I never thought I’d see the day where I’d actually be praising Galactic Command, Game Update 5.0’s main gearing system. Yet here we are. That’s how bad Star Wars The Old Republic’s new gearing system, dubbed ‘Spoils of War’, was when it was introduced in Phase 2 of the Game Update 6.0 PTS.
Bioware somehow managed to take player feedback about Galactic Command and Ossus gearing systems and have created a new system that is even worse then both of those were. They told us that they heard our complaints about these systems and ensured us that 6.0 would be better. Clearly, something got lost in translation.
Everything about ‘Spoils of War’ reeks of RNG. The majority of gear acquisition is RNG based. RNG loot boxes everywhere, gear drops determined by RNG, there are even vendors that sell RNG loot boxes.
Compounding these issues is the lack of moddable gear drops (which they are working on) and a severe lack of modification drops.
The developers have taken some steps to improve this gearing system and make players lives a little easier. But, in my view, there is more that needs to be done.
How does Gearing work in 6.0, currently?
With Spoils of War, there are two key mechanisms for gearing, vertical progression and horizontal progression.
Vertical gearing progression is based around your Item Rating. So the gear you get from drops is entirely reliant on what your item rating is. If your item rating is 274, you will likely get gear item drops that are 274 or higher. So this system forces you to place greater emphasis on your item rating then your stats meaning you are forced to wear whatever unoptimised non-moddable pieces of gear you can get.
It will be near impossible to customise or BiS your stats as you progress through the multiple tiers of gear. Moddable Gear and Modification drops are currently fairly rare. You will have to wait until you are max tier (306) to be able to properly even begin the BiSing process. Needless to say, DPS won’t easily be able to achieve 110% accuracy anytime soon with this system.
Horizontal Gearing has been introduced to the game by adding a variety of new Set Bonuses and a new Gear Item, Tacticals. There are general, base class, advanced class and discipline-specific Set Bonuses and Tacticals.
There is also a supplementary stat system, called Amplifiers. This system is a pure RNG based system that adds additional stats to various modification slots on your armour pieces.
You can read more about Amplifiers in my Game Update 6.0 Amplifiers Guide.
Current and Future (not yet implemented on the PTS) Sources of Gear in 6.0
Here are all the current sources of gearing that we’ll have when 6.0 launches. Note: This is all subject to change.
- Unranked and Ranked Weeklies – RNG Lootbox
- Unranked and Ranked Dailies (except Zero Tolerance/United We Stand) – RNG Lootbox
- Winning an Unranked or Ranked Match – RNG Lootbox
- Earn Tech Fragments for completing matches (you get more if you win a match)
- Tech Fragments drop from each boss
- Each boss drops a piece of gear for the group to roll on
- Each boss drops personal loot (tailored to your discipline)
- Tech Fragments drop off of each boss
- Group loot from each boss tailored to at least one member of the group
- Each boss drops personal loot (tailored to your discipline)
- Personal Reward – RNG Lootbox
- Guild Reward – RNG Lootbox
- Onderon Weekly – Tech Fragments + Equipment Crate: RNG Modification Lootbox
- Onderon Patrol Daily – Tech Fragments + Equipment Crate: RNG Modification Lootbox
- Tech Fragment (new currency) Vendors
- Spoils of War Gear Vendor – Unidentified Gear Boxes by slot tailored to your class at higher item rating than you currently have. Also sells an Unidentified Modification Box
- Kai Zykken – a weekend vendor that sells a rotating selection of gear items directly (like Xur from Destiny)
- Set Bonus Shell and Tactical Items Vendors – will sell all Set Bonus Shells and Tacticals directly
What I don’t like about this System
Simply put, there is too much RNG. Yes, there was originally a lot more RNG. It was quite common to get drops that were not even suited to your class let alone discipline. But now, they are going to make all gear drops tailored to your discipline. This should bring the RNG more in line with 5.0 at least.
Given the breadth of Tacticals and Set Bonuses being added to the game (ie. the addition of horizontal gearing progression), I believe it is unnecessary to add all these RNG induced artificial time gates. They are adding Vendors that sell the Set Bonus Shells and Tactical Items directly. But the Shells will not have any modifications in them. So it’s only a partial solution to a wider problem.
Adding to the RNG and Modification woes is the sheer number of not only tiers of gear but the insane number of modification variations. All these extra unnecessary tiers of gear and new Modification variations add artificial time gates to gearing progression. To date, more than 12 different Lethal Mod 306’s have been discovered each with different Primary Stat and Power distributions (from 275 – 465). This will be a BiSing nightmare and yet another unnecessary time gate.
I’m also not a big fan of gearing being based on Item Rating. We are forced to wear whatever unoptimised, non-moddable gear we can get out hands-on. While wearing green and blue gear was completely optional with Galactic Command, since we could get away with waiting for moddable gear drops, that won’t be the case with Spoils of War. If a piece of gear drops that is higher Item Rating than what we have currently equipped, we have no choice but to wear it no matter what it’s stats are.
I yearn for the days when we could just walk up to a vendor and buy whatever moddable piece of gear we wanted with whatever currency we earned though the relevant content (just like in 4.0). That is how the system should’ve been designed, from the beginning.
I do not believe that it is possible to turn ‘Spoils of War’ into an optimal gearing system in the time frame that we have left before launch. Instead, I will offer suggestions that I feel are somewhat possible in the timeframe we have.
- Significantly increase moddable gear drops (yes they did say they are working on this). Priortise making weapons moddable first if necessary.
- Reduce the number of Modification variations especially at 306 Item Rating
- Add an RNG free way of obtaining modifications (not crafting related)
- Add a vendor that sells individual 306 modifications?
- Since Kai Zykken is a prestige/limited-time vendor all gear he sells should be 306 item rating and include 306 modifications in the gear.
- All Operations bosses should drop one set piece, per boss, tailored to someone in the group.
- Add RNG Loot boxes to Operation Weeklies (with drops tailored to our class).
- Increase Tech Fragments earned from all sources.
- Add Bonus Renown Trophies to personal loot for Operations (we shouldn’t have to roll for a Renown Trophy dropped from a boss).
- Add Renown Trophies to PvP Dailies and Weeklies.
The main thing that needs to be desperately implemented is far greater access to moddable gear and modifications. I do not believe that crafting is a viable alternative for modification acquisition. Material cost is too expensive and the additional steps required to craft items are too time-consuming.
I would also like further clarity on this statement by Musco.
Each content type will drop specific gear types, depending on difficulty. Example: the final boss of Master Mode Flashpoints have a 100% chance to drop from a pool of mostly tactical items and some set bonuses for the group. They don’t only drop in Flashpoints, but if you are targeting a specific type of drop, you can hone in on it by running specific content. To be clear, Daily Areas, Conquest, Flashpoint, Operations, Reputation Vendors, Crafting, and PvP all will have these focused loot drops. Now, we may need to focus this more so that you have more control over drops, so please keep the feedback coming on that front. Also as a reminder, these are just bonus drops in addition to all of the personal loot you will get which can also contain any set and tactical item.
How specific are the loot tables for various content going to be? Will we be getting a list of where each Set Bonus and Tactical Item comes from? Honestly, the more specific the sources of various Tacticals and Set bonuses, the better. That way if players are wanting to get specific Set Bonuses or Tacticals, they know exactly what content they have to do to get them.
Ideally, PvPers need to have a non-RNG path for gearing progression outside of the Set Bonus Vendors. But that’s just wishful thinking at this point.
I wanted to quickly comment on some of the assumptions I’ve seen by some players about this gearing system.
There seem to be some players who believe that Set Bonuses and Stats won’t matter in PvP due to the new Bolster. Therefore BiSing will not be necessary. This could not be further from the truth.
First of all, there are a number of new Set Bonuses and Tacticals that have the potential to be significantly impactful in PvP. Secondly, the new Bolster only caps your Mastery and Endurance. Power and Tertiary Stats will still vary depending on your gear.
The most obvious take away from this is that BiS mods for PvPers will be the high Power mods since high Mastery Mods would just be a waste of stat. The Focused Retribution Relic, likewise, will no longer be of any use in PvP. Players who take the time to BiS their stats and have good Set Bonuses and Tacticals will undoubtedly perform better in PvP than those who do not.
I also wanted to comment on BiSing and clearing content. It seems some of the player community has become far too complacent with the current difficulty of content–given how over-geared we’ve been for most of it for years now. These players underestimate how important it is to have the right stat distributions and the difference it makes to spec performance and ease of rotations. And in turn, improves players’ ability to clear content.
I’ve recently experienced first hand the difference having correct stat distribution has on the ease of doing content versus not having correct stats even for SM Operations. If the majority of players in the group are not well geared and do not have the right stat distribution, then the group will hit enrage timers on Boss encounters even in SM Operations. This is what happened with my Guild when they all came back to the game a few months ago. Bolster only fills in the gaps to an extent and by no means gives you the correct tertiary stats which are essential for most specs to perform correctly. Once the majority of my Guildmates got their stats correct, clearing SM Operations then moving to HM Operations was a breeze.
Players can not rely on any content being as easy as it is now when 6.0 launches. The game is going to change in ways we have not seen in years. It will be a bit of a ‘culture shock’ for most of the player base. Ideally, a more efficient gearing system would ease this ‘shock’. Only time will tell.
Hopefully, ‘Spoils of War’ can be salvaged before Game Update 6.0 launches. I’ve been impressed with the developer’s willingness to make changes to this new gearing system. But questions remain as to how this gearing system got conceptualised in the first place. I’m looking forward to further testing on the PTS once further changes to Spoils of War go live.