Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ding! First Level 50

So I finally managed to get my Republic Trooper to Level 50.  My total played time to 50 was 6 days, 5 hours.  This wasn't a straight hard core play through as this was obviously the first toon that I've leveled, and I also managed to max out all 3 of my crew skills while leveling.  I also spent a fair amount of time at the Galactic Trade Network getting rid of some of the excess materials that I generated by doing so.

So I have to believe a much faster played time should be possible, but we'll see.  From an endgame standpoint, I've been doing some PvP since without a group finder in game yet, that really works the best with my schedule.  So far, I've managed to get up to Valor Rank 14, and am close to having my first piece of Battlemaster gear.

My plan is to finish leveling my Imperial Agent next to see the Empire side of things, then go back to working on my Jedi Knight on the Republic side.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Final Push to 50

So I'm now on the last planet on my Republic Trooper - Corellia.  I'm still finding the switch to a Gunnery spec, using Elara as a healer companion is working extremely well.  I've also almost finished leveling all of my crew skills.  Both Armormech and Underworld Trading are maxed, and Scavenging is at 390/400.  I've been a little disappointed with Armormech as a crew skill.   I haven't really found any benefit to it while leveling at this point, although I'm guessing some of the higher level gear that I can now craft might be helpful if I start doing more flashpoints and operations at end-game.

However, if you're interested in a crew skill that will be helpful to you while leveling, Armormech probably isn't it.

The levels seem to take a long time to complete in the high 40's, although I don't know how much of that is because I've been spending a fair amount of time finishing up my crew skills as well as working the Galactic Trade Network to sell of a lot of raw materials that I've collected while leveling.  From 46 to 47 took about 5 hours and from 47 to 48 took about 6 hours.  At this point, I'm at 5 days, 21 hours to 48.

On the Empire side, I recently hit 30 on my Imperial Agent.  She's continuing to level with a Sniper / Engineering spec which is working quite well.  It's lots of fun blowing stuff up!

Her played time to 30 was 2 days, 7 hours, so she seems to be progressing a little bit faster than the trooper.  I'm leveling Armstech with her instead of Armormech, but again, it doesn't seem too helpful, at least so far.

As soon as the Trooper is done, I'm going to push to finish the Imperial Agent and will then probably just alternate between factions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nerfs to Combat Medic Hurt Leveling

So I've been working on my Trooper for several days now following the release of patch 1.2. While I was looking forward to the patch in terms of the expansion of the Legacy system and the changes to crew skills, I hadn't focused as much as I should have on the impact that the changes were going to have to the leveling capabilities of my Combat Medic Trooper.

There were really just a few basic changes that directly impacted the Trooper while leveling:
  • Field Triage now reduces the cost of Medical Probe by 1 (down from 2).
  • Supercharge Cells now restores 1 Energy Cell (down from 2) when used and increases all damage and healing dealt by 5% (down from 10%). The shield applied by Kolto Bomb now reduces damage taken by 5% (down from 10%).
  • Trauma Probe now costs 2 Energy Cells to activate.
The net result of these changes is that on my combat medic, I'm running through ammo much quicker than I was before the patch. On most fights, I'm running out of ammo pretty quickly trying to keep Tanno alive. Combine this with the fact that my heals are not hitting for quite as much after the patch and it becomes a serious challenge to keep Tanno up on most encounters with Elites.

After several days of trying to get my groove back with combat medic leveling, I eventually caved this weekend and switched back to a Gunnery spec. So far, I'm having much better results with Gunnery, using either Tanno or Elara as a companion. Demolition round got a pretty significant buff in the patch, although Grav Round received a bit of a nerf, increasing it's cost and cast time. However, as long as I don't spam it constantly, I'm not finding ammo to be that big of a deal for Gunnery at this point.

I will say that I'm disappointed at the changes to Combat Medic. I was really enjoying being able to level as a healer and to have the viability of that approach significantly hampered by a patch is a bit annoying.

I have managed to get my Trooper to level 47 and am working my way through the Hoth bonus series before heading off to my final planet - Corellia.

After finishing the Trooper, I'll be switching next to finishing up my Imperial Agent who is sitting on Alderaan at level 29.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Belsavis Thoughts

While I'm all about the push to 50 at this point on my Republic Trooper, questing my way through Belsavis has me wanting to try the same content on my Imperial Agent. It's interesting, because it's not a particularly inspiring quest line for the Republic.

Apparently our friends at the Republic have been keeping all sorts of nasty prisoners stashed away on this planet Belsavis and there's been some pretty inappropriate stuff going on. It's been an interesting story line, both from a character standpoint and also overall and I'm anxious to see it to its conclusion.

My boy Tanno and I continue to rock through everything in our way. He's still making for a top notch tanking companion and we have very little difficulty with just about anything.

After I finish my Imperial Agent, I think I'll be heading back Republic side to try a Jedi Guardian - tanking spec with a healing companion eventually.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Turning Leveling On Its Head

With most MMO's in the past, it's always been the default conclusion that it is significantly easier to level as dps. Being a tank just meant that things were dying really slowly, and in the model where questing generally involved "go kill 15 of fairly easy mob A", being able to kill them quickly was key to a quick leveling path. Leveling as a healer generally wasn't even generally a viable option.

One of the things that I've found very interesting with SWTOR so far is that they seemed to have turned this model somewhat on it's head. As someone who really enjoys playing a healer in other MMO's, I've been very pleased that running as a healer is a very viable leveling model, particularly using one of my tanking companions.

I haven't tried doing the same with a tanking class and a healing companion yet, but I'm assuming it works equally well. The main surprise with leveling in SWTOR is that the standard dps model does not seem to be quite as effective as the other two, at least from what I've found so far.

The difference is definitely the presence of large numbers of elite mobs that need to be defeated, very often in groups with non-elite mobs and potentially other strong mobs. These elite mobs can be defeated by a dps / dps team, but it very often involves trying to clear a few of the ancillary mobs out, dying, rezzing and refocusing on the elite mob. With a tank and healing companion, these elite mobs can almost always be taken out without anyone dying and without any issues at all.

It makes for a much more challenging and interesting questing experience in my mind, but for people that are used to that same old "go kill 15 bad guys" scheme, I can imagine it would be very frustrating.

Luckily, there is a tank / healer combination available for every class in the game. Some classes pick up their corresponding tank or healer companion later than others, but for essentially all, it's basically within the first planet or two, and for many of the classes (Imperial Agent, Bounty Hunter notably), you pick up your tank / healer within the starting area.

I've now finished Chapter 2 on my Republic Trooper and am now driving for the finish line. I've hit level 41, finished the Operation Talon quest and am off to Belsavis.

On my Imperial Agent, she's hit level 28 and is just about done with the Tatooine bonus series, so she'll be off to Alderaan soon. I'm very interested to see how that one looks from the House Thul vantage point. I wasn't a big fan of the Republic side of Alderaan, so I'm hoping it will be more interesting on the Empire side.