Spoiler Alert: This article is an analysis of the first boss fight of the Eternity Vault that was shown at New York Comic Con. If you want to avoid spoilers of end-game content, you may want to skip out on this.
With New York Comic Con coming to a close, we have ourselves plenty of exciting information (and new teasers) about The Old Republic. Today I’d like to talk about the walkthrough video for the first boss fight of the Eternity Vault, narrated by Dallas Dickinson. Not only is this a fantastic sneak peek into what we can expect from end-game content, but it can also give us valuable insight into how Bioware approaches raid design. If you haven’t already, check out the video above or on Bioware’s new Operations page.
Dallas guides us through the boss fight fantastically, highlighting important abilities and showing what kind of teamwork is needed to overcome this boss. If we are using this as a benchmark for Bioware raid design, a few things are immediately noticeable For example, I noticed that players don’t seem to be favoring any particular side when attacking. This implies that attacking from the front doesn’t seem to be any better or worse than attacking from the back. Given the positional requirements for his other abilities, this gives players some nice breathing room. Another point is the lack of restriction on abilities in combat. Charging and Resurrection during combat are two things that are novelties for most MMORPG players, and I’m sure Bioware is well aware of this.
Let’s take a closer look at some of this droid’s abilities and the tactics in the fight. A quick note first: Since we have no official names for his attacks, I’ll be using ones closest to what Dallas calls them.
Sweep - The droid sweeps any target within what appears to be 10 or 15 yards, knocking them out of melee range. A simple foil for melee attackers, and to keep ranged casters outside of melee range for fear of being interrupted. This keeps the fight from becoming a monotonous DPS fest for melee characters and foces the group to spread out accordingly.
My Notes: This ability, as I mentioned, has a way of pausing the DPS that melee characters put out. I can only speculate that classes who need to ramp up in order to perform at their best (Such as the Rogue in WoW building up combo points) would be racing to get back to the boss as soon as they can. However, this brings up another question: Is there an enrage timer? This was not mentioned in the video. Pausing DPS would hurt groups who are trying to shoot for a specific timer on this boss, though it would work as an excellent gate point for groups figuring out if they are geared enough for the Operation.
Heavy Missile Attack - A red circle locks on your character, following them where they go, before you and anyone around you are blasted with missiles and knocked back. Players must keep an eye out for this and separate themselves from the group to minimize damage. A nice tool to keep players on their toes.
My Notes: There really isn’t much to this ability, but I did want to point out that the turrets in the fight before the boss used a very similar ability with a white beam. I’m a big fan of using “trash” fights as a training ground for abilities you will see in the upcoming boss fight. It makes for a far better (and more tactical) fight and gives them purpose rather than simple time sinks in-between bosses.
Missile Swarm - The key ability for this boss. He fires out swarms of missiles at every player for 20-25 seconds, causing massive amounts of damage to every player. Only the tanks are capable of surviving this and can continue attacking, whereas the rest of the group must hide behind the remains of the turrets from the first fight to avoid the damage.
My Notes: On the second round of Missile Swarm, Dallas shows us a secondary way for a group to handle this mechanic: grouping up next to the tanks and having the healers chain cast AoE Heals. As you can see, it works once, but not twice. For Healer heavy groups (not advised if there is an enrage timer) or groups that are over geared, this is a fantastic strategy. This rewards players who have passed this fight in terms of power by simplifying a key mechanic and speeding up the fight by letting everyone continue to fight. For a gate-keeper boss, this is a good design choice.
Sky Missile - Wait, I thought he only mentioned three major abilities? You would be correct, Dallas neglected to tell us about this last one. Watching parts of the video, you can see red targets form on the ground under players feet, and having them dodge before a missile lands on them. This is the last of his abilities, and one I have no notes on as it is just a simple mechanic to keep players on their feet and moving throughout the fight. I am positive it makes excellent training should the players run into more damaging abilities they must avoid.
The design for this encounter seems perfectly suited to test not only the gear levels of players but their skill in teamwork and raid awareness. I expect it to be a fun encounter and look forward to adventuring into the Eternity Vault with the rest of you. Cheers.