This time I lagged behind releases a little too much. Playing SWTOR and readying the holiday season took all my free time but I’ll try to catch up on this one.
This post will cover two important updates on SWTOR:
Game Update 1.5 – HK-51 Activated
This update adds some new and important stuff to the game:
- Free to play option
- Cartel Market
- New companion HK-51
- New daily quest area Section X
- New World Boss, Dreadtooth at Section X
- New mode (Nightmare Mode) for the Explosive Conflict Operation
When this update hit the live server there I was logging in my Jedi Guardian to try the new stuff and get my new companion.
Free to Play
As a subscriber, this new option does not affect my game play on a direct way. On the other hand it’s a big step on trying to get more people to play the game. Before you had to shell out 50€ (I don’t remember the exact price) and add a subscription option in order to play the game. Later on Bioware made available trial accounts with which you could try the game for free up to level 15. With the free to play option you can create an account for free and level up to 50. Currently there are three account statuses: Subscriber, Preferred and Free to Play. With a subscriber account you play as you always did. As a Preferred player you’ll have restrictions and as Free to Play player you’ll have even more restrictions. I’ll address this restriction topic on a future post.
The Cartel Market is the SWTOR implementation of the so-called Cash Shop. There you’ll find a lot of things to buy with the new virtual currency, Cartel Coins. You get cartel coins for being a subscriber (subscription months before the launch of the Cartel Market will give you coins along with some bonuses and more coins each month from the launch and into the future) or you can buy cartel coins with real money on the official site. Available in the market you’ll be able to buy gear with stats (non end game, gear), gear shells, unlocks to the free to play restrictions, race unlocks, mounts, etc. Besides all that, you can also buy cartel packs. And what are those? Cartel packs are a set of random items that range from xp bonuses, crafting mats, mounts, pets, rare gear shells and weapons. This, overtime, become a gamble addiction to many people whom spent a lot of money on cartel packs in order to get the gear they wanted. The good thing about these items are the possibility of being traded and/or sold on the GTN after some time. The Cartel market has been updated on a weekly basis with new stuff where you can spend your cartel coins on. Theres a lot of good stuff and I bought some gear and some cartel packs but I didn’t get lucky on the items from the packs 😦
This new companion is a nice addition to the game. You can unlock it for all of your chars via cartel market after unlocking him once via the quest chain. The chain of quests is nice, makes you wander throughout the galaxy, use characters in both factions until you return to were you started to get the droid. I’m not going to spoil the story so if you want to know you’ll have to play it. It can be an invaluable companion for leveling alt chars and he is a killing machine! He can, sometimes, one shot strong mobs. As any other companion, you can grow is affection and send him to perform crew skill missions or crafting. I didn’t use it much because as a DPS I usually use the healer companion to quest. I enjoyed the quest chain specially the part in the Theoretika star ship.
Section X is previously unavailable area in Belsavis, much like The Black Hole in Corellia. It has a new set of daily quests an a weekly quest which awards Black Hole Commendations. It’s pretty much like Black Hole but the quests take longer to complete than the Black Hole ones. One of these quests is a Heroic 4 and, trust me, you really need to take a full party in order to open some doors. I didn’t do these quests a lot of times but I’m suspect because my play time is divided between PVP and leveling alts these days.
This new boss is different because every time he respawns he comes with a buff which makes him harder to kill. Each time he dies, along with the loot, he drops an item which can be used to increase its stack of the said buff. The harder he gets to be killed, the better the loot. I killed the boss once with my guild and we come to understand that with more than 2 stacks, an Ops group with more than 8 players is advised. This new buff mechanic is pretty welcome. The boss respawns more often and the quality of loot dropped from the same boss will vary with difficulty.
Explosive Conflict Nightmare Mode
I can’t say much about this one because I didn’t try it yet. I lagged behind on end game gear and I’m good for Explosive Conflict Hard Mode but not yet for Nightmare. Most of the mechanics are similar but with less or no tolerance for failure from players. A very well geared and tuned group is required to beat this. The bosses drop the remaining pieces of the Dread Guard set and a new mount which is a smaller version of the tanks we fight at the second boss encounter.
And this sums up the new content for game update 1.5. Let’s move on to
Game Update 1.6 – Ancient Hypergate
This update brings:
- New Warzone Ancient Hypergate
- New Elite War Hero PVP Gear
- New Heroic Space Combat Missions and New Grade 7 Artifact Statship Upgrades
- Advanced Gear Quest
This update finally introduces a new Warzone. As I PVP a lot, this new warzone is pretty welcome.
This warzone combines domination with team death match with resets during the match. There are two pylons which should be capped at each side of the map. After some time they will explode and the only safe place is the middle of the map. Also in the middle, there are cubes that spawn at 4 places where players can get a point boost which is awarded when the acquired buff is delivered at one of their team capped pylons. The player kills are also accounted for the final score. This concept is new in SWTOR and fun to play. Players must be aware that, along with conquering the pylons an defending them ( and there’s a lot of people that forget to protect and simply go away), they should avoid “massacre” from the opposite team. Constantly rushing a well defended pylon, in order to try to conquer it and getting always killed, is only awarding points to the opposite team. Also, the middle area sometimes gets swarmed with players trying to get the cubes. I’m really enjoying this new warzone mechanics and visually the map is very good, borrowing the visual elements seen on the Terror From Beyond Operation.
Elite War Hero
After the Elite War Hero weapons and offhands introduced on game update 1.4, now the rest of the Elite War Hero is now purchasable with Ranked Warzone Commendations. The Battlemaster set vendor no longer exists and the War Hero set is the one to get now with normal Warzone Commendations at the same price points of the Battlemaster set. The expertise values remain the same on all modifications and only the other stats have grown a couple of points per stat. This is good once it makes the gap between War Hero and Elite War Hero smaller than the gap existing between previously available sets. Fresh level 50 characters will have the Recruit MK2 set for free but after some warzones they can start getting War Hero pieces as soon as they get enough commendations.
Space Combat Missions and Starship Upgrades
There are 6 new Space Combat Missions which are really hard to complete successfully. It’s recommended to get the new starship upgrades in order to make the runs smoother. The parts are available for purchase in game with commendations and via Cartel Market which is raising some protests from the community as many claim that this is Pay to Win. Also the weekly space combat missions award Black Hole Commendations.
When players hit level 50 they are now presented with a quest which awards enough Tionese Commendation to almost a full set. This way players can engage easily on Hard Mode Flashpoints. This is a welcome addition in order to avoid wipe fests on Hard Modes due to low gear from fresh level cap players.
And that’s all for now! Long post this time (/looks at wall of text). See you next time!