Tuesday, November 29, 2011

BETA Review: Sith Warrior and PvP

this past weekend (monday included), everyone who's anyone got to test the current version of Star Wars: The Old Republic. i spent the entire time on my sith juggernaut, which i will make my main character once the game comes out. as i have previously stated, my plan is to build a main-tank for raiding with my friends, so all of my experience in the game thus far is based around running flashpoints, pvping, and questing with a purely pve tank build. it's also worth mentioning that once i had my impression of the class storyline, i stopped paying attention to quest dialogue because i plan on fully enjoying everything once the game goes live and didn't want to feel like i was going through things again.


i'll start with my general observations of the warzones i experienced, keeping in mind that it was still BETA and many things are subject to change. the stand-out problem with pvp in testing was the level brackets. there were literally level 30 players in matches with level 10 players. now, lower level players did get a "bolstered" buff, and i'm not completely sure exactly how much that affected a player's stats - but the main issue is the fact that a level 30 player has 20 levels worth of skills and talents, on top of two or three planets worth of quest/instance gear. this is an enormous advantage in any game, and i'm hoping they make the brackets more reasonable. i do understand that the brackets promote faster queue times, but waiting an extra minute or two is typically better than having people in the game that can completely dictate the flow of a battle based solely on their level and not their ability.

the warzones themselves are nice once you understand your way around. like any other mmo, when you're pug'ing it (pug = pick-up-group, random group, non-premade, etc.), it really just boils down to which team has the fewest idiots. the resource-node based Alderaan is the classic example: winning is a matter of capturing a majority of nodes (in this case it's two out of the three) and defending those nodes until the scoreboard pops up at the end with "Victory" written across the top. the fewer people - whether they are genuinely clueless, don't care about winning, or just trolling - you have running around pointlessly, failing to contribute anything but points to the other team, the better.

what am i don't even

i don't feel like there's really anything notable about Voidstar, it was a standard conquest map where you're either attacking or defending, blah blah blah.

HuttBall was definitely my favorite, in no small part due to the fact that once i got some levels under my belt i was pretty tanky. the most intriguing aspect of the warzone was definitely the layout: with all of the bridges and their fiery sections, the acid pits on either end, and the air-geysers (for lack of a better term), it really let players use their abilities in different ways. one example is the fact that a sith inquisitor standing on a bridge is absolutely devastating, regardless of the advance class - an aoe knock-back and a sprint, on top of being able to either stealth or dish out huge damage from range. me and my buddy played one game of HuttBall where the entire other team was a premade mixture of sith sorcerors and assassins - yes, it sounds just as scary and ridiculous as it actually was. another example of an interesting player ability coming into play in the warzone was a bounty hunter standing on the very edge of one of the fire elements, pulling a player to him, and stunning that player in the fire. this is a particularly effective method of fighting because it requires no gear, and fire burns.

the only problem i had with HuttBall was regarding the air-geysers. i'm not sure if it was just the lag, but they seemed a little RNG-ish when it came down to the speed and direction you were going pre-airblast, and where the geyser actually sent you.

don't kick the ball, because Hutts don't have feet

in most other games, a raid-tanking, pve spec'd tank has very limited use (if any at all) in a pvp environment. for the most part, you either cc or ignore him until there's no one else to kill. SWTOR changes this in a great way, with abilities like Guard, Taunt, and Threatening Scream (basically an aoe Taunt). there were many games where i got seven-plus medals simply because i always had guard on the person being focused, and i always had a presence in a fight. taking 50% of player damage off of a person is huge, and reducing damage dealt by enemy players to the person you have guarded (or a healer) is just icing on the cake. it sort of gives you an idea of why HuttBall was my favorite warzone - i either babysat the ball carrier until they scored, or i waltzed in to score myself because no one could really take me down when i blew my tanking cooldowns.

i will work on my BETA pve review to release in the near future, but right now i'm letting my pvp review suffice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thoughts on the Game #002

it's been a while since i've posted, and after scrapping a few ideas and generally being very busy, i felt it was time to venture back and talk a little about what is currently going with SWTOR. i'll start with some older news:

(Eternity Vault Developer Walkthrough)

the latest official video gives us a much better look at what operations will look like in SWTOR. while it's no surprise that i'm loving everything i see about this game, i must specifically talk about how much i approve of the way they are setting up endgame. for starters, i think the eight and sixteen man options are great - and when you couple relatively smaller raiding groups with the versatility of each class, you get a game where high-end content is more accessible and less stressful. i say this as someone who has both organized/conducted raids, and someone who has had to share a raid spot with eight other people who also had perfect DPS rotations, all the consumables possible, every little min/max'ing detail covered, etc. - it will simply be easier to fill raid groups, and each guild could have several groups with varying levels of casualness/desire/skill levels.

the video also makes me that much more excited to main-tank on a sith juggernaut. lumbering into battle, lightsaber drawn, beckoning all of the fire and hatred, the realistic sway and folding of the cape, force-leaping to the feet of some gigantic killing machine and hacking away at it: yes, please. something about a class that feeds off of taking damage and hurting others just screams sith, and then you throw in that wonderfully inhuman sith armor, well, i'm just going to try and not use up all of the positive adjectives before the game even comes out.

now for something much more recent: according to this post on askajedi.com, BETA testing starts tomorrow, as in friday, the day after thursday and before saturday. as amazing as this is, the best part about it is the fact that the actual game launch is just that much closer - and even more so for those of us with pre-orders, thanks to early access.

that galaxy is not as far, far away as it once was.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Darth Bane Trilogy Review

simply put: the darth bane trilogy is amazing. wonderfully written by drew karpyshyn, the three books follow a man named dessel as he rises from a cortosis miner on apatros to the sole dark lord of the sith - the fabled sith'ari.

darth bane does more for the sith than anyone before or after him, and as much as i'd like to go into detail about what all that encompasses - i will just leave it at the fact that i highly recommend these books to anyone with an interest in star wars.

"two there should be; no more, no less. one to embody power, the other to crave it."
- darth bane                        

i was considering doing a review of the two available old republic webcomics, but i feel that would be better suited for when i write my knight errant review; john jackson miller just gives off more of a comic vibe, even in his purely written work - so possibly more on that in the future.

Monday, June 6, 2011

E3 and Keeping Busy

first things first: i have to comment on the comprehensive trailer shown today during E3's Gamechangers: EA 2011 Preview. comment: it was glorious. while it is just a well mixed compilation of all their current cinematic trailers set to familiarly epic star wars music, bioware seems to have brought their a-game in terms of how they are handling SWTOR information and generating interest. there's still a lot of great information to be released throughout E3, and of course we are all hoping for a release date announcement - especially one slating the game for 2011.

while we're on the subject of cinematic trailers, the SWTOR website has released its newest addition called Return, as seen below.

i skipped a couple of weeks posting here because i've been really busy - and because there's no real rush to cover everything; realistically it's looking like the game will be Q4 of 2011 at the earliest. during these busy past couple of weeks i have been able to log some time on KOTOR I and II, and started to wrap up reading the darth bane trilogy. i have to admit, my motivation for doing these things isn't just because i enjoy them or because i'm biding my time until SWTOR - it's also because i am excited about drew karpyshyn's new novel entitled Revan, which i believe is still slated for november of this year. it will go into detail about what happens to revan after KOTOR, and also delve into who the emperor is during the SWTOR timeline - further feeding my cravings.

Darth Revan and Darth Bane
(Darth Revan and Darth Bane, Dark Lords of the Sith)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Game #001

it's monday again, and i'm playing with the idea of making this little hobby a weekly installment. naturally this will be a much easier process once the game comes out, but right now as long as i don't force myself to post i feel i am accomplishing a goal of some sort. keeping with the theme of making all of this sound much more official than it actually is, let me begin the first edition of Thoughts on the Game.

other than finally getting to play it, it's hard to say what i am looking forward to most about SWTOR. at first it was the prospect of off-tanking on a jedi knight, but as my friends came into the fold of sort of planning out what we were all going to roll as our main characters, my tastes began to corrupt a little. in general, the group of friends i'm going to be playing SWTOR with are split pretty evenly when it comes to opinions of the light and dark sides of the force - which has led to many a friendly, intoxicated discussion, to say the least - despite varying levels of interest in the star wars universe. ultimately it was the fact that bounty hunters are technically imperial that shifted my character plans to the dark side. as it stands now, out of the three people i will primarily be playing with there are two bounty hunters, a sith sorcerer healing, and me main tanking on a sith juggernaut.

A Sith Juggernaut, filled with the power of the dark side.

while i still prefer the play-style of the light side and plan to play all eight classes through to the end of their stories, the idea of investing most of my time into a sith character helped spur me on to try and learn as much about both sides of the force as i could. reading everything i can get my hands on from the sith era has helped me build a framework for how i want to play a dark side character. learning about characters like darth revan, malgus, and bane has given me a much better feel for the philosophy of the dark side which i plan to incorporate into my decision making for SWTOR.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Old Republic Era Literature Reviews

even though i'm not a big fan of reading, i do enjoy a good book - more so when the book is set in a universe i enjoy, which is a criteria that star wars easily meets. in preparing myself for total, geeked-out, nerd slaying immersion in the old republic MMO, i took it upon myself to begin reading the star wars books and i feel i couldn't have picked a better time. the following pieces are my reviews of the old republic era literature currently available.

Lost Tribe of the Sith by John Jackson Miller

if you are like me and traditionally favor the light side of the force, have a hard time being a dick in choice-centric role playing games, etc., then the Lost Tribe of the Sith series is a great introduction to the other side. the fact that they are free e-books/pdf downloads is just icing on the cake (i'll provide links at the end of this review). each of the six that are currently available are fairly short and easy reads, but tell a pretty rich story that fans of the movies may find as refreshing as i did. you get a good glimpse of the sith as a people, who from the interbreeding of the sith race and dark jedi have nurtured ancient ties to the dark side into a culture that values power and cunning.
Lost Tribe of the Sith books:
1/Precipice, 2/Skyborn, 3/Paragon, 4/Savior, 5/Purgatory, and 6/Sentinel

The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp

this was a great book. i found darth malgus to be very intriguing, as he offers a view on the dark side and the empire that i hadn't really seen before. the idea that because the force has both a light and a dark side, it in itself represents conflict; therefore it is through conflict that one achieves a greater understanding of the force - as someone who finds the philosophy of the force pretty interesting, i feel that this is just a great addition to an overall understanding of the star wars universe. also, you can't really go wrong with a star wars book that has its own trailer.

The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams

while i feel that the character development in this book was a little slow, it was only because it was so action packed. you get unique views on the story as you witness major events from each character's perspective, and it is accomplished in a way that is easy to follow while offering variety. on an overly analytical note, i think stories written this way work well in the star wars universe because you sort of get sense of how the force brings everything together the way it must happen - but i'm not going to invest too much time going down that road. getting a good glimpse at key players in SWTOR like satele shan is a definite plus to this book.

Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber

let me preface this particular review by saying, generally, i don't even start books i don't think i'll really enjoy - so pretty much everything i've read is about something i've already been interested in or something that came highly recommended to me. also, like some video games, it is easy to lose interest in something if it's boring or poorly written.

that being said, Red Harvest is the worst book i've ever read. any good aspects of the story were completely overshadowed by what boils down to be poor writing and the fact that mr. schreiber had absolutely no place writing a star wars book. here's a quote from page 53:

"Listen to me, Trace told him. I don't know who you are, but I am in possession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I'll let you go. But if you don't, I promise you, I will track you down. I will find you. And I will make you pay."

sound familiar?

the worst part about it was that it was completely unnecessary. it's from a jedi who is trying to telepathically send out a message to someone he knows will never receive it.

all of the star wars aspects of this book appear to be thrown in just so it can have star wars in the title. there is one part where the author mixes up two names, and toward the end when he's trying to show what's happening from another person's perspective he completely messes up the order of events. it could have been a good book and i read it through because it was set in the old republic era, but it was just so poorly written and edited that it makes me a little angry that it was ever published. the only capacity this piece of literature should have ever existed in was on the fan fiction section of some obscure horror forums under the title "STAR WARS ZOMBIES!". long story short, if bad writing, overused ideas, supporting mediocrity, and poorly injected star wars aspects bother you - skip this book.

these are all the books currently available that predate the setting of SWTOR (3643-3641 BBY); Knight Errant and the darth bane trilogy do occur within the old republic era (aka the sith era), but they are over 2500 standard years after the setting of SWTOR, so they were not a priority to me. i may talk about the darth bane trilogy at a later date.

Monday, May 2, 2011

About SWTORe (The Old Republic Experience)

the time has finally come - i had decided that i wasn't going to make any posts here until i finished all the current old republic era literature and had everything set up the way i wanted. granting this is not a huge task, it has helped make the wait and anticipation for SWTOR that much easier and greater, respectively.

there's a special brand of nostalgia one experiences when looking at old screen shots from video games they've played - and this is much more prevalent when it comes to MMOs and other RPGs where you have spent a lot of time nurturing your character into awesome-hood. a lot of people also know how it feels to lose those screen shots - whether it's from computer problems, forums dying, or just the general passing of time. because of these things, i wanted to have a place to gather all of the memories and experiences dealing with SWTOR that are important to me. it's looking to be an incredible blend of the aspects that i value most in games, and in all honesty i would be happy just to play each of the eight stories through; the fact that there is an MMO side makes it that much better.

since there are so many great resources for SWTOR information already available, i won't be using this blog to regurgitate game news or updates. that being said, i will be commenting on things that i feel i have an opinion on. once the game releases i will only be using screen shots and videos that i have taken myself, or that i am in. this blog is about recording my SWTOR experience and sharing it with anyone who may have had a part in it or may just be interested in the game.