Galactic Command: BioWare's "Long-Game"

So let's talk in more detail about Galactic Command.

Since it was announced, virtually everyone knew that it would be controversial as all hell. It's uprooted one of the most consistent procedures of acquiring endgame gear and replaced it with a system which is based entirely on RNG and grind all wrapped up in one package.

As tedious as it is right now, it could have been a lot worse: initially the system was going to be tied to our Advanced Class with no consideration for our Disciplines, so a Commando Healer could get DPS gear whilst a Shadow DPS could get Tank gear. Thankfully they fixed that quite shortly after the system was announced.

But that's a hypothetical "in the past" situation. What about in the now?


I don't think I've come across a system such as this which has a direct negative counter to virtually every positive aspect about it before. 
  1. Positive: The system allows you to get endgame gear through any in-game activity possible. Negative: The pieces you receive may not even be endgame quality, possibly even into the second and third Tiers. 
  2. Positive: You are guaranteed to get a piece based on your Discipline. Negative: These pieces do not 'lock each other out'; you may well get a duplicate piece you do not need, and some of the pieces per Discipline are absolute rubbish (*cough* Ephemeral Mending or Devastating Vengeance Relics).
  3. Positive: It encourages people to do various in-game activities they never really did before. Negative: The system can be said to be so tedious that it forces people to constantly do stuff they'd never feel comfortable doing just to be able to avoid being left behind. 
  4. Positive: You get a lot of CXP for Master Mode Flashpoints, Veteran Uprisings, PvP, GSF, and Operations. Negative: Psychologically, a player who only does one of the above activities could well feel inferior to a player who does most if not all of the above activities and has more than enough time to do so and who continually flaunts it (e.g. talking about how they stayed up late in the morning doing PvP for each of the last four days). 
  5. Positive: You can use alts to double the speed of the gearing process. Negative: The amount of time it will take to level two characters simultaneously is not at all worth the effort, especially if one is far more prolific than the other, and the second character is still subject to all the RNG as the first. Plus, this system almost punishes you for spending valuable time away from a single main character. 
  6. Positive: It makes you feel rewarded for investing time into the game. Negative: This only applies if you get substantially lucky and get more than a couple of usable set pieces every ten Ranks or so, and not every player even has this time to invest into this game due to work, wanting to spend time in other games, or just general apathy with SWtOR.
  7. Positive: You get extra CXP if your alignment wins the Dark vs. Light struggle. Negative: On The Red Eclipse at least, Light has won virtually all of the tussles that I've been online to see, so Dark Players rarely get to take full advantage of this. 
There are probably some that I've missed, but you should get my point.

There is one notable negative beyond all of this, which is that SWtOR has gone from a game which benefits both Casuals and 'Hardcore' players (as much as I think aspects of it were too easy, 4.0's Highlighted Ops did this spectacularly) to being a game which largely only benefits those who are willing and able to just grind. There's a noteworthy example of this coming up in a minute.

The fact that you can put a very negative spin onto virtually any aspect of Galactic Command makes one wonder exactly why anyone at BioWare thought this was a good idea. Maybe they genuinely believe that their game is now in a state that everyone will be perfectly happy to grind endlessly, maybe they're doing it to psychologically impel people to stay subbed, or maybe they're just trying their own thing and hoping it works. 

The problem with this is that SWtOR was never a game which benefited pure grinding in the long-term. Sure, you could grind out Achievements til kingdom come, but that doesn't really do anything outside of increasing an in-game 'ticker' and has no impact on your playstyle or quality. Similarly, grinding PvP and Operations earned you gear which enabled you to perform better, but everyone was on the same 'level' for both of these and the outcome (cost of gear compared to which boss dropped what) was crystal clear. 

This shift in design philosophy contrasts with what this game gradually evolved into which made it so casual and alt-friendly. Indeed, even those players who already play versatile characters need to respec back to their 'main spec' if they needed to switch for an Operation, Uprising, or Flashpoint and received a Command Rank in the process, just to get gear which corresponded to their main role. Being versatile with one character is one thing, but you almost feel punished for needing to switch to a different character altogether

That is not right, and yet that's the general feeling that this new system has bred. 

Furthermore, this system also breeds a lot of jealousy and tension just by existing. If somebody gets lucky and nabs a few set pieces in a row whilst you're stuck with greens and blues you can't help but feel some form of indignation towards them. Sure, some of it may just be friendly rivalry to begin with but eventually it may well breed into something far more serious if it continues seventy Ranks later.

The only undeniable positive thing about Galactic Command is that there is no one singular 'best' activity. They all seem pretty well balanced when time to complete the event is brought into consideration. For example, you can get 1,000 CXP per Master Flashpoint whilst you 'only' get 600 CXP per Veteran Uprising or PvP match, but you should be able to pump out at least two Uprisings/PvP matches in the time that it takes you to complete one Flashpoint, so ultimately they cancel themselves out.


Since this system came out on Tuesday, BioWare have already had to modify a part of it. Elite mobs granted 10 CXP, but then somebody went and ground out the Twin Suns NPCs for one of the Tatooine Heroics in an Ops group for many many hours and managed to hit the Weekly cap (318,000 CXP) so now the mobs only grant 1 CXP. 

I do have to say that I do agree with this change. Even in the Ops my guild have been doing to farm CXP we've spent far too long hunting down the groups of mobs. Whilst this was fun at first (although given that the first one was EV, hunting down the cats for fun evoked a certain sense of nostalgia for me) it quickly evolved into tedium in KP as more and more mobs kept getting pulled whilst the first was still alive, and by the time we got to EC we agreed to pretty much stop the random farming. 

Prior to the change, this was another one of those positive/negative things. The positive was that you got a nice supplement to CXP whilst farming Heroics or completing FPs and Ops, whilst the negative was that it was more efficient to farm mobs than to actually play the game itself. You can't blame BioWare for making this move but again this is another case where they woefully  underestimated their playerbase, who have now proved themselves doggedly determined to avoid the tedious grind by 'breaking the system' as quickly as possible. 

Please note at this point that they previously boasted that the Weekly cap would be impossible to reach without exploiting, and this guy managed to do it in an undeniably 'legitimate' manner. 


We are still in early days for Galactic Command, and yet there are still a lot of reasons to be legitimately annoyed by it. Time will only tell whether or not things get any easier when we start hitting the second Tier, but I'm not resting many of my hopes on this.


  1. Thats a lot of words, most of which I agree with. As someone with close to zero interest in "end game", or pvp, or starfighter, the system doesnt really affect me directly. So far I havent even played any of the new content, I've been working on some of my less used alts. At some point however, I'll have a stable of max level characters that should start accumulating these command ranks and the RNGesus boxes. It would be nice to get a set of matching equipment somewhere near current max power before the next expansion comes along. That looks pretty unlikely under these rules.

    I've always found end-game loot systems too random. Many systems award only one item per boss to an entire group making repeat visits required. If the loot table is sufficiently large it may take a long while before you get a direct upgrade and if you have to work on a full set of BIS gear that can be a very long grind indeed. One aspect of the Galactic Command system hints at a better way - the ability to destroy an unwanted item to partially refund its "cost". This is still far too much of a grind.

    If bosses in end game content dropped an item of gear for your class about every 3rd kill on average, the gear was bind on legacy/account and shareable with others in the participating team it could still take quite a while to fully gear but progress would be noticeable. If in addition, any unwanted loot could be traded in to special vendors for tokens, which could be used to buy any missing pieces of gear at a rate of 3-10 tokens per peice then the limitations of RNG based loot systems could be avoided. The drop rates could be tweaked up or down to set progress at whatever rate the devs wanted. Raid lockouts also contribute to slowing down the gearing rate.

    Under Galactic Command perhaps any unwanted gear from a lootbox could be converted back to a token so that you get one decent bit of gear every 5-10 boxes even if random chance is against you.

  2. What you said is fantastic. However, there are about a million more words that could be directed at bioware for this horrific, god awful system. Most of those words would be asterisk-ed out by the in game filter. I hate them for this. I hate this game for this. I want to love this game, I really do, but the absolute and utter screw up of a system that galactic command is, is too much to overlook and it literally makes me feel anxious and hatred. It's gotten to the point where I am SEARCHING for articles on how bad galactic command is, just so I can read them and feel happy someone else is bashing bioware for their stupidity. I'm also now posting on sites like this whereas I have only once ever posted a reply to ANYTHING online before.