SWTOR: Rix’larril’an of the Ascendancy – New Years 2023-2024

By Paige Francis Posted Monday Jan 1, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Paige Writes 10 comments

I guess I got lucky this year landing two straight posts on holidays. But it works out. I keep trying to make more of the one-chapter saga of Imperial Captain Sarnova than there really is, so I’m not ready to tackle Rix’larril’an’s next installment. But I did spend the past week trying to understand some SWTOR mechanics, and there’s a few other things to talk about.

I really wanted to put on a fireworks show with my years of collected fireworks in SWTOR, but I actually deleted all of them a few months ago because they were taking up inventory space. And I never used them, anyway. I’m sure there’s some achievement and title attached to fireworks use, but if there is, I would suspect I would see people setting them off more often. It’s like with getting drunk in World of Warcraft. There are achievements for it, and there’s always somebody sitting in one of the popular common areas mainlining whatever drink gets them the most points per second.

Instead, I spent the past week working on upgrading my gear beyond the standard drops/rewards level. Like all the best MMORPG’s, this is NOT a straightforward process, AND has changed with different expansions. Crafting was once an important part of getting the best gear, but crafting didn’t get upgraded for a few expansions. This allowed drops and rewards to surpass crafted gear. Then crafting had a tier added, but hasn’t been upgraded for a few expansions again, meaning crafted armor with some EXTREMELY SPECIFIC exceptions, is completely pointless. There are still reasons to craft some things: refillable medic packs are generally the best in the game, and being able to craft max-level stims is more reliable and generally cheaper than purchasing them. You only really need these things in end-game content, though; so a lot of players won’t ever need to bother. However, the various crafting skills and the supporting abilities are great ways to build influence with your companions, which is always useful.

“Gear” in Star Wars: The Old Republic is divided into three categories, sort of; WEAPONS, ARMOR, and ACCESSORIES. Although; really, WEAPONS and ARMOR work more like each other than either works like ACCESSORIES when it comes to upgrading. Almost all dropped or rewarded gear just goes into one of these slots. It has stats. Most likely, you will play the entire class story and more, all the way up to level 80, with this type of gear. Years ago, like when crafted gear was still a lower-level thing, this wasn’t the case. But it is now, for the most part…and it’s simple. However, since Rix is now level 80, I have started working on upgrading her gear.

You will notice little lit-up rectangles along the right edge of each gear icon. And you’ll also notice that no ACCESSORIES have more than one. That’s because the only upgrade that ALL upgradable gear can take is the AUGMENT slot, which I haven’t even started messing with yet. However, all the other gear has MANY of these little rectangles, because this is all “adaptive” gear. “Adaptive” WEAPONS and ARMOR rarely have any inherent stats…and if they do, they will be very low. They rely on their upgrade slots to derive their stats. If you have familiarity with World of Warcraft, imagine if WoW had never stopped doing jewelcrafting, and in fact made it the basis for all armor in the future.

And of course, as you notice, the collective current stats of any given piece of gear is used to create the “level” of the gear. I won’t bother to go into how; the important part is gear with a higher level does gooder. And yes, this creates some very interesting situations where a piece of gear with what you would think would be a much better stat increase for your character, but is lower level, is weaker than a higher level piece of gear with a WORSE stat increase. There are, as there always is with gearing, thousands of arguments about subtle differences and exceptions.

BUT ANYWAY. Here’s the situation Rix was in at level 80. Between drops and goofing around with a couple of vendors, I had equipment levels running from around 280 up to 306. Which isn’t too bad, for random gear. But there is a formula for upgrading your armor to max level the fastest, and without relying on random drops in the right places.

STEP ONE: If you have been playing long enough, you’ll have a big pile of a reward currently called “Conquest Commendations.” You get them by completing “Conquests,” but I’m not gonna get into what that means specifically. GENERALLY, you’re just gonna get them for playing the game. They’ll drop for achievements, rewards, milestones, completing optional content like Heroic2+ and Flashpoints, etc. In the SUPPLIES section of your Fleet Spacestation, there will be a “Conquest Gear Vendor.” On Vaiken, here’s what you’re looking for:

Go ahead and buy yourself a full set of level 324 gear. Now, you will be tempted to think you are set for life now. For most solo players, you will now have the best stats you’ve ever had, unless you recently got a really nice drop of adaptive gear that came with high-level mods which MIGHT still have higher stats, if not a higher level. Also, you may notice the vendor right next to the Conquest Gear Vendor which is called the Conquest Upgrades Vendor. YOU DON’T NEED THEM. If you click on them, you will notice you can just go ahead and BUY a full set of level 326 gear. And after you do that you can buy a full set of 328 gear. And after that you can buy a full set of 330 gear. And so on and so on. DON’T DO IT. It is not only unnecessary, it will spend those valuable Conquest Commendations that you will need for other things someday.

Right now, STOP CARING about your WEAPONS or ARMOR. They don’t matter for the next part. All you care about are your ACCESSORIES. And honestly, you only care about ONE of them. Doesn’t matter which one. I usually pick the earpiece. Unequip it. If you want, re-equip an earpiece of a lower level, like 198 or something. Doesn’t matter, just as long as it’s lower than 324. I don’t even bother with that; I just unequip it. Now go run a Flashpoint in VETERAN MODE. Any Flashpoint, just has to be in VETERAN MODE. If you group regularly, just jump into groupfinder and join one of the really fast runs, like Hammer Station. Some VETERAN MODE flashpoints ARE soloable; my favorite is The Black Talon, although I’ve heard others can be done. Black Talon has a LOT of scripted cutscenes to spacebar through. Good for moving Darkside or Lightside, if you need to; although if you kill Orzick the Sabotage Droid First Boss can be a real challenge. Each boss (there are three: the Sabotage Droid or the Republic Boarding Party; Ghuli, and Yadira Ban) will drop a BLUE level 324 item of whichever ACCESSORY you unequipped. The only thing you’ll want to watch for is that it has the right stat arrangement. For me, I needed an “Adept” type earpiece which focuses on damage dealing stats. Once you have this item, put it in a safe place in your inventory…DON’T EQUIP IT. You will keep getting BLUE 324 ACCESSORY drops. Each of these can be deconstructed (NOT YOUR FIRST ONE THAT I TOLD YOU TO KEEP SAFE) for, among other things, 10 FP-1 Stabilizers. FP-1 Stabilizers are another type of currency that we can spend at the same counter as the Conquest Gear Vendors.

Run right around the corner and talk to the FP Gear Upgrades Vendor. For 170/180 FP-1 Stabilizers, about 50,000 credits, and one donor device (the one I told you to keep safe) the vendor will upgrade THAT ACCESSORY from BLUE 324 to BLUE 326. Then to 328, then 330; all the way to 340. Do this. It’s much easier said than done. You will also want to come back and do this for your RELIC ACCESSORIES later, but NOT your implants. Implants are a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT process from here on out. Relics may be, too; but no one has told me about that nor have I even found a HINT of it if that’s true.

Once you have ONE BLUE LEVEL 340 ACCESSORY, find somewhere else in the SUPPLIES section of the Fleet Space Station two little guys called “Hyde” and “Zeek.”

Talk to either one of them, and generally just DON’T decide to walk away. You will eventually get a list of conversation options to accept one of many quests. Don’t get overwhelmed. Hyde and Zeek have been doing this for several expansions now; so they have quests for several different gear levels. Just find the quest for 340 level PROTOTYPE gear (BLUE = PROTOTYPE/PURPLE=ARTIFACT, btw). The “quest” is to deconstruct a level 340 blue gear item. Do so. This will hurt. Make SURE you took the right quest, and reference what I just said. After deconstructing your BLUE 340 ACCESSORY, when you return to Hyde and Zeek you will be CONGRATULATED for NOT SCREWING UP as long as YOU DIDN’T SCREW UP. You will then be able to directly talk to Zeek, as the VENDOR. Zeek vends BARREL mods, which work on ALL blasters and vibroknives; MODS and ENHANCEMENTS which work on ALL weapons and armor, and ARMORINGS which work on ALL armor items. Fully kitting out every slot on ALL your Adaptive Gear will give you level 340 Weapons and Armor. You will still need to upgrade your Relic and Earpiece ACCESSORIES using FP-1 Stabilizers. You can TECHNICALLY upgrade your implants to level 340 BLUE as well…but at level 80 you can take the Legendary Implants quest to gain access to GOLD (Legendary) implants, so there’s no real reason to mess around with the FP-1 Stabilizer farming for JUST that.

It took me an entire week, some Reddit posts, and a handful of mistakes to figure this out. One thing I learned is that there is NO COMPLETE and ACCURATE gearing guide available. There are MANY available that are ALMOST complete and accurate, and the people who created them probably CONSIDER them so, because they understand the tiny little bits of information they DIDN’T include, because to them it’s obvious. I guarantee you no single guide I looked up has every piece of information I included. But THIS guide isn’t complete, either; because I haven’t actually finished the gearing…which means I haven’t found every single thing that all the other gearing guides have left out.

So there.

On a lighter note, while playing SWTOR, tonight I’m watching the classic B-movie Defcon 4. Defcon 4 is a weird one, that I was hoping to slap into this article as a fun little sideline, except it tripped me up. You could kind of see the main part of this movie as a a rip-off or homage to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, except it came out FOUR MONTHS BEFORE that venerable classic. I can explain a couple of things with genre-tropes…we tend to forget about those as time goes by…but not everything…at least not off the top of my head. Hopefully I’ll be revisiting this topic. It’s hard to say it’s a GOOD movie, but it’s not really a BAD movie. The main character probably does it best by responding to the situations he suddenly finds himself in, around the middle of the movie, by frequently just saying “What???” with a really strange look on his face. That probably sums it up.

See you next week! Love you all! You have made this second half of 2023 a really great one for me!


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10 thoughts on “SWTOR: Rix’larril’an of the Ascendancy – New Years 2023-2024

  1. PhoenixUltima says:

    All of that rigamarole up there about how to farm for gear illustrates the main reason MMOs never clicked with me: they’re way, way too grindy. Like, I actually like a little grind now and then; killing the same easy enemies for a couple hours to level up a bunch can be chill and satisfying, you know? Even grinding for some 1/256 drop can be fun, on occasion. But when a game asks me to grind for weeks or even months just for 1 level or piece of gear, all I can really say is “no, I’m not doing that, and fuck off.”

    1. Zaxares says:

      That’s the problem that’s hard-baked into MMO design. MMOs by nature are designed to keep players hooked and playing for as long as they possibly can, and since it’s impossible for designers to keep churning out new content for players to keep doing, the only remaining option is to artificially keep players grinding on extremely time-consuming goals, or with artificially low/random drop rates.

      1. Fizban says:

        And then, with the next expansion, completely invalidate all that grinding when the basic drops for the new content are better than everything you jumped through those hoops for while waiting for the new expansion to come out. Assuming they haven’t made the new content’s power level such that it’s impossible to get the new drops without the maximum hoop gear.

        I too can appreciate some grinding on occasion, but random drops are still bogus. Even 1/100 drops can take upwards of 3-400 rolls sometimes because statistics (0.99^300= 0.049, still a roughly 5% chance of no drop after 300 tries, that’s just one natural 1). I recently did some drop grinding in Elden Ring to get to what I’d thought was the best medium shield: learning how to reliably gank the knight and playing around with the weapons I used to do it was more rewarding than the 2.5 or so hours I spent doing it. . . only to find that I’d misread the table and it was actually slightly worse than the ugly one I already had.

        Probably the most enjoyable time I ever had grinding was in the Dark Souls 2 DLC, the last one with the frozen castle. DS2 loved random drops almost as much as Elden Ring, and you had to grind mobs in the final boss arena to assemble all four pieces of a nifty armor set I wanted. But there were plenty of other people grinding there are the time, getting summoned back and forth (’cause you’d get the drops either way, possibly at higher rates when summoned), and it didn’t take all that long. There was a different drop in a previous dlc, the heaviest and highest damage weapon in the game IIRC, of which I’d got one by chance previously, but while I was grinding that armor I say someone dual-wielding them and was just like dang, the grinding for both stats and weapon that must have taken, but it sure was unique.

        Edit: and whiffed my email so my icon has gone from sad to freaking out, lol.

      2. Daimbert says:

        I will say that the two MMOs that I most play/want to play these days have mostly sidestepped that now. With the latest changes in TOR, you can get to the appropriate levels, for the most part, by doing the Story and Planet arcs, without grinding either quests or MOBs, especially if you play on the Casual difficulty. With eight class stories, there’s enough to do to keep you going for a while without needing to grind, although the vast number of enemies that hide in the areas you need to get through does result in a lot of often boring combat, which could be called grinding if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s incidental and you don’t need to seek it out. And I managed to get my paladin in Dark Age of Camelot to a high enough level for the later areas just by doing all the quests I could find, which is surprising for an old school game like that. And I had heard that Champions Online didn’t give much experience for grinding against MOBs, so it looks like MMOs are trying to make things longer by other means or by making repeatable end game content.

        Then again, there aren’t a lot of new MMORPGs coming out as far as I can tell, so it’s hard to say what they’re doing these days [grin].

        1. CSilvestri says:

          For the only ones I’ve really tried so far (SWTOR and FFXIV), I’m glad I can pretty much just do the story quests and be fine, as that’s most of what I want out of them.

          Okay, FFXIV crafting is actually kind of fun and I did some of it, but didn’t really need to.

  2. Syal says:

    Was the conspiracy theory feel of the article intentional, because of the complexity of the process? Because now I’m once again thinking about AMUNDSEN-SCOTT STATION and the four-in-one SPHERE EARTH that protects us from the Star-Winds.

  3. sheer_falacy says:

    What an intensely unintuitive process. Avoid this vendor, unequip this one specific thing, work very hard to make a high level item and then rip it into pieces.

    Very nice in-depth guide to it though!

  4. General reply to all the comments so far:

    On the “grindyness” of SWTOR, I find it much less so than any other MMORPG *I HAVE PLAYED*, but I have no doubt there are better ways to do it. WoW just generally constantly gives you upgraded, appropriate PVE armor in full sets as you level now. Honestly, SWTOR does that, too; really. As you level through the class stories, your quest rewards will be some kind of armor that is at least nominally themed to the planet you’re on; e.g. “Nar Shaddaa Targeter’s Jacket.” The planet’s Heroic2+ quests will give you upgraded gear as a reward.

    As with most MMO’s, the extra special gearing comes into play once you hit max level. PvP is a seperate gearing system; that’s pretty common, but end-game content usually features enemies that are typically grouped in large numbers, respond to your presence (aggro) aggressively, and are at least quadruple the stats of what a typical open-environment version of that enemy would be. SWTOR uses level-adjustment in the open environment on worlds, with a set range for each world. Flashpoints (and I’m assuming other high-end content) always adjust to your max level, though. That means that the flashpoint you can solo early in the game, like The Black Talon, you won’t be able to solo later in the game using only dropped equipment. Well, maybe still in Story Mode, where they give you an AI super-robot as a companion to make sure you can play the story.

    Honestly, though; you don’t actually HAVE to do the gearing I’m doing right now. I am doing it just to see what it’s like. Kind of like in WoW where I will, eventually, get around to buying Heritage Armor. You don’t NEED it. But it’s a part of the game I’ve never experienced before.

    Syal, the only conspiracy feeling is the one that is real: the process is MEANT to be repetative, addictive, and challenging. I was not aware of this “sphere-Earth” theory. Sounds loony. ;>

  5. Pun Pundit says:

    I’ve been catching up on this blog over the last couple of weeks after I inexplicably stopped reading several years ago, and these new series have been a delight. This is the first time I’ve felt a need to comment; you mention in this post that drinking alcohol is one of those achievement hunting things in WoW. However it has (or rather had – I haven’t played WoW for over a decade now) another rather niche use – in PvP realms.

    First I’ll have to explain the Rawrbomb. This is when you fly high in the sky as a druid, spot a member of the opposite faction on the ground, transform into a bear and spam the charge ability so that the forced movement cancels your fall damage and you get to stun their character for a brief second as you attack.

    Now, it’s kind of hard to target this… unless you are drunk, and have the Wolpentinger cosmetic pet. The Wolpentinger can only be seen if you are drunk. Therefore, it cannot be seen by your target and their suspicions will not be raised by seeing a tiny little cosmetic pet prancing across the ground with no player present. Now you can use it as a targeting reticule for your Rawrbomb, because cosmetic pets stay within a certain range of your ground position. So: If you are drunk, you can (somewhat ironically) more accurately pounce on your target from the air without risking an embarrassing “splat” just out of charge range.

    1. I MIGHT have heard of this. But I know WoW well enough to know this seems entirely plausible. I’ve been back in World of Warcraft for the last few weeks experimenting with actually following a storyline through older content.

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