Is End-Game in SWTOR Game Over for the Solo Player?

Is End-Game in SWTOR Game Over for Solo Players?

As many of you are aware, although I play three MMOs, I rarely engage in group content. I love the worlds gaming companies have made for us, the storylines and the characters I create. Playing online games gives me the option of engaging with other players, either through emotes or chat. It’s more that I like playing around other people than with them. But the nature of MMOs is that you can clear all the latest content then need to wait until more is released. As a Solo player this can be very tricky. I’m only in “end-game” in Star Wars: the Old Republic, so it’s with SWTOR in mind that I want to discuss: Is End-game in SWTOR effectively “Game Over” for the Solo Player?

What is End-Game?

I’m going to use my own definition of end-game here, because I believe my definition is not the same as the average group player.

End-game is when one or more of your characters reaches the end of story content currently available to that character.

End-game is not simply reaching level cap, as you do this way before starting the most recent content, if you start a character from scratch.

For others I think “end-game content” refers to the latest Operations (Raids) and/or Raid difficulty tiers. Getting “end-game gear” means acquiring the best possible (currently available) combat gear for your character’s class and combat role. As I play Solo content, this doesn’t apply to me.

Talitha'koum leaning against a lamppost in the Corellia Flashpoint in SWTOR

Taking a Balanced View

While the blog title here may infer a one-sided debate, that isn’t where I’m going with this. I’m going to explain the difficulties and challenges first. Only then will I look at the positive and constructive things that can be done at end-game – before drawing a personal conclusion. So, as a good Shadow Jedi, I will try to hold everything in balance.

The Usual ‘Hooks’ Don’t Attract Me

The difficulty for MMO studios like Bioware Austin is that they produce “continuous” content. We don’t have “Buy SWTOR 5 this Autumn” kind of sale pitches, though expansions may feel similar. But whenever they release new story, or a new Raid (or Raid Tier) players come and binge on it until they’re done. Then the developers and community managers have to devise ways to keep people in SWTOR until the next content release. Here are some common hooks:

1. Getting the Best Gear

Male Togruta Jedi Sentinel in the Apex Sovereign Amour Set
If you are a group player, getting the best gear matters to your performance in a group scenario. This is true regardless of whether you play Tank, DPS or Healer. Therefore, taking time to acquire the best gear is a valid goal, whether this is through more group content, or crafting. I’m not going to go into the debate here that I’ve heard rumblings of that the latest Onslaught gear was too easy to acquire. Suffice to say, it still took some time or effort to achieve it.

→ Gear (Mostly) Doesn’t Matter to Me

Casual Sith Warrior Copero Shrugging in SWTOR
But as a Solo player, this is not a hook to keep me playing my main characters. The only exception is that I am desperately trying to improve the gear of my Sith Healer, Talitha’koum. But this is because I’m finding it insanely difficult to run some of the dailies on Onderon with that class. Aside from that, I don’t need the best gear. Even taking future story into account, SWTOR have to make the combat for that storyline accessible for new players who may only have entry-level gear.

2. Higher Tier Difficulties

Umbaran Spider-Tank Boss in the Crisis on Umbara Flashpoint
Adding additional challenges and/or more complex mechanics is another (great) way to keep relevant players interested. It gives them new problems to solve and helps to reinforce the importance of working as a team in a group.

→ I Don’t Need a Harder Game!

My Jedi Guardian vs Zealots in the Iokath Flashpoint
But whether this is a higher tier Flashpoint or Raid, neither are an encouragement to a purely Solo player. Certainly not one like me who can’t handle difficulty or face group content. Being honest, the game has felt much harder since KotFE, then KotET and again since Ossus (don’t ask me about how bad the rebuilt Malgus is during the attack on the Jedi Library). Operation Meridian felt a bit Operation-like in places too. I don’t need greater challenge. I certainly don’t want it.

3. Reputation Factions and Rewards

With a new expansion often comes a new Reputation Faction. This was true of Jedi Under Siege, Dantooine and Onslaught. New reputation factions give an incentive to complete the Dailies/Weeklies as higher reputation unlocks the ability to purchase higher-quality rewards, such as mounts, armour sets and actual gear.

→ It’s a Limited Kinda Thing

These are only ‘hooks’ to keep logging relevant characters if the rewards are attractive enough. This is, I accept, highly subjective! But by playing the Onderon dailies very casually, I’m on the last leg of the Reputation there. Dantooine I’ve barely started, because I just don’t like the armourset available there, despite it being a gorgeous planet.

Another faction I used to do a lot of is GSI, but there have been no new rewards added to that vendor since forever and, naturally, I’m maximum reputation. So, although these are relaxing, now they are unrewarding.

But once you’ve acquired the rewards and reached maximum reputation, there’s nothing more to do, whether solo or not.

4. Leveling Your Other Characters

“Which class will you level first?” said a recent tweet marking a Double XP Event.

And I will level one or two, definitely.

But, this is one where I usually come unstuck. It’s not that I don’t have characters under level cap – if anything I have way too many. But I struggle with this as much in LOTRO as SWTOR, because repeating the same content over and over is hard.

→ I Need a Connection Not a Tick List

Again, as a Solo player there aren’t any incentives to level a character if I’m not invested emotionally in them. I don’t need to level a DPS for group Flashpoints, I don’t need to use them to acquire gear for other characters. I already have three or four capable of doing that. Reputation is legacy-wide in SWTOR (whereas it’s character-specific in LOTRO, for example), so once you’ve achieved it, you cannot achieve it again.

Don’t get me wrong, I do play other characters but the issue is down to the characters I want to play. More on that later.

5. Others

A few other “tools” I’ve seen a couple of my games use to encourage end-gamers to keep logging in are:

  • XP Boosts: to encourage you to create, or develop lower-level characters
  • Events: social occasions to just enjoy being in-game and pass time until a new expansion
  • Time-limited Rewards: in-game items you cannot acquire elsewhere in the game, but only received if you log in during a certain period.
  • Money Store Sales: get the latest outfit or armour set, mount etc. This is a prod to make your character look as good as possible, play with appearances, show off to other gamers. That kind of thing.

Then there are things I perceive other players log in to do:

  • GTN Trading: buying/selling items to make more credits. But this is no attraction for me – because I don’t need the credits for anything. I can earn credits when I do missions, or dailies and I only spend them cautiously.
  • Crafting: sometimes linked to GTN, sometimes to gear other characters. But because of Level Sync, I can never craft better gear than I can acquire through loot drops, so I rarely craft these days.

I Want to Play My Main Characters!

My grumpy Shadow Jedi Cor-Jhan Arcturus
Here’s my personal issue: I want to play my main characters during downtime between expansions. I want to be able to reconnect with Talitha, or hear my grumpy Jedi Shadow being impatient with his fellows. But that just isn’t possible without redoing old content or forcing myself to get stressed in group content. I’ll save my rant about how hard it is to play Sith Healer solo on Onderon; but it’s enough to explain that it’s disproportionately harder compared to Tank or DPS, even with a Level 50 companion.

I don’t want Bioware to rush new content, but I miss playing my main characters because they’re the ones I know the best. They’re the ones I’ve written fanfiction about, or invested in their companion influence and/or romances. I want to play, not just play SWTOR, I want to play these characters. So how do we fix this[1]Yes, it is up to us, the players, to fix this. Pressuring a game studio to make content faster is not the right way to go about solving this problem.?

What To Do While You Wait?

So, without playing other characters what can you – can I – do at end-game, despite being a solo player?

1. Mission Completionism

Are you sure you’ve cleared all the solo missions in SWTOR on that character? Years ago, SWTOR introduced the Exploration Mission category. This actually unlocked a whole bunch of missions that you may have done once a long time ago. These have the following advantages:

  • Extra Story Content: Many of the vanilla planets have “Bonus Series”. These are classified as “Exploration Missions” in the planetary map. Bonus Series are shorter, but complete stories in which you play a part. Join the Bughunters on Alderaan, pretend to be a legendary hit squad on Hoth, interact with a hacked Imperial droid on Nar Shaddaa. Have you completeed all of them?
  • Bonus Series Dailies: As of Patch 6.1.1, once you complete the class story on a relevant world, you unlock dailies for that planet. So now you have a reason to visit some of the older planets and travel the galaxy a bit more!
  • Character Voice Acting: many side missions, excluding maybe Rishi, Yavin IV and Ziost include short cutscenes and conversations. This is a way to hear your character’s voice, expressions and reactions.
  • Mission Rewards: Credit rewards scale to your level, so you get compensated appropriately. You may also get Light/Dark conversation options with some of them.
  • Companion Influence (Kinda): if you have not done a companion reunion through KotFE and onwards, then you can gain companion influence through conversations. Sadly, though maybe RP-wise it makes sense, if the story has brought you back together, these no longer affect influence. But if you’ve retrieved them via the terminal on Odessen and have not yet encountered them through story then this is a possibility.

If you ever need…a couple of tonnes of xenotoxic torpedoes, you give the Bughunters a call!

2. Old Solo-able Flashpoints

It is easy to forget that Flashpoints have story attached to them. It is also possible that you’ve done the Flashpoint itself but not the storyline before them. This is especially true of those that trigger from NPCs on Fleet. Here are the pre-Fallen Empire Soloable Flashpoints.

Republic Flashpoints

Master Oteg from the Taral V Flashpoint in SWTOR

  1. The Esseles
  2. Taral V
  3. Maelstrom Prison

Imperial Flashpoints

The Foundry Flashpoint takes place in an Asteroid field - remember you can enjoy Flashpoints even at end-game!

  1. The Black Talon
  2. Boarding Party
  3. The Foundry

Non-Faction Specific Flashpoints

Mentor Assassination Droid from the Directive 7 Flashpoint

  1. The Battle of Ilum
  2. The False Emperor
  3. Directive 7
  4. Assault on Tython
  5. Korriban Incursion
  6. Manaan Research Facility
  7. Legacy of the Rakata
  8. Blood Hunt
  9. Battle of Rishi

What About post KotFE?

I mostly don’t redo these, even though the loot drops can be attractive. Traitor Among the Chiss is a great Flashpoint, but post-KotFE Flashpoints are really challenging and very, very long. And I don’t have the pain management or concentration for long flashpoints. Crisis on Umbara’s difficulty and visual overload saddens me, because it’s so unique and a beautiful map. As for group Star Fortresses, let’s just say “no” and move on!

3. Neglected Reputations

When were you on Iokath? It’s been a very long time for me…
Yes, yes, I said this wasn’t a hook. Probably it would have been better to say “the rewards are not a hook”. But I will try to engage in Reputations I have yet to complete. This includes quite a few of earnable, soloable reputations:

  • Iokath: Apparently I gave up while half way to the final reputation level! I think this is because some of the dailies are actually really difficult on Iokath, or cost so much to do.
  • Ossus: I was never going to be able to get the best gear from Ossus, but I could finish the reputation at least.
  • Dantooine: though can only be progressed through the Pirate Incursion event.
  • Onderon: am making progress and I want the Tactical Item from the vendor. So that does need doing.

Most of my other reputations outstanding relate to group content I have tried in the past to do, Kuat Drive Yards for example. Or they’re other solo-able content, such as the Space Missions that got too challenging and stressful for me (Stress and Fibromyalgia is a horrible combination).

4. SWTOR Events

In my defence, I’ve tried to engage more in these recently. All the main events have linked reputations too:

SWTOR Rakghoul Event Guide, Missions and Rewards

5. Only Invest in ‘Worthy’ Characters

Talitha and Andronikos on Makeb

Maybe, like me, you sometimes get what I call Character Choice Paralysis when hitting the character selection screen. It may be time to delete ones you aren’t invested in and only level those that really interest you. This would allow you to only play those characters you connect to, distracting you from your most favourite ones.

6. Conquest

Personal Conquest Achieved on Tython by my new Jedi Knight

SWTOR have made many changes to conquest in recent months, with the most (and largest) change being the introduction of Personal Conquests. Going for this achievement:

  • Gets you travelling around the Galaxy
  • Experiencing different types of content
  • Has credits, loot and Stronghold decorations as rewards
  • Earns you Renown XP, which can lead to better gear without gearing being your goal.

No, SWTOR End-Game Need Not Be Game Over

As difficult as this is to say to myself, just reaching end-game on a character does not mean that’s Game Over until the next story release. There are many options to choose from for content, without having any of the traditional ‘hooks’ in play. From flashpoints, to exploration missions, to conquest – I can play some of my main characters.

A Few Ideas for SWTOR

And yet, repeating old content can feel unrewarding or disengaging. Without a goal or a scenario, keeping playing even a beloved character is challenging. So I do think SWTOR need to have a look at the model of what is feasible between story content. Some ideas from FJ:

  • Make Achievements Rewarding: If you want people to kill 1000 Bormu on Balmorra, reward the effort accordingly. Legacy Title, a pet Bormu – whatever. Just something.
  • Event Alert: As with the Personal Conquest, when an event starts, show a gentle reminder on the first login after the start.
  • Add Extra Rewards to Reputations: You don’t need to design new things, just find some good-looking older items and make them obtainable again. Older armoursets, unusual pets, even character titles or emotes.

Book your Vacation at Star Cluster Casino - for Nar Shaddaa Nightlife
Don’t live like a chump, book your vacation at Star Cluster Casino for the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife event.

But SWTOR Are Trying!

With the whole COVID-19 thing wreaking havoc everywhere, Bioware have understandably delayed the next story instalment. This pushes back what has already been a long gap since the last one. But from a recent post, SWTOR are being inventive:

  • Undefined “fun additions to Nar Shaddaa Nightlife” event, which is returning sometime in Summer
  • A brand new event around a Swoop Racing theme
  • Plus some of the traditional “hooks” I’ve already mentioned: Double XP, a harder Dxun Operation tier

Read the Announcement

Now if SWTOR would just make a Sith Healer more pleasant to play in the most the recent content, and Umbara more manageable, I’d be sorted! I have pain to manage as well as games to play. But Bioware already work really hard, so I know older content won’t be revisited.

See you in-game soon, whether you’re at end-game or not! May the Force Be With You.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Yes, it is up to us, the players, to fix this. Pressuring a game studio to make content faster is not the right way to go about solving this problem.

All my content will always be freely available. However, if you'd like to support myself and my family, please consider buying us a virtual coffee. Either way, thank you for visiting, I appreciate it!

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Fibro Jedi

A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.

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