hyperspace beacon

Hyperspace Beacon is a Star Wars: The Old Republic column by Larry Everett. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Hyperspace Beacon: Where can SWTOR go from here?

Have you ever watched a great movie and ever wished that the director would make a sequel but also not make a sequel, all at the same time? More often, we are usually begging for a sequel only to be disappointed by it. Star Wars had the exact opposite effect to on me. I thought the sequel was better than the original. However, when Return of the Jedi released, I can’t say that I was begging for a sequel to that. I’m not a fool; I wanted more Star Wars movies, but we hit the happily-ever-after moment. The story was done.

I won’t dive too far into the spoiler territory just yet, but it’s safe to say that with Knights of the Eternal Throne that the story for Star Wars: The Old Republic is done.

There have been some movies that wrapped up nicely that also did well when they received a sequel. The Terminator is the first example that comes to my mind. The sequel did just as well as the original, but that is rarer than the opposite happening. Although the Star Wars universe continued to turn with the books, when the creator went back to tell the beginning of the story, it fell flat. I have a fear that the same thing likely could happen to the story in SWTOR.

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Hyperspace Beacon: What to expect from SWTOR’s Knight of the Eternal Throne

After some of the major flaws with Knights of the Fallen Empire, I wasn’t expecting much from Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s latest expansion Knights of the Eternal Throne. It was more than clear, given the last two chapters of KOTFE, that the previous expansion was a setup for the current expansion. In fact, that’s probably the biggest flaw for KOTET: It doesn’t stand on its own. However, BioWare has taken lessons from its previous mistakes and made an expansion that not only is entertaining as a story — which BioWare has never had a problem with — but features mechanics that are interesting and a vast improvement over the boring murder-tunnels of the last expansion.

Games ultimately prompt us to ask the question, “Is it worth the money?” I don’t have an exact quantifiable measurement for fun had in a game versus its cost, but if we took my typical judgment that one fun hour should equal to one dollar spent, then at the cost of $15 dollars for a month’s subscription (which earns you the expansion), it’s a steal. I did have a couple of hours of interruptions, but I started playing the expansion when it first launched at 9 a.m until about 3 a.m. last night. I could have given my first impression on the first few chapters of the expansion, but the truth is that I didn’t want to stop playing.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Analyzing SWTOR’s Uprising group content

Star Wars: The Old Republic dropped a treat this week by allowing fansites to tour Knights of the Eternal Throne. Although we can now see the first chapter of KOTET on YouTube, that’s not the story that I want to learn about now. Don’t get me wrong; the story of KOTET is very important to me, and I really want meaningful and impactful choices. But seeing someone else play through the chapters at this point is only going to set me up for spoilers and disappointment, especially since there is only one story for every player and every character.

Group content is far more important at this stage because it’s part of what makes the game feel bigger, and it’s been a weak point for BioWare for the last year. So let’s take a look at some of the fansites that released playthrough videos of both the story mode and veteran modes of the Crimson Fang Uprising: SWTOR Central and Kid Lee. They don’t offer much commentary on what was happening during the gameplay. They did mention if things were more or less difficult but offered little in the area of why or how certain things worked. I don’t fault them for that; it’s difficult to make commentary while fighting for your character’s life. Today, I will dive deeper into the Uprisings and the things we can glean from the video playthroughs.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five class changes to watch out for in SWTOR 5.0

Even if you are not subscribing for the impending Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne, you will be subject to the class changes that come with the 5.0 update. Because characters can reach level 70 when 5.0 drops on November 29th, we will see a rebalance of every single advanced class. And as it is about many things with KOTET, my opinion is very much on the fence when it comes to the upcoming adjustments.

Although Community Manager Eric Musco has repeatedly warned players that we should not take anything as final until the official patch notes are released, the series of posts he made on the official forums do give us the broad strokes and vision behind the changes to the classes. The one word that best describes the changes coming with 5.0 is “streamlined.” In the past, some expansions have attempted to make the characters seem more powerful, but this time around it’s more about refining your character’s role and playstyle and removing the extra junk.

With that in mind, I’d like to dive a little deeper into the upcoming changes to give you the five biggest class changes to watch out for.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Are Uprisings the SWTOR group content we’ve been looking for?

As we step closer to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s next expansion, BioWare spills more and more information about the content we will soon see on the live servers. We’ve talked about the Command Ranks and new endgame gearing process, but there is certainly more to what Knights of the Eternal Throne will offer, some of that being group-focused content. However, I question whether it is the content we are looking for. Is the addition of Uprisings too little too late, not what we are looking for at all, or just right?

I don’t know that I’m going to have the answers we’re looking for in this article today, but I do hope to post the right questions to give us food for thought. Despite the negative trend in public opinion toward SWTOR‘s upcoming content, I would like to pose some of the positives that they are bringing to the table and discuss how it’s possible the developers could swing the game around.

As I said, I don’t know that I have all the answers, but let’s dive into what we know.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Outside-the-box Star Wars The Old Republic gameplay

For some reason, this time of year always seems to be a down time in the activity of large-scale MMORPG development. Although Star Wars: The Old Republic is a bit of an exception to that rule with its new expansion coming out in about a month, there are still many people kind of standing around wondering what to do. I am not one of those people. In fact, my friends and I have done something kind of crazy: We started a new guild in what would likely be considered a very low time for the game. The crazier part is that it seems to be thriving.

We have gone from about four active members a day to about 20 or more concurrent players on a night in about a week. I’ve lost track of how many people log on in a day. I know there are bigger guilds out there, and I don’t claim to know all the secrets. However, I do think that what my friends and I have done is significant, and you might be interested in it too, especially if you’re an old-school gamer.

When I say old-school gamer, what I mean is a pre-videogame gamer. I mean tabletop gamer. During this huge lull in actual game content, we have taken this time to make our own game out of SWTOR by introducing pen-and-paper mechanics to the things we do. If roleplay in an MMORPG hasn’t interested you before, it might interest you now.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Examining SWTOR’s contentious 5.0 endgame gear grind

If you didn’t watch the Star Wars: The Old Republic livestream on Monday, then you missed Creative Director Charles Boyd, Producer Ben Irving, and Community Manager Eric Musco give a brief overview of the new endgame content for SWTOR 5.0: Knights of the Eternal Throne. Although there are many components to the new max-level content, it can all be summed up under the Galactic Command interface.

As a general design concept, I’m on board with the Galactic Command. Most of the components touch on exactly what SWTOR was needing and make some of the endgame confusion for new players vanish. The Galactic Command takes all the elements of max-level content and ties them all together into a nifty little package. Repeatable Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne chapters, operations, dailies and heroics, flashpoints, galactic starfighter, warzones, and the new group content Uprisings all appear on the new interface, allowing players to see exactly what can be done at max level and also queue immediately for any or all of those activities.

And then? There’s Command Rank gear.

Lately, I have felt that BioWare has taken two steps back for one step forward. It has been losing players, especially endgame players, with every new activity that its designers release. However, Galactic Command might be the first time in a while that BioWare has taken two steps forward and only one step back. Let’s talk about the steps forward first, then we’ll get to the big one back.

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Tamriel Infinium vs Hyperspace Beacon: Three ways to make lockboxes work better in MMORPGs

Last week, I stirred up a hornet’s nest by bringing up the topic of lockboxes and how I really didn’t mind them in general.

Hyperspace Beacon and Tamriel Infinium are our biweekly columns on Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online, respectively. Both are penned by Larry Everett. Today’s edition is a mash-up of both.
It’s an important topic given that Elder Scrolls Online just released its version of lockboxes in its last update and Star Wars: The Old Republic has run into its share of controversial situations regarding its lockboxes. I’d like to continue that discussion this week.

I mentioned in the article last week and many times in the comments that I have some major caveats to how I think lockboxes should work, and I mentioned that neither ESO or SWTOR actually handles lockboxes well. Both have their good points, but neither does it perfectly.

This week, I’d like to dive into what could make lockboxes simultaneously viable for studio funding and far less frustrating for the customer. If lockboxes are here to stay, why not try to fix them? Let’s look at three ways to make lockboxes better — for everyone.

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Hyperspace Beacon vs. Tamriel Infinium: An unpopular opinion on SWTOR and ESO lockboxes

I expect to come under fire for the opinion I’m expressing today for a couple of reasons.

Hyperspace Beacon and Tamriel Infinium are our biweekly columns on Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online, respectively. Both are penned by Larry Everett. Today’s edition is a mash-up of both.
First, I know that many people have very strong opinions regarding lockboxes, including some other writers here at Massively OP. Second, my opinion will likely put me at odds with a lot of the people who visit this site. I would like to state right up front that anything expressed in this article today is my opinion alone and should not be taken as a reflection of the opinion of this site or any other person who writes for it.

With Elder Scrolls Online introducing lockboxes, we have lost what was pretty much the last vestige free from virtual gambling. Some ignorant people have accused me and this site for not calling lockboxes what they are: gambling packs. (In fact, we have called them out, repeatedly.) That is what they are; except you don’t ever get your money back, as you would if gambling. That is one reason game studios can get away with not calling it gambling, although that’s exactly what it is. I understand that there are legal implications when calling them gambling packs, so I guess I understand why game developers avoid calling them exactly what they are.

However, I don’t have issue with lockboxes in principle, and in some ways, I encourage game developers to continue making them. But this wouldn’t be much of an article if I ended it there.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Five things BioWare needs to do to keep SWTOR players around

I write a lot of words about Star Wars: The Old Republic. And over this last year, the Knights of the Fallen Empire has done some really great things, like adding level-scaling, presenting a compelling story, and making all companions viable again. However, I think it can be agreed that KOTFE also took some steps backward as well.

We are in a content lull right now, so I know that people have been stepping away from the game because of that. However, many of the major players and fan sites started to drop off well before the KOTFE chapters were actually finished, and I’ve really had to take a step back and ponder that. In asking why, I believe that I’ve come up with five things that BioWare can do in the next expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne, that will help bring some of the people back, or at very least, entice players to stick around.

Be warned: There are spoilers ahead!

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s bonus chapter wins because of story

As threatened, the Shroud is back and like you’ve never seen him before. Seriously, you’ve never seen the Shroud like this. Star Wars: The Old Republic released its bonus chapter for its expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. This was an intended loyalty reward for those who have been subscribed to the game since January, although there are reports of some people who were not subscribed that whole time actually receiving the bonus chapter. But most of the cases that I heard were those who were unsubscribed for only a day or two.

Of course, everyone will want me to jump in and tell you what I thought of it, but like everything with BioWare, there appears to be no easy answer. In order to really give you a feel for what I thought of it, I will have to break it down into two parts: story and gameplay. But where do I start? Let’s take the sandwich approach and talk about the good things first.

As always, I will not spoil any major twist or plot points in my review, but I will talk about some of the things that happen during the course of the chapter so that you can, as players, make your own decisions about the content.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The Shroud of Star Wars The Old Republic

I’m going to hit you again with some lore this week from Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, I promise that there will be a lot less speculation and a little more factual information because we are going to talk about a character who is reemerging for the bonus Knights of the Fallen Empire chapter Shroud of Memory. Some of you might be thinking that I’m going to talk about HK-55 or the HK series of droids in general, but you’d be wrong. I want to talk about the central figure in my absolute favorite series of quests, the macrobinocular quests: the Shroud.

I have played through every storyline in SWTOR. I have played through every operation and every piece of group content. I’ve downed every boss and even explored some places I was supposed to go. (Ask me about Belsavis on Twitter.) Out of all of those places and questlines, my favorite series of quests is still the Shroud series that released at the same time as first expansion for SWTOR, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. Give me a few moments to explain why this series was my favorite and why I am excited that this character is coming back to SWTOR.

For those who’ve not played through the macrobinocular questline, I will not spoil it. Promise. Continue reading.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Who is Star Wars The Old Republic’s Emperor Valkorion?

I took a look back at some of my previous Hyperspace Beacons and noticed that I have really never talked about the Sith Emperor, who has been the primary focus of Star Wars: The Old Republic since the game launched about five years ago. I’ve sprinkled hints here and there, but I’ve never really dedicated a whole article to the most powerful force user in the entirety of the Star Wars universe. I think I will remedy that today.

But I’m not just going to give you an article about the Sith Emperor; I will also dive deep into my speculations surrounding this mysterious figure and who he might actually be. I was recently speaking to a fellow roleplayer about the Sith Emperor and where he might have come from. He said that my theory was amazing and said, “You should write for BioWare.” I don’t know that my theory was that great, but I believe that it makes the most sense given the personality changes between person we knew as Lord Vitiate and Emperor Valkorion.

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