Hopefully this post will help a few people in deciding whether or not to get the game. I am just providing some of the information I found whilst playing the game and explaining what I enjoy about it.
I've now had the chance to play in two beta tests in recent months, most recently the stress test weekend just gone and another smaller test weekend a month or so ago. The first test I used the time to go slow and to test out what class I would like to play. I managed to level a Sith Juggernaut to 17, a Sith Marauder to 19 and a Sith Assassin to 21. Out of these three I decided to stick to the Assassin because of it's play style.
In the stress test beta I decided to test Jedi and to focus on one character which was the Jedi Shadow. I will give an overview of the game from a tanks point of view and explain a little of what I learnt about the Jedi Shadow in the process.
If you want to skip general things then go to the bottom for some information about the Jedi Shadow / Sith Assassin (The Sith will use the same abilities but they will have different names).
I will have a couple of tanking videos pop up on my youtube channel over the next few days of me tanking Flashpoints and Heroic Quests around level 26 onwards; I will link them in this thread too.
Small Solo Play Video
The interface overall is Okay for tanking. You can use the name plates to see which target you are currently targeting by a small arrow that appears above the nameplate and to see the health of all the mobs around you. One thing with the name plates is that there's no way to tell if you have aggro. The only way to tell is if the mob is hitting you or not which I actually like. In WoW, with the built in threat nameplates I found myself just looking at the colour of the nameplate to check the mobs were hitting me and now I actually have to look around at what I'm doing to see if mobs are hitting me.
The health bars are reasonable. I tend not to look at the target health bar in the bottom right and look at the name plates on screen. For me personally the player health bar is a little low but you can enable your own name plate to appear above your character so that you can see your health in the middle of the screen too. I was actually able to play the game and tank an instance with ALT+Z enabled and going purely from the nameplates alone after I learnt the rotation.
Buffs are a little bit of a pain. As a Shadow I had multiple debuffs to apply and abilities that would proc off other abilities but they are rather small and right at the bottom near the health bars which I found annoying to have to keep looking down and searching through a number of buffs to see if was proc proc'd or my debuff fell off. A power aura type mechanic wouldn't go a miss here.
The ability to customize and re-scale the UI definitely wouldn't go a miss. I would rather not see AddOns implemented into TOR, even though I love making AddOns and UIs, it would be nice to work with default elements and not have to download things constantly.
Leveling as a Tank
Leveling as a Tank in TOR is really enjoyable. Whilst solo questing the companions bring a lot to the table. I could tank the mobs myself and run around with a DPS come healing companion that would shoot mobs down with his laser gun and pop off a few heals when I would drop health; or I could remove my tanking 'stance' (more on this later) and allow my companion to tank whilst I took down the mobs myself. It really doesn't slow you down all that much if you choose to take the tanking talent tree over a dps talent tree. I was actually the highest level on the server I was on this weekend and I didn't really knuckle down to level. I was exploring and running low level flashpoints with friends.
Flashpoints(dungeons) are an awesome way to level. Every flashpoint has a story themed quest that you can pick up outside entrance in the hub. They are repeatable so you can farm flashpoints constantly; earning experience, gear upgrades and commendations from the repeatable quest itself. I find this handy for those that enjoy grouping up and running dungeons especially those that enjoy to tank as they're always needed.
Heroic Quests are available which are also very awesome if you're a tank. Quite a lot of people are always looking for tanks for heroic quests so you won't have trouble finding a group. I didn't anyway! Heroic Quests are similar to instances in the world; there are a lot of mobs around all different in difficulty (there are 4 or 5 types of difficulty in TOR). As you get higher you will notice that you'll need to use CC on mobs and take your time in pulling as not to aggro too many and wipe, just like you would in a flashpoint.
Combat and Tanking
I found the combat very refreshing. I enjoyed tanking a lot in WoW and I think I will enjoy it just as much, if not more so in TOR. Some people say the combat feels clunky, now while I admit it isn't as smooth and flowing as WoWs combat it is actually a damn good combat system and once you're actually out of the start zone and get your teeth into some higher level stuff you actually forget that the game is new and in beta.
Tanking was a lot of fun. Most packs of mobs in the Heroic Quests and in Flashpoints are in groups of sometimes 10-12 and you have to CC, Tank them or let DPS deal with them. You have to decide which mobs you're going to CC, which one you're going to tank and the others you will leave. With mobs having multiple difficulties in every pack you can actually leave some for the DPS to burst down and tank themselves whilst you focus tanking the bigger elite and CCing the smaller elites; it works very well and I enjoy it a lot.
Threat is a very big factor. Once you've got the threat it seems to stick unless you leave a mob, single tab target is definitely recommended. At the start of a fight you need to be careful with your AOE abilities because of the CC. I've had a couple of groups where people gung ho one mob whilst I'm just running in and it can get quite tricky to get the mob back if the person doesn't stop. You have a taunt but it has a cooldown so you need to use it properly. AoE tanking is rather easy. I had two abilities as a Shadow, one that had a cooldown and another that I could spam; it didn't do a lot of damage or threat though so single target was still in order whilst my other AoE was on cooldown. (more on abilities of the shadow coming)
The Jedi Shadow (Sith Assassin)
I found playing this class very similar to a Warrior in WoW. I'm going to say this because I played a Warrior tank in wow. As I was playing TOR I was finding myself using abilities like I would as if I were playing a Warrior here in WoW. There are still a lot of factors that are different though.
As a Jedi Shadow you wear light armour and you use a double bladed light-saber. You work with a resource called Force and it works just like Energy in wow. you have 100 force as a Jedi Shadow and all of your damaging abilities except one require force to use. Force comes back by itself but in the tanking tree you have talents to increase its regeneration by 30%.
You have stances as a Jedi Shadow that allow you to do different things. These stances are called techniques and each one gives you different benefits. The first one you get is called "Force Technique" at level 10 and this will allow your melee hits to deal a small amount of damage to the target. The other Technique that is from Infiltration Talents is called "Shadow Technique" which again allows your melee hits to deal damage to the target on hit. The tanking technique is called "Combat Technique" and this increases your armour rating by 150%, shield Chance by 15% and your Threat Generated by 50%. It also has a chance for your melee hits to heal your for a small amount.
An ability called Force Breach is tied to all of these stances. It has a 15 second cooldown but on use does something different depending on your Technique. Force Technique applies a DoT over 18 seconds, Shadow Technique is an instant damaging attack and your Combat Technique is an AoE to 5 targets that reduces their chance to hit for 18 seconds by 5%.
As a Tank you will use Combat Technique for the Threat, Armour, Shield Chance and AoE threat ability. Your shield chance is basically an absorb mechanic that reduces the damage you take by a certain amount (increased with stats). The basic ways to avoid damage that I found were Parry, Deflect and Shield. Parry and Deflect are to avoid damage completely, parrying a melee attack or deflecting a laser shot.
Shield is something that I like; you have are given an item for your offhand that gives you a shield absorb of 20% and shield chance of 5%(if I remember correctly) at level 10 when you choose the Shadow Class as your Advanced Class. As you get higher you gain more defense rating which increases all of the above stats as well as talents and abilities to increase your absorb chance and the amount you absorb.
Abilities and Rotation
I found the rotation very similar to a Warrior in WoW, (again; I played a warrior tank for 3 years. I find similarities in things and use them to my advantage). I had 5-6 main abilities in my rotation whilst tanking, this was only up to level 32 though. After learning and looking into the class I can see that there are more abilities still to come that provide other benefits with talents.
- Saber Strike: This is the ability that costs no force, hits for a small amount and is used as a filler ability if you need a little more force.
- Double Strike: Your main 'spam' ability that costs force. Hits for a good amount of damage and costs 25 Force.
- Project: This is your main threat ability, has a small cooldown of 6 seconds, a small ranged ability that hits one target. Costs 45 Force.
- Telekinetic Throw: This isn't really used at low level. It's a channeled ability that damages the target over 3-4 seconds. Costs 30 force. I'll explain more on this after.
- Force Breach: This is the only useful AoE ability at lower levels combined with the Tanking Technique, the other knocks mobs back so can be annoying for AoE. It has a 15 second cooldown but applies a 5% -hit debuff to up to 5 targets around the target you use it on. A nice tanking ability for AoE situations. Costs 20 force.
- Whirling Blow:This is your spammable AoE ability, obtained at level 26, it costs 60 force but does a small amount of AoE damage to all targets around you. Has no cooldown and is handy for initial threat on multiple mobs with a Force Breach.
- Kinetic Ward:This is your personal buff to keep up. You get it at level 20 from talents and it provides you with a 15% shield chance for 20 seconds, lasts for 8 hits but only has a 12 second cooldown.
As you get higher level you will get a couple more talents and change how abilities work. Around level 20-22 there's a talent that you can take that allows your Double Strike and Whirling blow to refresh the cooldown on your Project and make it a critical hit, good for threat generation and damage. Even further through the talents you get another that increases the threat and damage dealt by Project by 15%.
Further on from that another talent around level 35 gives your Project a 50% chance to give you a buff that increases the damage of your Telekinetic Throw by 25% per stack (stacks 3 times). Makes your Throw avoid all knockbacks and interrupts. At three stacks it allows your Throw to heal you for 3% of your total health for every tick of damage. (hits for 4-5 ticks). You can see that Project is a major part of the Shadow Rotation for tanking.
The last couple of abilities you receive from talents are:
- Force Pull: A Death Grip ability that pulls the target to you and generates a high amount of threat.
- Slow Time: This is the last and final talent point in the tanking tree, it is similar to Force Breach and hits up to 5 targets in the areas for a good amount of damage decreasing all damage they deal by 5% for 15 seconds and only has a 7.5 second cooldown; this will become a good and main part of the single and aoe target rotation.
The Single Target rotation is fairly simple. You use Project on cooldown whilst using Double Strike whilst Project is on cooldown. If you run out of force then you use a couple Saber Strikes whilst you wait for force to regenerate. If your Double Strike refreshes the cooldown of Project then use Project if you have the force; if not use a Saber Strike and then use Project. You do this whilst keeping up your -5% hit debuff on the target (becareful of the AoE and CC around the target) and keeping your Kinetic Ward on yourself(costs no force and is off the GCD so it's easy to do).
As you get high enough you should use Telekinetic Throw after 3 Projects to provide some self healing and nice damage once you have the talents.
For AoE you pretty much do the same as above except you have Whirling Blow to spam if you need to get a little more AoE threat faster; with the talents that increase Force Regeneration by 30% you can generally spam this ability three times before being completely forced out.
As you get higher you will get Slow Time as an AoE ability for threat but to also provide the 5% damage decrease by the target.
The game is brilliant. It reminds me of WoW toward the TBC era and I enjoy it an awful lot. It's the first game I've actually woken up for to play since playing WoW as a hardcore raider back in TBC. I set my alarm early on Sunday so that I could get up and test a few more things but I overslept by 4 hours and I was actually annoyed with myself for doing so. If I tried I probably could have hit level 40 or so this weekend but I was enjoying the game THAT much I had more fun messing around with guys in the lower level Quests and Flashpoints. The game is just enjoyable to a whole new scale and it's something new and refreshing.
The Jedi Shadow is definitely the class that I will be playing on Live. Not only can it tank but it is very versatile with Stealth and control abilities. I would suggest anybody that enjoyed playing a Rogue or Warrior to try this class out, it works very similarly to both these classes and has certain elements from both combined into one.
You could say that I'm already hooked to the game and I have only played it for 3-4 days in total. Once you get past the start zone, get out of the main city planet and advance to a higher level the world really does open up. A small tip for guys is do not leave for tatooine without a speeder; if you do you'll be running around for hours. The planets are HUGE once you get out and explore.
I think I covered most of what I wanted to. I apologise if I missed anything out; if you have any questions please do ask and I will help out if I can. A few videos may pop up on youtube and in this thread of me playing so be sure to keep an eye out.