BioWare has released a major update to the SWTOR PTS today and offered many clarifications about the changes announced to gearing in 7.0!

The biggest new feature of the update is the ability for players to test the upcoming Elom Flashpoint in Veteran Mode, but that’s not all. Players also finally have the ability to select a second Combat Style and can check out the brand new character creation screen.

Elom Flashpoint Teaser

I prefer to wait for Flashpoints (and story content in general) to be complete before experiencing them, so I only took a quick peek inside and didn’t go past the first 2 sets of trash mobs. It doesn’t appear that the cutscenes are available yet anyway.

Elom Entry

The planet looks positively gorgeous; I’d love a stronghold here. It makes me think of if Athiss and Ossus had a baby. It’s difficult to tell from the picture, but it doesn’t look quite as incredible in person; the trees look a bit papery, so they could still use some improvements in that department. The new Ranphyx enemy inside the flashpoint looks really cool. They’re like lions with horns. 

Ranphyx

The full flashpoint is available on the PTS on Odessen though, so you can see Elom for yourself prior to the release of the Legacy of the Sith expansion. 

Redesigned Character Creator

We now have a first look at the new Character Creator redesign, though it’s still clearly a work in progress. I’m fairly certain that the player character is meant to be in the middle area instead of behind the text, which is probably just a result of me using an ultrawide monitor with a 21:9 aspect ratio rather than the typical 16:9. 

Character Creator Jedi Guardian

We can see there are brand new icons for the Origin Stories (new name for base Class) and Combat Styles (new name for Advanced Classes) and I think they’ve done an excellent job with them. 

Character Creator Bounty Hunter Gunslinger

I think that only Imperials are meant to have red lighting and all of the sources of red will be switched to blue for Republic players, though this only seems to be working for the light on the character at the moment.

Some people have pointed out that this will be problematic for understanding how the character will look in-game. BioWare could fix this by providing many different environments and removing the colored light on the character. A toggle to swap the black and white (so black text and icons, white background) would help a lot too. 

Character Creator Customize

We can see this screen is a little further behind in the development process. I hope they include pictures of the different options as opposed to sliders or at least a way to do basic A-B testing for which option you prefer. It’s always been annoying to be stuck between two options but it’s not easy to quickly swap between the two to directly compare because you have to navigate with the sliders.

Conflicting Design Languages

The Character Creation UI design language is quite similar to other, modern Star Wars games like Jedi: Fallen Order, Squadrons, and especially Battlefront 2.

Battlefront 2 UI
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (EA’s version)

The design language is completely different from the new Character Customization UI that combines the current Character Sheet, Combat Proficiencies, and Inventory windows and will be home to Loadouts as well. 

The overall window shape is good and the tabs at the top match really well, but the meat of the interface is a lot more boxy than a lot of other modern star wars interfaces. Buttons in particular tend to be shaped like capsules or ovals, not squircles. Squadrons is more boxy, but it doesn’t look nearly as sleek in my opinion.

Squadrons UI
Star Wars Squadrons

The color is the most noticeable difference. We can see the Character Creator UI uses almost exclusively black and white with a single accent color while all of SWTOR’s current UI has the hologram blue. It’s possible that BioWare is attempting to just use both interfaces, but SWTOR’s PTS implementation feels a bit too pointlessly stark, like it’s copying without understanding. 

Jedi Fallen Order Settings UI
Jedi Fallen Order

Jedi: Fallen Order uses both interface styles, but there’s a clear rule for when each one is used. The blue holographic UI is used when you’re meant to be interacting with the game as Cal Kestis, the protagonist and player character, while the black and white interface is used when you’re meant to be interacting with the game as a person sitting in a chair with a controller in your hands.  

Jedi Fallen Order Skill Tree Interface
Jedi Fallen Order skill tree

There are a lot of UI elements that are shared between the two styles as well, like the shapes of buttons are completely consistent and the hologram interface has black elements while there are colors beyond just pure black and white in the skill tree.

Jedi Fallen Order Planet Map
Jedi Fallen Order map view

It’s possible for SWTOR to use both like this, but there need to be more shared elements between the two styles and it should follow a consistent rule like it does for Jedi: Fallen Order. SWTOR’s UI is still a work in progress and it’s clear BioWare is putting a lot of effort into updating it and they have said they’ll be updating interface elements throughout 2022, meaning it’s gonna feel a bit cobbled together like Steam’s interface has been for a little while. 

Picking a Second Combat Style

Finally, this feature is available on the PTS! Loadouts still aren’t implemented though and when you press the button to switch, there’s a bit of a delay as you have to unlearn and relearn an entire set of abilities , so it’s a bit cumbersome and probably faster to just relog right now rather than switch.

Two Combat Styles

Clarifying Misconceptions

I do want to take a moment to clarify what this means since a lot of people are a bit confused or misunderstand what this will enable players to do in 7.0. All that’s changing in the next expansion in this regard is that you’ll get access to a second Advanced Class (Combat Style) on each character. 

The two Advanced Classes will still be completely separate from each other. You will not be able to use one of the Advanced Class’s abilities while the other one is active. For example, you won’t be able to use Ravage as a Sorcerer even if your other Advanced Class is a Juggernaut or Marauder. In order to use Ravage, you would need to switch to Juggernaut mode, in which case you would no longer be able to use Sorcerer abilities like Force Lightning.

Similarly, weapons will remain locked to their Advanced Classes as they are now. You still won’t be able to equip or use a Sniper Rifle while playing as a Powertech, even if your other Advanced Class is Sniper. 

This means that if you want to play through the Trooper Origin Story as a Captain Rex-like Trooper character with dual wielding pistols, you’ll need to pick either Gunslinger or, more likely, Mercenary since those are the two Advanced Classes that have access to dual wielding pistols. In combat, you’ll be restrained to the individual Discipline you’ve chosen, just like you are now. 

The mechanism under which you can play as Captain Rex is just to let you pair Combat Styles (and their associated Disciplines) with whichever Origin Story (Class) you want.

Learning a Second Combat Style

On the PTS, when you become eligible to select a second Combat Style, there will be a mission given to you automatically. When you click launch, it plays a little cutscene with dialogue choices where you decide if you would like to change your current combat style as well as choose a second combat style.

Combat Style Mission

I closed my eyes as much as I could to avoid spoilers, but the cutscene is pretty elaborate and looks pretty cool. It is unfortunate that it uses the KOTOR-style black bars and blue dialogue options though. Hopefully they do a redesign on that at some point during 7.0 to be less hideous.

Clarifications on 7.0 Gearing

Will there be new tier of Crafting in SWTOR 7.0

There will be no new tier of crafting at the launch of Legacy of the Sith! To be clear, this means the current Grade 11 stuff will still be used in 7.0. Hold onto your mats if you haven’t sold them already. They will increase Crew Skill levels past 700 in a later update though. 

SWTOR Crafting UI

Additional Gearing Process Updates and explanations

Gear can drop from bosses as well as Weeklies. The quality of gear that drops from bosses is based on the difficulty of the content and the same rating left-side gear can drop at one difficulty level lower than what you need for right side gear.

For example, raid gearing goes Tionese -> Columi -> Rakata. MM ops drop Rakata gear, but you can also get left side Rakata gear from VM ops as well. 

Weeklies give a box that grants an upgrade to the lowest item rating piece of gear you currently have equipped. This means you’ll still get some gearing progress by doing easier content, but it will be faster to gear through harder content. Gear can be upgraded directly by exchanging appropriate new currencies and alongside the current piece of gear at a new vendor on the fleet. 

Weeklies can also be completed up to 3 times per week, but they reset automatically at the end of each week, so progress doesn’t carry over if you don’t manage to finish.

New SWTOR 7.0 Gear Sets available on PTS

Decurion Gear

  • Obtained from 318 Gear Vendor
  • Cannot be upgraded

Noble Decurion Gear

  • Purchased with Medals of Commendation
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Elite Decurion Gear

  • Obtained from bosses in Veteran Flashpoints and Elite Decurion Requisition Cache from Weekly Missions
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Decurion Isotope Stabilizer, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Supreme Decurion Gear

  • Obtained from bosses in Master Flashpoints and Supreme Decurion Requisition Cache from Weekly Missions
  • Supreme Decurion Implants, Relics, and Earpieces also drop in Veteran Flashpoints
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Decurion Isotope Stabilizer, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Tionese Gear

  • Obtained from bosses in Story Operations and Tionese Requisition Cache from Weekly Missions
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Hazardous Matter Catalyst, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Columi Gear

  • Obtained from bosses in Veteran Operations and Columi Requisition Cache from Weekly Missions
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Hazardous Matter Catalyst, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Rakata Gear

  • Obtained from bosses in Master Operations and Rakata Requisition Cache from Weekly Missions
  • Rakata Implants, Relics, and Earpieces also drop in Veteran Operations
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Hazardous Matter Catalyst, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Thyrsian Gear

  • Purchased from L0-T2PG with Thyrsian Production Accelerants
  • Upgraded with Medals of Commendation, Thyrsian Production Accelerant, and Aquatic Resource Matrix

Important 7.0 Materials and Currencies and their Sources

All listed materials are Legacy currencies

Medals of Commendation

  • Obtained from Deconstructing Decurion gear
  • Rewarded primarily from reaching Conquest Personal Goal
  • Rewarded for participating in Group Finder
  • Rewarded for completing Uprisings

Aquatic Resource Matrix 

  • Rewarded from Uprisings
  • Rewarded from Heroic Mission and their Weekly Missions
  • Rewarded from Daily Area Mission and their Weekly Missions
  • Rewarded from World Bosses

Decurion Isotope Stabilizer

  • Rewarded from bosses in Flashpoints at all difficulties
  • Obtained from Deconstructing the following gear sets
    • Noble Decurion
    • Elite Decurion
    • Supreme Decurion

Hazardous Matter Catalyst

  • Rewarded from bosses in Operations at all difficulties
  • Obtained from Deconstructing the following gear sets
    • Tionese
    • Columi
    • Rakata

Thyrsian Production Accelerant

  • Rewarded for participating in PvP matches
  • Obtained from Deconstructing Thyrsian gear
Imperial Fleet Supplies Section

Tech Fragments and Kai Zykken

To my surprise, both Tech Frags and Mr. Zykken will stick around for 7.0, though with less of a direct impact on gearing compared to 6.0. I guess BioWare just loves him too much and couldn’t bear to see him return to the Outer Rim on his log mount even though they are mostly purging RNG from the gearing process.

Imagine he’s throwing confetti off-screen in celebration of not getting kicked off the Fleet. Tomota is frustrated because now he has to unpack everything right after he just finished packing everything up.

Tech Fragments will still be used to purchase Tactical Items, Cosmetics, Augment Components, and “Kai Zykken’s offerings”, whatever those end up being. He will still have his Random Unique Items box for sale in 7.0, so this will be the primary way to get the cool armor sets currently available for direct purchase with Tech Fragments. Achievements related to set bonuses will be moved to the 0 points Feats of Strength category.

Make sure you have 11,000 Tech fragments saved up for 7.0!

How will gear tiers work for PvP in 7.0

There will be a stat floor and ceiling for all PvP activities in order to make competition more fair, so you won’t have to do MM raids to be the best in PvP. It sounds like GSF missions will also grant PvP gear. The PvP gear track is called Thyrsian armor and will be different because it does not contain accuracy, except optionally in the offhand.

Ranked PvP Alcove

Not sure if that’s enough to get you to the standard 105%, even with a stim, hopefully it is. If it isn’t, the mostly Force and Tech Combat Styles like Sorcerer / Sage and Powertech / Vanguard will have a substantial advantage.

How Moddable Gear will affect Min-Maxing

At the launch of 7.0, no gear will be available that will be moddable. When the vendor is released after 7.0, perhaps in January with the release of 7.1 and the new R-4 Anomaly Operation where it will only be accessible to players with a certain rating of gear or higher, which happens to coincide with the top tiers of raiding gear. Once new tiers of gear are released for everyone, more players will be able to access the gear mods vendor as their item rating will permit it. 

I still don’t understand the point of this. It would make more sense if they just permanently wanted to reserve the greater gearing complexity for the most complex content, but effectively giving everyone access to moddable gear over time just defeats the purpose. 

I wonder if BioWare is doing this to make the game faster to balance initially. It definitely seems like they’re making a whole lot of decisions based on speed and delaying non-critical components of the expansion for after 7.0, like Crew Skills and the new raid (and skipping 16m), in order to ensure that the expansion is released on time.

Constant Gear Grind and Balancing Content

BioWare has reiterated that they will release new tiers of gear throughout the expansion and have also stated that Legacy Operations (so all currently available operations) will remain balanced for 318 gear, despite having 330 gear dropping from MM of that content and 322 dropping from SM and even higher tiers of gear being released over time. Only the new R-4 Anomaly Operation will be rebalanced as new tiers of gear are released and also the item rating floor and ceiling for PvP will increase over time.

Mass Shadow Generator

This continues to be an absolutely ridiculous idea. It’s possible BioWare has data that supports the notion that players frequently unsubscribe after they finish gearing, but adding more gear progression won’t do much to change that. Players will still unsubscribe anyway once they get bored or run out of content and more players will unsubscribe when the content they enjoy becomes trivially easy. 

The entire point of having different difficulties in the game is to directly address this. Difficulties lose their meaning if players are able to clear content at a higher difficulty than they otherwise would be as a result of getting gear that the content was not balanced around. This also further diminishes the prestige and rarity of hard to get cosmetics and makes it much more difficult to tell if a player is actually sufficiently competent enough to clear a given piece of content when forming a pug group. 

I don’t know if you actually know how to do this raid or if you were able to steamroll everything and skip phases with your OP gear. This issue was rampant after 3.0 and to a lesser extent at the end of 5.0 and it sounds like it will return as a major problem in 7.0.

If there is a problem with game difficulty, that should be addressed directly, not through incremental gear upgrades that gradually make content easier. Simplify game mechanics and create better tutorials or just don’t cater to players that whine about not having the fanciest gear and cosmetics without wanting to actually put in the time and effort to earn that stuff.

Concluding Thoughts

If things remain as they are, Legacy of the Sith will probably be one of the most polarizing expansions in SWTOR’s history. 

Gearing has some nice components, but it seems that the overall sentiment about 7.0 gearing is negative. It seems overly complicated. The perpetual gear grind is not welcomed by nearly a supermajority of players and almost all players I know are not happy about the prospect of content becoming easier over time. A lot of players are also unhappy with the state of ability pruning and are concerned about the overall balance of different Combat Styles. 

It isn’t all bad though. There’s a lot to look forward to. Elom looks absolutely gorgeous and makes me very excited to see what they do with Manaan and the R-4 Anomaly (based on concept art). Access to two Combat Styles, the introduction of Loadouts, and minimal RNG in gearing are welcome QoL improvements. Weapons in the Outfitter are finally coming. The new UI looks incredible. Lastly, while there are some abilities that are locked away behind choices, a lot of them are pretty situational and with those changes come more interesting skill tree choices and the opportunity for additional Combat Styles in the future. 

Author Lokzmir
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Categories SWTOR News
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