Thursday, 23 June 2016

Hustlin' through the Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen Empire, new story, new companions, new changes and levelling like you're on steroids.

Greetings again, it seems a very short time to be updating on my Old Republic happenings but I guess there’s no harm in keeping up to date especially with the big new expansion that has been introduced. Yes Knights of the Fallen Empire (KOTFE) and boy is there some huge changes as I did mention last time. Update 4.0 brought with it a wealth of new changes. Most prominent being the new “more RPG” style (KOTFE) storyline.

New loading screen!
I had a bit of a rant in my guild Eternal Oblivion’s forum which I will go over here as well. Speaking as a person who liked the game the way it was, a Star Wars MMO, I've never played Knights of the Old Republic and honestly didn't feel the need for a huge hoo-haa into more involved story. Wasn't there enough story in SWTOR already? it had ten times more voice acting and cutscenes then WoW ever had, all you got in WoW most of the time was a box with scrolling text. Now that I’ve played a bit of the new expansion I will go into it later but I can say it’s definitely not bad though not that much of a change to things really as it’s still an MMO and you can still do most things that you used to be able to. Also I have obtained KOTOR from and will be interested to see the comparison.

Knights of the Fallen Empire Trailer E3 2015

You can now level faster than ever before as I’m not sure what the precise number is but your Main story and the Planet story “arc” questlines give a huge amount of experience allowing you to level up to 60 by just doing these missions. Of course I originally thought this was terrible as you would level too fast  and they actually had a way to stop this by purchasing a special artefact from a Gree vendor on the Fleet that was meant to stop the extra experience but I soon stopped doing this because of another change they made to the levelling. This “Planet Level Sync” is one of my favourite changes, this automatically lowers your characters level to slightly higher than the planet’s maximum level for quests and adjusts your Stats, Armor and Damage to reflect this. You also earn scaled experience, so no matter how high I am for the planet the mobs and missions still give experience to my level. So I decided to just go all out and do every quests like I usually do but as I was questing on my Sage I noticed I was only getting my main story and planet arc quests.

I still like to do the bonus series'
 After looking it up online I then realised the non story arc and ‘bonus series’ quests are now titled “exploration missions” and  you need to click a button on your map to reveal these which is kind of annoying as I forgot about this with my Trooper too but should be fine once I’ve turned them on for all characters. But doing all this as I had done before along with the “exploration” and bonus series missions and also using up experience boosts I had means that you level ridiculously fast, to give an example my Sage is currently level 53 and doing level 28 quests on Alderran, as some have said at this rate you’re going to get to 60 before you even finish the first chapter of your class story. Which would be ok except I actually liked having less abilities, I’m gaining them so quickly now it’s just too hard to manage, like stuff I don’t even bother with as you won’t need it till late game when you eventually get there.

Alderaan was originally for levels 28-32 and I've just started it and I'm level 53, I said it once and I'll say it again, thank god for planet sync
Heroic missions have also been changed as now they only really need two people to complete and they are available in the field from npc’s of course but also available all at once from a heroic mission console near the main base. When you have them tracked here is also a very handy ability that warps you to where the heroic mission is. I found what happens then is that you just ask in general chat “who’s up for heroics?” and you get a group of two or more people and do them all at once.

Gettin them heroics done quick.
They now give an almost complete set of arm which is dps or tank or dps or heal depending on your class, though the downside is this armor is blue (prototype) rather than orange (custom) so there’s a bit of a lack of custom gear around for a few reasons, the first is because of the heroics giving out blues, me doing flashpoints in solo mode and getting green (premium) and blue items and also the fact that there is no more basic commendation gear vendors they only sell modifications now but you can still buy the custom gear from the GTN. Here’s a guide to gear colours in case you didn’t know the names as I often forget, thanks to CaptRogue from the Shadowlands server for their excellent up-to-date gear guide.

Green items are Premium.
Blue items are Prototype.
Orange items are Custom.
Purple items are Artefact.

Companions have now had a big overhaul, affection has been replaced by ‘influence’ so it works apparently like Dragon Age where instead of the companion’s “affection” for you going down when you choose to do something they don’t like, you still gain influence it just comes up saying they approve or disapprove, this still hasn’t deterred me from doing what my companions prefer though. The other problem is if you originally had max affection with one companion they start off at rank 10 which is 2100 influence, more influence basically means the same as affection, they boost your presence stat and do their tradeskills faster and better. This creates problems though in the character progression as when I got to max affection I would have gotten the legacy achievement and knew that I had seen all cutscenes and done all of that companions side missions.

The companion legacy and missions screen on KOTFE
In the case of Elara Dorne for example right before the path 4.0 I had gotten up to romancing her but after the patch I couldn’t use any courting gifts on her and have not had any more cutscenes with her. I have now found that Class Companion conversations will now unlock based upon class story progression, rather than affection/influence thresholds which is great to know so now I don’t have to build up on characters influence to max so I can get all of the cutscenes with them. This is useful as I have used Elara for quite a while and she amassing a bit too much influence (not to mention all of the courting gifts I’m going to give her) if you ask me I need to spread it around a bit.

As an affect of the new companion changes I was able to access all of my remaining companion conversations on my Assassin and Knight.
 Some more changes include the fact that your companions gear is now purely aesthetic, they no longer gain stats from it and their stats are based on your level. I had mixed feelings about that at the start cause I loved pimping out my companions and making them OP but now I can dress them up in whatever I want which is hella fun, you can make them wear the craziest things and give them awesome looking weapons too though there has been some changes to what weapons different companions can use. When the patch first came in I got a crapload of items in the mail that were previously worn by my companions, droid armor was reduced to white vendor trash as armor slots which made no difference to a companions appearance, such as droid armor, relics, earpieces etc was removed, funnily enough with humanoid characters such as Qyzen Fess you could still put gloves and boots on him although they didn’t show up. Sometimes my companions still had some gear on, other times they didn’t most of them were missing their pants for some reason which was weird. Also as well as the armor they had, their original armor set that they had on when you recruited them also came in the mail in case you wanted to dress them in that which was nice.

Nice cape on Elara
Another change was that companions can now perform all three combat roles with set abilities that are tied to their character type, for example if you got Tanno Vik to heal he’d have the “tech-healer” set of abilities whereas Kira Carsen would have the “light-force-healer” abilities and Lord Scourge would have “dark-force-healer” this works the same way with tanking and dps they get a set of abilities appropriate to their character. Though it doesn’t make some combinations any less ludicrous though like getting Talos Drellik to tank or Khem Val to heal which really doesn’t make sense.

The other guy in my group sets his Lana companion to heal so I have my Senya as DPS, it's pretty useful as you can use whichever companion has the most influence for whichever role.
Flashpoints (FPs) have also had a change, you can now do many of them in solo mode similar to the Forged Alliances and Shadow of Revan patch FP’s which were previously available to be Solo’ed as they were needed to be completed to advance in the story. I love this change as now I can do all of the Flashpoints I miss out on like The Battle of Ilum and The False Emperor cause no-one wants to do them as they are old level 50 flashpoints and everyone is already doing Shadow of Revan by that point. Additionally almost every Flashpoint is now able to be done in tactical mode, which is great (but also sad) as now you don’t need the “Holy Trinity” group of Tank, Healer and DPS, but it’s still good as now I have almost no problem of doing lower level flashpoints, I just pick the FP and look for a group. It’s weird cause most of the time I select only one FP to do and I guess when it’s selecting a random one for people it picks mine cause that’s the only one that’s selected. I actually started doing every flashpoint I could in Solo mode as it’s just so efficient but the problem is the gear just isn’t quite as good unless you do the tactical version, I kind of forgot about this then realised I actually did have the option of looking for a group if I wanted, must remember to do that in the future.

Gault and I assault the Foundry with the very helpful GSI support droid.
 The Primary stats, Strength, Cunning, Willpower etc are now gone, replaced with the ‘Mastery’ stat, yes this is dumbing down of the game as I didn’t see anything wrong with the primary stats but whatever. Datacrons are now Legacy wide, so now you don’t have to bother getting the Fleet and Makeb Datacrons for every character, thank god for that. Though there is one downside as since you’re not going around collecting Matrix Shards they have removed Matrix cubes from the game so you need another artefact to replace the one you had. Gear commendations have now been changed to crystals which doesn’t make too much difference apart from getting them confused with crafting crystals but it’s good to know you can purchase mods right up to the level you are at. Crew skills have also undergone a few changes, there was heaps to pickup from the trainer. All of the old schematics are moved into an “Archive” folder and all armor, weapons and accessories made are now either Prototype or Custom and are “Adaptive” meaning they adjust to your character classes armor type . Material requirements have been changed around and you now create “Components” which is used to create new gear. I realised on my Trooper with these new changes that I wouldn’t be able to make Droid armor anymore as there was no point, which made the whole idea of Cybertech pretty redundant but there are other cool things that I can make, I can’t make armouring anymore unfortunately but Enhancements are now exclusive to Cybertechs.

Cybertech, now not so useful, or exciting
So all in all some interesting changes, now that I got that out of the way it’s back to character progression and I continue with my Trooper who was just getting started on chapter two of the storyline which was about stopping a new superweapon called ‘The Barrager’ that the Empire had created to destroy entire fleets from a planets surface . So I travelled to Balmorra, a sun-drenched war-torn grassy and rocky world and enlisted the help of a ‘demolitions expert’ who was none other than Tanno Vik who has quite a shady personality and paid little or no heed to my authority much to the ire of Elara. I pondered doing some dark things eventually doing one where I sold off some weapons for profit instead of giving them to the republic which to be honest was kind of unfulfilling with the puny amount of credits made though I suppose it scales to the level but man I could have guessed it was trying to tell you it was the wrong thing to do.

Tanno Vik, doesn't like authority, at least he's on our side.
 I then travelled to Quesh to rescue a team called the “Safecrackers” who could apparently disable the superweapon. I also helped out the Republic defend themselves against attacks from the Hutt Cartel and Empire. This also meant teaming up with a particular Hutt and saving them from a Sith Lord. I rescue the Safecrackers and managed to do The Red Reaper instance as well, and that was it I must remember not to split up these blog updates in between character sessions makes it look like I didn’t spend enough time with one of them.

Ahh Quesh, a toxic nightmare as usual
And so it was back to Hxan my Jedi Knight and the Eternal Empire expansion! Of course there was a couple of things I had to get through before that. For one as per the changes to companions with the conversations being based on story progression not affection I got to do all the rest of them all at once, and then was the Ziost missions that followed the Shadow of Revan expansion.

Having a good old chat with your companions in your stronghold, fun times.
Previously I had completed the Yavin 4 missions that ended with the supposed spirit of Emperor Vitiate being thrust into the sky from a Massassi Temple on Yavin where he had tried to usurp all life from the planet and failed but escaped into the galaxy. His influence is then found on Ziost where Theron Shan goes to investigate, then that’s when you come in. You both then investigate along with Lana Beniko and find that Vitiate is corrupting the minds of everyone on Ziost including the force of Jedi that Theron brought with him and forcing them to do his bidding, which through several encounters you manage to stop him briefly through the use of a huge EMP. But in the end the coalition fails and you watch as Vitiate destroys all life on the planet killing millions. You then can do quite possibly the most lonely series of quests/dailies ever which involve going back and investigating the dead world, man there was seriously no other people there the first time I did it.

What a lonely world, even the lighting is greyed.
I got another set of gear which looked identical to the Yavin Pummeler gear I had though the stats were a bit better, I swear you get so many sets of gear when doing expansions. I also headed to Ilum to check out he Grey Secant and do some Relics of the Gree Missions but found there wasn’t much to do but there is some very nice reputation rewards which I might look at getting later, that armor would look best on an Imperial agent I bet. Speaking of armor, currently all of my companions were wearing the Devoted allies gear I had gotten them all from repeated running of the Yavin dailies and weeklies to beef their stats up with new gear which was actually now redundant because there was no more gear stats for companions, so before starting the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion I had found that the Devoted Allies Force-Lord gear that I had given Kira was actually better than my current gear. I think this was because although this gear used to be Light Armor with Willpower as the main stat since the new patch it was now marked as adaptable which means it changes stats to suit your class and also its main stat was now mastery so could be used by any class.

Kira wearing an orange and white version of my old Yavin Pummeler gear.
So I gave my old Yavin and Citadel pummeler gear sets to Kira and Lord Scourge with an orange-and-white and red-and-black dye respectively and they looked pretty cool. Meanwhile I put on Kira’s Devoted Allies Force-Lord and man did I look ridiculous, the outfit is sort of like a multi-layered robe with bandages, I reminded myself why I hid the helm while Kira was wearing the armor as it had an odd looking Hutt-like hat with a hood and a bandaged facemask. I was completely covered up to my eyes and with all the bandages I looked like some sort of burns victim which would work well with one of those hugely scarred faces you can create for your character, the helm actually reminded me a lot of Pang Tong from the Dynasty Warriors games.

Awesome pose, silly armor
And so I went into the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion looking ridiculous, I’m going to explain the story from the Jedi Knight point of view by the way as I know things might change for other classes. So the expansion starts with a full on intro with that famous star wars flying text with you and your crew heading into “Wild Space” investigating something or other when you are set upon by the Eternal Empire, meeting Darth Marr’s Fleet along the way, on his ship you receive a interesting choice to tell you crew to escape or have them stay, I told them to get out while they can of course being the heroic Jedi Knight I am but am wondering what would happen if I had had made them stay. So then your Fleet is overrun and you and your buddy Darth Marr are captured Prince Arcann who we’ve all seen in the trailer for KOTFE then we are brought before the Eternal Throne where Emperor Valkorion stands and I’m not going to spoil anything but you end up getting frozen in carbonite for 5 years and when you come back  the entire Republic and Empire has been defeated and it’s up to you to restore order, man no tall order huh?.

Darth Marr and I, the outfit seriously made me look fat, my huge chest and six-pack was for pretty much naught.
You have dreams while in carbonite, talking to Valkorion who offers you many Dark Side choices of power, you are eventually awoken by Lana Beniko who has come to rescue you and fill you in about what’s happened along with your old buddy T7-01 who is the only one of my crew still around. You also meet some new characters inc Koth Vortena a Zakuul native and a smuggler who agrees to help Lana on her seemingly impossible mission, Senya Tirall, wife of Valkorion and mother of his children and Vaylin, who is the sister of the twins Arcann and Thexan. Knights of the Fallen Empire is Divided into chapters of which the first 9 were readily available via patch 4.0 with the others being added later. So through the chapters you battle the Eternal Empire forces and venture to some new planets including a gas giant where the city of Asylum was floating and Zakuul the capital of the Eternal Empire itself, you take control of the Gravestone, and ancient warship which was needed to take on the eternal fleet. After some run-ins with Arcann and Vaylin and their Zakuul Knights, lots of talking and Dark/Light side choices with Valkorion and a scene with Satele Shan in exile you eventually escape the Eternal Empire’s forces and settle on Odessen with a contingency of Republic Forces, Imperial Forces, Jedi and Sith alike similar to the alliance on Yavin in the Shadow of Revan expansion.

My new crew and I discover the Gravestone and you are treated to the very first "montage" that I've seen in SWTOR

This time you are even more so the focal point of the alliance and were able to do either an inspiring or intimidating speech which was fun, it then gets complicated as you are introduced to your base and alliance of various specialists. The ‘alliance’ base built into a cliff on the green world of Odessen is now basically your central hub like the fleet platform was previously, as well as your regular crew who were in the story before you are now introduced to many “specialists” who run different parts of your alliance: Bey’Wan Aygo a former republic general who commands the alliance military presence, Dr. Oggurobb (who you may remember from the Makeb missions) an engineering specialist who heads the science and tech team, Hylo Visz a smuggler who takes care of the alliance supplies and Sana-rae, a Voss mystic who curates the Force Enclave.

Admiring the Zakuul cityscape amongst other things...

Conversations are slightly different in the expansion as it now looks a lot like Dragon Age as instead of a wheel you have black bars on the top and bottom of the screen and a more plain list of multiple answers (up to 4 now). Influence in KOTFE works a bit differently to the initial game, the people you are speaking to are now “amused” or “will remember this” and you can read the notes in the companion window. Speaking of which, the companion window has been redesigned to support the “Alliance system” it’s difficult to explain but you can influence with everyone and can call anyone (apart from the specialists) to help you in combat. There is a ‘notifications’ section on the companions window which alerts you to various missions you can do to find more companions to add to your alliance who are mostly companions characters from other classes like Yuun or “new” characters like Nico Okarr.

The Alliance supplier and blockade runner Hylo Visz and the new conversation system.
Additionally the companion alerts menu gives you ‘Star Fortress’ missions from Theron Shan, the enemy has set up various Star Fortresses above many planets under their control to subdue the population and you must destroy them, when doing this you liaise with a characters you may have met before on that particular planet and gain them as a companion. The Star fortresses are basically short instances that need to be completed with two people in order to defeat the npc in command the destroy them. I’ve basically done all that I can up to a point, I think I ran out of something or other that you needed to do daily missions on the planets to obtain supplies to do the Star Forge mission. I used Lana most of the time as she is my most “influenced” companion and managed to get enough credits to purchase a new set of Outlander Pummeler gear which I dyed pale yellow and along with my yellow crystal lightsaber made a nice effect. I also managed to finally finish The Dread Fortress defeating Dread Master Brontes and after destroying the star fortress on Alderaan I thought it was time to finish up on the Jedi Knight for now.

Running the Dread Fortress in my Outlander Pummeler Gear
It was then on to my Bountry Hunter Txan who if I recall was up to Nar Shadaa, I still have not been able to romance Mako yet but I guess I’ll get there. While doing Nar Shadaa I completed the Directive 7 flashpoint (FP) in Tactical mode and the Boarding Party FP in solo mode. I finished off the pretty mediocre story for Nar Shadaa which was something about killing a rival gang as usual I was then on to Tatooine which I passed without too much trouble. I killed a world boss, I met the mysterious Lady of Pain and chased Tyresius Lokai who turned out to be Gault Rennow who I totally forgot was one of the Bounty Hunter companions, so now I have two companions, though Gault is a damn greedy bastard who might be hard to please. I also completed The Foundry to finish off the Empire side of that series. So that was that I guess for my Bounty Hunter, can’t think of anything else especially exciting that happened.

The last encounter of the Boarding Party instance done in solo mode.

And so it was back to my Inquisitor and time to finally start the Shadow of Revan expansion on Rishi, I was still wearing my old Citidel Duelist Force Lord gear that I had dyed light purple and dark red XD and decided to keep it for the duration of the quests but unfortunately there was nothing else that was better really though I gave the Raider’s Cove Boltblaster armor to Andronikos Revel as it suited his style and he looks pretty damn awesome in it hah. It was during this time I decided to start using a Security Key again, for two reasons, one to keep my account safe and two to get all those sweet companion customizations, specifically the one for Xalek that hides his hood and gives him more bone-mask facepaint. I have forgotten to mention that in KOTFE doing missions for your specialists gives you loot boxes which often contain adaptable orange gear which can be used by anyone, and was testing different outfits on Xalek as I wanted to change his appearance. I originally had my Jedi Knight make some new armor that actually may have been light armor, but although this looked ok him all dressed in red Xalek is actually a tank so the cloth didn’t suit, I could almost hear him saying that “Master I need better armor to protect myself” lol. So I gave him the Dreadseed armor plus parts of the Devoted Allies Bulwark armor and got him lookin pretty good.

Xalek and I waltz in, note Xalek's awesome new armor and new customization which features no hood which is great because I think he looks better without it,
 The Empire side of Rishi wasn’t too much different I found that there is a class quest inside all of them though with my Jedi Knight communicating with his old master and my Sith Assassin researching immortality. I completed the Blood Hunt flashpoint which was lots of fun to do again and then on to the Battle of Rishi, and then in no time I was on Yavin 4.

The Battle of Rishi FP
 Except this time the questing was much shorter as since the last patch you no longer received companion gear as rewards which kind of sucked as I’d really like to get some new outfits as they are great to mix and match and swap around with. The battle with Revan was much harder this time as I didn’t realise at first but I had Light armor on so was much more vulnerable to Revan’s attacks and ended up dying for the first time. I basically had to take every measure I could to avoid death, I called up Talos to do healing and activated my tank mode with the shield bubble on myself and avoided combat where I could. I was actually glad I didn’t need to do that battle numerous times as it was difficult. Once I had finished off Revan it was on to Ziost again though the missions as before weren’t too much different on Empire side though I decided to do some Dark choices this time such as sending Master Surro who had been under the emperor’s influence to be experimented on (Lana’s choice) instead of being sent for rehabilitation, could have been worse though I could have killed her instead. So that was that on my Assassin, I did the lonely ruined Ziost missions again and then hunt up my saber in preparation for Knights of the Fallen Empire, oh yeh!

My holographic image taunts Valkorion who is controlling Master Surro
Then I was back on my Sage to hit up three flashpoints in a triple whammy: Hammer Station, Athiss and Mandalorian Raiders which I literally blasted through with others on tactical mode. Then I was up to Taris wading through the muck and saving lives as I may have mentioned my Sage has an evil side and I decided to kill off a Kel Dor Master who had been infected, much to the dismay of his Padawan but she realised it was for the best. I was actually spurred on by a republic officer whose men he had killed and It’s actually pretty funny to see the Male Jedi Sage be evil as he sounds so calm, at least it’s made easier by Qyzen approving of killing powerful enemies. I also received a set of robes that I swear was meant for females as I looked like the biggest queer but stats better so meh I won’t have to wear it for long as I’ll do another round of heroics and get a new set.

Man these robes look really out of place and impractical for Taris not to mention I look like a ninny
I did Nar Shaddaa where I met my new companion Tharan Cedrax along with his delightful hologramatic friend Holiday, who I also didn’t realise at first that they were a Consular companion. I wanted to confide with Bareesh the Hutt and not mention his past to the republic ambassador but I did the particular quest with a group and the other guy who chose the light side option and won the roll so I had to do it the same way anyway, gaaah oh well that’s what happens when you do those kind of quests with people. The Jedi who had the sickness was a very charismatic Master named Duras Fain who acted like a gang leader and even had scantily clad women around him and boasted that he’d slept with my Master Youn Par. I defeated him and then had a run-in with the Hutt Cartel enforcers who wanted him as well but managed to stave them off with a bribe, I felt like killing Fain or giving him to the Cartel but I had to have Tharan with me and he wouldn’t approve. So I shielded the infected Jedi while weakening myself again.

Nar Shadaa heroics session, we sure earned it hah.
  Later on you head to a spacecraft which is being taken over by Laranna Fain, Duras Fain’s daughter who had met with the creator of the plague Lord Vivicar and was now killing it’s crew members, you defeat her by sacrificing some of your power again then you get to speak Lord Vivicar himself and he tells you that the Jedi who came up with cure lost his life while healing others which kind of ominous, gives me even more reason to continue killing hah.

"You know those compassionate Jedi, I'm not one of them, though I may look and sound like one"
I had decided for most of my companions I would get the customisation that required a security key so my companions would be different from everyone elses so I got the one for Qyzen which was a dark blue instead of yellow. I got Txan my bounter hunter to create some new armor for Qyzen as he’d had the same stuff on for a while which was difficult as the same armor changes style when you post it to a Republic character, frankly I would have rather had the Empire version but the armor looked ok on him as I put a dark green and dark blue dye so it suited his features though I think I might set him back to yellow skin and it goes well with my characters yellow skin, lol it almost seems like companions are a becoming fashion accessories. The next stop was the beautiful and picturesque Alderaan, where I had to get into some kind of meeting of all of the houses of Alderaan and that was when my subscription ran out. As I mentioned before it was getting pretty hard to keep track of all of my abilities as I had gotten to 53 so was past the old maximum level but I guess that’s something you have to get used to with the new system.

I just got rid of my girly armor and actually get to wear a hood for once then I get another silly looking helm which has better stats, I can't win. At least Qyzen looks pretty cool in his new customization skin and armor.
 So as I said big new changes for 4.0 pretty much all of them good if not for the dumbing down of the game and update on each of my characters story progress or otherwise, I'd hate to say it again but there still needs to be a proper dual-spec system. Stay tuned for my Jedi Knight’s foray into the next few chapters of Knight of the Fallen Empire, and my Sith Assassin’s first experience of it. 


A very cool looking cutscene for Empire side of the Shadow of Revan questline.

I'm now relatively ok with change. good or bad.

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