Star Wars Galaxies: Hoth Hubbub
MMORPG.com Star Wars Galaxies Correspondent Brian Turner writes this look at the recent addition of the ice planet Hoth to SOE's Star Wars Galaxies.
Chapter 11 entitled "The Battle of Echo Base" was released recently on the Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) live servers. This new heroic encounter thus far has been met with mixed reviews by the SWG community. Most problematic is the seemingly premature release of this latest chapter. Several parts of the game have been broken with no insight as to when they will be fixed, and lag hits the servers rampantly. Luckily, on their second try to fix delayed transport times; Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has succeeded with the 11.2 release. Unfortunately, other aspects of the game are still under strict scrutiny.
The heroic encounter itself suffers from extreme lag issues and frame rate drops even on high end computers. Realizing that SWG is over five years old now and has seen no major upgrades to the MMO's engine, many have speculated that the Hoth heroic encounter is just too much for this outdated engine. Whether or not we will see a fix to these problems is yet to be seen. It is a reasonable theory to say that marketing drove the release prematurely to align with SOE's free month for veterans.
Hoth has been requested for a long time and in some cases as an entirely new planet. The argument is made however that Hoth is a desolate planet and would not be appropriate as an entire new planet in itself. The idea of creating an instance for The Battle of Echo Base appeals to both sides of that squabble. Regardless of the arguments made, Hoth is an entertaining instance with many collections contained within, and a feel for the true Star Wars canon. Hoth is also the first heroic encounter that can reward multiple or no tokens depending on whether or not you complete the objectives, and how well you complete them. This particular heroic encounter is split to either Rebels or Imperials and each side fights for different objectives. Sticking to Star Wars canon the Rebels will always lose and the Imperials will always win. What determines your success is how well the Rebels lose or how well the Imperials win.
There have been some arguments as to the time period conflicting with the historic SWG setting (between Episodes IV and V). Luckily, this encounter does fit in well with the time period; in that it does not interfere with iconic character's life, death or portrayal in the original trilogy. This encounter takes a lot of teamwork and strategy to complete flawlessly. Even if you only get a few tokens, the instance is fun and the loot is rewarding. None of the drops are no-trade so setting the loot to random is an excellent way to complete Hoth with everyone benefiting from the drops. The Rebels can fly a snowspeeder and the Imperials can pilot an AT-ST during the first phase. The second phase takes place inside the base itself, and the third phase is the evacuation of transport vessels. Non-player Characters (NPCs) will help you fight throughout the instance, but do not count on them winning it for you.
Some of the collections include brand new killer collections. The probe droid killer collection rewards you with a probe droid holopet, and there are also kill collections for wampas, tauntauns, and Imperial/Rebel sharpshooters (depending on what side you are on). There are also clickable collections inside the instance which disappear once a player clicks on it. Finishing the instance and returning to the wampas seems to be the strategy of choice. The wampa boss (Ukajo) drops some interesting items including a Tauntaun skull backpack and Wampa DNA. Unfortunately this boss is extremely hard and requires some tactics to defeat, but the rewards are worth the victory. Two collections exist outside of the encounter, those being a Tatooine Vista Collection (rewards a painting) and a Tauntaun Holoemitter collection (rewards a Tauntaun holopet and holopet emitter). The Holoemitter collection pieces can be looted from droids within and outside of the instance. Most notably they can be looted from inside Borvo's Vault and the Droid Engineer's Cave on Lok.
With Hoth released one cannot wonder what is next for SWG. Game Update 6 is set to address Politicians, Cities, Spies, and Player Associations, and Chapter 12 is entitled Droid Commander. From what has been released so far, Droid Commander will entail a new expertise tree similar to Beast Master but for droids. No word has been said how this will apply to Droid Engineer Traders yet. Hopefully Game Update 6 will make cities viable again as a place to congregate and receive bonuses. Although many players have decided never to endorse SWG again, current players can be rest assured that new content will continue to come until we see the day that SWG closes down. Will Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) be the end of SWG? Only time can tell; and surely that will depend on player subscriptions. For now however if you are looking for a Star Wars MMO, SWG is the only viable option. For all the MMO's I have played, I have always returned to SWG and it will always be close to my heart.