Tag: 12XP

Dual Wielding: not the bonus xp you’re looking for

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Don’t miss out on Ironweakness’ take on the subject.

Introduction

When my current favourite game, Star Wars: the old republic, activated the bonus experience gain for class quests, i was excited. With this bonus, a max-level character seemed to be within my grasp in a reasonable amount of time. I enjoy planetary questlines, but the possibility to have one character at the level cap quickly was a very welcome one- credits would roll in faster, i could experience the most recent content additions and might even be able to join a guild and be able to play with the other members. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite pan out that way.

Mind you, this is from the perspective of a player who hasn’t ‘done it all’ on another character but tried to play his first character to level cap with the 12XP bonus activated (i didn’t come far, but that’s mainly because of a kindergarten/nursery strike going on here).

Effects on the leveling experience

Our last topic in the Dual Wielding series was all about the leveling process. My take on that involved a lengthy process, neverending at best, that accounted for all activities being provided by the game while still being heavy on the story side, giving weight to content, providing choice and not turning around when endgame comes.

I really liked this environment
I really liked this environment

If we take a look at 12XP with these entries in mind, you can already see the problems i am facing with it.

Neverending

Leveling with 12XP activated is a quick affair. When i was using it, i felt like hurrying from quest(hub) to quest(hub), sometimes gaining even two levels for returning one class/story mission. Usually, the rotation went like this: get the story quest, go into the area where it takes place, finish the quest, return the quest, visit the class trainer, read about the new abilities, continue through the storyline.

While this isn’t exactly like buying a high-level character as a newbie in Everquest 2, related to the skills, it did have similarities. Sure, i was reading what the new abilities were doing, but i couldn’t really test them- in the early stages, you would outlevel even the class quests quickly. Reading alone doesn’t provide a lot of insight- after a while, i didn’t know what my skills were doing.

Screenshot_2015-05-21_22_46_57_361451
Now…why are spaceships in the Star Wars making sounds when in space yet seem to be of no disturbance hovering over big cities?

 

Now, this might change a bit later on, and maybe there are class stories that are more centered around fighting and allow you to experiment with your skills, but muscle memory won’t build up.

Choice/weighted activities/use of all activities

With 12XP, SWTOR becomes what i call a “quest grinder”. There are some really great and interesting games out there that i have trouble to connect with because they’re basically all about questing. If you read everything, immerse yourself in the questing experience and go off-the-rails on your own from time to time, there might be some variety to be experienced anyway, but these games (Lotro and TSW, for instance) are basically all about the questing. After a while, this bores the heck out of me.

12XP isn’t forcing itself on you- you can deactivate it or apply other work-arounds to lessen the effect it has on your leveling experience- more on that later. But if you were to make full use of it, you’d just do the class quests. I read that you can experience the class story this way in about 10 hours of playing, but it would take me longer, personally.

Crafting falls off the side in this case- of course, you could still try and level your crafting by sending your companions out to gather resources, but all by yourself and by only doing class quests, you’d be very short on resources. Also credits. The characters i played with 12XP in mind were broke.

Story-related

This, of course, is the strong side of 12XP. If you don’t care about planetary storylines because you’ve already experienced them, playing only class quests is an interesting affair, story-wise, since there are no interruptions. One quest leads up to the next, the story is focused, you don’t have to play hours worth of other quests or flashpoints to continue with the next step. 12XP allows you to stay connected to your class story.

Effects on the staying power

In another edition of Dual Wielding, Ironweakness and i were discussing the viability of SWTOR as a resident MMO. Its’ strong points, in my opinion, were that the game makes use of the ingame currency, credits, and lets you spend it in many interesting ways and that by now, there’s a variety in content. The game is still a bit thin when it comes to non-combat activities, but there are strongholds and outfits, at least. One could also venture forth and go achievement hunting or fly a spaceship into battle.

Unfortunately, 12XP renders everything besides the class quests as side-content. Everything else is still there, but it isn’t even ‘optional’ anymore, basically everything else enters hobbyist territory.

For me, and going by the hints given by Ironweakness in some of his other posts, for my partner-in-dual-wielding as well, that made a huge dent in our enjoyment of the game. Nobody is forcing us to use the buff, of course, but deactivating it feels wasteful. Doing anything else besides class quests does, as well. While we do know 12XP is going to be around for a while, we don’t know how long it’ll be, exactly. In my case, i’m wondering if i’m able to level one class in the traditional way before moving on and play another class with 12XP.

The verdict

12XP is not the experience bonus i was looking for- as a matter of fact, i prefer 2XP- it gives a faster levelling experience without rendering everything outside of class missions “useless”.

There are ways around that, of course. You could deactivate the bonus, but it really seems to be a waste. In fact, i think that allowing to play through the game and being able to sometimes skip a planet or a dungeon is helpful in keeping the game fresh for alternate characters.

Another way i could think of is doing class quests only when they give less experience. Unfortunately, i lacked the time to test this, but if you’d, maybe, outlevel class quests by two or three (or four?) levels before finishing them/turning them in, they’d still give a considerable xp boost without rendering everything else a hobby.

Finally, you could also do them last- move to the planet they send you to, do the planetary story quest first (i received a hint by Shintar; just take all quests in the first hub of the planet, finish them all- there should be one quest left that sends you out to the next hub: this would be the planetary storyline) and then move on to the class story. This way might turn out to be similar to the previous one, but it is only viable for PvE-quest-players.

Personally, i think i’ll try all of these options, as well as playing with 12XP, on different characters. After all, i am willing to play the Trooper, the Sentinel, the Imperial Agent and another class (maybe Smuggler or Inquisitor), so i’d have enough characters to play around.

Remember, though, that this is coming from someone who hasn’t leveled to cap yet- if you already have, and experienced all the planetary content and/or can dash through the class stories quickly (as in 1-2 weeks, maybe), you can find enjoyment in playing with 12XP- the side-activities would be there, waiting for you and you’d even have credits to play around with them. If you take longer because of available time to play or because you enjoy doing this-and-that while playing, you might be better off by turning 12XP off.

Changing galaxies

Transferring to the Red Eclipse

Yesterday i decided to move Soofoo over to The red eclipse from the Progenitor. It wasn’t an easy decision since i always have roleplaying or at least participating in community events in the back of my mind, but i feel in SWTOR, roleplaying is an activity mostly confined to internal guild events and community events aren’t actually large-scale. I’m also unsure anymore that the community is much better, since my first flashpoint experience wasn’t very good. The Red Eclipse is also a much more active server, the fleet was full of people/characters.

The transfer didn’t happen, unfortunately. I’m not sure if it is processed by now, but it wasn’t until midnight despite the fact that it should take only 1 hour and me queueing the transfer at 2 p.m. I opened a ticket at 9 p.m. yesterday; we’ll see how far i’ll come today. One of the main reasons i want her over there is the fact that she’s the furthest along in terms of progression and also because i want the legacy on the new server. It’s still not level 2, but i don’t want to lose even this progress.

The Sage

So yesterday i dabbled a bit in playing Samdhara, the Jedi Sage i started on The Red Eclipse.

I have to say, this might be the class- mechanically- i’m looking for in SWTOR. I chose the “Balance” specialization and it seems that i not only have healing spells available, but also “leeching skills” that provide selfhealing in relation to damage done. While this still won’t be what i’d call a “true hybrid class”, it’s close enough, at least from what i saw.

I’ve progressed her through Tython making use of the 12XP buff- so i only did the class quests. Doing this left me basically without credits and somewhat underequipped. And unsatisfied, but that’s a topic for another post.

12XP

I’ll make this short remark, though: i feel 12XP is a thing most useful to players who already did the planetary questlines on other characters and who are to supplement their 12XP characters with credits and equipment. For me, the pace felt wrong; it was too quick to experience what SWTOR has to offer. In this regard, i prefer the 2XP- it is quicker in progression while still allowing the newbie player to experience the planetary questlines, flashpoints and group quests without feeling like they could do “better” if they’d only follow the class quests.

I might have to re-think my approach on that buff. There are workarounds, like maybe first get into the planetary storylines before doing the class quests on the respective planet. On the other hand, the release of The Secret World’s update 11 showed me once again how much i’d like to have a character at the pulse of the games i’m playing. I’m reluctant to deactivate 12XP for me until i have a max-level character, though, because i fear on missing out on the buff entirely because of my slow levelling.

As for the item to remove the 12XP; i tested it yesterday: it’s an item in your inventory granting an 8-hour-buff you can deactivate and that has no cooldown.

Something’s wrong here

Final Fantasy XIV should be my main MMO now; and i enjoyed my return there immensely. This week, though, saw me being able to play quite late in the evenings- mostly 10 p.m., and that’s a time of day when i feel more comfortable launching SWTOR instead. Last week saw 5 hours of SWTOR and 3 hours of Final Fantasy XIV- i think i’ll make the 10 hours complete tonight, because the general direction still stands: i feel more invested in playing only two MMOs and play more- it’s just that i didn’t have much opportunity to do so this week.

The downside is i don’t have much to tell you. I still need to enter Tarvus’ ship with Soofoo and Samdhara is on her way to Coruscant. In FF14, the next step is gathering and bring the Botanist up to level 13 or maybe even higher.

When Soofoo arrives on the Red Eclipse, i also want to explore the group content of SWTOR further- after all, there are quests for groups of two or four characters on the planets, and groups are often built using the general chat. Furthermore it’s time for a second go at a flashpoint.

I’d also like to get into the lore more, though i’m still unsure whether the better approach is to make use of ingame-tellings (the codex, datachrons) or simply reading something on the internet. I feel like games should provide their lore in-game in a somewhat convenient way.

Milestones: branching out and leaving Nar Shaddaa

I’ve made some progress in Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: the old republic. I’ve written about it before, but cutting down to three different MMORPGs a month proves to be the right decision for me. Granted, right now i play only two of them, but that’s even better! I feel invested, i want to get things done in both of them and when i have the time and mood to play, i just have to decide on one of them and get it started. Having 8+ MMORPGs installed can leave me open to analysis paralysis, so sometimes i didn’t play at all, even if mood and time were present.

Right now, though, this isn’t a problem anymore, because i decide based on factors like social mood (i’m not in a guild in SWTOR…yet), available activities/goals and time to play as well as time of play. Yesterday evening, for example, i didn’t get to play until 10 p.m., i found that to be too late to launch FF14, so i simply booted SWTOR.

Branching out

Anyway, in Final Fantasy XIV i reached the point where i can join multiple class guilds in the game. This is the point where the game begins to get complicated for me, since there is so much i want to do with one character but i shouldn’t get too wide-spread to still gain significant progress on the classes i play.

Still fascinated by the beauty of this game.
Still fascinated by the beauty of this game.

Doing class quests and story quests mainly has worked out fine, so far. I’m even below the current level of main story quest at the moment, so i’ll have to do something else next. But the opening of other classes means that it’s time to catch up, as well. For now, i’ll stick to conjurer and botanist mainly, maybe with a bit of dabbling as a carpenter.

Joining the Botanist Guild
Joining the Botanist Guild

 

Later on i will join the weaver’s guild, as well. Playing catch-up this early means i don’t have 20 levels of gathering before me like last time. I’ll simply level the Botanist up to 13 and keep it in pace with the Conjurer. The Botanist isn’t able to gather Weaver-relevant materials until reaching level 10, though, so i might use the wood i gather to get there to get the Carpenter started.

I think reaching level 30 is entirely possible before Heavensward launches next month, and that’s my main goal right now- then, i’ll take a look at the machinist and the astrologian as they are possible main classes for me. But i’m not in a hurry to get there- it would be detrimental to my enjoyment of the game and i simply hope catching up in terms of main story questline isn’t as bad as it sounds.

I also took part in the first weekly FC meeting, which was interesting. I think guilds too often neglect this part of meeting up, taking a look at each other, maybe taking a screenshot and just telling members what’s happening in the guild, introducing and promoting new members and so on. Many guilds rely on the forums, the fact that “everybody’s using voice chat anyway” and don’t value the social atmosphere of an ingame meet-up. Needless to say, i liked it very much and got a few laughs out of it.

Leaving Nar Shaddaa

In Star Wars: the old republic, Soofoo the Commando finished the class storyline on Nar Shaddaa. I can’t say i’m too sad to leave this place behind me – it has a nice look, but it’s a city-planet (again!) and full of narrow corridors/streets (again!) on map islands strewn around the planet map (again!). I like more open areas, but i think i’m getting used to them in SWTOR, as well. Despite the fact that Lotro’s Moria looks airy, open and free in comparison, i can’t say the corridor-thing wouldn’t work with SWTOR. After all, the movies themselves play in similar areas quite often.

I was pleased to enter a dedicated imperial area, though
I was pleased to enter a dedicated imperial area, though

 

I still look forward to a snowy planet, though (not Hoth, the other one), as that would be the landscape i prefer the most- unfortunately, snowy wood- and mountainlands haven’t been done too good in MMOs that i know of yet. Maybe SWTOR and FF14 will finally make amends in this regard.

Nar Shaddaa is also very….colorful. I really don’t envy the population – it’s loud, the light pollution shoots through the roof and it’s all just shady business, which is the point, i guess.

How can you live in a place like that? Oh wait, i do...
How can you live in a place like that? Oh wait, i do…

My plans for 12XP

Funny enough, the official homepage had a banner on the 12XP-site yesterday that read “it’s live right now”, so i went in to get something started only to find out it hasn’t yet. It’s always a difficult thing in europe to find out when something goes live, exactly. May, the 4th could be everything- it could be live right now, since it is today’s date; or it could even go live tomorrow, depending on the time it will be implemented in the US.

Mhorgrim made a comment these days and made me think about ways to make use of 12XP in a good way, for me. After all, i have two goals for SWTOR that are quite opposing to each other- on the one hand, i’d like to be where content updates are- at the level cap. On the other hand, i’ve not yet experienced planetary storylines, like to craft while playing and generally like to take my time- to an extent. So for now, i think Soofoo will remain 12XP free.

Freeing Forex
Freeing Forex

I’ll use 12XP, though, to explore different servers. Having made the move on FF14 from the “german” server to the biggest EU server, i can tell you the difference can be huge. Phoenix is full of characters everywhere i go. It makes a lot of a difference to see all the other characters around you, so i want to try and explore more populated servers. I’ll also see how it would and could work out on a NA server, i want to take a look at guilds and maybe start somewhere where i feel there’s a good one that might fit, and see about the roleplaying community. Transferring those characters to one server after i might decide where to land wouldn’t be much of a problem.

Concerning classes- i might give the mirrored imperial commando a look. The imperial agent is one thing on my to-do-list, as well. And the smuggler, the sentinel- so there are four classes and storylines i’d like to take a look at. I think i’ll go with the Sentinel/Consular first and try to get it to level cap as quick as i can.

Right now, i’m really enjoying my time in SWTOR. So much so that i can’t see myself dropping it by the end of the month. It even grows on me, but that might be because whenever 12XP hits, i can essentially level on my own pace. For instance, i could do class quests when i outlevelled them (to slow my progress) or do them on-level (to quicken it), or i could disable the bonus entirely. My guess is that i’ll make use of all three options, and that’s great.

Taris almost done

Commander Soofoo progresses through SWTOR in a slow but steady pace. I’ve made it to level 23 by now and am finding SWTOR to be an experience similar to Lotro in some ways, but without Moria. Alas, it’s also lacking the Shire so far- i’m not impressed with the planet design. Coruscant i found to be a mess and while Taris is slightly better it still isn’t all that good. What strikes me most is the hub-to-hub quest design and the missing day/night cycle.

But there are upsides, as well. I like the pace of the game, and i like the on-rail-spaceship missions. I can relax playing SWTOR and the spaceship missions provide an activity when i can or want to only play for half an hour or something.

Taris is nice to look at
Taris is nice to look at

What did i do?

Whenever i had time for strolling through Taris, i did some quests- after a while i concentrated on the class storyline which was….ok, i guess. I don’t know, is it a spoiler if i talk briefly about it? I don’t think so, because, well, the game’s 3 years old by now and my guess is that many players have already experienced this part of the game.

So the Commando’s looking for former members of Havoc squad and finds traces of “Needles” on Taris. Soofoo went out to find him and in the end, she did. She also executed him. Needles wanted to develop a weapon out of something that could turn people into Rakghouls. Luckily, Soofoo was able to stop him…and take some probes to the general of the republic, earning her some Dark Side points. I don’t really “roleplay” her in the sense of giving her certain motivations for her actions – i always found “military roleplay” quite boring- i might do something with my Consular when her time comes, but Soofoo basically makes the choices i’d make if i were in her place.

Earning 350 Dark Side points wasn’t part of the plan, but killing a war criminal and securing a possible weapon of mass destruction at least for research seemed to be worth it.

Soofoo looking for Needles
Soofoo looking for Needles

In shorter sessions i just went about the starship missions. I know they’ve been criticized a lot for being an on-rails minigame, but in my opinion, they work just fine as a distraction and something to do when there’s less available time. I became used to logging out in Soofoo’s stronghold, since that is a resting place and provides multiple options to travel either to the fleet, the last planet we were on, the starship or the planet of the stronghold. So when i don’t have much time, starting up a space mission is a quick affair and with 2XP active, it gives quite a good amount of XP.

One night i also went ahead and queued up for a dungeon. I was surprise that it takes so long to get in, but even more surprised when i got a group for Athiss and found them to be at some other place on a map i didn’t know. I hurried to follow them, couldn’t find them, asked for help (without an answer), found a hole in the ground, jumped down in a hurry, died, tried again and when the first member of the group came into view, they vote-kicked me. For what, i don’t know. Maybe they thought i was just hanging around somewhere for the XP, maybe it was because i told them i was new. Anyway, i found that without so much as a whisper, it was an unfriendly thing to do. Once again i found myself thinking about FF14’s community (in general very nice) and how that game provides simple solutions to problems like this one: everyone stands in a circle until every player has arrived.

Outlook

Right now is a good time to be in SWTOR. Granted, the 2XP event will be ending some time today, but the 12XP buff for subscribers will be activated on may 4th. I might make use of that primarily to get the Consular past Coruscant and maybe take a deeper look at the Imperial Agent’s story and others, but we’ll see about that. 12 XP is a great thing for those that have already seen all- or as much as they want- of the planets’ stories. I worry about it being too quick a progression for someone like me who wants to see the planets as well as the class stories. On the other hand it’s nice for me, as well, because it is quick progression, after all.

I'll find you, Needles!
I’ll find you, Needles!

I like my experience in the game so far, although i’m a bit worried about the variety of gameplay as well as planet design. For instance, i don’t know if crafting is a thing to follow through on, but i try and gather materials on my way from quest to quest and plan on crafting a bit to see if it’s “worth it”. The strongholds are nice, as are the space missions. If the zones would be more open and a bit better designed (have you seen WoW’s zone design? That alone is a reason to play World of Warcraft), i’d be very positive right now.

I’ll have to look for a guild, though. So far it seems as if the Progenitor’s more social guilds tend to be on the imperial side and i can’t see myself as a disciple of the empire. The most interesting classes to me are the Commando and the Jedi Consular. There are other options, of course. I could look for a german guild on one of the german servers (the german PvE server seems to be the most active server in europe) or even migrate over to NA; i don’t think the latency would be much of an issue. Timezones might.

Anyway, my experience in the game is good enough to put SWTOR on my personal “main MMO” spot for the rest of the month, at least. In may, i plan a return to FF 14 and make a push for Heavensward, but since i’ll still have subscription time left in SWTOR and the 12XP will come, SWTOR will be in my rotation at least until the end of may.