Monday, July 01, 2013

A Twist on Story Mode Instances

The upcoming patch for The Old Republic has an interesting twist on the standard dungeon or instance. The patch contains two new flashpoints (4-man instances). The Hard Mode version is the standard flashpoint, with a tank, a healer, and 2 dps.

However, the Story Mode version of the flashpoint will be designed for any group of four people, with no Trinity required.

I think this is a really clever idea. A easier version often has issues because no one runs it, preferring to run the harder version for better rewards. But the Trinity-less version offers extremely fast queue times, as all you need are four bodies.

This might set up an equilibrium, as some DPS move from the HM to the SM queue, decreasing times across the board.

As well, difficulty seems more appropriate. In my view, the Trinity is a stronger skeleton for combat, allowing you to make fights more intricate and involved. Hard Mode requiring a tank and healer, while Story Mode not requiring these, feels intuitive and right.

Finally, this makes very good use of the art assets, netting a 2-for-1. As I've said before, I think art asset creation is the blocker in modern video games. Any time you can reuse the same art for multiple types of content is a win.


  1. I don't play that game but it sounds like a step in the right direction for MMOs everywhere. Wonder if they're trying to take a leaf out of GW2's methodology? Doesn't really matter. As long as it works. :)

  2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but sounds remarkably like 4-person scenarios (like WoW)?

    Can't really comment further on this as I'm not in the intended audience, I abhor gear grinding dungeons in any game ;-)

  3. As someone who mostly plays healers, I just hope that they can balance it in such a way that actually bringing a tank and/or healer won't make you feel like a burden (which I'd kind of expect if your role's only contribution is something that isn't actually needed for the instance).

  4. This just made an end run around Blizz' Scenarios, the main difference that these are for what are traditionally 4-man instances. Instead of creating new "3-man mini-instances", Bioware is incorporating this into the regular instances.

    I really like the idea. I am not fond at all of the new Scenario that Blizz put out, abandoning new 5-man instances until the next expac. You still get the full 5-man (or in this case 4-man) experience, but just without the Trinity requirement.

    Since Bioware already had the equivalent of Scenarios in place with 2 and 4 man Heroics, it only made sense that they would tweak the Flashpoint a bit.

    @Shin-- As someone who occasionally gets pressed into healing in an instance, the crossover damage that a Healer can do in TOR means that you don't have to worry about being a fourth wheel.

  5. The next step after the WoW Scenarios and Heroic Scenarios, which were themselves the next step after LotRO 3-person instances and Rift Chronicles. It will be interesting to see if they balance more toward the normal or heroic mode as they play very differently in WoW.

    Assuming these instances are more aligned with WoW heroic scenarios having a tank *OR* a healer helps. I run with a group that includes a Priest so we've done it both ways and found that the tank is stronger than the healer. That is purely based on our classes (Blood/Frost DK vs. Shadow/Holy Priest) and play styles so others may have different experiences. And, of course, SW:ToR is a different game and will balance differently.

    I will say that you want them to go for the heroic scenario balance point. They are easier with a tank or healer but can be done with straight DPS (at moderate ilvl), especially if you have some hybrids. The normal mode scenarios are stupidly easy and become very boring.

  6. The first Flashpoints (Esseles and Black Talon) kinda already worked that way. But this is more due to the fact that tanks can't really tank before lvl 14 , because they haven't gotten their tank-stance yet.

  7. I can't help but wonder if this could be adapted to WoW and the whole scenario vs. dungeon issue. I'm thinking it might be worth exploring if WoW could make regular 5-man dungeons that operate like this. Allow any 5 players in without consideration of the "holy trinity". Tanks and healers might make it faster (or not), but they wouldn't be necessary. Then create Heroic dungeons off those designs, however, tune them with higher dps requirements and the need for tanks & healers. Regular dungeons could reward maybe half the valor/justice points as heroics, but damage classes could barrel through them at twice the rate of queue time + dungeon running a Heroic. Tanks, healers, and a few dps would tilt towards just doing Heroics I would think. Perhaps. I don't know. Just thinking out loud.

  8. In contrast to the other comments I do not welcome this change and I certainly do not see it as step in the right direction. The “holy trinity” serves a very useful purpose in that it brings order and structure to what would otherwise be a chaotic zergfest. Granted, Scenarios and the like are just the next logical step along the way to remove the last remnants of challenge from this aspect of gameplay.