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MMO Gaming Highlights 2020

As we all know, 2020 IRL was not the best year and this translated, to an extent, into the gaming verse’. Nonetheless, there were some great moments in MMO gaming, for me, in 2020 I want to discuss that make me really excited for 2021!

Before we get started, full disclosure, these are the three MMO’s I played in 2020.

  • New World (Preview Event)
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Star Wars The Old Republic

New World (Preview Event)

The main MMO Gaming highlight of 2020, for me, was getting to participate in the New World Preview Event. I was incredibly impressed with how immersive and complete the game was. I was instantly sucked into the lore of the game with compelling quests and the incredibly beautiful zones and scenery. 

Destroying Corruption Breach
Scenery

What really got me hooked though, was the incredibly immersive crafting system. Everything in the environment has a purpose and would disappear once you harvested it including massive trees and large rocks. You could even pick up twigs and stones and use them to craft stuff.   

Trade Skills
Logging

The combat was a bit more challenging than other MMO’s I’ve played but highly rewarding and enjoyable! Combat and skill lines are completely tied to weapons which I think is fantastic and should make things easier to keep balanced. The player housing system has a lot of potential but could use some tweaks (but shouldn’t be as high a priority IMO) and the settlement and guild systems look interesting. The lore (and the setting of the game) is very intriguing. The PvP systems seem fun but I did not get to participate in those beyond flagging to do some of the open-world PvP quests. Would’ve loved to participate in a Faction War!

Housing
Faction Wars

There were a couple of issues, of course. The poor enemy NPC AI behaviour and large aggro fields got frustrating at time. Enemy NPC’s that were aggroed by another player (who was running away from them) would aggro to you if you were close by and could easily catch you unawares and result in your death. It isn’t exactly fair to a player to get aggro on enemy NPC’s that they did not attack simply because they (the player) are close by (or in the path of a player running away from the NPC’s). So yes, NPC aggro could use some refining.

Questing progression was quite confusing, initially. Once you completed some of the initial quests and get to your first settlement, you are quickly overwhelmed with quests. It wasn’t clear which quests you should do first and more often then not you were sent to areas beyond your level where the NPC’s would 2-shot you. Later on, it became obvious I needed to do the main questline as quickly as possible so I could my Azoth Staff. I was disappointed the questline abruptly ended once you got the staff though. Hopefully, there will be more of a ‘main’ storyline at launch. Quest pathing and perhaps a breakdown of quest types and their purpose should somehow be introduced. More clear labelling of level requirements for quests would be beneficial too.

Travelling was also very tedious. You had to walk everywhere. Yes, there was a currency (Azoth) you could use to teleport to discovered settlements but this same currency was also used for crafting so you can burn through Azoth very fast. I found the lack of Mounts quite surprising. Hopefully, they will be added to the game prior to launch.

Character close-up
Scenery

Regardless of these issues, I’m very much looking forward to news of the game’s launch date and am hoping to get the chance to participate in more betas. This game has so much potential and already has so much to do in it. I can not wait to go back to Aeternum and discover it’s secrets!


Elder Scrolls Online – Greymoor Chapter

I thoroughly enjoyed the Greymoor chapter in Elder Scrolls Online this year. While other parts of the game were severely bugged and unbalanced (Cyrodiil & PvP in general), the story offered a pleasant and intriguing respite from the major issues plaguing the game. 

As someone who mainly plays Nords, I loved being able to go to Western Skyrim and experience Nord stories. The Western Skyrim and Blackreach Zones were incredibly beautiful and well designed. The main storyline was intriguing with an excellent cast of new characters. Getting to see old friends again was wonderful. I got to hang out with my BFF Lyris Titanborn and Count Verandis Ravenwatch was delightful, as always!

Western Skyrim
Blackreach

Another wonderful addition to the game this year was the Antiquities system. Again, another nice diversion that has you going back to old zones previously explored and digging up stuff. I love when MMO’s find creative ways of making old zones relevant and enjoyable. I’ve dug up plenty of pretty decorations and other nice things. I enjoyed the implementation of this system and very much look forward to seeing what they add to it in 2021.

Battlegrounds
Antiquities

Hopefully, PvP performance and balance will get the attention it desperately needs in 2021. If ESO can get PvP fixed and do some Housing tweaks, it would be a near-perfect game. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the upcoming Gates of Oblivion chapter.


SWTOR – Echoes of Vengeance Story (Spoilers!)

While there was minimal content released in Star Wars The Old Republic this year, I was pleasantly surprised by the Echoes of Vengeance story released in Game Update 6.2. The culmination of multiple storylines from both The Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic, this story gave us the epic conclusion we wanted from Knights of the Eternal Throne and tied up so many loose ends from many story threads from various mediums along the way. The best moments in the story, though, came from interacting with characters we haven’t seen in a long time. Getting to see Tenebrae’s original body was pretty damn cool too!

Wrath and Revan
Wrath and Darth Marr
Tenebrae
The Wrath’s

The only disappointing thing about it is that there isn’t an Operations version of the big fight that happens towards the end of the story. The game overall has been fairly disappointing this year. Both of the new Events were a nice bit of fun but beyond that, there wasn’t much new to do. The quality of life improvements targeting especially Conquest and PvP were certainly welcome though.

Swoop Rally Event
Feast of Prosperity Event

With many new story threads now happening in The Old Republic, I’m very much looking forward to seeing where the story takes us. Beyond that, the game needs significant attention and improvement in various areas too many to list in this article. With the Devs teasing great things for 2021, let’s hope The Old Republic can get together in time for its 10-Year Anniversary at the end of the Year.


Thank you, everyone, for reading this article! I’m looking forward to creating new content for you all in The Old Republic and beyond in 2021!

What were your MMO Gaming Highlights in 2020? What MMO’s are you excited for in 2021?


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Blog Star Wars The Old Republic

A Year in Review – SWTOR 2020

I asked myself when I began writing this article ‘Was this the year we got the Alderaan Stronghold?’

Yes, yes. It turns out it was. 

It’s been a hell of a year for everyone. Star Wars The Old Republic, true to form, was not exempt from 2020. COVID aside, there’s been minimal new content introduced this year. Unsurprising, of course, for a game known to put out small content patches and have really long gaps between content. On the plus side, there was quite a few quality of life improvements and an epic story to round out the year.

Here’s an overview of what happened in 2020 in The Old Republic.


Overview of Major Events 2020

  • Game Update 6.1 – February 13th
    • Alderaan Stronghold
    • Minor Story Update
    • Class Changes
  • Game Update 6.1.1 – April 21st
    • Conquest Overhaul
    • Double XP…
    • Class Changes
  • Game Update 6.1.2 – June 24th
    • NIM Dxun
    • New Event – Ultimate Worlds Swoop Rally
    • Nar Shaddaa Nightlife Event – New Rewards
    • Ranked PvP Season 12 Ended
    • Galactic Guide – the thing that pops up from the social bar
    • Set Bonus Changes + New Set Bonuses
  • 6.1.2b –  July 16th
    • PvP Reward Changes 
  • 6.1.2d – July 28th
    • Ranked PvP Season 13 Started
    • Deserter Penalty PvP Unranked
    • Win requirement for PvP Dailies and Weeklies
    • PvP Queue changed to favour match variety over map variety
    • Vandin and Quesh Huttball maps removed from the queue
  • Game Update 6.1.3 – September 9th
    • Double XP…
    • Improved Uprising Rewards?
    • Replica Ranked PvP Rewards (first round)
  • Game Update 6.1.4 – October 20th 
    • Conquest Changes
    • New Augments
    • New Event – Feast of Prosperity
    • Legacy Ignore
    • Vote Kick removed from Ranked
    • Item 306 Rating required to queue for Ranked
    • Class Changes – Guard changes
  • Game Update 6.2 – December 9th
    • Story Update – Echoes of Oblivion
    • New Flashpoint – Spirit of Vengeance
    • New Login Rewards System
    • New Emote Window
    • Life Day Celebration
    • Nine-Year Anniversary – new rewards on vendor
    • Ranked PvP Rewards – new batch of replicas
    • Class Changes – weapon damage increase

Highlights

The main highlights, for me, were the new Events, the quality of life PvP changes, the Alderaan Stronghold and the recent Echoes of Oblivion story. The new Events were a nice distraction from the usual mundane. I enjoyed participating in them as well as creating guides for them. Most of the PvP changes and quality of life improvements this year were overall positive, in my opinion. If it wasn’t for Rocket Out and other rapid moving abilities still being bugged, I probably would have PvPed a lot more this year. Constantly getting stuck in terrain due to Rocket Out caused me to completely rage quit the game multiple times this year. The Alderaan Stronghold is absolutely gorgeous and I’m still slowly decorating it. If only quality decorations weren’t so painful to obtain! And, of course, the new Echoes of Oblivion story. No spoilers, but it was incredible!

As I mentioned above, there were a fair few quality-of-life changes. ‘Legacy Ignore’, one of the most sought after quality of life changes by the player base, was finally implemented. Another ongoing theme for the year was the numerous Conquest changes and overhauls. I feel Conquest is in a pretty good place right now but could still use some tweaks, especially for level 75 characters. You would think it would make more sense to make doing conquest on level 75’s more rewarding than low-level characters. But alas, this is not the case. I understand they want to make new players aware of the system, but that doesn’t mean they should gimp point acquisition once you do hit 75. It’s not hard to get points at level 75, of course, it’s simply a lot easier to get points on a low-level character. Hopefully, a better balance can be achieved in the future, for the sake of conquest guilds. 


The elephant in the room

While we saw lots of little changes and tweaks to various types of content, there was very little actual new content introduced to the game. Two Events, NIM Dxun, Story updates and a new Flashpoint. When you compare this content delivered by SWTOR to other MMO’s, it definitely falls short.

It’s hard to not feel dismayed that other MMO’s are able to produce lots of quality content, despite 2020, while The Old Republic continues to lag behind. I’m tired of The Old Republic being left behind. I’m tired of it not being able to live up to the hype of the Star Wars IP. I’m tired of it not being able to live up to its true potential.

We can debate the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ all we want. But it won’t change anything. Nothing ever does. Regardless, it’s frustrating to continually watch the game seemingly being held back. I don’t blame the developers and I’m beyond grateful for the work they do put into the game. But this has been a continuing pattern for years now. It’s just frustrating at times. But, I’ve come to accept that content will forever be a trickle with The Old Republic.

I hope the developers know this frustration I have comes from a place of love for the game.


Looking ahead…

Now, looking to 2021. We have very little information or hints from the developers about what is going to happen. Meanwhile, other MMO’s are already hyping their content for 2021. All we can say for certain is that the developers seem excited for the 10-year anniversary. They’ve even vaguely hinted that we’ll get an expansion then too. We can kind of guess based on the recent 6.2 storylines where the story is headed. But I think any story going forward will have a hard time living up to the hype that was Echoes of Oblivion. The Old Republic reached its peak with that epic story. Kind of a shame that story was just in an update and not part of a major expansion.

Given the state of the game and how little new content there’s been this year, I find it difficult to get excited about the upcoming anniversary. I’m sure once they start revealing stuff I’ll get more interested especially if they address key PvP and Stronghold issues.

I’ll likely discuss the recent 6.2 story and my hopes and predictions for 2021 in more detail in future articles.

All we can do now, is have hope.

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Blog Star Wars The Old Republic

Initial Alderaan Noble Estate Stronghold Feedback

The upcoming Alderaan Noble Estate Stronghold is looking magical so far! Here is my feedback for the developers and my initial impressions of the Stronghold.


Developer Feedback

This is the same feedback I have provided on the forums. However here, I include screenshots and videos to illustrate my points. Here’s the link to my feedback on the forums – http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?p=9807210#post9807210


What is your general feeling on the Stronghold?

I really like this stronghold overall. It really captures the thematic elements of Alderaan beautifully. The mountains, the snow, green fields, the waterfalls and stream. The building structures themselves are also really nice. The detail in the interiors is impeccable especially the windows (stained glass or otherwise). I also like that you can climb up some of the mountains and there hidden little nooks and crannies to explore.

https://mmobits.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/so-relaxing.mp4

Are there any specific rooms you like or don’t like, and why? Please be specific.

I’m not a big fan of the Killik cave. Maybe if it were further away from the main building I wouldn’t mind it but it just doesn’t look right having the Killik Mounds so close to the main building. I do like the idea that someone else suggested of removing all the Killik stuff from the cave including the yellow mounds on top. Instead, you could turn those elements into decorations (that aren’t already decorations) and those who want to have a Killik cave can make it a Killik cave with decorations. This way players can use the cave how they see fit.

I also like the idea that someone suggested of giving the Noble Interior adjacent rooms (ie. the Study, Drawing Room, Guest Chambers) their own personality. This could be done by making one or two of the rooms bigger, varying the shape of the rooms or even adding windows to one or two of them. I do recall Organa Castle having some nice circular type rooms as seen in the Smuggler, Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior stories.

I don’t really know how I feel about the Throne Room. I like the concept but I feel the execution is a little underwhelming. This is probably because the room is quite small for a Throne Room. I don’t really like the placement of the throne structure. Yes, it looks really nice but honestly, I’d rather have a full window to take advantage of the beautiful waterfall views. Maybe if it were bigger, had a high ceiling and columns or something to make it feel grander or throne ‘roomy’ I’d like it more.

https://mmobits.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/throne-room-time-lapse.mp4

The grand interior room with the stained glass window is quite lovely. However, I would like to see the upper area/roof either turned into a balcony area or even windows added (not stained glass, just normal windows like those in the Retreat). There isn’t really that much point to having large wall hooks that high up especially when your eye is drawn straight to the stained glass window. Maybe if we had some kind of window decorations I wouldn’t mind it as much.

Does the Stronghold feel too big? Too small? Why?

I think the size of the Stronghold is just fine in terms of scale. I would expect a Stronghold on Alderaan to be large. It doesn’t need to be any bigger than it is though. I would honestly be disappointed if it was a small Coruscant/Drommund Kaas sized Stronghold. There are plenty of other planets where a small Stronghold would work. It would not work on Alderaan.

If you could change one thing about the Stronghold, what would it be?

Add a training dummy room (similar to the one in the Rishi Stronghold)! Put it where that fake door is in the Retreat perhaps? This Stronghold is probably going to be highly desirable as a Guild Stronghold. It would make sense to add the utility and convenience of a training dummy to this stronghold especially if you guys can’t increase the cap on Guild strongholds.

Does the increased hook density feel too cluttered?

Not really? Though hooks are quite sparse in the open field area at the front entrance of the stronghold. The interiors are overall well done in terms of hook placement but could use some minor tweaks. Having a lot of hooks in the interiors gives players plenty of decorating options.

The main tweaks I’d like to see include adding ceiling hooks to the lower ceiling areas in the stained glass window room. I’d also like to see hooks added to the floor of the ruins. It’s also a little bizarre that the front entrance doesn’t have hooks either.

Add Ceiling Hooks in these places indicated with my terrible paint job plus on the opposite side and at the back too.
Where are the floor hooks?
Lack of wall hooks on entrance wall is strange as indicated by poor paint job.

Does the number and placement of hooks feel too restrictive given the Stronghold’s decoration cap?

I would like to see the cap increased but at the same time it does line up with the Rishi Stronghold which has 12 expansions and a decoration limit of 1600 while Alderaan has 9 expansions and a decoration limit of around ~1060(?) (didn’t note exact limit unfortunately before PTS went down). Maybe if hook placement is tweaked a bit, then we can look at decoration limits.

Anything else you want to add?

First of all, can we please please please get some stained glass window decorations?! You could do scenes from a variety of planets too. Maybe do some more Alderaan ones. A waterfall, some ruins or just snowy mountains and forest. A Tatooine stained glass window with the twin suns setting would be incredible! A Voss one would like amazing too, Rishi, Yavin, Hoth, Tython or some underwater ones inspired by Manaan. There are so many possibilities!

If doors serve no purpose ie. don’t open up to anywhere, then they should be removed. There are a couple of fake doors in the Retreat (see below images) that should be removed or lead to some additional rooms (preferably the latter).

Potential Dummy Parse Room Location behind this door?
Fake doors that lead to nowhere make me sad.

If possible, I would also like to see a small PvP area added to this Stronghold. It could be out of the way so those who aren’t interested in PvP feel no need to enter or otherwise utilise the space (unlike in the Rishi Stronghold where the spaces are front and centre). I’ve even found a nice location for it. There is a nice hidden area up in the mountains you can climb to by the waterfall in the front area of the stronghold. It would need to be flattened a bit and some hooks placed up there but I think it could make a nice little, out-of-the-way duelling space. At the very least, some hooks should be added to this area.

Something else that bothers me is the placement of rugs and ceiling lights that are part of the Stronghold and cannot be removed. I would prefer to see these removed especially the rug in the Throne Room. Players should be able to choose what rug or rugs they use in that space.

Throne Room Rug
Throne Room Hooks

Slightly unrelated but, I would like to see more tree, bush, plant, hedge and flower decorations (without the damn pots) too! This would be the perfect stronghold for them.


Overall Impressions

Alderaan Noble Estate has a really relaxing, serene feel to it. It has plenty of potential for players and guilds to craft their own spaces and utilise the Stonghold in a variety of ways.

This Stronghold does somewhat closely envision what I had hoped an Alderaan Stronghold would be like. The only major difference is that I was hoping for a full-on castle modelled after House Organa, Panteer or Thul’s with multiple floors, balconies and a variety of rooms. But I do appreciate that it may not quite fit lore-wise and having a Noble’s Estate instead does make more sense. I would still like to see the interior spaces with more rooms of varying sizes.

The only major criticism I have is that it almost has the same issue as the Manaan Stronghold has. A lot of potential unused building space. There seems to be a lot of areas that could be more rooms that are only partially utilised as such. It is not as big an issue with Alderaan because there are so many spaces already and they are well utilised but you can see that there is space for more. You’re just seeing these large buildings and the interior rooms that we get are quite minimal compared to the potential space. It is especially obvious when you travel from the Estate Interior to the Mountain Retreat area and look back.

What the developers have come up with is excellent nonetheless and I look forward to seeing what happens in the PTS testing cycle in January.


The Alderaan Nobles Estate will be back on the PTS in January. I look forward to further testing of this Stronghold!

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Blog

My New PC Build and Set-Up

Hey everyone,

Some of you may have seen on Twitter that I have finally got a new PC to replace my almost 6-year-old Laptop. It honestly feels amazing to finally have my own PC!

My brother helped me pick out the parts and build the PC. My main goal was to have a PC that could play SWTOR and ESO at max graphics and perform well (and look pretty!) on a decent budget.

I got all the parts from PC Case Gear. The go-to website in Australia for computer parts.

Here are the specs:

  • CPU – Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-9500 CPU @ 3.00 GHz
  • RAM – Corsair Vengeance LPX16 GB RAM (2x8GB) 3200MHz DDR4
  • Motherboard – ASUS Prime Z390-P Motherboard
  • Graphics Card – ASUS GeForce GTX 1660 TUF Gaming OC 6GB
  • SSD – Crucial P1 M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB
  • Power Supply – Corsair TX650M Gold 650W Power Supply
  • Monitors – BenQ GL2580HM FHD 25in TN EyeCare Monitors
  • Keyboard – Cougar Aurora S RGB Membrane Keyboard
  • Mouse – Logitech G600 (been using this for years)
  • Case – Cougar Turret RGB TG Mid Tower Case
  • Fans – Cougar Vortex RGB HPB 120 ( 3 came in the Cougar Vortex ARGB Cooling Kit other 2 came with Case)

It was quite nerve-racking at times putting it together with all the delicate parts. It certainly doesn’t help that my hands aren’t very steady. The most annoying part though was getting all the RGB fans to work and the corresponding remote that controls them to work. I choose the case first before the keyboard. I got a Cougar keyboard to ensure that the RGB lighting would match the RGB fans that come with the case.

So far, it’s running really well! SWTOR looks pretty again and is so smooth. It makes my high 250-300 latency in PvP more noticeable since I’m barely lagging anymore. But otherwise, everything is very smooth and pretty.

ESO is absolutely beautiful and runs so damn smooth! What a difference! The real test will, of course, be Cyrodiil but I won’t have time for that anytime soon…

The next step will be setting up OBS so I can record gameplay and possibly stream (after I get all these 6.0 Guides sorted out that I’ve been hammering away at). You’ll hear more about my content creation plans soon.

I’d like to thank everyone who donated money this year. Your contribution went straight into getting this new PC so I really appreciate you! I’d also like to thank my brother for helping me put the PC together!

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Blog

Gearing will make or break Game Update 6.0 – Feedback and Thoughts on ‘Spoils of War’

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.

See my 6.0 Set Bonus Guide for a full list of Set Bonuses.
See my 6.0 Tactical Items Guide for a full list of Tacticals and what they do.

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.

  • PvP
    • 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)
  • Operations
    • 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)
  • Flashpoints
    • 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)
  • Conquest
    • Personal Reward – RNG Lootbox
    • Guild Reward – RNG Lootbox
  • Dailies
    • 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.


Suggestions

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.


Additional Comments

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.

Categories
Blog Star Wars The Old Republic

Review – Peacetime Dantooine is Lacking but Worth a Visit

It is nice to be able to explore Dantooine and enjoy the scenery with the reduced chance of running into mobs. However, ‘Peacetime’ Dantooine leaves little else to be desired. You can either sit around for hours at a time waiting for food or mission items to respawn or spend 5 minutes doing lacklustre dailies.

So let’s take a look at what there is to do.


Dailies

There are a couple of dailies you can do (different for each faction). However, there are no meaningful rewards for doing them. And, much like Rishi (ahem), there is no weekly to go along with these dailies.

See my Dantooine Dailies and Peacetime Guide to see how quick and easy the dailies are.


Achievement Hunting

Achievement Hunting? Yes, this is your main reason to return to the planet. For some of the achievements, you’ll have an easier time getting them. Others, not so much.

The spawn times for the foods for the Culinary Achievement remain ridiculously long. And with fewer instances due to fewer people on the planet, your chances of actually getting lucky and having the food spawn is almost as worse as when the Pirate Incursion Event is active. And with some of the foods only found during peacetime, it is a tedious endeavour to get this achievement completed. See my Dantooine Achievement Guide for more details.

Other achievements such as the Dantooine Cipher, Lingering Shadows (if you have macrobinoculars) and Well That Was Unexpected are obtainable. But others such as The Polly Exclusion Principle and Dantooine Treasure Hunter can only be gotten while the Pirate Incursion Event is active. Almost all the Codex entries for the Dantooine Scholar achievement are also obtainable.


One-off Mission ‘While You’re Out There’

There is also a mysterious one-off mission you can complete (if you’re lucky) that sadly, like the dailies, gives little rewards. ‘While You’re Out There‘ is plagued by really long spawn times for finding particular items. But unlike the Culinary Achievement, the items you need to find remain static ie. they don’t move. However, they become unclickable seemingly for hours at a time once someone else has clicked on them. This makes completing this mission extremely tedious and near impossible.

You would think a one-off mission that requires so much trouble to complete would serve a greater purpose or offer a better reward. But alas, it does not.

At this point, it feels like the Devs are trolling us.


Dantooine in its peacetime state should be an enjoyable, peaceful experience. But it is marred by tediously long spawn times and few rewards. It does, however, provide a means to get some of the planet’s achievements with fewer distractions and interference.

Categories
Blog The Curious Turtle

The Curious Turtle – How much damage should Siege do?

‘The Curious Turtle’ is a new bi-weekly column I’m starting where I discuss anything ‘Elder Scrolls Online’! My aim is to do at least two articles a month.


‘Can’t these bloody milk drinkers handle a bit of extra siege damage? It’s called ! Put it on your bar for god’s sake!’

It was certainly an interesting week in Cyrodiil after Wrathstone launched. The Devs managed to bug out siege so that not only were Siege Shields useless but Siege was basically doing the equivalent of Oblivion Damage (unavoidable damage).

I mean it really wasn’t that bad initially when I was surfing with pugs healing them. We’d get hit with the odd bit of Siege (yes people were using Siege open field), a quick purge and no dramas we kept on turtling about killing every banana we could find. Then when the bananas got too close to BRK the timid EP who never leave walls of keeps ever (who am I kidding that’s most of the faction) were ready with the OP siege to kill them instantly. For the first time in forever, their fire ballistae were actually useful.

When I ran with my Zerg, again it was bearable, initially. If purges were on point, it wasn’t too difficult for a coordinated group/zerg to survive Siege.

However, when the siege was highly coordinated, boy did it hurt. It wasn’t uncommon to just drop dead from Siege. One minute you’d be purging and healing away handling the oils just fine. Then in a single instant, you were on the ground, dead.

While it was all fun and something new at first, it quickly got tiring. Having to constantly Purge and roll dodge just got tedious.

Hell, this bug even got me naively believing that EP might finally learn how to properly Siege defensively. Yeah, Nah.

Naturally, the question came up, ‘Should Siege always do this much damage?’ Opinion among Cyrodiil regulars was mixed. Some welcomed Siege doing more damage while others insisted people should learn to play their classes instead of being Siege monkeys.

The devs even chimed in saying they were discussing options for increasing Siege damage in a future Update. I would certainly support Siege doing more damage as it is quite tame currently. But the damage it was doing that week was just a tad too much. Perhaps with the Elsweyr Update, we may see some Siege damage adjustments? Or maybe just start with making some of useless and rarely used Siege more useful?

Either way, I’m glad that week has been put behind us. I do look forward to having Siege possibility do more damage in the future.


Did you experience the OP ‘oblivion damage’ Siege? What are your thoughts on Siege damage?

Categories
Blog Elder Scrolls Online

PvP Improvements ESO Needs in 2019

It ain’t no secret that PvP, especially Cyrodiil, is in dire need of attention in Elder Scrolls Online. Cyrodiil is plagued with performance issues and desperately needs some quality of life improvements.

Here’s my list of the major PvP related things that needs fixing


and Performance

This is obviously the biggest issue plaguing Cyrodiil right now. Abilities taking five seconds to go off, not being able to swap bars, rubberbanding, texture bugs and just lag in general. All of these issues seem to get worse after each update and it affects everyone to some extent regardless of how good or bad their PC is.

Stuck in Combat Bug

While everyone gets affected by this to some extent, this is the absolute worst if you’re a healer. Being stuck in combat long after you’ve finished the engagement is incredibly frustrating. Usually, it’s because someone you were fighting escaped or someone in your group you healed is off elsewhere in a fight somewhere. But seriously, this needs to be addressed.

Between my Potions and Repair Kits, I only have two spots for Siege.

More Quick Slots or ability to change Quick Slots in combat

Whether this is intentional or bug, it is having a significant impact on gameplay. We simply do not have enough slots for all the siege, potions and repair kits we need to have equipped. More often then not I don’t have the siege I need when I need it and when I’m in combat I cannot change my quick slots. This combined with the combat bug is very detrimental to Keep battles.

Swap Harlun’s Outpost and Cropsford

Having an outpost deep in your territory that is easily capped and defendable by the enemy is very disadvantageous for the Pact. Harlun’s serves no purpose for the Pact except as an extra point on the scoreboard while the enemy factions can quickly cap it and use it as a staging ground into our back keeps. HO would far better serve the Pact if it was located where Cropsford is.

Reduce how much Bridge/Milegate Repair kits Repair

Destroying bridges and milegates is pretty redundant considering how ridiculously easy it is to repair them versus how time-consuming it is to destroy them. I enjoy the mechanic of being able to destroy bridges and milegates but something needs to be done to make it better.

Why take the time to destroy a bridge when 2 minutes later it’ll be repaired to where you can pass over it again (if you don’t keep it tagged). You can’t earn Alliance Points guarding them and keeping them flagged so they can’t be repaired either. So there’s very little motivation for anyone to actually do it.

Ultimately people will do what gives them AP and hanging out around bridges and milegates doesn’t give you any (unless there are players around fighting each other).

Stackable Siege

In a recent update, we were finally able to stack Forward Camps which is fantastic! However, it would be amazing if all siege was stackable! This would be a great quality of life improvement.

Imperial City Access/Purpose

Travelling to and around Imperial City and the Sewers is a pain in the ass. There needs to be a way to get straight ther without having to go through Cyrodiil. Imperial City, in general, needs a greater purpose to it to encourage more participation.

It’s also annoying having Imperial City tied to Cyrodiil population and queue. It should either be a separate queue or it should be better tied into what is happening in Cyrodiil, ie. if your faction has a couple of districts captured, it affects your faction score in Cyrodiil.

Target Markers and Crown Markers

Other MMO’s I’ve played have target markers in the base game. ESO could definitely benefit from having target markers which could be used for both PvP and PvE. If someone made an addon that made it so you could place target markers on any player or NPC, that would be amazing.

When it comes to ‘crown’ (group leader marker) it could use some improvement. While we do have add-ons that make ‘crown’ bigger, it would be even better if we could change the colour of ‘crown’.

A new PvP Zone?

There have been rumours of a new PvP Zone popping up lately. While I am open to the idea of a new PvP Zone, I’d prefer to see performance issues addressed first and foremost. However, it would make sense, lore-wise, to move on from Cyrodiil and create a new PvP zone ( the conflict their well and truly over).

A new zone would certainly freshen things up and adding new siege, mechanics, environments etc. could prove to be very interesting. Maybe if they build another zone from the ground up they might be able to eliminate or reduce some of the issues currently plaguing Cyrodiil?


Regardless of the issues affecting PvP currently, I still somewhat enjoy my time in Cyrodiil (credit for that goes to my PvP Guild though!). If they would fix these issues though, everyone could have a far better PvP experience!

Categories
Blog Elder Scrolls Online

Looking Back on 2018 – ESO Edition

Elder Scrolls Online had a massive 2018. With quarterly content release cycles, there was always something to look forward to! I started out the year mainly doing solo stuff then the last few months getting full-on into PvP.

The content released was fantastic! Both the Summerset and Murkmire stories were excellent! The environments of both the new zones were incredible. I’m continually blown away by the beauty and detail of this game.

The new houses released this year were incredible. The Princely Dawnlight Palace and the Enchanted Snow Globe Home were particularly amazing. However, it’s very disappointing that they still seem hell-bent on making the Crown Store the primary means of getting most of the houses they release.

The Outfit System introduced at the start of the year was certainly a welcome addition to the game. It’s not the best outfit customisation system out there but it’s better than having nothing at all.

The Cyrodiil changes, while they sounded good on paper, haven’t worked all that well in practice. There is little incentive to destroy a milegate or bridge given how ridiculously easy they are to repair. I’ll discuss the pitfalls of these changes and other PvP related issues in an upcoming article.

It’s also been my first year making content for the game (beyond the blog posts that I did on my old website). I haven’t been able to make anywhere near as much content as I wanted to but I’ve enjoyed the journey nonetheless.

By far my biggest hit was my Psijic Order Skill Line and Time Breach Location Guide. I put a lot of time into that and it was really great to see the results of my labour pay off and be a far better success than I ever anticipated.

Part of the reason I haven’t had time to make more content is that I’ve been enjoying playing the game so much. There’s been so much for me to do and accomplish. I completed quite a few milestones this year.

  • Got to max CP (810)
  • Got ALL the Skyshards in the Game
  • Completed all the Delves in the Game
  • Completed Cadwell’s Silver and Gold
  • Got the Tamriel Hero Achievement
  • Completed all the story (including DLC’s) except for Imperial City
  • Did my first Trials
    • A few Cloudrest runs but also one Aetherian Archive run
  • Completed multiple Holiday Event Achievements
  • Now have a total of four Level 50 characters (up from just having one at the end of last year)
  • Did a shit ton of PvP (especially the last 6 months)

When it comes to PvP, I did Battlegrounds and ventured into Imperial City for the first time this year. I’ve mainly done low-level BG’s but did some level 50 ones during Mid-Year Mayhem. I joined a PvP Zerg Guild in the Vivec Campaign a couple of months ago and have frequented Cyrodiil ever since. It’s been crazy fun and I’ve learnt so much!

I am certainly looking forward to what ESO has in store for us in 2019. I’m particularly curious to see what changes they make to the racial passives especially for Nords (by far the best race in the game). I’m also looking forward to exploring the new zones they release and the stories we’ll get to experience.

I really hope the devs focus a bit on PvP. There’s a lot they need to do to improve and fix PvP (which I’ll discuss in another article). But needless to say, performance in C needs to be a top priority.

Rich Lambert in his closing remarks for 2018 hinted that they had some special things in store for us to celebrate ESO’s 5 year Anniversary. I’m sure it won’t be too long until we start learning more about what’s to come and I can’t wait!

2019 is almost upon us, and it’s going to be a huge year for The Elder Scrolls Online. I can’t say too much just yet, and it is incredibly difficult to have to hold back details, but ESO will be 5 years old next year – a huge milestone for us and the community! As such, next year’s story and adventure will be something truly special for all Elder Scrolls Online players. We are so excited to be able to share it with you soon, and we can’t wait to see how you all put all the pieces together starting early next year.

Categories
Blog

Zerging 101 – The Joys and Pitfalls of the Zerg Machine

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for me since I joined a Zerg Guild. But honestly, I’ve never had so much fun PvPing in my entire life.

For the uninitiated, let me explain what a Zerg is. Basically, it is a large coordinated group of people working together in a PvP environment usually following the instructions of a single leader (or in our case, usually two). Zerg compositions and the number of people involved may vary but the result is the same, total carnage in their wake. And let me tell you, it’s exhilarating!

There’s nothing like being part of a horde of people going up against another horde of people and annihilating them with precision tactics and coordination. Or capturing a Keep where you’re outnumbered. Or running a scroll while chasing down another scroll. Even riding with a large group of people to battle on horseback gives you that epic ‘Lord of the Rings’ feeling.

The only real downside of running with a Zerg, especially one that runs in peak time, is that it does get pretty laggy. It’s not something that bothers me too much (most of the time) since I have plenty of experience with laggy Open World PvP playing The Old Republic. So I’m used to playing in laggy conditions. The main difference is ESO can handle a lot more people in one spot fighting better then SWTOR will ever be able to. So it’s a bit more tolerable–not that there aren’t bad nights where you’re continually getting kicked out of the game or aren’t properly able to execute your abilities. But all in all, it’s still fun.

Turning Grass off, reducing Maximum Particle Systems and Particle Suppression Distance down really low and turning Shadows down to medium has definitely helped me. I still lag out here and there but it happens less and I’ve yet to run into a ‘texture line’ bug since reducing my graphics.

When it comes to the community perception of Zergs, it varies. Much like the perception of ‘premades’ in pretty much every MMO with PvP, you either love them or hate them.

So inevitably, rolling with a large group of people tends to attract a lot of opposition and saltiness (even from your own faction???). When it comes to our Zerg, we’re not bothered by it or the consequences for that matter. We don’t care about the spies. The other factions knowing what we’re doing ultimately means more opposition and the increased chance of challenging fights. So we say, bring it on!

Lately, Zergs are also being blamed for recent heightened game performance issues in Cyrodiil. I certainly disagree with that assertion. As we discussed recently in our Discord, we’re simply playing the game as advertised. It’s ZOS’s fault that Cyrodiil is laggy and having increased difficulty functioning with lots of players casting abilities in one spot.

The primary role I’ve played since joining the Guild is Heals. I’ve healed on both my Templar and Warden and I have to say, I definitely prefer my Warden. I find Magicka management not only easier on my Warden but I enjoy the playstyle and feel of her better than my Templar. I have also played my Support Stam Sorc (aka Rapids spammer) a couple of times.

Our Zerg is probably the largest one on Vivec NA. On a typical night, we run with 48 people easily. Our large numbers and the casual nature of the Guild allows us to be less strict on classes and roles than other Zergs. It certainly allowed me to try out different setups and abilities on both my Templar and Warden healers.

The thing I love the most about the Guild is that it has a drama free, friendly and chill environment that I crave from Guilds. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some basic rules, recommended builds and abilities classes and roles are expected to run. But the atmosphere is very relaxed and it’s a great place to learn about PvP and ask questions. Perfect for someone like me who is still learning the ropes of ESO PvP.

If you PvP Pact on PC NA in Vivec and are willing to hop onto Discord to listen to instructions, I can invite you to <Army of the Pact>. We accept anyone regardless of their PvP experience.