Monday, November 23, 2015

SWTOR: Shadow of Revan

After finishing up business on Makeb, Eltaix headed back to the Imperial Fleet to begin the Shadow of Revan story-line. The mission came with a nice little transport device to take me directly to the contact, which is awfully nice. That's a handy shortcut that I hope they include with all the major story missions in the future.

I started making my way through the Shadow of Revan prologue story mission, and almost immediately was sent to a Flashpoint. You may recall from my previous post that this was not a good experience when it happened on Ilum. In this case, though, I was sent to a solo version of the Flashpoint. Eltaix and Mako were buffed way up and we were joined by a combat droid, rendering the Flashpoint enemies basically the same as those you'd find in normal combat. Some of the boss fights were still a little more difficult, but not by much. Mostly it just took a while to get through all their hit points. I don't mind seeing Flashpoints as long as I can go through in solo mode.
The strike team. That droid is more dangerous than he looks.
Shadow of Revan has an extensive story. The prologue alone spanned multiple Flashpoints, and took me several hours to complete. I didn't mind much, as the story was interesting and the combat wasn't too difficult. Things moved along more quickly than through much of the earlier game, in fact, primarily because there was almost no travel time. Between that transport device that I mentioned earlier and easy-exit transports at the end of each Flashpoint, I rarely had to do much more than go down the hall to the next segment of the story. Sadly, this state of affairs does not continue; things revert back to "go do some stuff then run half-way across the planet to your contact" after the prologue.

Once into the main story, it's time once again to visit a new planet. Rishi is backwater planet run by pirates, and you show up pretending to be a pirate yourself. The idea is to get information on a larger conspiracy, of course, but it's kind of fun doing silly pirate stuff. Almost every mission gives you a new piece of significantly improved gear - in comparison to the story mission rewards to this point, at least. That's a typical MMO tactic for getting casual/returning players caught up for a newly released area. Feels a little weird in my case, since I'm playing it so long after initial release, but I won't complain about getting nice stuff.

After sufficient pirate-kicking, the story moves along to tracking down and thwarting Revan's plans. I was a little disappointed when I had to fight a fellow Mandalorian bounty-hunter rather than coming to some agreement with her, but that's a minor quibble with an otherwise interesting trip across Rishi. It all culminates in another Flashpoint (also with a solo mode) that felt appropriately epic, battling on the ground to turn the tide of a massive space battle above.

The story then moves on to another planet, Yavin 4. It doesn't have as much character as Rishi; lack of pirate gangs will do that to a planet. Plenty of wild animals and overgrown jungle temples, though. This time the story actually contributed to the choice of whether to run solo or with a group: solo players had to gather NPC help for the big final battle, via some extra missions (which also are daily reputation missions for all players). I didn't try the group option, obviously, but I assume you'd do some big group fights instead of those extra missions. I thought that was a nice touch, marrying up the story and gameplay mechanics.

I found Yavin 4 to be much more heavily populated with other player characters than previous worlds. There were several times where I had to wait around for spawns since other players had killed things I needed for a mission, or wait for an object to reset so I could get credit for clicking it. Pretty typical in the MMO world - the higher level areas get crowded as more and more people progress past the lower content. Annoying, but not game-breaking. I did enjoy the fact that one mission included an actual puzzle to solve; it was ridiculously easy, but still, something different is good.
Lots of NPC help against Revan for us solo players.
The final battle against Revan started like any other boss, albeit one with a ton of hit points and some really big attacks. I learned very quickly that it was a good idea to stop shooting and just run away whenever he came after me, until he lost interest and went after one of my NPC allies. Partway through, he imprisoned all my allies and put himself in an invulnerable shield, and that was greatly confusing. There was no indication of what I was supposed to do, and eventually he killed me. Had I looked up the fight on the web first, I would have saved myself some frustration, but I had hoped that the fight mechanics would be clear in-game. After a couple of tries, I eventually realized there were little glowing things I could pick up and use to free the NPCs. From that point on, it was easy enough.

Following Yavin 4, I also went through the epilogue story on the planet Ziost. It follows up on the ancient Sith Emperor that was referenced quite a bit in the Shadow of Revan story. Fairly short, but an important episode leading into the next expansion.

Eltaix hit the level cap of 65 partway through the story-line on Yavin 4. Doesn't really matter to me, except that it means I can finally spend my 1000 common data crystals at the level-65-only vendors. There's still more story to go through with the Knights of the Fallen Empire story-line, regardless of level advancement.

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