Given that I had only subscribed on Nov 7th, I missed the first week of the Shadow of Revan expansion. Good news is that I saved about 500k in credits in that week as now skill training is free. I wouldn’t have minded a nominal cost but training costs from 1-55 are (were) huge. You started the expansion broke, for the most part, unless you were a fairly active player. Heck, you needed to be a subscriber to have enough credits in the first place to pay for it all.
Which rolls into the part I think SWTOR does well, and that’s introduce new content and smooth our the power curve. There have been 2 leveling plateaus so far, one at 50 and one at 55. The current leveling process works up until 50 but the Makeb portion was punishing without the right gear. If you were just using leveling gear, you’d be behind by 50-70% in terms of stats. So Makeb now has a GSI buff which makes sure you have the stats to make it through. And if you complete the content, then you’re given the gear for a pretty decent 55. Smart.
The SoR expansion also does this, as they’ve assigned the baseline to a certain gear level. If you don’t have it, then you can do some solo flashpoints (the Forged Alliance quests) and get a full set of top level 55 gear to get you ready for Rishi. It’s a great bridging mechanism that allows players new to the game keep pace on the stats treadmill at all times, without massive peaks and valleys. Before the WoW stat squish, every expansion had massive power jumps between them. There are mechanics in SWTOR to mitigate it, which is smart.
The flashpoints themselves are cool, as I never had the chance to do them previously. You’re given a GSI droid who can DPS/Heal/Tank and makes it rather hard for you to die. Everything outside of a boss was a faceroll for me (though I was in gear better than Makeb quality) but it was a cool experience nonetheless. Each boss had some interesting mechanic – shield swap, stuns, massive telegraphs, movement debuffs. As a mechanic, I think this is pretty neat. There’s something to be said about soloing old dungeons and challenging yourself. The droid they give you simply allows for you to experience the content without that challenge, assuming you came in a bit late. I mean, I realize it’s simply a bridge and won’t be applied to other dungeons, but there are possibilities here. Old operations come to mind, as the power scaling in SWTOR is a fair bit different than say, WoW.
The story around these flashpoints is pretty neat too. It’s split into 3 pieces, and I’m not sure if there was an original delay between them all. I won’t spoil too much but suffice to say that Forged Alliance is pretty obviously an alliance between the Republic and the Empire. It’s all a setup piece for the expansion, so there’s a cool reveal at the end with Revan. A few characters are introduced during the run, including a pretty funny combo of a wookie and droid meshed together. There’s only a single decision point in all the 3 quests that seemingly would have impact, so I’m curious as to how that rolls out.
It really is something when you play a game and you’re the central character. The final cutscenes in WoW lately have been other people. Heck, my Alliance Monk’s final scene in Nagrand was 2 orcs fighting each other. My character has never spoken a word. It’s like watching a movie for the most part. I think that’s why I like garrisons, cause I’m the focal point for once. SWTOR scratches that story itch something fierce.
And for those who say you can only do a story so many times, I think that depends on the quality of the story. The “choose your own adventure” books, I’ve read hundreds of times as a kid. I’ve watched Blade Runner and Fifth Element at least a 100 times each. LOTR books/movies I’ve done a ton of times. Golden sci-fi, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Star Wars (4-6), Futurama…plenty of stories where I’ve enjoyed the experience multiple times. SWTOR really has a story quality issues. Some portions are amazeballs but they are not the typical story. I really enjoyed the 12x boost because I could focus only on the quality (-ish) stories, the ones where the most time was invested. I didn’t have to kill 10 bears.
I’m enjoying my time and that’s all that really matters.
The Forged Alliances flashpoints were indeed a staggered release. The first two came out in April, the second in… August I think and the third in September. And they are definitely looking into doing more with solo flashpoints. The two new ones on Rishi also have a solo mode which you can do once to see the story.