30/06/2022

The Obi-Wan Show

I'm back from holiday and while away I managed to finish the last episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Do I have to specify that I'm talking about season one? There currently don't seem to be any plans for a season two and I don't think we need one either; the way it ended was fine.

Teaser art from starwars.com

In a nutshell, it was an enjoyable little series. It didn't blow me away, but I had a good time with every episode. There were occasional moments of "ehh, I'm not sure about that" where things felt a little awkward or didn't entirely make sense to me, but like in The Mandalorian, I was sufficiently invested in the overall narrative to give these small issues a pass.

After Book of Boba Fett it was particularly nice to see a Star Wars production give its main protagonist room to breathe and time to show character development again. I guess the producers didn't have much of a choice to do anything else in this case, considering that Obi-Wan Kenobi is about a major character's life between two of the franchise's main films and he's supposed to have lived a hermit's life during most of that time, so we effectively knew the story's end point: that he wasn't going to get up to anything too attention-grabbing and that neither Obi-Wan nor Vader were going to die. The question was how certain relationships got to where they were in A New Hope, and this show actually did some interesting work with that which seemed to mesh well enough with existing canon.

That said, I've got to admit I'm starting to experience a certain amount of fatigue with all this Star Wars content coming out so rapidly and how it all seems to focus on the same era and characters. There do seem to be some signs of Disney wanting to diversify into different eras and genres, but we'll see how well that goes.

16/06/2022

Galactic Season 2 Complete on Star Forge

Two down, three to go! I'm honestly quite proud of finishing Galactic Season 2 on Star Forge after first doing so on Darth Malgus. It's one thing to split your time to make progress on multiple servers simultaneously, but I'd hardly done anything anywhere else yet when I finished up on Darth Malgus, so I basically completed the season twice, without using any of the buyout options, almost consecutively. I wasn't actually sure there was enough time for that in the season.

As previously established, I currently have three characters on Star Forge: my Cathar Commando, who was my first max-level character not on my main server (several expansions ago though), a Gunslinger and my new Shadow knight created after the combat styles update. Unlike in Season 1, when conscious use of low-level characters could actually be beneficial and give you easier objectives, this season was definitely all about the higher-level characters, and as such Cathar Shintar undoubtedly did most of the heavy lifting and is the reason I managed to complete the season on Star Forge before any of the other servers, even though I started paying attention to them around the same time.


I did play my alts on Star Forge a bit when it was convenient, such as when there was an objective to complete a certain number of missions as a specific origin story, but my "main" in this context definitely earned her position, from running featured flashpoints to doing dailies. In the process, she hit the new level cap, completed the level 80 implant quest and earned enough tech fragments to buy her first legendary implant - hardly an amazing achievement, but not bad as a mere "side effect" of doing seasons objectives.

Another benefit of this is that I'll now be able to join friends for easy endgame content on Star Forge if an opportunity arises, as I know a number of friendly content creators who have their home on that server. (Intisar for example sent me some ship parts to improve my space combat experience after I talked on Twitter about having done one too many Fondor escorts recently, the on-rails space mission for complete beginners.)

As for the other servers, I already know I won't be able to reach level 100 there without using the buyout option for at least a few levels. Bioware helpfully put out a post detailing all the objectives for the last few weeks of Season 2, making it easy to plan ahead. I'll completely miss out on week 19 due to being AFK in real life, which means that I'll have exactly one week left after my return to earn some final points. While it'll be a good week with many easy objectives, a bit of maths tells me that even if I earned the maximum amount of points for that week, I'd still end up 6-18 levels short on the other servers.

I've also been told that you can't buy out the last five levels or so with credits, so I'll just have to make sure to do my credit buyouts immediately upon my return and then just do a few more weekly objectives on each server to cap. What a ride!

11/06/2022

Looking Forward to 7.1

I'm in a bit of a funny place with SWTOR at the moment. I was rather disappointed with the expansion launch after Bioware had splurged on our first CGI trailer since KotET and had previously alluded to Legacy of the Sith containing "LotS" of content. Unlike others, I didn't really have any major issues with what was there, but I didn't like that half of the intended launch content was effectively cut out and postponed until later.

This was almost four months ago now, and we still don't have a launch date for 7.1, just a vague target of "mid-summer". If I were to bet on it, my money would be on the 5th of July, because that's when Galactic Season 2 ends; and the datamined schedule for the ops rotation that someone posted in our guild's Discord a few months ago also cuts off the week before. Bioware better have some kind of plan to drop an update around then, because if not we'll just end up with awkward bugs again if nobody remembers to update the schedule for certain events. I also think that around then would be a good time to reactivate Nar Shaddaa Nightlife to be honest...

Despite of the objective lack of content, I've been keeping pretty busy in game. The new gearing system is neither significantly better nor worse than 6.0's was (in my opinion) but it was different and something to do. I still haven't crafted a single gold augment because I keep spending all my tech fragments on implants for my alts and could probably keep doing so forever, but in my experience diminishing returns set in after a while when it comes to the fun of gearing alts.

Running ops with my guild has been enjoyable - we currently have three different progression teams, something I'm not sure we ever managed before, and it's been decent fun so far, but the brutal tuning of the legacy content and newly introduced class imbalances are starting to take their toll. We're basically scrambling to find master mode bosses that are realistically within our reach with the people and gear that we have, just to pass the time until the launch of the new operation.

I've been making some story progress on alts too, though I soon fell into familiar patterns in the sense that I pick up an alt and go "hey, I'd forgotten how fun this is to replay, I should do this more often", but then I get another alt into the exact same content and kinda go "ok, it's too soon to do this again right now" and then I become a bit aimless.

Galactic Season 2 has been super fun and as I wrote before, working towards the goal to complete it on all servers has been quite demanding and takes up a lot of my play time right now. Sadly my progress would be kind of disjointed and not very exciting to write about, what with the constant starting and stopping on different servers, and doing the exact same weekly objectives four times over. I do plan to do a sort of summary post about my experiences on each server at the end, and I'm excited to say that I can see the light of the tunnel on Star Forge at least, where my Season level is up into the nineties.

How are you passing the time if you're still playing right now? Or are you taking a break until the new content drops?

03/06/2022

Imperial Saboteur, Part 2

Continued from part 1!

I completed the rest of the Onslaught base story on my saboteur agent and there were some interesting things to see. However, first I'd like to note that I also did a round of dailies on Onderon and was quite surprised when I realised that one of the daily missions has a cut scene with a different outcome if you're a saboteur! It's the one that tells you to hunt down a Republic assassin, and to be honest I always wondered why the end of that took place in a phase, considering that you just kill him (usually). However, if you're a saboteur, you get to talk instead of attacking straight away and you have the option to distract the guards to help him escape! How cool is that? Now if only the quest giver had remembered that King Petryph wasn't alive in my playthrough anymore...

As for Mek-sha and beyond: There are a couple of opportunities to randomly be nice to people aligned with the Republic, which generally didn't strike me as a wise thing to do in public, not to mention unlikely to actually achieve anything, so I didn't always choose those options, except to try out the concept on Tau, to whom my character said something like: "You have nothing to fear from me, Jedi". I think her reply was something along the lines of: "We'll see about that".

When you infiltrate Junker Jott's base to steal the schematics for the failsafe, you can intentionally leave evidence of what happened, which results in Anri's diversion at the end being less successful. At least I think that's how these two things were connected... it wasn't entirely clear to me what Anri's diversion being less successful actually meant in practice.

I didn't get to find out because I chose to commit maximum sabotage again by simply not triggering the failsafe and pretending that it just didn't work.

Darth Malgus doesn't go ballistic on Darth Shaar during the debrief at the end the way he did on Savik, so I chose to actively throw her under the bus by saying that her whole plan was bad when Malgus asked me about what I thought went wrong. It was fun to see Shaar get pretty mad about that, though Emperor Vowrawn downplays the whole thing when you talk to him later.

I already felt that my sabotage on Onderon was pretty suspicious, but having a second mission in a row fail in the exact same way - because I mysteriously couldn't press the right button when left in a room on my own - made things even worse, so I was pleased to see that at least Darth Malgus seemed to agree. He sent me a pretty angry letter afterwards in which he asks: "How is it that you, who have accomplished so much, display such incompetence?" Good question, Malgus; very good question.

In the run-up to the attack on Corellia, you can try to sabotage Krovos' proposal to bomb civilians on the other side of the planet by suggesting that she's hiding something, but it doesn't work. (Good on you, Krovos.)

During the actual attack on Corellia, you see the consequences of your sabotage on Onderon and Mek-sha, as the Imperial fleet struggles and several ships get blown up before your strike team can make it to the surface, which I thought was another neat difference compared to the very successful assault that loyalists get to experience.

The Objective Meridian flashpoint goes the same as always, with Malgus being back to talking nice to you. It struck me as kind of amusing that the ending with you escaping without displaying any concern for your fallen companion - something that always struck me as a bit weird - is something that actually makes sense for a saboteur. I mean, Malgus was obviously on to me, so good riddance to him!

At the end of the flashpoint you do actually get to choose again whether to do what the Empire wants or make the whole mission a failure. I did the latter, though this also made it the third time in a row that I mysteriously failed to press the right button when left to my own devices so I don't know how the Empire can continue to put any faith in me at this point.

Jonas Balkar actually gave my agent a holo call right in front of some Imperial guards just before I was about to meet the Dark Council and nobody batted an eyelid. You can chide him for calling you at a bad time and he responds that calling during the actual meeting would have been worse. That's a false choice, Jonas, and you know it!

Watching the Dark Council play blame games with each other about who was responsible for the mission failure was admittedly quite amusing, though it's once again surprising that the finger doesn't get pointed at your character more directly. One thing of note was that while Vowrawn talks about reinstating the Hand, he didn't ask me to return the Alliance to the Empire as a whole - though Lana kept making comments later as if he had.

In the chat on the fleet afterwards, Theron is actually very angry that so many civilians died on Corellia and questions the point of being a saboteur if we can't do more to prevent this kind of stuff. In the in-person debrief with Jonas later, you can also ask whether you can join the Republic properly now, and he's kind of evasive about it and says that you're more useful continuing to be an undercover agent - I can't say I'm entirely convinced by that argument. He does introduce you to Master Sal-Deron via holo, however.

I also had a note here saying ,"Why does Anri still admire me so much?" because she only met me on Ossus and I've done nothing but mess things up for the Empire since then. I guess she might still have been impressed by my character's prowess in combat.

All in all, Onslaught has some pretty interesting content variations for saboteurs - in fact, I found out while doing some reading up on the subject that there's an additional variant if you agree to become a saboteur at the beginning but then always choose not to sabotage at the crucial moments, making you a sort of triple agent... oh god, does that mean I need to take another character through this to see that dialogue?

I also have to say that your character's not really a very convincing saboteur here and I don't think it's great storytelling for the most part, as your repeat failures are just too obvious - you kind of have to tune out any concerns about realism at that point, and just agree to roll with it for the fun of seeing how much the game will let your character get away with while still praising you for how amazing you are. The question is whether that will actually end up going anywhere.