the Grind: The Final 10

January 16, 2012 - 12:07 am No Comments

The journey is over; my Sniper is finally level 50. It took a bit longer then most folks to get my first 50; but in the time spent I not only got to 50, but I finished my class quest, capped out my Light side alignment, maxed out my faction with Kaliyo and finished her quest line, and also topped off all three of my crew skills. There’s a ton to do gaining 50; sadly, there’s not much else after it.

There’s quite a few things I learned about Snipers, Agents, and SWTOR in general during this trek. It’s not a particularly easy class to solo with – at least not in a Marksman build. It can put out some severe burst damage – especially in a Marksman build. Finally, the game is downright mean to players who are underleveled to the content regardless of your class and build. To read more about the last 10 levels of a Sniper Marksman and a little insight into any class’s grind from 40 to 50, read through the cut!

Your New Arsenal

Snipers get a couple highly useful abilities in the 40s:

  • Ballistic Shield (42) – This ability is great for saving your and your companion’s butt during heavy firefights, especially against elites. It will throw out a 360 degree shield 10 meters away from you, reducing incoming damage by 20% for you and your allies. 2 minute cooldown and lasts 15 seconds.
  • Orbital Strike (48) – More area damage is always better, and this one packs a punch. Deals massive damage to all enemies within 8 meters of a targeted area. The damage comes in pulses over 9 seconds, making it a good opener on a pack of enemies since you can double up damage whilst firing Suppressive Fire.

The Beginning of the End

Every long quest eventually comes to an end. The last 10 levels of the Sniper’s quest are certainly no walk in the park. I’ve said it before – as the levels increase the difficulty really starts to ramp up. Belsavis and Voss are inforgiving to underleveled players. In this game, underleveled is pretty much ONE level below the mobs you are fighting. Voss especially, the strongs and elites will not give you a break. While Belsavis is more annoying then difficult due to convoluted quest progression and maze like maps, Voss truly tests your abilities in combat. In fact, there were two side quests I simply just skipped finishing – and when I went back at 50 one of them still gave me some problems.

Long story short – go prepared. Level up through space combat or PVP to get yourself even to your enemies and bring stims and adrenals. Also, keep your gear up to par – you should have customizable gear for head, chest, gloves, legs, feet, and rifle by now. Make sure they are fitted with high quality blue or better modifications of the proper level. Don’t be afraid to spend those commendations – you can always get more through repeatable heroics.

Give Yourself A Fighting Chance

At this point, you should know how to handle yourself in a fight. I leveled entirely with Kaliyo at my side (class quest storyline not withstanding). My playstyle had Kaliyo leaping in and taking the damage whilst I pummeled the enemies. This strategy works for the most part as long as you don’t fall behind in levels and/or gear. If things get difficult, use Vector (for more melee damage and distraction) or the Doctor (for heals). I found that Doc Loking’s heals couldn’t keep up with the damage I took – this is most likely because I focused on gearing Kaliyo and also because of my squishy Marksman spec.

I also leveled entirely solo from start to finish. I usually found myself a level behind my enemies at the start of a planet’s quest line and even level here and there throughout progression. Rarely did I find myself ahead. On the flip side, with my Assassin I have leveled partied with my wife entirely. We were actually well ahead of the progression curve when we landed in Nar Shaddaa, to the point where we could have skipped the planet entirely. It seems that the group experience bonus is quite significant, so if you can find a partner while leveling it will make life much happier. The Social points are nothing to scoff at either.

Riding Crew Skills to Fortune

I’m not much of a crafter… I say this as someone who has every tradeskill maxed out in RIFT, many twice over. Sounds ironic I know, but in truth I simply craft as a completionist and not really as a utilitarian. With my Sniper being my main, I went with all gathering skills. I can use him to Scavenge for an alt that will do Synthweaving and another that will do Cybertech. I’ve got both at 400, along with Scavenging, Slicing, Treasure Hunting, and a handful of others nearing 400.

Even after the nerf to Slicing, it was vital to me keeping enough money to buy all my skills, purchase necessary “level up” skills for my crew skills, as well as get Speeder Piloting for myself, two of my alts, and my wife’s toon. Credits make life easier, Slicing makes getting those credits a cinch. It’s worth it to note, however, Slicing supplemented my alts mostly – I had plenty of credits without Slicing to purchase my own skills and speeders. On my latest alt, my Juggernaut, I am skilling up Biochem – the 400 skill infinite use stims, adrenals, and medpacs are very enticing.

The question is, do any of these skills make it easier or faster to level, or do they make life in general any nicer? My answer is: to a limited extent. Even with all the extra credits floating around, they simply feed my alt addiction. The Biochem has been nice so far on my Warrior, but that’s only because I actually use stims now whereas my Sniper never used them simply because I was too lazy to buy them. As I see it, crew skills will enhance your leveling experience, but they are in no way required nor do they make it particularly faster or easier. Is Biochem or Cybertech an absolute mandatory ability? Not now and especially not after it is nerfed in patch 1.1.

Looking to the Future

So, what do you do after the grind is over? Honestly, not much. There’s dailies, of course, but in reality there isn’t much to do except repeatedly grind the Flashpoints for new gear. One of the commentators made mentions that all he does now is gear up his companions. I didn’t even bother jumping into the post-50 grind – I skipped straight over to another alt. For me, SWTOR sadly is just a massively single player game with some great class quest storylines but unfortunately empty endgame.

Now I will caveat this with one thing: my guild is currently still waiting for folks to hit 50 to start Operations.  I will reserve the right to change my mind about the endgame following our first excursions as a guild into endgame raiding.

For now, I enjoy rerolling a new toon, experiencing the supreme story telling that BioWare is famous for… and continue to hope for them to finally come into their own as an MMO developer. As it stands now, so much is missing from this game – but that’s for a future post.

Next for Die by the Blaster

After 1.1 drops and settles, I will get into details the things I would most like to see for SWTOR in the near future and what I currently can’t stand about it. Prior to that, I may throw in a quick guide/review of the Sith Inquisitor Assassin or the Sith Warrior Juggernaut. Please subscribe to and watch my Twitter feed for updates!

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