Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s 12x XP leveling guide and Ziost’s finale

Happy Revenge of the Fifth! Because this column comes out on Tuesday, I’m a wee bit behind on wishing you a happy Star Wars day, but that said, some very important things happened yesterday. Not only was there exciting news in the Star Wars theatrical universe, but Star Wars: The Old Republic started its 12x XP and opened up the rest of Ziost.

I’d like to cover those two areas today. First, I want to give you a guide on how to prepare yourself properly for 12x XP so that you get the most out of it. Believe it or not, if you do 12x XP “wrong,” it can kill some of the fun. And I’d also like to talk about the second part of Ziost. If you saw my livestream yesterday, then you saw the spoiler, but I will try not to spoil anything that hasn’t already been spoiled by the Shadow of Revan expansion.

hsb-mop-12x-monolith

Gaining the 12x XP bonus

The idea behind 12x XP is that you can level up a character to max level just by doing the class story quests. As any SWTOR fan will tell you, the best parts of the game are the class story quests. Of course, there will be a huge debate over which class story is the best, but that’s an argument for another time.

Right now, I’d like to talk to you about how to make the most of your 12x XP bonus. And that starts by getting the XP bonus in the first place. You do have to be a subscriber to get the XP bonus. Here’s a little-known hint for those looking to get back into the game: If you were a subscriber and haven’t subbed for 90 days or more, you can follow my refer-a-friend link and play as a subscriber for seven days. This will give you the 12x XP bonus. You also gain a free server transfer if your server happens to not have the population you like. (My server is The Ebon Hawk if you’re wondering.) I don’t want to turn this into a big ad for my refer-a-friend because that’s not what this is about, but I should mention that if you don’t have an account, you can click the link and gain other rewards outlined on the refer-a-friend page. Everybody wins!

216 is the magic number

hsb-mop-12x-greeIf you’ve never run through the planetary missions, I do recommend that you turn off the 12x XP for that character. Once you leave the starter world, you’ll end up on the Republic or Imperial Fleet. There in Combat section of the main space station sits a Gree (a squid-like creature) vendor that will sell you a White Acute Module. This will temporarily turn off 12x XP so that you are not grossly overleveled for the planet when you get there.

If you are willing to just do the story quests, then you need to prepare yourself ahead of time so that 12x XP doesn’t become overwhelming. In order for it to work the best, you should already have a character above level 50 or one with a good chunk of basic commendations. These can be earned via heroic instances or a random drop from an elite mob. The magic number of basic comms that you need for the leveling process is 216.

Hopefully, you have enough reputation to gain a set of legacy-bound gear from a reputation vendor from Section X, The Gree Event, or some other place with a rep vendor — there are many of them. If you don’t, then I recommend that you buy the cheapest orange (adaptive) gear from the Galactic Trade Market or from the Cartel Market. In fact, I’d recommend getting four sets. This can be done by unlocking it in the Collection UI or simply buying four sets from the GTN or reputation vendor.

Modify your armor

Now that you have four empty sets of armor, it’s time to put modifications in. In the Supplies area of the fleet, about 24 vendors stand behind different counters. They are labeled by level, and they are either armor or modification vendors. There are only four vendors that we are concerned with: levels 17, 29, 37, and 45 modification vendors. You might want to wait to buy from the level 49 vendor if you are unfamiliar with the class because the last boss can be tricky.

No matter your eventual role, I recommend that you level up as a DPS class. Mobs will die faster and your healing companion or tanking companion will do well enough to keep you alive as needed. Taking that advice that means that the item modifications that you need will center around two stats: your main stat, which varies based on your class, and power. Pick the armoring and mod from the modification vendor that has the most of your main stat. Warriors and Knights pick strength, Inquisitors and Consulars pick willpower, Agents and Smugglers pick cunning, and Troopers and Bounty Hunters pick aim. The lower level enhancements will probably not have the power stat on them, but when you see an enhancement with power on it, then buy that. Endurance, which is your health stat, will likely be on each of the modifications, but in the overall scheme of leveling, your health pools isn’t the most important.

hsb-mop-12x-pocessed

Grand total

Each piece of armor takes one armoring, one modification, and one enhancement. If you add those to the modifications and enhancements of your main and offhand weapons and then add the armoring, hilt, or barrel that you need for the weapons, you have 27 different modifications. Each modification costs 2 basic comms each, which means each set of armor plus weapons will cost 54 basic comms. And since you will need to replace your armor only about once every 10 levels starting at 17 and ending at 50, you will need a total of four sets, costing a total of 216 basic comms — the magic number.

If you want to gear your companion similarly, then obviously, double the number. However, if you get Treek and play a Trooper or Bounty Hunter, she can just get your hand-me-down gear.

Now, you are ready to go do your class quests. Fly! Be free! But most of all have fun.

A surprise ending for Ziost

Lastly, I want to talk about the latest part of Ziost that was added yesterday. Although my hopes were extremely high for the planet, my expectations were low. I didn’t expect anything monumental or game-changing considering that it was just an update and not an expansion. In the end, we gained another daily area and a new operations boss. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have a guide about the cost versus payout for the daily area, but the most important part for me had nothing to do with the actual quest mechanics.

For the first time in a long time, I was extremely surprised at the direction of the storyline. Without giving away the actual story, let’s compare what happened in the story to another BioWare story: Knights of the Old Republic. The biggest reveal and ah-ha moment in that game was that your character was Revan. However, there was a moment well before that it was revealed that you were Revan that had a pretty big impact on me: Malak bombarding Taris. It was shocking and gave me the feels. Although the Ziost storyline was different, it did evoke those same emotions. So I give a point to BioWare writer Charles Boyd for that one.

If you’re looking for the full spoiler version, I suggest you play it yourself or watch my Twitch VOD playthrough of the whole Ziost story that I recorded last night.

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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BrainAdams
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BrainAdams

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SpikeBrooks
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SpikeBrooks

I’d just to make one correction, unless my math is wrong.
You said there were 27 modifications needed, but there are 7 pieces of armor, one mainhand and one offhand. Times 3 that would be 27, but the belt and bracers only have two slots for modifications, and that brings us to 9*3-2=25. At 2 comms a piece, it is 50 comms every time you slot your items. Doing this 4 times gets you a magic number of 200. Not too shabby.
Thanks for the article, it helps me a lot, I just wanted to point out that part.

Dalishal
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Dalishal

Hi I have watched some stuff of yours on twitch and podcasts. Good stuff.
just started playing SWTOR seriously about a month and a half ago. I was introduced to and guided along by a friend who plays. I should mention this is my first mmo. When left on my own, I have not maximised my time and resources appropriately I think. Unfortunately my friend and I live indifferent time zones so this happens a bit. And I committed the cardinal sin of not turning off 12xp. :/
First and probably main character is a lvl 50 Sage Healer. Any advice on what to do now? Im in a guild, and just starting on group tactics traing. Guildies slowly coming back to the game so no real group activities yet. And friend introduced me to the lvl 50 basic gear vender with the ugly armor…

Shirvington
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Shirvington

DanielBeamish  If you are a subscriber, you are getting 12x exp and either 8 or 12 comms per class mission. The comms aren’t a quest reward until midway through Drommand Kaas, though, as you’ve probably seen.

Mansemat
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Mansemat

JakeDunnegan Mansemat I’ve only been playing one character right now. Good news though. Even though I had a mandatory name change I was able to use the same name. Go figure. I’m hoping the rest of my characters are as lucky. 

So I’ve been playing my Sith Juggernaut and I’ve been using just green drops up till now and running around with Malvai Quinn since he heals. I haven’t been having any problems except for some rather bad lag and have been thoroughly enjoying the story which is what originally got me hooked on the game. Although now I’m stuck. I’m on a specific mission that is making me use Jaesa Williams so I’ve lost my heals from Quinn and this particular mission is rather hard as I’m supposed to be attacking with an entire army going after some Rebel General. I had to choose which of my companions did what in the mission but Quinn was never an option. So I can’t even get passed the regular mobs on my way to my mission because there are too many of them. Groups in the area consist of two standard mobs, a dual saber weilding Jedi, and an elite battle droid of some type. Do you think I should break down and use some of my commendations to get some better gear at this point to see if I can get past this area?

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Mansemat JakeDunnegan Since I was subscriber since launch, I was able to keep all my names, even one as common as “Agile” – which, considering I was subjected to at least two server moves that I know of, that’s pretty impressive. We even kept our guild name through the first one, and lost it on the second. ;) 

My wife, on the other hand, who was never as much of a fan as I was, didn’t keep her account active and lost her family/legacy name, as well as several of her character names on the second server move. 

I don’t blame them, though, for giving priority to people who are paying customers. I remember when WoW sent me emails saying that if I didn’t log in, I’d lose my name, and I didn’t bother.. most of my names were pretty crappy anyway, since that was a mob scene in trying to get your “typical” name, even back when it launched in 2004.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

DanielBeamish

You get 12 times experience on class missions, not 12 times commendations ;). You should be seeing your XP show a different color, which indicates you’re getting the 12x bonus for class missions. All the side missions give the same experience as before. The commendations simply help you level up faster as you’ll die less and kill things faster from having very good gear.

You’ll probably be fine in any case, even with green gear, if you don’t have the spare commendations as Larry mentions in the 6th paragraph above – he also mentions turning off the 12x XP if you’ve never done the side quests, which, I agree, you’ll miss a lot of the actual game if you don’t do them at least once on each side. There’s plenty of time to level up characters on the 12xp bonus (it’s going to be here till approximately Thanksgiving) to still get the chance to thoroughly enjoy all the voiced over quests in the game.

But, even if you don’t do that, he mentions getting a character to 50 – which, also a good thing as that will give you points in your legacy which will also give you a highier presence stat and make your companions very powerful. Leveling becomes a total breeze on your second character, practically no matter what you do. ;)

DanielBeamish
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DanielBeamish

Hello, just got back to SWTOR. I am curious on the comms things. I know they rolled basic and planetary into one, but im not seeing the 12 per class story? I just started an Agent and am on D. Kaas now. Maybe you dont see them on the first planet class missions?

Mansemat
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Mansemat

JakeDunnegan  It’s not that big of a deal now that I’ve had the opportunity to laugh about it after bringing up the “first world problems” thing that reminded me of Weird Al. It was just aggravating at the time.  :)

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Mansemat ;) In all fairness, the game did launch in late 2011. ;) Probably had 4 years of development.. they hadn’t quite thought up @Name handles yet :)