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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: SWTOR 2.1: Color & Collection Chaos

By Michael Bitton on May 15, 2013

Hoo-boy! BioWare deployed Game Update 2.1: Customization yesterday and like just about anything else SWTOR, the update has already been fraught with controversy. Update 2.1 is mainly a Cartel Market-focused update that adds the Cathar species, the ability to dye armor using consumable dye modules, for-pay new character customization options, and a Collections feature which enables players to spawn infinite numbers of Cartel Market (or other special) items on the character they were acquired on (for free) or account-wide (for cost).

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Let’s start with the existing pre-patch controversy (yup!) though. Players have been concerned about the basic idea that the update would be focused almost exclusively on Cartel Market content. With updates coming to the game every six to eight weeks, I honestly wouldn’t fault anyone for being upset that an entire game update was dedicated to features that mostly required players to open up their wallets. Fortunately, BioWare has explained that another Game Update is scheduled for release shortly after the launch of 2.1, and this update will be focused more on content or other systems unrelated to the Cartel Market.

In short: you won’t have to wait another six to eight weeks for more content, so crisis averted, I suppose!

Dyes

BioWare’s implementation of dyes in Star Wars: The Old Republic hasn’t been much of a hit with players so far. According to much of the feedback I’ve seen, and I’m mostly inclined to agree, the system is needlessly convoluted. Players can dye non-lore armor pieces on their primary and secondary color layers using consumable dye modules that can be acquired in a couple of different ways. The most basic way to acquire dyes is to buy Dye Kits on the Cartel Market, and these are essentially Cartel Packs that focus exclusively on dyes.  By Dulfy’s current count, 25 of the 46 dyes found so far are available through these packs and the dyes you receive from these packs are random, though you do have a chance for some of the rarer, more coveted colors, such as black/black, white/white, and so on.  A couple of dyes can also be purchased (for credits) from the Collector’s Edition and Security Key vendors and Artificers can craft a number of basic dyes as well as some rare dyes using schematics acquired through the Galactic Reputation system.

Players seem to be mostly unhappy with the current array of dye combinations that BioWare has provided, but more about the fact they need to rely on these combinations at all. This has mostly to do with the curious decision to use combination primary/secondary dyes for the lion’s share of the currently available options, while only making a small amount of colors available as primary/secondary only options. For example, if you want to dye something black and pink, it’s not currently possible to do so.  Black, as far as I can tell, is only available in Black/Black combinations, and pink is only available in a Pink/Purple combination.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a bit of a needlessly convoluted system.  ArenaNet tackled this whole thing in a much more elegant manner with Guild Wars 2.  Similar to SWTOR, players can acquire dyes through regular play methods or at random from shop packs, but the way to use and manage them in GW2 is far more intuitive. In Guild Wars 2, once a dye is consumed it is permanently added to your character’s dye palette and you can then go ahead and simply modify each piece of armor with whatever colors you have available through said palette. It’s simple and it works. BioWare can address the availability of primary and secondary colors and add new color combinations over time, but the system for actually using dyes is pointlessly frustrating.

Oh, and my fear of pink Jedi running around? That’s already happened, too. Blech! I love customization in games, but I’m always apprehensive of dye systems. Many players often use dyes just to create the most ridiculous combinations they can, and in a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic, it’s going to be even more of an eyesore to me. I’m sure this is unpopular, but I would have honestly been happy to just have certain color patterns available for different armor sets and to leave it at that. On the plus side, at least the lore armor is off-limits. There won’t be any players running around in purple/pink Revan armor, at least not yet.

Collections

I don’t know if I just didn’t read up enough about it or what, but I was equally caught off-guard along with the rest of the playerbase by the fact the new Collections feature would force me to pay to unlock acquired items account-wide. It’s true, you can freely spawn as many copies of an item you want on the character it was acquired on, but the usefulness of this is somewhat limited. For example, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the color crystals found in Cartel Market packs can be duplicated freely. For someone who dual wields or wants to match colors with their companion, this is certainly a welcome addition. But if you want that cool speeder you unlocked available on another character without purchasing it again, you’re going to have to pony up for an account-wide unlock to do so.

In many cases, it’s still a preferable alternative than trying to acquire the item again. The pod racer mount, for example, is available for 1800CC on the Cartel Market. It will only cost you 600CC to make that mount available account wide. If you want to have a pod racer on each of your characters, this is a much cheaper alternative. Fortunately, the costs to unlock many of these items account-wide appear to be pretty fair overall. Yet, this decision has definitely drawn the ire of many in the playerbase, and it doesn’t end there, either.

The real sticking point for most has to do with the way armor is duplicated. In order to be able to duplicate an armor set, players must acquire all pieces of that set. It is currently not possible for players to duplicate individual pieces. This is understandably annoying for players who like to mix and match looks and don’t necessarily acquire all items in a set. It’s also especially frustrating when it comes to sets that feature extremely rare pieces, such as the mask in the Revan’s armor set. Honestly? BioWare just dropped the ball on this bit and I expect a mea culpa to come shortly with a promise for a forthcoming change to the system to allow for the duplication of individual pieces.

Despite the controversy, I’m mostly pleasantly surprised with the Collections feature.  Really just about anything you can get through the Cartel Market can be duplicated account-wide for a small fee and there are way more pros than cons to this system overall. Ideally, I’d love for the ability for subscribers to be able to duplicate these items at will on whichever character they want without having to pay for an account-wide unlock (a common suggestion), but it’s pretty easy to imagine how this would play out. Many players would drop $15 on a month’s subscription and duplicate everything they could want and be done with it in one shot. On the plus side, subscribers receive a stipend of Cartel Coins each month, and the costs on many of these account-wide unlocks would probably be covered or mostly covered by that stipend. Is it enough of a balance? I guess feelings on that will probably vary from player to player, but I’m generally pretty satisfied with the Collections feature other than the armor bungle.

What do you think of Game Update 2.1: Customization? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


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Michael Bitton
MMORPG.com's Community Manager Michael Bitton gives us his thoughts and opinions on the happenings in and around the world of MMORPGs.
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