28 May 2013

SW:TOR // Different Realities

Telwyn wrote two posts about an experience labelled as “muo’ing”, which in SW:TOR means participating in (4-player) [HEROIC] content – Flashpoints, multiplayer missions – with two human players and their respective companions. Both stories offer a good read, so I gladly recommend taking a closer look.

I must admit, however, that his second post left me somewhat bewildered due to his group’s inability to defeat the second boss in the Athiss Flashpoint. They seem to have “hit a brick wall”. Their group consisted of a Jedi Guardian and a Jedi Sage and, according to one of the screenshots, the companions T7-01 and Qyzen Fess. The choice of companions might have a direct effect on their failure: T7 and Qyzen are both tanking companions, seriously lacking damage output. At least for the Jedi Guardian Kira Carsen would have been a much better pick. The Jedi Sage does not have access to a different companion at that time. The important part here is to put Qyzen into DPS mode (Combat Stance) and to deactivate his Taunt. The same goes, of course, for T7 should one desire to use him and the final screenshots suggests they did just that.

Another very important aspect of companion play is the need to manually control their behaviour. That requires targeting specific enemies and commanding the companion to attack them – ideally the one(s) the tank is actively working on (focus dps!). If one is using a healing companion, I would highly recommend deactivating their short duration (8s) crowd control mechanic in group play. Not only will it usually break early anyways due to AoE damage, but also the companion cannot heal while channelling that ability. Maybe one could make a case for using it under some very extraordinary circumstances.

The reason I was so puzzled with their struggles is that my wife and I had no problems at all “muo’ing” any (4-player) [HEROIC] content in the game whatsoever. None at all! Basically, we were ploughing through mobs, leaving them zero chance to resist. Usually, the experience went a lot smoother than “pugging” on my solo characters. Considering the fact that both groups (Telwyn’s and mine) consisted of two experienced human players respectively, who were sitting right next to each other and have often played a similar combination (Tanks and Healers) in other games in the past, I must admit that I find the different outcome rather strange.

At first glace, one could assume that my wife and I are just vastly more skilled than they are and that we have a better control over our characters (e.g. rotation, micro-management) or that our talents are better distributed (we are both using hybrid leveling specs, Tank/DPS and DPS/Healer). However, I highly doubt that and even if it were true, I simply cannot imagine it having this big an influence at the early stages in the game. With SW:TOR being an MMORPG, the most important element is, of course, equipment (gear).

The reality in SW:TOR is simply not the same for everyone due to the Legacy system. A player’s alts can have a direct influence on the current character’s gameplay. I have access to every (crafting) Crew Skill across all my characters and can easily produce almost any item desired during leveling, most importantly augment kits, augments, armorings, mods, etc., in short everything one needs in order to fill one’s Custom gear with the best level appropriate modifications. Furthermore, I spent a few credits on buying two (level 10) +41 Power color crystals for our lightsabers from the GTN. This means that my wife and I are wearing fully modded Custom gear and our companions are using level appropriate Prototype gear crafted by my alts with Armormech and Synthweaving.

Additionally, my Legacy level is 41 and I have seven level 50 characters, all with their respective companion bonuses unlocked, which increases the Presence attribute on all my characters by a large amount (+10 for every completed companion conversation line and another 100 for reaching level 50 as a Human species). Presence has an enormous impact on gameplay, particularly at lower levels, making companions very powerful. I can easily solo The Esseles and/or The Black Talon flashpoints at level 10 and can continue soloing all [HEROIC] missions on Coruscant and/or Dromund Kaas. Depending on the class (extreme) soloing can be kept up almost to the very end.

The discussion of soloing vs. grouping should best be left for another day. Hopefully, I was able to demonstrate how the Legacy system can cause different realities for different players. Every player needs to decide for themselves whether the like this or not, however, it does seem to be one of the unique features of Star Wars: The Old Republic.


  1. Fun fact: after reading this post I had my own interesting encounter with the Beast of Vodal Kressh yesterday afternoon. Pet Tank and I had queued up for Athiss on our new Powertech tank (me) / Operative healer (him) duo, and our group hit a brick wall there as well. I seemed to take a lot of damage from the boss (which was probably due to me being a bit undergeared for my level as I hadn't bothered to stay on top of upgrades), and our damage dealers paid little attention to the adds, so they ran amok chewing on the healer's face and generally doing damage to everyone in the group. After a couple of wipes we took our leave from the party, bought some gear upgrades (my own key stats went up by 20%) and tried again - next time around I took little damage from the boss, we had dps that nuked the adds as soon as they appeared, and the whole fight went smooth as butter. It was just amazing how different the experience was.

    1. Indeed. Bad DPS (not just low dps, but also damage dealers attacking the wrong targets) can have a very negative effect on success and in any MMORPG gear goes a very long way.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  2. I've only just found your blog, never noticed the inbound links before. Our experience so far has certainly been that the game is highly gear dependent. I faced similar brick walls with class story fights on my sage healer.

    We didn't even try Kira in that boss fight because I haven't used her at all outside of the story instances where she is required, so her gear is barely upgraded. Whatever T7's role trinity role is I love him as a companion so that means I'm keeping him ;-)

    Legacy may well make a lot of difference. I have one level 50 character with maxed biochem so he does supply our jedi pair with good quality med kits. However we do not have the big benefit of skilled alts to make armour or upgrades. The jedi knight is my partner's first and highest level character so he doesn't even have any legacy abilities unlocked (union is quite nice I find).

    Also worth noting that I did very few instances while leveling since my guild at the time outpaced me very quickly. So I can't really help with strategies and we would both dislike having to look up strats on wikis. We've since been back and finished the instance - gear made all the difference.

    1. Thanks for your comment :)

      I very much agree with your love for T7. He is one of my favourite companions as well which made me rather sad when he had to witness the atrocious acts that my Dark Side Jedi Sentinel committed. Kira is a lot more forgiving in that regard.

      I really enjoy reading about your team’s “muo’ing” adventures and I’m looking forward to more posts in that area.