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SWTOR: Grouping up for flashpoints


We are all familiar with dungeons in most MMOs -- they're areas that usually require more than one party member to complete, and they're often (though not always) instanced off from the rest of the game. In the early games like Ultima Online and EverQuest, it would literally take an army of people to get to the bottom of most dungeons. Since those days, the definition of a dungeon has really expanded far beyond the idea of a cave or underground fortress, and the mechanics of dungeons have changed as well. Dungeons in many games no longer require a huge group of people to complete them, but your success or failure greatly depends on whom you bring with you. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare has expanded the definition of dungeon to the point that that word no longer makes any sense. BioWare devs call SWTOR dungeons flashpoints.

Starting at level 10, both the Imperial and Republic factions begin their journey through flashpoints. These hour-long instances tell one-off stories and give you, the player, a greater understanding of what is happening in the greater galaxy. During these adventures, you play a role in the stories of the galaxy's most famous figures. Grand Master Satele Shan, Darth Malgus, and maybe even a person or two from past games all make a appearance in these stories.

At the same time, these instances require strategy. Beyond the break, I will outline the first three flashpoints: the Black Talon, the Esseles, and Bringing Down the Hammer. Also, pay attention to the tips -- they may just make your first runthrough a little easier.

SWTOR flashpoint: The Black Talon
The Black Talon

On the Imperial side, the first flashpoint you run into is The Black Talon. While traveling from the Imperial fleet to Dromund Kaas on board the transport ship named The Black Talon, you are sent a personal hail from Grand Moff Rycus Kilran. Kilran explains that the captain of the Black Talon was given orders to intercept a Republic transport carrying an Imperial defector called the General. However, the captain has refused the order and has continued on the course to Dromund Kaas. Kilran requested that you enforce this order, even it means killing the captain.

You can join this flashpoint as soon as you step onto Vaiken station at about level 10. However, it is my recommendation that you select an advanced class before looking for a group, especially if you are a healer. Speaking of healers, I should note that it is completely possible to complete this flashpoint without a healer if you have a lot of healing stims, but I wouldn't recommend it. You will also want one person with medium to heavy armor to act as a tank.

Protip: The flashpoint is faster easier if you do not kill the captain but not nearly as much fun.

SWTOR flashpoint: The Esseles
The Esseles

The Republic's first flashpoint is The Esseles. Your commander, boss, or Jedi master (depending on your class) has booked you a flight on the luxury transport, The Esseles. During the flight, an Imperial vessel suddenly attacks The Esseles. Being the heroic type, you volunteer to help out, and when you find that the captain was killed in the attack, the second officer relies on you to get everyone out of this mess alive.

Similar to The Black Talon, The Esseles flashpoint doesn't absolutely require you to bring the holy trinity to make it through the instance, but it is definitely recommended that you have at least one healer and someone with heavy armor. Also just like the Black Talon, this instance is available for level 10s as they meet up with the fleet.

Protip: When deactivating the tractor beam, you will face a boss that can throw you down a reactor shaft. Stay away from the edges to avoid being thrown in. In fact, if you can pull the boss down to the main area, you will be better off.

SWTOR flashpoint: Bringing down the Hammer
Bringing Down the Hammer

Both the Empire and the Republic face the Hammer Station flashpoint. Here's the backstory: Advosec pirates discovered an old battle station created by the Republic. This station draws in asteroids and slams them into the surface of a planet. The Republic deemed it too destructive, disabled it, and abandoned it. The pirates were able to reactivate the station and with it threaten to terrorize both the Empire and the Republic. The Republic wants the station destroyed, and of course the Empire wants the station for itself. Whatever the case, it is your job to "bring down the Hammer."

On Carrick or Vaiken space station, a droid will have a quest for you when you reach level 15. He will have a message for you from Satele Shan or Darth Malgus. From there, you will take the turbolift to the departure area of the station, where you will receive further instructions. During this flashpoint, your combat roles begin to take shape. Just as in the other two flashpoints, you will want to have a healer and definitely someone who can hold aggro. Problems arise on the second boss if you do not have the correct group balance. Two DPS characters, one healer, and one tank will balance your group effectively.

Protip: The second boss is a trio of nasties: a droid with a grappling hook and flamethrower that deals a lot of DPS, a humanoid healer that can keep the other two alive, and a melee powertech that will throw a shield up on one of the other two at random. In theory, you will want to attack whomever the powertech is not shielding. However, it's been my personal experience that it works best if you attack the healer first, that way the other two do not receive any healing. That more than makes up for the DPS lost from attacking the healer while he's shielded.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!

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