04/08/2022

Manaan: Dailies With a Story

I've said many times that I'm not a huge fan of dailies - and 7.0's new gearing system has forced me to do way more of them than I usually would, to be honest - but I was still looking forward to the new daily zone on Manaan. It's always nice to get new content, and dailies are one of those things that Mr Commando and I can still do together in these days of all main story updates being pure solo content / personal to your character.

After one full round of the new area on both Republic and Imperial side, I'd say the jury is still out on whether this is going to be a place I visit more regularly or not. Cal was surprised that the new dailies offer neither daily currency nor tech fragments, but I think that's intentional - at this point, people are going to do the area for its sheer novelty and the new reputation anyway. I'd expect Bioware to rebalance the rewards to make them more equal to other, existing daily areas eventually, but for now I get it if they don't want to over-incentivise this new content.

Just in terms of general feel I got the impression that I had to do a fair amount of running around, but I wouldn't be surprised if we all came up with our own, more efficient ways of going about things after a while. On the first night, Mr Commando and I started by fighting our way into a cave for a heroic and back out again, ran around the little "island" doing other missions and then found that we had to go back into the exact same cave at the end. There's definitely ways that can be planned out better.

What was most interesting though was that Bioware decided to add a little story to Manaan. The overall feel of the narrative reminded me a bit of the old planetary storylines - less personalised and centred on your character, but adding some life to the planet and context for what it is you're doing in each area. The dailies are immediately available without doing the story, but if you pick all of them up at the beginning, you'll be able to complete them relatively synergetically alongside each step of the storyline.


Bioware also did something that I've seen in WoW before (and I wouldn't be surprised if other MMOs did this too) by having the story reward you with extra abilities that only work on Manaan. After each step you're allowed to choose between two types of gadgets, including different AoE damage abilities, a reflective shield, a self-heal, a speed boost and even a stealth field generator, if you haven't already picked a stealth class as one of your two combat styles. These should make subsequent runs of the daily area a lot easier without otherwise unbalancing the game. Very neat.

I'd say the only downside is that the production values for this side story were clearly very limited, because not only does it use the KOTOR-style dialogue in which your character stays silent (which I'm fine with for side quests), but every single character speaks some form of alien gibberish, which I'm less keen on. It's particularly annoying when they radio you updates out in the field - this is something that makes perfect sense when characters speak Basic, as you can just listen to what's being said without disrupting your gameplay, but when it's all Huttese or Selkath or whatever, you've got to stop what you're doing to bring up the right chat window and scroll back to read the translation of what they said, which is a lot less fun.

There are also some small oddities in the flow of the dialogue which make me think that Bioware originally intended for story progress to be gated by time or reputation. On Republic side this is reflected in your two contacts standing right next to each other in the same room, while occasionally conversations end with something like "No idea where X is right now" just for the immediate next step to be to talk to X two steps to the right. The Imperial story is even more obvious about it as your contact will tell you to come back later because he needs time to do something or other, but then the conversation just continues after a brief fadeout anyway.

Anyway, overall I consider this little story addition a win, and the dailies seem alright, with nothing sticking out as particularly efficient or awkward at first blush - we'll see how they hold up over time.

02/08/2022

Let's Look at 7.1 Patch Notes

At the time of writing this, patch 7.1 should already be deployed, but I'm not in a rush to log in as I have some other plans tonight. (Plus to be honest, based on past experience I always like to wait a bit with logging in after a major patch, because servers going down again within the hour after Bioware discovered some urgent problem is something that has happened more than once.)

In the meantime, let me start out by giving the obligatory shout-out to Blaugust, the annual event to celebrate blogging of all kinds during the month of August. If you're a blogger yourself, it's a great time to get some additional exposure for your blog. If you used to be a blogger and have fallen off the wagon, or you're someone who writes a lot of comments and has been thinking about maybe starting a blog of their own, it's also a great opportunity to get help with all aspects of (re-)starting a blog as well as have other people provide additional motivation. Finally if you're just someone who likes to read blogs, Blaugust is a good opportunity to cast your net a bit wider and find new blogs to follow! You can find the spreadsheet with the list of all participants here.

I signed up again myself, because while I don't make much use of the prompts and my overall blogging rhythm doesn't change because of the event (I was never one of those who aspire to blog daily throughout the month), I figure that with the big patch releasing today, I should have plenty of things to talk about over the course of the next couple of weeks.

I wanted to start with the patch notes because while I don't always post about these, we've been waiting for 7.1 for what feels like ages, and it's become quite a sizeable patch as a result, so I thought it would be fun to pick out some of the (to me) more interesting patch notes that might end up being drowned by sheer volume otherwise.

There are of course the big ticket items like the new story update, the Manaan daily area and the new operation, but I'm kind of surprised that "class balance" is included on the list of "highlights", considering that the listed class changes really don't look like that much of a big deal to me. Some classes are receiving small nerfs, and dps Commandos/Mercenaries are being buffed a little, all of which might help a bit with the considerable class imbalances we've had to deal with since 7.0, but at least on paper none of the changes look major to me.

I'm also kind of amused that they have a whole sub-section in the patch notes for Galactic Season 2 - you know, that event that ended last month - meaning we have notes about objectives being fixed alongside another note saying that they can't be progressed anymore because the season is over. The latter should've really kicked in when the season actually ended several weeks ago, but in typical Bioware fashion the objectives disappeared from our trackers just to keep popping up whenever we did something relevant anyway. I also kept finding Syndicate Plans everywhere even though they were supposed to be discontinued... but now they are officially supposed to drop again, at which point I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly stopped dropping after all, just to be confusing. It's all a bit of a mess if you ask me, but at least of the harmless kind.

There is some good stuff though! I'm surprised they're actually launching Nar Shaddaa Nightlife alongside all the content coming with 7.1, considering that it's served as "filler" in the past to tide us over periods of no new content, but for that it's kind of late this year! Then again, it's August now and it's meant to be a summer event, so I guess they didn't have much time left to launch it without going into autumn. I don't have the greatest history with this event, but I did say last year when I couldn't get the shades I wanted that I'd try again this year, so there's that!

Rested Experience now correctly increases when a character is logged out in a rest zone.

This is a small bug that was really bugging me during my Season 2 exploits on other servers (no pun intended), because while levelling is very fast anyway, I just enjoy having rested experience and I hated that I could never get any.

Improved the visibility of the materials received in the Deconstruction window.

This is another one of those little things that was sooo annoying - basically hardly being able to see what you got whenever you deconstructed something. Glad it's finally being addressed.

Fixed an issue where Tacticals of players with 15 empty inventory slots were swapped with ship equipment or sent via mail when changing Loadouts.

This was quite a funny bug! I don't think I ever actually equipped ship modules in my Tactical slot, but sometimes when I changed loadouts, certain parts of my ship would just randomly land in my inventory. Other guildies had bigger problems with this... but I mostly thought it was amusing.

The currency tab no longer shows the PvP Season Tokens if the player does not possess any.

I hope that'll also apply to all those other old currencies that have been taking up space on the tab since 7.0... don't spoil, I'll find out soon myself.

Players wielding two weapons can no longer unequip their main hand weapon while being polymorphed.

This one just had me go "WTF" and not just because "polymorph" is WoW lingo and I can't really think of any in-game effects that this description would apply to... If you know what this about, please do tell me!

Fixed a texture issue on the Apprentice Pummeler’s Greaves MK-2.

This one just stood out to me because it's those exact legs my knight was wearing in the screenshot I posted here.

Restored the Legendary Implants color scheme for readability.

Fun fact: I actually had a guildie complain about the lack of colour consistency on the legendary implant icons big time, while I didn't even understand what he was talking about at first. Helpful that they changed it now I guess.

Players can no longer select a Flashpoint from the Group Finder window if they already have a mission for the same Flashpoint at a different difficulty level.

Not sure this is really going to solve all the confusion around the way these difficulty level missions work, but at least it should get rid of the situation where someone would get queued up for a flashpoint but then be unable to actually enter it, without understanding why.

The Exit Area button now appears on the mini-map when the player is inside a Flashpoint.

The button never actually went away, but see, I was wondering why they removed the words "exit area" so that only players who already knew what it was could really use it. It being removed in error in the first place makes a lot more sense.

Reduced the health of all encounters across all Operations and in all modes.

This is like the biggest change to put into a small patch note ever. For the next few days my guildies and I will obviously be busy running the new operation above all else, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this change does for all the crazy high dps requirements we ran up against in a lot of master modes since 7.0. There's also "Damage done by enemies has been reduced in all modes." for both Gods from the Machine and Nature of Progress.

The Ugnaught Leader in Blizz’s recruitment Mission, “Little Boss” is no longer too difficult to defeat.

I haven't done that mission in a while, but was that really a thing?

The following Missions now reward Tech Fragments for players above 75: [WEEKLY] The War Front, [DAILY] Zero Tolerance, [DAILY] United We Stand.

As one of my guildies put it: "OK, but can we actually pick up the quests between level 71 and 79, Bioware?" Because that has been an issue since 7.0... once again, I'm curious to find out, but I know that changes to the rewards of a mission that you can't actually pick up wouldn't be that useful.

Defeating The Eyeless during the Rakghoul Resurgence event no longer grants credit for the "Activity Finder: Socialite” Conquest Objective.

RIP easy Conquest completion during Rakghoul Resurgence. To be fair, we all knew this was a bug and it wasn't a big deal, just another one of those funny quirks, that killing this boss counted as being "super social" and instantly completed two Conquest objectives at once.

Do you have a favourite minor patch note that I didn't list here?