We’re not quite there yet, but if the deployment of Game Update 2.0: Scum and Villainy to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s public test server is any indication, we’re getting pretty close to the launch of SWTOR’s first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. This week, we’ll be digging into all of the good stuff now on PTS.
Probably of interest to most players, Game Update 2.0 brings the level cap up to 55 and introduces a new skill for each of the game’s Advanced Classes. There have also been major changes to SWTOR’s talent trees and even an overhaul of the Alacrity stat that should make it a highly desirable stat for just about everyone. If you’re curious, Alacrity now buffs your resource regeneration rate and reduces the activation time of all abilities, including instant abilities. It even affects the GCD if your Alacrity value brings the cast time of an ability (instant or otherwise) below the 1.5s GCD. It sounds like I’m definitely going to want to stack some of this stuff once the update goes live!
Hot on the heels of the new Galactic Reputation system introduced in Game Update 1.7: Return of the Gree is a new Achievements feature. What’s a good MMO without a set of achievements to chase? I’m pretty obsessive about this stuff myself and I know this has been a long-standing request from the community, so I am definitely glad to see Achievements come online. Like the Galactic Reputation system, Achievements are also Legacy wide, which should do well for my sanity. Completing Achievements will also grant you a variety of rewards including titles and even Cartel Coins. From the looks of it, you aren’t going to be able to bank roll major Cartel Market purchases using the Achievements system, but every little bit helps.
Speaking of Galactic Reputation, 2.0 adds two new factions, the Galactic Solutions Industries and Makeb Forces, for players to climb the ranks in. As the Makeb content is not currently available, we can’t really comment much on that just yet, but the GSI faction is interesting in that it requires players to complete tasks available at terminals located throughout the galaxy. The GSI vendor also features some colorfully named and designed new mounts, including my favorite, the GSI PMP-06 Pleasure Speeder. Aww yiss!
Believe it or not, Crew Skills are getting some love in 2.0 too. I was pretty shocked to find out that the new skill cap is being bumped to 450 (from 400) and that there are also new schematics and materials available for each. Two new tiers of materials are available, and of course, there are new levels of augments and the like to go with the level cap bump. What’s really exciting though, is that players can learn the recipes for some of the new Makeb gear via Reverse Engineering and some of the Crew Skills received a number of new orange craftables as part of their base progression. I don’t know if this is intended, but Synthweaving is able to craft a number of snazzy looking (shocking, I know) orange sets for the Force user classes, while Armormech seems to have been left out on new oranges for their Tech-using counterparts. I’m hoping BioWare plans on adding a couple of new sets for these guys as well.
BioWare is also adding a new level 55 Operation, with the appropriate name ‘Scum and Villainy’ to go with the upcoming expansion’s underworld theme. The new Operation takes place on the Outer Rim world of Darvannis, and is available in four difficulty modes. While I haven’t played around with the Operation myself just yet, I’ve been hearing that this one is quite tough and lengthy, so Operation-minded players should definitely keep an eye out (or hop onto PTS and try it yourself!). If you’re not quite up for Operations, 2.0 also adds Hard Modes for a couple of existing Flashpoints, including Athiss, Cademimu, Hammer Station, and Mandalorian Raiders.
Significant changes have been made on the PvP front as well. For one, Warzone PvP is being broken up into three brackets: 10-29, 30-54, and 55. These specific ranges have been controversial on the PTS forums, mostly due to concerns over bolstering and the potential for having a dead 10-29 bracket due to the game’s leveling pace, but BioWare has been seemingly forthcoming here with a commitment to make any adjustments if necessary. Gear has changed, too. There are three new PvP armor sets (Partisan, Conquerer, and Firebrand) and Elite War Hero is no longer available for purchase. Expertise also no longer utilizes diminishing returns; BioWare has instead opted for consistent gains for each point until reaching a hard cap.
One of my favorite changes in Game Update 2.0 is the complete overhaul of the game’s Commendations system. Instead of the planet-specific Commendations that we have to deal with now, planet Commendations will now be universal across all planets. They’re simply called, you guessed it, Planetary Commendations! You’ll have to deal with a Commendations cap that resets every week, but the overall change should help streamline things. This change has been implemented on the endgame side of things, too. There are four new Commendation types for level 50-55 content, including: Classic, Basic, Elite, and Ultimate. Classic Commendations will be used to purchase the existing endgame items such as Black Hole gear, while Basic, Elite, and Ultimate Commendations govern the new level 55 gear sets.
As we wrap things up this week, I’d be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the looks of the new gear coming in Game Update 2.0. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, really. Most of the new weapons actually look pretty good, but the armor is really hit-or-miss. BioWare has been kind to Imperial Agents throughout the game’s existence, as Agent gear hasn’t really ever looked as ridiculous as the stuff available to other classes, and the same is true this time around. However, we also have new ‘gems’, such as the Bounty Hunter’s Underworld set, which looks like a space mummy version of Dengar. I do appreciate the nod to Dengar, BioWare, but I think you guys just slightly missed the mark with that helmet.
What do you think of Game Update 2.0 as it stands right now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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