18/07/2021

My Feedback After Galactic Season 1

I was not particularly fond of the idea of Seasons when they were first announced. More login rewards and incentives to repeat content that we've done a hundred times before? Puh-leeease. And yet... I still love filling up bars, I'm a sucker for limited time events, and the things I had to do to earn Seasons points ranged from activities I enjoyed anyway to those that I at least didn't mind doing for a while. So I went all in and completed the Season in the minimum amount of time possible without using any of the buyout options to skip ahead.

That said, I'm glad to be done with the whole thing for a while. The novelty wore off quickly, and with only so many hours of free time in a week, having to spend half an hour to an hour on Seasons every day for three months while also continuing my normal ops-running two to three nights a week meant that I didn't really have time for much else that wasn't directly Seasons-related.

It's kind of interesting actually, because I was in a bit of a slump before 6.3 in terms of my in-game activity and didn't feel like playing too much. The Galactic Seasons incentives increased my engagement with the game... but also reminded me of parts of it that I hadn't played in a while and that I suddenly didn't have enough time for, such as progressing more of my alts through their personal stories. Previously I had just been slack with doing those things, but naturally, the moment I didn't have time for it anymore, I suddenly wanted to do nothing more than to play story content on my alts! I'm looking forward to giving them some love now that I have the time to do so again. Funny how that goes.

Anyway, while I'm sure that a lot of how Galactic Season 2 is going to work is already predetermined, I still wanted to write down some feedback for Bioware if they happen to read this, about what I'd like to see more of and what I hope they'll change next time.

Things I Liked

Effort vs. reward

While dedicating half an hour to an hour to Seasons objectives every day seemed like a lot when compressed into less than three months, ultimately the time commitment required to complete the Season isn't that high... but there are a lot of rewards on offer on the subscriber track in particular. A companion, four thousand Cartel Coins, plus piles of decos, gear and mounts... I didn't really need a lot of those things myself, but most players enjoy getting free stuff and I don't think anybody can say that there hasn't been a lot of that in this first Season.

I also liked how they put a lot of old subscriber/event rewards on the Seasons vendor. Again, as a steady subscriber from launch I didn't actually need any of them myself, but I know that there's been demand for the companions to return in particular, and I think it's nice that players who are keen on them have now been given a way to earn them in game.

Objective variety

When the concept of Seasons was first announced I wondered how they were going to distinguish it from Conquest, which is after all a similar system that rewards completing objectives on a daily to weekly basis. I did like that they limited things to just two daily objectives a day and two weeklies a week, which meant that unlike for Conquest in its modern state, you did actually have to target specific activities instead of simply doing whatever and watching your bar auto-fill. The re-roll option seemed sufficient to me to allow people to avoid that one thing they really dislike (though you did have to be smart about it, and generally speaking, the fewer different types of content you like, the harder a time you'll have being a completionist - but then, that's just MMOs for you).

I also liked the themes they introduced, both focused on the Season's companion Altuur and on different planets grouped by proximity. Because Altuur is a Kubaz and they like eating insects, there were objectives centred around insectoids, and I think that's a neat concept! Likewise, the weekly rotation focusing on a different part of the galaxy each time was a nice idea. It's just a different way of slicing these things that hadn't been done before, and I was happy with that.

Timings and catch-up

I was actually quite surprised when I realised after reaching Seasons level 100 that we were barely halfway through the Season at that point, because for some reason it had felt more urgent than that to complete it. But no, people have plenty of opportunity to still get there at their own pace, or to use one of the two catch-up options with Cartel Coins or credits. I think Bioware really did well there in terms of giving people options to make the whole thing appealing to different play styles.

Things I Didn't Like So Much

Bugs!

I'm talking about the technical variety here first. I've long accepted that SWTOR is not a highly polished game... you'll encounter a lot of little glitches and such while levelling up, though in Bioware's defense the vast majority of them are just visual and shouldn't ruin anyone's gameplay. (I've encountered more game-breaking bugs during my casual return to retail WoW over the last few months than I've seen in SWTOR over the last five years.)

But in a time-limited event like that... I just can't help but feel that they should have been able to do better. They tried hard to fix any truly serious issues (such as the missing weekly objectives in week 3) as soon as possible, but anything that didn't totally break the system has largely remained unresolved. During week 2 with its outer rim theme, I remember seeing a certain daily objective being unsure whether it was asking me to go to Rishi or Section X, and when the same week rolled around again five weeks later, that bug was still unfixed. Likewise, the fact that Dread Palace didn't count for the ops weekly in week 4 was never addressed and still persisted in week 9 more than a month later. Just because it's technically still possible to complete the objective by doing another operation that doesn't make it a great experience for players who bothered to put a group together for Dread Fortress just for this, you know?

I quickly learned that it was best to hold off on making any plans to complete my weekly objectives, in order to give other players time to find the bugs and report them on the forums first without me ending up wasting any of my own time (selfish, I know...) but it shouldn't have to be like that.

Insectoids

So I said earlier that I liked the idea of the insects theme in principle... unfortunately in practice, it sucked, mainly because insectoids are simply not a hugely common mob type, which meant that any objectives related to killing them were either awkwardly time-consuming or very repetitive. I mean, you can tell it was bad because they actually felt the need to add more Shaclaws to Voss in the last patch purely to make that objective a little less painful! (I don't know if that helped by the way, I avoided that objective like the plague after the first time.)

So I'm happy for them to give the next Season a theme like that too, but I hope that if it involves mob killing again they pick a type that's more common, such as droids or beasts.

Mob killing in general

Honestly, I wasn't keen on the mob killing objectives in general. I never liked the rampage achievements for Conquest much either. Which is funny because I'll happily grind mobs by the hundreds in other MMOs, but those games usually make the process more interesting by having those mobs drop interesting loot or something, or having them exist in high densities that are intentionally designed to be fun to AoE down. Mob pulls in SWTOR's open world are generally pretty spaced out, meaning that you spend a lot of time just running around the map to round them all up, and they rarely drop anything of value. It's just not that kind of game.

That said, I'm sure there are people for whom these are their absolute favourite type of objectives, so I guess I shouldn't call for their removal... I guess I just wanted to get this rant off my chest. Maybe we could at least reduce the mob counter a bit though? 75 kills is a lot. On some planets I could complete a whole round of dailies without coming across that many mobs.

Need more objective variety

I'm happy with Seasons objectives being somewhat limited... as I said in a previous post, it reminds me a bit of Conquest in the earlier days. So I'm certainly not campaigning to have Seasons objectives for everything the way we have for Conquest now, so that they basically auto-complete themselves if you play at all that week. However... looking at the general theme of the Season, I did think there were some obvious gaps that I'd personally like to see closed next Season:

  • Some sort of more solo-friendly weekly objective. I'm generally fine with the idea of the dailies being more targeted towards soloers and the weeklies towards people who like to group, but it seemed a bit odd to me that there wasn't a single option among the weeklies that could be done completely solo. Maybe something like "complete 15 quests" on the planets of the week? Or take away the veteran mode and group finder requirements for the flashpoint weekly.
  • A flashpoint daily objective! I thought it was really striking that this was the one type of staple repeatable content that wasn't represented at all among the daily objectives. This really needs to be added next Season I think. Any difficulty, no group finder requirement. Just do it, Bioware.
  • Something related to KotFE/KotET content. This may sound surprising coming from someone who's largely been happy to leave that whole era of storytelling behind, but I found it a bit odd that over the course of a five week cycle, we visited pretty much every known planet in the galaxy, including secluded daily areas and the dead Ziost - except for Zakuul. I'm not saying I'd want that content to pop up among my daily objectives all the time, but during something like an unknown/wild space week, why not have "complete a chapter" as a potential daily objective for that one week only?
  • More GSI! I'm not nuts about GSI missions in general and again, I'm not saying I necessarily want them to pop up all the time... but seeing them come up only twice this Season left me wanting more. There are GSI missions available on a number of planets, so I don't see why this couldn't be a (rare?) objective during more than one week.

Season 2

Regardless of how much is changed or stays the same for Season 2, I'd like to think that I might adjust my personal approach a bit next time around. Seeing just how much time I had left after reaching level 100 this time, I could see myself taking things a little easier next time around and not fretting too much about missing a day here or there, or skipping some objectives that I just don't fancy on a particular day. Then again, I'm also a sucker for routines, so maybe I'll burn just as hard regardless, simply because I feel compelled to fill up that bar as soon as I can.

12 comments :

  1. Did you do the casino event this year?

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    1. I've been to Nar Shaddaa to use up some of the free chips I got from ops. Won a mount and a pet from the Emperor's Grace machine so far. I'd quite like to get those new shades; I could actually see myself using those, but we'll see whether I end up sticking with it. Even just playing the slots for a relatively short amount of time already reminded me of the annoyance I felt about them last year.

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  2. Delfae @ Star Forge19 July 2021 at 13:59

    I could absolutely get behind a more solo-friendly weekly objective. (Despite the fact that you don't actually have to use groupfinder to tick the flashpoint PO, and can therefore just solo a couple flashpoints on the list and call it a day... I wouldn't actually call that *solo-friendly,* lol).

    Also +1 for the GSI objectives! I'd actually never bothered with them before, despite running the full shroud & seeker mission lines on my main toon, but the ones on Makeb were super easy and relaxing, and I've been exploring the other planets as a result. I will say that so far Makeb's GSI dailies are the fastest. Alderaan wasn't bad, but Tatooine's are fairly spread out, and I haven't found the most efficient pathing for them yet. I expect Hoth will be similar.

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  3. Before the season started I was leveling alts through class stories and having fun. The season stopped all that. As a "filthy casual", PvP is the only option to get weekly's done. You're not doing an Op if you're in a dead guild. I felt weeklies are important because you want to get ahead of the curve in case some emergency comes up and you need to skip time.


    Here's the thing, I'm not into PvP. I'm ok at it. I do great single target DPS as a melee class and I'm contributing. Real PvP'ers would consider me a filthy casual because I haven't made the "right" spec, tactical and gear set choices. Despite all that I schlepped my way through PvP weeklies to get ahead in the season.

    So after schlepping my way through GSF and Warzones, I would immediately distance myself from SWTOR. If I wanted to have fun, I'd play something else. Maybe once I'm done this season, SWTOR could go back to being something you could play for fun.

    Here's the problem though, there's a new season coming, and I don't want it. Not unless we get more control over our objectives. If seasons adopted a true "play your way" approach, it would be a neat way to score extra cosmetics and Cartel Coins for doing things you LIKE to do.

    Right now it's just an odious chore you want to get rid of, and it's painting SWTOR as an odious chore you want to get rid of.

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    1. I see this "play your way" comment in connection with Galactic Seasons a lot. But Bioware never said that. The "play your way" approach was for Conquest.

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    2. Edit: what i mean is... they can't adopt a "play your way" approach to everything. That just means, handing out free awards and the playerbase is still sitting there and "what should i do? there is nothing to do.".

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    3. You would still have to "play" to get the rewards. It would not feel like a grind because you could do things you would like to do. If you don't log in and do something, no shiny rewards!

      If you have more control over the "something", seasons would actually drive more engagement with SWTOR. Right now seasons will drive short term engagement, then long term subscriber loss as people burn out.

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    4. @The Nickster: I'm sorry that the addition of Seasons made your experience worse. I'd lie if I said that I've never fallen into the trap of doing something I didn't really enjoy just for the reward. But then, that's a risk with offering any kind of incentives for anything in a game.

      I have to agree with the above Anonymous though that I don't think making Seasons exactly like Conquest would really add anything to the game. It would just be another layer of rewards on top of everything else you already get for doing whatever you feel like doing.

      Plus, if you're already having fun playing the class story, is getting an armour set for doing so really going to make you want to play more class story in a way you weren't going to do anyway? These incentives are meant to gently nudge you towards doing more content, because otherwise what's the point? There is the risk of having that backfire like it did in your case, but that's always going to be the case when such incentives exist.

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  4. I think all of your suggestions are really good.

    I'm not done with the track yet, but so far Seasons has been a success for me by any metric--I've tried out new types of content, I'm playing every day when I wasn't before, and I decided to subscribe to complete the track a little faster (instead of just subscribing at the end to grab the rewards). I have 306 gear on my main and can now complete solo content I struggled with before. I bought Master Ranos today, the reward I was looking forward to the most. There was a bit in the middle where it felt more like an obligation than a hobby, but then I subscribed and started to have fun again.

    There are still a lot of things I would change. I really dislike the fact that, unlike Conquest, Seasons doesn't sync up with events. I barely did any swoop racing because it just doesn't like up with any objectives. I think that the geographic region-theming works better in theory than in practice; the fact that Taris is the only option for heroics in its week means that you have to be careful only to do the instanced ones. The fact that Coruscant isn't a Coreward world and Dromund Kaas isn't in the Seat of the Empire tripped me up a couple times. It's... strange that running flashpoints in the region doesn't count as mob kills, even though I understand why.

    I'm highly interested in what they'll change for season 2.

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    1. I'm ambivalent about syncing Conquest events and Seasons weeks. It would be convenient, sure, but at the same time that might be a step too far towards making it a no-brainer what to do in those weeks.

      I hadn't realised that about Taris! That probably contributed to me re-rolling the heroic objective a couple of times during Seat of the Empire weeks...

      I can understand that they separated out the starter planets because those basically serve as objectives for the weakest possible players: someone who's new and only has a single character who's just hit level 12. They don't exactly have a lot of options.

      And I too found myself wishing I could get my mob kills in flashpoints... but if they just add something for flashpoints next Season, I'll be happy.

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    2. @ Iris

      You bought Master Ranos today and you were looking forward to this. Was it worth it? The "grind" to get the tokens? Or do you say, you had to do too much to get her?

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    3. For just Master Ranos? It's hard to say, because I haven't had much time to use her as a companion yet. But along the way I've found out I like warzones, gotten 306 gear, earned thousands of cartel coins, and learned to play 2-3 characters well. That last one is really important, because it's allowed me to finish up the Star Fortress and Eternal Championship achievements I thought were out of my reach, and I'm working on getting the Orgus Din Memorial. Last week I found out I can solo the Gree heroic now, which lets me get to the Grey Helix weapons without figuring out how pugging in chat works.

      I guess it would've been better to say Master Ranos was what I was looking forward to most at the *beginning* of the season. I had enough tokens to unlock her weeks ago, I was just waiting for her to pop up on the vendor, and yet I've still been working on Seasons because it's enjoyable for me.

      But for Master Ranos alone... well, I prefer investing in my existing characters over rolling up new ones, so I'm relieved I earned her with this grind instead of DvL. But I think I was happier when I realized I was only three warzones/flashpoints away from Hexid than today, which was mildly underwhelming.

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