Seeing How the Other Side Lives

I know that the way I play SWTOR puts me into a small minority relative to the overall player base. Doing PvP, doing operations, doing Galactic Seasons on all servers... most players don't do those things. Still, I tend to think that having at least dabbled in pretty much every part of the game, I should be able to "get" what drives most players. While the story is not necessarily my main focus nowadays for example, I've played and enjoyed it, so I can completely understand why someone else's play experience may be centred around it.

Spending time in more casual guilds on other servers during seasons has been rather eye-opening in that regard, which is to say that I've been quite surprised by some of the things people talk and seemingly care about. Here are three of the biggest items that caught me off-guard:

1. Companion power

I feel a little confused every time I see someone talk about what the "best" companion is. Most of them are identical in terms of their abilities, and the few who have a bit of an edge in one area or another still aren't massively different. Since every companion can play every role nowadays, the thing that matters the most is whether you like their look and voice lines, not how well they can "parse".

But people care a lot about min-maxing their companion performance. I always thought the Commander's Companion, a consumable that you can buy on the Cartel Market and that instantly raises your influence with one companion to fifty, was kind of a dumb item. Who would spend real money on that when there are multiple ways to raise your companion influence organically? Apparently the answer is: a lot of people.

And not just that, but apparently those same players consider it pretty much mandatory to have all of their companions maxed out, which honestly kind of blew my mind. I've been playing this game since launch and not one of my characters has all their companions at maximum influence (though my main is the closest simply from years of running crew skill missions). Some don't have a level fifty companion at all. Because from my point of view... it's just not needed?

There are a few use cases for maxing out companion influence, such as if you're heavily into crafting and want to maximise those crits, or if you're working on one of the game's extremely tough solo challenges. There's a reason my Sage, on whom I did KotFE on master mode back in the day, has exactly two level fifty companions: Lana and Senya (because I felt the need to max out their influence while working on tough chapter bosses).

However, in PvP and group content (where I spend a lot of my time), companions are irrelevant, and most other solo PvE content is so easy that your companion's exact influence level makes no noticeable difference (at least to me). Seriously, if I quest with a companion that's under level ten, I may notice that they "feel a bit weak" so to speak, but above twenty or so they are more than powerful enough for pretty much anything, meaning I don't really notice further increases in power level.

Maybe this is a remnant of my experience playing at launch, when companions were much weaker than they are now and gear affected their output, so it made sense to try and squeeze every little bit of extra performance out of them. Compared to that, they still feel OP to me in their current form regardless of influence level, but others will have a different perspective.

2. Running heroics

I used to love heroics when the game first came out and they were genuinely challenging open world group content. When they were turned into just another type of daily in Fallen Empire, I was not impressed. I'm not much of a daily runner at the best of times, and now there were even more of them, just with mobs that took longer to kill. I got pushback for this opinion even back then, so I knew that others felt differently.

Even so, I've been kind of flabbergasted by the number of people I see for whom running heroics is a regular part of their routine every day. I don't know whether it's just been particularly pronounced on Shae Vizla because people see them as a good way of making credits, but I could absolutely not play that way and it's kind of weirdly fascinating to me that so many players seem to actually enjoy this kind of grind.

3. World bosses

I've always quite liked world bosses, but my general experience has been that they're fun to do once for the achievement, and then maybe another couple of times for one-time missions. After that they just become kind of unrewarding to revisit repeatedly in my opinion (unless one is an objective for Galactic Seasons of the Feast of Prosperity of course). If you're already bothering to put a group together to do some sort of group content, why not do something that pays more than a few credits and a couple of Conquest commendations?

So I was quite surprised by the amount of world boss hunting I've seen going on and the sheer enthusiasm some people have for it. When Heroes of the Republic did Nightmare Pilgrim for example, people were pretty much counting down the minutes to the event for at least half an hour before it was actually meant to start. Now, I did learn that while you're levelling, killing world bosses gives pretty good XP, so some people use it as a form of power levelling - can't really argue with that. Likewise, if you're a new guild, world boss events are a way of being inclusive of characters at lower levels.

However, at max level I'm honestly still not entirely sure why people seem to do them as much as they do. My best theory is that players who mostly like to play by themselves see them as a low-pressure way of socialising, where you don't need a specific group composition, there's rarely more than one boss mechanic to worry about and you don't necessarily have to talk. Heck, with guild ship summons the whole thing can pretty much be reduced to "accept summon when it comes, whack whatever's in front of you until it's dead, leave". But maybe that's just what some people are looking for to feel connected to their guild and if they're too shy or time-constrained to invest time in activities like flashpoints or operations? I'd never really considered world bosses filling that specific niche before.

Heroes of the Empire fighting the Nightmare Pilgrim on Voss

Have you ever come across an activity or way of playing the game that utterly surprised you with how popular it was with other players?


  1. That first one --about min/maxing your companion-- feels so close to the WoW crowd that I had to make sure I was on your SWTOR blog at first.

    As for the others... I never ran Heroics on SWTOR (or their equivalent in other MMOs), and after my experience in Cataclysm in WoW I pretty much view all Heroic instances (or higher!) anywhere as the province of that crowd from WoW: the people who expect you to know everything and if you don't you're playing it wrong.

    1. The thing with min-maxing companion performance is that it'll only ever matter in solo play, so whatever floats someone's boat! I just found it surprising.

      And I think it's been so long that you're getting confused by what "heroics" are in SWTOR. In WoW they are higher-difficulty dungeons. In SWTOR they are daily repeatable open world quests with tougher enemies than normal.

    2. Oh, those heroics: the 2+ and (sadly defunct) 4 person group quests! Yeah, I liked those. I thought you were talking about the max level version of instances.

  2. World bosses are available to f2p and preferred players, and because they mostly don't scale with the number of players you don't need to coordinate a PUG as long as you fill up an ops group. And Seasons/Feast of Prosperity have done a good job of teaching a bunch of people shy about group content (including me!) that world bosses aren't that big of a time or skill commitment.

    Heroics have cosmetic rewards, and Space Barbie is the solo player's endgame.

    1. Do you mean the gear crates you get from heroics while levelling or the sets you can get from handing in to your Alliance specialists?

      As far as those go, after getting all of them to 20 on 9 different characters, I've still only fully completed the trooper and warrior sets... for all the others I'm still missing one or two elusive pieces for each class. 😅 But then, I never really chased them either, I just handed in the crates until I maxed out their rank.

    2. I meant the Alliance Crates. Trying to complete them all is not fun but I've definitely had times where I wanted a specific chestpiece and just did heroics until I got it. Especially before I started subscribing for Seasons and getting mountains of CC.

  3. My guild does does world bosses as at least part of our weekly Conquest runs, and as you say, it is basically a zero stress activity that is a decent (and some weeks excellent) source of Conquest points. I tend to run a tighter ship when we do Ops (even though it's not really necessary in storymode), but world bosses are also a source of comedy when done "wrong." I refer to SD-0 on Coruscant as the boss "where nothing bad ever happens" because something always does. And sending the entire team flying on Primal D on Belsavis never gets old.
    I don't really get the Companion thing either. Back when I was doing the Eternal Championship regularly I'd have one ranged and one melee maxed out, but I guess levelling them up can be considered part of the solo "gearing" process, but aside from pre-nerf Shae Vizla, I've always found at high influence levels, there is very little noticable difference between them.
    In the last couple of years, I've become especially particular about how I spend my game time. If I log on to do Conquest, my goal is score as many points doing as little as possible. I drag out completing Galactic Season reputations as long as possible since clicking a rep token every day scores so many conquest points. Give a few gifts to a companion, raise a crew skill level and toss in a few zero combat heroics and I'm basically done for the week. I very rarely complete the weekly "do x of y heroics" on the various planets, even on levelling characters.
    All that said, I am in a position where I don't need to grind credits and gear, so heroics and dailies zones hold very little appeal to me, but I understand newer players in particular may not be as familar with or tired of that content as I have become over the years.

  4. I always felt about Operations the way you describe in this text World Bosses.
    I do them once for achievements and for gear.
    I never understood why i want to rerun them pointless.
    I give it a try, kill it in all difficulties and done. If my skill is too low even months and years of really hardcore trying, it is not meant to be, and that content gave me everything i can get from it.
    Rerunning World Bosses or Operations, reclearing everything with new level cap... i simply don't get it.
    It's like farming Heroics but with a higher difficulty cap.

    1. I expect a lot of people feel that way about operations to be honest! The reason I do them over and over is that I enjoy the gameplay, but more than anything it's a social thing as I find them to be a fun activity to do with friends. I wouldn't be doing them nearly as often if I didn't have a friendly guild.

  5. I think I get surprised at times how often people get excited and repeat holiday events that they've already 'completed'. I mean, I can see folks doing a holiday event over the course of several years if they are trying to get all the achievements and/or items, but once you have those it seems odd to keep going all out for them.

    Then I started to realize through my participation in Galactic Seasons that heroics, world bosses, events, etc. give structure to many solo players. Once they login they have things they can do, where as group content folks look to warzones/arenas/flashpoints/operations. Instead of potentially 'raid logging' they 'solo log' to do those activities.

    The big thing in your post that surprises me is people trying to min/max their companions. Other than Shae Vizla's reputation as a DPS and Z0-0M's reputation as a healer, influence level (and your Presence points) seems to matter far more soloing, but then that's mainly in the Eternal Championship if you're trying for the various achievements.


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