Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Companions of the Fallen Empire

Now, even though I still haven't gotten any KotFE storytime in, and despite the annoyances I described yesterday, I was gratified by many of the changes I did see. Contrary to the impression some people had that companion conversations might no longer be available after the jump due to insufficient Affection/Influence, they've been tied to story stages rather than affection. Scooter was able to complete all of the previously unfinished conversations with Glember's crew. I still need to finish with a couple of Silverleaf's people, but Morrenia was good to go before Yavin. Along those lines, with the retirement of gift fragments, all of the gifts previously available for purchase with said fragments have had their prices slashed and give beaucoup Influence, enabling me to jump ahead on various companions. My only dilemma now is who to have join Morrenia on her adventures, since I don't need Pierce tanking for her. (I know, I'll have new companions). It's also cool that gear previously tied to a given companion is now available for anyone, including my PCs. Strangely, everyone lost their pants in the deal, and of course, those characters whose gear didn't affect their appearance dropped everything. Now if only they would establish a vendor where we could get all the unique companion gear we dumped along the way. EDIT: As pointed out by Ravanel in the comment section, the devs have sent all the original companion costumes in today's mail.

Digging deeper into Companion Influence, I love that it increases regardless of the choices I make on the "BioWheel." Huzzah! Negative affection was a constant constraint, as I've noted in the past. BioWare seems to have come to the realization that MMO players will compromise their roleplaying if there is a metagame that encourages such compromise. Way back at launch, I assessed that the Light/Dark choices might be affected not only by the devs' collective values, but also the apparent limitations of LS/DS gear. Morally gray characters were left in the cold. In just one example, I never found relics that weren't tied to one alignment or the other until I arrived on Rishi.
During the development process, the folks at BioWare (at least the decision makers) fretted about how the choices players made would affect their companions' affection, but never considered how the companions' personalities or actions might affect the players' affection. In one famous example, during beta, many Warriors justifiably decided to toss Quinn out an airlock, only to find to their dismay that they'd lost their only healer. Rather than make Quinn less essential, they just made him impossible to dump/kill.

Two KotFE innovations that will enrich PvE-RP answer the two sides of this coin. Because every companion can fill any combat role, the player is not obligated by combat mechanics to keep a certain companion available at all times. Conversely, because Influence is always a net gain, whether the companion approves of player decisions or not, the players are free to make the choices they envision their character making without worrying about the meta-game of companion affection.

BioWare made much of the "Fourth Pillar" of Story, then hobbled the players' ability to participate fully in the storytelling through ill-conceived game mechanics. I'm happy and hoping that these changes to the mechanics will enable our stories to be properly told.
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  1. You should find all the unique companion gear in the mail, even the ones they originally started out with!

    1. Hah! I was just coming on here to amend that! Got stuff in the mail just now. :D