Suggestion Box: HK-51 Abilities

One of the more exciting pieces of information coming out of BioWare over the past week was the teaser on HK-51. Which got me to wondering what people would like their favourite killing machine companion to do, besides.. killing.

So over to you: if you could decide a useful / funny / bizarre ability your HK-51 could have, what would it be?

SWTOR Game Update 1.2 Patch Notes: Companion Characters

Now some goodness on companion characters:

Companion Characters


  • Companion gifts are now stackable.
  • The cooldown associated with giving companions gifts has been removed. Giving a gift now has a 3-second activation time.
  • Several game areas where Companion Characters would not reliably follow the player have been fixed.
  • The C2 Droid Corporation and their competitors, the 2V Droid Corporation, have developed a series of new sensors for their products, the C2-N2 and 2V-R8 that significantly improve the Droids’ Crew Skill efficiency and critical success chances. These products may be purchased via the Legacy Repair Astromech unit on the player’s ship (once unlocked).
  • Additionally, the C2-N2 and 2V-R8 Droids have had their personality matrices upgraded with an experimental emotional response chip, allowing them to accept gifts and tokens of appreciation. The Crew Skill performance of these units will increase upon acceptance of these goods.
  • C2-N2 and 2V-R8 have been reprimanded and now vocalize less frequently on personal starships.
  • Tooltips for the companion abilities “Burst,” “Aimed Blast,” “Swipe,” “Wild Energy,” and “Blaster Sweep” now correctly reflect ability functionality.
  • All companion marriages are now removed appropriately if the marriage ends.
  • Corrected an issue that caused weapons to display inappropriately beneath some Droid companions (like T7).


Akaavi Spar

  • The Codex entry for this companion now lists the companion’s correct primary weapon.

Aric Jorgan

  • Corrected an issue that could allow a female trooper whose romance with him had ended to receive an additional romance conversation.
  • New companion skins for Aric Jorgan are available as reward choices in the game.

Ashara Zavros

  • Corrected issues that could prevent players from gaining or losing affection in the conversations related to the missions “Peace is a Lie” and “Silent Treatment.”


  • Crazy Talk: Male characters can now consistently complete this conversation.

Elara Dorne

  • Strange Circumstances: Corrected an issue that could prevent players from gaining or losing affection during this conversation.

Ensign Temple

  • Some mission rewards intended for this companion that could not be used have been corrected.

Jaesa Willsaam

  • Jaesa now uses the correct battle cries for her alignment (light or dark).
  • Jaesa no longer teleports to her target if she uses Force Leap while wielding a double-bladed lightsaber.
  • Jaesa now has the ability “Purity of the Light Side” or “Passion of the Dark Side,” which passively increases armor by 30%.

Kaliyo Djannis

  • Storm now has a 30-meter range and roots targets.
  • It is no longer possible to break up with Kaliyo and still be eligible for romance conversations.

Khem Val

  • Khem Val’s Lightning Punch sound effects now terminate appropriately.

Kira Carsen

  • Kira now has the ability “Purity of the Light Side,” which passively increases armor by 30%.


  • Corrected an issue that allowed players to remain eligible for unlocked romance content after losing romance status with Mako.

Qyzen Fess

  • New companion skins for Qyzen Fess are now available as reward choices in the game.

Nadia Grell

  • Nadia now has the ability “Strength in the Force,” which passively increases armor by 30%.

Tanno Vik

  • The Codex entry for this companion now lists the companion’s correct primary weapon.


  • Time to Think: this mission now properly rewards experience.


  • A Son’s Duty: Corrected an issue that could prevent players from gaining or losing affection during this conversation.

You, Robot – Part 3: Your companion as a magic elf

Welcome to the final instalment of a three-part series on companions. You can view Part 1 here and Part 2 here. You can also view the most amazing Companion Stats Uber-Mega-Omnibus right here!

Back in prehistoric times, before Star Wars, there were other stories. Hard to believe, but there you have it. One of them involved an old shoemaker and some magical elves who made shoes while he slept. That kind of characterises how crafting works in SWTOR. You get to sit around ogling holodancers or arguing with your friends about which of you has the higher midiclorian count, while your trusty companions go off on their own little adventures only to return with… well, whatever you sent them for. Usually.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes, just be aware that this is for those who haven’t looked into crafting in much detail. If you’ve played an MMO before, you have some idea how this gig works. Having said that you might find a few handy tips too. I’ll also stress that since we are only two months into the game’s life, tweaks and nerfs are inevitable and what you become used to may not stick around in its current form (hello Slicers!). I’d also suggest you have a look at the improved ‘Companions Guide’ for a comprehensive overview.

In the Crew Skills system there are three classes: Crafting (making stuff), Gathering (we find stuff), Mission (they find stuff). So what’s with the pronouns? With Gathering tasks you can collect materials as you run around the world OR send a crew member on their own. With Mission tasks, only your companion goes. You aren’t involved other than to delegate the task. So if you despise the tedium of having to stop and fill your pockets during a quest then this is, on the face of it, a dream come true. No more dirty fingernails. There’s a down side though – each mission costs money and your companions will sometimes fail.

So once you hit level 10 and your faction’s fleet hub, you get to select your Crew Skills. It’s worth talking to ALL the trainers (cancel out of each dialogue) as you’ll get XP for every one of them. But which skills you choose can be very dependent on how you want to use the system. You can go the obvious route and pick one of each type (preferably compatible ones) so you can become a one person production line. But you don’t have to do it this way. If you prefer you can have three mission skills or three gathering skills or one crafting and two of either. Before you ask, you can’t have more than one crafting skill. If you’re not sure what skills to go for, check out the attached spreadsheet for a few clues.

Once you’ve made your choice, it’s time to start delegating. Here are a few general pointers.

  • Gathering/Mission tasks – crew members can only do one task at a time, but you can have multiple crew members deployed simultaneously
  • Crafting tasks – you can stack up to five tasks, per crew member.
  • Choose wisely – some companions are more adept at certain tasks than others. Try to match them with the task; the quality/yield will improve (see the ‘Companions Guide’)
  • Love and other mistakes – Affection matters, the more they like you, the better the results.
  • Get some sleep – you don’t need to be playing for your crew to be working. When you log back in they’ll proudly present you with the fruits of their labour. Some missions are 30-40 minutes, perfect just before you log off.
  • Put it in the bank – your crew can access any crafting material you’ve put in the bank. You don’t need to lug the Bronzium around with you.
  • Everything on the menu – just because your trainer offers a recipe doesn’t mean you need to learn it. If it’s not something you can use now or shortly, don’t learn it. Save money and avoid cluttering your crafting menu with a growing list of gray items.
  • Keep ’em busy – it’s easy to get your Gathering and Mission points badly out of whack since Gathering is something you do yourself as a matter of course, where as Mission tasks have to be manually delegated. This becomes less of a problem once you get your ship. Send that darned robot on all the three minute missions. Why three minute missions? Because they’re cheaper, quicker and still give you the points.
  • Take it apart – use reverse engineering – By breaking down items similar to the ones you can craft (either things you make or have collected) into their constituent materials you gain raw material and the possibility of earning a bonus recipe, some of which are rare.

So now you’re all skilled up, is it worth your time? That depends what you want from it, but here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Endgame – very few crafting skills are much use once you get to level 50, with the exception of Biochem. To be honest, it’s debatable how useful some of them are even before this point because, at the time of writing, you’ll often get better gear through PvP, Warzones and Flashpoints. However Georg Zoeller has indicated that Bioware intend to make ALL crafting professions ‘fully endgame viable’. Tweaking is supposed to have started in 1.1.2, but no word on any changes yet.
  2. Print your own money –  there are two issue here. Whether you can make anything worth buying and whether anyone can find it if you do. Right now the Galactic Trade Network (GTN) is a capricious beast and searching on it is less ‘eBay’ and more ‘newspaper classified listings circa 1976’.
  3. Boost your alts – This is probably the most practical use for crafting at the moment. After all, your alts will eventually share the same surname. Why not let your virtual clan do the equivalent of having your electrician brother-in-law put in a new powerpoint for a slab? If you’re playing alts from a range of different classes, this very quickly makes sense, since certain crafting skills are more appropriate for certain classes. The downside is you will level up more slowly since you’re splitting your time across multiple characters.

Ultimately crafting isn’t for everyone, but if you’re inclined to give it a go it won’t be a waste of your time so long as you use it strategically and understand its limitations. Also bear in mind that things are going to keep changing as Bioware try to balance the economy. For better or worse, the real magical pixies aren’t your companions, they’re the shadowy figures in Austin studying metrics and playing with magical spreadsheets.


You, Robot – Part 2: Your companion as a lethal fashion accessory

Welcome to Part 2 of a three-part series on companions. You can view Part 1 here and you can download the most amazing Companion Stats Uber-Mega-Omnibus right here!

Combat is like fashion: you don’t want to be wearing the wrong thing for the occasion. Just as a bow tie and a thong might be appropriate attire at certain events, it may also be like using a Glock 26 for sniping. In other words, a poor choice that attracts the wrong kind of company.

From the time your first companion joins you, the advantages become obvious. Instantly you have someone to cover you, draw fire or in many other ways be the ying to your character’s yang. For most classes this means you get a DPS or Tank with melee or ranged abilities, whichever is complimentary to your own skillset. Only the Bounty Hunter gets a dedicated healer.

So are companions much more than a bipedal pet class? Simply put, yes they are. Functionally the mechanic is familiar, with a dedicated toolbar offering attacks and stances. The big difference is the versatility of control. Using various combinations of the AI toggles you can set certain abilities to operate automatically or manually. Don’t want your companion to use AoE when tackling an enemy? Turn it off. Do you want to choose when your companion uses their most devastating attacks? Go for it! Your companion’s toolbar can be expanded for full control or minimised if you’re letting them run on automatic, either way you get a lot of flexibility with this system.

Aside from them letting you take on many Heroic 2+ areas (in case you can’t find or don’t feel like dealing with another player), they’re also handy if a player bails out of your group halfway through. If this happens the group leader can select which companion of the remaining group members can jump in and fill the gap. While a last minute sub like this is not ideal and can’t realistically replace a capable human player, it can make the difference in completing the raid or gazing at the screen in abject defeat and wondering why you have no chicken.

Speaking of chicken, (no, not really, I just can’t think of a seque), there’s the ability to customise your companion’s skin colour and dress. While the initial selection of customisations is restricted, more customisations become available throughout the game. To be honest, I didn’t like this system as the customisations became available far too long after your companion initially joined you. It broke immersion and disrupted the emotional connection that Bioware work so hard to build. Happily this has changed with one of the recent patches. You now get to customise your companion as soon as they hitch their carriage to your train. Not only is this less jarring, it also means there are fewer identical companions running around the origin worlds.

So that’s the face and hair taken care of, what about the threads? As with your character, a little sartorial augmentation works wonders. Companions use the same core-stat system and need gear with the correct primary stat to do you the most good. They don’t have any relic slots, but that won’t matter until after level 15 – they also only have a single implant slot. The exceptions to this are the ship droids whose requirements are more… umm… mechanical, but they still use ear and implant slots, can ‘bear’ blaster pistols or rifles (main hand) and shields or generators (off-hand). Except that’s not entirely true. While they have slots for blaster weapons, they can not be equipped. There are hints that this may change but for the moment they are only useful as healers who will throw the occasional punch.  It’s also worth noting that companions can’t equip any item with light/dark side requirements, although they can use crystal mods.

Then there’s the troubling issue of ‘Affection’. No, actually that’s a lie. Affection isn’t that tricky at all, in fact you would have to work very hard to get them to hate you, except at certain pivotal points in their stories. In general any +affection you get is substantially greater than any negative awards. So it’s almost always a net gain. In any case it’s easy enough to buy their love although you need to know their tastes first (see the guide). The ship droids are (again) an exception. At present you can’t increase their affection, gifts or no gifts, so an absence of trinkets won’t reduce the menu planning or random cushion stuffing. Another little trick is to dismiss your companions (when practical) if you don’t think they’ll like your upcoming conversation choices. What they don’t hear, won’t hurt you.

You might be asking yourself why you should care what a companion thinks of you but there are practical advantages particularly in crafting, which is the exclusive province of your companions. Since it’s a fairly broad topic I’ll be covering that in the last article of this series, because, if you’re anything like me you just want to get on playing the game and won’t bother with this until later – which would be a mistake.

Just like that bow tie and thong.

Cannon Fodder or Making Mulch out of Cannon Fodder?

Here comes trouble...

Companions: cannon and sword fodder, trusted friends or potential backstabbers? The people at Bioware have a history of making really cool games. Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 1 and 2… the list goes on and on. But one of the major themes in every game that has been companions.

I still remember the original Baldur’s Gate. Khalid and Jaheira were two of the best written NPCs in a game I have played. When Khalid died at the beginning of Baldur’s Gate 2, I actually felt sad. Even though he had been a bit of a whiny sort, he had been part of the journey. His sacrifice, while tragic, was needed to further the story. I always tried to romance Jahiera in the game – she was the funniest of all the characters and the hardest to please. So it made it a great thing when you finally did manage to woo her and spend the epilogue of Throne of Bhaal with her. Maybe I just like tough women in video games.

The later examples of companions in Bioware games have been just as epic, or more so. Who can’t like Carth Onasi or Mission Vao as supporting characters? And Bastila… I won’t ruin it for any who haven’t played the game yet, but if you play as a male good guy type, enjoy yourself. All of the supporting characters in KOTOR were solid, well written, and basically good characters. They acted in character and they worked well to support the plot, such as when Mission asked Bastila if the Jedi ever used the Force for fun and then Bastila used the Force to trip Mission up. Or when Carth asked where Bastila’s lightsaber had been when she was captured and she replied that she had ‘UM… I misplaced it’.

Then we get to the newer titles, Mass Effect 1 and 2. The companions in these two titles are incredibly well done. The big guy at the top of the post is my favorite companion of all time. Urdnot Wrex is likely my favorite of all NPC characters I have ever encountered. Big, strong, mean and he doesn’t care. He is the ultimate walking talking tank. The Krogan is an icon to anyone who has played either Mass Effect game. My only complaint is that Wrex is not playable in Mass Effect 2 – we can hope he comes back in Mass Effect 3 as a playable character.

Dragon Age: Origins took companion NPCs to a new level. They added an approval system, you could please them or tick them off and they would react differently. As in real life it is virtually impossible to please them all, every action that you took might please some of them and anger others. Of course some actions are so good (or bad) that they will react overwhelmingly. I won’t ruin the game for anyone who hasn’t played it yet, but it you haven’t you have missed some MAJOR coolness. Epic heroes versus epic villains in a showdown in an epic land. Need I say more?

So… Now we come to Star Wars: The Old Republic and the latest news about companions and the unveiling of one of them. An irreverent, but tough as nails Twi’lek named Vette. If that is the character from the ‘Deceived’ video trailer, you know the one fighting beside Lord Malgus then she is no lightweight or pushover. Even if she isn’t, then she is a similar type of character. And she looks like a fun person to have interactions with. No, not that kind! Get your minds out of the gutter…

Anyways…Where was I? Oh yeah, companions. Bioware has a solid history of creating epic companion NPCs for their single player games. From Baldur’s gate all the way up to Mass Effect 2, their NPCs that travel and fight alongside the protagonist or protagonists have served as comic relief, as cannon and sword fodder and more importantly, as another aspect of the game to explore. Do you keep your companions happy? Do you try and gain their loyalty? Do you try the romance angles when you can?  Or do you not care and just go for the throat of the enemies, whoever they are?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I always try and keep my companions happy. If I do, there is less chance of them backstabbing me. Yoshimo in Baldur’s Gate 2 is probably the only companion I ever had backstab me when I was not expecting it, but since that was part of the plot all along, well… I shed no tears for him when he was cut into chunks after meeting my paladin’s sword head on. I enjoy wooing the females in the games, and gaining the trust of the males. I explore the other options, but maybe I am just a softie, because it just doesn’t feel right to be mean to people, even when they are virtual creations. I managed to play through KOTOR once as dark side, and stopped. It just wasn’t right for me. And in Dragon Age: Origins, I almost always romanced Liliana. What can I say? I like redheads. A redhead bard with um… ‘special’ infiltration skills? Oh HECK YES!!!!

Companions look to be a major part of SWTOR and knowing Bioware, they will be epic as well as fully voiced. So, romances, betrayals and all other assorted plot twists are coming, both for the main character and for his/her companions. Since we know Bioware, we can assume that some of them will be telegraphed beforehand and some will come right out of the blue and this is a good thing. We want to be surprised; we want to be stunned, shocked, scared, sad, whatever… We want an epic story with epic characters, some of whom we can add to our party to wreak as much havoc as we can. We want companions who make our games unique.


Over to you: what do you want in a companion NPC? What do you not want in a companion NPC?