SWTOR: In trouble after Makeb

makebI never thought that finishing up an expansion would be a cause for consternation instead of celebration, but here I am.

I guess my SWTOR Operative was a lot further along in the Makeb storyline than I realized, because it took but two nights to finish up the planet. Storywise, I have to report that it was decent but not great. I’m sent there as part of a team to secure some powerful substance known as isotope-5, but other than being “powerful” I’m rather fuzzy on how it’s much more than the MacGuffin of the week. Lots of running around, killing things, and doing covert activities to save the planet (which was tearing itself apart) and get rid of both the Hutts and the Republic.

Part of the narrative problem was that it’s rather difficult to really sell the imminent danger of a planet coming apart when it’s been coming apart for well over a year now with no significant change. Sure, you can show tremors from earthquakes (sorry, groundquakes) and a delightfully jagged landscape and lasers shooting down those giant techno-holes that Star Wars excels in creating, but I was having a hard time buying into it.

I thought it did redeem itself in the end with some tough choices and a rather shocking cliffhanger. Let me say that HK-51 was not pleased with my constant decisions to be all light side; I think my affection with him is -555 right now. Gonna have to buy that droid a whole lot of birthday presents.

So why am I freaking out a bit? Because Makeb is done… and I’m only level 52. Well, almost 53, but still. I’m a couple of levels shy of going into the Shadows of Revan expansion, which means that I need to make up this XP deficit somehow. I thought I did all of the quests I saw, but I guess not.

Thus, I’m heading back to Section X for a string of dailies, which I plan to suppliment with some flashpoint runs. As a filthy F2P player, I can only get boss loot from three flashpoints a week, but I don’t really think I’ll be able to do many more than that anyway with my schedule. So we’ll see how this goes, but I anticipate it being a while before I hit 55 and can head to Rishi. Any quick leveling suggestions would be welcome!

LOTRO: Getting to know Gondor

h1Got this helmet the other day — a new model, at least to me. It’s decidedly unusual, and I’m on the fence whether or not I like it. I kind of do and kind of don’t, but I’m trying it out for a while.

h2Going through Gondor in LOTRO thus far has been an educating experience. Of all of the main regions/countries of the Lord of the Rings, it’s the one that I know the least. In the movies, Gondor is primarily two cities — Osgiliath and Minas Tirith — and just that. But the game is providing a lot more context as I make my way from west to east.

For starters, I never pictured Gondor as a coastal nation, but I guess it is and that definitely changes the atmosphere. Kind of Mediterranean. Past the landscape, Gondor has its own architecture (which we have seen in ruins throughout the game): large stone/marble structures with swan and wing motifs. Coming from the rustic log cabins of Rohan, it’s quite a switch. You get the sense that this is the cradle of a much older civilization than much of what we’ve seen of Man lands to date (especially back in Bree-land).

h3The residents haven’t been having an easy go of it as of late. Gondor doesn’t have to just worry about an army pouring out of Mordor, I guess, as it also has a plague of corsairs plus (why not) an army of restless dead assailing it from all sides. And since the population is frozen in fear and non-scripting, it’s up to me to wage a one-woman army and save the day.

I’ve been growing in appreciation of my halberd, and not just because it’s a second ager. It’s got a good animation to it and I definitely feel martial when I’m wielding it.

Battle Bards Episode 45: Rock on!

bardThis week the Bards have invited long-time friend and listener Belghast to join them — and to pick the topic for the show! Bel picked a fun and unusual theme: Rocking out with electric guitars. Do MMOs and rock mix? On this particular episode they do!

Episode 45 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Blue Turns to Greyfrom Tabula Rasa, “Battle on the Big Bridge Reborn” from FFXIV, and “Prologue” from Castlevania SOTN)
  • “Titan Battle Theme” from FFXIV
  • “Alonewolf” from Rusty Hearts
  • “Toko” from Granado Espada
  • “Character Select/Map Load” from Heroes of the Storm
  • “New Conglomerate Main Theme” from PlanetSide 2
  • “Malicia’s Finale” from DDO
  • “Lucid Dreaming” from Aion
  • What track did we like the best?
  • Mail from Akiranon
  • Outro

Listen to episode 45 now!

SWTOR: Operative back in business

hk1A couple of serendipitous events transpired yesterday that prompted me to dig out my SWTOR Operative from long-term storage. A reader made mention of swapping for HK-51 as a companion, which reminded me how I had just acquired the assassin droid on Yeti and never got much play time with him at my side. Then I was talking with a friend who is leading a guild on my server but on the Imperial side. And finally I started thinking about how it’d be nice to jump up to a character who is on the first expansion and is already decked out with good gear, full light side points, affection’d up companions, and whatnot.

Anyway, enough of the why — I logged into Yeti and found myself in a world of confusion.

It’s one thing to log back into a game after a long absence or revisit a low-level toon. But it’s orders of magnitude more bewildering when it’s been a few expansions and you pick back up a high-level character that you used to know inside-out only to realize that it’s a practical stranger to you.

That screenshot right up there? That’s me standing in the midst of an enemy camp who-knows-where spending 20 straight minutes trying to make sense of my hotbar and all of the discipline changes. I think I got straight-up killed eight seconds into my first fight because I had no idea what was going on.

hk2Instead of trying to muddle it out on the fly, I decided that it would be wisest to retreat back to the fleet and regroup in peace. It was there that I realized that one of the reasons I was dying so quickly is that all of my former artifact gear was unequpped — the last time I was on this character, I was a sub, and now that I’m F2P I can’t use it any more. So I ponied up for an artifact unlock as well as (why not) a white-and-pink dye module to shout to the world that I am all that is man.

Well, all that is man who plays a blue-skinned female character.

Properly geared, I turned my attention to my build. My new guild leader pointed me in the direction of a good 3.0 DPS guide for Operatives, and I spent a lot of time pouring over the changes and trying to figure out how all of this was going to work. I decided to try lethality first, just because I’ve always liked DoTs and long-range attacks, but I may switch to Concealment for a simpler setup if I can’t get used to it.

Feeling more sorted out, I returned to Makeb, grabbed a spiffy buff that I guess the devs threw in to help weirdos like me finish up the planet, and headed back into the fray. I did a lot better this time, slowly getting used to the new rotation. I’m still not thrilled how much I have to keep flicking my eyes all over the screen to see how many tactical advantages I have, what cooldowns are up, what DoTs are up on the bad guys, etc. But I was killing better and HK-51 was doing a spectacular job cleaning up behind me.

I even took on a rather involved solo boss fight with a giant isotope-5 droid. It required me to continually run around the room to activate turrets, deactivate laser beams, avoid bombardments, and fight smaller droids. The whole deal took me around ten minutes, but in the end I was victorious.

As a side note, my decision not to plunge the facility — and my teammates — into boiling liquid magma was derided by HK-51. I think my light side nature may rub him the wrong way.

Not for the first time do I wish that SWTOR would let you switch advanced classes. I was digging the gunslinger fight style on my Smuggler and would LOVE to have a sniper rifle as an IA (they look so dang cool). But I guess I’ll have to be content with heals and stealthing instead!

Monday morning tidbits

sclNo one major topic for this Monday morning, so how about a bunch of smaller ones?

As heartbroken as I was to see BioWare can the promising Shadow Realms, I can now take solace in another title that was announced this past week: Sword Coast Legends. This is a straight-foward D&D title that not only has a single and co-op campaign, but another mode in which a player can assume the role of the dungeon master for his or her friends. This feature is what I was most excited for in Shadow Realms, so I’m eager to see how SCL might run with this concept. A more modern Neverwinter Nights, perhaps?

I finished up Seeds of Truth in Guild Wars 2 over the weekend, which brings my progress in the game up to… oh, December 2, 2014? So just a little over two months behind of the crowd, oh well. While I liked the time travel/play Caithe mechanics of it, the story was so much fluff that didn’t answer anything. Why did Caithe steal the egg? I don’t know, let’s go through three long missions to figure that out and still not have any sort of resolution. And one of those was a stealth mission! Listen, MMO devs, if you’re going to make me do a stealth mission, then there’d better be the best reward in the universe after it to justify the pain that it takes to get through these.

More faffing about on Alderaan in SWTOR; still stuck on that planet. Kind of wish I had had more time to take advantage of the 2X experience boost over the weekend, but I didn’t and oh well. I will say this: I am ready to switch to a companion that doesn’t speak to me only in Ewokeese. Unfortunately, right now my other options are a taller hairball that speaks Wookieese, a prissy non-combat robot, and Corso. I am going to have to hold out a little bit longer.

My computer’s hard drive is getting so dang full that I’m having difficulties keeping all of the games on it that I want. I could get another drive, but at this point I may be holding out for a new rig altogether. So I did take off WildStar, H1Z1, the a few other smaller titles.

As for LOTRO, I probably gamed the most there this weekend but I’m going to save thoughts on that until tomorrow.