Monday, 28 November 2011

Tomb Raider: Sith Inquisitor Impressions

Over the large scale Beta Weekend I played a Sith Inquisitor to level 15. Here are my thoughts on the class, without major spoilers.

Story line
The storyline was good, and I found it a lot of fun to be evil and chose the dark side options all the time. I was presented with a moral choice to betray someone, which was great fun too. The dark and light side choices seem to boil down to kill someone you beat is dark side, whereas sparing their life is light side.

The general theme of the Sith Inquisitor story line was one of rising through the ranks in power, and when I stopped playing it was continuing in that line. There were a few twists along the way which I won't reveal here.

However, Sith will have to like tombs, because a lot of the quests involve trolling through one of the 3 tombs. There is even a line in one of the conversations where your character remarks that you are being sent into a lot of tombs. Which is entirely correct! The starter planet quests seem to involve at least 3 tombs, and its all just collect this artifact, collect that artifact. Luckily the starter planet has non-class quests which do not involve tombs.

The light saber bears mentioning. When you get your first light saber, it is not the epic moment I was hoping for. After reflection, I think it is an epic moment when you get your companion, and this makes up for the saber. The Sith Warrior is the opposite - epic light saber acquisition and non-epic companion acquisition.

Game play
Initially the combat is like WoW, apart from the lack of auto attack, which takes some getting used to. The resource for the SI is Force, which starts out full at 100 and each special attack uses some. It regenerates over time but you do get a basic attack which uses no force called Saber Strike. So essentially you go into combat with full force and can do a few specials before having to spam Saber Strike. Some abilities that were real fun were Shock which immobilizes the target for a short time and does damage, and Overload which does an AOE knock back, and can be used to blast enemies off high cliffs.

The Sith Inquisitor itself seems to get less powerful up to level 8-9, some of the packs of that level required crowd control and were still tricky. Then I got my companion and suddenly could mash through mobs with ease. Also at level 10 I got the choice of an advanced spec, and chose Sith Assassin, with some melee spells.

The Assassin has stealth which is of course really useful for skipping mobs, but it is based on melee so you need to get in close. It does have a positional attack called Maul which you need to be behind the mob for. Luckily your first companion is a reasonable tank, so you can go DPS.

My main issue with the SI was the lack of a closer move, you had to run in to do combat, only Shocking a mob before you were in range. The Assassin spec doesn't help this. Later on there is Death Field and Force Pull, which look useful in damaging mobs while you run in.

One warning here is that the class trainer does not pool all trainable spells on the same page. In fact they have two tabs on their window, one for base SI skills and one for your advanced spec. Therefore I noobishly failed to train my Sith Assassin spells for a level or two, which is embarrassing.

The Sith Inquisitor armour is interesting, it actually looks good. Each quest upgrades your gear and the look of the gear is coordinated, so you never end up looking like a clown. You also get only given 1 choice of gear, which is gear for your class. I also played the Sith Warrior and the exact same quests were giving me armour for a Sith Warrior, not a Sith Inquisitor. This is a major improvement over WoW, because at every stage of the game (so far), you look like a Sith and not some clown.

The companion does not speak English, so you have to read subtitles. I thought this might be a pain, but it is fine and there is a lot of fun to be had from the banter between the SI and Khem. Several times in conversations you can threaten people with the massive, monstrous Khem, treating him almost like an attack dog. This is also great fun.

There is currently a problem where your companion gets in the way a lot of the time, he will be there where you want to right click to loot, or in the way when you are trying to click an NPC to start a conversation. This can get quite irritating, and sometimes I sent him off on some mission while I was in a city, just to get rid of him.

Crew Skills
I wanted to try the trade skills, called Crew Skills in TOR, and I managed to have a small crack at them. They only seem to be trainable once you get to the space fleet, however I read you can leave the starter planet at level 1 and go do so. I did not. You can have 3 crew skills, but only 1 crafting one.

Still, Crew Skills are pretty cool, because it is your companions who are doing all the work. You don't need to find a crafting place to make things, just select the item in your skills window, click Craft and your companion will disappear and go make the item. I assume when you have people on your ship, you can order them to make stuff at any time.

You need materials to do a crafting skill. I picked Synthweaving and I needed things like Rubat Crystals, which luckily the gathering skill Archeology can find for you in crystal nodes around the world.

With the gathering skills Slicing and Archeology you can also send companions off on missions, which cost credits, and they will return later on with some findings, and some trade skill points. For example, I send Khem Val off on several Slicing missions, each cost 80 credits, took 3 minutes, and when he returned he had a lock box which gave 70-80 credits when I opened it. It also gave slicing skill, so the missions can be used to level the gathering skill instead of grinding on nodes in the world. This is a form of gambling where I assume at some point you get lucky and get some awesome return. Sending the companion off on missions is a curiously good diversion while your main toon is running around a city handing in quests.

When you do find a node in the world, you right click it and your companion goes off to gather from it. So you can be doing other things while they are gathering for you, plus would a Sith really dirty their hands doing gathering? I think not.

Speaking of which, being able to right click on the companion and tell them to sell all grey items is awesome. They disappear for a minute, then come back with some credits.

Slicing is still over powered - you get a credit box for mining a safe in the world, and each box was giving me 70-100 credits a time. I had 9000 credits by the time I hit level 14 and got my ship, so I think I will definitely take Slicing in live, despite the fact that Underworld Trading is a better fit for Synthweaving and Archeology.

Space Combat
I also wanted to try space combat. To do this, you need your own personal space ship, which you get when you complete the class quest chain on the second planet. For the SI this is Dromund Kaas. At level 14 I completed the chain and was able to find some space combat missions on the galactic map. The Sith ship looks very cool, a sort of enlarged Tie Advanced.

Firstly some ship upgrades were need, because your ship comes with slots for various things, but they are all empty. Yes, a visit to the Imperial Fleet Space Station later, I had found the Ship Upgrades vendor. I was only allowed to buy a couple of level 1 items, because they are restricted by character level. I could afford level 3 upgrades, but was not allowed to buy them.

Anyway I grabbed what I could and entered the space combat mission, by going to the galactic map and looking in the Hutta space area. The space combat itself was fun and the graphics looked good even on my system! I can see this mini-game being a fun diversion from the main game.

The Sith Inquisitor looks like a really good class. The class story line is very good, the combat abilities are a mixture of standard stuff and some really cool moves, plus it can tank or DPS in Assassin spec. My only hesitations are the slight squishy nature of the assassin, the lack of closing moves, and that the other Sith class looks a little bit more fun.

There are really 2 problems I have with SWTOR. 1 - I have to wait for 3 weeks to play again. 2 - I haven't decided which class to play yet.

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