Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG has received a long-awaited update this week, featuring the classic planet of Dantooine. After several years, another special weekly event has been added to the list consisting of old-and-tried, but already slightly stale Rakghoul Plague, Bounty Week and Relics of the Gree. This is the Dantooine Incursion event.
What Is The Idea?
Many will remember Dantooine as the pastoral world from KOTOR I and KOTOR II. This time around, the peaceful Republic settlers are facing the threat of Nova Blade Pirates. And seeing that the world is so easy to take for a bunch of bandits, the Sith Empire sets its sights on Dantooine as well.
What we end up with is a new planet, consisting chiefly of one large area plus a couple of heroic and personal phases. In its simplest form, accessible to any character of level 20 and higher, Dantooine offers a bunch of daily quests, with a weekly bonus that you can pick up from the fleet news terminal, similar to the one for the Rakghoul or Gree events (or for quick access, it can be of course also picked from your activities tab). For those who have completed the game’s story all the way up to the latest expansion (Ossus), there is a whole another dimension to the event, tied to the story, and more story-related content. As I have not had the chance to play that part yet, however, I will focus on the generic, repeatable content of the event that is accessible to everyone.
The Missions: Variety For The Win
You start either in a Republic base in the Tokare Outpost (named after one of the Jedi Masters from KOTOR) or in the hidden Imperial base inside Dantooine’s crystal caves. There are three heroic missions – the same for both factions – and multiple daily missions that can be soloed.
I especially appreciated the variety of missions, which are not simply “go and kill X enemies”. You use binoculars, blow up ships, lay mines (for the Empire) or dig them up (for the Republic), or travel around for a series of objectives, following a small story. Heroic missions offer tactical boss fights, with the bonus options that get you extra rewards, for instance if you complete a fight while preventing the enemy for killing nearby hostages in the process. The most unique missions, however, are two minigames. In the Republic one, you control a turret and shoot down incoming pirates (perhaps in a nod to a similar KOTOR II Dantooine minigame), and in the Imperial one, you actually control a mouse droid and infiltrate a base. In my opinion, that was the most special and entertaining idea and I would like to see more of such things in the game.
The Rewards: Grow Your Melon Patch
The rewards contain a couple of outfits, pets, mounts and stronghold decorations, as well as a Ugnaught companion (similar to the Gamorrean companion you can get from the Nightlife event). They are purchaseable with special currency (Dantooine notes) that is mainly obtainable by completing the Heroic missions. That is a bit of a setback for those who prefer to play solo, as the Heroic missions are quite difficult. Otherwise, there is the traditional system of gaining reputation with the Dantooinian faction, and for various items you need to first achieve certain reputation rank. Unlike the currency, however, the reputation is not difficult to raise, as you can get it by completing any of the quests.
I would say that on the average, the decorations are the most interesting items to aim for. There is a Kath hound mount and a walker mount, but different Kath hound and walker mounts already exist, so there is no reason most people would spend weeks of grinding dozens of Dantooine notes for them. Similarly, the outfits are not very special unless you are planning to roleplay a Dantooinian settler. The decorations, on the other hand, are certainly unique – a melon patch or a tractor included. It would be nice if the game added the option to buy an actual stronghold on Dantooine, but we’ll have to see that yet. That all being said, rumour is that the Dantooine event (and perhaps the reward list, then) is going to be yet expanded in the future.
There are several hidden achievements you can discover by roaming around. To name one, there is Poly, a colourful bird situated on a small island in the southern part of the map. I am not going to spoil what she does. These are random, fun additions that are there for explorers, which is a nice move from the devs.
Missing Music And Too Difficult Heroics
Overall, Dantooine is a beautiful place and the missions are rather entertaining and variable. One could find a couple of things to criticise, however. There are technical details, such as that the mine-laying on Imperial side, being so close to the entrance, tends to take hours as players race each other to placing their mines first, and the respawn rate seems rather long. On the contrary, the enemies tend to respawn rather fast, which is a good thing if you are looking for doing your “defeat X enemies” bonuses, but jarring if you are travelling across half the map to a distant objective.
The actually bigger setback that already significant amount of players have mentioned also on the game’s official forum, is the surprising difficulty of the Heroic missions. It is especially shocking when compared to the normal Heroic planetary missions, which have become very easy and soloable even for casual players after some of the rearrangements a few years back. Clearly, Dantooine was made with the intention to provide more of a challenge for those who have been looking for it, and that is good. However, I have found the Heroic 2+ rather challenging for a group of two non-hardcore players, but with fully geared-up level 70 characters alongside two companions, and the Heroic 4s proved too much in that configuration. Not to speak of the extra level of the bonus objectives.
I have been getting the impression that the devs have been rather hit-or-miss with the difficulty lately: some missions, such as story flashpoints for which one tends to be rather overleveled anyway allow you to summon a support droid and use kolto stations, while the Dantooine heroics that would benefit from at least some kind of a boost for the final fight have nothing. I can imagine it is somewhat disappointing for more casual players to be locked away from 3 out of 9 missions (and rewards for them) simply because they are a bit too difficult. Perhaps the way of solving this while maintaining the challenge for hardcore players would be to include the buffs, but have more bonus missions such as “defeat the boss without using the kolto stations”.
Last but not least, for some reason, the devs decided not to include the classic Dantooine music from KOTOR (neither the Khoonda plains, nor the Jedi Academy music) for the areas. True, it is very peaceful, which makes it somewhat less suitable for the landscape full of pirates – however, perhaps it could still play in the starting area, or, say, the first time you walk out. Instead, there is the Rakatan ruins and Kashyyyk music from KOTOR – good picks, but not having Dantooine music on Dantooine is certainly a miss.
One or two more nods to KOTOR (Juhani’s grove with some Dark Side spawn? Gathering crystals in the caves?) would not be bad, either.
Despite the few setbacks I have mentioned, The Dantooine Incursion so far seems to be a very entertaining event and a welcome addition to the list. There has also been a notable influx of returning and new players. I would like to hope that this is the beginning of a long rise for upcoming SWTOR updates.
The Dantooine Incursion is going to run now for two weeks in a row (4.-11.6. and 11.-18.6.). Afterwards, we can expect it to return on about two-monthly basis, rotating along with the other events.