Thoughts on the revamped TOR

So, I’ve spent far too much time playing “The Old Republic” over my recent vacation, with it completely taking over two full days that, well, I probably should have at least spent some time doing other things. I’ve now completed 6 out of the 8 class stories, although almost all of those were completely under the old system, and not the new system that came in when “Knights of the Fallen Empire” was launched, which as a subscriber I have access to but haven’t started yet.

Now, I’m a Not-So-Casual Gamer, which means that I’ve heard a bit about what has changed and what all of this means, but don’t really know what all of that means. So all I have to go on is my own personal impressions of what is going on, which may be wildly inaccurate for all I know. Keeping that in mind, let me talk about the things that I’ve noticed so far.

First, they explicitly claim that you can level through to the end of the game only doing the class missions because of the XP boost that they give. Now, they’re running a Double XP event at the moment, but I spent a lot of time on my Bounty Hunter before that kicked in and know that when I ran on rest XP with a major experience boost (which might be doing nothing at all at that point, but what else do I have to spend Cartel Coins on?) I was able to get and keep my Bounty Hunter leveled over the level caps for the planets doing the class missions, planetary story arc missions, and the remaining general missions, as I’ve never done heroics. I needed to do that and do the bonus missions to do that for other characters. So it looks like, in general, I might be able to maintain my general strategy of victory through massive overleveling just going the class and planetary story arc missions, with some of the remaining general missions thrown in.

There also seem to be less of those around. I remember on most planets I always ran the planet arc, class, and two or three general missions in each sector to get my levels, and on my Bounty Hunter playthrough I noticed a number of areas that didn’t have any of those, or only one or two. The boost in XP for class missions allows them to only keep the quests there that were entertaining, and not have to have ones there just so people could gain XP, so that might be intentional. Or they might be adding some back; finishing off my Jedi Knight (the first character I created way back in 2012) I saw a lot more missions around … but I was high enough level and was pushing to finish the game so I completely ignored them. Hopefully, the missions will be more fun and less for XP gain.

It also seems that the game is trying to make it so that you don’t need a specific companion in order to proceed, as all of them can take on the various roles. Now, I’m always overleveled if I can manage it, so I’m not the best judge, but I had no issues with Mako in a healing role on my Bounty Hunter and made it through relatively easily with Kira Carson in the same role for my Jedi Knight, although I noticed that I was very luck dependent there — as my HP would sometimes get pretty low in some encounters, while in other, almost identical encounters it never moved — which wasn’t the case for my Bounty Hunter. That being said, I seemed to have less issues with that when I took T7 out at the last mission (it’s a forced choice) … but then I was avoiding combat more because after playing for about 11 hours I really just wanted to finish the story [grin].

Finally, it seems to me that the companion system is revamped. Originally, you had to build certain affection/influence with them before they’d talk to you and you could progress their stories, and the stories were also tied to certain chapters of the class story, so no matter how much they liked you they wouldn’t talk to you about anything else until you hit that point. This also meant that you could max out affection with them, and had to do see all of the story. For me, this meant that I took the “soft” skills — Diplomacy, Investigation, Treasure Hunting — that would get you companion gifts as rewards, and ran through them getting gifts for my companions in order to build affection. Thus, Quinn would be sent to get things that hopefully Vette would like, and Risha would be sent to get something nice for herself or that I’d pass on if she didn’t like it.

Now, though, it seems that the progression is independent of affection level, and just pops up at certain points through the class story, and all you have to do is go and talk to them. This is more consistent with what happens in KotOR and Mass Effect, and it’s even more obvious when this happens. In a sense, I like this, but it seems to make the professions useless for me. I’m not interested in crafting, and don’t need more credits (after offloading a lot of my credits to one of my other characters long ago, my Jedi Knight went from 120000 to 600000 in the span of level 45 to level 60). Treasure Hunting’s giving you lockboxes for equipment is interesting and was very useful for my Bounty Hunter, but for the most part I got enough equipment during the class missions to keep me going that it didn’t matter. So I’m not sure why I’d ever want to do that, especially since it seems they’ve taken away the special abilities of the companions in relation to those sorts of missions, so there isn’t even a personal touch to it.

This also means that I have no idea what affection level does. It’s now massively boosted (to 50) which is really hard to get, I think (I was giving Mako everything she wanted and only hit late 20s), but there’s no point in trying to do that if I don’t get anything out of it, so on my Knight they all stayed at about 10 or so. Maybe there’s something good that comes out of doing that, but if it isn’t the companion stories, then I don’t know what it is.

So far, the changes seem fine and seem to allow me to progress faster with less busywork, which is a nice thing. I’ll have to see how Knights of the Fallen Empire works when I get around to it, but I think I want to finish my Trooper and Imperial Agent first.

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