Will We Return to Hutta in 7.5?

I'm not usually one for doing much speculating about what the future will bring, as I'm quite happy to just let things come at me as they are, but today I'd like to discuss something that I (surprisingly) haven't seen brought up anywhere else at least - that we might end up going back to Hutta in 7.5, and that the devs have actually been hinting at it too, just without saying it outright.

At the end of my review of Chains in the Dark, I asked whether anyone knew who the Rodian on the loading screen was, since I hadn't encountered a character like him anywhere in the story. At the time I just wondered whether there was some story variation or side mission that I'd missed, but the subject ended up sparking some interesting conversations on Discord, during which Jawaface and Kal pointed out that there were actually other things on the splash art that hadn't featured in the story, such as the Hutt Palace on the right side of the screen, and the ring structure that surrounds the logo in front of Heta.

Now, my first thought was that maybe there had once been a plan to have 7.4's story take place on Hutta for Imperial characters, but on second pass that didn't really make sense as - even if that had ever been the plan - it would have had to be scrapped long ago, leaving them with plenty of time to come up with an updated image.

But what if Hutta wasn't something that was scrapped, but rather something that's still to come? When 7.4 was first announced, I noted that revisiting Ord Mantell matched something Keith had said for the tenth anniversary, that we'd get to "return to where your character’s journey first began so long ago". This has now come true for Republic (tech-using) characters - going to Hutta next would make for a nice mirror experience for Imperials.

Using the key art to hint at something that hasn't been revealed yet also isn't something that's entirely unheard of for SWTOR. When the Legacy of the Sith loading screen was first revealed for example, we got a lot of information about the different NPCs we'd be interacting with... with the notable exception of a certain green twi'lek in the middle who would later turn out to be Sa'har.

In the recent past, they've also given us these new loading screens every other patch - not just for expansion releases - meaning that we got one for 7.0 (which continued to be used throughout 7.1) and then we got a new one for 7.2 (which didn't change for 7.3). Based on that, it's not unreasonable to assume that the 7.4 loading screen might stay with us throughout 7.5 - and maybe the artist(s) at Broadsword decided to reflect that in the art this time, while also gently teasing about future content to come.

Oh, and that ring structure under Heta? Intisar commented in the same Discord conversation that it could be seen in the Darth Nul flashbacks, but I couldn't verify that when taking an alt through that content again the other day. It does however occur to me that it looks kind of like the machine that Master Orr destroys in the Disorder trailer (god, I love that cinematic so much). Based on what Malgus said, that machine was meant to find Force sensitives and not a weapon, but you know... he could've been lying, or there simply could've been more to it. It would be interesting if Heta's efforts resulted in a similar device.

(As a side note, there's also something in data mining that supports the idea of Hutta coming in 7.5, but I only mention this to say that I'm aware of it. I don't seek out data-mined information since I'm not actively trying to spoil myself, not to mention that it can also lead to disappointment when it makes people expect content that then never actually comes out, which I've seen happen more than once. I think the hints in the art are on a whole other level though.)


Galactic Season 5 in Review

I finished my last GS5 achievement on Darth Malgus the week before Christmas, so it's time for my usual review of the season as a whole.

Let me start off by saying that overall, I had a really good time with Season 5. I will admit though that I'm not sure about the causality here, which is to say that I don't know whether the season was so good that it made me have more fun with the game as a whole, or whether I was already having a good time anyway and therefore also enjoyed the season more.

I really liked the way they expanded on the seasonal story, but I'm not going to go through all that again because I already wrote a dedicated post on the subject two months ago.

I will say though that the omission of a new companion didn't bother me at all. I can tell from the forums that there were people who did miss getting one, and to be honest there were always going to be some - however, only the devs have the metrics to know what the bigger picture looks like in terms of (dis)approval. All I can say is that to me personally, it felt really liberating to not have to deal with all the extra clutter that usually comes with a new seasonal companion, such as special companion gifts, customisations and companion-only weapons. I really appreciated that it made the reward track feel a lot "cleaner".

The only thing I didn't like were the "Brrazz's Gift" thingamabobs, which felt useless to me as I always earn more of the seasonal currency than I "need" to max out my rep each week anyway, just from doing the objectives, so I never felt the need to specifically farm them and boost the drop rate. I'm also not sure the buff was even working correctly, as I heard people complaining about it repeatedly and the one time I made a point of popping one of the buffs before an operation just to see how it worked, not a single dark spore dropped during the entire run. Make of that what you will.

I really liked the inclusion of a few more "high-quality" rewards, such as the white/white dye and the loth kitten pet, but more than anything else, this was the season of stronghold decorations for me. I went back and compared the reward tracks for Seasons 4 and 5, and unless I miscounted, Season 4 gave more random deco packs, but Season 5 gave more decos overall since it included more unique, season-specific ones.

Either way, I'm usually not much of a stronghold decorator - and I'm still not really, but at one point during the season while I was playing on one of the other servers, I was doing something in my stronghold when it suddenly hit me that I had a dozen of a particularly nice looking couch or something like that, and it gave me pause because I always claim free decos without looking too closely at what they even are. It was only then that it hit me that I'd claimed some very interesting items across different servers throughout the previous seasons, and for the first time I started to actually invest a bit into decorating my strongholds there. My efforts still wouldn't impress anyone who's actually deeply into that aspect of the game, but for me it was actually kind of surprising and a big step. I guess the devs weren't too badly off either as I then ended up buying a few more decos on the other servers with Cartel coins as well.

I also liked most of the other rewards this season, such as the mounts, dyes and armour sets, and am actually using some of them - which is saying something when most of these types of rewards tend to just get claimed and thrown into the cargo bay/collections with barely a second look. Even as someone who mainly plays Republic side, I liked the strong Imperial theme. As a guildie commented, that theme is another thing we probably wouldn't have gotten if the season had included a companion, because due to the nature of such a companion having to be suitable for both factions, you could never really have one that's strongly entrenched on one side or the other. However, having an Imperial villain instead and theming the rewards around that worked just fine, and I'd love it if they did a similar thing with a Republic focus in a future season.

As for objectives - again, first of all, I appreciate that the devs tried to vary things a bit this season with some changes. I was grateful for the addition of the operations objective, but as I wrote previously, their first implementation of the idea was just waaay too time consuming. As the season went on, we also learned that when the ops objective reappeared, it always asked for the exact same operations, which was kind of sucky. I think in future they should trim this down to requiring no more than two story modes or one vet mode operation, and it also shouldn't require the same one(s) every time.

I have to admit the changes to the flashpoint objectives that I also discussed in the post linked in the previous paragraph started to wear on me a bit after a while, because it meant running pretty much double the number of flashpoints compared to previous seasons, and with me doing this across multiple servers... it was just too much. I like flashpoints, but some of them can also be quite time-consuming and it just got a bit tiresome, especially as there seemed to be a flashpoint objective pretty much every week. I could've just done something else or not done that many objectives to begin with I guess, but especially on the secondary servers my options are sometimes limited in terms of what I have access to in terms of story progression, queue pops or group content in general.

I think the secondary servers were perhaps my biggest challenge this season in the sense of reining myself in to not overdo it and spoil my own fun. This isn't a new thing and I've talked about it before, but I think the addition of an eleventh weekly objective to choose from, even if the total you could do was still seven, meant that I often found myself capable of doing exactly seven objectives on the other servers... and so I did them, even if that wasn't necessarily super fun. In a way it was easier when my choices were more obviously limited, because now that I often can complete the maximum number of objectives, it takes an extra bit of willpower to not always push myself into that.

Oh, and I did almost no chapter objectives this season because unlike in Season 4, they were all over the place in terms of story order. I think I did chapters one to three at one point as I pushed a couple more alts into KotFE, but then the objectives jumped all over the storyline again and since I saw no rhyme or reason to it I decided to focus on other objectives instead.

Still, all in all I thought this was an excellent season and I'm looking forward to seeing what the devs have planned for the next one. I'm kind of hoping they go "companion-less" at least one more time as I'd like to see what else they can come up with when not tied down by the seasonal companion concept.


Enjoying Life Day

Today I'd like to wish all my readers a merry Christmas and happy holiday season - especially if it's perhaps not the happiest time for you personally, for example because your life doesn't conform to the traditional requirements of what a happy Christmas tableau should look like, such as if you have to work over the holidays or don't have a good relationship with your relatives.

I've been thinking about that recently, and for me at least, Christmas is probably the holiday that has "degraded" the most since I was a little kid. I'm honestly a bit envious of adults who still get genuinely excited about it. When I was a child, I couldn't wait to open the next door of my advent calendar every day in December, and Christmas Eve always felt pretty magical when we were finally allowed into the bedroom to see all the presents lined up. However, as an adult it just feels like I care less and less every year. Mr Commando and I mostly agreed to not bother with buying presents for each other as it just stresses us out, and on past occasions when I bought myself an advent calendar "for fun" I usually forgot to open the door most days since I'm just too busy with other things. It's a bit sad, honestly.

With that said, I've been surprised by just how much I've been enjoying Life Day in SWTOR. There isn't that much to it, but in a way that's what I love about it (and I have talked positively about that in the past). While real life is filled with all these expectations about cards, presents and family visits, Life Day is just wonderfully chill.

There's nothing quite like hanging out in front of the Senate Tower or on the Nar Shaddaa Promenade and pelting things with snowballs. If you feel like getting more involved, you can run around and try to tag all the different gift droid spawns, or look for a flash mob assembling around an overheated one, but if you're feeling lazy, just staying in the same area and throwing snowballs at random NPCs and passers-by works as well. It's a great way to pass the time while waiting in queues, especially if you don't expect the wait time to be too long and/or you don't feel like going out and doing something more involved in the meantime (such as dailies for example).

If only the real-life holiday could be equally as relaxing to me... anyway, my point is that I appreciate that it's there. I'll definitely try to make the most of it while it lasts.


Twelve Years of SWTOR Blogging

This blog is only a few days younger than SWTOR itself, so I always get to celebrate its birthday shortly after the game's. It hit me recently that twelve years of doing this means that I've been maintaining this blog for about a third of my life, or half of my adult life. That's pretty huge! Other people raise kids in that time... I have no regrets though.

In fact, this past year has been the best year for the blog in quite a while, as it was the first time in several years that my annual post count went up instead of down. I didn't quite manage to surpass one hundred posts (which I last did in 2019), but I nearly reached the same number I published in 2020, which makes me happy.

I think the reasons for this are a mix of the reinvigoration of my interest in the game that I mentioned in my last post and the fact that I cut back on my play time in WoW Classic. Some people might say it's already quite a lot to be playing two MMOs at the same time, but I also raided in both for a couple of years, and that really cut down on my free time for blogging as I had some sort of commitment in either one game or the other almost every evening. It's been nice to go down to being a bit more casual again in that regard, and apparently writing more about SWTOR has been what I really wanted to do with that extra time. Let's look at just what I had to say throughout the year:

In January, I was still busy thinking about the 7.2 patch that had come out in December, giving more detailed thoughts on its story update and grousing a bit about the UI changes that were made to the map system (they actually added the red dots for enemies to the overlay map since then, so it's better now than it used to be). With eight weeks left of Galactic Season 3, I set myself the stretch goal of also getting the "complete 100 weekly objectives" achievement on all servers. And in a bit of a throwback to Shadow of Revan, I hunted down three not-so-little grophets for the first time.

February was the quietest month on the blog, probably because I was too busy grinding out those extra seasons objectives everywhere. I summarised my thoughts on the season as a whole as well as on the first ever PvP season. It being about a year since the launch of Legacy of the Sith, I also mused on how I still missed at least some of the abilities that I'd lost in the big pruning.

As March rolled around, I finished my GS3 adventures on the other servers, which meant I had time for non-season-related things for a little while. I finally killed the first boss in the R-4 operation on veteran mode, had a blast during Total Galactic War, and goofed around with guildies during the Rakghoul Resurgence event.

However, April and with it the start of Galactic Season 4 were just around the corner. I felt somewhat ambivalent about getting another season quite so quickly. I did like the pacifist theme though and it gave me an excuse to get my pacifist character out of retirement.

May saw me muse about the introduction of a credit cost for quick travel and delighted by the removal of the daily commendation currency. I was also excited to share my participation in Today in TOR's Galactic Championship... which was fun while it lasted, but at this rate I think we're unfortunately unlikely to ever see the final episodes as they got stuck in something like "production hell" it seems (after everything was filmed). In Galactic Season news, I was amused to find that the chapter objectives had managed to coax me into taking another one of my alts through KotFE. We were also well into the second PvP season and I had thoughts on that too. Finally, we got our first glimpse of patch 7.3.

June of course was the month when the news about the move to Broadsword broke. I had thoughts, and I shared every bit of semi-official news or insider comments I could find. It was also the launch of the 7.3 patch though, and I wrote an in-depth review of the new story.

I continued to share more thoughts on the patch's features in July, when I talked about the new flashpoint as well as the new area on Voss, which also inspired me to muse on which other existing planets I'd like to revisit in a similar fashion. I also regaled everyone with the legendary tale of Savanna Vorantikus, gave a review of Galactic Season 4 and made inroads into playing through Onslaught and beyond as a Republic saboteur for the first time.

August was a more quiet month in some ways, so I wrote about evergreen topics such as my thoughts on the base game romances for female characters or why you should care about Conquest. TOR Fashion was also slated to shut down unexpectedly, and I wrote about Swtorista's project to save it.

In September I got to kill Dread Master Brontes on master mode for the first time and experienced some strange Conquest drama. Galactic Season 5 arrived, and so did the third iteration of the Best View in SWTOR contest, plus after months of careful testing, SWTOR finally made the move to the cloud. I also shared some thoughts on my PvP experiences in Season 3.

Galactic Season 5 came with more story than any previous season, which prompted me to write about it in October. The livestream preview for 7.4 stoked some hype, and I mused a bit about the strange state of master mode operations.

November brought more than one surprise as the devs sent out an email survey to players for the first time in years and dropped the news about the launch of the new APAC server on us with little warning. I enjoyed writing about my early impressions.

Finally December rolled around and with it patch 7.4 and a new story update. The New Overlords Podcast also dropped a very insightful interview with the devs and of course, SWTOR celebrated its 12th birthday. To another year of playing and blogging about it!


SWTOR Turns Twelve Today

I always count from the official launch day, ignoring early access. And gosh, what a year it's been! If you'd asked me at the end of last year what I expected to happen in 2023, I would not have been able to predict anything like this. Who expects exciting stuff to happen in an MMO's twelfth year of running?

Thirteen images for my annual collage were a pain to fit into a grid. Damn prime numbers.

First of all, the dev team continued to shore things up behind the scenes to prepare SWTOR for its next decade, first by updating the game to 64-bit and then moving it to Amazon Web Services, which eventually enabled them to launch the game's first brand new server since 2012.

All of that would've been pretty exciting on its own, but the biggest news of the year was of course the studio transition from Bioware to Broadsword, the news of which first broke in early June. And I've got to say: for me at least, that was one hell of a wake-up call. As I detailed in last year's year-in-review post, 2022 had not been the best year for my relationship with SWTOR, and while things seemed to be improving again as we went into 2023, I was still feeling a bit down in some regards.

Then the Broadsword news broke and everybody panicked, because it just didn't sound good at all at first. "Is SWTOR dead yet" is a long-running meme at this point, but in that moment, the threat of no more development or worse suddenly loomed larger than it had in many years. The sheer agitation I felt in those first couple of days was a stark reminder of just how much I still love this game and want it to do well - and the comfort I found in talking to other content creators at the time made me feel closer to the community than I had in a while. I also appreciated the current and former devs speaking out on the matter in so far as they were able to.

Since then I feel I've really been approaching the game with new-found vigour, because I'm glad it's still here, there are so many things I love about it, and I want to support it so it'll still be here tomorrow. And so far, things have been working out surprisingly well. Updates have continued to roll out at the usual pace, and the dev communications that we've been getting have actually seemed somewhat more liberated and happier (to me anyway).

You could say that it's only been less than six months, and we'll see what things will look like next year, but at some point we're just talking about the general uncertainty you get with any big business making decisions at the top that may change things at the bottom in unexpected ways. The important point is that the sky didn't fall and things look stable enough for now, if not slightly improved.

In fact, I would say that in general, the team seems to have found a rhythm again towards the end of last year, after Legacy of the Sith's rocky launch. They appear to have settled into a schedule of releasing two major content patches a year, with two Galactic Seasons and three PvP seasons running primarily in-between to fill the gaps - which, you know, works for me? Seasons are not the same as new content, but they provide a way to keep busy, and whatever theoretical cynicism I might feel about endlessly recycling content (go back and read my original reaction to when Galactic Seasons were first announced), I can't deny reality and that I have been having fun with them.

As I was writing this, I looked back at my previous "happy birthday, SWTOR" posts over the years - here are links to all of them:

Happy Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy 2nd Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy Third Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy 4th Birthday, SWTOR!
Five Years of SWTOR
Six Years of SWTOR
Seven Years of SWTOR
Eight Years of SWTOR
Nine Years of SWTOR
Happy 10th Birthday, SWTOR!
Eleven Years of SWTOR

And the one thing that seems to be a constant with this game is that nothing is constant; that it's an endless roller-coaster of ups and downs. I thought we were over that after the "Knights of" expansions (and admittedly nothing has been that bad since then), but we do seem to have had another cycle with Onslaught being a really great expansion that in turn generated hype for Legacy of the Sith, but that then had a horrible launch - for whatever reasons - and now we're once again in the "crawling our way back up" stage. With all the big things happening in the game that I mentioned in the first three paragraphs, we still managed to get two story continuations with new open-world zones and a new flashpoint this year, and my impression has been that it's all been pretty well received.

So hey, hopefully we have some more nice things to look forward to next year! In the dev interview I highlighted the other day, Keith said that we should soon expect a roadmap from him, and Ashley and Caitlin shared that they are incredibly excited about what they'll get to show us soon (even while keeping in mind that they are always excited to be sharing their team's work). To more good stuff in 2024!


The Shae Vizla APAC Server Is a Month Old Today

Maybe you're wondering how things are going after a month? Well, even if you aren't, I'm here to talk about it anyway, as I'm still playing there, both for seasons and just for fun (I collected a whole load of bounties during Bounty Contract Week for example).

I didn't know that this was going to happen when I joined Heroes of the Empire, but the guild quickly turned into the biggest one on the server, which means that in terms of Conquest it's currently always winning first place on the large yield planet in spite of not being a dedicated Conquest guild. It was bittersweet when I could display the "Conqueror of Belsavis" legacy title after my first week of Conquest being active... on Darth Malgus, Belsavis is the only one of the old planets whose Conqueror title still eludes me since it's always claimed by a mega-guild, even during Total Galactic War.

I've never been in a guild this big before and it's been an interesting experience. There are dozens of players online at all times of day and guild chat is a constant stream of achievements. This is also where all of our Conquest points are coming from despite the lack of an official Conquest focus - there are just so many enthusiastic people simply playing, whether they're working their way through the story, doing PvP or what have you.

In terms of guild development, I didn't realise just how many tasks there are to take care of when forming a guild on a brand-new server, seeing how my own guild dealt with all these things gradually over the years as new features were added one by one. On Shae Vizla, after the guild flagships for both factions were acquired, there was a contest to name them, then there was another contest to come up with guild heraldry for both factions, and now everyone's working on accumulating encryptions to actually open up all the rooms in the flagships - they still have to be earned and can't just be bought from the GTN en masse.

Heroes of the Empire out hunting Commanders for guild ship encryptions... something that hasn't really been a priority for me on Darth Malgus since 2014.

But let's talk about what general activity levels on the server are like after a month. The big "let's check out the new thing" rush is obviously over, but the population still seems quite healthy. Queue pops in lowbie PvP have slowed down, but that's because people have been levelling up and the midbie and max-level brackets are getting busier.

Endgame still seems to be a bit of a slow affair, I think because not many SWTOR players are the "rush to the level cap and raid" type. I've seen some story mode ops pugs in general chat, but I think for the majority of the population that stuff just doesn't feel that relevant yet. I'm only aware of one dedicated hardcore ops-running guild that moved in from Satele Shan (called Tauntaun War Veterans) but I don't know how hard they've been pushing themselves to gear up and clear all the content either.

The economy is also still pretty immature, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you're good at making credits, you can find some Cartel Market items at absolute bargain prices compared to how much they'd cost on the other servers... but you do need to make those credits via gameplay first (e.g. by doing dailies); you can't just sell a CM dye for a billion to get a head start. As an example, I got our overlord Savanna Vorantikus out of a seasons Cartel pack over a week ago and wanted to sell him. I checked prices on the other servers and at the time, the cheapest I saw was 25 million. On Shae Vizla, I still haven't been able to sell him yet even while listing for only 10% of that.

I would also say that the overall selection on the GTN is limited, as not that many people are at the point yet where they can or want to grind things just to sell, and items like craftable dyes that are tied to certain reputations haven't been unlocked by many players yet.

Using the Conquest point scores of the biggest guilds as an imperfect metric to judge server activity/population size, the server seemed to settle into what I'd call a medium-sized population shortly after launch. In the first week of proper Conquest, the highest score on the board (ours!) was over a hundred million points, but at the time the guild still had a lot of new players joining whose contributions didn't count yet. By week two we were up to 230+ million points.

Comparing that to other servers, it's nowhere near the kinds of scores that Sanctuary was putting out on Star Forge that same week (300+ million) but way higher than what we see on a small server like Leviathan, where even the highest scoring Conquest guild can get away with earning less than a hundred million points in a week. I'd say it's comparable and only slightly below the kinds of numbers you'd see on Satele Shan and Darth Malgus. Make of that what you will!

However, then 7.4 launched and as expected, that has led to a reduction in activity. It's hard to put a number on it, but I noticed that my own guild's Conquest scores (on both factions) were down about 20-30% compared to the week before (this is an estimate as I wasn't online before reset to see the final numbers). Now, a guild's Conquest score always fluctuates from one week to the next, but usually a patch would make it go up, not down, which to me indicates that this saw a lot of "tourists" return to their old homes.

When OotiniCast ran a quick poll on Twitter about how many people were playing on the APAC server, 46% responded that they'd made a character there just for fun, and only 10% were planning to make it their new home (the remaining 44% did not play there at all). Considering those numbers, a 20-30% drop in activity isn't that bad though and should hopefully still leave enough players to have a good experience, even if the server ends up being slightly smaller in the end. We'll see how things develop in the coming months - I'll be keeping an eye on it for sure as I'm planning to complete Galactic Season 5 on there if nothing else, which means daily logins and play for another couple of months at least!


A Great Dev Interview

I probably don't give shout-outs to other content creators often enough, but I really wanted to highlight this dev interview posted yesterday by the New Overlords Podcast (formerly known as SWTOR Escape Pod Cast).

Hosts Max and Sema had Executive Producer Keith Kanneg, Narrative Director Ashley Ruhl and Lead Writer Caitlin Sullivan Kelly all on at once, and they basically had a great group chat about their history with SWTOR, the dynamics within their team, their process when it comes to creating narrative for the game as well as what's coming up next (as much as they're able to talk about that kind of thing before anything's been announced). Max did a great job at making sure that all of them got to speak and throwing them little prompts to talk more about different subjects. I can really only recommend that you watch it for yourself if you're a fan of the game - the video clocks in at slightly under an hour but there isn't a boring minute.

I just wanted to highlight a few choice quotes from Keith in specific that I thought were quite juicy:

  • "I got to take over the producer role at the end of 2016. It was, you know, 'why are you qualified to do this', right? But at the time, there was a lot of difference of opinion as to whether or not the game was going to be successful after 2016. But here we are in 2024, right, and we've obviously done a lot of good things, right?" - This one stood out to me because it seems to imply quite clearly that at least in some ways, the game is actually in a better position today than it was in 2016. And I'm not surprised at all, because the months immediately after the launch of Eternal Throne were pretty miserable for me as a long-time player, mostly due to Galactic Command. Literally the only time I ever felt actively actively put off from playing. But since KotFE and KotET were generally quite well received, I don't think the mainstream and more casual observers generally caught on to just how bad things were for a while.
  • "We've been working with Lucasfilm, what, sixteen, seventeen years now, right? We have a phenomenal relationship with them. They are... I mean, they're just us, right? And we are them. We work together hand in hand with absolutely everything. We meet with them every week." This isn't really news because it's been public knowledge that Lucasfilm is quite happy with SWTOR for a while, but it's still nice to hear it stated so explicitly.
  • [After talking about the joys of the new server experience on the APAC server] "How do you take that same experience and bring it to everybody in the entire world? Right, so we have those thoughts - we haven't figured it out yet but we are kicking those stones over to see what can we do to make it so that everybody has that same experience." Wonder what that will mean...
Oh, and it's not really "revealing" anything but I was amused by Ashley using the phrase "We make excellent hot dogs in this coffee maker" to describe how they constantly use their tools in ways they weren't originally designed for. Anyway, just go and listen for yourself!


Chains in the Dark Story Review

It is here! My big 7.4 story review. I'm always surprised by just how much I have to say about new story updates, as this post once again clocks in at close to four thousand words.

However, before we get into the actual meat of the story, let's talk about a certain "technicality": the KOTOR-style cut scenes. In 7.3, it was slightly startling when the conversation interface switched to that style at the Interpreter's Retreat, but I rationalised it as that section being a secondary story within the primary story and ultimately didn't mind it too much. However, this time around, the devs inserted silent protagonist cut scenes into the story seemingly at random, and I was less of a fan of that.

Don't get me wrong, I get that this format saves a lot of money and I don't mind it being used for anything that's not the main story, but to have a scene with an NPC with "proper" cut scenes and then in the next conversation with that very same NPC it's black bars and silence from our character - that's just jarring and confusing. I'd love to know what Broadsword's criteria were for creating some scenes in that style and not others. As a player, I'd really like to be able to manage my expectations, and the way things were done in this update was not helpful in that regard.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let's get to what actually happens in the story. Full spoilers ahead!

We start with a visit to Heta Kol's fleet, where we see Heta surrounded by Hidden Chain Mandalorians when Ri'kan walks up to her and tells her that they're "ready" for something, leading to her ordering everyone to their stations. Sa'har looks uncomfortable in the background and when Heta leaves, she expresses doubt to Ri'kan whether they're doing the right thing, but her concerns fall on deaf ears.

Next we see Jekiah Ordo giving orders on what I can only guess is Shae's new flagship, when suddenly a bunch of red dots start popping up on his galaxy map to indicate Hidden Chain activity. He contacts Shae to ask for advice on what he should focus on but doesn't seem to get a response.

We switch scenes to a cantina in an unspecified location that is later revealed to be Port Nowhere. The player character is having drinks with Rass Ordo and you have an option to flirt with him while waiting to see a Harido Wald contact. Suddenly there's an explosion and the Hidden Chain attacks! It's not called out in the dialogue, but it was noteworthy to me that these attackers are all from clans that we haven't seen fight for Heta previously, such as Bralor, Farr (like Ceta Farr, the Revanite from Dromund Kaas), Rodarch, Werda and Sharratt of Nar Shaddaa heroic fame, which seems to indicate that despite her defeat on Ruhnuk, her support has actually been growing.

You fight off the boarding party and blow up the tether they've attached to the station, but a group of them has already taken hostages. You can play it safe by using what you see through the security cameras to take out the hostage takers with a remote surprise attack, or you can opt to just charge in and leave the hostages to scramble in the crossfire, which leads to some injuries. They are grateful for the rescue either way.

After defeating the Mandalorian boss (who has some pretty interesting fight mechanics for a story encounter by the way), Rass gets a call from Jekiah telling him about the Hidden Chain attacking, to which you're like "no duh"! He says he's lacking resources and needs someone to check on the situation on Ord Mantell. One of the former hostages overhears this and chimes in with some advice on how to best get a foot in there.

Now, here the devs did something interesting as the hostage in question is different based on your background:

  • For Republic Force users, it's Master Cedral Gend, who's the quest giver for the Republic-side seeker droid/Seeds of Rage quest chain.
  • For Republic tech users, it's former(?) agent Folaris, who gives the exploration mission "Partial Eclipse" in Coruscant's Black Sun sector.
  • For Imperial Force users, it's former assistant overseer Markan, who instructs young Sith inquisitors on Korriban to see their class trainer.
  • For Imperial tech users, it's Thera Markon, daughter of Crysta Markon, whom bounty hunters meet and help out in their class mission on Rishi.

Now, usually I love recurring minor NPC appearances like that, but here it didn't work as well for me because some of these NPCs were so obscure that I didn't even recognise them, and when I did, there wasn't always a dialogue option to indicate recognition when there probably should have been.

On my trooper, who did the first run through, I at first mistook the hostage for Beryl Thorne from the smuggler story (who does look similar, but has a different hair colour), but then I looked at her name in the chat log and figured it wasn't anyone I knew. There was no dialogue option to indicate recognition, even though my trooper did do her quest back in the day.

On my warrior, I once again had no idea who the hostage was, but there was an option to ask "Do I know you?" (which does make sense in context since warriors don't get a quest from him but might have seen him around the academy) and after his reply I had to google him to confirm that he was indeed an existing character.

On my consular, who has done the seeker droid chain and obviously would have recognised Master Gend, I had the option to ask "Do I know you?" as well, but in that context I obviously didn't want to pick it as I did know him. I guess you could play it as they so obviously recognised each other that there was no need to comment on it, but it's been so long that it still felt a bit odd.

Either way, you agree to check on the Hidden Chain activity on Ord Mantell while Rass gets recalled by his brother. This is where the story splits for Republic and Imperial players.

On Republic side, you travel to Fort Garnik to seek out Captain Blyes, who once probably gave your trooper or smuggler their very first side mission. (I actually got a bit confused by this because I went straight to the new area Kessan's Landing and ran around aimlessly for a bit, only later realising that this bit of the story actually takes place on "old" Ord Mantell. In hindsight I think making you go there was a pretty clever move on the devs' side, as I think it's good for an MMO from a social point of view for new players to also see higher-level players near the starting zone - as long as they're not competing for the same resources.)

Captain Blyes is not in his office, and his nervous protocol droid eventually admits that he's several hours overdue. You find him getting smacked in the face by Black Sun smugglers in a hangar in Oradam Village and rescue him. He's grateful but has no idea about any Hidden Chain activity - though he promises to look into it if you can deliver a few supplies around the area first.

You meet up again in the frontier town of Kessan's Landing, and when you arrive there you also run into Arn. Apparently Blyes inquired about more reinforcements, and Arn is all he got - can't say I entirely blame him for being disappointed! One of Blyes' scouts has a lead on potential Hidden Chain activity in the geothermal power plant, so this is where you're off to.

Meanwhile, on Imperial side...

You go straight to Kessan's Landing, to see Ord Mantell heroic quest giver Gizmel Gam, who's apparently become known since then as the type of scoundrel who'll work for anyone. You don't immediately find him in his office either, but instead it contains a couple of disgruntled people who are clearly not happy with something he's been doing and are also looking for him to complain. You can talk to them or just sneak off to search the other locations you overhear them mention as his potential hideouts.

As you search around town, you find more people that are similarly annoyed with Gizmel about something or other. (I've got to admit I chuckled at the droid in the cantina that's called ME-3P and says nothing but "Meep. Meep.") You eventually find him in the so-called Legate Lounge (which features an Ortolan playing the organ Max Rebo style) and he promises to help you if you first take care of his most urgent problem, some SIS agents that are on his case.

You find the SGS agents posing as mechanics in a local shop. There's supposed to be a saboteur option here, but it launched buggy and shows for loyalists instead, and only for them, which makes no sense of course. Might want to hold off on taking any Imperial saboteurs through this bit until they patch it. Either way, you have the option to resolve things peacefully or violently.

When you return to Gizmel's office, you're surprised to find Darth Krovos and her retinue there. Turns out that she's got assets on Ord Mantell to help stir unrest, and Gizmel contacted one of those people in an attempt to sell you out. She knows about the Mandalorian in-fighting as well and thinks that it's in everyone's best interest to get rid of them here, so she's planning to assist you. Gizmel is still deemed useful enough to provide more intel, and advises you to check on a drop-off the separatists expect at the geothermal power plant to find out what's going on between the separatists and the Hidden Chain.

As you sneak inside the power station, the stories of the two factions converge again. You run into Hidden Chain and separatists working together, and eventually encounter a Cathar woman fighting some of them off with a blaster and some minor Force powers. She introduces herself as Petra and explains that she was looking for her sister Mina, who used to work in the station but has recently gone missing. She also explains that she saw the Hidden Chain remove vital cooling rods from the power plant, without which it will explode sooner or later. As you can see signs of a meltdown being imminent already, you agree to help her with cooling things down at least temporarily by redirecting some water from a reservoir. Arn or Krovos hang back to first flip a vital switch and then to provide remote assistance/intel afterwards.

After you save the power station from immediate doom, Rass Ordo calls you on holo to share something he deems very important: Shae Vizla hasn't been responding to Jekiah's calls for help and is effectively missing. Petra is somewhat alarmed by the whole conversation (presumably because she's just been fighting Mandalorians) and questions whether she should even trust you, but you agree to track down the Hidden Chain together to retrieve the cooling rods, both to foil their plans and to assure that the power station can be repaired.

Your search leads you to a crashed tram car (the opening of which involves a brief sequence with an adorable Gonk droid), in which you find cages and what looks like some deceased prisoners, one of whom Petra recognises. She gets very upset and angry, and her worry about her sister intensifies. She reckons that the enemy must've continued to the nearby supply depot of Fort Ronnig and that you should go there.

Republic players have to fight their way into the enemy base while taking out a whole lot of defences, while Imperials get intelligence about a secret back door that bypasses a lot of that. Either way you eventually find a separatist leader guarding the cooling rods. You defeat her, but she gets one more message off to tell her associates to "get the assets off-world" and activates explosives around the room. You now have the choice to insist on disarming them, or to make a run for it to try and capture the "assets"/prisoners.

I found this to be a very interesting story choice, as it's not clearly light or dark or even necessarily a moral question, but more a matter of having to make decisions with limited information. If you just wanted the Hidden Chain to not have the cooling rods, letting them blow up seems fine, but if you wanted to return them to the power plant, it's potentially very bad for the population of Kessan's Landing to let them get destroyed. You prevented the power station from blowing up on the spot, but what will happen without the cooling rods in the long run is anyone's guess. On the other hand, running after the prisoners might end up being a completely futile endeavour as they might already be dead anyway, like the ones in the tram car - who knows what the Hidden Chain even wanted with them.

If you go for the prisoners, you find Mina in one of the prison cells and the two sisters are delighted to be reunited, but Mina says that some people have already been taken away. Mina then takes charge of the remaining prisoners and vows to lead them home. Outside, you and Petra see a shuttle take a few more cooling rods aboard and take off. If you save the first set of cooling rods by disarming the bombs instead, you arrive just in time to see Mina and the last few prisoners get taken away on the same shuttle, much to Petra's distress.

Almost immediately afterwards, a different shuttle arrives and lands, spitting out more Hidden Chain mooks and the leader of Clan Varad, Tyrus Brokenblade. It's interesting to note here that Petra asks who he is, and your character replies with "I don't know" - because of course they don't, it's only you as a player who's seen him multiple times in the "meanwhile, at Heta Kol's" cut scenes. That clear dissonance between what I knew and what my character knew felt a bit jarring to me to be honest... then again, you could also see it as a clever way of making the player invested in an encounter that would otherwise just be a random mook to you. Interestingly enough, Tyrus tries to convert you to Heta's side, framing it as someone with your power being wasted on Shae. Eventually you come to blows (if you don't start the fight, Petra will) and he's another pretty interesting boss fight for a story encounter! Though you still win of course.

Unfortunately, Petra gets too close after Tyrus has been forced to his knees, and he manages to impale her on his techblade. I honestly thought she was gonna die there, but it turns out she joins the Outlander and Sabine Wren in the "walks away from being stabbed in the chest" club. In fact, she's more than fine because the latter two at least needed medical attention, but Petra literally just walks off and appears completely fine when you talk to her later. I don't know, maybe the injury isn't meant to be as severe as it looks in the cut scene?

Anyway, just as Tyrus is about to strike a second time, delivering what definitely would have been killing blow, a pink light saber blocks the attack. It's Sa'har! He calls her a traitor and claims that Ri'kan will enjoy killing her, which gets her riled up and the two start fighting again. Eventually you team up with Sa'har and beat him down for good. Sa'har tells you about how she gave the holocron to Heta, who is now using it to build some sort of machine (which is what all the raiding is about) but that she feels it's all wrong and wants to stop it but can't do it by herself.

It turns out that Tyrus still isn't completely down, and he crawls forward to reach for his holocommunicator and call Heta. Sa'har responds instinctively and cuts his hand off to prevent him from doing so... on screen! I mean, there's no blood or anything of course, but we actually get a close-up of his disembodied hand, which is I think the "goriest" this game has ever gotten visually (at least the bounty hunter's head deliveries were always in sacks...).

Sa'har panics and you can now decide to either take Tyrus prisoner (in which case your ally will comment to tell you more about his identity on your return to town) or kill him (Sa'har refuses to deal the killing blow herself). She tells you that she needs to return to Heta and cover her tracks, but that she's still planning to sabotage her and that she'll contact you for help when the time comes. Her last comment is "your friend is gone", which is meant to indicate the (severely?) injured Petra having just walked off, but for extra confusion she was still lying there for me visually, seemingly half dead, but apparently none of my characters cared enough to even check on her. I'm pretty sure that's a bug.

You return to town, which is once again different for Republic and Imperial players.

As a Republic character, you re-unite with Arn in town and tell him about what happened with Sa'har. Petra shows up to complain to Blyes about everything that happened and to accuse everyone of not caring about the population of Ord Mantell. Blyes is somewhat dejected in response and admits that the people have indeed been neglected... he comments that he'd be appreciative of any help you can provide (do dailies please).

On Imp side, you get a call from Petra when you return to Gizmel Gam's office. She doesn't trust the Sith enough to show up in person, but she wants you to know that after everything that happened, people are finally starting to ask questions, and she feels a certain degree of gratitude. She also says that she's willing to do anything, take help from anyone to either save her sister or improve Kessan's Landing's lot in general.

Krovos gives you the rundown of your mission's after-effects. If you saved the cooling rods, she's particularly pleased as this gives her leverage she's planning to use. Gizmel says the incident with the power station caused a lot of chaos, even if it can be repaired eventually. He also tries to wriggle out of working for the Empire again, which gives you the option to kill him. Finally, you tell Krovos about what happened with Sa'har, and she's not impressed.

We get one more shot of Sa'har getting called by Ri'kan, who asks where she's been, to which she replies that she was just tracking something for Heta and ran into a dead end.

Overall, I think this is a story that definitely benefits from being played through more than once, not just to see the differences between Republic and Empire, but also to see more of the small variations that occur based on your origin story and various choices. The difference between saving Petra's sister vs. not saving her is definitely worth seeing as well. Plus there were a lot of small details that I honestly just missed the first time around.

As for the core of the main storyline... I did enjoy it, and I thought the showdown with Tyrus and Sa'har was great (leaving aside the oddness around just what happens to Petra there). I thought it was interesting that Tyrus was still interested in turning you to their side after everything that's happened, and I was genuinely surprised to see Sa'har show up (though the game did spoil itself a little by the systems message that said "Sa'har Kateen has joined you as a companion." earlier on, but that came at such a random moment that I actually thought it was just another bug, hah).

It's been clear through all the cut scenes we've seen her in that she's been unhappy with what Heta and her gang are doing, but she just seemed too consumed by guilt and a desire to make nice with her brother to do anything about it. I mean, I always figured that she was going to "snap" at some point, but I didn't expect it to happen like this, with her just showing up to ask for help and outright turning against one of Heta's followers. It'll be interesting to see where that goes.

Shae going missing was also interesting, especially after how angry and obsessive she was when we last saw her in 7.3. I can't see that going anywhere good for her...

Seeing Arn and Krovos again was nice, though they didn't really get to do that much, and I've got to admit I did wonder a bit whether they were really the best people to have along for this particular ride, e.g. wouldn't hidden Imperial operations to stoke unrest on Ord Mantell be more in the wheelhouse of someone like Xarion or Rivix?

The character I had the most issues with to be honest was Petra, which is a bit of a shame because I don't think she's a bad character. In fact I thought it made for quite an interesting dynamic that she's both mad at the separatists and the Republic. Her voice actress also does a good job - if you don't manage to rescue Mina and you watch the shuttle fly away with her, Petra's repeated cries of "She was right there!" are absolutely heart-wrenching. The problem I had was just that... Petra simply wasn't a very fun person to have around and she's your companion for most of this story.

She's (justifiably) distrustful and angry and yells a lot, and to be honest that just made me feel the same way I feel about angry people in real life: I just wanted to be done with her and get away. Like, stop yelling at me, lady, I've got other things to worry about. I didn't dislike her or wanted to harm her, I just wanted her to go away and leave me alone, haha. Ironically, the one moment when I found myself really caring about her, when she got stabbed and I wanted to check on whether she was going to make it, that was not an option the game gave me.

Finally, who the hell is that Rodian in the key art? He wasn't actually a character anywhere as far as I could tell.

Did I miss anything important? Or do you just think anything I said is way off? What did you think of this story update in general? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


7.4 First Impressions

I was surprised how nice it felt to be able to upgrade my gear again. I had enough tech fragments saved up across alts that I could raise both of my implants to item level 340 right away, merely requiring a few relogs to claim more fragments on different characters. Getting back into full max-level Rakata gear is going to be my next goal, and any spare tech fragments can go towards upgrading the implants of alts. SWTOR demands so little of players in terms of grind that it's actually nice to have something like this to work on again every now and then.

I was excited when they announced the new shiny dyes, so I immediately bought some to try out. I also really liked the new Suppression Trooper armour, so I bought that too. It's funny to me how I'm earning more free Cartel Coins than ever from doing Galactic Seasons on multiple servers, but the devs are also getting better at luring me into buying things, so my huge stash of free CC is actually starting to diminish for the first time in ages. Of course, simply making all the new items expensive also helps.

I remember when Treek came out back in the day, a dev commented on Twitter that this made them huge amounts of money... Note that the Chrome White/Metallic Gold dye bundle costs as much as two and a half Treeks, and it's a one-time consumable. Well, I hope it makes them good money and that Broadsword will invest it back into the game.

Pictured below, from left to right: my trooper's Rakata gear dyed Chrome White and Metallic Gold, the Battlefield Commander set dyed the reverse way (Metallic Gold and Chrome White) and the new Suppression Trooper armour with a secondary light orange dye applied.

There were some bugs. It's kind of funny to me at this point that as a long-time player, I should really know that there are always going to be some bugs on patch day. The devs certainly do, which is why they're always on standby to implement hotfixes after pushing a major patch out. And yet... it's still always a little disappointing to run into an issue that stops you dead in your tracks. Then again, if they fix it quickly enough, hardly anyone even remembers a month later - though I do immortalise some bugs by posting about them I guess. It's a funny cycle.

It didn't help that one of the issues this time around has been game performance, which by its very nature affects a lot of people. It wasn't too bad for me, though I did suffer from abnormal lag and stuttering the first evening, which eventually resulted in a full game crash. The rest of the time I was fine though. Others have had it worse, struggling to even get the game running. The devs are still investigating.

A more harmless bug manifested itself in the new storyline on Republic side, where you're supposed to click on an object in the open world that's somewhat slow to respawn. I say "somewhat" because it must've been one, two minutes tops, which isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, but of course it's a nightmare when there are fifteen players stacked on top of each other, all wanting to click first. Musco was actually spurred on to make another one of his rare forum appearances to clarify that this happened because the tool they use to build these kinds of quests sets this long-ish default timer and they forgot to manually fix it in this instance. They'll look at adjusting the default as well to avoid the problem recurring in the future. Interesting to know!

At the time of writing this, I've played through the main storyline once on both factions; I haven't looked into the Lane Vizla story yet. Still, I've got lots of thoughts already, which I'll save for a long story review post as usual. The only thing I'll say for now is that I appreciated the faction flavour. 7.2 and 7.3 have been exactly the same regardless of what faction you play, so it's nice to be reminded that the Republic and Empire exist. While the overall storyline is the same in 7.4 too, it's similar to Secrets of the Enclave in the sense that you work with different people on both sides and that makes all the difference to the experience.


GS5 Review: Satele Shan

Patch 7.4 is coming out on Tuesday! Before I jump into playing and writing about all the new content and systems changes that are coming with it, let's wrap up this series about my experience of playing through Galactic Season 5 on different servers. There's only one left and that's Satele Shan.

Of all the servers that I consider my "other" servers (as opposed to my home on Darth Malgus), this was probably the least exciting to play on this season. I gave up on trying to get midbie PvP pops on my Guardian during the server's off-hours and just went back to doing the PvP objectives on my Shadow Zilek, for whom queue pops were almost instant. It wasn't as fun as on the Guardian but still better than I remembered it being immediately after he hit 80. He also dutifully ticked off all other high-level objectives such as killing world bosses or doing dailies, but made no progress on his class story. The character that probably made the most story progress was my Imperial agent Yin, who gained ten levels and got her personal starship.

I also made a new character on Satele Shan for the "complete missions as a smuggler or bounty hunter" objective, a handsome male smuggler who is still on Ord Mantell, but you've got to start somewhere! I'm looking forward to seeing all the other flirt options for smugglers.

My overall legacy level increased by four, from 27 to 31.

Looking at what I've said about the other servers, I think what I'm missing on Satele Shan right now is a guild. This server was actually the first one on which I originally joined a guild, back in Season 2, but it was a random invite and they removed me for inactivity when I took my between-seasons break. After that I didn't want to accept another random invite because it may be a bit silly, but it always makes me a little sad to "lose" a guild one way or another. I suppose I could try my luck with Republic/Imperial Court like I recently did on Leviathan. Alternatively, Intisar reminded me in a comment the other day that the Ootini guilds are also on Satele Shan, so that might be a better option - I assume they are still around even if their guild website appears to have gone AWOL. Either way that's something to worry about for next season.


GS5 Review: Tulak Hord

My Galactic Season 5 experience on Tulak Hord was interesting. When I first started playing there in Season 2 and my trooper reached the fleet, I immediately got roped into helping someone create a guild. I had no particular interest in being in that guild, but neither did I have anywhere else to be, so I stuck around just to see what would happen. What happened was that they tried to recruit for a little while, but then everyone but me and one other guy left.

The only real in-game interaction I recall having with the other remaining member was while levelling, when we once ended up on the same team in a lowbie arena match. Other than that we were rarely even online at the same time, though when we were, he asked me to invite a few more of his alts into the guild, which I did. It basically seemed to become his personal alt storage guild, and I was simply allowed to be in it as well. At the end of last season, I noticed that he'd even purchased a guild ship at some point.

When I first blew the dust off my Tulak Hord trooper at the start of Season 5, I noticed that my "guild buddy" hadn't logged in for a couple of weeks. Looking at my rank, I thought that I'd accidentally deposed him as GM (though I later realised that this hadn't been the case and I had simply got confused by the rank names). I wasn't sure when/if he was going to be back, but I didn't want it to look like I was trying to steal "his" guild... so I decided to change the guild message of the day to something like: "Just let me know if you want GM back!" (in German of course) and left it at that. I felt rather tickled when I logged in a few days later to find that it had been updated with a response from the other guy, telling me that he was still around, but on a break to play Diablo IV.

In practice I was on my own for the whole season though... the guild ship gave me an idea, however. A small yield invasion only requires earning five hundred thousand Conquest points in a week - which is easily doable for a single person if they put their mind to it, especially with some bonuses unlocked - so why not earn Conquest rewards with my seasons gameplay as well?

Last season I noted that I was struggling a bit on Tulak Hord because my gameplay experience was too similar to what I was doing on Leviathan, seeing how I'd started on both servers at the same time and levelled up in similar ways. However, this new, added Conquest adventure on Tulak Hord gave me new purpose. No longer was I just there to get my seasons objectives, I also needed to earn some Conquest points while I was at it to hit the weekly guild Conquest target.

I suppose you could say that I just added extra work for myself by doing that, but it really wasn't that much extra effort... I just had to make sure to pop a reputation token every day and to also do other simple daily objectives such as giving a companion gift or raising a crew skill, and this did wonders for my engagement. I felt like I was finally making some real progress with my legacy, and even finished chapter one of my trooper's class story at last (because doing story missions isn't bad for Conquest either).

It was an odd sort of experience... and certainly not as satisfying as actually having some company, but it did help mix things up a bit. It also pushed my legacy from level 25 to 31, though this was also aided a bit by me playing my inquisitor on Imp side a bit more and earning another fifteen levels on her. Finally, I also made a brand new little bounty hunter (for the "complete 15 missions as X origin story" objective, as mentioned in my previous post) so now I'm only missing a knight or warrior for a complete "seasons set".


GS5 Review: The Leviathan

Galactic Season 5 on my secondary servers has been a season of lateral expansion more than vertical progress, which is my way of saying that I made a lot of new alts. Mostly I did this to be able to cover more ground whenever the "complete 15 missions as x origin story" objective comes up. I actually think that I got all variations of the objective covered now except that I still need to create either a Jedi knight or a Sith warrior on Tulak Hord.

On Leviathan, this initiative resulted in the creation of two new Imperials: Chatoh the Sith inquisitor/Assassin and Blegun the Imperial agent/Operative. Both are male characters as well, which continues my experimentation with exploring that side of the game for the first time. They are only level nine and eleven respectively, but that'll be something to work on next season. I am pleased with their outfits already, which actually influenced my class choice, as they were both gear sets that I got out of season reward boxes and figured I wanted to do something with.

My "main" on Leviathan, my knight/Sage Fangirl, didn't really make any story progress this season, though I did clean up a few more side quests on earlier planets that I hadn't done yet. Specifically, I finally managed to finish the Nar Shaddaa bonus series and most of Taris.

The bonus series have turned out to be strangely painful and buggy in general. Ages ago there used to be an issue where it was possible for people to pick up and complete certain exploration missions that were part of a a bonus series before they were actually on the correct step of the overarching chain, and if you did that, your bonus series was basically borked forever. To fix that, the devs turned the planetary bonus series into weekly repeatables and made the individual missions daily repeatable, so even if you did mess up and did things out of order, you could always come back the next day after the individual missions had reset and continue then. Sounds nice enough, right?

Except there now seems to be a new kind of bug where if you stop a bonus series at a certain point and then come back the next day, it won't work. As in, it will say something like "complete the mission for NPC X" but that NPC just won't talk to you, not today and not for the entire rest of the week. I encountered this both on Nar Shaddaa and on Tatooine and was very disheartened to find nobody else talking about this bug, as any related searches just led me to the old issue from years ago. I just took away from it that if I'm going to do any planetary bonus series going forward, I need to be willing to complete the entire thing that same day, or I'll risk having it bug out and having to start over from scratch.

My character that made the most story progress on Leviathan this season was my bounty hunter/Vanguard Chonkov. To be fair, he's still on Balmorra and level 34, but he also got started on the original Revan storyline. On that occasion I also learned that you can apparently pick up the story missions for those and queue for the flashpoints on veteran mode two levels earlier than you can pick up the solo mode missions, which struck me as quite odd.

Anyway, my overall progress on Leviathan saw my legacy advance from level 24 to 28. It also occurred to me that with how much being guilded increased my overall enjoyment of playing on other servers, that it would be nice to find a guild on Leviathan as well... but the language is an issue of course. I joked with my guildies that we should band together to create a guild called "Just for Seasons" or something... but interestingly, I found out while playing on Shae Vizla of all places that something like that actually already exists. Or rather, I don't know if the guild is meant to be "just" for seasons, but their ad acknowledged doing seasons on multiple servers as a thing and that they could offer you a home on all of them. It's called Republic/Imperial Court, so I looked it up on Leviathan, and while there was only one person online at the time, they were happy to invite me, so we'll see whether that'll do anything for me next season.