There's been a little SWTOR news this week from a couple of sources that I thought were worth highlighting as they are both good examples of Bioware taking an existing MMO trope and adding a little twist that could have a big impact on the player's experience and enjoyment of the game. It's something they have done with a few of the game systems that I'm hoping will make the game more enjoyable, such as using the companion system for crafting, adding real choice and consequence to quest decisions, having a pre-launch guild system to improve server populations, allowing companion characters to head back to base to sell your junk loot, etc. It's the little bits of polish that bring the game to life and make it fun rather than a grind.
First I just wanted to highlight a dev post from the official forums.
Georg Zoeller wrote:
There are multiple things that can change blaster colors on all classes, from the 'cell mechanic' on the Trooper to the ability to slot found or crafted color cartridges into your weapon via the mod system.In all previous MMOs that I am aware of high level characters distinguish themselves by the appearance of their gear. Epic weapons often have distinct looks with special effects that immediately tell you that the wielder is one bad-ass fella. For example, in EQ2 the warden epic weapon gives an awesome looking fabled item at the end of a long and very tough quest chain. This can be upgraded to the mythical version by completing another series of high level quests.
On top of that, you can find weapons with rare and unique weapon effects as well (e.g. some of the rare assault cannons have very unique sound and weapon signatures, people will turn their heads when you start unloading with them :) )
This is a long-established tradition in MMOs. With SWTOR Bioware are taking things a little further. Not only will the high level weapons look powerful and kick-ass, but they will also sound different. You will definitely know when that Trooper who is tanking begins unloading his Operation-looted chaingun! It's the little things like this that have the potential to make the game so much fun.
The other thing I wanted to discuss is the new details that have emerged on the games Operations (or Raids). In a new PC Gamer interview with lead Operations designer Gabe Amatangelo a few new titbits were revealed:
- There will be no gear progression required to start the Operations - you only need the gear you will have at the end of your class quests.
- Operations will use new encounter types to add variety. For example, the first Operation, Eternity Vault, will have a section inspired by a scene from the Return of the Jedi, where you have your backs to the wall, holding off the enemy whilst the team tries to solve a code to unlock a door. Another example from the Eternity Vault given was that one of the Operation bosses makes the entire raid choose one person to go and fight solo. "You have this Luke/Vader type moment where it's a one-on-one boss fight, but everyone is the audience."
- Operations get tougher. Each has a Hard Mode that is available once you have completed the normal version. Further encounters are tiered, so you gain access after completing the prior one.
- Operations will still include story choices as a group (though not the full blown ones used in Flashpoints as it may take a while waiting for 20 odd players to make their own decisions!), and cosmetic rewards will be given for picking Light- and Dark-side paths.
- Finally, and possibly most interesting in my view, is the revelation that they are trying out a new fair loot system that should banish memories of DKP systems to the trash heap. After each boss is defeated in the Operation every player is rewarded with an individual loot bag. This loot bag has a chance of containing an epic piece of gear for the player's character class, an armour upgrade for their character class, or a "batch of commendations (TOR's endgame currency)". The commendations can be saved up and used to purchase the epic gear from vendors - useful if you are still waiting for that last piece to drop!
This last point could, if balanced properly, really change up the established MMO raid game. I can see it causing some controversy, especially amongst the hardcore set, but a system that gives everyone a reward, no matter their class seems so much fairer to me. Again, it's the little things.
Talking about little things it's time I spent some time with the new arrival, so I'll sign off for now. I hope to get back to my gaming next week, so more news then I hope.