KotFE: Star Fortresses – A Division of Opinion?

KotFE - Star Fortresses in SWTORBefore I start this post, I just want to clarify: I have no problem with games being hard, or with other gamers being better than me. Most are!

KoTFE Star Fortresses Story Curve

While waiting for Chapter 10 of Knights of the Fallen Empire there are three key focusses for players:

  • Increasing Companion Influence (formally Affection)
  • Increasing reputation with: Military, Force Users, Research and Underworld Information.
  • The Star Fortresses ‘side story’

This last option is probably vital to your success against the Eternal Empire because you can gain new followers as a result of them. For anyone new to SWTOR, the Eternal Empire has placed so-called ‘Star Fortresses’ over most planets, stemming trade and draining resources. Different planets report different side-effects of these Fortresses on the planet itself.

Escaping a Star Fortress Shield Generator
Escaping a Star Fortress Shield Generator

Gaining Access to a Star Fortress

The first stage before you can even get to a Star Fortress is to gain 5 Resource Crates to your key contact. This is achieved via the new [Heroic 2+] missions. Once you have obtained those, then you can storm the Fortress On-Planet Shield Generator. This then opens up the [Heroic 2+] mission to take on the Star Fortress itself.

My First Negative Impression of KotFE

I have really enjoyed Fallen Empire as I have expressed in my KotFE Review. However last night I tried a Star Fortress on [Heroic 2+] – and it was not a pleasant experience.

I was able to make it all the way to the Boss. There were a few interesting outcomes – such as being imprisoned when beaten, and a well-thought through mini-puzzle to jump between sections of the Fortress’ core. There is also a drop from enemy troopers to help absorb high levels of energy damage (these sit in your ‘temporary abilities’ toolbar).

And that’s where it stopped. The boss, flanked by seemingly endless (and regenerating) Skytroopers, simply beat me down. My companion healer (which I need) died quickly and I ran out of the energy absorbers. I made it to the final stage but became massively overwhelmed. It was like input overload and I couldn’t both work out the strategy and defeat enough enemies and keep the heat off my companion.

In short: Despite it being a [Heroic 2+] I felt the deck was stacked against me.

Input From the Community

So I resorted to Twitter, as I often do. I saw people seemed divided between those that said the Star Fortresses (on Heroic, not Solo Mode) were easily Solo-able. Others said it was impossible. Falling into this latter category I wanted to understand the differences between my setup and those that were able to do it. Here are my findings – and I would love to hear anything you have to say too!

Inside the First Introductory Sky Fortress
Inside the First Introductory Sky Fortress
  1. Getting Level 10 Influence with Alliance Departments: I am on level 5 and 6 at the moment. According to one player, gaining Level 10 creates 4 new abilities which help DPS on Star Fortresses.
  2. High Companion Affection: some reported 30-50 affection with at least one key companion. My highest is Level 15 at the moment. Apparently higher Influence = better combat effectiveness.
  3. Gear Strength: my gear is 190-200. To do a Star Fortress some people reported having more like 208-220 grade gear. Most also seemed to have augments. I only have one augment at the moment.

Another Way of Forcing Groups?

Having already had one rant about PvE Players Being ‘forced’ to PvP, this is another sign that, in order to succeed, we need to group up. I appreciate this is an MMO, but with my health condition, I need to relax when I game and I find group missions stressful, which leads to more Fibromyalgia pain. Attempting a Star Fortress which felt impossible left me with massive neck pain and meant I couldn’t sleep. This is not SWTOR’s fault! But I also don’t want my health to be the reason I may struggle in future chapters of Fallen Empire.

A Question of Communication

I have no problem with hard missions. However, it would have been better to have had Communication or an in-game barrier to taking the Heroic Star Fortresses if certain criteria are not met – such as the Level 10 Department Influence. If I know actions need taking in a certain order, I am happy to follow that. Instead we are left with Social Media and Dulfy to get from gamers the best way forward. And guess work. And high repair costs for getting it wrong!

Any Other Input?

Do you have any additional suggestions on succeeding at Solo-ing a KotFE Star Fortress? I’d love to hear them and I’d be happy to add some to this list above!

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30 thoughts on “KotFE: Star Fortresses – A Division of Opinion?

  1. Well i did it on my tank with a around 10ish affection, gear a mish mash of 192, 208 and 216 and not using any of the buffs the alliance commanders give you since there is an achiev for that. But the H2 version is supposed to be done with 2 players or more, it is supposed to be a challenge and not easy to achieve for a solo player.
    And because of that its totally optional, when doing the “story” progression for them you can just do it on the Solo version and it should be easy enough. But if you actually want to do the H2 version you need to undersstand that it will be hard and it will take work in order to achiev be it by gearing up , lvling companions or lvling you commanders for the “buffs” they give you.

    Tbh i think at this time it is the only type of content in the game thats tough for a solo player, every thing else as become so mindnumbingly easy it as started to make my solo playing sessions really boring, but that’s a another can of worms.

    1. Thanks for your perspective Keylen. I know it’s meant to be a challenge, but if realistically you should have a group to succeed, then I don’t have a problem with them reinstating the [Heroic 4] requirement for those missions.

      You can do the ‘Solo’ mode, but it doesn’t knock off that Star Fortress for your Story Progression. I know, because I accidentally did the ‘Solo Mode’ version for Voss, only to realise I had misread the requirement to do the Heroic version. That was completely my fault.

      As for the others, I don’t mind having to gear up, or get the commander buffs – or any other ‘prerequisite’ but I only learned that from the community of SWTOR – hence maybe making the requirements somewhat clearer to gamers so they can prepare before taking on the hard content.

        1. Sadly yes, that is the case. I found out the hard way by not reading through the Mission Spec close enough before starting the Star Fortress! >.< live and learn I guess!

  2. Yes, I have to agree. I’ve done all the Solo Star Fortress missions with little real problem (if I was able to avoid being knocked off the platform in the middle fight!) with Lana before healers were nerfed. But as you say this does not complete the real story mission.

    In Heroic, I struggled solo but got through to the sun beam area, and died pretty quickly each time. I was in 200+ gear with Lana at 21 and the commanders at 10+ – playing marauder.

    After the nerf, I tried with 208+ gear, and Lana at influence level 50. Couldn’t even get past the knights!

    I know I’m not a good player: age and carpal tunnel might be a factor, but no excuses. The planetary Heroic 2+ missions pose no problems, however.

    Guess I need to find a group who don’t object to Marauders! Or perhaps today’s patch might help…!

    1. Unfortunately to finalise getting the Alliance Recruits I think you have to do the [Heroic 2+] Star Fortress. I could be wrong. I intend on testing out a new Shield Bunker to see if that person moves to the Odessan Base or not. Im currently focussing on getting my gear to 208/216 and my Alliance Specialists up to par. Then I’ll re-try the fortresses.

      As you said most other Heroic 2+’s were okay. I had an issue on Ilum/Belsavis Heroics yesterday (pre today’s patch) and died when mobs included 2 or 3 gold and 2 or so silver rated enemies. Combined DPS wasn’t fast enough and heals didn’t work quick enough either (and we can’t influence Surge or reduce cooldown/channel times any more either). As you say, I’d be interested to see what happens after this patch!

  3. Yes, Cor-Jhan: you are right about the need to complete Star Fortresses in Heroic mode for the unlocks as far as I can see from the web. I’ve completed all the Shield Bunker missions, so now have a mission log full of all the Star Fortress heroics ready for completion. ATM I’m ploughing through the planetary heroics for crystals, managing 12ish a day, and saving up radiant crystals to buy the 220 offhand light saber. The new patch has just finished download – so we’ll see!

  4. Well, the patch has certainly updated healing companions, and Heroic 2s flow more easily; and I now have the 220 offhand light saber. It’s still not enough to allow me to solo Star Fortress in Heroic mode with my skill set, even with Level 50 Lana. (I get as far as the two Zakuul Knights who destroy Lana and then me…)

    Time to work on my Marauder rotation!

    1. I’m just gradually upgrading my gear to 216’s and 220’s. Got my Level 8 Augments in place so it’s just a piecemeal job now. Going to re-attempt Star Fortresses Solo once i have got my Alliance to L20. Might group up for a couple in the interim, just to win the Allies.

  5. So far my experience is this: With a Sith Marauder (mix of 208 to 220 gear) and a healing companion at 20+, I have had relatively little problem soloing the Heroic 2+ Star Fortress with the exception of Voss. I cannot deal enough damage to overcome that Exarch’s healing.

    With my Jedi Sage Healer (mix of 208 to 220 gear) and a 20+ companion tank or damage dealer, I cannot get anywhere with the Exarch. Towards the end of the fight I simply cannot heal him fast enough. I’m using all the Alliance special abilities and popping the Heroic too. It just seems weird that I had fairly little difficulty with a Sith Marauder but I am getting nowhere with a healer.

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply, I’m working right up to Christmas Eve afternoon. I guess with your healer, you’re not doing damage fast enough – even with your companion being in DPS mode? So the Exarch heals faster than you can deal damage, but your DPS causes more damage faster than he heals. I have yet to try on a DPS, but I know how fast I take damage – my failed attempts were with a Tank – my healer companion couldn’t keep up and I couldn’t focus on the objective of the Star Fortress while more and more Skytroopers bundled into those tiny spaces at each stage!

    2. With my Defence Guardian, I only got the Voss Exarch down using both heroics and the specialist abilities. The Smoke Grenade is a second interrupt at your disposal and should be saved for the last 30% of her HP, because then she will cast her healing more frequently. Without them, I would have never made it.
      On the other hand, she could kill me aswell, so with my healing companion, it would have gone on and on for all eternity, or the server reboot.
      Maybe trying the risky way and keep yout Companion in Damage Stance could help out, or using the enviroment to your advantage (let the exarch walk into the firewall of a broken window, she takes damage too). But kiting the boss with your companion tanking takes quite some training, i suppose.
      So as before, soloing the fortresses: Vigilance Knight/Vengeful Warrior piece a cake, other classes, work, hard work, up to nearly impossible.

  6. I typically complete Star Fortress heroics with members of my own guild. When we have 2 or 3 guys, we tend to blaze through a Fortress like it’s nothing at all. Most often, we end up knocking out more than a single heroic, even. I sometimes ask guild members who need specific planets, and those are the ones we embark on, etc.
    When I do solo the heroics, I take my Main. He’s a Scoundrel healer, and I have 2 companions leveled up to 35+ with him. His gear is 220/224 mix and he almost unfailingly slaughter everything along the way. When I run along with him, I don’t have issues getting the heroic completed.
    But I prefer grouping, and will gladly group up with those guys on Odessan that are asking in general chat for a group member. I sometimes use the boxes and rewards to help round out my alt characters so they can get through the Fortresses as easily as my Scoundrel, btw. I like that the stuff isn’t bound to the character you take through the run, shrug.
    I do have fun with the Fortress runs, though. That I can say for sure.

    1. Thanks Jeanne, This month I plan to do all the Shield Bunkers and then just yell at General Chat for a group. If that seems to get enough of a group. Sounds like, for once, grouping up is less stressful than soloing. Thanks!

      1. Returning on Christmas to SWTOR after 3 years i found myself in a state of a mild suprise regarding the changes and developments they made on the classes and companions.
        My ‘One main to do them all’-Class is a Jedi Guardian Tank. In the pre expansions original Game i was able to get all H2 and some H4 done, without beeing outleveled. This maybe because of the wide variety of interupts that this Jedi Knight Class possesses. I don’t call myself a good player, but i always interupted anything, that looked like a big damage or a healing ability on the bigger ones.

        That’s what i did with my current prefered char, a Jedi Guardian DPS (i’ve got all classes on 50, but i choose her for story purposes^^) and i was able to solo the heroic Star Fortresses with her in 190-200 gear, lvl 10-12 companion as healer and no alliance rep higher than 6. I died twice…. because i ran instead of jumped to the exarch boss fight, stupid me. The fight itself was suprisingly doable. I found the one with the 2 knights before the exarch run more of a problem, but as before, using stunning abilities and focus on one at a time seemed to do the trick, as was interupting anything you can.

        The reduces cooldown (15 min down to 5) on your heroic ability (along with having all 8 class abilities) was a handy addition to it and that alone made took between 25-33% of the exarchs hp. So if you Solo, use it and use it often, it’s your ability so why not. Otherwise take the advantage of a group.

        The odd thing is, that you do not get any good loot when soloing it, no hilts or similar, although trash and bosses do have the same HP, as if you where doing it in a group of 2 (exarch got like 430k HP), where you get some useable purple stuff. If i am wrong, pls correct me.

        I’m looking forward how a different class, like a marksman, marauder or fistfight scroundrel, is handling it.

        1. Thanks for joining the discussion Marolf! Also thanks for the heads up that you were able to Solo the Star Fortress. That’s one of my targets for January, at least on my ‘main’ alt. So I will try once more to Solo it and if I fail hard again, I’ll just yell for a group. I’d rather Solo as it’s more satisfying (even though, you’re right, the gear drops are pants) but also more stressful. I have grouped once with a Guildie, and because he knew what he was doing he made it look easy!

          1. Just sharing my thoughts and trying to get some hints myself^^.

            After some testing i can confirm and correct myself, that soloing the standard heroic Star Fortress does not reduce the level of the loot, just the amount that drops.
            If you just do the excarch, you’ll be rewarded with at least 1 purple item, gear, or mod, which more or less suits your class, but it doesn’t differ between your actual specc (tank, dd, heal).
            If you take yourself some more time, and you clear all the sub-bosses, which are rated as champions too, you can get around three purple items per run.
            My last run gave me a mod, an enchantment, bove not bound and a bound to character tanking glove from the excharch.
            Doing it with 2 just gives at least 2 items as drop, one blue one purple. Having a group of 3 or 4 would expand this amount of loot accordingly.

            It is possible to solo it even without having high level affection with your companion or the specialists, but it makes it quite easier to achieve victory.

            I fear it might just be, that the classes are balanced for pve multiplayer and pvp, but are unbalanced in regards of solo playing, so that some classes and speccs are better suited for soloing such content, then others, which would really be unfortunate.

          2. Thanks for your insights, really appreciated. I’ve heard that some classes can’t Solo them – e.g. Healers. I struggled on my Tank to do enough damage quickly enough. Now I have Specialists to L10+ I intend to try again, and go through all areas to find the Alliance terminals. But thanks for the encouragement – I will try again soon!

  7. The key is not just doing enough damage, but to interrupt the channelled healing ability. As far as I have realized, the exarch boss uses 2 channelled abilities, either both damage dealing, or damage and healing. Both abilities are on a cooldown similar to the interrupt ability of your class (every class has at least one interrupt, if not, really uncool). You can’t interrupt them bove all of the time, but focussing on the healing ability should compensate your damage output.

    Just finished a SF Belsavis run on a fresh 190 geared (except offhand and implants, which are 208) MM Agent and it was indeed hard work, compared to the runs with my Jedi Guardian. Without a Specialist on L10+, I had to rely on my legacy heroics, which I usually use on occasion. I found them to be mandatory during the boss fight. It took me around 80 minutes to clean the fp (the Jedi run takes around 45 minutes), but this might be because i’m not that used to this class (just repeated -cover, entrench, supressive fire-rotation while leveling).
    So some classes are truly better suited for solo purposes then others. While some simply need an any-level-healer companion, others, such as healers, need a high level affection companion, who butters the bread in the fights.

  8. For your initial question, here some hints:

    The boss fight is divided in 2 sections: Running/Jumping around the reactor core, deactivating the terminals and the real boss fight in phase 2.

    Phase one consists of 3 terminals, which have to be deactivated in order to interrupt the exarch’s attempt to channel the reactors powers. Each terminal is more difficult to deativate then the former one. In every room starts with the invulerable exarch and 2 elite robots. If you enter the room, the robots will pull you towards them. BUT your companion WILL stun/lift/whirl one of them (the one farer away most of the time). Damage will break the stun, so don’t attack, aoe this one, cause he will be out of the fight for some time. The 4 adds won’t span before some time (30 seconds?) have past. But they will spawn endlessly.
    The focus here is to deactivate the terminal asap. So if you enter the room, you get pulled, meanwhile your comp stuns the other one. Leave the elites alone and run for the terminal. With luck and timing, no adds will spawn.

    Room 2 and 3 differ a bit. you need to kill a robot, that has been activated by the exarch. he drops this yellow device on your temporary toolbar. Clicking on it stuns the exarch and you can deactivate the terminal and kill the remaining adds.

    Room 2 needs one yellow stun, Room 3 needs 2 stuns. To make it more challenging, the exarch fires at you in room 2 and 3. Room 3, a bomb in the circle below you, in room 3 a constantly damaging beam that follows you for some seconds.
    So the key is crowd control. take as many mobs out of the fight as possible (a disabled mob does no harm), ignore the adds (or use heroic abilities to get rid of them, they seem to be on a 40 sec respawn timer) if you can use the terminal, do so.

    Once you get used to the mechanic it will get easier.
    Good Luck
    Sry 4 TL

    1. Thanks for taking the time for an Epic Reply and pretty much a walk-through. The more I think about it, a group makes more sense. So, how do you make the terminal usable so you can deactivate it? I’m not sure on that one. I’ll read your notes over again before I re-attempt the Star Fortresses!

      1. When you enter the first room, the terminal should be highlighted blue within seconds and therefor clickable.

        In room 2 and 3 you need to wait, until the exarch transfers some energy to the photoelectric droids hanging / flowing left and right of the terminal, activating them (one after another).

        They are now your priority. Destroy and loot them for the Photocell Capacitors (look like a MK-8 Augmentation Slot Component on your temp. toolbar).
        Target the Exarch and klick on the Capacitor will reduce his Powerstacks. After that, the terminal will be clickable.

        Room 3 works the same, you just need to do this twice, because the Exarch has more Powerstacks on him, then before, you do want a challenge, don’t you?
        The new storming ability every class gets at lvl 63/64 helps to close the gaps or get out of fire fast.

        The Exarchs damage ability in room 2 is fairly just: see a red circle beneath you, step out of it to avoid damage.
        But in room 3 I ignore his seeking beam and instead use the blue Dampening Fields from the temp. toolbar during this phase, because You want to focus on deactivating the terminal. Running around as a melee is not that helpful. Might be easier for PvP players, the always seem to just jump&run through the warzones^^ and ranged classes.

        1. Thanks so much for your guidance Marolf πŸ™‚ Yeah I like a challenge, but unfortunately I put myself in physical pain (stupid Fibromyalgia) last time I tried to Solo this. I’ll make a note of your guidance to have with me next time I try this out (which will be in the next week or so), so thank you!

  9. I soloed a heroic star fortress on my jedi sage. It was definitely a challenge for me and a little after the beginning, I switched my companion to heal despite also being heal. I managed to complete it, but only after a very long time, (maybe an hour to 2 hours?) I can’t quite remember my stats on him and everything but I also did it without having rank 10 with the Alliance Departments and I don’t believe my gear is that good either. Surprisingly, I only died once, and that was when the command skytrooper droid knocked me off the platform. I think the reason i did so well is because I’m constantly challenging myself and keep improving because of it even though I gain my share fair of deaths, lol. I also don’t believe I had high companion influence. As it took a while, I have yet to complete any heroic star fortress besides the Alderaan one. I also want to say, good luck with everything that you’ve been going through, I may not have any experience with those things, but I wish you well.

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Well done for only dying due to push-back on the Star Fortress! When I last attempted to solo a Heroic one, the inner ring has too many ‘inputs’ – it’s hard fending off mobs that just keep regenerating, watching for the console, watching for the droid that drops the weapon you have to fire at the Exarch and remembering to stay shielded. I did a run yesterday with a guild mate and it worked well and they were able to teach me a few things that I can use if I feel up to trying to solo it in future. Though it’s much more enjoyable with company so I might just yell for a group in future!

      1. You’re welcome. πŸ™‚ Thanks, and I also had no idea how a heroic star fortress worked before that so I got really lucky too. It is a lot. I’m surprised I was able to do it. I only have characters on the Jedi Covenant server though (though one on the Ebon Hawk who I don’t play much at all) I’m EvanNine on twitter (@tanner5iron) also if what you mean in your last sentence is that you might ask for a group with me in the future, I would gladly do so though I don’t believe you have any characters on the Jedi Covenant server, do you?

        1. I think I have a couple of lowbies on their from ages ago, but not yet no. But you never know, when I run out of slots on the two servers I have… πŸ˜‰

          1. Well, if you ever do, then you know where to find me on twitter and all my characters are Evan with a number. (two have dashes, because their names were too short.

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