Last month’s highly anticipated expansion to Star Wars: The Old Republic, entitled “Legacy Of The Sith” (a.k.a. 7.0), was received with less than favorable fanfare. The update seemed to make more enemies than friends for many reasons. Personally, given the types and number of overarching systems changes the team made, there were bound to be some issues.
Last week even project director Keith Kanneg himself was quoted as saying that this update consisted of encompassing “…the most significant systemic changes made to SWTOR since launch.”. Even through the dark-lensed glasses of a pessimist’s view of 7.0, there’s at least one feature that shines bright and stands head and shoulders above the rest, especially for role-players, that being “Combat Styles,” and here’s why.
The day 7.0 came out, I ran my Galactic Republic main through the newly added story or tried to. Unfortunately, as Keith mentions in his update, I ran into a showstopper of a bug that has been a difficult one for the developers to catch and fix. Being in software development myself, I sympathize with developers facing a bug that can’t be reproduced in a development environment. So, I went as far as I could and decided to give the new character creation process a go which in turn gives me a taste of “combat styles,” which, in my mind, is 7.0’s most significant success.
This new feature is a role-player’s dream come true. And coming in fresh after watching the season finale of The Book Of Boba Fett / Mandalorian, I decided to roll with that inspiration in my character creation process. Since I was rolling a new Galactic Republic toon, it was more of a Din Djarin inspiration.
In 7.0, the new character creation process has been overhauled. The character creation process starts with picking your “origin story.” This was the equivalent of picking your “base class” in pre-7.0. This choice determines which “class” story you’ll be playing through, e.g., Smuggler, Agent, Trooper, etc. But now, and here’s the magic, you also choose a (combat) style akin to pre-7.0’s “advanced classes.”
These combat styles dictate what abilities and gear you can use. And now, the choices are open to mainly being non-restrictive. The only caveat is “Force users” can’t select Tech-based combat styles. So, while we can’t have any Jedi Knights using pistols, this feature still opens the door to many fantastic roleplaying combinations.
A new Trooper is limited to Tech combat styles.
This change is a massive plus for role-players as it allows us to finally do things like reenacting the life story of Anakin Skywalker by recreating his classic demise from Jedi to Sith. It will enable you to roll a Jedi Knight with a Sorcerer’s (Sith trait) abilities and hence use lightning and force chokes as you start choosing dark side responses in the Jedi Knight questline.
There is one caveat, though, to opening all the combinations. To use Empire abilities on Republic toons, your account (i.e., legacy) needs to have at least one toon on it that has earned the Dark V achievement (Legacy of Sacrifice). The same is true in reverse for Empire-based characters where the Light V (a.k.a. Legacy of Unity) achievement is required to select Republic combat styles.
Not One But Two Combat Styles!
Combat Styles give you flexibility.
Another feature that is exciting and related to combat styles is that subscribers can optionally choose a second combat style for each of their characters. You’re granted the ability to switch freely between combat styles, provided you are not in a phased instance or are actively in combat. It’s like respeccing in the pre-7.0 system. Sadly, there are currently no plans to enable this feature for non-subscribers, e.g., a Cartel Market token.
It's not a perfect design as the two combat styles are independent. You cannot use abilities from both styles selected in a mixed or hybrid way. The character profile UI now has a tab for “loadouts.” So, two combat styles minimally take up two loadouts. On each loadout, you set what weapons and gear you’ll use for that loadout, so each loadout has its own “item level” based on equipment slotted. Activating a loadout not only changes the gear you’re wearing but also resets your ability bar to match the combat style assigned to that loadout.
This feature is less about roleplaying and probably more about being able to create dual role characters, e.g., a character that can switch from a DPS role to a Healer role as needed to fill a void in a group.
Given this two-dimensional combat style selection, though, you can come up with many cool roleplaying combinations. To name a few examples that Vulkk cited:
- Palpatine character – Sorceror + Marauder
- Asajj Ventress – Marauder + Assassin
- Darth Maul – Assassin + Juggernaut
- The Mandalorian – Powertech + Vanguard
Going with my originally stated inspiration, I went with Powertech (with a Pyrotech discipline) + Vanguard to create my neutral, light side biased “Mandalorian.” Even though I still mentally struggle with a melee range pistol user, which the pyrotech discipline demands.
All Is Not Golden
While combat styles and loadouts are welcome additions, the system isn’t without its annoyances. My biggest complaint is that switching and activating a loadout requires fifteen open inventory slots. The act of switch seems to un-slot the gear from the current loadout to slot the gear from the loadout being activated.
There’s also the annoyance that you need to activate a particular loadout to slot and unslot gear on that loadout. If you are tight on inventory space, this becomes even a bigger hassle leading to holding onto gear until it’s convenient to switch.
While all is not golden, combat styles still ranks as a welcome addition!