I'm disappointed with Revan's release. That, you probably don't care.
Being able to get him or not is not the point. It's the character, his kit and the build up to this point that is disappointing. How the game evolved since november 2015.
I'll take a look at his kit before taking a look back at 2018. How answering the hype for a character, and manipulating data to pretend that players like marquee events marks the decline of the game I knew.
Decrypting Revan's kit
Why is that ? Let's check the character's kit first : I'll simply reword, maybe exaggerating a little, Revan's skills and abilities.
- A leader granting speed bonuses. That means the squad is vulnerable to turn meter manipulation mechanics and needs a way to keep up. It means that strong speed mods in the opponent's team could really hurt Revan's squad success. Don't worry if you have average mods, EA has you covered !
- Tenacity up for the first turn : just in case some opponents would try to land some nasty debuffs, should they play first despite the leader's speed bonus
- Attacking out of turn to regenerate health and protection : just in case you forgot to bring a healer.
- Reduce an enemy's max health if they stack bonus protection : because paying players might not know how to deal with Enfys Nest. (I bet EA discovered in alpha tests that she was really tough to bring down. So let's hardcode a counter)
- Revan has a unique new skill that can be shared among Jedi squad members. Basically dispelling bad debuffs in case tenacity up didn't stick, and making them attack out of their turn, in case you lack DPS and forgot a healer.
- Extra life : should you lose a squad member, bring him back to 100% of everything, give them a turn and a critical hit immunity. Because the game's hard, should you pay for a character, you deserve to recover if you made a mistake.
- Stun immunity : Han Solo immunity
- Ability block immunity : There's a whole book of character skills, let me use them !
- +10%/+20% everything : because +100% might be too much, especially when sharing half of this with light side allies.
- Ignoring taunt. That's very nice, but it's listed in the wrong skill. This should be a passive effect for Direct Focus
- Marking enemies (a.k.a "Direct Focus"): taunt management is too complex ; and you want to be sure that all allies hit the priority target. Works wonder in defense since there's a guaranteed focus fire. Benefits from ignoring taunts because you don't want to waste this skill on a punching bag.
- erratum : the marked target receives buff immunity. We don't want to see any critical immunity, heal over time, or bonus protection being applied. That might leave the target alive.
- oh, wait ! Stun the marked target, without possibilities of evading. You really don't want the target to survive.
- Doh, I forgot : reduce the marked target's turn meter by 50%. The target should not play should it somehow live, it's dangerous to fight 5 vs 5
- Hold on ! What if she still live ? increase the marked target's cooldown. Don't let it use any powerful skill.
The wording is wrong on direct focus. It should read "remove target character from the battle". Easier to read for everyone.
- Undocumented feature : "remove Dart Traya from the battle". Should you play Traya on offense, and attacking Revan, you have a 100% chance to have her being given the mark by the defending computer. This is the first ever feature in the game that has a 100% drop rate !!
Well, this awesome character brings a question : why don't EA sells zeta ? In order to maximize your PVP experience, 60 zetas are needed for this character. The problem is that there's no way to fetch them other than actually playing the game. Should you pay to play, that's unacceptable !
Having to wait, learning to save resources, and being successful in fleet arena in order to maximize a character ? Something must be done.
Let's step back from the irony
2018 was the year of the milking. "The player's liked marquees" we could read. I think you could ask all the player base, paying players included : I'm not sure the conclusions would be the same. Marquees are just teasers. That's introducing a character just to let you know that you'll be able to farm them in a few months. Unless having a few hundred dollars to simply bring them to seven stars. The rules are simple : pay to play them first. Clear for everyone.
But that's all we had to do. Wait for the characters to pop into the game, or buy it. How can players be genuinely happy with that ? It's not because a lot of players can afford this price tag that they enjoy the manner. And if the marquees divided the players' feeling is that in the same time, nothing new popped in the game.
Oh yes, Chewie and some mods rework. Halfway through the year. The former did quite well. Hard but balanced, original but not game breaking. The latter was just EA trying to clean their mess, while introducing new stuff that could drive some sales here and there.
Back to Revan : the character's design is cheap. He's just a counter to the latest meta, with offense mechanic built to ignore most defensive options (we're still waiting for a jedi that removes camouflage -when not leader-).
Even the extra life skill is cheap. A passive way to save a character : that's something we already have in game. Reviving characters is not new ; passive reviving as well. But what does this skill imply ?
It says that despite a chapter long set of skills, despite his ability to target and bring down any character behind a tank, his kit needs a way to save a character and not fall behind too quickly in battle... It's another trick to make his team harder to beat on defense.
That's what I consider flawed game design : A character that has no real in game personality. It's a fanboy's pleaser, a wink at old school gamers (especially those with a generous wallet). A character that fits in the life cycle of the evergrowing list of strong characters, just tailored to trample the meta until the next one. But, to my mind it's the first of this kind.
CLS, the first hero having his journey, has an interesting and unique set of skills. The only one with stances
GMY (after being reworked) is worth all the stories about his grandeur and is pretty faithfull to the movie. Sharing knowledge and jumping around with his lightsaber.
RJT has a real duo with her droid, and still has some faction tricks
The latest Chewbacca is Han's lifetime ally. Together they pack some punch, can survive longer but they're not breaking the rules
Even the Nightsisters, that I really don't appreciate, have more personality.
But this hero ? He's just a methodical answer to the meta. No flavour. Even the unique "strategic advantage" is unimpressive. This character doesn't feel unique. It's just bringing a gun to a scimitar fight (Dr Jones shot first)
EA needs a character stronger than the others to motivate sales : that's a business before anything else and that's logical in the life cycle of the game. But this year was boring. Did you see new territory war battlefields ? A new territory battle theme ? A new Raid ?
A feature that encourages guild work, something larger than farming smugglers and throw them to farm slicing components versus random characters ? No. It didn't happen.
This game is making million of dollars out of generous fans of the franchise. And how are they rewarded ? Not with great new features, with content from the franchise. Nope, they get a character built to beat most of the meta without any other intent in exchange of some more money.
Won't you be happier if every month, you'd be playing your territory war in different battlefields, with different stakes ? With more rules to bend the fights and the squad loadouts ? Something to make you play with your brain rather than your credit card ?
Something that is, in the end, driving the game : a social game, an MMO for players in their forties ? Sure the PVP arena is important. But can't EA spare some of the players money to bring them a bit more content ?
After nearing 3 years on the game. Following its evolution, comparing it to other big franchise gacha games, I thought candidly that SWGOH could become a role model in terms of gacha lootbox balancing and game content. It's possible to do a lot in the game with low to no money injected. But I'm afraid the impressive results of the business model drove the game design the other way. Less content, more revenue. No progress on the Quality Assurance, more content to buy, but less playable content.
Then back to my transition : I heard some of Revan owners could not put all the zeta abilities on Revan and Jolee... Let's encourage EA to embrace the model, let them sell those zetas for crystals once and for all. They've got skilled mathematicians that will figure the perfect price tag (and I mean it). They don't have to pretend to balance anything when milking whales is all that matters. Or am I wrong ?