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Gear Progression Goes RNG with Eternal Throne’s Galactic Command

Michael Bitton Posted:
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BioWare’s latest live stream event detailed the new Galactic Command system coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic with the release of the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion this December. The structural changes made to gear progression with this system are set to have a far-reaching impact on the game, and the community isn’t exactly too happy about it.

Galactic Command on a surface level is a system that rewards players for playing through any content in the game. Any content you do in the game, from story chapters, to heroic missions, to nightmare operations, will reward you with Galactic Command experience, and each time you level up your Galactic Command rank you’ll receive a loot box with (random) gear and vanity rewards for your advanced class (but not necessarily your discipline) inside. The higher your Command rank, the better the rewards. Sounds pretty cool, right?

The issue with Galactic Command that’s stirred up the community is that this method of gear progression is entirely replacing the existing system in SWTOR. You’ll still be able to buy gear from vendors (for credits instead of data crystals) while leveling up and crafters will now be able to craft the most powerful gear in the game (sans set bonuses), which is a nice bonus of the new system, but there are some inherent issues to tying gear progression to RNG lootboxes. Players are not too thrilled about this, to say the least.

The major pain point for players is that RNG loot boxes potentially resurrect the issue of duplicates that players found in the past with things such as Battlemaster (PvP) bags. It’s not necessarily as bad as Battlemaster bags, but the current system worked, particularly for raiders.  Currently, if someone in a raid is missing a piece of gear from their set and that piece drops, players missing that piece can roll on it. This helps get guild members geared up faster and is helpful in gearing up replacement raid members if a member quits or drops out. In the new system, each raid member would have to depend on RNG to fill out their sets. Many of those in the raiding community see this as a step backwards.

To be fair, you’ll be able to consume duplicate pieces for experience towards your next box, but this could still end up being a longer process for players in the end, especially since Galactic Command ranks are on a per character basis, not Legacy wide. If you’re looking to fill a gap in your raid group with an alt (say, rolling up a new healer), you’ll likely need to grind up Galactic Command ranks to get to a point where you’re even consistently getting that high tier gear in your boxes.

If this system supplemented the endgame item progression, it would be an excellent addition to the game in terms of allowing players to work towards the best gear no matter what content they’re doing, but it’s understandable that many in the community are apprehensive given the information we currently have.

Another key issue with Galactic Command is that it is subscriber-only. I’ve always seen BioWare’s approach to F2P with SWTOR as a sort of come play the story content for free, but if you want to play this game seriously, you’re going to need to subscribe kind of deal. With that in mind, it’s not exactly surprising to see something like Galactic Command positioned as a subscriber-only feature, but I feel it may be unnecessarily punishing towards those who do tend to subscribe, but also sometimes let their subs lapse and play at the Preferred level if they expect they won’t have a lot of time to play during a particular month. As a subscriber feature, those who do let their subs lapse from time to time may feel like their play time is wasted, since they aren’t progressing their Galactic Command rank. My suggestion? Treat Galactic Command the same way the game treats credits and hold experience gained while unsubbed in escrow, allowing players to claim the experience once they do return to subscriber status.

I don’t really raid or care for endgame gear progression in SWTOR, so this doesn’t impact me too much, but I can definitely empathize with the community’s worries. We don’t have all the information just yet though, so let’s hope BioWare has some additional information or plans based on the feedback its received so far to allay players’ concerns.

What’s your take on the Galactic Command feature? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB