Well, the embargo is officially lifted, and we’re free to let loose the secrets we’ve been forced to conceal! Want a little peek? Well, you have the usual “I played this class, and this is how I feel about the game”, then we get to show you Directive 7 (I’ve got all the low-downs and strategies you’ll need). Lastly, the actual big surprise that we couldn’t even MENTION previously: Outlaw’s Den. Want to know more? Keep reading.
My Impressions as a Whole
Now, it’d be unfair to really rate the game based ONLY on the couple of level 10 characters I had a little time to play. To be honest, jumping in at that level on an Imperial Operative having no previous experience with the game…? Yeah, it was daunting and I honestly didn’t enjoy myself too much. I ran The Black Talon with Samm (he played as a Sith Sorcerer), and we just brought two companions with us to see if it was possible to complete the Flashpoint like that. Let me just say that it was EXTREMELY difficult, and during some parts, it was just one of us kiting things around barely surviving. This was partially due to me failing to train my newly-given Operative skills simply because I’m pro. After a quick smoke break, I jumped back on and gave the Sith Assassin a whirl on Dromund Kaas. Now, this class is just plain AMAZING! Despite starting off at level 10, every move just felt intuitive and fluid, there weren’t any problems at all getting adjusted to the class for me. This may be due to playing an enhancement shaman and rogue for a long period of time in WoW, but nonetheless, the short 40 minutes I had to play this class were better than the couple of hours I had on the Operative.
On a general level, the game obviously still has its bugs. It’s still in beta, and these guys are working hard to push as hard as they can to be free of all major bugs by launch. It most definitely can be difficult to get used to how things work in this game, but after you make a mistake once, you won’t make it again. A few of the problems I had:
- The cover system: As a healing Agent/Smuggler, you tend to target friendly players more often than enemies. The cover system only shows gumbies and the ability to roll behind real cover when you’re targeting an enemy, so this can be rather annoying if you want to be in a defensive position whilst healing.
- Tutorials: While it’s great there are so many, most of them are very uninformative. They tell you OF things, but not how to do them and tend to skip on a lot of features somewhat new to TOR. Like resurrecting your companion or a player: I searched around for a couple of minutes trying to find the button to do this before a friendly BioWare fellow showed me that I could just right click on the corpse to rez. Or the previously mentioned matter of me not training my skills because I was unaware that they weren’t granted to me after becoming an Operative. Small things, but still important.
- Lastly, while this isn’t really THAT big of a problem, some of the voice acting just sounded unnatural. This mattered very little when it came to voices I liked (I absolutely LOVE the Agent’s voice actor), but it can be a bit annoying when a voice you dislike just sounds detached from the conversation. Despite that, I somewhat felt like I wanted my character to say more during each conversation. This is simply a personal opinion, however, so don’t take anything from it yourself until you’ve experienced the game.
Directive 7 is a Flashpoint set late in the game (level 50, in fact). I’ll give a brief, spoiler free description of it, and then get to the juicy stuff…so if you don’t want to pseudo-spoil your first time doing this place in about 2-3 months, skip to the next section after this paragraph. Anyway, Directive 7 is a Flashpoint where you and your team are sent to a droid facility to wipe out a problem where the droids are rebelling. The Flashpoint is moderately difficult, contains three mini-bosses and three real bosses, and including multiple wipes… it’ll take you about two and a half hours. Going through, we had an Operative Medic (me), an Assassin tank (Samm), a Mercenary DPS and a Sith Sorcerer DPS (Red Rancor Crew). Now for the meat!
Starting off, you land on the planet and have a pretty good sense of where you need to go. We stumbled along, getting adjusted to our fresh level 50 characters that none of us had really experienced before. We then reach a blocked gate, with a computer on the left; we interact with the computer and end up speaking with a very human-sounding droid. He informs the party that he’d like to aid us in our quest, and directs us to his location after opening the gate. There are now two different ways to go: you can venture left, into a water canal, and skip a few fights; or you can go right, confront a mini-boss (tank and spank, I barely healed throughout the fight), blow up a spire which then falls, allowing you to cross to the other side of the canal. Either way, you continue through group after group of mobs until you finally reach the droid. He’s named Healer (he was a former surgical/medical droid, released from his programming by the soon-to-be-presented threat)…
After a vague but informative dialogue, we’re interrupted by Mentor, Directive 7’s big boss that controls every droid in the facility (except Healer). This is the first actual boss encounter, and it’s rather complicated… we wiped about twelve times attempting to figure it out and get it right. The strategy in itself is pretty simple once you get it down: there are three robots, named Theta, Beta and Zeta. Two of these droids (Beta and Zeta) start off with a shield (Damage Reflect and Damage Absorb respectively). This means that you have to begin the fight by attacking the middle target, Theta. Any AoE during the fight will knock you back. About every 15 seconds, the shields will switch to different droids, forcing you to attack a different target. The two side robots both only have about a third of the health compaired to the center droid, so it’s important to take them down as soon as you’re able to. After the side robots are down, the shields are no longer an issue, and it’s a pure tank and spank after that.
After the fight ends, we’re sent forward by Healer to prevent Mentor from releasing a “Liberation Signal”, which would essentially cause every droid everywhere to be under his control; he would then direct them to destroy all organic life-forms. Due to a limited amount of time to play, we had to skip the bonus missions that ranged from kill X number of droids, to disabling Y terminals to prevent this or that. At any rate, we continued on our trek to meet Mentor. After a short journey through some droids, we open a door and are confronted with a cyborg-like thing begging for help… but before he can end his plea, he’s taken over by Mentor, and we’re taunted once more. This breaks into a fairly unexpected fight with a large number of adds, but nothing our group couldn’t handle. We then continued along our path until we found our second mini-boss, named “Interrogator”. This was another fairly simple fight, with tank staying on the boss while it spawns clones of a random party member, which the DPS kill off, switching back to the boss when the clones are down. After we killed this fellow, we used a console and unwittingly summoned the next boss in an area not too far away…Bulwark.
After traveling through a courtyard and then a hallway, we see this hulking assault droid looming in front of us. We ended up dying multiple times before we realized just how to take this behemoth down. The fight goes as follows: you engage, then after about 30 seconds, he goes into a defensive mode, which surrounds him with a green shield, and his AoE slaughters everyone. This is why, when engaging, your tank runs down the middle, one DPS goes to his left, and the other to his right. When he declares he’s going into Defensive Mode, your DPS immediately destroy the control panel on their respective side’s wall to disable this mode permanently. However, after you do this, droids begin to spawn from where you came in from. The DPS then have to move out from the area by the wall to take position near the area where the adds spawn in order to kill them before they can repair the panel previously destroyed. Throughout this fight, there are random AoE missiles shot at you, but they’re easy to avoid. Aside from those things mentioned, this is another tank and spank fight.
When we finished the fight, we continued along our path through numerous groups of droids until we reached another mini-boss. This one was a little more tricky… what happened for us is that we engaged him head on, only to find out that the turrets in front of him could not be disabled nor out-ranged, and that he would push you back into the turrets if you tried to get away. In addition, he repairs the turrets, so destroying them first wasn’t an option. What happened, though, was that we all sneaked around the boss to his side that was opposite to the side that we came in from. On that side, there was a crate that provided a line of sight breaker to the turrets. We then sent Samm out on his lonesome to fight the boss while everyone else range DPS’d from behind the crate. In addition, the Bounty Hunter got agro on the turrets, and stayed behind the crate so they couldn’t shoot him…this was likely a glitch, and shouldn’t happen in the finished version, but it was a nice assist for my healing nonetheless. After downing this guy the easy way, we proceeded a short distance to what was the final boss…Mentor.
Let me just start this part off right: THIS FIGHT IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. It requires a lot of coordination, and is probably the most epic experience I’ve had since raiding in WoW. Just run that through your head…a four-man flashpoint providing the SAME experience as a 10-, 25- or even 40-man raid. I walked away from this fight feeling like I’d just fallen in love; my chest was puffed out haughtily, my heart was fluttering, and I was head-over-heels for this game and still am. ON TO THE FIGHT.
Mentor… he’s a complicated individual. After some dialogue demonstrating his disgust for organic-kind, you begin the encounter by attacking his primary core directly below his pokeball shaped eye. After that, all hell breaks loose. Two cannons on either side of the tower-like Mentor spawn, firing VERY hurtful blasts at anyone unfortunate enough to gain agro (being the healer…that ended up being me at first). Also at this time, a “claw”-like apparatus appears from the ceiling, and chases after a random player in the group dealing significant amounts of damage if it gets to be above you. After I was swiftly battle resurrected by our friendly Sith Sorcerer, I got back to healing people. We quickly figured out that you could make a Line of Sight barrier between yourself and one of the cannons by getting on the far side of the Mentor “tower” and could then just worry about a single turret at a time while avoiding the claw. After you down one turret, you then take care of the other; once they’re both down, a Generator starts to overheat. You can easily find this Generator because two turrets spawn next to it; you then run to that corner and destroy it. Also at this time, a massive droid with a big gun enters the field. A shower of missiles fills the air until you manage to destroy the Generator. At this point, the tank should be picking up the robot, and the DPS taking out the Generator and the turrets with it before switching to the giant droid. When you destroy it, another Generator can be destroyed, with two turrets from the beginning back and repaired. Repeat the opening strategy, and then another giant droid spawns as well as another over-heated Generator. After this giant droid dies, Mentor goes into enrage mode. You have to swiftly destroy the last Generator, and proceed to attack the central area with Mentor to finish him off. This node doesn’t have much health, but Mentor shoots out an eyebeam that eats half your health each time it hits you, drops missiles from everywhere, and with all of this going on…it’s impossible to live through it if you don’t kill him fast. Our party survived with only the Assassin and Mercenary still alive, but we finished this fight successfully on our first attempt.
I know, I know, you just got an exclusive look at Directive 7, and now we’re tossing more juicy goodness in your face? Well, take what you can get because BioWare hasn’t been this generous in a while! So, amongst all the Ilum and Voidstar things we were shown, we were also privy to this little gem. Outlaw’s Den is a special area on Tatooine made PURELY for PvP. Essentially, everyone who enters the zone who isn’t in your group is red to you, including members of your own faction! If you go in by yourself, you’re not likely to last too long. BioWare’s goal with this place is to create a fun, open-world PvP community where guilds can put together large groups, and just take the place over until other guilds come to challenge them. You can have up to 24 players in your group at a time, so a guild COULD bring two or more groups of 24 (creating some havoc with friendly fire), or multiple guilds with large groups could assault the place and attempt to claim dominion of the area.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking something like “Why would we want to bother with this whole mess, anyway? Why would we WANT to take over Outlaw’s Den?” The answer may or may not be satisfactory, but it’s here: Outlaw’s Den will have special rare-spawn vendors that sell items completely unique to them; there will be special, rare crafting nodes scattered around; there are random-spawn chests that provide PvP commendations; and possibly best of all, making a name for yourself and your guild on the server you’re playing on. By constantly dominating this area, people will come to respect your guild on both the Republic and Empire side. Or they’ll hate you. Either way, you get a community that knows who you are, and you know who they are. Relationships will be formed, and feuds will be started.
For those of you who like a shorter rundown of things in Outlaw’s Den and some additional information, here are the notes I took during the presentation:
- Guilds vs Guilds, Parties vs Parties, it’s an open world arena that’s much, much larger. I’d say it’s about the size of a medium town in WoW.
- It has special, rare spawning vendors, chests and crafting resources.
- This area is not for NPCs, stories, or anything driven or organized by BioWare’s hand. It’s player-driven, community-focused, conquerable.
- Possibility of a leaderboard implemented in the near future after launch; meaning you’ll be able to look at a billboard and see the most dominant guilds of the area or something along those lines.
- For those of you worrying about accidentally wandering into this area, there is a warning upon entering that you’re going into a “lawless” zone, along with signs saying so all through the path in.
- The area has a bank, an auction house (Global Trade Network or “GTN”), and all of your essential needs so camping out there as a guild won’t be quite as boring when there isn’t any action. There’s also a small arena area for localized fights.
- Some of the rarespawn vendors can be killed by a secret method (we were shown by Gabe clicking on a bottle inside one of their tents, and the vendor proceeded to torch Gabe). There’s talk of the vendor possibly dropping some of his for-sale loot, but this isn’t final nor for sure.
- Most of the things the rare vendors sell are cosmetic, such as mounts, but it’s all completely unique to that vendor and can’t be purchased anywhere else.
Thus concludes my embargo-life presentation. If you have any further questions regarding the information here or something I may have failed to mention, please send a tweet to @Kyle_Pants, and I’ll do my best to answer anything you ask. You can also leave a comment on this article, though it may be a while before I see it.