Well, it’s been an entertaining week with the MMOs I play. Both Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online had significant publishes this week.
Let me look at SWTOR first. One of the big deals with that publish is the release of a new raid boss. (Okay, “Operations boss”.) Since I don’t really do those, I can’t really speak for that sort of thing. There’s a number of warzone patches, which I don’t really do much of unless I feel I have to. I keep promising myself that I’ll at least run a bunch with my Smuggler and Agent mains, just so I can wrap up getting all the companions possible for those characters, but I never do. I’m glad I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution on that one, because it’d clearly have been busted by now. There’s double xp rolling, which isn’t really a big deal for me, running until the end of the month. This also applies to Command XP, though, so if you’re going for the upgraded gear stuff by getting those Command boxes, this would be a good time to start running dailies and the like.
Oh, and there’s some returning companions. There’s a couple of caveats, of course. Firstly, these are literally returning companions: if you didn’t have Risha, Corso, or Andronikos in your roster before, you aren’t getting them now. There’s talk on the forums about making them available the same way you can get any companion who hasn’t returned back via the Odessen terminal in your quarters, but that isn’t the case at the moment. Secondly, you have to have completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion. At that point, if you happen to be a Smuggler or Inquisitor, you’ll get a new Alliance Alert which results in the return of said companions.
The good news is that, unlike most Alerts, this is fully voiced-you don’t have that KotR interface that most Alliance Alerts do. But…honestly, there isn’t much to these. There’s moments if one of the companions were a romance during the original story, but for the most part, it’s “Oh, here they are!” I get the impression that these missions were along the lines of “let’s just get this done so bloggers stop complaining about the rate of returns”. That said, I imagine actual missions on the scale of other returnees would have meant we’d have gotten one companion back this publish-if at all. At this point, being a couple years out from the loss of the companions in the first place, I’m all for this for companions who aren’t likely to be pushing forward the continuing story in the game-and the number of those prospects are awfully short. I could see Lord Scourge as a big deal, for example, but Vector Hyllis, not so much. If I were to make a guess, I’d say that we’ll see Alliance Alerts for non-Jedi, non-Sith, non-Mandalorian characters, while Jedi/Sith/Mandalorian ones will be incorporated into the ongoing story somehow. (Given that I can only think of one outstanding Mandalorian, I’d be willing to bet that she could wind up as just an Alert, but Mandalorians are big deals, given the Eternal Alliance’s reliance on them.)
Still, this does at least bring the Smuggler-who I’d derided for so long as not getting any of their people back-generally in line with most of the other classes. I note that all of his returnees, however, came from Alerts. Just an observation. In fact, there’s only one outstanding Smuggler companion now. The Inquisitor companion brings that number to two outstanding. Still the big loser: the Jedi Consular, with a whopping one Companion still around. If that class doesn’t have at least a couple coming up in the next wave of returnees, they’d be justified in going to Bioware and giving in to the Dark Side!!!!
Anyway, the companion thing for Smugglers and Inquisitors takes maybe 10 minutes if you don’t spacebar through conversations, at best. No excuse for qualified characters to get their people back-and with a lot less hassle then most.
On to the second one: Star Trek Online, which hits its eighth year anniversary. The last week and a half has been spent giving stuff away, some of which was more impressive than others. (And believe me, some of them were really unimpressive.) We do have the usual festivities: Omega particle hunting, a new anniversary ship (a Bajoran ship, interestingly enough-more on how that ties in momentarily), the Q-in-the-Box at the Academies, which includes a new type of anniversary popper device; at some point, I’m gonna grab four random poppers, equip them all, and run around Spacedock in a frenzy. Well, maybe not. Eight years is nothing to sneeze at, anyway: no single Star Trek series has gone on so long, although you’d have a good argument that a series delivers at least as much entertainment. It’s also remarkable for being a long runner in a genre that has seen many others pass away. MMORPGs that make it this far have demonstrated serious staying power. I don’t know if it’s the setting, the lockboxes, or what, because I wouldn’t have predicted this long a run when the game came out-hell, there were times when I thought things were as good as dead-but STO is still with us, and by all appearances, will be with us for at least another year or more.
Also of note: a new Feature episode, with appearances from Captain Kurn, General Martok, Geordi La Forge, and…well, let’s just call it a surprise appearance, shall we? I wouldn’t spoil things. The Tzenkethi are upping their game, about to go after multiple worlds to with protomatter torpedoes, and your crew is called upon to stop them. The good news is, you do get help. The bad news is, one of those worlds is Bajor. (My conscience is clear in noting that; the presence of an anniversary ship tied to Bajor with the notes about it talking about its use in the defense of Bajor has already spilled those beans.) The attack on Bajor seems to be a catalyst, however, because just when you think you’ve gotten the Tzenkethi under control…all Hell breaks loose. Expect a battle royale in space with multiple factions getting involved, a return of an old adversary (sort of), and ramifications that are guaranteed to lead to the theoretical expansion this year (as far as I’m concerned, it remains theoretical until we get more than a segment of a trailer video). I’ll admit to being impressed with the episode; it did a great job in ramping up the threats. You’d think a worldkilling fleet would be the climax of an episode, but they’re just the appetizer. Every time a battle ends, something kicks up the stakes another notch. Klingons in particular should be overjoyed by this episode.
Starting up year nine in STO promises to be exciting. I better get cracking on Dathiro, because I have a feeling that I’m going to be very busy later this year.