It’s been a busy week. Apart from anything, I have a new PC with a fresh install of Windows 7 and a copy of SWTOR running on an SSD which means that, finally, I might be able to visit and explore the wonders of Alderaan without either graphics lag or screen freezes every couple of minutes.
Of course, I might just be cursed in which case, expect a rant and a /ragequit some time over the weekend.
Seriously though, I’ve got an 3.1Ghz i3-2100 CPU, 4Gb RAM and a new Radeon HD 6850 card so hopefully that’s a common enough – and up-to-date enough – build to handle the game. I’ve also only got a monitor with a maximum resolution of 1280×1024 so I’m not really going to be making much demands on the system until I get that upgraded.
Other than that, I’ve been popping in as and when I can this week to take part in the Rakghoul pandemic world event. Occasional events can, inevitably, be either fun or tedious. WoW’s Seasonal events had a mix of both and LOTRO’s – well, the one or two I tried just annoyed me like a lot of the rest of the game. So far, this new event is setting itself apart for a couple of reasons:
1. It’s not seasonal. I’ll admit that I’m not overly found of all things Rakghoul but this event does fit in with both the current Galaxy setting and the story and theme of the two new flashpoints (Kaon Under Siege and The Lost Island).
2. It’s been integrated well. New Containment Officer NPCs on the fleet ships, news broadcasts and cut-scenes, announcements, players gathered around the monitors outside the Anchorhead spaceport – these all give a feeling that something is going on and that it isn’t an Earth event given a Star Wars dressing (It’s not Wookiee Life Day and there are no Easter Ewoks hiding eggs for some spurious reason).
3. The main(?) quest, a scavenger hunt, is initially given not by a marked quest giver but by exploring and interacting with the world – discovering clues that lead to a bigger mystery. Okay, so some belief needs to be suspended given that a) the strategies are published all over the web and b) everyone was discussing it in game on General Chat but even so, it’s a nice touch.
4. The daily event missions, while admittedly a format that isn’t so different from other games, are well implemented. Firstly there are a couple which are [AREA] quests, granted as soon as you reach a particular area rather than talking to an NPC. (Other dailies are triggered from either loot drops or interacting with objects – not a single NPC has been talked to. Well, almost.) Secondly, quest mobs (either those that drop required objects or bosses) are spawned at your characters level meaning that the challenge of the quests is tailored to you. This is genius. Provided you’re of a level that can visit the planet in question, you won’t then face a challenge that is either facerollingly easy or nutcrunchingly hard. Also, the corresponding XP rewards for sub-50s are decent.
Thirdly, dailies are progressive meaning a new one appears every day (provided you’ve completed the previous one) granting a new reward (in this case, a set of event specific social clothing). I like this touch. The new quests aren’t hard or time consuming but they do add something of interest. If all you wanted was the social clothing rewards, you wouldn’t actually have to repeat any of the quests.
5. You can catch the Rakghoul virus, get infected and even pass it on to other players. This is controversial, to be sure, because there are always players who absolutely do not want their gameplay to be interrupted at all, for not even a single second, no sirree thank you very much. Part of this, I’m sure, is based on a pre-concieved notion of what this aspect of the event implies, based, I suspect on experiences of the pre Wrath of the Lich King Scourge Invasion event, with player zombies infecting not just other players but also NPCs and causing absolute carnage.
What can I say? I loved that event and had a fantastic time. I felt really involved in the world and the events and was just very amused by the extremely dynamic and unpredictable nature that gameplay took. It was, in all the best ways, emergent, player-driven gameplay. It also harked back to the days of SWG when there would a Tusken Raider invasion in Mos Eisley or a Krayt Dragon attack in Mos Espa – something random and unexpected that was different from the every day goings on. I don’t think this Rakghoul virus is anywhere near the scale of WoW’s zombie virus nor do I think it’s had quite the same impact (and, because it does reward players with an event currency, the mechanic is being gamed quite a lot) but it’s still a nice touch and adds that little extra dimension to what’s going on. It’s a shame that it’s a little bugged though – I went for a whole hour without the virus progressing the other night, almost like I had developed immunity to it.
6. Finally, I liked the fact that the event just appeared with no fanfair or announcement. The devs had said they were planning dynamic events but remained tight lipped about them. With good reason as it was nice to be feel like we were reacting to a situation rather than metagaming it by preparing before hand. My only hope is that this doesn’t become an annual event and that this is the only time the Rakghoul pandemic takes place so that the event – and any future events – stay memorable and unique. Special, if you like.
So good work on this, Bioware, and well done. I’ve enjoyed the event very much and look forward to the next one.
In other news, still not 50. (But I did ding 40 and am now wearing a full set of PvP gear which is ACE!).