Tobold's Blog
Monday, January 02, 2012
Stats and gear in SWTOR

I must say that I find the stats in SWTOR somewhat weird. SWTOR uses a system in which 4 of the stats are ONLY ever useful for the 4 character classes on each side. If you find an item with +aim on it, only bounty hunters and troopers get any benefit from it. And as you can't group with members of the other faction, in a group situation where such a +aim item drops, it is clear that only the troopers in the group should roll on it.

That poses 2 questions: First about the name: Why not simply name those stats after the classes they are for? A +trooper stat would be clearer than a +aim stat. The same item, if viewed by a member of the imperium could be shown as +bounty hunter. And second: Why can other classes even roll need on items that are so clearly only useful for specific classes? There is no "this is a hunter weapon" discussion in SWTOR. A jedi knight rolling on a +aim item is most certainly ninjalooting it. At best he is rolling for it for an alt, but whether people should be allowed to roll need on gear for alts is a very different discussion.

EA made a press release in which they mentioned that already 850,000 Sith Warriors and 810,000 Jedi Knights have been created. Total number of players hasn't been announced, except that it is over 1 million, with one site using sales charts to calculate a first week sales figure of 1.68 million. But of course many people made several characters and aren't playing them equally often, so for the moment it isn't too clear how the republic / imperium balance, and the class balance are working out. From what I can see in the auction house (Galactic Market) on my server, there are significantly less smugglers / imperial agents around than other classes. As items for the 4 classes apparently drop equally often, that results in a surplus of +cunning items for sale.

Apart from the problems of class balance, the group size of 4 combined with the extremely class specific stats would enable the formation of groups with one player from each class. That could theoretically lead to loot drama free groups, in which every item drop would clearly be assigned to only 1 player. So the SWTOR system is a simplification in that respect. But as an old school RPG player I have to wonder whether that actually still is a stat system.

Kudos, by the way, to the system of how SWTOR hands out quest rewards. In World of Warcraft any given quest gives the same loot for everybody doing that quest. So if that quest reward is a two-handed sword and you play a mage, you're out of luck. SWTOR does it better, in that you are only offered items which either you or your companions can actually equip. And most of the time you can choose between such items, or a commendation token, so even if you already have better gear than what is offered as reward, you can still get something useful. I find that a much better system.
Tobold! Normally you don't make such an oversight :) A Jedi Guardian / Sith Warrior can most certainly use light armor, or a cunning or aim item -- for their companion! Keeping companion gear at high levels can be very challenging and dramatically increases the viability of your soloing. I would think you would not overlook this as you also point out the companion gear offered by quests :) though this could cause ninja looting I suppose, I rather like the fact that everyone can use much more gear that is not wasted if no one needs it for their main, it almost certainly can be an upgrade for someone's companion.
The "main" stats are simplified yes, but there are other stats where you can customize your own style. I can't remember them all off the top of my head, but there's for example +Crit, +Alacrity (haste sort of, IIRC) and +Surge (Crit damage IIRC).
The way SWTOR handles stats sounds a bit like EQ2 does it these days. I find it equally silly there, compounded by the fact that you can be a plate-wearing, warhammer-swinging class (Inquisitor) that relies on wisdom, and doesn't get any benefit whatsoever from strength.

I'm not sure who thought this would be a fun system?
Although one can probably happily argue that 'player class comes first', there is still the consideration that players may want to roll on items to equip their companions.
Companions. If you want to take Need out for stuff that is not fit for your class, then we need a 'Need For Companion' option, as Greed does not cover it (properly).

As things stand, by the time you have a few companions you can probably use any piece of loot for someone, so we might get into a worse place than WoW: people needing it all 'for companions', paralel to the idiot needing it all in Dead Mines 'to level enchanting'.
"Why can other classes even roll need on items that are so clearly only useful for specific classes?"

Maybe because you can use the drops to gear up companions.
I do not consider "need for companion" to be the same level of need than somebody needing an item to equip himself. In a full group there isn't even room for the companion.
It seems to me that the more you automate out of the system any chance of a big argument blowing up in group the more you are removing one of the key reasons groups used to be enjoyable in the first place.

Surely most of us have had more entertainment out of telling stories about ninja-looters and selfish looters than we've ever had from actually getting loot for our own characters?

I agree with Flosch on the EQ2 stat changes, though. While the item revamp was needed and some tidying-up of the inevitable stat-bloat that had accrued over the years was essential, they cut too deep. It will get another tweak in due course, I'm sure. Devs just can't leave this sort of thing alone.

Similarly, SW:ToR stats won't look like they do now for long, I'll bet.
You are allowed to roll need for your companion because the game (shockingly!) assumes that you actually talk to the people you're grouped with and can come to a reasonable agreement about who should get what. :) This isn't the dungeon finder...
I do not consider "need for companion" to be the same level of need than somebody needing an item to equip himself. In a full group there isn't even room for the companion.

That's true yes. But then either you could handle it with the already existing Greed button, or hope that Bioware will implement a Need for companion button.

Talking to the other members is also a viable tactic until we hopefully get that extra button. :)
Mmmm theirs actually other factors to consider here as well. If my chest piece is sorely under level, and a bounty hunter chest with a great graphic drops with AIM/endurance/other stats - I can need this and then TAKE OUT the armoring and mods and replace them with ones that suit my class!

As can anyone else, since ALL the armor that drops in flashpoints is is orange and can be customized/modified. Pretty great, actually.
I've been leveling a Guardian as tank spec, and quite enjoying it in all modes (groups, solo, warzones).

However, my smoothest groups have been the ones where I'm both the tank and DPS via a companion. The best focus fire, the least broken CC, and the ability to use her CDs to hold a mob if she pulls off me while I'm still gaining initial threat (tanking in classic prot warrior style is a bit different when 60-70% of mobs are archers).

Because of this, I dispute both the lack of space and lack of viability for companions in groups, though in act I have still given players priority over Kira, even when she's part of the party.

Zode: Unless things change at 50, only a small portion of gear drops in an instance are orange. Further, as there aren't that many slots, once you get an orange, upgrading the item in that slot is technically a cosmetic or convenience choice as you'll likely already have comparable gear in that slot. Making everything that drops an orange wouldn't be a good idea, as you would lose concern for specific gear dropping, as well as clearly obsoleting solo and PvP gear pretty clearly.

As for removing the mods, everytime I have looked into doing that to an item the cost of removal is higher than buying another copy from the GTN. If you have rare modifications it would be worth it perhaps, but not to strip out of random dungeon oranges.

Whether you consider rolling need for companions to be fair or not, that's still the answer to your question of "why not just have a +trooper stat" and why other players are ABLE to roll need on that gear.

As an example, my Jedi Consular's first companion is a melee tank that uses Aim as his primary stat. He's not a trooper, so equipping him with +trooper gear would just be confusing.

Also, you'd double the number of crafting recipes in the game, as there's no difference between armor crafted by a Trooper or that crafted by a Bounty Hunter.

Finally, having a stat called +trooper would just be lame. I mean, really? At that point, why have any stats on the items at all? Just roll everything into +class and the bigger the number the better.
There are crits, surge,... stats.

It will all be theorycrafted anyway, there's no real choice. In WoW this leads to lists like "str > hit (-8%) > crit > haste > hit (-11% > armor penetration > agi".

This means that the agi, armor penetration and somewhat less haste are all stats that noone wants. Why include them in your game?
"I do not consider "need for companion" to be the same level of need"

I believe this is a EQ/WOW parochial attitude belief that is not valid in TOR.

BioWare in their KOTOR games made gearing your companions THE SAME advantage as gearing yourself.

Yes you can say "but...but... what about end game where pets dont play??? whaaaa you should not roll" Yes when end game gets here ... then we can talk.

Bio made the companions to represent all classes so in theory any loot can be used by either your toon or his squad. I personally don't think that someone's insistence on "main rolls only" in TOR is valid at all.

Loot is Loot and hopefully until more Wow players come over we won't get into the "whaaaa why you roll on that I needed that". Loot drama that has plagued other MMOs.

BTW: The +Bounty Hunter stat idea is bad... Most people don't want their intelligence insulted by a game and frankly if you can figure out that +Aim is for the guys with guns, then maybe you need to go do a more carebear game like Wizards 101.
@Tobold - I found when partied with one other person and both of us having companions out it was MUCH more efficient for us to roll greed for everything we were going to sell, then Need for gear that we were going to actually use OR equip our companions with. That system saved us a LOT of confusion and constant checking with each other to see if they minded us taking it for our companion. So, for me and the people I play with, the system works very well.

The only time you need to do any discussing is on BoP drops, and that happens... what. Four or five times in a flashpoint tops, IF the same gear type as someone in your party vs your companion drops.

Even then, as always happens in MMOs, a standard convention has developed - player before companion. If you roll need on companion gear and a player asks if they can have it for equipping on their main character, you hand it over. Just as WoW had 'don't roll need on greens unless you're going to wear them' for PVE servers. And need on greens on PVP servers because they have a higher percentage population of douchebags.

@Carra - Maybe if raiding is the only thing you do. But you'll also notice that alacrity is pretty much USELESS to any AC or specific tree that relies mostly on instants, as it doesn't affect the global cooldown, but it's vital to healers who want to reduce the time it takes to cast their 2-3sec heals. Whereas both an instant-heavy melee Sith Assassin will want +defense on their +willpower gear, it will not be as useful to the Sith Sorceror as +willpower gear that has +alacrity. Both are considered inquisitor pieces though, because of the willpower, so if there are inquisitors in the party, the Sith Warrior should ask if the Inquisitors want it as an upgrade, before rolling need for their +willpower-using companion.

The game gets even more complex if you're getting into PVP. The theorycrafters WILL declare the best stat balances, but the game has cleverly decided to make it so that between the different ACs and trees, you will still need to look for different 'best' gear depending on what your role is and where you're fighting (PVE vs PVP).

...And that's why you include them. Variety of choice, playstyle, and to extend the gear-hunt/collection, thus extending the game.

Some Sith Assassin skills provide huge benefits whenever they crit, so obviously they'll want to be critting more often. Where the tank Assassin might choose +defence, and other Assassins might choose reliable +power, this one will choose +crit.
Aim is for ranged abilities. My smuggler has some ranged abilities and so does the Imperial agent.
To me, the gear offering aim is much more useful than the heavy armor offering +strength - that is completely useless to any tank other a jedi/sith. I say that, but I will admit I've used it on my Powertech when questing if the bonus to armor and endurance was high enough with little affect on my +aim.

And as others have said, don't forget your companion. Luckily, my "group" is typically my husband and myself so I just ask if he needs the items before I "need" it for my companion. But in a pug, I would probably greed on anything I didn't personally need.

But even with all of this, I think the quest system is good in that it only offers you rewards with stats applicable to your class.

No, Aim is for Bounty Hunter/Trooper abilities, whether ranged or melee. Cunning is for IA/Smuggler. Strength for Knights/Warriors and Wisdom for Consular/Inquisitors.

Qyzen, the Consular starting companion, actually melees, but his primary stat is still Aim, since he is a Trooper.
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