Hello everyone and welcome to another week of Muscommunication! This week is an exciting one! Not only did we just get hit with the launch of the guild page on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic site but it is also PAX East time! For those of you who don’t know, Taral V will be playable at PAX, the first time a flashpoint has been publicly playable. This is a pretty big deal! Let’s talk about why.
Although it is true that a very select few members of the media (including Brandon) were able to play a flashpoint at the Jedi Immersion event, I think this situation is a bit different for a few reasons:
- The exposure at PAX is on a much larger scale as it is open to anyone who can get to Boston. Unlike an event limited to media or fan-sites, PAX East is open to the public. This is an entirely different atmosphere, with many more eyeballs on the product.
- It contains players of a higher level, meaning that this is also the first hands-on the public will have with Advanced Classes.
- Lower level “dungeons” tend to have easier boss encounters that are glorified tank-n-spanks. Taral V is more likely to showcase more complex boss mechanics which will give us an understanding of BioWare’s approach to boss encounters. This will be the first visible gameplay—like a sign of pending weather out on the horizon—that will be telling for SWTOR’s endgame.
Let us take a look at the very limited specifics we have about the event:
- We will be playing through a 45-minute playthrough of Taral V including at least 1 boss.
- The boss encounter is intended to be very difficult and any successful groups will be awarded swag, making it clear that not everyone is expected to achieve victory.
- The Jedi Guardian (Jedi Knight), originally developed as a tank-only AC but expanded after tester feedback, will be DPSing with a single lightsaber.
With the Guardian in a DPS position, we might be able to guess at the roles other classes will be playing. With all of the classes being playable at PAX I assume the 4-man group will consist of one of each class. This leads me to believe that just like the E3 and PAX Prime presentations, the Vanguard (Trooper) will be tanking for the group. Where things get dicey are with the Smuggler and Jedi Consular. We have already seen the Consular healing in action so we know it is viable, but we also know that Smuggler has a healing specialization as well, the Scoundrel. In fact, the Trooper is supposed to have a healing spec, and if I didn’t already have him slotted to tank we’d have to factor that in as well. If BioWare really wanted to throw us a curve ball they will have the Smuggler healing and not the Consular, instead opting to show us the Jedi Shadow in action. With the Guardian DPSing, I would not be surprised to see the Smuggler healing as well. This is a chance for BioWare to show us how versatile their classes can be.
I am lucky enough to be attending PAX myself and so I intend to get my hands on the flashpoint at least once. I therefore intend to walk out of PAX knowing the following if at all possible:
- Tank threat mechanics
- The Trooper mitigation style (damage reduction, avoidance, cooldowns, etc.)
- The viability of ranged tanks and how they affect grouping
- How melee DPS compares to ranged DPS
- The viability of Guardian DPS
- The Smuggler healing style and its viability as a main healer
- How cover works inside of flashpoints and how effective it is
- How melee vs ranged affects mob positioning
- BioWare’s approach to trash vs boss ratio
- BioWare’s approach to boss mechanics
- BioWare’s approach to trash mechanics
- How group dialogue works in a flashpoint
- How loot rewards—assuming there are any—are distributed in a flashpoint
This is just a small list of the many things my brain will be analyzing once my hand gets to touch that mouse and keyboard. The amount of information we will be able to gain out of one 45-minute playthrough is astonishing and I don’t intend to disappoint! I am now off to finish packing and begin my journey to PAX. Remember that following PAX we will be having a special Q/A show based on our playtime with the flashpoint, you can submit questions for it here.
As always thank you for reading! Feel free to comment below or head to the discussion thread here. Alternately you can always email me firstname.lastname@example.org or send me your comments on twitter @musco. Also for those in the twittesphere feel free to follow me as I will be throwing out updates throughout the weekend!
Thanks again for reading and I look forward to talking to all of you in a few days! Off to PAX I go, see you soon Boston!