With the recently released SWTOR 7.1 PTS, let’s dive into the new R4 Anomaly Operation Armor Sets and the announced Gear Progression Changes!
With the (almost) final phase of the 7.1 PTS, all 4 bosses of the R-4 Anomaly Operation have been released, though the final boss, Lady Dominique is only available in SM at the moment. We now have a much clearer idea of how gearing will work for the new operation.
A pair of Rodian fugitives named Hyde and Zeek (it seems a pun is intended) can be found in the final alcove with leveling mods.
Zeek doesn’t have anything for sale and Hyde’s mission doesn’t have any dialogue replies yet, so BioWare is definitely not done with this component of 7.1 yet. It’s still what modifications we’ll be able to purchase at the vendor, so we’ll just have to wait until the next PTS update.
New Cosmetic Armor Sets
With a new raid, comes a new collection of cosmetic armor sets. In the past, each origin story would have its own armor set with colors that vary by faction. This time around, there are 3 distinct armor sets (2 from HM, 1 from SM) each with 4 different color variations and accents. The color variations come in 2 pairings:
- Hazardous: White and Blue
- Virulent: Red and Black
It’s unclear if there will be more cosmetic armor sets in this collection so that each origin story has its own armor or if this is all we’ll be getting. The sets do seem a bit more generic this time around, so I’d probably lean towards this being it.
These sets can be purchased with new gear tokens that drop from R-4 Anomaly bosses instead of buying actual gear, so they are meant to be an additional reward after you have cleared the content. It would be nice if legacy NiM bosses could drop tokens that could exclusively be exchanged for these new sets.
Story Mode Set: Delver and Excavator
The Excavator sets have more colorful tubing and masks compared to the Delver sets.
Hard Mode Set 1: Expert and Professional
Professional features a neon red or green visor and tubing while the accents just blend in on the Expert set.
Hard Mode Set 2: Explorer and Pathfinder
Pathfinder features neon green or red accents while they’re more subdued with the Explorer sets.
Odds and Ends
Here’s a shot of the new vendors wearing the Virulent Professional and Virulent Excavator gear so you can see how the lighting interacts. Sorry for the poor camera angle, they’re near a counter.
I could easily see the NiM version of this gear building on this aesthetic with animated visors and tubing, perhaps with a bit of corruption seeping out like we see with the upcoming Creep Weapon tuning. We don’t have any concrete details about NiM yet beyond that it isn’t coming with 7.1.
I know there are a lot of people out there that think this new armor looks hideous, but I think it looks pretty cool, tubing and all. The tubes are really only on the chests and helmets anyway, so even if you don’t like the overall look, there’s a good chance you could make use of one of the other pieces. There aren’t really any other armor sets accessible outside the Cartel Market that have this level of detail either.
New Gearing System for the New Raid
BioWare made a post on the forums that explained how you will obtain the higher-rating gear from SM and VM. It does not appear that dailies will be required at all to get this new gear. Legendary Implants will be able to be upgraded beyond 330, perhaps to 340, but it is not yet known what the new cap will be.
Story Mode: 326-330 Blue Gear
Each boss in R-4 SM will drop 1 R-4 Gear Token: Story per player that can be exchanged at a new vendor on the Fleet for a piece of prototype (blue) rarity Hazardous gear that starts at 326 item rating and can be upgraded with additional SM R-4 Gear Tokens and credits up to 330 gear. 1 R-4 Gear Token gets you 1 piece of gear. It is unknown if upgrades will ever cost more than 1 Token (hopefully not).
If only BioWare had made the gearing system that launched with 7.0 so simple…
Yes, you’d need to break the currency into fragments to account for differences in difficulty, effort, and completion time, but you could accomplish that with a singular currency by just having different types of content give different amounts of said singular currency. I guess we just don’t have the technology to make such a thing possible. ¯ \_(ツ)_/¯
Hard Mode: 332-340 Blue and Purple Gear
HM R-4 gearing is a bit more complicated because there are 2 rarities to deal with. The first part is basically the same as SM where each boss drops a generic HM R-4 Gear Token for each player that can be exchanged for a specific piece of prototype (blue) Hazardous gear of your choice at a new vendor on the Fleet. The first tier you can buy with HM R-4 Tokens is 332 and then you can upgrade that all the way up to 340 (still blue).
Since you can only upgrade Hazardous gear to 330 with SM R-4 Gear Tokens, you can’t technically upgrade your existing piece of 330 to 332 because you’ll need HM R-4 Gear Tokens instead.
Each boss also drops 2 R-4 Boss Tokens for the group to divvy up that can be exchanged for 1 of 3 specific slots of gear unique to each boss. For example, the first boss drops 2 tokens, each of which can be exchanged for your choice of Head, Waist, and Relic. These pieces of gear will always be artifact (purple) Virulent gear and 340 rating with no upgrades required.
Here is the list of what each Boss Token can be used to purchase (HM only):
- Boss 1
- Boss 2
- Boss 3
- Boss 4
Implants will not be obtainable from HM R-4 as BioWare wants players to keep using and upgrading Legendary Implants.
It will be most efficient to upgrade the pieces that drop from later bosses first because you’ll get to skip to 340 sooner with the R-4 Boss Tokens that drop from the earlier bosses. Why bother upgrading a headpiece to 340 blue if you could just turn in an R-4 Boss Token from the first boss and get a 340 purple right away?
The core idea here is that you will get some sort of guaranteed upgrade of your choosing each time you defeat a boss, but every so often (effectively once per raid once you can clear the whole thing, 1 token per player), you’ll get to completely bypass the upgrade process (skip to 340) and get a supercharged version of what you had before (purple instead of blue).
Once you’ve cleared the whole thing, it will be super easy to gear up a new team member too because you can just give that new person all 8 of the R-4 Gear Boss Tokens and just run through the raid twice and they’ll be fully geared in 340. Legendary implants and tacticals are still required. (BioWare, don’t forget to make these bosses drop Tech Fragments!)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I’m really happy with this loot system (at least as it appears on paper). It’s relatively simple, doesn’t have any RNG, ensures everyone gets something on every boss, and will likely feel pretty rewarding. In the grand scheme of things, these were the most important aspects to get right.
I’m also glad that the item rating bump is significant. NiM raids are extremely challenging right now, possibly more than they’ve ever been (though I’m not qualified to make such an assertion). Almost all of them are technically clearable, but a greater degree of perfection is required and it’s just not fun when things are that hard, and this opinion is shared by most of the NiM raiders I know. The additional gear will be a welcome improvement.
It doesn’t make sense that this gear can only be obtained from one raid. Most players interested in raiding are gonna do this just because it’s brand new content. There’s no need to completely lock everyone out of getting new gear. As I alluded to earlier, I feel like this could have been solved by combining everything into a single currency where rewards are proportional to effort, difficulty, and time spent. Maybe there are more complications than I can imagine that make this system more difficult to design.
BioWare did try this in 6.0 and it resulted in people farming the same pieces of content over and over again, and that should definitely not be the optimal behavior. The solution could be to just cycle some sort of significant multiplier on specific pieces of content each week like individual FPs, Operations, Daily Areas, etc. as we had in 4.0 with the weekly boosted raid. Maybe the new raid could be permanently boosted.
I am furious that we have had to endure such a ridiculously convoluted system that obviously wasn’t designed with NiM raiding in mind at all and there’s not even any real benefit to us having it going forward! 330 gear continues to be insufficient for NiM (the fights are too difficult right now) and there is no real way to get it outside of farming Nefra and Dash’roode.
It feels like a slap in the face that we had to endure this awful period in the game’s history for nothing, and we don’t really even get anything out of it. I guess NiM raiders don’t have to prog through SM to get gear and have a head start on legendary implants (maybe), but that’s not enough, especially considering that BioWare could have shifted the item ratings higher to start with so we wouldn’t have had such a rough time with raids while we wait. At the very least, green gear should have started at 326 and Rakata should have ended at 336.
I get that BioWare was placed in a difficult position, but 7.0 really should have been delayed significantly. There was no point in increasing the level cap and adding new gear and preventing people from progressing in difficult raids until a more substantial amount of new content was released. BioWare should have just released the Manaan Storyline and Elom Flashpoint whenever they were specifically ready and delayed 7.0 until 7.1 was actually ready.
If you want to learn more about SWTOR 7.1 and what is currently available on PTS, check out these: