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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: Finally! Quality of Life Improvements

By Jean Prior on April 29, 2014

Hands up if you've filed a ticket or simply complained about the fact you stomped the final boss in Black Talon or the Esseles flashpoint and just as you were going to jump back to Fleet, the game crashed. Tomorrow, Star Wars: the Old Republic will release Game Update 2.7.1, announcing the start of Ranked Warzone Season 2, Double XP weekend this weekend, and oh my Giradda, they say they're finally fixing that bug. 

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Let's dissect this thing, and I'll offer some commentary on what I think this means for the game.  First item here, Ranked Warzone Season 2 has begun.  What this means is that the game is progressing in keeping PVP a going thing.  While BioWare hasn't yet announced what goodies will be designated as rewards, it seems the Rancor mount from Season 1 was highly coveted.  One of the big things a number of players seemed to be confused about with regard to PVP rankings was why the number 1500 was chosen as a cutoff for Tier 1.  They felt that the number was very low for the rewards.  Community Manager Eric Musco had said repeatedly, even as recently as the Cantina Tour stop in Boston, that the number was chosen based purely on percentage.  5% of PVPers hit or exceeded that number, and thus Tier 1 rewards were given out based on that bar.  Season 2 will have a different number as the marker for Tier 1 rewards, but it will still represent 5% of the PVP population.

More Warzone quality of life improvements are listed toward the bottom of the article.  Having mission turn-in terminals added to all of the Warzones and Arenas is very handy, as is the fine-tuning of the newest Warzone, Quesh Huttball.  The bigger changes involve how often Huttball comes up at all.  BioWare has altered the percentage chance of all the Warzones to their originals, although both Huttballs will share the same percentage, so if you get 'Huttball', you could get either one.  They also chose to address mis-matchmaking complaints by altering how matchmaking was done in Ranked queues to reduce how often mismatched teams were paired up.  I'll be interested to see if this will eventually apply to Galactic Starfighter (where we were told that if you group-queue with a low-ranked player, the team would still get high-ranked matches), but also how it will affect queues, whether it will make Ranked take even longer to pop than it does now.

And in other news, Double XP returns this weekend.  It's handy for those folks who want to race to endgame on classes they might already have a high-end character.  It's also very handy for folks like myself, who want to level through every story and not have to do the same planetary quests and the optional quests every single time.  When asking my guild whether I should get my Trooper or my Agent finally off of Belsavis (or as I like to call it, the Genesis Planet), the overwhelming response was 'Agent', so apologies to Lead and Trooper class story writer Charles Boyd, but it's Alexander Freed's Agent for me this weekend. 

For everyone who wanted a varactyl and had no luck in previous cartel packs or didn't want to buy one off the Galactic Trade Network or didn't get one during the Rakghoul Resurgence event, now's your chance!  For 2400 Cartel Coins, the Cavern Varactyl is available as a direct buy from the Cartel Market. This isn't any different from the fact they first introduced a couple of tauntaun mounts as a farmable in-game purchase and then put another one up on the Cartel Market for a direct purchase awhile later, so this isn't anything out of line with BioWare's modus operandi.  We already know they're going to do the same thing with rancors.  Eric Musco confirmed previously that there will eventually be Cartel Market versions of rancor mounts out there. They just won't be the same skin as the Ranked PVP reward. 

One of the biggest pieces of news in the whole patch notes is that BioWare has finally, finally, gotten a fix in place for the infamous Black Talon/Esseles bug crash-to-desktop bug.  This also is intended to fix the similar bug with Boarding Party and The Foundry.  It's been a tough nut to crack for them, considering the bug has been complained about since before the game went live.  We were also told about the Bolsterizer added to the training areas on the Republic Gav Daragon and Imperial Ziost Shadow.  It should be a great way to see what a character's stats will look like as if they were in a Warzone.  Senior Designer Rob Hinkle addressed a followup thread on the forums asking if players could actually duel there whilst waiting for a queue to pop. Basically, people were going into Warzones often enough to check their stats and optimize (versus going in to actually PVP) that a stat-checker outside of Warzones has become necessary.  He also added that while players can't duel in that area yet, it's something he wants to add to the game. 

There are a few other smaller fixes in place, including the rather amusing bug where the taxis on Coruscant made like Wonder Woman's jet and flickered into invisibility, and the one where lightsabers didn't appear correctly in the preview pane due to bloom.  That will make my guild mistress very happy, because she's very particular about such things.  The rest of the major fixes were for newer flashpoint and operations content, which isn't much of a surprise.  Older flashpoints and ops tend to have gotten their major issues sorted out a long time ago.  One of the hugest changes for general items and economy issues, one that made my guildies cheer in Mumble, was the fact that the Rakghoul DNA Canisters from the Rakghoul Resurgence event and the Gray Helix Components from the Gree event are now bind-to-legacy.  This means that those six Gray Helix Components can be mailed to another toon to combine with the twelve he already has in order to go buy something. 

For a x.x.1 sort of update, this one's actually better than most.  By the time this publishes, there will be six more items added to the patch notes per Tait Watson's post on the forums, because those items were exploits that were big enough to be left off the patch notes until the update went live.  It's not unusual for game companies to keep exploits on the down-low until they're fixed, because they don't want players, well, exploiting them.  What I found interesting was the fact for a brief period of time, the exploits were actually published, because the next time I pulled the patch notes to review them for this article, the word exploit was nowhere to be found, and Tait had commented to someone else's post that a specific note had been removed until tomorrow. 

Hopefully, the next few x.x.x updates will continue this trend of bug-fixing, especially if they address older content that players have gotten tired of complaining about.  We'll see what the game has for us next time!

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