While the people of my chosen home country of nearly seven years were busy making facepalm-inducing decisions, Bioware announced the details of their new "dark vs. light" event which starts this Tuesday and was already teased at a developer stream several weeks ago.
Apparently a large chunk of the community already hates it. "Hm, I wonder how long it will take until I see someone refer to the event as 'a slap in the face'," I wondered, opened a forum thread about it and bam - right on cue, there it was, in the very first post. Based on the amount of times I've seen that phrase get repeated since then, spotting it would make for a fun drinking game.
I'm honestly kind of surprised by how overwhelmingly negative the reaction has been. One major gripe seems to be that it's not actual new content but I don't really understand what people expected based on the previous hints. When I heard that there was going to be a light vs. dark event, something centred on a particular mechanic of the game, I fully expected it to also be a "mechanical" event that simply encourages you to replay existing content, similar to a double XP weekend.
The other major gripe seems to be that credit isn't rewarded retroactively, and I'll admit that this also annoyed me at first when I first read it, but after thinking about it for a little while it quickly became evident that if existing characters did count, the event would actually be a non-event for me, as I've already done everything that it asks you do to - I'd simply have nothing to do and get a bunch of free crap in the mail. Yeah, I definitely need more of that...
That's not to say that I think there's nothing to criticise, as I said I'm just surprised by the sheer force of the negativity as well as by the things people focus on. My own overall impression of the event can probably be summed up as "well-intended but confused" - something that pretty much applies to a lot of things that Bioware has done with SWTOR over the years.
I think the basic idea of having an event centred around the concept of light and dark side decisions sounded great. The alignment system is one of SWTOR's unique selling points and bringing that to the foreground for a while it not a bad idea. I also like the idea of a one-time event focused on a certain game-mechanic. It gives the whole thing a touch of "once in a lifetime, be there or be square" feeling that is hard to find in MMOs these days ever since there has been so much backlash about limited time content (not just in SWTOR, but in other games as well - it's just not "convenient").
But the execution comes across as weird right away. For example making it competitive seems counter-intuitive to the very nature of the game. Light and dark side decisions are tied to the story - something you want to take your time to enjoy. However, if you really wanted to add towards your preferred side's tally as much as possible, you'd probably be better off space-barring through content as quickly as you can, always making the decision associated with the side you want to support, regardless of roleplaying considerations, which is hardly fun.
Secondly, looking at the many requirements to earn all the possible rewards that are available from this event, most of them actually have nothing to do with alignment whatsoever. It's more about levelling another bunch of alts and going through all the content available in the game. There's some obvious dissonance there.
It's seems that the only thing that's really dark vs. light is the question of which of the two possible companions will be the penultimate reward - either a light-side Chiss Sentinel or a dark-side Zabrak Assassin. I'd go for the Sentinel in a heartbeat, simply because of her unusual looks. I don't really care if it makes sense lore-wise; people have been able to create any class as any species for ages anyway. I also suspect that Bioware didn't put nearly that much thought into their design as people might hope and simply went with something like: "Let's make the light-side one blue and the dark-side one red." The Zabrak looks a lot like one of my inquisitors actually - having her as a companion would just be weird.
All that said, I'm definitely planning on rolling up a couple of characters to give this event a shot. If I enjoy it, I'll keep working my way towards the higher tiers, but if I don't... well, then I won't. I don't feel that this event is targeted at players like me and I'm OK with that. Instead it seems to be intended mostly for the new and returning players that came in with KotFE but may not have engaged with the game all that much beyond the new story. We'll see whether it works.
Initially I was worried about character slots because of the requirement to roll up multiple new toons to qualify for several of the rewards, but thankfully I was reminded that the overall character limit for subscribers was increased to 40 some time ago and I'm nowhere near that, I'll just have to buy some additional character slots. I wouldn't have fancied rolling all those extra characters on a new server, getting character- or legacy-bound rewards in a place where I'm unlikely to spend much time in the long term and where I would be lacking the support network of an established legacy and a friendly guild.
I wonder which of the achievement tiers will turn out to be "too much" for me. Many are balking at the requirement to get eight new characters to 50, but to me that one doesn't actually sound that bad as there are no limitations on how you do it and levelling is super quick these days anyway. So you could level purely through flashpoints for example and get that requirement done at the same time. I have to admit that what sounds most off-putting to me right now is actually the thought of having to redo Shadow of Revan and KotFE yet again, as I was only just talking about how that can feel like a bit of a chore. But we'll see. I'm definitely up for giving it a go, and so are a few of my guildies.