Spinks was talking about the problems of role-centric gear, something I’m having a bit of an issue with in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Not so much for my character, being a Sniper I only have the “Shooting People In The Face A Lot” role, more my companions. They require their own full sets of weapons, armour, earpieces, implants, heated towel rails etc. It was fairly straightforward at first when I was just accompanied by Kaliyo, especially as some missions offer companion-specific armour as a reward. Indeed it was quite nice to be able to use twice the number of random drops as normal, kitting her out in any suitable heavy armour that turned up (so long as it was aesthetically pleasing enough, of course). I’d look out choice bargains on the galactic trade network for both of us, put the armstech crafting skill to good use for weaponry, sometimes even give her some nice orange gear from planetary commendations if I was already well kitted up with heroic rewards or PvP stuff.
As your crew grows, though, so do their armouring requirements, and at higher levels it became more of an effort to keep myself in decent gear let alone everyone else. The sensible thing is probably to just use one companion and ignore the others, but it seems a bit of a waste (and strangely familiar) to always leave some of your team moping about the ship in their starting gear. Missions continue to offer upgrade options on occasion, but when you have a choice of six pairs of companion-specific boots it can be a bit of a struggle remembering what everyone is currently wearing and whether you care enough to get them some new stuff (not that they ever appreciate it; you’d think a flash pair of boots with vastly improved stats would net some Affection points, but nooo, they just want random bits of tat, the ingrates). Loot drops can still be helpful, but it seems that 82.6% of the armour I’ve found in the game is +Strength stuff, useless for any of my crew (I admit there might be some “other queue always moves faster”-type selective observation going on there).
Kaliyo remains my favourite companion personality-wise, we have a similar attitude to authority even if mine is generally well-meaning irreverence and hers is more credit-driven sociopathy; we get on fine so long as the conversations stay away from the profit opportunities of selling the rest of the crew. Capability-wise, though, I’ve found a healing companion is more effective, and my preferred healer has the added advantage of using exactly the same type of armour as me. This makes the armour upgrade process considerably easier:
“Oooh, that’s decent looking leg armour, Mr Commendation Vendor, I’ll take a set.”
*vanishes behind a nearby rock; sound of a zipper*
“Snazzy! Oh, hey Doc! Got an upgraded pair of trousers for you! Yeah, they’re still a bit warm, don’t worry about that…”
He must feel like a younger brother, always stuck with the cast-offs that don’t quite fit properly. Still, he should probably be grateful he isn’t in my Star Trek Online crew; armour is universal in that game, so when I get an upgrade for my Captain he passes his previous gear to the First Officer, who passes her gear to the primary Tactical Officer of the away team, who passes her gear to the Chief Science Officer, who passes his gear to the secondary Tactical Officer… by the time the tertiary Engineering Officer gets anything it’s about eighth hand. You have to hope that the 25th century laundry service is really good at getting out those ground-in stains…
It’s a bit of a pain to keep your whole crew geared up, but… there are plot points where you’ll be happy if you do. Sometimes your missions dictate which companions come with you; this happened to me the other day on my Commando, and I was dismayed to find I’d completely neglected two companions, on whom I suddenly had to rely, one after the other.
I feel your pain. It doesn’t help that, for some reason, the entire time I’ve been playing my Agent Aim gear has almost never dropped. I get tons of Willpower and Strength drops, but nothing specifically for Kaliyo. She’s been rocking warrior armor since the mid-20s just because the armor upgrades were too significant to ignore. Hell I think she’s still got a lvl 15 shield generator just because none of dropped for her and I need all the commendations I can get to keep my own gear moderately current.
I find it laughable that the best thing about the companion system, mechanically speaking, should be allowing you to solo content without having to make content that is trivial to some classes and hard to others. But they throw it all out the window by making each companion a predefined role so you can’t pick and choose one that compliments your class choice until you collect a specific pet. I don’t know why they didn’t just have slotable skill packages for you to equip on them like LOTROs skirmish pets do.
This is a very familiar predicament for me when playing Mass Effect. I played Mass Effect 2 before 1 (blasphemy, I know!) and got used to having 2 party members whom I didn’t have to equip gear on and thus could swap around easily. When I started playing Mass Effect 1, I ended up scrambling to equip gear on my worse-equipped party members, and ended up with only 2 primary party members I actually played with. This was a non-issue in Mass Effect 2, as there was no party-member upgrade system other than level. So in a roundabout way, I ended up using a more diverse party in Mass Effect 2 than Mass Effect 1. Some party members were neglected, of course (hello, Mordin!), but for the most part they all got a fair amount of play.
@foolsage Hmm, sounds like I should get Vector kitted out, just in case…
@Attic Lion Yeah, absolutely. I tend to do a scan of the trade network now and again to try and snag cheap greens so her stuff at least isn’t completely out of date, but there’s no guarantee of bits being available at a sensible price.
The ability to drop in a role/skill package a bit like the current appearance customisation would make a lot of sense to me, though I guess it’s probably not quite that straightforward. “Bring the companion, not the role”, as they say. I suppose personality-wise it might not make as much sense for Kaliyo to worry more about healing than face-shooting, but still.
@Vic Sandman Ah, yes, I seem to recall a similar handing down of armour in ME1, I’d upgrade my own gear, pass the previous stuff on to my main squad members, and the others could fight over the third-hand leftovers…
@Vic I actually had a spreadsheet drawn out on paper in ME1 for keeping track of which character had what armor and equipment, at one point. Not only to keep them properly equipped, but so that I could decide which of the mass of collected items I could sell/gel. I would only ditch upgrades/ammo when I had enough of that particular type for the entire squad, then rotate out the oldest as new stuff dropped, even though I tended to use only 3 or 4 types of upgrade/ammo the whole game.
For STO, my Tactical away team officer gets the best armor (well, other than my own), because she’s the one with the threat generation attribute. Healer usually gets the second best, the other science officer the third, and the engineer the 4th. This is mostly the order in which they seem to get attacked by enemies so far. Hand me downs trickle through the ones that are never on the away team just in case there’s ever a mission where I have to take them along.