Sometimes it's good to be me. When I mentioned that I had not had a chance to test out the latest operation in Star Wars: The Old Republic Rise of the Hutt Cartel on the public test server, one of my Twitch followers known as Jedi Consular put me in touch with the Memories of Xendor guild. You might remember that guild from my column about the tools of the raid. Its members made the real-time parser that I use all the time. MoX invited me to join a 16-man Scum and Villainy operation last Thursday. When we started the raid, I was shocked to find out that we were running hardmode. My groupmates told me they don't even run storymodes anymore. They skip right to the most difficult.
I want to give a big thank you to Tensa, Jedi Consular, and MoX guild for helping make this article possible. Because of this group of awesome gamers, I experienced the complete raid. From Dash'roode to Dread Master Styrak, we fought every boss.
SWTOR has expanded as a raiding game; each boss has its own merits and shows the game's growth from the previous raids. Read on to get my breakdown. However, I will warn you: There are major mechanics and story spoilers.
Here's the backstory: Moff Orlec has arrived in the Imperial fleet with a smuggler named Saedo looking to form a squad to infiltrate the planet of Darvannis and disrupt the Hutt's plans to build an army there. Of course, you're the Emperor's Wrath (or Dark Councilmember or whatever), so it is your job to form this elite team and "destroy everything in sight," as Orlec says. Simple enough, right?
I understand that trash mobs help create soft gear checks and set up the feel of the raid itself. But I know that most raiders are looking to jump directly into the boss fights. This is one of Scum and Villainy's best features. When your shuttle lands on Darvannis, you are immediately greeted by a whirling sandstorm and a few hundred meters in front of you sits the node to start the first boss encounter.
The Dash'roode blocks your path to the main building where the army is gathering. The actual fight is not much more than a tank-and-spank with a swap when the main tank is stunned. However, BioWare threw in an environmental element. The raging sandstorm has to be subverted by a ray shield or the entire raid will perish. In specific points throughout the zone, small power supplies allow you to charge up a small shield so that your entire group can be protected. The catch is that eventually and often the power supply will run dry and you will have to switch locations. During these transitions, random group members will be lost to the storm. These members have to jet back to the rest of the group as fast as possible. Sounds like good fun to me!
"Titan 6 represents the ultimate choice in regional defense," the next boss announces as you enter his arena. "Proceed at your own risk." He should add at the end, "Especially if you're melee DPS."
I don't want to say that this fight is completely melee unfriendly, but it certainly seems easier for ranged DPS than for melee. Titan 6 periodically shoots unavoidable missiles at all raid members. If you are standing near another raid member when he is hit, then you and he will take double damage. This is especially tough on melee DPS if there are multiple people standing near the boss because comparatively the boss has a small hitbox. Sometimes it's the difference between choosing to DPS or hurt another teammate.
Secondly, when Titan 6 moves around the zone, he fires propulsion rockets from his boots. To avoid the blast, players have to stand behind rocks that are scattered throughout the zone. Only two players can be behind a rock at a time. Melee will have to run from the boss to find shelter quickly, whereas ranged can stand next to a rock the whole fight.
Lastly, the soft enrage when the boss hits 20%, will likely kill the melee DPS right off the bat. Titan 6 fires missile bursts, which are avoidable, and if you are within a few meters of him, his flame burst is also unavoidable. That means if you are a Marauder as I am, even with full health and cooldowns, you might last 10 seconds.
What would a Hutt Palace be without a giant gladiator arena with a beast to fight? The Scum and Villainy operation delivers this expected feature with the boss called Thrasher.
If you've watched previous raid videos, then you know that Thrasher could originally be dropped in the Sarlacc pit in the adjacent room. Unfortunately, BioWare has fixed that little trick. Now when Thrasher crosses the border of the arena zone, he resets.
Like the first boss, Thrasher is mostly tank-and-spank with a few frills thrown in for fun. For instance, my job during the fight was not to take on the the boss but rather stop the snipers on the ledge from killing the whole raid. A few moments into the raid, snipers will appear on the upper ring of the arena. Unfortunately, because they can duck behind cover, it's not always possible for Marauders to jump up and take them out. Thankfully, MoX figured out that if you stand in front of Thrasher as she charges, you will be punted up to the outer ring. Now you don't have to worry about having to Force leap.
Generally speaking, I liked this fight. Experienced raiders might find this a bit boring, but really it's the calm before the storm. Scum and Villainy contains four more boss fights. Each one becomes more and more challenging. Scum and Villainy will test your ability to work together and think under pressure.
Look for next week's Hyperspace Beacon, where I will give my impressions of Operations Chief, Olak, the Warlords, and of course, Dread Master Styrak. Until then, jump on the PTS. Let me know what you think of the new Flashpoints, and if you can form an operations group, I'd like to hear what you think of the new content in the comments below.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!