Monday, July 16, 2012

Running Flashpoints in The Old Republic

I've been playing The Old Republic for most of the past week. I've been gearing up my Imperial Agent with the small group flashpoints, using the new Looking For Group tool, as well as dailies.  I've really enjoyed the process so far. TOR is a great small group game, and a lot of this pre-raid game emphasizes that.

TOR also has benefited incredibly from the server mergers and larger-pop servers. It is a game that really needs that mass of people on the same server. There are lots of small group quests, and being able to quickly get a group in local chat makes a huge difference. As well, being able to fill out your group with companions makes grouping, especially for the [HEROIC 2+] quests, a lot easier.

Making the LFG server-only was an interesting move. I'm not totally sure that it's a big difference maker, but even after just running LFG for a week as DPS, I'm beginning to see familiar faces.  Groups are mostly good and nice, which matches my experience with WoW as well.

I even ran an instance today, Lost Island, which came out in 1.2, with a group of people who had never run it before. We wiped on all the bosses, but generally figured out everything and eventually completed the instance successfully. It was a great experience, and one that I haven't had in a great while.

Funniest moment in that run: we're fighting a boss with a knockback that drops us into the lava. There's a force field bridge that goes to the boss's platform. The healer theorizes that maybe we're supposed to get knocked up the bridge, so he stands on it. Fight starts, bridge disappears, and the healer falls into the lava.

There have been a couple bad groups. Last time I discussed the Group Finder in WoW, I facetiously remarked that maybe it was the healers who caused problems in groups, and since I always healed, I never saw the drama queens and always had good groups.

After running instances as DPS, I'm inclined to think that maybe there's a grain of truth in that. I had one group where the healer got upset at our strategy, and ran away from a boss fight as it was started, causing a wipe. The healer then left the group. After waiting a few minutes in LFG, we pulled out a companion healer and beat the fight.

(You can't do that often, this time it was because both DPS could CC the two main adds, greatly reducing the damage flying around.)

That's really the only negative experience I've had with the Group Finder in TOR. For the most part, the Hard Mode flashpoints are fairly easy, comparable to Wrath or post-nerf Cataclysm heroics.

That's not to say that the Group Finder has made everything perfect though. There's still a fairly long wait for DPS, on the order of 20 to 30 minutes. As well, the Group Finder dumps you outside the instance entrance when you're finished, usually leaving you a fair distance away from where you were before starting. Travel in TOR is a bit of pain, with multiple load screens, so this can get annoying.

The other unfortunate interaction is between TOR's daily group quests and the Group Finder. Each area with dailies also has one or more repeatable daily group quests. It's usually fairly easy to get a group for these quests. But the problem is that you have to leave the Group Finder queue in order to group up for the dailies, starting the queue all over again when you finish the group daily.

The reason behind this behaviour is fairly straightforward. You don't want people leaving a group in the middle of something because they got an instance group.

What would be nice is if the Group Finder "paused" if you joined a group, and then re-inserted you at the same position when you left that group. Like if you start at position 300, eventually get to position 100 after 20 minutes, then join a group for a daily. Group Finder removes you from the queue. After finishing the daily and leaving the group, Group Finder re-inserts you at position 100, and the queue continues, rather than having to start over at position 300.

But still, these problems are relatively minor. The Group Finder works, and has made TOR a much better game.


  1. Add a dual-spec option to ToR and I would be a very happy WoW holidayer.

    The Group Finder has made levelling more fun but I share the frustration with being dumped back on the Fleet when the run's over. It's quite annoying to have to make your way back to wherever you were with ships, platforms, speeder paths, mounting, and clearing back to the quest you were doing. The other fault that I've noted (again, particularly while levelling) is that by default every role you can perform is checked when you queue. I've had a lot of interesting tanks that way.

    On the whole though, a very solid and fun addition.

  2. I would love dual spec, and a wardrobe function! But I think the group finder has been pretty positive.

  3. Dual spec would be cool, they gave us the ability to spend the 200k for the respec option on the fly, though i was sad to spend the money, it was totally worth it.

  4. That's not to say that the Group Finder has made everything perfect though. There's still a fairly long wait for DPS, on the order of 20 to 30 minutes.

    The interesting thing is that this is also partially a direct result of groups being 2 DPS/1 Heal/1 Tank, opposed to WoW's 3 DPS. By concentrating everyone in like... 10 servers instead of 50, they did as much as they can without making the tool cross-server, so it's entirely a matter of player ratios now.

    If we assume that both games' Group Finder has the same number of people in it, or at the very least the same ratios of people in it, then by taking 2 instead of 3 DPS leaves more people in the pool compared to tanks and healers after each group is formed.

    It's one of those side-effects they might not have considered at the time they decided to make their party size 4.

  5. As Hyperian pointed out, you can respec anywhere after you open up the Field Respec Legacy Perk.

    There is really only one daily you have to group for (Corellia's Chasing the Shadow). All the rest on Corellia can be done solo, and you really only need to do Chasing the Shadow once a week to complete the weekly to get your Black Hole comms.

    A group makes the other dailies faster, though nothing will ever make Belsavis' dailies fast, but you can certainly do *most* dailies while waiting in queue.

  6. Also, the Agent is a great class (mine is only about 25 or so). It's nice to finally be the one doing the betraying rather than getting betrayed all the time.