Hyperspace Beacon: Datamining suggests big changes for SWTOR’s companions

It might be a little hypocritical of me to read into the datamined information from Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s upcoming patch 5.6, but I’d be failing at my job if I didn’t at least take a look. Of course, I’m not a fan of much of the datamined stuff because it leads to abhorrent speculation and misjudging, but there is one part of the most recent datamined info that has me kind of excited… excited about crafting, of all things.

So before we dive in, I should mention that datamined information might never make it in the game and that datamining itself is against the terms of service. And much of the datamined information can be and usually is taken completely out of context. That means that I want you to take everything that I’m about to write with a grain of salt. It probably means nothing, but every once in awhile, it’s fun to tread in places you’re not supposed to go. So if you would like to speculate with me, let’s talk about some very interesting changes that could potentially come to your companions.

Spoilers for Update 5.6 mechanics

Jedipedia, who also runs an amazing website that will never be a part of the official influencer program but should be, posted on the SWTOR subReddit a giant list of items that were datamined from Update 5.6: a Traitor Among the Chiss. Now, he posted some major plot spoilers there, too, so I do not recommend reading everything that he posts. But in one of his posts talks about changes that are coming to crafting or more specifically how your companions interact with your crafting. Here’s the raw text:

Primary traits:

  • A Combatant is proficient in Combat missions.
  • An Underworld Trader is proficient in Underworld Trading missions.
  • A Scavenger is proficient in Scavenging missions
  • A Technician is proficient in Engineering missions.

Secondary traits:

  • Cold-Blooded: Effective for missions in a frozen environment (llum, Hoth, Alderaan, Belsavis, Ziost): increases credit gain by 30%, reduces mission cost by 10%.
  • Jedi Slayer: Effective for missions that have Jedi as enemies: increases CXP gain by 200 upon mission success, increases the companion’s Power by 15%.
  • Droid Buddy: Effective when going on a mission with a Droid companion: increases XP gain by 15% upon mission success, guaranteed a loot package of crafting material.
  • Leadership: Effective for Combat missions: increase the companion’s Power by 20%, reduce mission duration by 15%, increase the Influence gain by 100 of all companions on the mission upon success.

I do like that Jedipedia says that he does not have any details yet. It’s basically his speculate-at-your-own-risk warning. So that will serve as my warning, too. I have no idea whether what I’m about to speculate on is true. Maybe it’s my wishful thinking, but maybe it’s my years of experience with MMORPGs telling me that this is the most likely scenario for the game.

My speculations

I believe we are looking at distinctions between our companion characters. The datamined info just calls them traits, but more specifically, I believe that they are like personality traits. And these personality traits will give specific bonuses based on where you send the companion on missions.

Let me give you a couple of possibilities that I think we will see. We’ll go Dark Side first. Xalek was originally a Sith Inquisitor companion. He’s a Force User and a vicious Kaleesh warrior. Besides having an amazing voice, he also has a knack for killing everything in sight, so that makes him perfect for the Combatant and Jedi Slayer traits. The primary traits, I believe, are directly related to missions that you send your companion in via the crafting window. As a “Combatant,” he will get bonuses for missions that you send him on that involve combat. But if you have him as your active companion, he will grant you bonuses based on the mission that you are on. If there are Jedi in the mission, you will be granted a CXP increase, and he will hit the Jedi 15% harder.

Another example could be T7-O1. T7 was originally a Jedi Knight companion and a droid. He would likely have the Technician primary trait and Droid Buddy secondary trait. If he were sent on an Engineering mission through the crafting window, then he’d have bonuses. And if I use him as my primary companion on my missions, then I will gain an extra 15% XP and a box of crafting mats when I turn in the mission.

Since 4.0, the launch of Knight of the Fallen Empire, all the companions have been able to do everything and bonuses have been based on your reputation with your companion. With these changes, we are looking at differentiation between the plethora of companions. I have sorely missed mechanical differences. Originally, I wasn’t a big fan of different companions having different bonuses to crafting because of the limited companion types, but now that there are more companions than fingers and toes, it will be nice to have a reason to have one companion over another based on what we’re doing at any given time.

I’m on board

I appreciated that there used to be one companion who was a healer or one that was a tank, but I don’t think that was a good way to differentiate the companions mechanically. It seems to me that this upcoming change – if it happens – might be the best way. Giving the companions different bonuses based on the mission or the enemies being fought makes for an interesting way to encourage companion swapping while not crippling players who do not like one companion or choose to only use one companion type.

Those are my thoughts, and now I’d like to hear yours. We are in speculation mode right now; what do you think that datamined information means? And how would you change the mechanics of the companions to make them more interesting? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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14 Comments on "Hyperspace Beacon: Datamining suggests big changes for SWTOR’s companions"

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Malcolm Swoboda

I’m still waiting for combat traits (or rather, a unique ability per companion that stands it out and makes it a WEE bit better in a role, in their unique way).

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mysecretid

A “unique ability” or “defining trait” per companion woul be a really cool idea.

I suppose one would have to tread carefully, so as not to create a situation where the power gamers are saying things like “you should never use any Star Wars companion except Bounty Hunter Swoboda — unless you’re a LTP noobturd”.

Maybe a choice of traits for each character (1 of 3?) Hmmm. I dunno …

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Malcolm Swoboda

Screw the power gamers in this case. Companions are for 1-3 players and questing etc.

And my sentiment stems from them taking away HK-51’s uniqueness.

Woetoo
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Woetoo

Reading the trait texts quoted here, it reminds me a lot of WoW’s Draenor Garrison missions.

Where each follower/companion has traits which (when levelled) contribute towards the rewards/chance of success of various companion missions.
Especially missions where multiple companions work together and rely on the cumulative bonuses from their various positive traits in order to reach nearer a 100% mission success chance.

The thing that did it most for me is the…

increase the Influence gain by 100 of all companions on the mission upon success.

Which implies (speculation) more than one companion on a mission together.

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mysecretid

It does have a Garrisons feel to it, Woetoo. I’m curious to see where all this might go. Hopefully, somewhere good.

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Sray

I’d have wished for a complete overhaul of combat balance to make companions completely optional in combat. This seems like something that the faithful will like, but I doubt it will have any effect on attracting new and/or former players, but at least they’re doing stuff.

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mysecretid

Aye, Sray — we’re to the point where any movement on development which doesn’t involve tweaking class balance (again) or spitting out yet another repeatable group-content battle can be seen as progress.

Cheers,

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Knox Harrington

I never cared about companions and I still don’t despite how much development time and resources they’ve received over the years. I’d much rather they make some actual content so I have a reason to subscribe.

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

I really wish my romantic interest from the base game returned…thats all i want at this point.

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Jon Sleeper

Has Riisha returned yet? At all?

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mysecretid

No. The only female companions with potential “significant other” status for player-characters who have returned at this point have been Vette (a nice cutscene, as part of a larger story) and Elara Dorne (nothing character-related; she appears almost as an afterthought).

And it’s only been, what, two years now? :-)

Seriously, is anybody driving the bus any more on this purported “story and character” -centric MMORPG? Yeesh. It’s embarassing, and I don’t even work there! :-)

Cheers, Jon,

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Greaterdivinity

I’m fully on board with bringing back some level of uniquness to companions, and especially if it helps break the “ALWAYS USE HIGHEST LEVEL ONE” nonsense for missions etc. I like the KotFE overhaul, but unfortunately they ended up feeling pretty homogenized overall.

Though is it just me, or does this seem like part of a brand new system companion mission overall? Or is this something that was added with KotET that I totally missed, because those parameters don’t seem to line up with anything in-game now that I know of. Getting some serious hints of a WoW Garrison-esque thing going on, which I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled by…

Oh well, datamining is datamining. Time to patiently wait for official info.

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mysecretid

I agree. I liked that the companions were freed up from only being usable in certain situations (i.e. we all have our personal favorites we like to run with), but as you suggest, the balance ended up tipping too much the other way, and they became almost so interchangeable as to be faceless, and a mere min/maxers “walking battle buff”, and nothing more.

Cheers,

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Malcolm Swoboda

Indeed. I like them having a versatility, but it came at the cost (so far) as to make them pointless.

wpDiscuz