SWTOR Game Update 1.2 Patch Notes: Flashpoints and Operations

Now for some reams of info on Flashpoints and Operations:

Flashpoints and Operations

General

  • The Exit Area ability is now interrupted when damage is taken.

Flashpoints

  • Kaon Under Siege has been removed from the mission [WEEKLY] Galactic Conflicts. It is now part of a new mission combined with Lost Island: [WEEKLY] Rakghoul Conflicts.
  • Lost Island is now part of the following missions: [DAILY] Emerging Conflicts V and [DAILY] Galactic Conflicts.
  • It is no longer possible to share certain Flashpoint missions with party members who are on preliminary steps of that mission, as they could cause mission blocking issues.
  • Random loot on some bosses in Normal Mode Flashpoints has been significantly improved.
  • Lockouts have been removed from Hard Mode Flashpoints.
  • You will no longer lose access to a Flashpoint phase immediately after defeating the final boss. Access is removed upon completing the [FLASHPOINT] mission.

    Athiss

    • The Beast of Vodal Kressh’s knockback effects now correctly check for knockback resistance.
    • The Prophet of Vodal’s Dark Spirits now have a buff that provides more information about the fight mechanics.
    • The debuff “Crushing Death Field” is now visible.

    Boarding Party

    • Storm Squad’s enrage timer in Hard Mode has been increased to 2.5 minutes.

    Colicoid War Game

    • The patrolling Droid in the hazard course now despawns when the sixth gate controller is used.

    Directive 7

    • Players can now receive the mission for Flashpoint: Directive 7 without first starting Immediate Vengeance or Violent Uprising.
    • Mentor’s claw previously targeted the group’s healer more than intended. It now focuses on its initial target.

    Hammer Station

    • Reduced the frequency of knockbacks used by enemy NPCs.
    • 2R-CH no longer attacks players through walls and no longer grapples players in cover.
    • Battlelord Kreshan is now immune to interrupts.
    • The visibility of the Unshakable buff on DN-314 has been improved to better inform players that it cannot be interrupted.

    Kaon Under Siege

    • The health of KR-82 Expulser’s probe droids has been increased significantly.

    Lost Island

    • Lost Island, a new Flashpoint, is available for play! Having uncovered the sources of the Rakghoul plague outbreak in the Tion Hegemony, players must travel to Ord Mantell and confront Dr. Lorrick, the mad scientist who engineered this horrific biological weapon.

    Red Reaper

    • An issue that could cause Lord Kherus to stop fighting under some circumstances has been addressed.

    Taral V

    • Corrected a Jungle Lurker encounter that appeared in the wrong area in Hard Mode.

    The Battle of Ilum

    • Players can no longer be bombed while inside a bunker.
    • Krel Thak’s enrage timer has been increased to 2.5 minutes in Hard Mode.
    • Faction-appropriate friendly NPCs now spawn correctly at the beginning of this Flashpoint.

    The Black Talon

    • GXR5 now properly animates during Full Auto. Its Power Punch can now be resisted, and its stun can be broken. Power Blast now properly animates with the correct visual effects and deflection appearance. His basic attack no longer places a blank debuff on players.
    • Probe Droids spawned during the GXR5 fight now have the correct icon.
    • Sgt. Boran’s Medic now animates properly when healing. His Sniper’s Snipe ability has been altered slightly in function.
    • Ghulil is now immune to interrupts in Hard Mode and uses backhand correctly in Normal Mode.

    The Esseles

    • Lieutenant Isric’s Stockstrike now occurs less frequently, and the stun it causes can now be resisted. His Suppressive Fire now deals its damage over 6 seconds.
    • Ironfist’s Jet Charge no longer knocks players down. Missile Salvo’s tooltip has been clarified to expose the interrupt immunity gained during this phase.
    • ISS7′s Head Smash can now be resisted.
    • ISS9 has been redesigned to be friendlier to melee combatants.
    • Vokk’s Essence Drain can now be resisted, and its stun can be broken. Vokk no longer throws two lightsabers at the same target (unless no other target is alive).

    The False Emperor

    • An issue that could prevent HK-47 from spawning correctly has been resolved.

    The Foundry

    • A remaining small window in which the final boss of this Flashpoint could be rendered invulnerable has been corrected.
    • Corrected an issue that prevented the final boss encounter from starting if the players choose the “Attack” option.

Operations

  • Normal Mode is now labeled “Story Mode” for Operations.
  • Credit rewards for defeating Operations bosses have been significantly increased.
  • Corrected an issue that could allow Operation bosses to resurrect during Nightmare Mode Operations.

    Eternity Vault

    • The Unshakable buff is now visible when targeting Soa.
    • Changed the location where Soa’s Force Whirlwind drops the player in the second phase of the fight to prevent players from being dropped several hundred meters below when no platforms are remaining.
    • Soa’s lightning balls are now destroyed when the platform phase begins.
    • Projection of Soa has been removed from the Mind Traps.
    • A previously malfunctioning escape pod no longer causes players to become stuck upon landing.
    • Eternal Guardians and Eternal Sentinels now spawn correctly in 16-player modes.
    • Eternal Guardians and Eternal Watchers have had their difficulty rebalanced in 16-player modes.
    • Eternal Wardens now perform their grapple ability correctly.
    • The Ancient Pylons puzzle has been reworked to improve reliability. The wheels no longer lock automatically when solved. Players must use the “Confirmation Console” to confirm their symbol selection.

    Explosive Conflict

    • Explosive Conflict, a new Operation, is available for play! The Trandoshan mercenary warlord Kephess has seized the planet Denova, a world rich in resources valuable to the war effort. Players must assault his war camp, situated atop a mountain in densely-wooded terrain, fighting Imperial defectors and heavy war machines along the way.
    • Explosive Conflict is the next tier of Operations, offering new rewards and greater challenges.
    • Four difficulty modes are currently available for this Operation: 8-player Story Mode, 8-player Hard Mode, 16-player Story Mode, and 16-player Hard Mode.

    Karagga’s Palace

    • G4-B3 Heavy Fabricator’s “Powerhouse” buff now correctly improves the damage of several of his abilities on 16-player Hard Mode.
    • G4-B3′s health has been increased in 8- and 16-player Hard Modes.
    • G4-B3′s mines will spawn with a small degree of random offset in order to reduce the frequency with which they spawn directly on top of one another. The actual number and relative placement of the mines remains unchanged. These mines now properly clean up post-combat.
    • An issue that could cause G4-B3 to become stuck in the ceiling has been corrected.
    • The Stimulant Dart ability used by Attack-Science Technicians and Mechno-Assault Specialists has been adjusted. It is now easier to control these enemies in an Operations group with less than three crowd control abilities.
    • Support Gunners no longer knock back other enemy NPCs.
    • Karagga’s Immortal Guardians no longer leave a debuff on players when struck with Surge.
    • RL-4 no longer refers to story events that have not yet occurred.
    • The Gamorrean Guards that Bonethrasher attempts to eat now have boss immunities.
    • Players can no longer remain trapped “Carbonizing” by Jarg’s Carbonizer Probes while outside of Karagga’s Palace.
    • Bonethrasher’s creatures no longer respawn after the group has killed Bonethrasher and reset the phase.
    • Bonethrasher now correctly performs his Smash attack during 16-player Hard Mode.
    • Corrected an issue that could cause Bonethrasher to be stuck in combat after he defeated the party, preventing players from re-entering.
    • The door to Karagga’s Throne room now remains open after the group defeats Jarg & Sorno.
    • In Nightmare Mode, defeating each boss now yields a chest that contains Black Hole Commendations.

New Flashpoint and expanded Karagga’s Palace Operation announced

Talk about not resting on one’s laurels. Bioware’s James Ohlen has provided a sneak peek on some new content launching next month.

Not much is being given away about either but here’s Ohlen’s teaser:

Next month we’re going to be releasing a new Flashpoint and an expanded Operation. The new Flashpoint involves a plague that could have significant repercussions across the galaxy. It takes place on a brand new world and involves some pretty epic battles. I can’t go into much detail, but be prepared for something different. The expanded Operation takes the existing Karagga’s palace scenario and more than triples it in size. It includes three new boss monsters and some pretty epic set pieces.

The last boss of the Karagga Operation is pictured in this post. I haven’t checked out any of the current Operations yet, so talk about me needing to play catch-up!

On the SWTOR forums, there’s already some debate over releasing new content versus fixing bugs in current content. Stephen Reid has responded on that as well:

And so begins the eternal MMO battle between ‘more new stuff’ and ‘fix the bugs’.

The development team is large enough that essentially, we can do both. We have many people working on analysing, triaging, fixing, testing and deploying new fixes to ensure the game’s stability – and we also have many other developers expanding the game and creating new content.

How about you – are you keen on new content already?

Diplomatic shenanigans: Esseles Flashpoint

This week’s update from Bioware is the release of a video from Comic-Con titled The Esseles Developer Walkthrough:

The Esseles, a Republic transport that carries some of the most high-profiled members of the Galactic Senate across the galaxy, has come under siege from the opportunistic Grand Moff Kilran. Dallas Dickinson guides you along as a group of Republic heroes must band together to repel the Imperial boarding parties and retake their ship in this Developer Walkthrough.     - Bioware

The walkthrough begins with Dallas Dickinson explaining the situation on The Esseles – it’s the lowest level flashpoint being “around level nine” so you’ll be entering this Flashpoint as you leave your starting planet. The Flashpoint starts when the group discovers the dead Captain laying on the floor  and a panicking first officer looking for a solution. The party is then contacted by Grand Moff Kilran hailing the ship to announce that his forces will be boarding to capture a Republic ambassador.

The party heads to the cargo bay to reinforce the ships crew and repel an invading force of droids and Mandalorian mercenaries. After the battle the ambassador shows herself announcing that the attack the party just repelled was a rouse. The real threat is a Mandalorian named Ironfist who along with his bodyguards have secured the bridge and taken the crew hostage.

The party fights its way to the engineering deck where it’s faced with a lightside/darkside option for opening the bridge lockdown. The lightside is to destroy conduits that are spread across the engineering deck to override the lockdown status. The darkside option is to reset the system, opening the air locks, killing the engineers. The party chooses the darkside option and moves onto the bridge. Ironfist greets them as any villain should, then the fight begins.

Ironfist jet packs to the smuggler delivering a brutal uppercut. The smuggler breaks the engagement and heads for cover killing a bodyguard on his way. The trooper begins pulling the attenetion of Ironfist like any tank should, so the others can focus on killing the boss. Ironfist uses a blastback move where he vents his jet pack knocking the players to the ground, a pretty good CC move for a boss. The Trooper uses a cryonade and freezes Ironfist allowing the team to dispatch him with ease.

Be sure to check out the full video of  The Essles Developer Walkthrough here on Star Wars: The Old Republics official site.

What are your thoughts? Does this Flashpoint look fun to you?

Building Flashpoints and EA’s quarterly results

This week, Jesse Sky, world designer for The Old Republic walks us through the art of building, designing, and combat in Flashpoints from Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Bioware’s team of writers must work very closely with the world design team to get through the painstaking process involved with creating a Flashpoint in The Old Republic. Starting with an idea, the writers then go through a gruelling process of peer reviews and rewrites until they have a solid and entertaining story for the flashpoint. This is where Jesse Sky’s team come in. The world design team then starts on a dry erase board tossing up ideas about how the feel of the Flashpoint progression should be, moving the player’s party from spacious outdoor or large indoor scenery to tight claustrophobic hallways and caves.

Sky says “Once we’ve decided on the structure of the mission, we start building. At this point, we become concerned with your visual experience. It would be a shame if the whole mission took place in a series of identical hallways, right? We strive for a lot of visual diversity in the environments. For example, the Taral V Flashpoint takes you through a jungle, an exterior outpost, and then deep into an Imperial research facility.”

Another focus of the world design team will be the combat in the Flashpoints, bosses and mini bosses seem to be plentiful in these story-driven instances. “The real challenge of building a Flashpoint is balancing momentum with storytelling,” says Sky, who also talks about not just having endless amounts of  “Yard Trash” enemies standing around waiting to be slain in the middle of your path to bosses and loot but to have a compelling reason to keep pushing against enemies. “The combat experience in Flashpoints can differ radically from combat in the open world. We aim to tightly integrate the story with the types of enemies the Flashpoint calls for, their AI behavior and their abilities, creating unique scenarios seen nowhere else in the game,” say lead combat designer for The Old Republic, Georg Zoeller, who Sky brought in to elaborate on combat design in the Flashpoints.

Zoeller says “Flashpoints also feature some of the toughest combat challenges in the game. Flashpoints in The Old Republic will require a full group of players to succeed.” Zoeller goes on to talk about how a full team of players won’t be enough to get you through these epic instances due to the difficulty of the enemies and the coordinated teamwork it will require to conquer these intelligent and deadly foes.

What sets Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Flashpoints from a standard “Instance” or “Dungeon” in other MMO’s is the immersion and character development involved with these difficult trials. Sky points out that you shouldn’t feel like a part of a loot machine, instead like the Republic Hero or Sith Champion you are. It’s also been said that Flashpoints will have a play through time of 90 to 120 minutes for a party complete from beginning to loot-rewarding end.

Be sure to check out the full article here.

EA held its quarterly meeting on February 2nd and talked about costs, subscription quotas, and release date time frames. EA CEO John Riccitiello denounced the rumor of $300 million in development and production costs of The Old Republic. Riccitiello says that with 500,000 subscribers at launch the game would be substantially profitable, and anything north of 1 million would be very profitable for EA. EA CFO Eric Brown says the game will drop in 2011 but after EA’s fourth quarter of 2011, which ends March 31st, so we’re looking at April 1st through December 31st.  I personally think The Old Republic will drop on the 34th anniversary of A New Hope, May 25th.

You can get more info here at GameSpy.

Flashpoints review and release date rumours

This week’s article reviews Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Friday update of last week on the new Flashpoints, story-driven instances that require a party to undertake the mission. They are much more difficult than your average solo quest, but will produce greater loot and rewards. Bioware released a new video for the Taral V Flashpoint along with a new Flashpoint page addition for the game systems area of it’s website.

Taral V is a mid game Republic only Flashpoint where teams must recover a navigational computer on the planet. The navigational computer will allow the Republic to navigate the dangerous Maelstrom nebula where the Emperor’s space station sized prison is holding a Jedi who is critical to the war effort.

The new game systems page also lists several other Flashpoints. The Esseles and The Black Talon are both early game Flashpoints, Esseles being Republic and Black Talon being Imperial. Republic players will be defending the Esseles from Imperials, as the Imperial players will be assualting the Black Talon to regain control from a rouge captain. They will both have important choices for the player character’s story to be made at the conclusion. Mid game Flashpoints will be Taral V for the Republic and Boarding Party for the Empire. In Boarding Party the team of Imperial players must track down and capture an escaped high-level Republic prisoner and prevent a bold attack on the Empire. Directive 7 is an end game Flashpoint for both the Republic and Imperial factions. In this Flashpoint, insubordinate droids have created a technology that could bode destruction for both the Republic and the Empire. Both factions are sent to a remote moon to quell the droid rebellion before it is too late. All the info and details on the flaspoints can be found here on SWTOR’s game systems page.

More rumored than news, The Old Republic will not be released in the spring of 2011, but in the fall. Specifically September, while Bioware is maintaing that it will be released in the spring. The gaming industry website MCV says “Devlopment sources” from SWTOR have told them it will be September before the game drops. A September release will put TOR into the social life ending period of fall 2011 which is already heavily stacked with games from the industries biggest players. Bioware will most likely denounce or confirm this rumor at Pax East in March. Fans may get the info sooner, when EA’s Q3 FY 2011 shareholder meeting is held. This is where they will release their quarterly schedule of major titles.


Flashpoints unveiled, Taral V glimpses

Bioware have announced a key component of SWTOR: Flashpoints. Group-based missions with decision-driven mechanics, they’re essentially your traditional dungeon instance but with potentially a little more nuance. Because decisions / story drive next steps, then your experience will be slightly different each time – at least until you’ve run it a handful of times.

The Taral V instance is the one briefly showcased, have a look for yourself:
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