No More Master Looter

Last week's patch implemented a major change to the way loot works in group content, and one that was only communicated to the player base mere days before the patch dropped: The removal of master looter and general move towards making everything personal loot (though certain items that bind on pickup will remain tradeable within the group as it was before).

I was immediately reminded of when WoW did this about three years ago - I wasn't playing that back then, but there was enough wailing and gnashing of teeth from raiders that I heard about it anyway. I was somewhat confused by this move back then, and I have similar feelings about Bioware deciding to copy Blizzard's stance on this now. Yes, everyone's heard at least one story about some nefarious master looter taking all the good stuff for himself and/or his friends, but I've got to admit that in practice, I can't recall ever encountering any sort of issue with master looting in my fifteen years of playing MMORPGs. How much of a problem is this really?

That said, I don't expect the removal of master looter to have a huge impact on my guild as we weren't really using it in everyday operations anyway. As someone mentioned in the forum thread, on a world boss like Dreadtooth the lack of a master looter option will make it very unattractive going forward to let any pugs come along just for the experience or for fun, because the risk of Johnny Random being assigned the valuable drop that is the main reason you're there would just be too great. However, my guild only does that kind of world boss run very rarely anyway - in operations we've long just defaulted to need or greed, and then simply asked people to e.g. pass on the blue crafting mats so that an officer can pick them up for the guild bank. Running with people you know and trust, that's worked quite well.

But ah - and that's the bit that wasn't really clear from the initial announcement: need or greed is gone as well. Everything is randomised behind the scenes and then assigned as personal loot now, and you don't get a choice. Funnily enough, I actually think the benefits of that are much more obvious, considering the way many people in pugs have been in the habit of just rolling need on everything, regardless of whether an item is even useful to them or not.

However, our early experience has been that in a guild or friendly setting, where you want to make sure items go to the people who'd find them most beneficial, it also makes loot distribution a major pain in the butt. At least in WoW, personal loot still triggers a little pop-up that says "so-and-so received X", making it obvious to the rest of the group what just happened. However, the SWTOR UI currently has nothing like that, and with the roll window removed, the only way to see what's dropped for whom is to either be extremely quick on the looting and scrolling so you can see what items are on the body and whose name is next to them before they are actually picked up, or to sort through several pages of loot drop announcements in the chat log to find the actually relevant pieces like set bonus gear among the dozens of trashy mods and enhancements.

Crafting mats are even worse because they now go directly into your materials storage (for convenience's sake I guess), and for some reason this only shows in the chat log for the person actually receiving the items, not for anyone else in the group, so you wouldn't even know that anything's dropped unless the receiver announces it.

Even discarding the whole logistics of wanting to distribute items within the group, just on an individual level, if I'm the sort of person who would like to continue donating any blue mats I get in guild ops to the guild bank, I now need to remember to check my chat log after every boss kill to see whether I looted anything and if so, how much, because it won't show in my inventory and I'll be damned if I notice that the count of a certain material in my stash has changed from 121 to 134 by the end of the night.

It's just an annoying amount of faff that wasn't there before, and while I'll have to take Bioware's word on this being a beneficial change for a majority of pugs, I don't see why they have to make loot distribution actively annoying for organised guilds in the process. I hope they'll consider at least improving the visibility of loot drops in the UI, because if we have to go through the process of trading everything manually instead of simply rolling or passing on drops as we go along, the least they could do is make it easier for us to keep track of what it is we might want to trade from among the mountains of cheap loot that the game hands out nowadays.


  1. At least Swtor doesn't have the bigger annoyance of locking gear trading behind item level. There were times people wanted to trade a piece of gear, but couldn't simply because dropped item was a higher level than what they had previously equipped in that slot. Very annoy when something is a tiny upgrade for you, but a massive one for a team member. (Weapons were worse because it was by weapon type. Have a great one-handed sword better than the one-handed axe that dropped for you? Tough luck trading that axe because you never had an axe that good before.)

    I think most people would be fine with master loot being tied to just all guild groups. After all, you're playing with folks you've deliberately chosen to play with. Let personal loot be for groups with pugs.

  2. I'm single player. Just story. All good.

  3. Delfae @Star Forge7 September 2021 at 13:03

    "if we have to go through the process of trading everything manually instead of simply rolling or passing on drops as we go along, the least they could do is make it easier for us to keep track of what it is we might want to trade"

    This. 1000-times this.

    For the most part, I don't mind the change. I think PUGs should have the same chance at loot as everyone else, but the problem I'm seeing with the need/greed/pass system being gone is that there's NO class check on the set drops. It literally just picks people at random.

    Skimming through my inventory after a guild SM op this weekend, I noticed that I'd been handed a tactical for concealment/scrapper... while playing a different class. Thankfully, everyone was still in voice, so I was able to meet up with the person who did need it on our flagship. But the fact remains, it's not a convenient change.

    1. Yeah, this was something I thought about as well while writing this post but I couldn't quite figure out how to fit it in. In a way, getting loot for other classes doesn't really matter that much to me since it feels like every raider has a billion alts at this point anyway, and with LotS we'll have combat style switching on top of that - but yeah, it would be nice if there was some consideration for what you're actually playing.


Share your opinion! Everyone is welcome, as long as things stay polite. I also read comments on older posts, so don't be shy. :)