Sunday, July 29, 2012

Operations in The Old Republic

I've been trying out some of the raids--or operations, as they're called--in The Old Republic.  TOR now has three raids: Eternity Vault, Karagga's Palace, and Explosive Conflict. So far, I've tackled the first and last instances on Story Mode difficulty.

(As an aside, it's interesting how good a word "raid" is. It's short and sweet. You can use "raider" and "raiding" easily. Compare to "operation".)

TOR raids follow roughly the same formula. There are 5 bosses per raid. One boss will be a "puzzle" boss. The first bosses are reasonably simple in terms of mechanics, while the final fight will be a complex multi-stage fight. There are two or three difficulties: Story, Hard, and Nightmare. Only the first two instances have Nightmare mode, the latest one does not have it.  I've only seen Story Mode mode, and I would say that it is definitely harder than LFR, maybe a bit easier than T11 or T12 normal mode.

The step up in difficulty of the last boss is pretty funny if you aren't expecting it. In Eternity Vault, it was a bit like going from a Molten Core boss to Kael'thas in T5. Exaggerating a bit, but it's definitely a large jump in complexity.

Loot-wise, I think TOR's system is much more sensible than WoW's. Hard Mode drops a specific tier of gear. Hard Mode flashpoints drop Tionese, Eternity Vault drops Columni, Karagga's Palace drops Rakata, and Explosive Conflict drops Black Hole. Then Story Mode has gear from the previous tier, except the last Story Mode boss drops current tier gear.  Then there's all sorts of commendations flying around, and bits and pieces from each tier can be gotten from specific commendations.

As far as I can tell, Nightmare Mode drops come from a future tier or include mounts, etc. It seems more for challenge or bragging rights.

It is a little complicated with the tokens/commendations, but I find it much simpler than having three levels of gear per tier, and having LFR gear obsolete the previous tier in WoW. It does feel like there's more of a sense of progression, where you move through the tiers as you gear up.

One of the interesting things about TOR is that each player has five companions that they can gear up. So loot that isn't taken by a player is often taken for a companion or stripped for the individual mods that make up the item. This is a lot less waste, and makes gearing up new players easier.

The "puzzle" bosses are a neat twist. This is a boss or event where part of the raid has to solve a simple puzzle. In Eternity Vault it's a very simple pattern matching puzzle, a bit like a Rubik's Cube. In Karagga's Palace it's a Towers of Hanoi puzzle which debuffs the boss. One of the interesting things about these fights is that poor performance on the puzzles is not necessarily a wipe. It makes the fight longer and maybe harder, but still beatable.

 TOR does have a raid finder for the first two story modes, but it isn't exactly fully transient the way LFR is. You still get locked out, and then you can only join a group which has bosses that you haven't killed. But you can specify to only join fresh groups which haven't killed anything. The downside of this is that if your raid does break up, it becomes very hard to replace people and finish the instance.

As well, TOR doesn't have mods, so you just have to work with the built-in UI and emotes. For the most part, this isn't any issue. However, TOR does suffer from the standard problem with tracking the vital buffs and debuffs. I wonder if an MMO will ever handle vital debuffs well. The Secret World makes an interesting attempt with only having four possible debuff states that matter, and then keying off those four.

All in all, raiding in The Old Republic is a lot of fun. Five solid bosses with some decent trash makes for a nice two to three hour night. There's a good mix of mechanics and difficulty. The bosses are varied and interesting. The multi-stage final boss fights are a good capstone fight for the instance or the night.

Now, if you don't like raids at all, you probably won't like operations in TOR. But if you do like raiding, TOR's operations are worth checking out.


  1. Glad you had a chance to try the ops, I think Bioware did a lot of things right with the encounter design (at least for the ones I have seen). Soa is a great fight ;)

  2. I guess Black Ops was taken as a name (courtesy of CoD), so Ops it is.

    If it wasn't for the fact that I've been engrossed in my toon's story, I'd probably have tried out some of the flashpoints by now. Perhaps when I finish the story I'll get around to testing out the flashpoints and maybe work up to Ops. No rush, however, I've been enjoying the ride.

  3. I also think that TOR gets raids mostly right. There's a few bits of randomness that can't be overcome(SOA!!!) but all in all, I had a good time clearing Story/Hard Modes.

    That said, a bit of clarification for loot. Unless something's changed, you can get Columi from Hard Mode flashpoints, although it can take a bit of work IIRC. As for Ops, KP and EV both drop Columi from story mode(unless something's changed since EC came out). Hard modes and up both drop Rakata. For EC, Story Mode should be dropping Rakata, with Hard Mode and up dropping Black Hole/Campaign gear.

    You'll get lesser tier gear from each boss too, but all in all it's not a bad way of dealing with loot, especially since you're not going to get a piece that's not usable by someone in the group.

  4. We've cleared EV and KP on Story and Hard Mode. JThelen is correct about the loot. Rakata is HM loot, but with the random daily heroic providing 5 Black Hole comms, you could conceivably skip right over.

    Story mode also drops random Xenotech gear, which is equivelent to Tionese in stats, but won't activate your set bonus. Hard Mode drops Exotech which is statwise equal to Columni.

  5. That's true. But if you look at the full matrix of loot drops in TOR, gear of a specific ilevel is spread out over multiple tiers.

    As you move upwards, you still get gear from older tiers, and you start getting gear from newer tiers.

    This is in sharp contrast to WoW, where a new tier of gear pretty much comes from one source only. And there is much less overlap in ilevel.