It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.
Izax the giant robot cobra
Unfortunately, I don’t really raid anymore. The raiding content for SWTOR wasn’t coming out fast enough or varied enough for my particular raid team. So I cannot give a proper impression of the new and final boss to the Gods of the Machine operation. I have watched many playthroughs of the final fight, and to say that it’s tough is a bit of an understatement.
I have always felt that SWTOR raiding was a bit underrated and under appreciated. The fights are always nuanced and challenging. Of course, they always seem a bit undertuned for a group of players who exclusively raid in the game, but for the average player, the raid bosses were always interesting.
The Gods of the Machines series of fights have a great premise and tie really well into the story of the Eternal Empire. They pull enough influence from the vanilla version of the game where you don’t feel completely pulled out of the setting but are unique enough so that you don’t always feel that you’re fighting the same old tank-and-spank.
On a side note for those who have been watching MJ’s and my livestreams of SWTOR, you might recognize Izax as Darth Jar Jar, the emblem that sits on Valkorion’s chest. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you might want to check out our Stream Team videos.
Conquests get a facelift
When I think about the conquest system for SWTOR, the first issue I think about is not the interface. Putting a new coat of paint on a rotting support beam isn’t going to stop the house from toppling over. Unfortunately, that’s what the BioWare developers did to the conquest system. But that’s not to say that there aren’t good ideas buried in there.
The first good idea is different tiers of conquest rewards and difficulty. In the image above, you can see that my friends at the Unholy Alliance are attempting to conquer Ilum. In that tier, players in the guild need to corporately earn 460,000 conquest points for the character who have met their 20,000 point personal goal to gain the guild rewards. The different tiers have different point goals. For instance, guilds attempting to earn the rewards for Hoth will have to cooperatively earn 2.53 million points. It’s no longer required for guilds to be in the top ten to earn their rewards; they simply have to meet the guild point goal.
The problem with the new conquest system is that there aren’t any real improvements in the individual goals, which make up the bulk of what the conquest system is. Minor improvements were made, especially to crafting, but overall, people are going to feel the same old grind that they have felt for the last few years. And ultimately, it will feel like work, unless you can meet your goals by doing the things that you would normally do for fun.
But let’s end the conquest revamp on a bit of a positive note: The interface does look really nice, and it makes it easy to see where you and your guild stand and what needs to be done to improve your position.
The Arcann romance is surprisingly good
This may be controversial, but I think that the Arcann scene is great, only because I understand the limitations that were put on the writer and the talent of the voice actors involved. So it’s good with some caveats. I can imagine the assignment from the producer to the writer: You know that villain that wanted to kill the main character? Well, you have to turn him into someone likable and the main character has to fall in love with him. Oh, and you only have seven lines of dialogue to do it. Good luck.
Resources (time, game assets, and animations) play a big role in the limitations of story arcs. Although SWTOR does a better job with the assets that it has now, there are still many limitations that can take an audience out of a scene if pushed too close to the edge. The best example in SWTOR is any time a character has to interact with an object in his or her hand. It’s just terrible. So a writer has to avoid things like that when writing a good scene or find ways to cheat it.
Arcann was never meant to be anything but a villain. And when a voice actor and producer settle on a voice for a character, it’s usually chosen with the original scope of the character in mind. Arcann’s voice is rough and mincing. Although Arcann’s voice is similar to his voice actor Erik Dellums‘ natural voice (he also voiced Three Dog in Fallout 3), it’s still rough with nuances that can be hard to add emotional range to.
Given all of those limitations, if the game walked away with something serviceable, it would be surprising. But not only was this serviceable, it was pretty good. Arcann’s motivation was clear and not too contrived. And Dellums gave his voice an emotional tone that didn’t break the character. When I say that it’s surprisingly good, I mean it’s much better than what should have come out of all those limitations, and if you appreciate all of those factors, then you should check it out, or at very least, take a look at the videos on YouTube.
What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to taking down Izax or conquering the galaxy with the improvements to the conquest system? Or maybe you just want to fall in love with Arcann. Let me know in the comments below.