Archive for the ‘SWTOR Information’ Category

Before I get into the actual topic of this post, I want to apologize to all my potential readers. I’ve been very bad lately about making posts, mainly because I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic almost nonstop since I got the game. So sorry readers, but I’m going to make it up to you, I swear!

First, a couple of notes about the game itself (I plan on doing a write up/review of the game at a later point):

I absolutely love the game, but it isn’t without its flaws. First a few good things:

  • The Story, in true BioWare fashion, is incredibly well done. The attention to detail for all the various story lines (not just the class story lines, which were admittedly incredible) is incredibly refined.
  • The combat is very dynamic and refreshing.
  • SWTOR has the best leveling/questing I have experienced in an MMO. Leveling and questing is exciting, and even after I have played through most of the non class stories once, its still enjoyable thanks to the fact that you can play through the quests differently (My main, a level 50 bounty Hunter, was light side, and my alt, a level 12 Imperial Agent, is being played through as dark side

And of course, as I mentioned there are some flaws. Here are a few things that need some work

  • The game gets quite laggy when you have a lot of different players on the screen
  • Not many graphics options/settings for optimizing performance
  • End game content is lacking a little bit
  • World PVP is almost nonexistant, especially if playing on a low population server

 

PvPing as a Mercenary

For those who don’t know, Mercenary is one of the Advanced Classes of the Imperial Bounty Hunter class (which is mirrored by the Trooper on Republic side). Mercenary’s can specialize in either damage, or healing. I will be focusing on using the Arsenal spec, which is damage, but I will touch upon Body Gaurd, which is the healing spec.

Tracer Missile. Good spell to use, bad spell to spam

Arsenal specced Mercenaries are capable of putting out some insane damage! However, many novice Mercenaries don’t quite understand the class, and especially the role that the Mercenary’s main damaging attack, Tracer Missile, plays in a Mercenary’s spell rotation. If you happen to frequent the SWTOR forums, you have undoubtedly heard a lot of complaining about “Tracer Missile spam”. Tracer missile, for those who don’t know, is a spell with no cooldown, and solid damage. Many novice Mercenaries, for lack of experience, will end up simply spamming this spell over and over again. This can result in decent damage, but those who do this are easily shut down by a smart player, whether it be through going around corners to break line of sight (hereby referred to as LOS) or interrupting/silencing the Merc while tracer is being cast.

There are many reasons why simply spamming tracer missile is a bad idea. The main problem is simply that if you only spam tracer missile, you are really missing out on most of your damage. Tracer missile, while it has pretty good damage, is actually one of the lowest damaging spells of the Bounty Hunter, beating only missile blast, and explosive dart (and maybe another one or two that have slipped my mind). The second problem is that, while Tracer only costs 16 heat, spamming it is a great way of running out of heat (or rather, generating way too much) quickly.

Using Tracer missiles correctly, fortunately, is very straight forward. Tracer missile is essentially a set up spell. It sets a Merc up to do a lot of damage with their other spells, specially Heat Seeker Missile, Rail Shot, and Unload. Tracer Missile adds a debuff called Heat Signature to the target that reduces their armor by 4% per stack . This debuff stacks up to 5 times (which results in 20% armor reduction at 5 stacks. This stacks with High velocity Gas Cylinder, which results in 55% armor penetration!), and if you are fully specced into the arsenal tree, it adds two stacks of this debuff per hit of Tracer Missile. In addition, it also adds a buff (that similarly stacks up to 5 times) called Tracer Lock, which increases the damage of the next rail shot by 6% (so 30% rail shot damage increase at 5 Tracer Lock stacks). And in addition to all of this, Heat Seeker Missile gets its damage increased by 5% per heat signature on the target (so 25% increase at 5 stacks). But wait, theres more! Tracer missile (assuming your are fully specced into arsenal) also has a 30% chance to finish the cooldown of Unload, and increase the damage of the next unload by 25%.

As you can see, Tracer missile isn’t for spamming, but rather to be used as an opener for the rest of your skills! At most, you should shoot 5 tracer missiles at a target (To get the max stacks of Tracer Lock), and definitely not 5 in a row. One of the problems with Mercs is their lack of mobility, and sitting and shooting more tracer missiles than necessary doesn’t help.

My personal preference is to start of with an explosive dart, and then shoot a most 3 tracer missiles at a target to start off my rotation (this assumes, of course, that I don’t need to move around) followed immediately by a Heat Seeker Missile. This gives you he full 5 stacks Heat Signatures on your target, giving you the max Heat Seeker Missile damage. Under optimal conditions (optimal being that i’m no being harassed or focused, and can stand still) I will follow this up with an unload. Because of the 30% chance for the improved Unload (mentioned above) you have a 90% chance for your unload to do 25% more damage! Tracer missile has a 1.5 second cast time, and unload has a 3 second channel time (assuming you aren’t damaged, and don’t lose one of the unload damage ticks), so in total, you can do this combo in about 8-10 seconds (4.5 for tracers, 3 for unload, and the global cooldown for Heat Seeker Missile cast, which is an instant cast spell). This Combo can do some Insane damage. My Bounty Hunter has Full champion gear (with a couple pieces of Battlemaster gear) and his combo can do upwards of 15k  damage on a squishy target if you get very lucky with crits! I’ve been able to essentially get a kill on low health/squishy enemies with this rotation. However,  I can pull off about 7-10k damage  fairly reliably if the target has low armor, 5-8k on a high armor/beefy target.

However, this assumes that I get lucky and have great positioning while being left alone (or focused by one or two enemy players) As I mentioned, mobility for a Arsenal specced Merc is a problem, especially in Huttball, where mobility rules! If I can’t pull off the unload after the 3 Tracer missiles and Heatseeker Missle, I will instead use rail shot. This allows me to still do some awesome damage (rail shot damage is increased by 15%, which isn’t the max increase, but is still quite good!) while having a lot more mobility.

Kite, Kite, Kite!

Another very important aspect of playing a Merc is being able to kite. For those who don’t know, kiting is basically running outside of melee range from a melee class, while still doing damage. Bounty Hunters have two knock back spells on fairly low cooldown. Rocket Punch and and Jet Boost. Jet Boost is the strongest push back, and will knock a player quite a ways away from you. The Rocket Punch push back is much shorter, but it also has a shorter cooldown. Using this spells correctly is crucial when trying to kite a melee enemy, especially a Jedi/Sith that have charge spells. One thing to remember is that Jedi/Sith can charge you twice in a very short amount of time. So you need to be prepared to use rocket punch right after Jet Boost if they end up recharging you after the initial Jet Boost.

Many Mercs simply don’t know how to counter melee who are in their face, especially if they recharge you after Jet Boost. Mercs do the most damage while standing still, but standing still against a melee will only result in interrupts and stuns, so you need to keep your distance. Here are a few tips for fighting melee as a Merc

  • Don’t be afraid to use Energy Shield in a fight with a melee! Kolto Overload is also a great spell to use (especially in conjunction with Energy shield. I generally pop energy shield against a melee when I hit about 50-60% health.
  • As I mentioned, always be prepared to rocket punch right after jet boost if the enemy charges you after a knock back.
  • If they don’t or can’t charge you after the initial Jet Boost (if they are an Imperial Agent or Smuggler for example) hit them with tracers while they try to get close. I can generally get 2 tracer missiles in before a melee can get back to me if they are pushed back the full distance.
  • If they DO  re-charge immediately after being pushed back, and you rocket punch, most good melee will be able to interrupt a tracer before you can cast it because Rocket Punch doesn’t push back very far. I have found that using Unload rather than tracer after a Rocket Punch is a good way to get in some damage without having your tracer missle interrupted.
  • Fake Cast! If they are all up in your Face, DO NOT CAST Tracer Missile outright. I like to cast Fusion missile instead to eat the interrupt, and follow that immediately by a tracer.
  • Use your Instant casts! Starting off with an explosive dart against a melee, followed by rocket punch is pretty good burst, and a crit with one of these spells can lead to a nice burst without having to stand still.
  • Don’t be afraid to use Power surge to turn a Tracer missile into an instant cast if you need to hit them with damage, or to turn Rapid scan into an instant heal if you are running low on health.
  • Use your Environment to your benefit. This is especially true in Huttball, where you can push melee of the edges of the rafters, or into one of the hazards. Unfortunately this tip can be somewhat difficult to follow in The Civil War and Voidstar Warzones.

 

Healing

I spend the majority of my time PvPing as a damage spec Merc, but I do have quite a bit of experience as a Healer. Healing as a Merc can take some getting used to, but Healing Mercs are one of the best combat medics! A couple of tips and tricks that I’ve learned.

  • If someone is getting focused hard, don’t be afraid to use Power Surge in combination with Rapid scan followed by an Emergency scan (the Instant heal spell) to give the person you are healing a boost.
  • Super Charged Gas is a GREAT way of not only reducing your heat, but also being able to heal faster and for more, and is great for controlling your cooldowns. Don’t be afraid to use it! It has no cooldown, and getting 30 stacks for the spell is very easy if you are healing alot!
  • When healing, try to heal your target with a healing scan followed by rapid scan instead of simply spamming rapid scan. Healing scan, when fully specced into Body Guard, not only reduces the heat cost of Rapid scan, but also increases the armor of your target.
  • Don’t forget that Kolto Shell can only be deployed on ONE target. Choose this target wisely! I tend to put this on myself unless i’m healing a ball carrier in huttball, or a high priority ally in Civil War/Voidstar.
  • Don’t be afraid to demand a guard from one of the tanks. Healers are one of the first people targeted by the enemy, and Guards not only let you last a lot longer, but is also somewhat of a deterrent to being attacked. Its extremely difficult to kill a healer while he/she is gaurded, especially if they are healing themselves
  • Kolto Missile is a great heal, is instant cost, and Costs NO HEAT! Use it as much as possible! Its not only useful for AOE heals either, its a great way to heal yourself when you are being focused and on the run.
  • Using rapid shots on an ally in between heals is a great way to manage your heat while keeping your players up!
  • The targeting system can be a bit of a pain, so always target an ally via the Ops box, rather than clicking their actual character.

 

I plan on writing a much more comprehensive PvP guide on Mercs in the future, but this has some good tips and tricks that I’ve learned so far as a heavy PvPer. Hope this helps newer and veteran Mercs out!

 

Just read the news from Dr. Z on Google+ that the Non Disclosure Agreement that all beta testers must abide by has been dropped. This means that anyone that was in the beta can fully discuss their experience. This is great news. For followers of the SWTOR forums, expect many posts (which may contain spoilers) about individual experiences and such with the beta. Personally I may abstain from reading any of the experiences just so when I play I can be fully surprised by everything.

Posting this from my iPhone so I can’t give the exact link, but anyone who signed up for testing before november 11th will be invited to test Swtor!! So check your email if you haven’t already. Check out swtor.com to find the update post!

Today’s update had some exciting news for SWTOR fans that aren’t in America. Contrary to prior information released, SWTOR will be released on North America and Europe on December 20th. This is great news for Europeans who were eagerly awaiting this game, but disheartened by the news that the game would release in America earlier. This full post can be read here: http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20111014-1

 

Today also had two other neat updates. The folks at Bioware created an information page for their Operations. For those who don’t know, Operations in SWTOR are akin to raids in other MMORPGs, with the added story element that this game is known for. The page can be reached here: http://www.swtor.com/info/systems/operations This page comes complete with the Eternity Vault walkthrough and information on what Operations in SWTOR will be all about.

 

Finally, they also released a new trailer called Signs of War. This trailer really made me realize how much I want this game to come out. You can watch it here: http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20111014

 

 

 

This Friday’s update included an update to how the companion characters will work. The post is as follows:

You can reach the actual post here: http://www.swtor.com/news/blog/20111007

 

In the previous blog, Senior Game Designer William Wallace explained new improvements to companion characters in The Old Republic. Here, he delves deeper into AI and companions’ roles in a group.

Companion AI

When it comes to the amount of control over their companion, players have different, often diametrically opposed preferences. Some players do not want to manage their companions any more than they have to, wanting instead for their companions to act autonomously without the need to manually trigger abilities or actions. Others want direct control over their companions, playing them almost as a second character.

Originally, our companions functioned almost entirely on their own, with only a few options for manual control. From both internal feedback and testing, we found that the integral nature of companions to gameplay in The Old Republic™ had many players wishing for more control over their companion’s behavior – they wanted more than what they had experienced in other massively-multiplayer games.

To address this, we’ve taken a page from other BioWare games and added AI toggles to each ability to control whether the companion should decide on their own when to use them, or whether they should be manually activated by the player. Players who are not interested in managing their companion can leave the default toggles on and let them run on autopilot. Skilled players can take complete control of the companion by expanding the companion bar onto their screen and using the abilities directly as though they were player abilities.

Many players will fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and will use the AI toggles occasionally to change the way their companion fights:

  • Players may choose to disable some area-of-effect abilities when using crowd control or when fighting tough single enemies.
  • Players may activate special modes or stances for their companion, causing them to focus more on damage or tanking, or on a single target versus groups of enemies.
  • Players may want to manually activate buffs and powerful special abilities on long cooldowns, as opposed to letting the companion pick when to use their most powerful attacks.

Group Role

Finding certain roles for group content can sometimes be a difficult task in massively multiplayer games.

Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ features a large amount of group content, including Heroic Quests (challenging quests requiring 2 or 4 players to complete) and Flashpoints (highly engaging instanced story content for groups of 4 players). One benefit we’re seeing from our new, fully featured companions is additional flexibility about how players approach group content. A full group in The Old Republic always has four players. Any player leaving the group can be substituted by a companion of the group’s choice, with the party leader in control of which player gets to use their companion.

If a player leaves the group or its proximity, to travel to a vendor for instance, he is able to summon his companion for the journey. Upon reentering proximity of the group, the companion is automatically dismissed. The remaining group can temporarily substitute the missing player with one of their companions if desired.

A common situation familiar to MMO players is the departure of a member halfway through a quest or instance (As a personal example: I once abandoned a group in the middle of an instance when my washing machine caught fire. These things happen!). This could potentially ruin the game experience for all involved parties, but with the ability to substitute a companion in this situation, an experienced group of players will often be able to mitigate the impact of this event and continue their adventure.

While companions certainly don’t have the impressive AI to be able to mimic most human players, the option to micromanage a companion’s ability use on the companion bar in crucial battles will enable experienced groups to successfully complete their mission, even after losing a group member.

But don’t start dreaming about conquering the galaxy with an army of companions at your side just yet – Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer game, and as such it is a social experience as much as it is a story-driven BioWare role-playing game. While the majority of content in the game can be mastered by a player and their companion, some group content is a different matter. Flashpoints often require human coordination to successfully overcome challenges.

Take, for example, the fight we showed at PAX East, in which a group of players fought Captain Shivanek and his pet, Ripper. As we showed in the walkthrough video, the group had to split in two to complete this fight. As the first of several boss battles inside the Taral V flashpoint, it provides a moderately difficult challenge for a group of four players – three players and a companion will find this fight to be a far more challenging obstacle that may take several attempts to overcome. Two players and two companions may find it impossible altogether.

As our testing continues and expands, the companion system will continue to be polished and refined. We take our testing process very seriously, and have significantly altered our original companion design to respond to player behavior and feedback and to ensure that companion characters are a unique and fun part of The Old Republic.

Any specific abilities mentioned above are subject to testing and redesign between now and launch. We know that we have big shoes to fill when it comes to companion characters, and will continue to make improvements so that we deliver companion characters that meet and exceed your expectations; companions that you will come to know very well for years to come on your journey through The Old Republic.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you (and your companions) in game!

William Wallace
Senior Game Designer

In the latest Friday update, the folks at Bioware released the Galaxy map for the game! It shows all the worlds that are available in the game, as well as their position in relation to the rest of the galaxy. While this update isn’t the most exciting to come in the last month (its hard to top the release date announcement), its interesting to navigate for those star wars geeks and Bioware nerds! The map is available on their website, and can be reached here: http://www.swtor.com/info/holonet/galaxy-map

Of course this update seems like a sort of filler until the next big update (and who knows what that will be about since they already announced the release date) Many people were probably hoping for more information about end game, or PvP, but patience is a virtue! Enjoy the map!

The news that everyone has been waiting for is finally here! On the 24th of September, Bioware finally announced (after months and months of anticipation) the release date for Star Wars the Old republic. The launch date is planned to be December 20th, 2011 in America, and December 24th, 2011 in Europe!

This is awesome news for everyone who is a fan of Bioware. Those who have been following this game since its inception have been waiting for the release date to come. Many people have grown impatient with Bioware and the lack of a release date for so long, but all those who have been negative and impatient can finally relax!

So for you gamers out there, keep playing whatever game you are currently playing to hold you over until December!

Along with the release date announcement, they also released the subscription details. It is the normal monthly subscription model used by most MMO’s, with bulk buying deals (IE paying for 3 months in advance is less than paying a month at a time). The details on the official release announcement is as follows:

Each copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic will come with 30 days of subscription time, after which you have the option to continue playing with one of the following monthly subscription fees:

  • 1 Month Subscription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
  • 3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
  • 6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)
Personally, I think this is great news for gamers. There was some speculation on the forums that they may use a Free to Play model (similar to Lord of the Rings Online), which many gamers (including me) are strongly against (at least for MMO’s). Not to say that Free to Play MMO’s are inherently bad, but usually they end up selling power for money. Regardless of anyones feelings on the free to play model, i’m sure everyone is excited to finally have a date.

If you want to read the official announcement by bioware, navigate here: http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20110924

PS. Preorders are still available! If you preorder, you may get early access to the game, as evidence by the following from the news article:

Those who have pre-ordered the game and entered their pre-order code onStarWarsTheOldRepublic.com are eligible for Early Game Access. If you haven’t yet reserved your copy of the game, be sure to visit our Pre-Order page and secure your place in the Old Republic now!

 

EDIT: EA has also confirmed that SWTOR will not be released in Australia as of right now. I don’t imagine that this game will never be released there, but there is no planned release date as of right now.