14/03/2017

She's a Maaaanhunter

Of all the Achievements in PvP - or even in the game in general - few are as coveted as <I Am Death Incarnate>. For those who aren't aware, this is the fifth and final Achievement for killing people in PvP-combat, and entails killing a total of 50,000 people. For comparison, the previous four entail killing 10, 100, 1,000, and 10,000 players. Thankfully they don't keep with the factor of ten for the final one; 50,000 is daunting enough, 100,000 would be something else entirely.

The main reason why this is such a coveted Achievement is because of the Legacy title which it grants: Manhunter. Curiously, the fourth Achievement (killing 10,000) is actually called <Manhunter>, which isn't confusing at all.

You've probably worked out the point of this blog post already, so I'll stop beating around the bush and get straight to lighting it on fire.

Wrong metaphor? Definitely.

Yesterday evening, I finally managed to earn this Achievement on Calph. It had been three years, five months, and five days since I had earned the 10,000 Player Kills Achievement.

Getting gradually closer and closer has rather dominated my priorities in PvP combat of-late, since rather than go and guard as I usually do on Calph (because Gunslingers are flippin' good guards), I found myself wanting to get more into the action to get this done quicker.

This backfired considerably on Sunday, the day I originally planned to earn the Achievement - if for no other reason than it allowing my Monday-post-schedule to be met - due to the teams we kept coming across; I needed roughly seventy kills, and whilst a couple of late-afternoon match proved decent, the only Warzones where we had any marked success during my guild's "PvP Prime-Time" in actually killing multiple players were Arenas. The teams we came across in the two VoidStar matches we were allocated had too many Healers to allow for killing no more than ten players across both rounds. These things happen, but it was rather disappointing to miss my goal.

So it was that I began Monday with twenty-eight players left to kill. As with Sunday, kills weren't particularly easy to get due to the skill/plenitude of the Healers, but I did manage to get eighteen kills between the initial VoidStar and Novare Coast matches. Odessen Proving Grounds was the third WarZone, which historically doesn't really provide much opportunity to get many kills, but as luck would have it things worked out nicely. I ended up with twelve kills, which, if you've been following closely, you should be able to work out as two surplus kills to my desired total of ten.

The Moment of Glory
~~~

Of course, with a new shiny and highly-coveted Legacy title comes the opportunity to come up with a funny Screenshot showing it in use. I decided that I would punish some of my Companions in fulfilling this goal, because I just couldn't think of anything more original at the time.

Certainly, I wasn't going to go into a Warzone, take a bloody 'selfie', and then quit never having intended to play at all. That's just not cricket.

Bowdaar wasn't particularly impressed that I would think to use him in this way, and wouldn't even return a high-five. 

"Oh, c'mon, you big lump, share the love!"
Koth was much more receptive to celebration, though, but as he is currently the focus of Calph's romantic affections I don't think he could do anything other than participate for the good of his health.

(Out of frame: C2 holding a pistol in Koth's direction)
Okay, so it doesn't really suit Calph as a Smuggler. I know that a Hunter would make far more sense, but considering that Calph is my main and the one who actually placed that triggering killing-blow, I couldn't really show it off on any other character.

Besides, I much prefer Party Crasher as Calph's Legacy title. Much more apt.

~~~

I'm pleased to finally have this Legacy title as a part of my arsenal, but I'm just so relieved to get this Achievement under my belt in general. It is by far one of the most tantalising Achievements, in spite of its "inevitable" status for people who engage in PvP frequently.

This in many ways is probably what puts a lot of people off. 50,000 is, as already mentioned, a very sizeable amount of players to kill for the 'casual' PvPer, a caste which I most certainly throw myself into. Indeed, if I were to find a way to let my younger self know that I would be getting this Achievement, I'd probably be scoffed at.

Quite how a new player feels when they look at that Achievement and its requirements I don't know; I'm sure some will see it as a challenge, but PvP is no longer as 'easy' to get into gear-wise as it used to be. Indeed, if it wasn't for Patch 3.3 reducing the gear costs to a very manageable level I probably would never have escaped from my self-imposed 'PvP drought'.

Back to the matter at hand.

It's been a long road getting to this point, and I'm happy to be 'released' back to my guarding duties in future matches. Now all I need to do is earn those pesky final seven-and-three-quarter Valor levels...

23/02/2017

Instant 65 Adventures

Nothing like three weeks of completely letting this blog slide into brief inactivity again.

In between bouts of frequently-recurring illnesses and a busy few weeks, I won't deny that blogging has fallen by the wayside somewhat. I'm almost thankful that technological difficulties (long story short; nVidia ShadowPlay is recording everything but my microphone input at a super-quiet level and my attempts to fix it have so far proved ineffective) have rendered the Wednesday Warzones series inoperable for the moment, since maintaining this is impossible at-present.

It also doesn't help that, right now, things are just 'more of the same'. I could be reporting on the Command system now the 350% boost has been implemented, but I've harped on about Galactic Command for too long and inevitably I'd turn to criticising the lack of RNG fixes again. Similarly, talking about PvP and Operations would also likely see a return to prior criticisms that, whilst the changes are decent, there is a lot more which can and should be done.

However, there is one thing which is new for me to talk about; the instant-65 experience.

As everyone should be aware, you can create instant-60 and instant-65 characters and take them through the respective storylines. I'm fairly sure most people have created a quick instant-60 character during 4.0, mostly to partake in a get-alts-geared-quick scheme through the Priority Ops. Instant-65s are at a noticeable disadvantage in this regard, since it does take a greater amount of commitment to get them levelled and kept around due to the Command System.

Regardless, the above concerns didn't stop me having a series of questions regarding these newer instant characters. They would, of course, have skipped the entire Fallen Empire story, so how would the game allocate your choices? Moreover, whilst the cast of main characters would be guaranteed, would the 65s have any access to the Alliance system?

04/02/2017

Complex Simplicity

As many people are aware by now, BioWare's goal with introducing Galactic Command as the main means of acquiring gear and utterly removing Commendations was to vastly simplify the 'endgame state'.

With the changes which have come to Galactic Command in 5.1 and those which are going to come in 5.1.1 and 5.1.2, it has become all too apparent that they are now doing the inverse and are taking the system to an even more complicated - not to mention tedious - level than ever before.

27/01/2017

5.2: War for Iokath Stream Thoughts

Yesterday, BioWare revealed details of 5.2: War for Iokath. It looks to be one of the more detailed patches we've had for some time, so let's get cracking with analysing each of the details.

26/01/2017

Master Chapters: First Opinions

Master Mode Chapters are out, and with them comes the opportunity to spend a good amount of time repeating story content all over again but this time with even more death opportunity.

So far, though, from what I've seen, Master Mode isn't that bad, especially in comparison to Veteran Mode. Okay, there are exceptions which I'll get to in a minute, but otherwise things aren't as bad as I was dreading.

The most interesting thing, to me, is that Companions get an Influence Boost. One of my guildies commented that his Darth Marr was 35 when he could've sworn he was only 2 or 3, and voiced his guess that Marr had been boosted. When I received my own Marr, I found that rather than the quite nice 28 I'd left him at for the Veteran KotFE run that he'd been boosted to Influence 39.

I did actually have enough Imperial Memorabilia Gifts to get him to 50 from 28 anyway (I maaaaaaay have spent a fair bit of credits in getting all of Calph's currently-accessible Story Companions - so Acina, Kaliyo, Marr, SCORPIO, and Torian missed out originally - who weren't already 50 to the max-level in preparation for Master Mode), but it was still nice to get something of this sort for free, particularly when it was a relatively substantial boost.

Anyway.

For me, there were five Chapters which had moments that I was wary of after seeing them in Veteran Mode. These are Chapter II in both expansions, Chapters VI and X in Fallen Empire, and Chapter IV in Eternal Throne.

So far, having started from Chapter I: The Hunt and going in order (currently at Chapter V), I've only come across one of these Chapters in Master Mode, which is Chapter II: A Dream of Empire, which had one of the hardest Fallen Empire fights - if not the hardest. It came to a massive surprise to me that the Monolith in Master Mode Chapter II not only died on the first try but actually seems substantially easier than it did in Veteran Mode in general.

Provided you don't get hit by his Terrible Shout, which reportedly hits for 400k. Credit to a guildie who died to it due to forgetting that it could be interrupted for discovering this number.

I'm intrigued by this in several ways, because it raises several pertinent questions. Was it genuinely easier? Was my slightly higher Gear-level a factor? Did it just seem easier because I did the Veteran Mode, knew how painful it was, and managed to adjust accordingly?

I don't know the actual answer to these questions, but they're still good questions about the experience. As a Gunslinger, I don't have access to anything like a truly substantial self-heal (outside of passive healing in-Cover, which is risky in the Monolith fight in the first place, the most I have is 10% every 18 seconds on Hightail It), so it wasn't as if I was running away and healing back up half the time.

Of course, it also helps that he managed to knock me onto a piece of cliff and subsequently spent about fifteen seconds standing still and contemplating the meaning of life before getting a grip on reality and resuming his pursuit.

Or non-reality, as it may have been.

So whilst my own experiences have been fairly straightforward for the time being, this is nothing next to another one of my Guildies, who 'mains' a Sage for Story stuff. At time of writing, he's trying out Chapter II: Run for the Shadows because he was inspired by his own "this was easy!" reaction to the Monolith fight and just decided to gun it.

Interestingly, his Acina - who was previously Influence Rank 28 - was boosted immediately to Influence 50.

Basically, the Vine Cat tore him to shreds a few times (basic attack dealing 20-30k damage) before he was able to just burst everything down with both him and Acina as DPS, the GenoHaradan scout hit so hard alongside its adds that I was pulled in just so he could see how another class handled the damage (spoiler: I still melted, but my intervention allowed him to kill the boss), and he still hasn't managed to kill the end bosses even with multiple stuns and Focus Target modifiers being used to their full advantage.

All in all, he's had about a 500,000 Credit repair bill from this Chapter alone.

~~~

So, yeah. Master Mode is interesting from what I and my guildies have seen so far. I haven't seen enough to say whether it makes for a 'decent' challenge (I'm still shocked at how quickly the Monolith died in Chapter II), whilst again it seems that certain fights are conversely too challenging for any Class to do effectively. I'll be able to gauge more effectively when I see the remaining fights and Chapters.

I find it particularly interesting how - despite the Mission Tracker saying it gives 400 CXP - the actual mission reward itself grants over 1,000 CXP, which makes Master Mode Chapters a very good source of solo-play CXP. Sure, it's not as quick as a PvP match or an Uprising, but at least the Chapters aren't dependent on other people.

At least this way, if you die you've only got yourself and your slave Companion to blame.

23/01/2017

Eternal Veteran: Chapter Difficulty, Part II

Master Modes for all Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne Chapters are being released tomorrow, and yet I still need to talk about how Veteran Difficulty affects Eternal Throne. You can find my blathering about Fallen Empire Veteran Mode here.

Let's get started!

19/01/2017

Returning to the Stars

Galactic StarFighter, as I've already talked about before, is fairly brutal for a new player or character to get really 'introduced to'; from the sheer amount of time it takes to upgrade a ship to the clunky UI to the fact that some systems are left completely unexplained, there's a lot for new participants to take in.

So it is with Galactic Command that new players will be introducing themselves to the activity in an attempt to get as much out of the system as possible, since GSF is one of the most rewarding things you can do (a victory with eight medals earns at least 1,060 CXP dependent on whether or not your Alignment is winning or you have a CXP Booster on).

I'm not exempt from this; I really enjoyed GSF back in the day on Ziodus, but he was the only character who ever really did anything. Because I don't really want him to only be doing GSF (which he pretty much would be if he ever gets to 70, since I largely only refer to him as "the GSF character"), I figured it would finally be time to put my preachings about the activity being tedious for new players/characters to the test and get Calph her own set of ships.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not doing this purely so I can farm CXP. I just got caught up in the wind of fresh activity which hasn't been felt around GSF for so damn long, and I'm really enjoying being back, and it made more sense to me to get a currently-regularly-used character doing things rather than have the essentially-retired but more-experienced GSF character only doing GSF and nothing else. Having a new character with their own fresh potential does make things more interesting, although I don't think I'll be straying too far from what my previous playstyle was like...

After about two-and-a-half weeks of getting back into it... yes, it is brutal for a new character, but I do admit that I am coming from this with more than a base understanding of how each and every ship works, so my 'new' experience is totally different from somebody who is actually new to the activity. I may be somewhat rusty nowadays, but I do pick things up quickly when I am reminded of them visually.

Indeed, so far the most confusing thing to get my head around again is what exactly Communication does for the ship. Dampening and Sensor Range are fairly obvious (although Sensor Focus Range is another matter of confusion), but there's nothing to indicate what increasing your Communication range does for you. From what I understand, having needed to research it, it puts enemies your allies detect on the map if their own Communication range overlaps with yours.

So you may be 36,000 kilometers away from a pesky Gunship, but if a player on your team with a 23,000 km sensor range detects them whilst their 7,000 km communication range overlaps even slightly with your 15,000 km communication range, you can see them too.

When it comes to battles themselves, it is easy to see why new blood isn't easily kept, particularly on the Republic side. For whatever reason, at least on The Red Eclipse, in Deathmatches Imperials always seem to be the ones who use mostly-Gunship teams whilst Republic players, in their armies of Scouts and Strikes with only a few Gunships, get mown down in their dozens. When you get in matches like that, yeah, even veterans can get just a teeny bit despondent...

~~~

All in all, I am pleased to be back doing GSF. It's nice to see that Command XP has managed to increase interest and activity, even if - again - it can simply be derided as people trying their best to stay afloat in the Command System.

Ultimately, this does touch on something of a point. A lot of people do do whatever they can for Command XP without much care for what it actually is. Ranked and Casual PvP have both been 'infested' by CXP grinders, for example, which doesn't really result in a 'good' Ranked environment. The key to coping with the Command System and CXP is truly to focus mainly on stuff you enjoy, not to senselessly grind whatever you can since this will burn you out.

So, sure, take up whatever activities you want, but if you aren't enjoying taking part in whatever gives the most CXP, then this will ultimately harm your game experience since you will only see the grind and nothing else which could make these certain activities enjoyable. GSF, PvP, Operations, they all give a lot, but there is so much more to each of these which sadly the rush to grind is just making people ignore.