BioWare’s done an interesting (if somewhat frustrating) thing in releasing a major game update to Star Wars: The Old Republic that essentially boils down to being a time-limited event with Game Update 1.7: Return of the Gree. Sure, the Galactic Reputation system is a fairly significant addition, but the real meat-and-potatoes of 1.7 is all the new event content. Fortunately, the new content has resonated well with players, as it seems BioWare may have successfully delivered something for everyone in 1.7.
On the PvE side of things, you’ll start off with a couple of dailies (including one Heroic) that you can do on Ilum’s Western Ice Shelf. You’ll need to do the dailies if you want to progress through the event content as the rewards will grant you reputation with the Gree faction and you’ll need to hit the Newcomer rank in order to experience most of the other event content.
The dailies themselves are typical of the ‘go here and kill that’ or ‘click this’ variety, but you’ll have to do them if you want to gain access to the Grey Secant, a Gree starship where most of the remainder of the event content takes place. The Grey Secant offers a trio of missions, consisting of a daily mission, a world hopping quest that rewards you with a neat droid pet, and then a non-repeatable quest to defeat the Xenoanalyst II, an Operation-grade boss that can be fought in both story and hard modes.
Finally, there are the world bosses to tackle. Two new world bosses called Surgok’k and Gravak’k have been added to the game and they’re both quite nasty.
If you’re in the event for the PvP, there’s some stuff in it for you too. South of the Grey Secant in the Western Ice Shelf on Ilum, you’ll find a contested area in the central section of the map where players of either faction can fight each other in small groups. Operations groups are not allowed in this area, so you’ll be limited to the standard four player group arrangement here. Again, you’ll be able to fight anyone not in your group, including players of your own faction.
There are two daily quests associated with this area. One of these quests draws a bit from the recently released Ancient Hypergates Warzone, in that it requires players to gather orbs and deposit them into a pylon. As you might imagine, this can make for some pretty crazy PvP. Of course, depending on your server, you may also find players patiently waiting for their turn to dump their Orb, bypassing that whole PvP thing altogether. Wusses.
Clearly, there is quite a bit to do in this latest SWTOR event, so there must be commensurate rewards to go along with it, right? Indeed, BioWare doesn’t disappoint here. The event vendor sells a variety of rewards, ranging from sleek new Gree weapons and armor to new minipets. The rewards are generally gated by increasing levels of Gree reputation and the weapons require Gray Helix components that are earned through playing the event content.
I generally have pretty mixed feelings about the event. On the one hand, it’s true that the event offers something for everyone. There are new PvE missions, world bosses, and even an Operation boss to fight. PvPers have a reason to check out Ilum again, too. On the whole, I’m disappointed that one of the marquee features of Game Update 1.7 is essentially a timed event. Sure, the event will come back later, but who’s to say when that is? My only hope is that BioWare has the next game update on deck by the time this latest event is ready to wrap-up.
But most of all, I’m disappointed that this appears to be BioWare’s ‘fix’ for Ilum PvP. Giving players what essentially amounts to a second Outlaw’s Den on Ilum isn’t really what I had in mind when I learned that BioWare would be doing something with the seemingly forgotten PvP area of the planet. What does this mean when the event has concluded? Ilum’s PvP area goes back to being a ghost town? Blech.
BioWare’s approach here also hooks into another trend that’s been making me uneasy for months: the de-emphasis of faction conflict. You’ve got the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic in a huge Star Wars MMO, and yet we are constantly seeing new content that de-emphasizes that conflict. Quite a few of the warzones are cross-faction at this point, the upcoming Makeb content seems to focus on the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic fighting a common foe, and now we have new open world PvP content that pits Imperials vs. Imperials and Republic vs. Republic.
Eroding one of your game’s strongest features doesn’t really seem like a good idea to me. If you’re going to do a two-faction game, having both factions be distinct and their conflict be meaningful really goes a long way towards selling the setting. I understand that the Republic faction is generally underplayed, but I hope BioWare’s answer to this issue going forward is to figure out a way to achieve some level of parity on both sides, instead of looking for ways to blend the factions together.
Read more of Mike's columns: