24/04/2015

State of Operations

I'm mostly logging in for operations at the moment, and that's okay. What's not okay, or at least not great, is that ops have been nothing but a struggle for weeks and it's really starting to get people down. I blame the difficulty.

Now, before you tell me that I need to learn to play, let me explain a bit. For most of the time that I've been with my guild, I've thought of it as a hardmode guild. Just based on experience, hardmode operations are where we spend most of our time making smooth progress while still being challenged. Story modes are easy for us. Nightmare mode is the kind of content we'll stick our noses in once we've cleared hardmode, and while we'll manage to kill a couple of bosses, it takes us very long and I don't think we've ever finished a NiM operation before the next raid tier was released and allowed us to overgear the content.

I think it's okay to acknowledge these limitations. The vast majority of the player base has them. Unless you're in a small number of top guilds, you're always going to run up against a progression wall eventually where the difficulty of the content is increasingly too high to overcome for the combined skill level of you and your guildies. It's a normal part of engaging in this kind of endgame. It is however also a risk, because if people run into a wall for too long, they get frustrated and stop logging in.


As it turns out, Sparky was the easy part...

From Bioware's point of view, the trick is therefore to combine the inclusion of challenging content with giving people the ability to progress for as long as possible without hitting a wall. Tiered difficulty levels are a great way of achieving this, because it adds several different steps for people to climb and therefore stretches things out. Ideally, you then release a whole new operation before people have had time to get frustrated with whatever difficulty mode they can't beat.

Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice have been very unforgiving in that regard. I've said from the start that I feel that their story modes are too harsh in parts and are likely to turn casual raiders off the whole thing before they even have a chance to get started. HealingSWTOR also asked back in February whether the operations are too hard and included the hardmodes in his question. Many experienced raiders have noted that the hardmodes for Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice are more on par with the difficulty of nightmare mode in previous tiers. So when you have a (slightly too diffcult for what it's supposed to be) story mode, immediately followed by what's effectively a nightmare mode, where does that leave a hardmode guild? Not in a happy place.

For comparison, I've looked at what I posted about Dread Fortress and Palace back when they were current content - we had to put up with them for over a year after all. From what I can tell, it took my ops group a little less than six months to clear both operations on hardmode. That means that on average, we killed a new boss every two to three weeks. To me, that's pretty good in the sense that it's neither so fast that things feel too easy, nor so slow that frustration starts to build up. But then we moved on to nightmare, and things started to slow down. Nefra was comparatively easy, but Draxus took us something like two months to get down, and even as we managed to tick off a couple more boss kills, we couldn't always get them down consistently, which made it all the harder to actually get any time on later bosses that we were supposed to progress on. In hindsight I'm pretty amazed that we managed to keep ourselves busy with nightmare modes for more than half a year under those circumstances, without going completely bonkers or having people rage-quit en masse. That level of difficulty just isn't our forte and we simply spent way too much time wiping and not achieving anything for it to be a lot of fun.

And now? Well, we cleared the story modes in the first week and got HM Sparky and Malaphar down quickly. That was back in December. For the last four months however we've been struggling with what comes after. We have got both Bulo and Sword Squadron down, however it's still incredibly hard to repeat those kills, to the point where we haven't really had a chance to really work on the third boss in either operation.


You can do it! Or can you?
 
This shouldn't be the state of things less than five months after the launch of two new operations. It really makes me miss hardmodes that are more tuned to our skill level. I don't begrudge the NiM raiders their fun, but at the moment I can't help but feel a little left out in terms of endgame content that suits my abilities. I really, really can't wait for the next operation, and I very much hope that Bioware will reconsider their tuning for that one.

21/04/2015

Why I'm not Thrilled by the Outfit Designer

Patch 3.2 will bring us the outfit designer, and after people have had time to test it on the PTS for a while, most of the reactions I've seen seem to be positive overall. They may criticise certain limitations of the system, but I don't think I've seen anyone suggest that it's a bad idea as a whole. Me? Once again I seem to be going against popular opinion by not being particularly thrilled by the idea.

It's not that I don't see any advantages at all: there is definitely something to be said for making it easier to separate looks from stats. I remember when the Thermal Retention set first came out - I thought that my character would look great wearing that while riding her tauntaun around Hoth or Ilum! But would I want to wear it the rest of the time (especially on Tatooine...)? No. So I wasn't going to move all my mods into it, and wearing a full set of gear with no stats was pretty much out of the question as well, at least if I wanted to do anything but strike a quick pose for a screenshot.


Like this.

With the outfit designer, silly ideas like this - costumes that you may only want to wear temporarily - will be able to thrive, and my inner roleplayer definitely appreciates it.

There will also finally be a purpose to all those green, blue and purple non-moddable pieces of gear again that you find out in the world or get from crafting. They had become pretty worthless except to gear levelling characters or companions about whose looks you weren't too concerned.

But at the same time I can't fight the feeling of how utterly redundant this whole thing is. The whole point of moddable gear has always been that you'd be able to keep a certain look while upgrading your stats. This is why my Jedi and Sith characters still own the lightsabers they received early on during their class story. If we now have another system that allows you to separate your stats from your looks, is there really a point in having mods anymore (aside from the fact that the outfit designer currently doesn't work for weapons and companions)? I mean, I suppose that mods will continue to exist as long as Bioware continues to release high-level gear in the form of moddable pieces, but if Bioware decided to make all gear unmoddable with 3.3, I wouldn't think that anybody would mind very much except some min-maxers who couldn't pick and choose every single part of their gear anymore. In the meantime we'll be left with a system that will make gear management even more cluttered than it already is. I still remember being confused by the concept of mods when I was a new player myself; I can hardly imagine how confusing this new mish-mash of systems is going to be to newbies. This is not good game design.

Also, while I'm generally very annoyed by people who criticise parts of the game simply for not being what they hoped they were going to be, I'll allow myself a bit of hypocrisy in this case and express annoyance that a feature called "outfit designer" will not actually allow you to switch between different (statted) outfits. Now there's something that would have been genuinely useful! As someone who does both PvE and PvP, switching between my two gear sets is always a nuisance (especially with the implants and relics, since you have to drag them into exactly the right place), and the amount of blunders I've made while swapping gear sets is much too high to count by now. Making that easier would have been something I would have appreciated with no reservations.

17/04/2015

Day 8: Memorable Moments

This is the eighth post in my 10 Days of SWTOR Screenshots challenge. Click on any screenshot to see a larger version.

When I think about my most memorable moments in SWTOR, a lot of them are from my newbie days, which automatically disqualifies them from this series as I'm trying to use at least somewhat recent screenshots (no older than a year). Another large number involve operations boss kills... which are nice and all, but I didn't really want to fill this post with shots of achievement pop-ups, as I feel that those are kind of boring to look at. Therefore I made an effort to choose memorable moments for this post which didn't involve killing anything large but instead managed to be memorable in some other, smaller way.


First off, we do have something that involves achievements, though different ones: a screenshot of the scoreboard at the end of what was probably my best GSF match ever. Did I break any records with my number of kills and damage numbers? Hardly. But I'm not great at starfighting, and in this game the way I kept picking up buffs and blowing people out of the sky just felt magical. The fact that six or seven achievements popped up as soon as the match finished only worked to confirm my feeling that something amazing had just happened.


Up next, we have my Sage in the Senate Tower... I think I was in there to pick up the Dread Seed and Shroud quests at the time. On my way out I was suddenly enthralled by these two lowbies however, who seemed to be duelling for the sheer fun of swinging their lightsabers, without even looking like they were actually trying to kill each other (though if they were genuine newbies, it's also possible that they were still struggling to figure out how to play). Either way it was delightful to see them bounce around and visibly enjoy just being in this virtual world and doing silly things. It's something that us more jaded MMO veterans often miss I think.


Remember my story about "the other Shintar"?  No, I never did work up the courage to suggest that name change to him. But I finally met him in person in a warzone! It's a shame that I was on my Sage at the time or it would have been an epic Shíntar vs. Shintar showdown. Even so I immediately felt the urge to hit my print screen button and capture that epic encounter for posterity.


Finally, we have my pet tank and me on Yavin 4, gazing up at the Lance Squadron Commander. Why was this memorable? Because this was the first time that we saw this guy alive... and it didn't happen until about a month after Shadow of Revan's launch. For some reason he was always dead when I came by! I have yet to actually take him down, while I've seen at least one guildie get the achievement for killing this world boss ten times already. I'm sure one day I'll get around to downing him as well... but because it took so long, it will feel all the sweeter.

14/04/2015

The Imperial Class Missions on Rishi in Review

Back in February I shared my thoughts on the new Shadow of Revan class missions on Republic side; now I'm finally ready to do the same for all the Imperial classes. Spoilers abound.

Sith Inquisitor

Like the one for the Jedi consular, I enjoyed that the inquisitor class mission reminds you that your character is actually supposed to be quite a big deal, this time in form of Moff Pyron giving you a summary of all the things your various minions have supposedly been up to lately. It doesn't really drive the story forward, but it feels good.

This was also the first class mission I played through that actually featured a companion - you have to do it with Talos by your side. Some people might find that restrictive, but personally I enjoyed the fact that the Inquisitor got some actual companion interaction when most other classes didn't.

The actual core of the story was... weird. The Sith inquisitor is another class that actually introduces a new character, a Sith researcher whose services you "inherited", which works well enough... but the actual story about his research is flat out weird and not very credible. It would probably make for an interesting starting point if they ever continue the class stories from here, but as it stands it's not very convincing. Nonetheless I didn't mind too much because everything else about the mission was good fun.

Imperial Agent

The Imperial agent brings back not one but two beloved characters and lets you wallow in nostalgia by talking to them about things that matter. It's quite impressive how well the writers managed to invoke the spirit of the long and convoluted agent story, even as they were limited to working with content that only takes about ten minutes of active playtime to get through.

What I found most striking about the agent story was that technically, in terms of gameplay mechanics it follows the exact same pattern as the smuggler story (go click on three things around Raider's Cove, then kill a dude), but where the smuggler story fell completely flat for me, this one was a major success in my eyes. Clearly the "fluff" surrounding each mission matters.

Sith Warrior

The Sith warrior mission is the one that most closely ties in with the main Shadow of Revan storyline, and while I enjoyed it, it mostly left me feeling kind of sad for my Marauder. The whole current plot development about the Emperor effectively leaves the warrior severely displaced. By the end of your chapter three, you are completely defined by your role as "Emperor's Wrath" - but where does that leave you if the Emperor has proven himself to be insane and his remaining close servants are all members of a death cult?


Bounty Hunter

The bounty hunter story starts with an emotional punch in the gut - Crysta Markon, your former handler from the Great Hunt, is dead, and her daughter needs help with getting revenge and getting herself out of trouble. This fits with the bounty hunter's theme of "everyone you care about is going to die", but while this was a bit of a hit-and-miss affair for most of the main class story, this one really hit home for me. I guess it helped that I had completed the Forged Alliances arc only hours before, which meant that I had been getting letters from Crysta in the mail about what a good time she was having. In fact, due to the delayed nature of those messages, I received one of them after I had completed the mission that mentions her death, which was just all kinds of weird.

As an additional gut punch, the people responsible for Crysta's death and whom you're sent out to kill have been trashing your reputation as well: you're supposed to be an "Imperial pet" that has no bite in underworld circles anymore, and one of the gang leaders you kill sounds genuinely bewildered that you would even care about going after them.

Combine this with the fact that this is the other class story that actually features a companion (Mako), and this was possibly my favourite of the new Imperial class stories - somewhat to my surprise, since the bounty hunter in general did not impress me with its class story in the base game.

11/04/2015

On Torhead and TORCommunity

I removed Torhead from the "SWTOR Resources" section of my sidebar today, because the site has officially ceased to exist. Rav wrote a thoughtful post on the subject matter a couple of weeks ago when the news was first announced, and I don't have much to add that I didn't already express in the comments there.

I liked Torhead and went through a phase of trying really hard to support it, but in the end it had already been apparent for quite a long time that the owners' hearts weren't really in it anymore, so the site's closure wasn't really much of a surprise at this point - though still sad. (Interestingly, all the old Torhead links now point directly at SWTOR's official website.)

I was all the more pleased when I found out that TORCommunity is currently running a Kickstarter to get a proper SWTOR item database running on its own website. The campaign currently has 10 days left to go and they've had to make new stretch goals because they kept meeting the old ones so quickly, so even if you don't want to donate anything, the project is already funded and everyone should get to enjoy the results of their work for free. I chipped in anyway, simply because I had a bit of money to spare and really want to support community work like this. Not to mention that I simply want a new database! Even when its updates slowed to a crawl, I still visited Torhead quite a lot simply because a database site is a damn handy thing to have in an MMO, whether you want to look up where a certain item comes from or need help with a quest.

Today I found out that there's apparently at least one other new database in the works: swtordata.com. It seems to be developed by the same guy who runs SWTOR Conquest, and unlike TORCommunity's work in progress, this one already has a shiny looking front page. At the same time the site doesn't seem to be very functional yet, as I couldn't find a list of pets on any of the drop-down menus, and all the item lists looked chaotic and unsorted. I guess we'll see who comes out ahead in the race to provide the community with new database functionality to attract visitors.

The guys at TORCommunity may not have a visual database to show yet, however they recently implemented item tooltips like Torhead used to have. After a lot of clumsy faffing about with Blogger I managed to integrate them into my blog, and my first test in my last post seems to work fine now (the first link under the third picture). My only gripe is that the tooltip takes several seconds to load after the rest of the page has already finished loading, which initially made me think that I hadn't copied the code properly, even though I had. Also, as far as I can tell the supposed ability to override old Torhead links doesn't actually work - or at least not with any of the links in the old posts I've looked at so far. But hey, it's still a work in progress.

I'm quite intrigued by the work of TORCommunity in general. One of its staffers was on TOROCast the other day and pointed out that the site has apparently existed since 2008 - but I hadn't ever heard of it until a couple of months ago. If you look at the site now, its visible archives only go back to December 2013... so you have to wonder what the site actually did during the five years before that. Whatever it was, they have clearly been trying to push their visibility lately in what seems to be an effort to compete with Dulfy. This competition has apparently been laced with quite a bit of drama, but as a fan looking in from the outside, I have to say it's nice to see multiple sites working on supporting the community and (hopefully) pushing each other to try harder.

The one thing that currently worries me a bit about TORCommunity is that they have so many grand plans, I'm a bit doubtful whether they'll actually be able to go through with them all. You just have to take a look at their Kickstarter page - they don't simply want to build an item database, but also a character builder, interactive maps, leaderboards and who knows what else. They also swallowed up TORParse, yet that part of the site has been languishing in a barely functional state for months. (I was super-stoked when it re-launched originally... then I uploaded my first log and it couldn't even show me my healing done, only my dps - which, as a healer, I found to be utterly pointless.)

Nonetheless this hasn't stopped me from contributing to the project, because I really want to see them succeed, and I'd never pledge more to a Kickstarter than I can afford to lose. And while everyone has to make their own decisions on whether they want to support TORCommunity's current development or not, I think it's definitely worth drawing attention to.

09/04/2015

Day 7: Team

This is the seventh post in my 10 Days of SWTOR Screenshots challenge. Click on any screenshot to see a larger version.


The most important team I'm a part of these days is that consisting of my pet tank and me. It seems almost quaint to think back to the days when we had only just started levelling our first pair of characters together and were constantly bickering about the "right" way to level. (These days I have thoroughly accepted that his way is the way we do it... even if you'll note that I still don't agree that it's the "correct" way.)

It's not that we play together all the time (which we really don't), but we have five different pairs of characters that we only ever play together when we do play them, and another couple of characters that at least frequently team up to participate in endgame content together.

There is something to be said for having someone you can bug at any time if you need just one more person to press that button to access a datacron... or whatever else you need may suddenly need help with on a Saturday morning.


After over three years of blogging, I consider the SWTOR community outside of the game an important part of my team as well, though we rarely get to play together. The problem is that I have limited playtime these days and that I'm pretty much never short on things I want to do and people I want to do them with. So even though I'm happy to do things like join custom channels (/waves at The Red Eclipse's #SWTORFamily), in practice I'm just always busy doing something else already. I hope this doesn't create any hard feelings; it's just that I have different ways of interacting with different people.

Nonetheless chance encounters with other community members in game always excite me - like in this picture I just happened to run into Rav from Ravalation in a random Novare Coast, which filled me with an immediate urge to capture the moment in a screenshot.


Last but not least, where would I be without my guild? Here's a shot of people bouncing around happily after we had completed Terror from Beyond on nightmare for the first time and got to place the furniture item that drops off the last boss on our guild ship.

I recently caught myself thinking about how I don't talk very much about my guild anymore and whether that's a bad sign... but I think it's more that we've become one of those "aged" guilds, where everyone is sort of settled in their ways (even if people continuously bicker about things like how we should handle progression) and we see relatively few new faces or major changes most of the time. Also, since I let people drag me into accepting an officership (even if I'm officially only supposed to take care of website administration), it has become hard to just enjoy the carefree and fun side of being in a guild, when I know the amount of work that people have to put in behind the scenes sometimes.

05/04/2015

So what's the difference between beating Revan solo vs. in the operation?

This is a question that has been on my mind at one time or another pretty much ever since I heard that Shadow of Revan was going to give you a separate option to complete its story line solo or in a group.

What I didn't expect was that it would take me about four months to actually get the answer to that question from first-hand experience. I knew that the final solo fight was pretty horrifically bugged during Shadow of Revan's early access period, but I didn't expect the operations mission to be bugged as well - and to go unfixed for months.

Specifically the problem was that the mission just wouldn't update for some people (including me), with no known workaround other than to try again the next week and see if it worked then. For me this was annoying in so far as I had chosen to experience the operations story path on one of my alts, and while I run ops pretty much every week, getting to do so on an alt is much rarer. I think it was finally on my fourth or fifth completion of Temple of Sacrifice on my Sage that I also received credit for "The Enemy Within" and was finally able to see the alternate ending.

So... was it worth it? Both on a personal level to see both "versions" of the ending and on a development level to even make two different endings? Honestly, I'm not sure.

First off it's worth mentioning that the actual ending is completely unaffected by your choice - the actual ending being the showdown with Revan on the Forgotten Terrace (the one that you can repeat as a weekly) and a solo mission, regardless of which path you choose.

So effectively the only thing that's different is one of the missions that lead up to this ending, which require you to either complete Temple of Sacrifice once or to do a round of dailies. In hindsight it honestly feels like much ado about nothing.

The operation is cool, but if you're the kind of person who enjoys running operations, you're going to do so with or without an extra quest to go there. Choosing the operations path also has the side effect that you're locked out of being able to do the dailies until you complete the ops mission, which was quite a nuisance, especially with the mission continuously bugging out and refusing to complete.

In the end there isn't even much of a difference in terms of NPC reaction. I was hoping that if I chose the operations path (which officially means "personally leading a small strike team into the Temple") the very least I would get would be a hearty pat on the back from Satele Shan. Instead you get pretty much the same cut scene as when you choose the daily version, with the voice-over coming down to: "Good job with stopping Revan, now look at our forces 'securing' the Temple after you've already done all the work". Pfft.


I think in the future I would advise Bioware not to bother with such a "dual path system" again. Even if you ignore all the bugs for a second, the solo/daily path was pretty much always going to be more convenient simply because it didn't halt all your progress until you could get an ops run together... and even if you like grouping up and running operations, you would be doing so with or without that mission, so that there's little reason not go for the more convenient solo path just to see the ending of the quest and to unlock access to the dailies.

If you tried both story paths on Yavin 4, how did it work out for you?

02/04/2015

Happy April!

Last year I was fretting about whether the SWTOR devs had forgotten all about April Fools Day. This year, work and a nasty cold left no time for such concerns, though I managed to have a look at this year's April Fools Day's efforts towards the end of my day at least.

I thought that the way it was written made it very obvious that it was just a joke (more so than usual, anyway), which was a bit of a shame in my opinion... but then I also kind of enjoyed the sheer silliness of the whole Kai Zykken angle, which pretty much made up for any loss in how convincing it was.

(Of course, in terms of Star Wars related April Fools, it was hard to beat CERN researchers confirming the existence of the Force.)

Now, with April Fools Day out of the way, we can all look forward to 3.2 going live later this month, featuring a whole new planet to explore and the introduction of the much-anticipated new outfit designer. The latter is probably going to be one of those additions about which I disagree with the majority opinion, but I think I'll wait until I've actually seen it in action to compile my thoughts into a proper post about it.

Meanwhile I'm certainly not bored, despite of the unusual length of the recent patch cycle. I still have yet to complete the last of the new class stories on Rishi (the bounty hunter), and at my pet tank's insistence I've been investing a bit more time into playing warzones again. One day that Elite Warlord title will be mine!

27/03/2015

Day 6: Environments

This is the sixth post in my 10 Days of SWTOR Screenshots challenge. Click on any screenshot to see a larger version.
 

First off, we have a sight that is not particularly pretty, but interesting. As a general rule, SWTOR's worlds are fairly static (and just to be clear: I'm perfectly OK with that; based on experiences in other games I wouldn't actually want the world to change too much), but every now and then something happens that does change the environment - like here on Alderaan, where the Spike from the Rakghoul Resurgence event left a very visible mark. I wonder how many players these days realise that the crashed spaceship in the northern Dune Sea on Tatooine also wasn't originally there at launch?


I always thought that the entrance area to Czerka Core Meltdown looks pretty inviting before it suffers its, erm, core meltdown. Taking this screenshot gave me way more trouble than it should have by the way, as the place repeatedly shut down just before I had found a good angle.


It took me many runs through this place on Hoth to realise just how imposing this Ice Fortress really looks. As I've mentioned before, I just don't look up enough.


NPCs can also add to the environment, though in SWTOR they don't do this nearly as often as I would like. This example of a Krak'jya appearing to peacefully sit by the water was one that stood out to me. There's also a Jungle Wampa on Rishi and another Krak'jya on Yavin 4 that appear to be sleeping (lying down) where they spawn, which means that I always mistake them for corpses and aggro them.


It's one thing to be intellectually aware that Nar Shaddaa is Hutta's moon, but it's quite another to look up into the sky and see Hutta actually hanging there in all its swampy glory. Eww...


This shot of the setting twin suns is from the intro cinematic for the Tatooine stronghold. All the stronghold intros offer some pretty amazing views. Bioware said that they were planning to give us the option to re-watch these cinematics somehow and I'd really like that (especially as changes in your strongholds are actually visible in the cinematic), however I'm afraid that it's probably not something they consider important enough to actually divert resources to it any time soon.

23/03/2015

Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi hardmode

Even though they were released over a month ago, it was only this past week that I finally got around to trying the hardmode versions of the new 3.0 flashpoints, Battle of Rishi and Blood Hunt. (This is not a bad thing by the way. It's nice when the content is coming out faster than I can actually work my way through it.)

Since I had heard that both of them contained at least one very hard boss, I made sure to get a full guild run together for each one. I'm glad I did it that way, because things got pretty rough at points in both flashpoints.

Commander Mokan in Battle of Rishi is probably the most elaborately designed bonus boss I've seen in the game so far, even more so than the droid boss in Depths of Manaan. He has a whole room to himself that is unused in the tactical version, with clickable things on the tables, and his mechanics are fiddly and extremely unforgiving. The short of it is that there's a stacking debuff going around that needs to be at 3-4 stacks at just the right time or you will die... yet if the debuff ever reaches five stacks, you also die instantly. I don't think it's hard to see how that can be quite difficult to get just right. He's pretty much a mini version of an operations boss, and even with a group that knew the tactics, communicated on voice chat and was way overgeared for the encounter (everyone was in a mix of 192/198 gear), we still wiped many times until we got him down.


I would say that he's overtuned, especially considering that it also seems to be pretty important to have a second dispeller in addition to the healer, but then again, he's "just" a bonus boss. If you're in there with a random pug, you can just skip him and it's no skin off anyone's nose.

The really scary fight was Jos and Valk Beroya in Blood Hunt's hardmode. Specifically we found that during the phase when you fight both of them at once, one of them casts a stacking debuff on the tank that increases damage taken, while the other one spams a high damage ability every now and then, with the result that even in our highly overgeared group I was unable to outheal the incoming damage from that combination. The only way we eventually managed to beat the encounter was by having one of the dps players off-heal whenever another high damage phase came around. I would imagine that you could also work around it with a dps that can taunt off the tank on occasion, but neither an off-healer nor an off-tank are guaranteed in a four-person group, so having that as a requirement to successfully complete the flashpoint just seems wrong.


All in all I was very much reminded of the discussion surrounding the difficulty of level 50 hardmodes at launch, and then again when Lost Island was released. Comparatively speaking, the level 55 hardmodes were relatively easy on release. I never wrote a post about the hardmode flashpoints that came with 3.0, but I thought that they were about on par with the level 55 ones, except for a couple of tough bonus bosses.

Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi feel more like a throwback to an earlier time, and I'm not against high difficulty in small group content... but I do feel that it's a bit of a problem in this particular case. In a post group-finder world you are expected to frequently run instances with random strangers, which is not at all compatible with high difficulty, and unlike Lost Island back in the day, Battle of Rishi and Blood Hunt don't have a separate category in the group finder, which makes running a random hardmode flashpoint a lot less appealing now, considering that it's complete luck of the draw whether you get something relatively easy or an absolute killer.

Also, at least level 50 HM flashpoints gave tier gier equal to what you could get in normal mode operations back in the day. In Shadow of Revan, Bioware decided for some reason that flashpoints could not be allowed to drop anything worthwhile at all. It's not really a big deal to me personally since I mostly gear up in operations, but it does strike me as incredibly bizarre that the default drop from a hardmode flashpoint boss is a piece of blue 184 gear. I mean, you can buy gear better than that from the basic comm vendor pretty much the instant you hit level 60 - using basic comms which you received while levelling. The effort/reward ratio is just completely out of whack here.

Have you successfully completed these hardmodes yet? What did you think of the difficulty? Would you dare to brave them with a random group?
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