Monday, December 17, 2012

Choosing SWTOR Alts

One of the quirks to SWTOR's new business model is that players who know roughly what their alts are going to be in the future can save some money by subbing up for one month, and using that time to start new characters. 
  • Species locks are not enforced retroactively, so you are free to create premium race characters and keep them after your subscription lapses.  There is also the option to unlock races - including ones that cannot normally be used for all classes - using credits (either directly - for 1.5 million a piece, or for whatever the cash shop unlocks are selling for in your local GTN - as low as 400-600K on my server).  Due to the credit cap, this is also a subscriber-only feature.
  • Non-subscribers cannot mail credits, even within their own legacy.  This is allegedly to deter credit farming on free accounts and more likely to make it harder for non-subscribers to get around the credit cap by shuttling credits to alts.  (You can mail items - one at a time - to your alts and then try to auction them.)  I typically spend around 100K credits setting up a new alt with legacy perks, such as mount access at level 10, entry level affection perks for companions, basic gifts, etc, and this option is not available without a way to send your alt the credits.  (Note that you should check the GTN for mounts before buying one from a vendor.  You may be able to find one of the more common options on sale for less than the 8,000 credits required to buy a standard mount from the vendor.) 
  • Nonsubscribers cannot purchase inventory upgrades using credits, only cartel coins (or GTN purchases of cartel coin unlocks, which will cost significantly more for your first few space increases).  Personally, I don't find that I need more than 40-50 slots, YMMV.
  • TEMPORARY: Currently, non-subscribers are capped from creating more than two characters on their entire account (i.e. NOT per server), but lapsed subscribers can access as many pre-existing characters as they have.  It's somewhat inexplicable that Bioware launched free to play without implementing the item that lets you purchase more slots.  Now they're going to have to spring the restrictions on people down the line.  Note that this bullet will become moot when they do implement the character cap, at which point free players will have the two slots and preferred nonsubscribers will have six.
With all that in mind, I set forth on a side project to start up alts during my one month subscription.  I already had a level 50 Trooper Vanguard (tank) that I really liked and a level 19 Sith Warrior (DPS) alt that I hated because of how much time he spent running between targets that my NPC companion was killing.  I decided to roll through to the six character cap, with the thinking that I won't repeat either of the two archetypes I already had for now.  The good news is that all four alts are ready to go.  The bad news is that now I have to figure out which one(s) to play.  
  1. Amargosa, female Rattataki Sith Sorcerer (caster DPS/healing): Purple force lightning aside, this advanced class is interesting in that it's a ranged DPS with regenerating energy that does not depend on how much energy you have remaining.  All of the other ranged classes use a mechanic where how quickly your ammo/etc regenerates scales with how much you have spent.  One downside - your initial companion appears to actively hate you, which I'm guessing could get old. 
  2. Kalestra, female Mirialan Jedi Consular Shadow (stealth melee/tank): I chose to make this the tank because I think the Jedi ranged caster path - somehow miraculously finding the same sized debris to throw at foes with telekinesis - looks really stupid. On the downside, I didn't like the other melee class because of how quickly individual targets die in this game, so the consular could suffer the same flaw.  Meanwhile, I was initially underwhelmed with all the rambling about the Jedi code on Tython, but the story picked up a bit as the planet's class story unfolds.  
  3. Mirish, female Chiss Agent Operative (healer/ranged DPS): The agent is universally hailed as one of the best storylines, the starting companion is a relatively normal character, and there are a few interesting mechanics going on here including a ranged tree, a stealth melee tree, and full out heals.  One question mark is whether I will start to find the cover mechanic irritating, as right now I seem somewhat limited if I don't have something to hide behind.
  4. Chulak, male Twilek Smuggler Gunslinger (ranged DPS): Almost an afterthought, but one of my favorite stories, with a very good Star Wars feel.  I arguably should have flipped the advanced classes on this pairing, as I'm now lined up to have all three healing specs on the Empire and all three tank specs on the Republic, assuming I ever get that far.  Oh well.  One big downside, though, is that I'm really not all that fond of my starting companion, and apparently I'm stuck with him for a bit.  
And so I'm on the fence.  Ideally, I'd choose one Empire and one Republic representing one each of the two archetypes and then backtrack to deal with the last round.  Or I guess I could in principle give the poor Sith Warrior another chance.  What I don't want to do is level more than one alt on the same faction due to how much content is shared.  It's also unfortunate that I seem to be having so much trouble matching up all three of a class story, gameplay style, and supporting cast that I can live with on the same character.  Ah well, I guess trial and error will eventually prevail - at least I'm not paying by the month at the moment? 


Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the cover mechanic if you are playing an Operative, you can safely ignore it. The Op is intended to be a melee/ short range fighter (ie. with stealth and backstabs) -- you tend to use only the ranged abilities that don't need cover and drop the others from your hotbars.

I know the game doesn't make this obvious.

Shintar said...

the starting companion is a relatively normal character

That made me laugh, what a strange thing to say about Kaliyo!

Otherwise I just concur with what Spinks said. You'll only have to worry about cover on your gunslinger.

Oh, and Khem Val isn't all bad if your character displays sufficient amounts of arrogance and hunger for power. If you're going to play it "nice" on the other hand, you will probably tire of his constant disapproval.

Rohan said...

Heh, Shintar, was going to post the exact same thing about Kaliyo.

For the gunslinger, I suggest that you look in your abilities for "Cover in Place" and replace your normal Cover ability with it. This means you always kneel behind Cover, rather than rolling all over the battlefield. It gives you a lot more control, and greatly reduces the frustration (why would you roll *into* AoE?!?).

Also, I think there are a couple bugs at the moment where talents don't always work with natural Cover, but they will with the artificial cover.

My recommendation is pure Light-Side Imperial Agent, Light-side for the greater good of the Empire. I absolutely loved that story.

Green Armadillo said...

I didn't mean to disparage poor Kaliyo. I was just pointing out she speaks common and not to her weapons. I guess it's possible that Corso will grow on me at some point, or, more likely, I just won't use him anymore if I get as far as the second companion.

I indeed had not realized that the Operative was a melee stealth class. This makes me feel better about having chosen the way I did, since the jumping gunslinging feels more appropriate on the smuggler.

On the downside, yet another melee. The main reason I disliked the Sith Warrior gameplay was because Vette keeps demolishing all of the mobs from range before I've identified and closed with my next target. 150 legacy presence ftl?

Maybe I will have to take several of these folks onto their Capitol worlds to test drive them more (all are sitting at 10-11 on the fleet at the moment), was just hoping not to do that content twice more.

Anonymous said...

Well I have good news about your melee woes: A) when you stealth your companions will stealth with you so you can get into the scrum without them slaughtering everything at range first B) the Operative's dps trees are so fragile you'll want to use your healer companion anyways because it is essentially suicide to do otherwise.

I also have bad news: you'll get your healer companion TIRESOMELY late on the 2 characters that need it the most. The Agent doesn't get theirs until level 32-ish on Imp. Taris and the Smuggler has to wait until bloody Hoth to get theirs.

There is some good news for the Gunslinger though, while Corso is indeed an irritating twerp with no redeeming qualities, you can replace him on Nar Shadda with a wookiee who is much less obnoxious.

Rohan said...

You can spec your Operative as a healer, and then heal your companion while she does the bulk of the killing. That's a perfectly viable way of levelling, and it will make easier to get groups for the group content.

It is a bit slower than going dps, but if your main complaint is that your companion is killing things too fast, why not run with it?

Green Armadillo said...

@Anon: I guess I could technically use the ship droid. Hm, him versus Corso for the title of most irritating. It will be interesting to see how the squish factor compares, the DPS trooper Vanguard is tough enough that I usually play with either HK-51 or Tanno Vik in DPS stance.

@Rohan: That idea had not occurred to me. It does have the advantage of learning to heal on a target who can't yell at me for letting them die. Probably a big drop in killing speed, though. Guess I can give it a spin, respec can't be that expensive, right?

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