negative, I will say that a large part of the player base does seem to love collecting stuff for the sake of owning it, so from that point of view I can see this system being quite a success. If I understand the way it works correctly, it will also offer free or preferred players an additional incentive to subscribe for at least a couple of times a year, even if it's not required to access new story content, which should be good for the game I guess.

Also, being completely honest with myself, depending on the details of how it works, I could see the actual objective-chasing appealing to the part of me that likes being able to combo completion of tasks for different purposes (e.g. doing a flashpoint to advance a character's personal story and complete their Conquest). If I can add "progressing my galactic season" on top of those other things I'm already interested in doing, I could see that having a certain appeal. But I can only wait and see.

What are your thoughts on what's been shown to come with 6.3 so far?


The 12 Best Ways to Die on Gods Trash

I haven't actually been to Gods from the Machine in a few weeks, but I was going through some video footage that I recorded there the other day, which in turn gave me the idea for this post. I've said before that I think that due to the way the bosses were originally released, Gods has a bit too much trash for comfort, however at the same time it's quite interesting and even entertaining, especially when you encounter it for the first time on one of the higher difficulties.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that there are a lot of really amusing ways to die on these mobs, which was what ultimately inspired me to make this list. Without further ado, my 12 favourite ways to die in Gods from the Machine without any involvement from the actual gods, sorted from bottom to top!

12. Falling off a walkway on your way to Tyth

I don't think any of the trash mobs on the way to Tyth do knockbacks (unless they do on master mode, which would be funny), but some of them are positioned on somewhat precarious walkways and put a lot of fire down, so it's not completely out there to accidentally hurl yourself off the edge while trying to dodge out of something else. Or maybe you were just bored of wiping on Tyth on a higher difficulty one day and carelessly put on auto-run while getting back to the boss, just to find yourself running off an edge that way.

11. Blown up by mines

Cloaked mines are introduced on the way to Nahut and stick around to surprise you on later trash as well. They are mostly what you'd expect - you find them and they go boom - but the knockback component of the explosion can sometimes lead to additional hilarity depending on whether you set any of them off near a ledge somewhere...

10. Scyvan Swarmer attack

These lovely little lads are part of the many trash mobs on the way to Scyva and - living up to their name - like to swarm people. Gods help you if you unexpectedly get aggro on a lot of these and aren't a tank - your healers will pretty much need lightning reflexes to even stand a chance at saving you. What's more likely is that said healers will simply blink and then wonder why you're dead.

9. Scyvan Swarmer explosion

Even if you manage to successfully deal with the Swarmers' initial aggro, they like to jump around and explode on death, leading to crazy scurrying around on part of the raid as everyone tries to get out of their red circles in time. Good times.

8. Extermination Droid dot

On the way to Nahut you'll run into Extermination Droids that like to stab people and leave a nasty, stacking damage-over-time effect on their targets. If you allow this to stack too high, your healers won't be able to keep up - though even with lower stacks it can be kind of funny when you manage to kill the droids and then someone still keels over dead from the remaining dot ticks after you're out of combat just because nobody noticed that the person was still in danger.

7. Cruel Extermination droids

What else would you expect from stealthed stabby droids with a name like this but a one-shot kill ability? Not only do you need to find them in their stealthy hiding places, you then also need to keep them interrupted or stunned until dead or they'll kill someone. I always feel kind of proud when we manage to kill these without anyone getting ganked by their one-shot ability, but it doesn't happen often, since a single missed interrupt is literally all it takes.

6. Your shield carrier dies

The trip to Scyva leads across light bridges over a body of water while sniper droids try to pick you off, and the only way to protect the group is to have on person carry a shield. The shield can be passed around, but if it's dropped accidentally, such as by the carrier walking off an edge, there's no way to recover it, and there's nothing like that feeling of helplessly waiting for death because your shield carrier did something silly before you managed to reach your destination

5. Izax trash beam

Just when you think you've seen it all, you walk through one of those purple beams you need to redirect to open up the way to Izax and it zaps you dead. Seriously though, why wouldn't a giant purple laser of all things not be deadly in a place where pretty much everything else is?

4. Interrupting a Vindictive Plasma droid

With all the emphasis on needing to interrupt things, Bioware thought it would be fun to mess with our heads by putting in one trash mob on which interrupting is actually very bad, the Vindictive Plasma droid - interrupt its heat beam and it'll respond with a violent explosion that'll likely one-shot most people in its current melee range. Never gets old! I may or may not be saying this because I always stand at range myself.

3. Sniped into the water

I talked about the helplessness of losing your shield carrier on the way to Scyva, but there's also the option to plain old mess up yourself by not being under the shield when you're supposed to be. I have some guildies that actively enjoy tempting fate by dodging in and out of its protective field... watching them go flying whenever a sniper decides to focus on them at just the right time is never not satisfying.

2. Falling to your death on the way to Nahut

I mentioned falling off walkways on the way to Tyth, and there are more opportunities to do so later, but I do think there's this specific jump on the way to Nahut that deserves its own entry as you have to jump down a hole at one point but need to slow your fall via some ledges around its edges so as not to fall too far too quickly. Of course someone always gets it wrong and ends up landing with a satisfying splat right at the feet of their guildies. Every time.

1. Splatted by a door

Finally, the ultimate amusing way to die on Gods trash is... at the entrance to the mini-boss guarding the shortcut to Scyva. It's a shame that there's rarely reason to do it anymore... but anyway, the room is protected by a sort of airlock that requires opening one door first, and then closing it behind you while opening the next one. The thing is, both doors go up/down instantly and forcefully, meaning that anyone standing in the wrong place at the time when someone activates the airlock by clicking goes splat instantly (with a very crunchy sound effect as well). Some people may have been known to try and get others killed that way intentionally just because it's so funny...

If you've been to Gods from the Machine yourself, do you agree with this list? How many of these ways to die have you experienced yourself?