SWTOR’s second live event, The Grand Acquisitions Race, has come to a close. This is an event that had rumors flying around for quite a while before it started, which meant the expectations of most players were set pretty high. It’s also important to note that four, long months have passed since our last in-game event, the Rise of the Rakghouls, which meant that, yep– player expectations were even higher.
Were all those expectations met? Unfortunately, no. That didn’t mean the whole event was a flop, however. Like the Rakghoul plague event, The Grand Acquisitions Race did have some very satisfying moments. It also had some other moments where it fell a bit short, leaving players hungry for more and at times frustrated. Let’s dive in and find out why, shall we?
Now, when it comes to world events, I’m a huge fan of them. I was looking forward immensely to SWTOR’s when it launched, and I was also glad to see BioWare kept a little bit of the unexpected, random nature of the Rakghoul event in place for the Acquisitions Race. Fans were treated to a one-day warning video in which players frantically searched the fleets for the actual event– only to find out the event didn’t start until the next day. Some players, I’m sure, would have preferred to have a week warning for the event, but I personally enjoyed how it prefaced with a “newscast” video then began in full force shortly after. World events are more immersive when they aren’t so predictable, in my opinion.
It was also great to see some immersion in the areas where the event took place. Nar Shaddaa, Coruscant, and Drumond Kaas had some interesting atmospheric scenes for players with sharp eyes. There were event hints geared toward helping players solve the scavenger hunt quests on their own. On these planets it actually seemed like groups of NPCs were racing to find hidden items for the Chevin, all the while getting into violent tussles and having random standoffs at gunpoint on the streets. It was rather cool.
At the same time time, however, despite being a “world” event, it only took place on those three planets. I’m sure BioWare partially restrained the planets it took part on due to level constraints, but at the same time, it would have been nice to see a couple different versions of the quest for players of various levels. RIFT recently had a scavenger hunt world event, and part of the enjoyment of their scavenger hunt quests was the fact that they took players to almost every map in the game. In SWTOR’s hunt, not only were we restricted to two maps, but we kept having to go back and forth between those two maps, which got a little tiresome for many players.
Now, let’s talk the quest itself. Parts were enjoyable, and again, quite immersive. The bounty hunter quest was fun, as well as the two puzzle quests, the speeder quest, and a few of the others. In fact, I’d argue that most were enjoyable, except when it came to trying to complete many of them during peak server hours. For a game that has instanced quests literally everywhere you look, it really surprised me that the puzzle quests and droid escort quests, for example, weren’t instanced. Sure, grouping up or waiting until the wee hours of morning both got the job done, but one of the first things any world event should do is ensure players have fun, and don’t have a chance to feel frustrated.
And then there were the Smuggler boxes. The concept of the boxes was a good one. Easter egg-type hunts work well within a scavenger hunt, and BioWare did a great job with placing the boxes in random locations throughout Nar Shaddaa. The problem was the fact that the boxes took a decent chunk of time to respawn during peak server hours, and that would have been acceptable if there were alternative ways to grab Tokens of Enrichment after completing the main storyline and without using alts– but there wasn’t.
That brings me to my next point. Despite the fact that the main hunt storyline was rather enjoyable (when it wasn’t frustrating), that’s all there was to the event. The Rakghoul event, in comparison, had world bosses to go after, a tie-in with a flashpoint, and repeatable daily quests that players could do to gather event currency. The only way to farm extra currency during the Acquisitions Race was to farm boxes. This problem was eliminated somewhat by the fact that the currency itself was BoE and easily farmable with the help of alts, but not everyone has alts or wants to ride around aimlessly searching for boxes. The event could have used a few interesting dailies, at least, to spice up the amount of options available.
The content for this event just seemed lacking somewhat in comparison to the Rakghoul event. It was possible to complete the entire quest line in a few hours once you had an idea of where to go, and the additional quests with daily unlocks didn’t serve much of a purpose outside of attempting to lengthen the event for players. It would have been nice to see a little more content, and a little time to complete that content in.
The initial quest chain that introduced the SIS/Intelligence portion was immersive, as well as many of the individual hunts, but after that, most of the story-based immersion disappeared. We received some interesting news in our mailboxes, but the event ended quite similar to the Rakghoul event. It just ended– without any sort of real conclusion. Our characters also never said a word during any of the cutscenes, which was unfortunate.
One other aspect of the Grand Acquisitions Race frustrated many players– its rewards. The Bowcasters were a nice touch, and it’s great to see some new, unique weapon models that are also Bind-on-Legacy, but when the only items obtainable of that high quality are limited to 3 (okay, 4 technically) out of 16 advanced classes, quite a few players understandably felt a little left out. It didn’t help that the mods were expensive to pull out of the weapons, making buying them for the components questionable. On the plus side, it was nice to see a BoL weapon finally, which now makes it possible to switch color crystals between different-faction alts.
When the event first started and players began complaining about the lack of weaponry for other classes, Joveth Gonzalez replied with the following:
Originally posted by JovethGonzalez (Source)
I wanted to take a bit of time to explain the reasoning behind the weapon selection on the vendor. As you know, each SWTOR event that we do is unique and this also applies to the variety of items offered. That is, if you don’t find anything that you think is useful during this event, you may find a different assortment of items in the next one. Your feedback is definitely appreciated and we’ll look into different ways to improve our item selection in the future.
The idea of making each event have gear for different classes isn’t a terrible one in theory, but there’s one large problem when it comes to the way SWTOR is handling their world events– events don’t happen often enough. In the four months between events, players are likely to change mains, level additional alts, switch factions, or even take a break from the game. Unless BioWare ups the pace of their current world event schedule, it’s safe to say that this reward strategy will disappoint players every time. The fact that there are other fluff rewards such as custom moddable outfits, pets, and speeders helps, but players often prioritize items that aren’t fluff, which makes the lack of variety all the more frustrating.
In the end, players want variety from their world events, as well as a fun distraction with some interesting lore, cool rewards, and ultimately– a reason to be excited for the next world event. BioWare did appear to learn a few things from the Rakghoul event that they incorporated into the Acquisitions Race, including BoE tokens, a clear announcement of an ending date, and letting the reward vendor stick around. It was also great to see something fully unique, and not copied and pasted from the last event.
There are some important lessons the company can learn from player feedback this time around, however, mainly having to do with the fact that players need options when it comes to completing world events. They need multiple activities to take part in, multiple areas to help disperse population clumps (or smarter quest items/puzzle areas), and multiple rewards that help everyone find something that interests them. Maybe in time we’ll get there. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another four months to enjoy our next event, but we’ll have to see how the new F2P model shapes the content release schedule.