SWTOR: Crew Skills and Ship Guide
By Matthew F. Hibben
Following the December release of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) this is the first of multiple strategy guides revolving around activities players can engage in. This Game Tech article explores Crew Skills, the Crew, and the player’s ship.
Crew Skills are the crafting and gathering elements of SWTOR. Crew Skills give players the means to approach these activities in a new light, using the player’s crew to perform these activities instead of the player. The Crew Skills UI, called Crew Management, allows players to send crew members on missions. CS types are divided into Crafting (item production), gathering, and mission. It is important to note that a player can have 3 crew skills, which the player determines, however the player may only select one crafting skill.
Crew skills are explained through the Codex entries players learn as they discover the skill trainers for each Crew Skill. The Codex is a record keeping system that is expanded as the player learns information of note, and Codex entries can be accessed through the mission UI.
A good first step in determining what professions the player wants to learn is to speak with each Crew Skill trainer and open the Codex entries for each, with each entry explaining what the purpose of the selected Crew Skill is, and what other Crew Skills compliment it.
Advanced Items – Crafting
Players can learn how to create a wide variety of items through what is called reverse engineering or RE. RE is an ability that can be used on items a player creates as well as some items the player acquires as drops (items that are looted from enemies). RE gives players a means to create bigger and better items, as the RE system discovers items usually of a higher tier.
The item tier system in SWTOR follows similar systems of other games, using a color code system to denote quality. Color codes of items go from green, to blue, to purple and so on. A player seeking to learn to produce the epic version (purple) of an item will need to start most likely with the “green” recipe. Green recipes have the advantage of being very cost friendly, and allow players to produce many of them for the purposes of both skilling up and RE.
When an item is successfully RE’ed, the new item in this example will be a blue quality item, and have its own entry in crew management for production. It is important to note that the bonus stat placed on RE items is random, so it may take many attempts to learn the proper combination of stats the player desires. In some cases the bonus stat may be completely worthless, so be prepared for this. Due to the nature of RE items, as a player approaches epic quality recipes learned can either be very useful or unsellable.
In addition to the progress and process of creating epic quality items is the concept of Mastercraft. The Mastercraft (MC) system awards players for the diligence of both producing an item multiple times and having high affection towards the members of their crew producing the items. The MC version of an item is different from the regular version of an item in the fact that it has all the bonuses of said item but also includes what is called an Augment slot, which can be further buffed from a stat perspective by the addition of Augments. Be prepared when setting to the task of creating a desired item for many RE attempts that go nowhere.
As stated earlier Crew Affection (CA) comes into play when producing items. CA also comes into play on any type of crew skill, with higher affection levels increasing both the success of a mission as well as the nature of the success. Crew missions typically have three outcomes, failure (no items procured), success (normal yield), and critical success (extra or epic item yield). Players sending crew members out that have low affection will find the success rate of missions and the frequency of critical success will be much lower than players using crew members with high levels of affection.
Raising Crew Affection
There are many ways to go about raising CA, and the most common way is through mission dialog. Based on how players interact with various quest givers throughout SWTOR, the accompanying crew member will gain or lose affection. Eventually players will learn through trial and error what types of responses each crew member reacts to. The downside to this method is that only one crew member can be raised at any given time in this manner. Most players will utilize one crew member for the majority of their missions for a variety of reasons, the major ones being that gearing of one crew member is easier than several, and the play style of the player will natural gravitate towards one crew member over the others.
It is very doable to max out the player’s primary companion (a crew member that accompanies the player on quests is called the companion) by the time the player reaches 50. Players will need to find alternative means of raising the other crew members. The main method for raising crew members that are not utilized on player missions is through gift giving, as well as missions that take place in part on the player’s ship will also reward affection gains (or loses) to all crew members.
In terms of chat dialog that changes CA, it is important to note that chat can be canceled and redone until the quest phase is completed, allowing players multiple tries at experimenting with chat options for maximum CA gains. Players can also increase CA by giving them gifts. Gift giving is the act in SWTOR of showering your companion (your currently summoned companion) with gifts.
This process of giving gifts is limited in two manners, first a player may only give one gift per 30 seconds, and secondly and perhaps more importantly is that certain crew members like certain gifts and not others. For those looking to bypass the self-discovery element of CA, using a resource table listing what types of items crew members like is the way to go. However it is fairly easy to determine what items a crew member would like based on their disposition.
Affection and Legacy
Above and beyond the raw performance of crew members as they pertain to crew skills is the RPG value of raising various crew member’s affection. At various stages of CA each crew member will begin storyline missions with the player that typically involve meeting with them on the ship. These crew member initiated missions I like to think of as the crew member’s opportunity to feel the player out. The crew member will ask a variety of questions of the player, and based on how the dialog progresses, players will either gain or lose affection (keep in mind you can reset the dialog before the quest phase is complete). These periodic quests initiated by crew members reward experience, affection, and sometimes even items.
Once a crew member has attained a high enough level of affection, usually around 9000/10000 they will pledge themselves to the player and their legacy. The specifics of the Legacy system are cloudy at the moment, as the system is still in its early development, but based on what is currently known, it is the extended family of the player. This system ties a player’s total characters together through the use of a last name or Legacy name (even across factions). Based on what is known as well as what is hinted at through dialog between the player and crew members it is my belief that crew members from various characters will be accessible in some form across other characters. It is entirely possible that a collective housing system will eventually come into play , perhaps in the form of a legacy space dock for example, that will allow players to interact with these various pledged crew members.
The ship is a multi-purpose tool in SWTOR. It functions as the player’s housing, a place to interact with various crew members, as well as the starting point for ship based missions (space combat). The ship from a space combat standpoint is upgradeable through gear the same way a player is.
Players looking to get the most out of their ship will want to upgrade the various ship add-ons. Ship add-ons are available through various means, player created via the Cybertech Crew Skill, purchased through the GTN (Galactic Trade Network), or from various NPC’s that sell “Starship Upgrades”.
I strongly recommend players looking to experience ship combat upgrade their ships, as the missions can be quite challenging. Ship based missions, reward what are called Fleet Commendations, and are used to further upgrade the functionality of the player’s ship. Players that engage in ship based missions, gain access to unique ship upgrades, titles, and exciting missions that are a nice change of pace from the standard gameplay of SWTOR. It is important to point out that this system is what I like to call a good foundation or framework. Currently it is a sparse system, with only a handful of missions, but certainly has a lot of potential to be something much more. I predict in the coming months that more missions will be added as well as group missions.
Crew Skills and the Ship are but small facets of SWTOR, as players can see. What is most exciting is that with the game being as new as it is, there really is a lot of territory to expand upon. With SWTOR being in its infancy, the sky (and the stars) is really the limit. Be sure to check back in soon for the next part of the SWTOR strategy series.
Ship Guide Video