Okay, so we all knew that the rakghouls were coming back. We didn’t know much about the specifics, other than that it would be a reputation event just like the Relics of the Gree, information we at TORWars readily fished from the Open PTS late last year. A week before the event went live, BioWare Community Specialist Courtney Woods started posting in-character rumors as a teaser. Educated guesses led us to believe that the event would start sometime this month, although I’d honestly thought it would have been during the patch the previous weekend. However, I’m happy to have been incorrect in that guess, because it gave us a week of watching players thrashing about on social media and the forums, desperate for the event to hurry up and start already.
Now, to be fair, there’s no way that any event that hinged upon players’ nostalgia for the original event would ever live up to the hype. It’s just not the way people tend to be wired, especially when we found out the new event is vastly different in execution from the original one and it’s been almost two years since the original. Last time, we were on Tatooine, and there was a bit more to do in a single event. There was a quest chain and three world bosses to kill, and we had to go all over the planet to scan wreckage and such. This new event is mostly a group of dailies in the rakghoul tunnels under the Spike on Alderaan, so it’s much more condensed in area.
Unlike the Gree event, there is no PVP component to this spelunking adventure. While there are achievements available, both for infecting players and also actually defeating them in proper PVP in the tunnels, there aren’t any quests that require it to complete them. Also unlike the Gree event, this one is open to characters level 25 and above, but there is no bolster to help lower level characters.
The event boils down to one daily quest at your faction’s main base on Alderaan (House Organa, House Thul), one quest that you can do anywhere – the famous ‘stand on Fleet and explode’ one, and everything else is down in the tunnels or killing the one world boss near the Spike. There are achievements tied to the event, mostly killing things in the tunnels or infecting players. Many of the achievements require groups to complete, because they involve killing champions and world bosses to get certain drops to then turn in to buy stuff at the vendor.
Our favorite Jawa vendor Jeelvic is back, and you can buy lots of stuff from him, the best of which requires drops from group content. That’s one thing that separates this from the Gree event: there isn’t just one type of special item you need to buy the super-duper stuff from the Jeelvic; there are three different ones dropped by different mobs. All of the currency-object drops are bind-on-pickup, so you can’t even shift them to other characters in your legacy. On the other hand, the items you buy from the vendors are bind-to-legacy, so you can use your high-level character to farm the high-end currencies so you can buy stuff you’d prefer to have on your lower-end alts (sound familiar?) However, much like the Gree event, these items do not go into Collections, so if you want multiple varactyls, dewbacks or kowakian monkey-lizards, we’ll see you sometime next year after you’re done farming those dropped currency objects.
There is something of a grinding element to the event, to be honest. The handful of dailies only give you a total of four Rakghoul DNA Canisters a day, including the [Heroic 4] one. One of the pets you can buy from Jeelvic costs two canisters, and all the crystals are four. Of the three special items, they require 10, 25, and 50, depending upon which of the three you’re talking about. It will take awhile to grind the reputation needed to purchase some of the items as well as time to gather friends to take on the champion mobs and Shellshock, and of course, you’ll need an 8 or 16-man ops team to take on The Eyeless. Another facet to the grind is the fact that you can get Rakghoul DNA Samples (the currency from the 2012 event) from the five Fungus champions and trade fifty samples for one 2014 canister.
In all, this event is obviously geared toward becoming a recurring incident. The lore-happy part of me doesn’t like the idea of a supposedly eradicated virus coming back every so often. On some level, the story loses credibility with a constant handwaving of ‘But we got it this time, honest!’ Also, even though there’s not much difference between needing to group up to get the Gray Helix items for the Gree event and the various items for this one, I feel that due to the greater number of achievements that rely on drops from those high-end mobs in this one, this event is far less solo- or casual-friendly than the Gree event.
I also am concerned about the cycle of recurring events that seems to be building up here. We have the monthly Bounty Contract week, the estimated quarterly Gree event, and now this. One of the complaints I often hear about longer-term games such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online is that their year is little more than a series of holiday events and festivals that have very little that’s new every year. A game that’s just passed its second anniversary probably isn’t well-served by following this path so soon, especially when we have several different options on those other games per year and so far only three for SWTOR. In terms of keeping players interested, events like these that get repeated get stale far too quickly.
However, I don’t wish to end on a down note here. While we’ve seen some elements of this new toy in previous events in the game, one thing we haven’t seen is the truly epic work done by the art department in these tunnels and in creating the Spike itself. While green is definitely not my color, I can appreciate the magnificent environment created for the tunnels. It strikes the right chord for me in terms of creepy and subterranean without going overboard on it.
So, what are your thoughts on this event, TORWarriors? Do leave us a note (and not the rakghoul plague) in the comments below.