First off, go read this post by Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi about the modding system. It’s absolute gold for a high-level overview of how the modding system used to work, and how it works now. Having experienced it both ways, I’m definitely not misty-eyed over the days of yore (by which I mean “as recently as this summer”). There are definitely some parts I want to pull out and comment on, though, so here goes.
To start with, we’ve introduced a new color and item type: the Custom items. Those are shown with an orange border and are fully moddable. This change is purely cosmetic. What we have done is take all fully moddable Prototype items (blue) and simply changed their icon color. This helps us create a better and more unique identity for fully moddable gear.
This is a really recent change, and I like it. When I logged out of the Thanksgiving weekend beta, I had two modded items - a modded lightsaber (whose color crystal, amusingly, was actually orange-colored) and an armor I’d picked up from a quest reward and promptly slapped it with a purple-quality mod that had dropped from a random enemy. When I logged in for the final beta weekend, those two items were now Custom quality instead of Prototype (blue) - and let me tell you, those orange items really pop. It might take some getting used to for players from other games where orange = legendary (not to name any names), but it’s definitely nice to be able to pick out moddable items at a glance.
- Item modding can now be done anywhere at anytime. No workbench required.
This has been the case for a while, actually, but it’s nice to see it confirmed as a part of the system continuing forward. Item workbenches are still scattered around, but even on the last night of beta players were confusedly wondering on General chatter what the point of the item workbenches was, so I imagine these will either just become background flavor, or go the way of the dodo.
- Crafters can now reverse engineer mods and create blue and purple mods.
Hooray for more uses for reverse engineering! It really is a fun system, I think, although maybe frustrating when you can’t get that one recipe you want - armor reverse engineering tends to be a little more random than mod or medicine reverse engineering, for example - or need rare crafting materials that your companions just can’t seem to get from their mission skills.
- Mods can now be extracted from a Custom item. This is the single most important change and has many, many consequences. However, we feel that being able to slot a mod and then extract it back truly opens up the system and makes it a lot more fun, easy and safe to experiment with. I’m not 100% happy about how the system interface and GUI works today (it is still a bit clunky) but at least it is functional.
Also fantastic. It means that unlike, say, gemming in WoW, you don’t have to worry about the permanency issue - just drag the mod out (or, now, right-click it) to remove it. This system already works pretty nicely. Remember when I mentioned that orange lightsaber crystal? I actually removed the blue crystal from my own lightsaber and installed it in my companion’s, since it was better than her green one. I then sold her green one for a little cash.
- Partially moddable premium (green) items were removed as they essentially lied to the players: an item missing a mod slot would never be able to match a high end non-moddable item. Instead, to compensate for the loss of diversity, orange versions of all green armors was created and given to the crafters. So, yes, if you see a green armor you really like, you still can have that appearance until end level. It does take a bit of work - you either need to become a crafter yourself, befriend one or trawl the GTN.
(Note: recipes for those orange appearances are discovered through Underworld Trading missions.This allows us to have a truly large number of those recipes without overwhelming the crafting trainer inventory. As a side effect, this opens up class quest green armor appearances from other classes as well as long as you fulfill the armor requirements.)
This has a couple implications. First, Underworld Trading is now sort of vaguely relevant to all crafts - but I think it’s much more likely that you’ll either see these patterns spread out to other mission skills, or you’ll see them on the GTN instead. Works out nicely for the skills that already pair nicely with UT, though…
Secondly, this brought back something cool that you could do early on in the beta. Back when we were primarily playing Empire (because we didn’t want to spoil the Republic storyline for ourselves), I saw a Sith Warrior running around in what was, by all appearances, a full set of Bounty Hunter armor. I inspected him, and found that he’d gone the full crafting route - basically he found a full set of moddable Bounty Hunter armor and replaced all the Aim/Endurance mods with Strength/Endurance ones, making a set of armor that looked like a Bounty Hunter but was suited for a Sith Warrior.
With the return of cross-class orange appearance armor, this is a thing you can do again. So for all you Troopers who aren’t huge fans of the “Stormtrooper-esque” motif? Brush up on those crafting skills (or make friends with crafters) and get ready to look like a Jedi Guardian instead. Are you a Jedi Sentinel who’s jealous of the Gunslinger’s awesome hat? Maybe you can craft your own awesome hat, and be some sort of… cowboy… Jedi… look, I don’t know, I’m just saying what’s possible.
- Some crafting recipes that allowed the creation of moddable armors and weapons have been replaced with non-moddable versions. Why the nerf? Because those recipes were no longer properly balanced once we allowed mod extraction. It became far cheaper and faster to create an item for the sole purpose of extracting every mods out of it than creating mods in the first place. This also allowed nearly every crafter to create every type of mods, which wasn’t very balanced either. Instead, the crafter can now make a non-moddable item for those players that enjoy that and, thanks to newly introduced recipes, a moddable (but empty slotted) version of the item.
Good to know. Plays well with a core theme of SWTOR: choice. It sounds like whether you prefer your armor moddable or just standard loot, you’ll be able to at least take a stab at going at it your way.