Patch 1.7.2 deployed to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s live servers yesterday and while this patch does contain some significant changes, the meatiest additions to the game came as part of the debut of the Cartel Market’s ‘Shipment Two’.
BioWare is deploying Cartel Packs to Star Wars: The Old Republic in groupings of shipments. All the packs released from the launch of F2P in November until the last pack released a couple of weeks ago comprise ‘Shipment One’. With yesterday’s patch, the packs offered in ‘Shipment One’ as well as the level 43 one-off chest pieces offered in the Cartel Market were essentially retired and this also marked the beginning of ‘Shipment Two’.
The two new packs introduced with 1.7.2 are the Regulator and Enforcer Contraband Cartel Packs. These packs are themed around the upcoming Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion and you’ll be able to find an array of underworld styled goods in them. This includes arguably the most amazing set of mounts in the game, the Cartel Recreation and Luxury Skiffs. You basically get to lay back on your own private skiff while a droid drives you around. Seriously. And if that weren’t decadent enough? The Luxury Skiff also features a floating bowl of grapes that your character will casually reach into, grab a grape, toss into the air, and then catch with his mouth. I know those pod racer mounts were a huge success, but these are bar none the most amusing mounts I’ve seen in Star Wars: The Old Republic so far. There is one other new mount that is worth noting, but we’ll talk about that a bit later.
The packs also sport the requisite set of new emotes, a new set of Jawagrams, titles, minipets, a new purple colored crystal (!), and other miscellany. There are, of course, a number of new weapons in the pack, too. And most notably, the weapon models are all based off of the new level 55 gear coming with the expansion. You’ll also have a chance to score yourself a Cathar Honor Sword that I can’t help but compare to the Thundercats’ Sword of Omens. Honestly, take a look at it, because I’m pretty sure this was intentional. Hold onto these if you manage to snag one. You’re sure to make a pretty penny selling them to all the Lion-O clones that are guaranteed to come out of the woodwork whenever BioWare ends up releasing the Cathar species.
Image Credit: Dulfy.net
But coolest of all? There are quite a few armor sets in the packs and some of them are based off of characters from the KOTOR games, similar to the Darth Nihlus mask and Revan set found in previous packs. The new packs add sets based off of Carth Onasi, Darth Malak (!), and even Handmaiden from KOTOR II. Yes, I do realize it’s a sad day when I find myself excited about a deployment of cash shop items to my MMO of choice (my poor wallet!). Jokes aside, the SWTOR community really does love the cool cosmetic stuff and this latest crop of goodies really bumps the quality level up all around.
One of the more significant changes to come with 1.7.2 is the way BioWare has linked the Cartel Market to the recently launched Galactic Reputation feature. With 1.7.2, players can now earn reputation with the Contraband Resale Corporation (or CRC) faction, and this faction is entirely tied to the Cartel Market. The new packs can sometimes contain reputation trophies associated with the CRC and these trophies come in the existing array of quality grades (green-blue-purple). Like any faction, you’ll have a weekly reputation cap and the familiar ranks that go all the way up to Legendary. As you would imagine, the new faction also brings associated vendors with it, and these vendors sell anything from reputation-exclusive sets of gear and mounts, to items retired from previous ‘shipments’. Some of these items simply require you meet a certain reputation rank and a credit cost, while others require all of the above as well as new Cartel Market Certificates. These tokens are also found in Cartel Market packs, but appear to be somewhat rare.
This all caught me by surprise, but I do welcome the additional ways of getting value from my Cartel Market purchases. However, the new CRC faction did create some controversy on the forums, particularly with regards to concerns that it may constitute being ‘Pay-to-Win’. Essentially, players spend money on Cartel Packs and they can gain new items that others (sort of) cannot without doing the same. SWTOR community manager Eric Musco took to the forums to weigh in:
- “Reputation is based on money spent! - Although to an extent this is certainly true as the Reputation is gained by opening Contraband Packs, keep in mind that if you do not want to spend Cartel Coins on packs you always have the option of purchasing them through the GTN from other players. I know this will not diffuse the notion that it is a "pay to Reputation" but it is an alternative to spending Cartel Coins if that was your primary concern.
- Pay To Win - When designing a system for the Cartel Market this is always something we are very aware of. With this new Reputation system almost all of the items you can get have no stats and are purely cosmetic items or Adaptive shells. The only exception is the level 43 armor which was previously found on the Cartel Market.
- Exclusive Items - As a part of this Reputation there are three vendors found on the fleet, only one of these vendors contains items exclusive to this organization (which again, has no stats on it). The other two vendors contain items which are either found in packs from Shipment One, or were previously a part of the Cartel Market (which are most likely all available from other players on the GTN). These items all cost credits, Cartel Market Certificates, or both.”
Basically, it all ties back to the fact you can acquire all of these items (even if it is in a sort of roundabout way) through the GTN or player-to-player trades and the vast majority of the stuff on the reputation vendors are purely cosmetic. No big deal, as far as I'm concerned.
Free-to-Play Changes and Gree Event Returns!
The Gree Event has returned sooner than expected and with a brand new Blue Sphere reward mount that should take considerable effort to acquire. The best way I can describe the new mount is that it looks like something you might find a hamster riding around in in the Tron universe. Yes, it’s a giant blue Tron hamster ball. The mount is currently Bind-on-Pickup, which sent the SWTOR community into a bit of a tizzy given its steep costs, but it looks like this was unintentional and will be switched to Bind-on-Legacy ASAP.
Free-to-Play and Preferred Status players will have a bit of an easier time progressing through the game starting with 1.7.2. The patch adds a slew of new Experience Boost rewards to many of the game’s quests (including Space Combat) and Weekly Access Passes. The flat experience reduction rate will also trickle in instead of hitting you as soon as you reach level 10. Now, you’ll start seeing experience reductions beginning at level 12, and these reductions will increase gradually until reaching the old flat rate by the time you hit level 20. Finally, BioWare has removed the reduced Commendations cap for Free-to-Play and Preferred Status players.
It’s hard to say how much of a difference the new Experience Boost rewards will make to non-subscribers, but the latter two changes are sure to be appreciated.
All-in-all, 1.7.2 has shaped up to be a much more sizable update than I expected and I’m really glad to see that the quality of the Cartel Market items has significantly increased. I’m hoping BioWare continues to draw directly from the KOTOR games for many of the new item sets, as these items really represent the visual style I’ve always hoped to see in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Gree event making a comeback as quickly as it did is also encouraging. Not having a viable outlet for any semblance of open world PvP in between Gree events was definitely a source of concern when I learned the event would be temporary, but if we’re going to see short gaps between each event return it may not be all too bad, at least in the interim. I’m hoping BioWare has some meatier open world PvP plans in the works, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
What's your take on patch 1.7.2? Share with us in the comments below!
Read more of Mike's columns: