Hyperspace Beacon: Outbreak

Hyperspace Beacon: Outbreak
A year ago at PAX East, I spoke to Community Manager Stephen Reid about events in Star Wars: The Old Republic. He asked and answered a popular question at the time: "Will [SWTOR] have events where we randomly spawn NPCs for players to fight? No, but we will have events." He couldn't elaborate, but it did leave me wondering what that could possibly mean, especially when later at PAX East, Lead Writer Daniel Erickson said that SWTOR would not break the fourth wall by holding holiday-type events.

Earlier this year, Update 1.1: Rise of the Rakghouls brought us a new flashpoint called Kaon Under Siege. A ship crash landed in the heart of the Tion Hegemony, taking the Rakghoul virus off the planet Taris and spreading it to a new world. Both the Republic and the Empire sought to find the source of this outbreak. Like all flashpoints, Koan Under Siege is instanced and separate from the rest of the open world.

Relatedly, and quite surprisingly, BioWare started its first world event without announcing it on the official website or even letting anyone know that it was happening. On Sunday morning, everyone who was stopping by Carrick or Vaiken station could overhear an announcement that the planet Tatooine had been quarantined due to an outbreak of the Rakghoul virus.

So started my investigation...

Hyperspace Beacon: We interrupt this gameplay...
When I logged in on Sunday, I was told that I had to go to Vaiken Station to hear the announcement about Tatooine. Just down the stairs from my hangar entrance to the main level, a new station terminal invited me to click on it by blinking a light blue aura. This transported me to a cutscene showing news anchors informing watchers that the Imperial authorities had discovered a Rakghoul plague outbreak on Tatooine and that we should not travel there under any circumstances. Of course, that's exact opposite of what I did.

Just outside Mos Ila's spaceport, another terminal glowed blue. This one was one of those larger screens that sit about 10 feet off the ground. Clicking on this screen showed me another cutscene explaining the crash of a starship in the Dune Sea. Then, several meters to the north of the starport, an escape pod had crashed into the side of a building. On closer examination, I found a live Rakghoul that jumped out of the vessel but was quickly dispatched by the Imperial troopers nearby. Several more meters to the north, I investigated some medical supplies sitting on top of a crate. Just then, an Imperial officer burst out in a flood of green slime, and in his place stood a Rakghoul. Again, the Imperial troopers nearby killed him quickly, but that was only the beginning of my investigation.

Hyperspace Beacon: Stardream crashsite
About that time I noticed that I had a buff that protected me from elemental effects and prompted me to search for the crash site of the Stardream. I didn't recognize the exact location from the cutscenes, but thankfully, my friends did. I traveled to the Outpost Zaroche, which is the closest Imperial outpost to the Dune Sea. From there, I followed my friends' advice and traveled almost due north, where I found the crash site near the Republic outpost Thorazan.

To get the full story of what happened, I was forced to kill security officers for the security access codes. The Rakghoul in the area appeared easy enough to defeat (level 26), but I quickly learned that they had friends that would pop out of the ground for a bit more of a challenge (level 50). After searching through the logs on a few salvageable security terminals, I realized that I would need to access the captain's log to gain the whole story.

Captain Magnus actually survived the crash -- or rather, his Rakghoul-infected body did. He was kind of a tough fight solo, but eventually he succumbed to my dual lightsabers, granting me access to his personal terminal. From there, I rushed to the Ridgeside sentry post to deliver my findings along with the blood sample I acquired from the Rakghouls at the Stardream crash site.

Hyperspace Beacon: Infected Sand People
The droid at the research station at Ridgeside explained that this strain of Rakghoul contained Sand People DNA and that if harnessed correctly, it could be used to synthesize a cure for the Sand People or as a weapon against them. I think you know which one I chose...

While on my way to infect a few Sand People Watchers in a nearby village, I decided to find out as much as I could about the origin of this particular strain. The infected Sand People's wrappings suggested that their clothing had recently been salvaged from the Stardream. That would mean that there was a crashed escape pod nearby. I also noticed the local Reeks were infected as well. The research outpost needed this information, so after finding the escape pod, I took some Reek samples.

SWTOR: Infected Sand People shaman
Just when I thought I was done, I noticed that the Watchers' murals indicated that the Sand People Shaman was also infected. This I had to see. On the other side of the ridge, the shaman had made camp. Unfortunately, I had to dispatch him, but I did manage to recover some of his possessions and examine his own personal mural, which was just up the ridge. My task was done.

Hyperspace Beacon: The breakdown
Just as in many other similar events across the MMO universe, there are rewards for participating in this one. It gives players Rakghoul DNA samples as currency to trade to a Jawa near the Stardream crash site. The majority of what he has to offer consists of highend crystals, but unlike other the other crystals, these have a black core and a green glow, similar to the pre-order crystal except green instead of yellow. A Rakghoul minipet is another possible gift from the event vendor. It's oddly cute.

There are four ways to gain these DNA samples. From doing the area quests near the Stardream, you gain four samples, and then from the area quest around the Sand People's village you also gain four. From the blood sample mission, you gain two or three samples. You may choose a pair of custom (orange) boots instead of DNA from the blood sample quest. Lastly, you gain five DNA samples if you help spread the plague by dying from infection.

SWTOR: Infection circle
Thanks to the laziness of gamers, we have found away to easily gain currency in this little minigame. If you huddle in a tight circle (like the folks shown in the image above) and explode, you have the greatest chance to infect the most people, thus giving them a chance to make more DNA currency. When you revive, you just stand in the circle again, and when the next one explodes, you get infected. The cycle repeats.

I spoke about exploits versus poor game design in a past Hyperspace Beacon. I don't consider this an exploit, but it certainly is lazy gaming, and if you do happen to participate in these little circles, at least do the quests first so that you get a taste of how the minigame is supposed to be played.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
This article was originally published on Massively.