26/06/2016

Dark vs. Light Event - Confused As Always

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.

13 comments :

  1. FYI: "light-side Sith Sentinel" looks awfully like a Chiss Sentinel to me. ^_^

    Excellent point about the fact so many activities they want us to do are irrelevant to the DS vs LS them they are going with for this event.

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    1. Lol, oops. That's what happens when I hit publish on a post late at night. Fixed now.

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  2. I too was a little surprised about the reaction so far. It seems to me to be a SWTOR take on the "Season" concept you have in Path of Exile or Diablo - a reward system to roll new characters.

    I doubt I'll get past the end of the class story to be honest as I won't spend enough time on it for more but it will be nice to have another class finished/unlocked and to get some extra rewards as a bonus.

    I think I'll aim for Legacy level as a goal.

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    1. I do like that the tiers are created in such a manner that even the most casual player should have a chance to feel like they're participating.

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  3. My biggest problem with it is that it seems like an event that plays against the game's strengths. "Hey, our game has personal story!" "Here, have an event that encourages you to spacebar through it all!" Whut.

    I realize that's probably mostly a problem for newer players, since players who've been around for a while have likely seen all or most of it already, but still...

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    1. I agree (as I pretty much said in the post). At the same time I'm not too worried though, because I think the vast majority of SWTOR's player base isn't competitive enough when it comes to this kind of thing to change up their playstyle for it to the point where it might affect their enjoyment.

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    2. True. I do worry a little about new players, but players who felt they needed to _complete_ this sort of event might not fit well with SWTOR's story focus anyway. I don't know.

      It just seems like they could've done something more interesting with the basic concept of a Dark vs Light event. (Especially when, as you note, most of the rewards don't even really fit that theme.)

      I think it mostly bothers me because it makes me wonder if the people running the show have lost track of what makes the game different.

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  4. Of course it won't be retroactive. Anyone who thinks it would be can't see the real purpose of this thing: To keep people playing through a content drought. Making it retroactive would entirely defeat that object.

    Well I hate to say it, but for once I'm in the "slap in the face" crowd. I don't think it was too much to expect that a new "event" would actually have some content. This is a cynical, lazy and manipulative way to get everyone back on the grind treadmill in lieu of actually providing us something new to do.

    We really shouldn't participate, because it will send them the signal that it is okay to keep giving us incentives to play old content rather than giving us anything new. If it is a success I fear for the game due to the precedent that will set. But of course it will be a success, and we will jump through their hoops just for a couple of shinies, because we're gamers, and gamers are flaming idiots. One only needs to look at how we've allowed pre-order culture and other such anti-consumer practices to flourish to see that. Tempt us with gifts and we'll do anything they say.

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    1. But I enjoy replaying old content! :( Not all of it all the time, mind you, but every now and then. I really appreciate how Bioware tries to keep the older areas of the game relevant and lively. Also, we don't really know how much of a content draught there will be after KotFE season one ends.

      Out of curiosity, what did you think of previous non-content events like double XP and such? Somewhat ironically, I actually disliked most of those, but I do like what they are doing with this one.

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    2. They seem to seesaw between making old content irrelevant (for example, exploration mission and hiding those unless you check a box to see them, XP boosts, etc.) and wanting people to replay all the old content.

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    3. Double XP, as far as the mechanics of it went, was something I was indifferent to. I've never been all that interested in speeding up the leveling process. I never really got the "rush to endgame" mentality, not wanting to have more than two or so raiding alts. My alts were mostly so I could experience all the stories, and I never found I needed extra XP for that. Even back in the day when leveling was slower, it never felt particularly slow to me.

      But I'll say something for Double XP weekends: they did create a party atmosphere, and the whole place seemed kind of festive, with more goodwill going about than usual. Just for that I liked them.

      I think the reason I'm a bit down on this whole new idea is that I was pretty burned out on SWTOR anyway, and was banking on some big new event with lots of content to renew my interest. I really do enjoy the events, as the guild all congregates and we do stuff together late into the night. Some of the best times we've had in the game have been because of events.

      Kind of stupid of me to get my hopes up like that, in retrospect. It was such a let-down for me to find out the event was just "do everything from the past four years all over again." The last thing someone suffering from burnout needs to hear. :)

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    4. One more thing your question made me realise (sorry for going on so), is that I never even really considered such stuff as Double XP weekends as "events." So when a new event was announced I was thinking Gree or Zombie plague.

      Something on the content-free side of things was furthest from my mind. Hence the extra helpings of disappointment and disillusionment.

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    5. @Pallais: I actually think they've been pretty consistent at looking after the older content: re-working quest rewards, re-scaling flashpoints, level sync etc. The "exploration mission" thing was more of an odd exception.

      @Guido: I rolled up my first character for the event tonight, and "party atmosphere" is a pretty good way of describing how things felt around me.

      And I totally get burnout. It's just... yeah, you pretty much said it yourself. Hoping for every new announcement to be the magical cure rarely seems to work out.

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