Around the SWTOR-sphere: March 2024

It's hard to believe we're already a quarter through 2024! That means it's time for another round-up of SWTOR content I enjoyed throughout the month.

(On a side note, I've been kind of surprised by how well-received these posts have been, because from a creative perspective, they're quite... well, lazy. I just paste links into a draft post throughout the month and then add some context and formatting at the end, but there's little research or creative energy required. Still, it's nice to know that people still appreciate some manual curation in this age of algorithmic recommendations everywhere.)

  • Chash Larol of the Old Republic Era blog has been levelling alts, and one of their newest projects is to level a character while ignoring the main quests. Certainly a different take on a game that is so focused on its main storyline above all else! I enjoyed the first installment, and as a fan of unconventional levelling methods, I'm looking forward to reading more.
  • Intisar from This Week in Aurebesh always has interesting insights into the world of graphic design when he translates Aurebesh signs and posters, and I really liked this month's post about how the design of the HK poster from KotFE was inspired by real life World War II-era propaganda.
  • One of patch 7.4.1's biggest surprises was the introduction of "ancient armaments" or "fitted" gear, which has no stats and is only meant to be used for outfit creation, while making a bunch of old looks from the game's early days widely accessible again. I think this has been great and I've enjoyed throwing them on the GTN for cheap in hopes of expanding the cosmetic options for newer players in particular. However, there are hundreds of them, so there's little documentation of what's what at the moment. Swtorista has compiled (what we hope is) a complete list of all fitted armour pieces and weapons with the help of Jedipedia, which does show you the in-game icon for each item and should give you at least a vague idea of what it looks like, though this is of course far from ideal for casual browsing or finding specific looks.

    Meanwhile Kal from Today in TOR has created a page with screenshots of all the fitted weapons (of which there are fewer than armour pieces), which certainly helps with getting a better look at them, even if the alphabetical sorting is still not great if you just want to see what e.g. all the fitted blaster rifles look like. It's early days and I'm hopeful that the documentation on this subject will improve over time.
  • I wasn't sure whether to include this next video in here. You see, every once in a while I'll come across a video with a stupid, clickbaity title like, say, "The Shocking State of SWTOR in 2024", which obviously makes me want to avoid it, but I've also learned from experience that such videos don't always live up to their dumb titles and can actually be quite interesting sometimes... I decided to take a chance since I'd never heard of the creator sawmanUK before (so he wasn't known to me as someone with an axe to grind), and the video did indeed turn out to be more of a general review of the new/returning player experience, with nothing purporting to be "shocking" at all.

    There were still some things in there that made me roll my eyes a bit, especially at the beginning, such as repeated use of some of the worst, most worn-out jokes under the sun (I made a fat character, isn't that hilarious! Let's mention diabetes!) and the fact that he complains about having a voice-acted character... why would you pick an MMO that's famous for having that as its main feature then as opposed to literally any other MMO on the market?! All that said, he did clearly enjoy his time in the game overall and does make some more fair points further in. For example, I thought it was interesting that he wanted to buy access to more species unlocks at character creation but couldn't figure out a way to do it. And his first PvP experience being abysmal due to half-empty teams and lack of/bad backfilling is something I've experienced in the lowbie bracket as well, so while I know how much fun it can be when it works properly, I thought his account highlighted how easy it is to ruin someone's interest in this mode by providing them with a bad experience early on.
  • You may be starting to get an idea of what kind of topics I find the most interesting on the SWTOR subreddit by now... my favourites are the ones that spark conversation and encourage people to talk about their different experiences with the game. With that in mind, two threads I quite enjoyed in March were "What are some light side choices and some dark side choices you would never make on any playthrough regardless of character alignment?" and "Which of the eight characters is 'literally me' for you?" The first one was an interesting look into just how differently people respond to various in-game choices, as a lot of the responses were things that didn't feel like a big deal to me personally, yet when I commented that I personally hate the dark side choice at the end of Directive 7, someone else replied with "it's just a droid". Different strokes! I'm not sure what exactly I expected the responses to the second thread to be, I just know that what I got was absolutely not it. It was good for a chuckle though.
  • I know I said these posts are mostly here to highlight content that was actually released throughout the last month, but ultimately it's my blog so I can break my own rules! Someone linked this video to me the other day, and while it's four years old, I had somehow never seen it before (and it's currently sitting on 3.3k views, while I think it deserves more): "Let Madness Release You: The Dread Master Raptus Rap" by Aravail. As one of my guildies commented when I shared it with them, it's not really a rap but more of an electro remix, but still... all the Dread Masters have such iconic lines and great voice acting, I'm surprised there isn't more of this kind of stuff around.


Shintar's Galactic Season 6 Diary, Week 2

The second week of GS6 started with some deep thoughts for me. I know that doing this whole thing across all servers is weird. It doesn't make me unique, there are many others who do it, but compared to the player base as a whole, we're definitely a small hardcore fringe group. People may wonder whether it isn't stressful to play this way, and I guess it can be? But I do like playing in different environments and in different ways, as well as figuring out how I can get the most boxes ticked in a way that is somewhat efficient but still fun. Because it is fun for me!

That said, there's definitely a risk of hitting a point where the gameplay crosses over from fun into tedious. I remember there was a week last season when I did the same flashpoint something like three times in two days and I really didn't want to do it yet again... but it actually took a bit of effort to make myself stop and remind myself that I wasn't losing anything by not going 7/7 everywhere that week; completing the seasonal track on that server would just take one reset longer.

After I had achieved all my goals during GS5, there was also a moment when I looked at some of the objectives for the remaining weeks of the season and thought: "That would've been fun to do again on some servers... but instead I did Black Hole ten times in week one. Probably not the most fun path to take."

So with that in mind, I wanted to fight my self-imposed urge to push for 7/7 weekly objectives on all servers every week this time. My goal was to do only as many as I found fun, because I'd rather my overall season lasted a couple of weeks longer than burn myself out on grinding too hard in too short an amount of time.

With all that out of the way, the weekly objectives and my thoughts on them were as follows:

  • Earn 200k Conquest points: Once again, a freebie on all servers.
  • Visit another player's Mek-Sha stronghold: I wrote a whole post about how much I enjoyed this new objective, and it was effectively also free seasons points on all servers.
  • Kill 25 mobs without a companion: An extremely easy and fast objective, I figured I was probably going to do this on all the secondary servers as well.
  • Kill 100 mobs with a healer companion: Like all companion objectives, easy to do and easy to get done while also doing other things.
  • Do the Black Hole weekly twice or the Onderon weekly once: Now this is where things got a bit tricky, because while I like the Onderon weekly, I only have access to it on Darth Malgus and Star Forge. I don't mind the Black Hole either, but having to do it twice on each of the remaining servers would be quite grindy (especially without stealth) so I wasn't planning to go that far.
  • Complete 8 repeatable or side missions and kill 100 mobs on the Coreward planets Alderaan, Balmorra, Corellia, Mek-Sha or Onderon: Another easy choice that can be done in a variety of ways and also synergises nicely with the companion kills and the above objective to do daily areas (the Black Hole counts for Corellia).
  • Complete 2 out of 4 selected flashpoints (Assault on Tython, Korriban Incursion, Depths of Manaan, Secrets of the Enclave): Like always, I never fancy doing twelve flashpoints across six servers, but I figured I might do this on a couple at least. Especially since three of them are part of the prelude to Shadow of Revan story chain, which I'm generally happy to start on alts before I've actually reached that point in the main storyline.
  • Complete the Eternal Championship on Zakuul: I figured I might do this on Darth Malgus with Mr Commando, but otherwise I only had access to it on Star Forge and probably wouldn't fancy doing it again with the same character there.
  • Hive of the Mountain Queen on any difficulty: An easy enough one-boss operation, but I couldn't count on doing this anywhere but on Darth Malgus due to the challenges involved with finding a pug group at a time that might not be the most active in the server's time zone.
  • Explosive Conflict on veteran mode: First off, I'm very grateful that they took the feedback about the operations objectives introduced last season and reduced this to only requiring one operation. Nonetheless, the same rule applied as for the previous objective. I wouldn't say no to an opportunity to do this with a guild group, but I wasn't going to actively push for it anywhere. Even on Darth Malgus we'd just done EC VM the week before (since nobody had thought to look ahead at the objectives for the next week...) and I wasn't sure people would feel like doing it two weeks in a row.
  • KotFE chapter 10 on veteran mode or higher: As before, not really interested in re-doing chapters.

Based on that list, I could easily see myself going 5/7 everywhere, and probably 6-7/7 on some servers, but whether I'd feel like pushing for 7/7 on all of them would kind of depend on luck and time. I didn't want to completely neglect my PvP season progression either.

Day 1 - Tuesday

It being another day in the office, I came home late again and then jumped straight into operations with my guild team. We spent most of our time wiping on Dread Master Brontes on master mode, which is actually oddly good for Conquest and completed my daily objective all on its own. I "influenced the galaxy" by running away from her zappy tentacle things. I then visited a local Mek-Sha stronghold before logging over to the other servers.

Since I didn't want to stay awake until 1 a.m. again, I just visited a Mek-Sha stronghold everywhere and mostly got the daily objective done with clickies, except for on Leviathan, where I did a bit of questing on Balmorra with my bounty hunter.

Day 2 - Wednesday

I got a bit of play time in around lunch time and used it to do a few warzones on Darth Malgus as well as a round of Onderon dailies. This completed two more weekly objectives (the one for the dailies and the 200k Conquest points one). I also used one of those buff items to increase the drop rate of the blueprint fragments and got 15 from my daily round (while killing fewer than 75 mobs) - not sure whether that's a good return on investment or not, though a guildie later posited that he got close to 60 from an hour of grinding on Oricon, so your mileage may vary.

In the late afternoon, an opportunity arose for me to join Swtorista's raid team for a run of Explosive Conflict veteran mode, which I was happy to come along to and which was good fun. This completed the associated seasons objective for me on Star Forge and also made my trooper there hit her personal Conquest target. (Also, since the operations missions terminals are often slow to update, I managed to re-pick last week's EC mission for bonus currency; go me.)

In the evening, I took part in a bit more PvP on Darth Malgus and then did some more questing on Balmorra on both the Leviathan (on my bounty hunter) and Tulak Hord (on my trooper). On Satele Shan, I did a round of the Black Hole on my stealthy consular. On Shae Vizla, I was wondering which Coreward planet to quest on, since I'd mostly levelled up through class stories there and had barely done any of the side content. I eventually settled on visiting Alderaan on my warrior for a bit. None of this took too long but I needed an early night.

Day 3 - Thursday

Another office day meant limited play time in the evening. I started with some PvP on Darth Malgus again, and then repeated most of the questing circuit I'd done the day before. My bounty hunter on Leviathan did more missions on Balmorra until he got credit for his 100 companion kills and Coreward missions. My trooper on Tulak Hord did the same for the Coreward missions, but didn't get the companion kills because she's a healer, and contrary to what a lot of people will tell you, I've always quite enjoyed levelling as a healer in this game... but questing as a healer with a healing companion is a level of masochism even I'll avoid stooping to.

My warrior on Shae Vizla did some more Alderaan missions, hit her personal Conquest target and completed her companion kills, but not her Coreward worlds objective because most of her progress had been through main planetary storyline missions and had only advanced the eligible mission tracker to 4/8.

On Satele Shan I did another stealthy round of the Black Hole, which completed the daily missions objective, but due to the stealth I hadn't killed enough mobs to complete the other two related weeklies. On Star Forge I did a round of Onderon on my inquisitor, which yielded similar results.

Day 4 - Friday

In the morning I visited Tulak Hord and logged into the knight I'd created there at the end of last season without ever playing him. I sorted out his inventory and then did the first couple of quests on Tython, because getting 25 mob kills without a companion is easy to do either way, but I particularly enjoy doing it on a character that doesn't actually have a companion yet. The same logic made me do a few more missions on Tython with my littlest consular on Star Forge.

Around lunch time, just after reset, I decided to queue for some warzones on Shae Vizla. Not only did I get quick pops, I won four matches in a row, completing my warzone weekly in the minimum amount of time possible. That is so rare that I was stunned, but I still ran around Alderaan for a bit as well to kill a few mobs without a companion so I could also feel like I'd done something for my main season progression.

In the evening I started my play time with some more PvP on Darth Malgus, followed by an operation with guildies. After that I hopped over to Leviathan and idled on the fleet for a bit while looking at something else on my second monitor, which is when I noticed that a pug group for Hive of the Mountain Queen was forming in general chat. I happily tagged along and got to tick that weekly off my list on the French server. I didn't expect to be as lucky on Tulak Hord when I logged over there, and I wasn't, but someone was forming a group for the Coruscant world boss instead, which I decided to join on a whim. It was still very good for Conquest if nothing else and pushed me over the 200k needed for the weekly objective.

Over on Star Forge, I decided to do another round of Onderon on my inquisitor - I didn't need it for the daily objective, but it was a handy way of getting my remaining Coreward worlds and companion kills, and I just like Onderon. This completed my inquisitor's personal Conquest and put me on 7/7 weekly objectives completed on Star Forge.

A Cathar Imperial agent working on a console while Kaliyo looks on in the background

On Satele Shan I decided to grab my Imperial agent and continue her class story on Balmorra, first killing a few mobs without a companion and then continuing with Kaliyo by her side. I also got my Coreward mob kills but still had some left to go with a healing companion (since I'd forgotten to set Amity to heals on my first day of doing Black Hole with my consular).

It wasn't that late for a Friday but I was tired and felt quite satisfied with my in-game accomplishments so decided to call it an early night.

Day 5 - Saturday

The weekend! I was up nice and early, and since I'd achieved all my daily seasons objectives the night before, I decided to put some more work towards additional weeklies before the reset. I started by putting myself in the group finder queue on Satele Shan, for any of the four featured flashpoints on either difficulty. I ended up being put into a veteran mode Assault on Tython with a full group of 80s, and it was weird. One person ran past all the trash and then just stood there at the boss while the other two milled about uncertainly. I figured maybe the guy who had run ahead expected me to stealth the first three objectives since I was on a Shadow and I'd seen people do that before. I hadn't succeeded at it myself yet, but I decided to give it another go and pulled it off this time, go me! Meanwhile the other two players pulled some more trash though and died. I eventually put into chat "sooo, what are we doing?" since everyone seemed to have run off into a different direction, to which the guy at the boss responded that we needed to kill those three things... so they weren't expecting me to stealth but just wanted to go AFK while the rest of us did the killing?! It ultimately didn't matter, we just killed all the trash from then on, but that whole situation was a bit awkward. After that I queued again for the remaining three flashpoints and got a vet mode Depths of Manaan which was fast and uneventful.

Next I hopped over to Tulak Hord, where I did a solo mode Assault on Tython since I had the story quest for it, followed up by a round of Black Hole. Then I changed to my Sith inquisitor for a bit of story questing with a healer companion. I no longer needed anything on the Core worlds, so I was grateful to find that her class story was actually up to Nar Shaddaa already. (I'd thought she was still on Balmorra too and I'd had quite enough of that planet for the week.)

Leviathan was my next destination, where I hit up the group finder queue for the featured flashpoints again and got an instant pop for vet mode Depths of Manaan. Since we had two healers it was a bit slow, but otherwise alright. I did get a little worried on the last boss with the five minute timer when one of our two damage dealers suddenly had to go AFK, but we did still manage to beat the timer.

Finally I returned to Shae Vizla. I had to have a bit of a think about how I was going to go about the flashpoints and Black Hole runs if I was going to go for them there as well. The rewards would have been best on my level 80 warrior, but she'd already completed her Conquest for the week and I craved something slightly different, so I opted to go on my level 68 consular instead. The guild I'm in often alternates events between Republic and Imperial side, and I keep getting reminded that I don't yet have a level 80 on Pub side that can go to operations there, so it seemed prudent to milk these objectives for some XP at least.

I first queued for three of the eligible flashpoints (Secrets of the Enclave was out of reach due to level) and got into another Depths of Manaan. The irony of me running that same flashpoint three times in one morning after I wrote that whole intro about not wanting to burn myself out by repeating the same content too many times wasn't lost on me, but fortunately all the Shadow of Revan prelude flashpoints are pretty fun and not too long, so I genuinely didn't mind. Afterwards I did a round of the Black Hole and was reminded that the heroic is still somewhat challenging in levelling gear, as I actually had to run back out of the first room to save myself after starting with a bad pull. I proceeded with a bit more care after that and was fine though. The whole adventure netted me two levels, something I was quite pleased with.

After lunch and the daily reset I logged right back into Shae Vizla with the goal of repeating what I'd done earlier, one flashpoint and one round of the Black Hole. I put myself in the flashpoint queue (unticking Depths of Manaan this time, but at least Secrets of the Enclave was now available to me) and returned to Corellia, but nothing popped for the entirety of my daily run. I did have the pleasure of someone actually asking to group up for the Black Hole heroic though, something I happily accepted and which filled me with massive nostalgia.

Just as I was starting to wonder whether I should leave the flashpoint for another time, I got a pop and found myself in Secrets of the Enclave. A level 80 from my guild was in the run as well, and they instantly took off like a bat out of hell. Someone else said that they were new to the flashpoint, which prompted our bat to type out a few instructions at some point, so I can't even complain that they were being inconsiderate or anything, but they were still absolutely racing. Mr Commando went off to take a shower just when I got the flashpoint pop and he wasn't even done by the time we finished. With that, my consular completed her personal Conquest, gained another level (almost two actually), and Shae Vizla became the second server on which I hit 7/7 weekly season objectives for week two.

Later in the afternoon I went to cycle through the other servers again. On Leviathan I queued for flashpoints again, once again unticking Depths of Manaan, and ended up in yet another round of Assault on Tython. I sighed a little to myself, but it went fine. Feeling a bit flashpoint-ed out after that, I opted to just continue questing on my inquisitor on Tulak Hord to tick off the 100 companion kills objective. On Satele Shan I did the same with my Imperial agent, and finishing off her class story on Balmorra also pushed me past 200k Conquest points, bringing Satele Shan to 7/7 weeklies completed as well. Since I was already done with weeklies on Star Forge, I just spent some time on a somewhat neglected smuggler alt there to get my daily dose of Conquest done.

In the evening it was time for social night with my guild on Darth Malgus once again, where we did 16-man Hive of the Mountain Queen on story mode and Explosive Conflict on veteran mode, ticking those two objectives off for me.

I had held off on working more on my progress on Darth Malgus partially because I counted on getting those two objectives in specific done on social night and partially because I thought Mr Commando might want to do flashpoints and the Eternal Championship with me over the weekend, however it turned out that he was already on 7/7 himself after the operations. With that in mind, I logged onto my newest lowbie alt on Ord Mantell and did a bit of questing there for 25 kills without a companion.

Day 6 - Sunday

On Sunday morning I did a bit more questing to get to 7/7 weeklies done on Darth Malgus, specifically by doing some story missions on one of my inquisitors on Corellia until I'd achieved the last few kills for the Coreward Worlds objective.

I'd been so focused on completing weeklies on all servers that I hadn't even done the (admittedly quite time-consuming) first part of the new seasonal storyline yet, and neither had Mr Commando, so we made up for the missed shared play time from not doing the seasonal flashpoints by working our way through the first two chapters of the new storyline together.

After that I didn't log back into the game until evening, at which point paying a visit to each server to get caught up didn't take long at all. On Darth Malgus I just did some clickies. On Leviathan I did a bit more putzing around on Balmorra on my bounty hunter, which completed his personal Conquest target, the 25 kills without a companion objective, and the 200k Conquest points for seasons, taking me to 7/7 on that server as well.

On Tulak Hord I had one round of Black Hole and a flashpoint left to do. In an attempt to mix things up a bit, I only queued for the master mode version of the four featured flashpoints. It was European prime time and healers were even flagged as the role in need! However, I did the entirety of the Black Hole and nothing popped. Since that did earn me enough Conquest for the day though, I decided to leave the flashpoint for Monday.

A togruta Republic trooper watches an Imperial holo on Hoth

Since the other three servers were all done with weeklies, I just had play a little bit on each one to earn my 25k Conquest points for the day. On Star Forge I did a few more missions on my smuggler, and on Shae Vizla the same on my trooper. On Satele Shan, I was just getting ready to make a start on Nar Shaddaa on my Imperial agent when I got a warzone pop! I've historically had bad luck with getting into PvP in the non-max level brackets on that server, presumably due to time zone conflicts above anything else, so this was exciting. In fact, the whole reason I was queued for warzones was that I still had the "introduction to PvP" quest in my log at level 39 - I'd originally picked it up at level 10 and had got the arena part done pretty quickly, but just never managed to get into a warzone. Apparently I got lucky that night and the game actually found enough people for a 4v4 lowbie Huttball. I did more damage than anyone else (Snipers are so brutal in the lowbie bracket, it's kind of amazing) and we dominated the other team 6-0. Sorry guys, but I did wait a long time for this.

I actually still felt like playing some more after all that and found myself at bit of a loss for what to do outside of seasons content that evening, so I ended up doing a bit of midbie PvP on Star Forge.

Day 7 - Monday

I decided to start my play session in the late afternoon by logging into Tulak Hord to get that last weekly seasons objective done. I thought I'd try the master mode queue for the featured flashpoints again while taking care of some errands like crew skills and GTN listings (since I'd done nothing but solo and veteran modes all week), and I could always switch to queueing for vet mode if nothing materialised within a reasonable amount of time. However, this time I got a pop almost immediately, which was for Depths of Manaan. What followed was a super smooth run that even included the bonus boss; I was very pleased. Since I was also on the story step for Depths of Manaan, my Shadow of Revan prelude progressed as well. And with that I was once again 7/7 on all servers.

Since I now only had to earn some Conquest points on the other servers, I just did that by cycling through various alts and playing them a little bit at a time.

Week 2 Thoughts

Okay, so... I was wrong again! I was quite sure that I wouldn't be able to do 7/7 weekly objectives on every server this week without feeling stressed, but not only did I do it again, I was almost fully done by Sunday. That was really surprising to me as this week featured a lot more repetition than week one, with me doing the same four objectives across all servers (while in week one the two "automatic" ones were the only ones I did everywhere). I think those lucky ops runs on Star Forge and Leviathan (which I definitely wasn't counting on) really helped me out, because I don't think I would've been able to stand any more flashpoints and dailies than I already did.

Now, next week - things really will be different I think, because in a classic case of "be careful what you wish for", after I bemoaned the lack of a Total Galactic War during the between-seasons break, the devs decided to give us one next week, right in the middle of the Galactic and the PvP season! It's simultaneously exciting and a completionist's nightmare, as I'll probably find myself wanting to focus on helping my guild on Darth Malgus win at Conquest, which would then leave little time to do anything on the other servers. We'll see how it goes I guess.


Date Night with Theron and Arcann

Not at the same time, you silly person! The decision trees in this game are complex enough without adding threesomes to the mix.

As mentioned previously, I currently only have access to two out of the four "date night" missions that were released with 7.4.1, but I did want to take some notes on the ones I could do.

To make sure nobody develops any unreasonable expectations, each one of these is only about five minutes long, but they are fully voiced and directed, with multiple conversation choices. Oddly, the thing that surprised me the most was their method of acquisition, as they first appear in your Alliance alerts, but then the alert tells you to go to your personal starship and only there do you pick up the actual repeatable mission from a data pad. I wonder whether that means that future date nights for class-specific companions will be available before you hit KotFE, or whether this was just some technical workaround that was required since Alliance alerts can't be made repeatable or something like that.

Now for the spoiler-y part... Theron first:

A female cathar smuggler looks at Theron adoringly while he looks aside with a distracted and annoyed expression

The date with Theron takes you to the Slugfall cantina on Mek-Sha and the general theme is that he's too distracted by his work and not paying enough attention to you, something he wants to work on. I had to smile at the scene where Theron and your character are about to kiss when his data pad interrupts with a beep - that felt very real somehow. I was kind of surprised by the bit where said data pad just ends up being thrown over the railing... I hope that got checked up on later; I'd hate for some random on Mek-Sha to become privy to a bunch of Alliance secrets...

For Arcann, you meet up in the Odessen Wilds and I was initially a bit confused as I couldn't see a quest marker on the map. However, I didn't have to move very far in to run into him. Arcann's idea of a date night is to have a fight with training sabers, which is... in-character, but also kind of weird in a way considering that he surely can't have great memories of the last time you and him battled like that.

Arcann doing mock battle with a female twi'lek Jedi knight

Either way, I thought it worked quite well for my Jedi knight, though I had my doubts about how convincing a mock saber battle would be if you're a tech user. After looking that variant of the mission up on YouTube, I'm still not entirely convinced (the sparring still looks a bit too pro for someone who usually wields a pistol I think), but it does have a couple of cute dialogue changes.

Either way, the fight finishes with a smooch, and all I could think of was that the two of you should have tumbled into the high grass afterwards, but I guess that might've been considered too suggestive, heh.

After playing through these, you get a letter from your love the next day as well. I don't know yet if that part also gets repeated if you replay the mission.

Personally I think these are a nice incentive to romance different companions on alts, though I wonder if this particular addition is also upsetting to completionists, since the new date night alerts also have achievements associated with them, which might require a considerable number of alts to cover everything as time goes on. If you're getting a new character levelled up in order to get involved with a companion, you can't use too many story skips either as the default options that get chosen for you in that case never result in any romances.


Drop In: Mek-Sha

Every Galactic Season so far has had a repeatable objective that only existed during that season and related to its companion or theme. Season 1 asked us to kill insectoid mobs because Altuur is a Kubaz and they like eating insects. Season 2 had us dressing up as members of the Syndicate and killing Black Sun on Coruscant or Nar Shaddaa to please Fen Zeil. Season 3 required us to catch cheating gamblers with PH4-LNX by our side, Season 4 had the meditating with Amity, and Season 5 the mouse droid mini game in cantinas.

This week was the first time we got to check out Season's 6 unique objective, and I've got to say it's extremely clever. It's not a new activity, but it fits the seasonal theme to a T and encourages players to use an in-game feature that doesn't see a lot of use and that many probably don't even know about: all you need to do is visit another player's stronghold. In GS6 week 2, it has to be a Mek-Sha stronghold in specific.

I completed this objective on all servers on day one and really enjoyed it. I'm not really a huge housing enthusiast, but once you've gone through that loading screen to travel to another player's stronghold, you might as well have a look around, right? So I took screenshots of some of the things I saw.

On Darth Malgus, I simply travelled to the first stronghold on the top of the list, which was called "Zalashia's Hideout" and also the only one showing 100% completion at the time. Considering that the Mek-Sha stronghold is pretty compact, I was curious what filling it to its maximum capacity would actually look like.

The answer is... it's a lot. It does kind of fit the general aesthetic of Mek-Sha to have a really cluttered hideout in there, but the number of small lights on the walls was still a bit overwhelming in my opinion. 

I made a note to myself to go for strongholds with a lower completion percentage next time to see how people were using the space when not filling up every possible hook with something or other.

On Leviathan, I therefore ended up choosing to visit a 68% complete Mek-Sha stronghold called "Perial Khill's Stronghold". This one was probably my favourite among all the strongholds I visited that night, as the main area looked like a really great place to party, with a stage, musicians, dancers, seats and tables for spectators and a big pool in the middle, plus some Talz bouncers (?) watching from the sidelines. It just seemed cool.

On Tulak Hord I visited "Yvische's Syndicate Never Center" at 80% complete. This was competently done but nothing really stood out to me personally in the main area. My personal favourite bit about this stronghold was actually the two guys brawling next to a trash fire on the landing pad, which is the first thing you see upon zoning in and which definitely sets the mood.

On Star Forge, I ended up visiting "Lazarillo's Smuggler's Haven" at 50% completion. This was a more utilitarian and more sparsely decorated place with a row of vendors and some fairly basic decorations, but what threw me for a loop in this one was that when I went up to the balcony to overlook the main area from above, I found my way blocked by some of those walled window decorations. I was rather confused the first time I saw one of them because I wasn't quite sure how to use them, but turning that balcony into a walled-off room was an interesting use case.

On Satele Shan, I stopped by "Rhroadhouse's Dark Alleyway" at 79% completion, which I thought had an interesting concept as it turned the side room into a cantina-like area, while the main space was taken up by what looked like a fighting ring or something? Interesting idea.

Finally I logged onto Shae Vizla, where I only saw three public listings on Mek-Sha, which is when I was reminded that you can only visit the strongholds of players that are currently online. I guess it wasn't doing this at a good time for the APAC region. The open listings all had really low completion rates as well, with 15% being the highest available, so I went to that one, called "Butch Cassidty's Stronghold". This was kind of what I'd expect from someone who isn't really into strongholds big time and/or doesn't have a lot of decorations to work with, as it was very spartan with just some utilities like vendors and a few crew skill decorations. However, I appreciated that it was open for me to visit, and it was still an interesting contrast to all the other strongholds I'd seen that evening.

Have you come across anything you found interesting during your visits of other people's strongholds?


Shintar's Galactic Season 6 Diary, Week 1

It's been a while since I last posted a detailed diary of my Galactic Seasons exploits - in fact, the last time I did so was almost exactly two years ago in Season 2. I basically stopped writing these posts because I found that the changes to the system after Season 1 made it so much easier to get both the daily and weekly objectives done that I didn't really think it was worth going into detail about how exactly I completed them each day/week.

This was quite a contrast to Season 1, when my blog basically turned into nothing but my Galactic Seasons diary for three months. This was because the first Galactic Season used a very different model that relied a lot on randomised daily objectives and was a lot more demanding of your time. It fills me with a certain degree of amusement now to look back at the time I fretted about whether I could get two rounds of dailies done before having to shoot off to an emergency dental appointment. I mean, that toothache sucked ass, but the circumstances seem funny in hindsight.

Anyway, the reason I decided to give this diary thing another shot this season was that, now that I'm effectively doing seasons on five six servers, it's actually somewhat demanding again, and it's only going to be more so this season with the nerf to the reputation Conquest objective for easy points! I thought it would be interesting to document my journey as it happened once again, and maybe approaching the whole endeavour with more awareness might also help me with not going too crazy pushing myself through too many objectives every week.

I think for clarity it would be good to start by listing all the available weekly objectives for week one as well as my thoughts on them, as my descriptions of my daily play sessions might seem incredibly random otherwise.

  • Earn 200k Conquest points: This is one that kind of takes care of itself while you work on other objectives, so pretty much a freebie on all servers.
  • Earn the seasonal currency: Same for this one.
  • Kill 100 mobs with a tank companion: An easy filler that can be done in a variety of content and stacks well with other objectives; I figured I'd do this one on several servers.
  • Kill four named champion mobs on Quesh (2 Republic, 2 Imperial): Not one of my favourites since you have to do a lot of driving around for not much action and minimal Conquest points, plus if you're unlucky there can be quite a bit of wait time for respawns, but it's an objective that's easy enough to do as long as you have a high enough character on both sides of the faction divide.
  • Complete 15 missions as a Jedi consular or Sith inquisitor: Wanting to be able to complete these origin story-based objectives is why I have at least four alts on every server now, and it's almost guaranteed to be one of my picks on each of the secondary servers.
  • Complete 8 repeatable or side missions and kill 100 mobs on the Outer Rim planets Tatooine, Hoth, Belsavis or Rishi: Another one I choose often as it can be completed easily and in so many different ways, which counters repetition while playing across multiple servers.
  • Complete 2 out of 4 selected flashpoints (Mandalorian Raiders, Cademimu, Directive 7, Spirit of Vengeance): I like flashpoints but this objective can be kind of time-consuming compared to others. I'll always pick it on Darth Malgus as an opportunity to play with Mr Commando, but I'll want to limit myself to only doing it on one or two of the other servers.
  • Kill the Quesh and Nar Shaddaa world bosses: Very easy and rewarding if a group can be found within a reasonable amount of time. Camping them by myself while waiting for a raid to come by gets boring however.
  • Play 3-6 GSF matches (wins count double): Like the flashpoints, this one's a bit time-consuming, so probably something I'd choose to do on a few servers but not on all of them.
  • KotFE chapter 14 on veteran mode or higher: The only objective of the week that I knew I definitely wasn't going to bother with anywhere as I don't enjoy replaying chapters on characters that have already done them.
  • Kill the Kessan's Landing world boss: Another quick and easy one if a group is available but that "if" does matter.

Day 1 - Tuesday

Patch day was an office day for me, which meant that I didn't come home until late, and as soon I had the game patched up it was time to jump into a scheduled operation with my guild. After that I didn't have a lot of time or energy left to work on seasons objectives. I just did a bit of puttering around on alts to earn enough Conquest points to complete the daily seasons objective, such as raising a companion's influence level here and doing a bit of crafting there.

I thought it was interesting that the preview of the first four weeks of seasons objectives didn't include a single one that could be completed in PvP (not counting GSF), which means no overlap between the two seasons for at least a month. In order not to neglect my PvP ambitions right away, I did three warzones on my level 80 dps Juggernaut and won all three. I wish I could just be happy about good luck like that, but since it's so random whether I end up on the winning side or not I always just feel like I'll "pay" for the lucky streak later (by having an equal or worse losing streak).

A male Cathar Sith inquisitor kneeling down and wreathed in lightning, with a pained expression on his face

Since it was late, I wanted to limit my efforts on the other servers to quickly grabbing the daily seasons objective. On Leviathan I did some quests on Korriban on the lowbie Sith inquisitor I created last season, which got me there quite quickly, but I also knew that I didn't actually feel like questing this much on every server that late at night. In the past I would've just popped a reputation token everywhere else to get it over with, but of course that was no longer an option. Through a bit of trial and error I found out that I could still get to the required 25k points on Tulak Hord, Satele Shan and Star Forge with (relatively) minimal effort by using a reputation item, raising a companion's influence, levelling up a crew skill, doing five crew skill missions (they can be low level to make it quick) and placing five stronghold decorations - give or take one or two of the smaller objectives depending on my stronghold bonus on each server and on whether the character is in a guild with any additional bonuses.

On Shae Vizla, I put myself in the queue for warzones and GSF just to see whether the transfers had already made a difference (even though it wasn't prime time for the Aussies) but I had only been in the queue for a few minutes when I saw someone looking for dps for the two weekly world boss objectives. This was too convenient to pass up, so I ended up completing three weekly objectives in quick succession (the two world boss ones plus the one to find blueprint fragments). Ironically, this meant that I unlocked the Copero stronghold on Shae before I did so on Darth Malgus, though it was 1 a.m. for me at that point and I was too tired to even look at it; I just wanted to go to bed.

Day 2 - Wednesday

I tried queueing for warzones and GSF on Shae Vizla again for a bit before the daily reset (which happens at noon in my time zone) since that's closer to APAC prime time and I actually got into a level 80 warzone... though that just ended up being a reminder of why doing PvP with a higher ping can be frustrating, as I jumped out of the starting zone into the pit in Huttball, and then watched - while down there - as an Operative holotraversed up to where I had stood before and scored.

I continued queueing past the reset and got into another warzone and two GSF matches. I won both of the latter, which completed my first GSF weekly mission since Galactic Season 5 and also got me two thirds of the way to the GSF weekly seasons objective. The matches themselves were a bit weird though. In the first one I was top damage, which never happens, and in the second one we had more than twenty self-destructs before either team even had time to capture the first satellite. I actually asked in chat what was going on and someone responded that they were "cycling through ships for Conquest points". (I later saw this behaviour to a lesser degree even in a death match. Just... ow.) Sooo... when the devs inevitably nerf that Conquest objective or change it to require more interaction to get credit for flying a given ship, you'll know whose behaviour is to blame.

In the evening I started my game time by doing some PvP on Darth Malgus. It may surprise some, but in a way I'm actually the least focused on seasons on my home server, because I spend so much time there that objectives will basically get done one way or another. It's the other servers where I really have to work on it to achieve the desired progress. Either way, doing this also completed the 200k Conquest points weekly so that I could finally unlock the new stronghold on Darth Malgus.

After also completing one GSF weekly mission, I decided that it was time to do the rounds on the other servers again. I played two GSF matches on Tulak Hord that were horrible losses and decided that was enough GSF for me for the day. I saw someone talking about world bosses in general chat so asked whether there was a group going and got a whisper in reply that there wasn't one "but why don't we make one?" Turns out that "us" making one meant that the other person sent me a group invite, made me leader and then just sat there expecting me to do the work of getting more people. I tried to LFM a few times but got literally zero responses so just excused myself after a few minutes.

On Leviathan I continued my baby inquisitor's journey across Korriban, and on Satele Shan I did some side questing on Belsavis, since my level 80 consular was already there for his class story anyway. On Star Forge I kept things quick by just doing two dailies on Rishi (which also gave reputation!) using my boosted inquisitor, and then doing a few more clicky things to make up the difference for the daily objective. (This would generally become my MO throughout the week if I didn't quite hit the required number of daily Conquest points with my initial choice of activity, and I didn't always mention it anymore.)

Day 3 - Thursday

Another day at the office meant limited play time once again. Once home, I decided to log into Tulak Hord first this time and arrived just in time for the formation of a world boss group. However, they didn't want to do FR3-D0M for some reason, so I hopped over to Ord Mantell by myself just to check whether anyone was doing the boss there at all. One (1) guy from the previous world boss group showed up too and decided to pull. I'd heard that FR3-D0M was technically soloable, but technically and practically are two very different things, so I was unsure how we would do with just the two of us, but we killed the boss just fine.

I logged into Leviathan to keep an eye on fleet chat there while eating dinner in case I could catch another world boss group. However, there wasn't much going on there, so I eventually relocated to Quesh to see whether I could leech off any passing guild groups that were there to kill the world boss, but had no luck on that front either. I just learned that like Gargath, the Rogue Cartel Warbot doesn't move until you get too close to him. His personal cut-off between caring and not caring about your presence is at 70m.

I decided to leave Leviathan for now and played a GSF match and two warzones on Darth Malgus before returning to doing the rounds on the rest of the other servers. On Star Forge I did another two Rishi dailies, and on Satele Shan my consular did some more side-questing on Belsavis. Back on Leviathan, I decided to return to my little inquisitor, who only killed like five mobs on Korriban before triggering the "gain five levels" Conquest objective - I was happy to take the easy win for the day and moved on to Shae Vizla for the evening.

I unlocked the stronghold there and put my warrior in the queue for GSF, warzones and flashpoints, but got impatient when nothing popped within ten minutes, so I ended up swapping to my consular to do some side-questing on Tatooine instead.

Day 4 - Friday

Since there was a login reward of eight seasons points for four consecutive days of logins this week, this meant that after the daily reset on Friday I was able to unlock the Copero stronghold on all servers that day, even where I hadn't completed many objectives yet.

I tried queueing for some activities on Shae Vizla around lunch time again (mostly keeping the game in the background while doing something else) but only got one warzone pop in over an hour of waiting. After the daily reset I saw someone put together a group for the Dromund Kaas world boss, which I decided to join for easy daily objective completion (plus I had the weekly world boss quest on 3/4). Just as I was thinking about logging off again, I got a GSF pop though, which allowed me to complete the GSF seasons objective and another weekly mission.

In the evening I did some PvP and a couple more GSF matches on Darth Malgus before it was time for ops with my guild team again. Afterwards I did some more PvP before finally switching to Star Forge. There was a world boss group forming in general chat there, so I jumped right in and was able to tick those two weekly objectives off on this server too. I then just hopped over onto my inquisitor to do two more dailies on Rishi.

After that I returned to the Leviathan and finished off the last few quests on Korriban to get credit for my 15 missions done as an inquisitor, before switching to my level 80 knight and killing the two named Imperial champion mobs on Quesh.

It wasn't that late for a Friday, but I was tired so decided to leave the dailies on Satele Shan and Tulak Hord for the next morning.

Day 5 - Saturday

Ah, the weekend! I logged into Satele Shan in the morning and first checked general chat on the fleet to see whether there were any world boss groups going on, but there was just some paragraphs-long discussion about philosophy and science, so I continued my consular's questing on Belsavis once more. Within a matter of minutes, I ticked off four weekly objectives in a row: Outer Rim missions, questing as a consular, playing with a companion set to tank, and finding currency. I love it when things line up like that, and this also sorted my Conquest for the day with ease.

After that I hopped over to Tulak Hord and did a GSF match there, which completed my trooper's GSF weekly mission and the daily seasons objective. Having achieved my goals much quicker than expected, I logged into Shae Vizla to queue for some PvP and was happy to complete a warzone weekly mission there for the first time since PvP Season 4 ended.

Later in the afternoon, after the daily reset had happened, I logged into my knight on Leviathan and started doing some exploration missions on Tatooine while also putting myself into the queue for all four flashpoints eligible for the seasons objective. I got a pop for veteran mode Cademimu after a while, which pushed me over the number of Conquest points needed for the daily objective.

Next I went to Tulak Hord and put myself in the GSF queue on my trooper while getting started on the Tatooine bonus series. I got a pop about halfway through it and won the match, which completed that seasons objective and my Conquest for the day, however due to the bonus series being known to bug out if you pause halfway through, I pushed on to complete it the same afternoon anyway. This completed the Outer Rim missions and questing with a tank companion objectives, making Tulak Hord the first server on which I was on 7/7 weeklies completed for the week.

Checking in on Star Forge, I did two more Rishi dailies on my inquisitor and completed her weekly Conquest target, but I noted that this hadn't really advanced me all that much throughout the Outer Rim objective since while I had done eight missions, they'd been so easy that I'd only killed fewer than thirty mobs. Since I don't like just grinding mobs without a purpose, I made a note to myself to tackle the requirements for the remaining, only partially completed objectives on other characters over the next two days.

On Satele Shan, I consulted my missions spreadsheet and realised that my consular had never done the Directive 7 story, so I decided to do that flashpoint on story mode for a triple whammy of story, seasons and progression of the first quest you get in the Copero villa (more on that another time).

In the evening it was time for my guild's social night on Darth Malgus, which helped me tick off the two world boss objectives there before we launched ourselves into an operation. Afterwards Mr Commando and I conscripted two damage dealers to run D7 and Spirit of Vengeance on master mode for another seasons objective. After that I was properly conked out and went off to enjoy an early night.

Day 6 - Sunday

I started my Sunday morning by logging into Shae Vizla and continuing my side-questing on my consular on Tatooine. She was effectively working on three objectives at once that way, but I only needed two more for the week. The Outer Rim and companion tank ones completed way before I would have hit 15 missions as a consular, which made Shae Vizla the second server on which I completed 7/7 objectives for the week.

As this meant that I was caught up with daily objectives for the current reset, I decided to return to Star Forge and do some work on the consular missions objective on my newest baby alt there. Being only level 2, she wasn't going to contribute to Conquest anyway. Breezing through the early Tython quests, she hit the 15 missions completed (keeping in mind my boosted inquisitor had already done 8 missions on Rishi as well) by level 7.

A female Mirialan Jedi consular on Tython, calling Master Yuon on the holo

I returned to the game in the late afternoon/early evening. Starting on Leviathan, I logged into my level 34 bounty hunter and travelled to Quesh to kill the two named Republic champions there. At 34, he was a bit low for the planet, but my experiences on Taris last season taught me that this wasn't really a problem. I did however arrive just in time to see someone quick travel away from the first champion's corpse, so that I had to wait for him to respawn. On my way to the second one, I saw a level 80 zoom past me as I got dismounted by a group of weak mobs and quietly went "nooo" in my head as I figured that he'd also kill the second champion just before I could get there, but I managed to catch up in time to get a few hits for credit in. After that I continued to putter around a bit longer for Conquest purposes, which pushed me over the 200k weekly objective.

On Tulak Hord, there wasn't much to do since I was done with the weekly objectives, but since I had invaded small yield with the two-person guild again, I had incentive to still fill that bar up as well. Fortunately I had a half-finished GSF weekly mission in my log, so one GSF win later I was done with my daily Conquest and the guild's Conquest target was most of the way there as well.

On Darth Malgus, I played two warzone matches to complete another character's warzone weekly and knocked out all four champion mobs on Quesh to get myself to 7/7 seasons objectives on my home server at last.

I continued on to Star Forge, where after some contemplation in regards to what I could do to complete my remaining weekly objectives while minimising boring repetition, I decided to do the Hoth bonus series on my trooper. It had been so many years since I'd last done it, I literally couldn't remember a thing about it at first, though some bits started to sound familiar once I got going. When I got to the mission about the Onderonian beast-lord I literally shouted "oh snap" out loud, much to the consternation of Mr Commando, since I had never realised that the blackmail you can use on Akoru as an Imperial during Onslaught isn't just made up, but based on this actual quest chain. Ahh, this game is still so good, you guys! Anyway, that finished my companion questing and Outer Rim missions objectives, leaving me with just a smidge more Conquest points to gain for both my personal target and the 200k Conquest points objective, but I decided to leave that for Monday.

On Satele Shan, I decided that after playing nothing but my consular there all week, I should give some love to my level 62 knight instead, so I had her kill the Imperial Quesh champions and put her in the queue for vet mode Cademimu and Mandalorian Raiders. She quickly got into a run for the former, which was fast and smooth. I then sent my level 38 agent to kill the Republic targets on Quesh, and with that Satele Shan was on 7/7 weeklies completed too.

Shae Vizla was already done as per my earlier paragraph about questing in the morning, and I had the Taskmaster Conquest objective for sub-80 characters sitting at a partial completion of 9/10, so I basically just had to make my Jedi do a companion mission for Qyzen to tick it over and that was that done for the day as well.

Day 7 - Monday

With four out of six servers sitting on 7/7 and the other two being as good as done too, there fortunately wasn't too much left to do. On Darth Malgus, Star Forge and Tulak Hord I completed my daily objective with some clickies and a bit of puttering around. On Star Forge this also completed the 200k Conquest points weekly objective for me, and on Tulak Hord it achieved my guild's small yield Conquest target.

Leviathan was where I had the most work left to do, as I needed one more flashpoint plus a bit more questing on Tatooine to wrap up my last three weekly objectives, plus my bounty hunter had (unintentionally) gotten really close to reaching his personal Conquest target the previous day, so I wanted to make that tick over as well. The latter was easily achieved by having him do a bit of story questing on Balmorra. After that, I got back on my knight and queued for all seasonal flashpoints on both difficulties again, which got me into veteran mode Mandalorian Raiders this time. It was another uneventful run, except that someone asked to "focus boss" on the last encounter, which is not usually a good idea... as it turns out, you can indeed burn him down before the turrets kill you nowadays, but I still didn't see the benefit as the turrets don't despawn and you can't exit in combat, so you need to run around and still kill them all afterwards anyway. A few more Tatooine exploration missions later, another personal Conquest target was achieved, as well as 7/7 season weeklies.

This just left the daily objective on Satele Shan and Shae Vizla, and I took care of that on both servers by completing Conquest on an alt each.

Week 1 Thoughts

Well, that whole "not going too crazy with the playing on multiple servers" thing didn't quite work out, did it? Seeing how I pushed myself to completing 7/7 weeklies on all six of them once again. In fairness, this week had a lot of very easy objectives, several of which could be completed in multiple ways, so it was honestly just pretty fun. I do think that based on the information we've been given, I'll want to take it easier in week two since the objectives on offer will be different.


Persistent Pet Pals At Last!

I threw a bit of shade at the devs in my last post for failing to communicate what felt like some pretty important changes that weren't entirely well-received in the patch notes ... but 7.4.1 also contained a very good change that they forgot to include in the patch notes. Intisar was the first to point it out to me on Discord, but I haven't really seen anyone else mention it so far, so I wanted to give a shout-out to it here:

Pets now persist through loading screens and relogging.

Pets disappearing every time you zoned had been an issue for literally over a decade. There was a thread on the bug report forums for it, created in June 2013, that people bumped every so often, but it was clearly not a priority for the devs to fix. And to some degree I could understand that, but on the other hand... they sell pets on the Cartel Market! Pets disappearing all the time has got to have hurt sales of the little critters, surely.

I'm not exactly a pet fanatic myself, but I do like them and have some fond memories attached to more than a few of them. Just check the pets tag on this blog. Remember my grophet phase? Those were the days.

However, the constant need to re-summon them was just too annoying. Even if you put them on your quick bar for easy access... this game has a LOT of loading screens. I'd usually get a new pet, get it out and go "aw, how cute"... but it'd be gone within five minutes of me doing anything and at most I'd remember to re-summon it a couple of times before getting bored and giving up/just forgetting about it. Which is a shame!

I also put this piece of feedback into one of my responses to the survey Broadsword sent out back in November, so I've been absolutely delighted to finally see this bug get fixed. I think my guildies were rather bemused when I told them to all get their favourite pets out during Friday night's ops.

Loth kittens following their owners around on the Dread Master Brontes fight in Dread Fortress

After a bit of testing, I can confirm:

  • That pets do now persist through general loading screens/area transitions.
  • The game does remember which pet you had out when you last logged out.
  • They do go away if you are defeated - the little toggle on the icon stays on as if your pet was still there, but you need to un- and re-summon it after dying. I can live with that one; just means I have to remember to re-summon the little buggers after wiping in progression ops.
  • They won't follow you into PvP, but they'll re-appear by your side when you come out of the match, even if you died during the fighting.

I'm excited every time I log into an alt now, thinking about which little critter they should have by their side... because I know the game will finally remember and I won't have to think it through all over again the next time I log in. I'm also looking forward to seeing more of the little buggers around the fleet!

So if you have any pets you like and you just kind of gave up on getting them out in the past because they'd just disappear - now is the time to get them back.

Just remember to un-summon your pets if you're doing the Coratanni fight in Ravagers. As far as I'm aware she still has that bug where someone having a pet out can cause the encounter to reset (I'm guessing because some boss ability targets the pet and causes things to go wonky).


Galactic Season 6 & Reputation

Galactic Season 6 is here and we can all get a shiny new villa! Everyone is happy! Or are they?

Shintar the trooper with Amity by her side, performing the /stretch emote on the stairs of the Copero stronghold

As it turns out, GS6 launched with an unexpected amount of grumbling and confusion. In all their excitement about date nights, and in their eagerness to provide details about the new stronghold, it seems the devs forgot to mention a fairly important change coming with GS6: that for the first time since Season 2, there isn't a new reputation track to be filled out throughout the season.

Now, by itself, I don't think that would've been a huge deal, even if it came as a surprise. I've had conversations with quite a few people over the last couple of years where we basically agreed that the seasonal reputations were a bit weird, both from a narrative point of view (gaining reputation with a faction you never really interact with aside from your seasonal companion where applicable) and from a practical point of view (what good is a reputation that doesn't grant you access to anything other than an achievement).

However, while the devs removed the reputation, they left in the seasonal currency that was previously used to gain it, which is now not actually a currency anymore but literally just a grey item whose acquisition counts towards an achievement tracker. You can't really blame people for being confused by the fact that level two of the seasons reward track was effectively prompting players to claim nothing but a bunch of vendor trash. Musco actually took to the forums today to add a bit of context to all of this, and among other things he explained that they ended up at this awkward halfway point because while they did want to get rid of the seasonal reputation, they were also a bit worried about taking away too much at once - however, he admits that the end result ended up being unnecessarily confusing.

I will say that personally, I liked the seasonal reputation track because as someone who's been playing the game since launch, I've maxed out literally every other reputation in game on my main server, and each season adding a new one was handy for Conquest, as "gain reputation with a faction" is a Conquest objective that awards a ton of points and that was otherwise inaccessible to me.

However, that Conquest objective has in fact been the third point of contention, because it also received a stealth nerf with the patch that reduced its points value to a small fraction of what it used to be. On my main server that's no skin off my back, considering that I have no more ways to gain reputation until they add another daily area or something anyway.

On the other servers however... that daily Conquest point boost from clicking a reputation token was a godsend during seasons, especially on days when I was tired and only really looking to get credit for the daily objective on each server. Log in, press a button, done. I don't think I relied on it too much, since I do actually enjoy playing on all servers, but I know others that leaned into it quite heavily. Today in TOR had a whole guide on how to reach Galactic Season level 100 "without playing any content", just by pressing reputation tokens, and I think ultimately that's the kind of thing that's considered clever as long as only a few people do it but that turns into degenerate gameplay as it becomes more widespread and accepted as the "best" way to do things.

So I think that nerf was completely deserved and understandable. It didn't really make sense for a single button click to grant more Conquest points than completion of one or even multiple daily areas. I do think the devs are going to back-pedal a little bit after the amount of pushback there's been on the forums but I don't think we'll go back to the old numbers. Either way, there are still other low-effort ways of earning Conquest points for when you're starved for time - they'll just require more than one button push.


Patch 7.4.1 Is Here!

It is here, patch 7.4.1, and with it several new features:

I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about all of these in a couple of days, but for today, I'd just like to highlight a few other patch notes that I enjoyed:

A new Character Convenience unlock has been added to Legacy Perks! Once unlocked, players will be able to reach the GTN at any time without needing to travel to the Fleet, their personal ship, various planets or Strongholds!

I can't say that I recall ever wishing for a portable GTN myself, but I think this is a good addition. More legacy perks are always welcome! I could see this being useful to raiders who realise that they don't have a stim on them just as they're about to pull a boss in an operation for example.

Ancient Armaments Added To Daily Login Rewards: Ancient Armaments contain various armor appearances including ones that could not previously be acquired or traded. These armor pieces do not contain stats or mod slots and are intended solely for Outfitter. These armor pieces do have dye slots and can be traded and bought / sold on the GTN. The armor pieces that are available inside of Ancient Armaments are now also available as random world drops.

Now this is probably the biggest patch feature that came as a complete surprise. Joe Stragmalia expanded on the subject on the forums to clarify that this includes hundreds of weapons and over 2000 armor pieces. I'm very curious to see how this addition will shape up in practice.

More outfit choices that you can acquire through gameplay are always a good thing, and I know that there was demand for at least some of these world drops (the reason they were rare was that they would only drop while your character was in a specific level range, and with how fast levelling is nowadays, it was very easy to outlevel even the chance of having them drop). On the other hand though, I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of these old pieces will actually be considered quite ugly by most players, and since they have no stats and can't be vendored, I wouldn't be surprised if the GTN ended up being a bit flooded with them in short order. Again though, more cheap cosmetic options available for credits is not a bad thing.

What I'm curious to see is whether these are all based on world drops or whether other looks that are no longer available otherwise are included as well. I'm thinking of things like old flashpoint armours that I still own on some of my oldest characters, such as the Black Talon Hunter's Body Armor or the Cademimu Sharpshooter set.

Outfits will now be included when characters are transferred between servers.

This is great news but amused me since I just pointed out in February's community round-up post that outfits not transferring was an important thing to consider before transferring to Shae Vizla. As someone who's not planning to do any transfers any time soon, I'm still pleased that next time I'll make a character copy to the PTS, the first thing to do upon logging in won't be staring in horror at my outfit-less character displaying whatever hodgepodge of armour they were actually wearing underneath.

Fixed the Unread Mail UI icon so that it once again properly updates when new Mail is received.

Oh yes please, that only snuck in recently and was quite annoying.

The Mantellian Flutterplume’s name is now spelled correctly.

But... how was it spelled before then? 🤔

Removed a random floating bottle on Dantooine.

Glad to see we're focusing on the important things!

Several Nova Blade pirates on Rishi who were hostile in previously-neutral areas have been asked to calm down a bit.

I think I know which mobs this refers to... I think they were originally added for the Feast of Prosperity story chain? They lurk on the west side of Raider's Cove and I've unintentionally aggroed them (always feeling a bit surprised to be attacked in town) quite a few times.

Added the following to the appropriate mission terminals: [DAILY] Grateful Grazers (Republic), [DAILY] Panther Training (Imperial), [DAILY] Turn the Lights On (Both), [DAILY] Unstable Readings (Both) 

This one surprised me because as I mentioned in my post about Kessan's Landing, I figured placing these missions outside of town was an intentional design choice reminiscent of Yavin IV and Ziost. Did people find these too hard to find?

The Galaxy Map icon will no longer be highlighted for newly created characters that can't access it.

Not that this isn't a good thing... but wasn't this supposed to have been fixed in 7.3.1?

Regeneration Toys will correctly regenerate resources for all origin story and combat style combinations.

Once again, I just wonder which toy/origin story/combat style combination was bugged here. Let me know in the comments if you know!

Anyway, lots of other stuff to look at in game, so I'll get to that for now!


What Have We Lost?

Conquest is a big factor in how I play the game, and my favourite Conquest event is Total Galactic War, something about which I've written many times. I know I'm not alone in this, and it seemed like Bioware recognised the event's potential as something that drives activity as well, as they tended to cleverly schedule it for times that were otherwise "lull periods" over the last couple of years - such as between seasons, or during the months when Legacy of the Sith ended up being delayed.

With that in mind, me and many of my guildies were certain that we'd get a Total Galactic War some time in February, before the start of Galactic Season 6. Every week after reset, we'd check to see what the next week's Conquest event was supposed to be, and every time we were a little disappointed that it wasn't TGW - but we figured it was going to come around soon. Except... it didn't. GS6 launches this Tuesday and it seems unlikely that the devs would insert an event like TGW right at a time when people are already busy with seasons anyway.

In the comments on my post about Kessan's Landing, someone asked whether I expected any big changes in what kind of content we're going to get in future updates, now that SWTOR's development has fully moved to Broadsword. I responded that I didn't expect any drastic changes since it's effectively still the same people making the game, but with that train of thought on my mind, the "missing" Total Galactic War gave me pause.

I think the transition to Broadsword has mostly gone well from a player perspective. New content delivery hasn't slowed down, and if anything, the devs seem a bit more relaxed/happier in their public communications. But as another commenter said, there were a lot of lay-offs in the transition, right? That's got to have had an effect, no? We don't know the exact numbers, but based on the official statement at the time, the team could've lost up to slightly less than half of its members.

Honestly though, even if we assume a worst case scenario in terms of numbers, that doesn't necessarily mean that future content updates will suddenly be half the size. There are job roles that are valued internally and that do help to improve quality and processes but that don't have an obvious impact on the size of the final product. Plus past word through the grapevine indicated that Bioware was quite liberal with re-assigning SWTOR devs to other projects if it suited them, meaning it's possible that some of those people who were sadly laid off during the transition hadn't been doing that much work on SWTOR in practice recently. All speculation of course, but my point is that it's probably not as simple as "x% of the team not making the move means x% less content from 7.5 onwards".

I don't work in games or development, but in online retail, and a bit over a year ago a situation arose in my small team where literally everyone but me handed in their resignation within a relatively short period of time. This was scary for me personally because it meant that I suddenly had to cover the work of three people, though fortunately management was very supportive and we eventually got replacements for those who had left. However, what was really interesting to me during that time was how effectively I was able to keep our basic output going. Everyone else just agreed to temporarily slash everything that wasn't absolutely essential to keeping operations going, from optimisations to reporting to countless meetings. And it worked! So from a customer's perspective, there was probably no noticeable difference at all, even while we were very aware that we were doing things "sub-optimally" behind the scenes. I wouldn't be surprised if the SWTOR devs had to do some of that immediately after the move to Broadsword, but at this point they've probably settled into some different processes anyway.

What does all of this have to do with Conquest again? Well, it made me wonder whether "making sure certain things happen with Conquest" was one of those small things that actually did get lost in the transition. The last Total Galactic War happened in early September, which was technically two months after the move, but based on past datamining I read about, the Conquest schedule actually seems to get locked in several months in advance, so that event could've been a leftover from before the move. I also noticed that both 7.3's Interpreter's Retreat and 7.4's Kessan's Landing didn't come with any "kill enemies" Conquest objectives like they exist for pretty much every other planet in the game. So it might well be that there was a specific dev who tended to look after that stuff and who no longer has time to do that or is no longer there at all. It's a small thing, and if this is the worst side effect to come out of the Broadsword transition, I'll be a happy camper; it's just something that stood out to me as a Conquest enjoyer.

Have you noticed anything in the new content releases since last July that struck you as unusual and that you think could be attributed to the move?


Jumping into PvP Season 5

I've grumbled in the past when I felt that seasons were too close together and that there wasn't enough of a break between them to "recover" from the intense investment they spark in me, but right now it's been one and a half months since the end of Galactic Season 5 and PvP season 4, and I've got to admit I'm feeling more than ready for something new.

As a result, I hurled myself into PvP season 5 with previously unknown enthusiasm when it started a week ago. It's really quite interesting, considering that I was decidedly "whelmed" when the new PvP seasons were first introduced and continued to feel that way for the next two seasons after that. It was only last season that everything changed all of a sudden, and I found myself craving more of that feeling.

A cathar Jedi shadow surrounded by other players in the Voidstar starting area for attackers

Darth Malgus

My focus was obviously going to be on my home server Darth Malgus again, where I set myself the goal of completing all the seasonal achievements like in season 4. The only thing I wasn't too fond of last season was that due to how late I pivoted towards completionism, I found myself having to grind more arenas than I was really comfortable with towards the end of the season, and for extra medals as well. Obviously the way to avoid that this season was to start strong so that I'll be able to slack off closer to the end instead (and also keeping in mind that there'll be overlap with Galactic Season 6 again). I'm happy to say that I've been very pleased with my week one efforts, as I already earned more than 400 medals and completed six PvP weeklies. I know I won't have the energy to keep going like that as the season progresses, so I'm trying to build as much of a buffer as I can.

Shae Vizla

I knew I wasn't going to repeat the absolute mayhem of last season, but I was hopeful that the launch of the new season would reinvigorate the PvP queues on Shae Vizla - alas, this has not been the case. The waiting for transfers continues. However, some people who do want to achieve seasonal progress over there have started taking things into their own hands, which I was happy to see. Someone in my guild specifically invited people to queue for lowbie PvP at what was close to midnight on Saturday for me, and since I missed the PvP vibes on Shae Vizla, I thought I'd check it out. There were only five or six of us from the guild, but that was enough to at least get arenas popping, and after some advertising on the server Discord a few more people from other guilds joined in, and we were able to alternate between warzones and arenas almost non-stop for three hours. The power of community! I'll try to join them again this week, even if it means staying up late for me. I just appreciate these kinds of community efforts.

Star Forge

Wait, since when do I care about PvP on Star Forge? Well, it was my first "secondary" server and several of my American friends and acquaintances play there. Still, I wasn't really planning to give it special attention between seasons, but then luck would have it that I ended up joining Swtorista's raid team for a few of their runs, and I started to feel a bit embarrassed about my lack of gear over there. It didn't really matter, and it was still better than the 324 gear with which we all had to start raiding when Legacy of the Sith first came out, but it just bugged me a bit, so I vouched to work on upgrading my gear via a bit of casual PvP at least, while seeing where this gets me on the seasonal PvP track as well.

You can tell how huge Star Forge is because even though I'm in a different time zone, pops are always really quick, regardless of what time of day I queue up. It's such a contrast to the situation on Shae Vizla in particular... I've never minded the lack of cross-server functionality in SWTOR, but I've got to admit that seeing the stark differences between these three PvP ecosystems has definitely made me think.