The much-anticipated behemoth Patch 1.2 is finally here!
- The UI customization is excellent
- Game performance seems significantly improved
- The addition of Recruit PVP gear provides a viable option for fresh 50s to get decently geared quickly
Since SWTOR launched back in December, the UI has been the main source of criticism across the playerbase. The new Interface Editor provides a high degree of customization, is usable and intuitive, and allows for sharing of the UI settings across characters. My only nitpick is that it lacks “snap-to” functionality for aligning interface elements. But overall, big thumbs up.
Tip: make sure to turn on your Target of Target frame in the Interface Editor. You can do this by clicking on the Target of Target frame and checking the Enabled box.
The other sticking point for many players pre-1.2 has been the poor or inconsistent game performance. Players suffered from low / inconsistent FPS, lag in populated areas, and issues related to animations and their timing. In 1.2, the game performance is significantly better – the game plays faster.
I’m glad the Recruit PVP gear was added to the game, as fresh 50s were cannon fodder pre-1.2. Of course, not all fresh 50s will have or be willing to fork out the ~320k credits to buy the whole set. But the option is there at least for those who can afford it and want to help their team.
- Ranked Warzones were delayed
- The PVP commendation rewards are out-of-whack with the cost of PVP consumables
- 9 of the 14 War Hero gear slots require the corresponding Battlemaster piece
PVP fans have been eagerly waiting for Ranked Warzones (RWZs), so it was disappointing to hear just 2 days before the Patch went live that RWZs were being delayed. That being said, as I wrote earlier, the planned temporary “flexible” and “mixed” matchmaking systems were unattractive, as they respectively paired solo-queued players against premades and RWZ-queued players against non-RWZ-queued players. In addition, these matchmaking systems did not address the real underlying issue: some servers have low populations and there is no cross-server queueing functionality. I am relieved that BioWare pulled the plug on RWZs instead of going live with those matchmaking systems and risk having them flop out of the gate – especially after the failure with World PVP in Ilum.
The PVP commendations rewarded from warzones no longer cover the cost of actively using warzone medpacs and warzone adrenals because of 3 synergistic factors:
- The amount of warzone commendations earned from matches (particularly losses) has been reduced, and
- The cost of the warzone medpacs and adrenals has doubled (10->20), and
- The cooldown for these consumables has been cut in half (180->90 seconds)
Some of my guildees are getting around this by relying on their re-usable Biochem medpac, which is great if you went Biochem. While some folks stockpiled PVP consumables pre-1.2, many players will experience a commendations deficit per warzone if they use 4+ consumables per match.
Most of the War Hero gear pieces require the corresponding Battlemaster piece to trade-in. This is fine for players who only play 1 spec, play classes where there aren’t multiple viable sets to choose from, or already have all the Battlemaster pieces from various sets that they might use. And keep in mind that Battlemaster pieces are competing for the same commendations that are used to purchase the overpriced PVP consumables.
- The quality of the PVP experience experience has suffered due to much lower Time-to-Kill (TTK)
- Class balance is heading in the wrong direction
I hadn’t played on the 1.2 PTS due to the lack of character copy (there’s no way I’m going to re-level a character on a test server, that’s rubbish), but my guess was that TTK in 1.2 was going to be roughly the same or higher (due to the number of nerfs to burst damage and talents across classes, and Expertise scaling). For whatever reason (lower Endurance on gear, gap between damage and mitigation provided by Expertise, etc), the opposite is the case. TTK is down dramatically, and this has taken away SWTOR’s best attribute in PVP: drawn-out fights that allow for tactical gameplay. Fully-geared Battlemaster players melt under any kind of focus fire. PVP is now a gibfest.
Since November and up through 1.1.5, I have stated that SWTOR had the best class balance of the major MMORPGs. Of course, the balance was not perfect, but I thought BioWare was taking the wise approach from 1.0->1.1.5 of incrementally making class changes to improve balance. However, in 1.2 BioWare decided to make multiple, significant changes to 7 of the 8 Advanced Classes. In my gaming experience, so many class changes at once has rarely produced a positive overall outcome (with the exception of WoW’s Cataclysm expansion, which streamlined talent trees and added new class mechanics).
In 1.1.5, here is what I thought was overpowered in PVP and needed to be looked at in future patches:
- 31-pt Shadow / Assassin tanks had it all: high survivability (Resilience, Deflection, plus self-healing), high mobility, very good damage, good debuffs, and Guard
- Sentinels / Marauders had too much on-demand survivability and the best group buffs in the game
- The friendly pull and sprint for Sages / Sorcs gave them a significant tactical advantage in group PVP, especially compared to the other 2 healing ACs
- Assault Spec Vanguards / Pyrotech Powertechs had too much burst capability due to Ionic Accelerator / Particle Prototype Accelerator proc’ing multiple times in a short window
- Scrapper Scoundrels / Concealment Operatives could easily gib people in smaller-scale fights (although they faced the same issue that other Rogue classes have faced in longer-scale combat)
- Commando / Bounty Hunter healers were too mana efficient
Of the above issues, the latter 3 were changed in 1.2 but the first 3 were not. Sentinel / Marauder was buffed and Shadow / Assassin tanks were untouched. Simply put, the class balance in 1.2 is the worst I’ve seen since the game was launched, and I no longer believe SWTOR’s class balance is positively differentiated from other games on the market.
I’m getting a sense of déjà vu: the sweeping changes in SWTOR 1.2 remind me of the sweeping changes in RIFT 1.5 and 1.6, in terms of having a negative impact on the quality of PVP. Yes, I know 1.2 went live yesterday, but I’ve been fairly accurate in projecting the impacts of live changes in the past.
I greatly enjoyed PVP in SWTOR from Beta through 1.1.5, even with the bugs and issues, because those are par-for-the-course with any new game. I am, simply put, bummed and disappointed with the PVP in 1.2. Things that were “broken” in terms of class balance were not addressed, and many things that were fine are now “broken” – and I mean in terms of how they work not bugs. I’m also concerned with the shift from careful, pinpoint class tweaking to across-the-board class changes. Is this going to happen again post-1.2, like it did with RIFT in 1.6?
- If you play a Vanguard / Powertech, give me some time to sort out the changes
- I haven’t had a chance to try my Gunslinger in PVP yet
- I’m not planning on re-rolling as Shadow or leveling my 20 Sentinel, although both are fun classes and are very strong
- Yes, I know Guild Wars 2 is coming, and yes, I pre-ordered it on April 10th as you probably did too. And yes, I know TERA early access on live is happening later this month. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been a huge SWTOR fan and want the game to flourish. The more games that are successful, the better it is for gamers and for the industry
GAMEBREAKER Host for “The Republic” SWTOR show: http://www.gamebreaker.tv/video-game-shows/star-wars-the-old-republic-video/the-republic-swtor-show/