As players travel around the galaxy, chances are they will notice their companions’ reactions to conversation choices. These reactions are presented as a score termed Affection, but what exactly does it do? What if a companion hates the players choices? Companions can seem just as confusing as real world people, but it doesn’t take much to crack their code and find the answers.
Companion affection can effect game play in several ways which have varied appeal to different play styles. Crafters will notice that as their companion’s affection goes up, they become more efficient at crew skills. Companions will complete missions and craft items approximately 1% faster for every 750 affection they’ve gained. It’s been mentioned that affection also increases a companion’s crit chance or decreases their failure rate, but so far this has not been confirmed.
Affection also unlocks new conversations with companions, which can then be used to increase affection even more. Players wanting to romance their companions will be able to through these unlocked conversations. The conversations award experience and occasionally result in a companion specific quest, so they are valuable for non-role play reasons as well. Summoned companions let you know when they want to talk to you through a symbol on the top left of their icon. Otherwise there will be a mission offer symbol above their heads the next time you visit your ship. Companions will only talk to you in a “safe place”, which to them means a rest area.
When conversations become available is not only dependent on affection, however. Each conversation requires players to be at a certain part of their class story before it unlocks. Players who have increased their companion’s affection significantly may find they have several conversations waiting for them after reaching a story milestone. Increasing affection rapidly may have the same effect for players who have not reached the conversation cap for their part of the story.
There are two main ways of gaining affection with companions currently, one of which is a little more straightforward than the other. As a player engages in conversation with NPCs certain responses will garner affection gains, while others with result in losses or no change at all. Each companion has their own individual set of likes and dislikes which determines how they will respond to conversation choices. Thankfully Bioware has provided us with a cheat sheet known as the Codex. Each companion has their own page within the Persons of Note section which lists what sort of conversation responses they like or dislike. If a player hasn’t fleshed out a personal back-story for their character it is easy enough to follow those guidelines and increase their companion’s affection. This provides a slower if more steady gain than giving gifts.
Some players will quite understandably not want to bend to their companion’s will when it comes to their personal story, and thus find themselves with a negative affection rating (or a lower one than they would like). These players can still enjoy all the perks of a high affection rating by giving their companions gifts. There are several vendors within the game that sell companions gifts, or players can obtain them by having their companions run missions. This is more expensive than the conversation method, but can also provide higher affection gains faster.
Like conversation options each companion is partial to some gift types more than others. Companions are likely to react to gifts in one of four ways: indifferent (no gain), like (small gain), love (medium gain) or favorite (high gain). At this point there are no gifts which can result in an affection loss. Unfortunately, this information is not provided in the codex. Some of them are self explanatory and easily figured out while others require a little trial and error. Those not interested in figuring it out themselves can find the information they seek on a few fansites already. Flesh Eating Zipper has provided a list in alphabetical order by class, then chronological order by companion. Oldrepublic.net has theirs set up as a table. Both links contain spoliers so browse with caution.
Each gift also has a rank which corresponds with your current affection level. Players who have affection level 3 with their companion will see a smaller gain from a rank 2 gift than a rank 3 or higher of the same type. Additionally affection gained is determined by the quality of the gift, which follows the traditional green, blue, purple color scheme. If combined with a matching or higher rank, purple favorite items can provide huge amounts of affection at once. For example, I was able to get 230 affection by giving one of my companions the Electrum Commitment Ring. It would take quite a few conversations to earn the equivalent.