21/02/2012

Early Impressions of the Belsavis Dailies

I can't actually remember how I truly felt about dailies when they were first introduced in WoW. I think I didn't mind them, but I never did them religiously either. I vaguely remember having fun with the repeatable Ogri'la quests, and that they were a good way of accumulating cash for the epic flying skill at the time. However, with each new expansion the incentives to do dailies increased, and so did the pressure to do them or be left behind in terms of gear and achievements. By the time I had finished Cataclysm's Molten Front, I never wanted to do another daily quest ever again.

Keeping this background in mind, I was less than enthused to hear that SWTOR's endgame would include dailies as well. However, one evening I decided to putter off to Belsavis anyway, just to see what all the hubbub was about. I wasn't even sure whether I'd be able to do anything, as I had heard that you needed to finish your class quest first to unlock the dailies, and I still haven't done that. I found no clues about where I was supposed to go, but after simply exploring the regions of the map that were still unknown to me, I eventually ran into a Republic base where I was offered a quest to kill some Rattataki and one to steal some relics from the local Sith. I figured that they might be a lead-in to the dailies and got to work, if very slowly, as questing as a healer is still slower than as a damage dealer, even with companion assistance.

Once I had handed them in I was surprised to see a greyed out quest symbol appear over the NPC's head, indicating that I'd be able to repeat the experience tomorrow. But... they hadn't been marked as dailies! I continued on to a new quest which had just been unlocked, to collect venom glands from the local wildlife.

As I climbed a little hill, I suddenly saw someone zoom past below me. My guild leader! I greeted him happily and he asked me whether I was there to do dailies too. "I don't know," I said, "they don't say that they are dailies, but it looks like they might be." Next thing I knew I was grouped with him and another guildie, frantically clinging to his Jedi coattails as the two of them dragged me along for a wild daily ride. I barely had time to take everything in, but it was good fun.

The quests appeared to be arranged in a very linear fashion, with each completion unlocking one or two follow-ups. At one point we ran into a hitch as I suddenly couldn't pick up the last couple of quests anymore. Turns out that in the second base, there's an unrelated non-daily quest which you have to do once before the other ones unlock (the one to cure or kill the Gen'Dai). With my luck, I didn't realise this until the others had already completed everything else for the day.

Fortunately for me, I saw someone LFM for the heroic quests that I was still missing mere minutes later. Turns out that this group had another guildie of mine in it, a guy who has the uncanny ability to always show up in pugs when you least expect it. We had a very sub-optimal group setup with two healers, a melee dps and a companion tank, and we died several times in the heroic area but in the end we got the job done, not to mention that we managed to have a good laugh about it all. We also learned that letting one party member go AFK in the middle of where you just killed a group of elite mobs is not a good idea. And that's how I ended my first day of Belsavis dailies.

The next day, I saw someone forming a group for them in guild chat pretty much as soon as I logged on and I immediately joined in again. This time we had three healers and a damage dealer, but one of said healers was a guy who had been among the first in our guild to hit level 50, so he had been going through the motions for quite a while already and knew the drill. Now the speed at which this group went through the dailies made the previous "wild ride" look positively mellow. I was actually surprised when people wanted to pause to do the group conversations instead of simply having one person pick up the quest and then share it, but apparently everyone wanted social points. However, I was immediately chided (in a friendly way) for not hitting my space bar and thus holding everyone else up. But, but... I never use my space bar unless it's to skip the cut scene at the beginning of the Voidstar!

Still, I went ahead with it as I didn't want to annoy anyone, and fortunately my guildies' silly banter on Mumble more than made up for any missed NPC chat (not to mention that I had seen it all the day before). It also made me reflect on the fact that nearly all of the daily quest givers for the Republic are aliens that don't speak Basic. I wonder if that's intentional because it feels less weird to interrupt alien gibberish than someone actually trying to talk? Probably not, but it helps.

Either way, the heroic 4 area was quite fun with this group, because the perfect coordination of our crowd control was beautiful to behold. However, it also seems that no matter how good a group you have, nobody wants to actually kill the mobs in front of The Stasis Generator, and people would rather sacrifice themselves a few times instead to quickly push the buttons without killing anything. I don't quite get it, but who am I to complain about other people liking to attempt crazy stunts?

Anyway, after all this rambling, what is my early verdict of these dailies in SWTOR?

The main thing that struck me was that they didn't really feel like they were designed to be dailies. You can easily write a quest in such a way that it makes sense to repeat it, but for most of these it made no sense at all. I haven't been to Ilum yet, but one of my guildies joked about how a pilot there keeps crashing on the same spot every day apparently. The voiced conversations definitely don't benefit from daily repetition either, encouraging liberal space bar abuse. Again I find this strange, because SWTOR does have some written quests which you can just pick up at a mission terminal - wouldn't it make sense for dailies to work that way too? It almost feels as if these quests were never intended to be dailies, until someone decided late in development that omg, they needed daily quests somewhere, so they just took the last chain on Belsavis, made it repeatable and added some special rewards on the way.

This doesn't really feel like good design to me, and maybe it will turn out to be annoying in the long term, but in the short run I have to say that it actually kind of works for me regardless, because it means that the dailies don't feel like dailies (and thus annoying). Instead they lend themselves to treating them like a flashpoint, with no pressure to actually do them every day just because you can do all the solo stuff on your own. Instead you just assemble a group whenever you feel like it and time allows it (because there are those heroic quests at the end, which are the ones that give the best rewards) and then go nuts. I think I can live with that.

Though to be fair, ask me again in a couple of months. I might have changed my mind by then.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean about dalies....Suck!! But I want to raid ( we have are first one scheduled this Thursday night) so dalies are a necessary evil although I don't do them religiously. I usually team up with a guildie, which makes it way more enjoyable. Other than that its 3-4 hard modes a week and re'ing Bio for that elusive purple implant.

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