An Altoholic’s Look at SWTOR’s Legacy System

13 Mar

Bioware included a feature in SWTOR known as Legacy. At this point in time your Legacy is purely cosmetic, nearly worthless, and somewhat confusing. It’s also one of the most highly anticipated features of the game for the average player, at least, the features it’s supposedly bringing in patch 1.2 and beyond are.

I’m not going to get into the details of the Legacy system that have been revealed yet, though I did initially when writing this post. At this point in time the information that’s out there on Legacy has already been covered by more than enough sites so there’s no reason for me to repeat it (see the links at the end of the post if you need details). Also, we don’t have all of the details yet so even if I did post all of the information it would be incomplete and I’d rather get all the details out there at once as soon as they’re fully released.

What I want to do instead is exactly what the title implies. I want to share my thoughts on the Legacy system as an altoholic because that’s who this system was designed for. There are many things to cheer about in regards to Legacy, but there are also some things that make me a bit concerned.

I am going to touch briefly on the basic concept of Legacy for those of you who are not playing SWTOR or who have not looked at any of the information on it so that you’re not wandering around here completely lost. I’m going to try to fight my natural instincts of sharing bucket loads of detail here though, and just try to cover the basics.

What the Legacy System Is & How it Works
The Legacy System is earned in a way similar to your characters’ experience points. As you earn experience, you earn a percentage of that experience (based on your level) as Legacy experience, and your Legacy levels up in pretty much the same way as your characters would.

It’s been described to us as a Family Tree, or a way to link your characters together in various relationships that obviously could never take place in the game since you can never be logged in to more than one of your characters at once. It’s not just a family tree though, because your characters don’t have to be related to fit within the tree. What those trees actually do hasn’t been discussed very much as far as I’m aware, though I have heard some talk about certain unlockable features only being an option if you have multiple Force-users tied together in the family tree for example.

By gaining Legacy experience you’re able to increase your Legacy level, and your Legacy level is what determines which features and bonuses you have access to. As far as I’m aware we have not received any information about which features unlock at which Legacy levels beyond a few examples given at the Summit that mentioned “new feature X does blah-blah, and it’s unlocked high in the Legacy tree.”

If you’re a WoW player, or have been for the Cataclysm expansion, the Legacy system is basically WoW’s Guild Levels and perks. Except rather than benefiting the guild and being unlocked by the guild, it’s all based solely on you. Your Legacy has nothing to do with your guild and they do nothing to directly help/hinder your Legacy, but it works under the same basic principles.

What the Legacy System Holds
Like I said, I’m not going to get into the full list of features that we currently know about. However, there are some perks that are important for the topic of this post, so here they are:

  • Legacy Class Abilities unlocked
  • Species unlocked for all classes
  • Species-specific attribute buffs

Legacy Class Abilities: This feature unlocks a signature ability from a class that you have leveled to 50 and makes it available on your Heroic Moment spell’s cooldown for the alts that have it. Examples they gave included the Bounty Hunter’s Flamethrower and the Sith Warrior’s Force Choke ability. It was confirmed in a recent Q&A that the ability that is unlocked is specific to each class, you do not get to simply pick an ability from the class you want and run with it. So if you level a Sith Warrior to 50 then you get Force Choke and that’s it, you don’t get to pick a different spell from the Warrior.

Species Unlocked: Once you level a character of a given species to level 50, that species becomes unlocked for all other classes (once you have this feature unlocked, of course). It also unlocks things like the Cyborg’s implants which vary from one class to another to be unlocked for all Cyborgs you roll.

This caused a bit of an uproar in some of the player base who feel that racial restrictions are required for them to have canonical immersion. It’s an opinion that’s completely valid, and one that I absolutely hate.

Personally, I hate having unnecessary restrictions for the sake of immersion in a game. Not being able to roll the character I want to roll isn’t immersing, it’s frustrating. Racial restrictions are a feature that I personally feel should have become a thing of the past in gaming as a whole back when Dungeons & Dragons did away with it decades ago. You want conflict? Do it with organizations and allegiances, not races.

It sucks that this has to be unlocked with a legacy feature rather than being a base part of the game, but at least the functionality will exist. (Blizzard, I hope you’re taking notes.)

Species-Specific Buffs: Upon reaching level 50 with a given race, you’ll receive an attribute bonus on all of your alts. The example given was that having a level 50 Human would give you a bonus to Presence. There’s a big fuss brewing about this one as there will inevitably be some guilds that require you to have the best buffs in order to be members or raid with them. I have no interest in being a part of a guild that does that in the first place, so I couldn’t possibly care any less about that potential “drawback” of the feature. Even if it’s just a small buff, like +3 Presence, the fact that you get a buff by leveling a certain race to level 50 is going to make some people feel forced to level a character they may have no interest in leveling simply to obtain that buff.

Through the Eyes of an Altoholic
And now we start getting to the whole reason why I wrote this post, which is to share my thoughts and concerns about this system as someone who takes a great deal of pride in being an altoholic.

How Legacy Thrills Me
First, I love the fact that they’re trying to reward people who will play this game A LOT by giving them little perks and bonuses for doing just that. It’s an incentive for people to roll alts who normally do not, though how strong of an incentive it is will vary from one player to the next, and for people who do roll alts to keep right on rolling. Not everybody is going to care about unlocking the Twi’lek race for all classes, or using the Sith Warrior’s Force Choke spell, but for some people that’s the coolest thing in the world.

Bioware has said that this system is designed for people who play alts. You earn Legacy experience by doing things with all of your toons, most of the perks are useful for leveling characters more so than characters who have already reached level 50, and many of the features that you unlock are only useful if you’re going to roll yet another alt.

It’s important to note that this audience is “altoholics” and not “hardcore altoholics”. An altoholic is anybody who happens to enjoy playing multiple characters. You can bounce back and forth between just two or three characters and be considered an altoholic, or you can be someone who has eight level 50 characters on each of three realms and still be considered an altoholic. In this way, not all altoholics are created equal.

The biggest draw to a system like this is that many players are going to want to collect all of the perks available so that they have the freedom to roll the characters they want to roll and have the benefits that they’ve earned. It gives people something to do when they’re not doing their big time sink activities (operations, flashpoints, warzones), and gives the people who have no job and are able to play virtually all day long something to sink their time into that doesn’t require other people.

How Legacy Fails Me
The most disturbing announcement that I saw in relation to the Legacy system came during the Q&A portion: they have no intention of increasing character slots.

This threw me for quite the loop after reading about all of these Legacy perks and how you unlock them. We have all of these things encouraging us to roll alts to get all of these different features unlocked, and yet you’re still only going to let us have 8 characters per server?

Let’s take just one example: unlocking all races for all classes.

Right now there are nine playable species. Of the nine species, two of them are Republic-only, three are Empire-only, and four are capable of serving both factions. Of the nine species, two of them can already be used for all classes (Human and Zabrak).

At this point we have seven of our eight character slots taken up by one of each race in order to unlock all racial options. We only have one character slot left, so six of those seven races that we unlocked are wasted because we don’t have any slots to roll a new species/class combo them with.

By leveling one race to 50 in order to unlock the racial choice for other classes, rolling an alt using the newly unlocked species means you’re already robbing yourself of that potential feature on the new character because you’ve already unlocked all of that species’ perks. You’ll still get the perks of leveling the class (if that’s not also a duplication for you), but you’re missing out on unlocking other features by making use of an unlocked feature. Unlocking Chiss means your new Chiss Sorcerer has his species wasted.

We also still have two races that we need to level in order to unlock their attribute bonuses since we still have two races that we didn’t need to level in order to unlock the race/class combination. The only way for us to get all nine of the species buffs is to delete a level 50 character that we’ve already unlocked and then reroll the final race and get it up to level 50 as well. Deleting characters won’t bother me, but it will bother other players.

Money Solves All Problems
Bioware apparently saw at least some of these drawbacks because they’re planning on some of the features you can unlock in your Legacy to be opened with high credit costs. I don’t know for sure if those features that can be unlocked with cash can also be unlocked through leveling a character, or if it’s either one or the other. If we can assume that you have the option of buying some of these features like species choices, then you won’t have quite so big of an issue, but if the only way to unlock everything is to level characters over and over to max level, then they need to give us more character slots in order to make it work.

Every game needs a money sink, I get that. Unlocking features like this with credits is a good idea. It gives us at least some way around the issue with maxed character slots, so I’ll take what I can get. I don’t particularly like having features restricted by credits when I’m the type of altoholic that rolls on several servers, but it’s better than nothing.

Where I Stand With Legacy
I love where they’re going with Legacy, and I’m excited beyond words to see what new features they come out with for it and to get more details about the system that they already have in mind for 1.2. The only thing that really kills me is this ridiculous eight slots per server thing.

Unlocking all of the class features won’t be a problem because there are only eight classes and eight character slots to match up with them. Though again, if you have to level eight characters in order to unlock everything then how do you expect to ever benefit from all of those unlocked features when you don’t have any character slots left to roll new ones?

They’ve also said that they’re considering Legacy rewards that require level 50 characters from both factions in order to unlock. Each faction has eight advanced classes to choose from, meaning there are sixteen classes for you to play. Sure, the advanced classes are mirrored across the two factions, but of all of the different characters I’ve played so far the only ones that actually feel the same between the two factions has been the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior. All of the other combinations are different enough in look and feel that they might as well not be mirrors. That aspect has been a huge success. The drawback being that in order to experience them all you have to have a minimum of two servers to house all of the character slots you need to do so.

I take that back, character slots isn’t the only thing that bothers me about Legacy. There’s also the whole Legacy being tied to a single server issue. If you roll on another server then you have to start all over with your Legacy there unless you’re willing to pay to transfer a character from an existing Legacy (a feature which does not yet exist).

While the system does encourage alting, it actively works against the brilliance we like to call “Cyn Crash”. Legacy doesn’t even match up to WoW’s guild perks in this situation because leaving a level 25 guild in WoW wasn’t so bad if you could join a level 25 guild on another server, but with this if you don’t pay to transfer a character then you completely lose out on all of your perks and have to start with nothing until you level that new character to 30+ again to reopen a fresh Legacy. Starting over from scratch with a new character is fun. Starting from scratch on such a huge time and energy investment project as a Legacy is disastrous.

Bioware is doing their best to encourage server-based communities, but in the long run it may very well come back to bite them as they’re focusing so much on the little communities at the expense of the SWTOR community as a whole. It’s not a problem right now, but it very well could be in the somewhat near future if other games continue to open doors while SWTOR trudges forward with blinders on. Let people play what they want to play, with who they want to play it with, and without penalizing them one way or the other when they do so.

Giving Credits Where Credits Are Due
As I said before, I did not attend the SWTOR Summit, so all of my information comes from blogs, twitter feeds, and forum posts. The following blogs are where I got the majority of my information, so here’s a shout out to them for their recaps, live tweets, and so on:

Ask a Jedi
Force Junkies
SW:TOR Strategies


Posted by on March 13, 2012 in SWTOR


Tags: ,

18 responses to “An Altoholic’s Look at SWTOR’s Legacy System

  1. Njessi

    March 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Re: Zabraks. The empire and republic versions are vastly different. The empire has those red-ringed eyes, different skin colors (more red) and different tattoos. So since I unlocked a lvl 50 Republic Zabrak, would I be able to have the republic options on the empire zabraks?

    Also each class right now gets different available cybernetics, so if you unlock “cyborg” for all classes, what cybernetics will be the options?

    There are a lot of unanswered questions about this unlocking feature.

    • Psynister

      March 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      I expect that the different colors and tattoos for the Zabraks will be similar to the Cyborgs. They did state during the summit that Cyborg cybernetics will be opened for all classes once you have a level 50 Cyborg, and for that reason I expect they’ll do the same with the Zabrak.

      There are a lot of unanswered questions. For most of them I think it adds to the anticipation in a good way. In others, it’s really frustrating and causes uncertainty in cases like mine where I don’t like having both factions on one server because I’m such an altoholic and trying to maintain a guild presence in two guilds on the same server while also having room to roll new alts to hang out with friends is almost impossible.

  2. Vrykerion

    March 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    The character slot thing drives me nuts. I honestly think they should make Legacy account-wide and not server-wide, then add the option to change your legacy name. The only drawback is the extremely limited number of names. Unless you apply real-world logic to this and realize not everyone with the last name Smith is related to each other.

    Don’t make legacy names unique, make them account wide, and now we’re cha-cha-ing!

    • Psynister

      March 13, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      I agree. It’s not necessary for Legacy names to be unique. I know it appeals to people that they can be unique, but it would be better in the long run to let people use the name they want regardless of availability. They should still apply their ToS restrictions on it of course (so tired of seeing names like Thundercock), but unique isn’t necessary.

    • Njessi

      March 13, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      Non-unique legacy names would also allow people to be part of each others’ legacies (i.e. as spouses). Although I guess most smuggler females *should* be part of the Riggs legacy (haha).

      • fynralyl

        March 13, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        Hear, hear! Unfortunately, they have already said that NPC’s and Companions can’t be linked in the family trees. My smuggler is very sad about this.

  3. Ed

    March 13, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    seriously though, how do I get you off my wow feed?

    no offense
    just wondering

    • Psynister

      March 13, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      I would start here: informative link.

      If that doesn’t work, try this: feed readers.

      Still no luck? How about this: email.

      • ghostdawg

        March 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        /Tilts glass of scotch in your direction and gives you a slight nod.

        I use LMGTFY all the time. Course my searches tend to be far more colorful than yours, especially when dealing with asshats like this joker.

  4. Tesh

    March 14, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Seconded on the “Species Unlock” section. Racial class restrictions have always bugged me. It’s nice to see at least a small step in the right direction.

  5. Yohei

    March 23, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Lemme necro this just slightly since we’re busy testing 1.2 right now…

    Never, never, NEVER fill all your character slots in a new game!

    You ALWAYS know they’re going to add features that will make you want to roll a new character. Save one or two slots for them. And if you can’t stand not to have “one of everything” at launch – get a couple of accounts.

    — A Functional Altoholic :)

    • Psynister

      March 26, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      I get around the not being able to have one of everything problem by not limiting myself to a single server. However, none of what you said addresses the key issue here which is that we don’t have enough character slots available to make use of all the things they’re allowing us to unlock. MMO’s have been locked into the 5-10 characters per server thing for too long as it is, but now we’ve got an MMO with a feature that’s specifically designed to encourage people to roll alts by rewarding the activity…and then not providing us with the slots necessary to actually get or make use of said rewards.

  6. wererat

    June 8, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    “some of the player base who feel that racial restrictions are required for them to have canonical immersion.”

    Totally agree with you there. People who are that big of Nazis about a video game are just plain scary. Wth is wrong with people?


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