In perhaps the most detailed livestream they’ve done in quite some time, Star Wars the Old Republic‘s team came out swinging on their massive itemization overhaul due to go live with their next expansion in September. This overhaul entitled Spoils of War is not to be confused with Game Update 2.8 of the same name from 2014. The title is apt however, as the BioWare Austin team laid out the basics of their plan to overhaul gear going forward, and also reaching into the past. The stream team included Live Producer Keith Kanneg (who has probably played more SWTOR than any three other players combined), Community Manager Eric Musco, and Creative Director Charles Boyd. Below the link you’ll find a summary of what was discussed.
The team admitted that some mistakes were made in the gear options for the Ossus update, and that Galactic Command wasn’t doing what it should be doing for players. They said they intend to bring back gear drops from harder bosses. They also promised to increase communication between themselves and their players, including penning additional blogs to coincide with game updates and/or livestreams to explain new features and content, as well as continuing to collect feedback on what players like or dislike or solutions to problems players are having.
Immediately, they dove into the details of the changes coming to the game with this gear overhaul. First up was a discussion of the new Set Bonuses and Tactical slot items that were coming. While old sets weren’t being deprecated, they were intending to create new sets of varying sizes (2 pieces, 3 pieces, etc.) to allow players the greatest opportunity for min/maxing. These Set Bonuses would shift to being affixed to armor shells, not the armor modification items. Also, Set Bonuses can be created to affect base class abilities as well as Advanced Class abilities.
Tactical items (often referred to as Tacticals on the stream) will fill a new slot on the character sheet and are intended to add a little spice to a character. A player could swap them out as need be. For example, they could get one that granted an XP boost, or another that did a gathering bonuses. Or, better yet, the most interesting options would involve boosting a class-specific skill, such as a Sith Sorcerer getting a bonus to Chain Lightning or Force Storm. The team noted that Tacticals would be rare at first, but would become more common over time, with of course things being based on difficulty of content. Unlike Set Bonuses, these are specific to a Discipline and Advanced Class, they cannot apply to the base class. There will also be some Tacticals as mentioned before that aren’t class-specific at all. A cheer went up in the chatroom when they announced that Tacticals will be Legacy-bound, so players can swap them to alts in the same Legacy.
A new aspect to the itemization overhaul that hadn’t been mentioned often in previous press visits was fully announced in the stream as well. Amplifiers will be additional stats on armor shells, armorings, hilts, barrels, mods, and enhancements. These are little bonuses added that the team was careful to note weren’t included in their baseline gear itemization, so they’re not required for most gameplay. Basically, a player who’s more into min/maxing is more likely to be concerned with these. Armor shells would pick an Amp from one loot table, armorings would have another set of Amps it could roll, and these would be like armor penetration, increased healing received, better harvesting, increased periodic damage, etc. While the chatroom was firm in their vast dislike of RNG-based mechanics, the team acknowledged there was some RNG involved. However, they were quick to point out that this system will come with the ability to Recalibrate (read: re-roll) Amps. Musco noted that in-game credits was the currency for this, and that each re-roll would cost more until the player hit an as-yet-unspecified cap.
PVP players of course were extremely interested in this revamp and how it would affect their gameplay. The BioWare team stated that with this update, Bolster would now start at the highest item level rating in the game, all players start at the same gear level. However, players could use Tacticals, Set Bonuses, and Amplifiers to tweak things to their liking. They said that unranked warzones could reward players with Tactical and Set items, but would not earn someone the highest item rating gear. Ranked warzones would reward all items up to max item rating.
The team showed off a graphic of their intended gameplay loop. The first and most important item on it was for people to play how they want. They said all content is a viable source to acquire gear, but of course harder content would be more rewarding. Drops going forward into this new content would scale based on a character’s current gear and item rating. They didn’t reveal the item rating necessary for Set items and Tacticals to start dropping. Another crowd favorite was their announcement that all Set Bonus gear and Tacticals would have RNG protection. Basically, the system would keep track of how badly a player’s RNG was and increase their chances over time to acquire certain things. Of course, the chat went mad when they stressed that all of this would be Legacy-bound, including previously-unavailable items from the left-hand side of the character screen (i.e. relics, earpiece, implants).
Next up, the team discussed how they were changing Galactic Command. First off, they are going to rebrand it as Galactic Renown and demote it to a supplemental way to acquire gear. The BioWare team noted their intention to make it a flat progression system, and that gear pieces that drop from crates will scale appropriately to a character’s current item rating. They want to make every rank in the system have value to players. They’re also adding a seasonal system possibly coinciding with future expansions. In a similar vein, Conquests will be relegated to a supplementary system as well. Changes to the Conquest system are already in play for Game Update 5.10.3, and they’re adding gear to personal and guild Conquest rewards.
Overall, Musco stressed, players will be getting a lot more gear than they did before. In order to address inventory issues, he announced a new Deconstruction system. It doesn’t require crafting, but crafters’ Reverse Engineering skills will give them an advantage. Items will break down into crafting mats, scrap, and a new unnamed currency that the chatroom immediately dubbed Charles Points or Chuck Bucks (not the official name). There will be a new UI for item deconstruction and reverse engineering that will help players quickly break things down by quality (such as deconstruct all green items, etc.) All new items going forward will be a part of this system, and they said their goal was to get older items looped in later as well. The chatroom went bananas when the team cheerfully announced that there would be a new Legacy-wide storage for crafting mats.
Speaking of crafting, the BioWare team said that it would be viable in the new methodology, and that many similar items would be craftable. However, they pointed out that while the items would be competitive with drops, they would require some effort to acquire materials and there would be some min-maxing disadvantages. Crafters will either be able to craft un-moddable max item rating gear with fewer options for Amplifiers, or they could craft max item rating mods and enhancements, and both of these would roll differently from world drops. However, there would also be some Tacticals that are only available via crafting.
Coupled with these new systems would be a pair of vendors who use the new unnamed currency (still not officially named Charles Points or Chuck Bucks…). One will be available constantly and will allow players to buy items to fill a specific slot. The other vendor is much more elusive and only appears at certain times and whose stock rotates each time. Min/maxers who are looking for a specific item for a specific upgrade might have to test their patience in waiting for it to appear in the rotation, but it sounds like such patience will be rewarded.
The final part of the gameplay loop that the team discussed was an overview via optimization. They suggested players experiment with some new playstyles. They reiterated that all the new gear can be moved via Legacy, that Amps can be re-rolled multiple times. While Musco wasn’t sure offhand, Kanneg confirmed in Twitch chat that the new still unnamed currency would be Legacy-wide. Finally, to huge cheers from the audience, they announced that absolutely none of this ties into the cartel market. “Nothing for real money,” Musco said. Kanneg amended that some cosmetics might appear there, but not the actual gear.
Penultimately, they discussed their plans to alter how they approach use of the Public Test Server during this time. They’re going to begin a phased approach, testing one aspect of the gameplay loop or class at a time, with wipes between the phases. They also announced the return of PTS rewards, unique titles players could earn by completing certain tasks on PTS, but the tasks will be changing. There would also be new rewards as well. They projected the first phase focusing on the Sith Sorcerer would be sometime in June.
Finally, they encouraged players to go to the official forums and provide feedback, suggestions, and ideas, citing that players would have some influence in how things shake out, what works, what doesn’t work, etc. They also intend to do a Reddit AMAA possibly as soon as next week, and a new player survey would be coming out in the next few days.
It’s certainly an exciting time for players of Star Wars the Old Republic. What are your thoughts on the matter?