Last week marked a new and interesting phase in the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic when Bioware brought in guild leaders from around the world to participate in a 2-day Guild Summit. What makes this different than, say, Blizzcon, is that these were not fans who randomly bought their way to a celebration for fans and as a means for the dev team to show off the latest game developments. Bioware, by contrast, chose to bring in player leaders to ask for their reaction to changes coming in the v1.2 patch and for their input, feedback and ideas about a wide range of topics.
During the Guild Summit itself, Bioware showed off a trailer with all of the new v1.2 features spotlighted. The video was the jumping off point for a discussion by the dev team about more specific information about the new features and a subsequent Q&A with attendees and the virtual audience as well. We managed to live blog most of the Day 1 event. The event was also live streamed by Bioware and can be viewed in its entirety on the SWTOR site.
On the second day of the event, members of the press were invited to Bioware’s inconspicuous studio location in Austin to try out the new Flashpoint and Warzone that will ship with v1.2. In addition, our own Pokket managed to grab an interview with James Ohlen to talk about some of the things that were only briefly discussed during the Summit and questions that cropped up during the evening’s dinner conversation with other guild leaders. We’ll have more from Pokket a bit further down in this article.
LOST ISLAND FLASHPOINT
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Our press play session began bright and early in the Bioware offices with a good long look at the new Lost Island Flashpoint that will arrive in the SWTOR public test server on March 13th. We were treated to well-equipped level 50 characters and split into teams of four. In fact, the dev team told us that we were actually over-equipped for the Flashpoint though I have to say that it sure didn’t feel that way after about two hours of dying to the MINI bosses throughout Lost Island! As if dying repeatedly wasn’t enough, our pain was compounded by the fact that we were playing on story mode, not even nightmare.
Half of the press corps played Republic, the other half Empire. Our team was comprised of Empire characters, mine being a level 50 sniper, a character class with which I had NO experience whatsoever. Luckily, one of my teammates was proficient which allowed me to fairly quickly get up to speed.
The journey into Lost Island begins in on Ord Mantell and takes players through a junk mob-infested lava pit and into the lair of Dr. Lorrick, the evil genius behind the rakghoul experiments. In fact, Lost Island brings the Rise of the Rakghouls to a conclusion. Players in the Flashpoint work their way through Lorrick’s labs, checking in at various holoterminals to track his descent into madness. The way is, of course, littered with junk mobs and mini-bosses, the latter being very difficult to take down and requiring a lot of coordination in order to do so. The first mini-boss, an LR5 Sentinel Droid, starts off as “friendly” until players are forced to toggle some controls which causes it to go hostile. This guy throws down a lot of area of effect attacks that are violently damaging to players. And LR5’s buddies further down the road aren’t any less unkind…and these are the easy ones.
The first major mini-boss, a gigantic rakghoul named Project Sav-Rak is a level 50 elite boss with almost 200,000 hit points. If that’s not enough, he sits in the middle of a platform that that is surrounded by lava, into which players are hurled when he unleashes one of his signature “Sav-Rak Smash” attacks that sends them rocketing skyward and backwards at the same time. I won’t spoil it by telling how it is solved but it will take a concerted effort to take him down and the utilization of some pretty unusual tactics to do so.
The next mini-boss, and I do use that term lightly, is called the Transgenic Sample. This bad boy has over 213,000 HP. He also has a terrifically hard AoE attack that is rough to escape. The only piece of advice I’ll give here is that players shouldn’t bother trying to run up the ramp to get away from it…Transgenic Sample simply freezes players in place and then ravages them. So…yeah…
On the way to take on Dr. Lorrick himself, players are faced with some pretty tough “junk” battles. At one point, our team took on five enemies consisting of two medics and two techmasters. It was a lot harder than you’d think.
The final boss, about two hours into our play session, is Dr. Lorrick. He has two phases that players will have to work through in order to complete Lost Island. The first phase includes the doctor and two adds that are really hard to take down, particularly when Lorrick tosses out his acid AoE attack. Trust me when I tell you that you do NOT want to be caught in it. The adds are no slouches either. Our team had a much harder time in our test than players will have when Lost Island goes live due to the fact that the adds were completely healed every time they were forced back into their cryo-capsules. This bug, we were told, has already been squashed so players will have a lot easier time of it once v1.2 goes live. Just thank your lucky stars, believe me. *g*
Lorrick’s final transformation sees him turned into, you guessed it: A gigantic rakghoul. This particular phase is really rough as his infection attack is literally deadly. We did, however, manage to take him down and were the only team to do so during our play session so BOOYAH!
All in all, Lost Island will give level 50 players a good long challenge. Once folks figure out the best techniques for taking down all of the Flashpoint bosses, it probably won’t take the three hours that it took us to get through but it will still be tons of fun for players.