Sithspawn Meets Sithstain, or SW:TOR Faceroll
The ‘Cata was too easy/Cata was too hard’ blogosphere firestorm reignited briefly the other day, with Azuriel posting a quote by Blizzard’s Tom Chilton, to the effect that the company made the strategic mistake of trying to woo back the hardcore player base after the simplification that was Wrath – the Cata-too-hard thesis.
The daring claim that good old WoW was hard at any point in recent memory is, of course, garlic and silver bullets to a particular stripe of sandbox elitist, so one SynCainite or another pounced and off to the races they went.
My own humble (if rudely empirical) contribution to that lofty epistemological debate concerning the nature of established fact is that early Cataclysm heroics weren’t easy to me. The harsh healer mana nerf at the beginning of the expansion hurt. You had to use all the crowd control you could, remember? Mages relearning how to sheep, paladins digging out the old repentance button and staring at it in disbelief? If you didn’t slow Erudax’s adds and lay enough burst dps on them you simply didn’t get to complete heroic Grim Batol? I vas dere, Cholly. Vas you dere?
Anyway, Cata doesn’t interest me too much anymore, except in the context of genre-watching, but TOR is getting splashed with the mud from the fracas. In my view, undeservedly. Most people without axes to grind would recognise that it’s stupid to judge an MMO primarily by the challenges offered by its low-level single-player content. But if we insist, then TOR’s levelling game is not slack-jawed faceroll fodder. It is considerably and refreshingly more difficult than that of Cataclysm.
This is becoming, if not established fact, then at least a consensus. Tobold makes reference to it, Spinks relates how during the course of a single-player quest finale she “won, but used all my cooldowns and ended up on a sliver of health.” The forums are replete with people seeking advice on how to beat their class quest encounters, from the Trooper’s Separatist Stronghold to the Jedi Knight’s Emperor.
And if one is feeling particularly strong, the 2+ areas are soloable, just. Some classes, in particular the healing classes, may have an easier time with these, but they definitely do require, at the minimum, knowing how to interrupt, breaking out of stuns, dodging circles on the ground, staying within the high regeneration-rate level of your resource (or not wasting gcds for JK/SW) and using damage reduction and dps cooldowns.
Naturally, the difficulty of any encounter during levelling depends on the level at which it is approached. An unsoloable 2+ mission might be easier by the end of one’s tour of duty on that planet. Which is as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with allowing the individual to adjust the level of challenge to their means and mood, with a commesurate adjustment in his sense of accomplishment. Beating a quest when it is yellow is more satisfying than when it is green.
Meanwhile, I would like to extend a personal invitation to anyone who thinks SW:TOR is too easy mechanically to solo the level 15 Sithspawn from the Heroic 2+ quest ‘Shadow Spawn’ on Dromund Kass, as oh, say, a level 14 Sith Marauder. The creature is Force-resistant, which gives it a 25% chance to dodge Force attacks, and it has a nice little surprise move around 5% of its remaining health. My own successful attempt required a Presence stim and three medpacs. The cave does not offer a natural kiting path, so there was some rather hairy linear kiting while waiting for medpack cooldown to come back up. On the bright side, the inevitable single boss-smack at each direction reversal gave me a chance to hit him with a bleed and keep Fury stacks up so that I could blow the Shii-Cho version of Berserk immediately on rejoining the fight. It was important to keep rough track of when Vette did enough damage to jump her 110% aggro threshold so that I could activate her survival instincts cooldown immediately and leap back to dps while she tanked. I can safely say that my face wasn’t bovvered at all.
As always in TOR, the story made the numerous attempts at this (nearly an hour’s worth, I’m afraid) worthwhile. The creature is an iconic Sith weapon, summoned by the correct recitation of tablets that comprise the Sith Code. It feels like something that any young pureblood ought to leap at the opportunity to confront. I’ll return happily to my Jedi main soon, but these alt forays have been quite rewarding so far.