Grumpy Gamer: Tauntauns of Industry

It's hard to be cynical - even for the Gumpy Gamer - when blessed with the company of a sturdy Tauntaun and a psychotic Ewok.

Grumpy Gamer: Tauntauns of Industry

It would be perfectly natural for regular readers to assume that I hate
Ewoks. They're cute and cuddly and were clearly designed to appeal to
children, and their contributions to the Battle of Endor make very little
sense. If stormtrooper helmets can't protect against fist-sized rocks
dropped (not hurled - dropped) by child-sized primitives, and
super-hi-tech AT-ST walkers can be tripped and crushed by logs and crude
vines, how does the Galactic Empire manage to subjugate entire planetary

But, at the risk of losing my "grumpy" cred, I don't hate Ewoks. I
actually kinda like the little buggers. Sure they are "cutesy" but they
symbolize the pluck and temerity of the Rebel Alliance, fighting against a
tyrannical super-power with whatever crude tools are at hand. They
overcome terrifying obstacles despite glaring disadvantages. They are
anarchic and stubborn and fearless, and they wear leather hoods instead of
pants. And they decorate their stuff with skulls and vertebrae, like
proper primitive badasses.

Grumpy Gamer - Ewoks from ROTJ

When it was first announced that Star
Wars: The Old Republic
was adding an Ewok companion to the
game with Patch 2.3: Titans of Industry,
again it would make sense for regular readers to assume that I would find
something objectionable about it. Ewoks have almost no presence in the
galaxy at large until they are encountered during the Battle of Endor, let
alone 4,000 years before that era. They got retconned into the rest of the
Expanded Universe galaxy only through ham-fisted shoehorning - for
example, the phrase "a Rodian in Ewok's clothing" being a metaphor for a
person with sinister ulterior motives. The two made-for-TV Ewok movies
were less than stellar, and the Ewoks cartoon series, while slightly more
watchable than the Droids cartoon series, somehow managed to make the
species even more of a kids-only property. Basically, pretty much all
Ewoks outside of Return of the Jedi are a sad joke.

But I was totally looking forward to having an Ewok companion for my Sith
Juggernaut, Ogregunk. I didn't even care what type of companion Treek was,
I wanted an Ewok on the Fury. And the more I read about Treek, the more I
was looking forward to adding her to my crew. I saved up my credits for a
few weeks and made sure my legacy level was up to snuff. And, shocking as
it may seem, I'm glad I did.

Grumpy Gamer - Treek

Treek is awesome, easily the most adaptable companion in the game to
date. Treek has a healing and a tanking stance, and delivers decent DPS in
either. She can heal a bit even while in her tank stance. Tiny tanks are
hilarious - I pull out Blizz on my Powertech from time to time despite
being tank-spec and geared, just because he's awesome. Tiny tanks who huck
beehives and use a bolo to heal their pals are 100% pure win in my book.

Not only is she freakin' adorable and way handy in combat, but she comes
with an awesome backstory. She is a thuggish mercenary contractor with a
bloodlust for the opposite faction. The droid NPC on fleet tells you of
her great victories on Balmorra, Taris and Corellia, among other places,
and plays her up as a supreme badass. The Imperial version achieves a
perfect score on the "Mekhis Aggression Index," which apparently indicates
that she is quite... aggressive. When she makes her entrance, she barges
her way through the crowd, punching one guy square in the nuts (regardless
of whether you are playing Republic or Imperial) and makes her
introduction. She tells you she can't wait to start killing the enemies
and looting their corpses, and she swears you in as her new Chief.

Grumpy Gamer - Treek telling it like it is

Treek is very expensive to add to your team. If you buy her contract with
credits, it's 1 million upfront. If you buy her from the Cartel Market,
it's 2100 Cartel Coins, which ain't chump change. And that's for just one
character. If you want her for your alts as well, that's a separate cost
of 700 Cartel Coins to add her to your Collections (but then all your alts
on that legacy get her on their crew for free). And when you get her, you
need to gear her up - the custom gear she comes with has all level 10
mods, so if you get her as a level 55 character, that's gonna be costly.

But she's totally worth it. She's adorable and kicks ass, nearly
everything one might want in a companion. If you pick her up early on in
your career, you may never need another one of your companions for
anything else.

Grumpy Gamer - Treek Boogie on Hoth

The other awesome thing about the Titans of Industry patch is the new
Tauntaun mounts. By that I mean the mounts themselves - the methods of
acquiring one, not so much. Rolling across Hoth on the back of a Tauntaun
is a quintessential Star Wars experience that every player should have,
but if you want to have that experience, be prepared to pay through the
nose for it. You will be investing either millions of credits to buy one
outright, or a significant chunk of time farming the nests and relying on
the charity of a heartless RNG. You will also be subjecting yourself to
the abuse of a number of frustrated players who are looking for the same
thing, and who entertain themselves between nest respawns by trolling one
another relentlessly. Some of them will boast about finding three
Domesticated Tauntaun Data modules in one nest, others will complain that
they have dropped 20 lures in a row and gotten nothing.

Grumpy Gamer - Riding a Tauntaun on Hoth

And if you want to truly experience frustration, try doing the new Czerka
dailies on the new moon, CZ-198, in the Unknown Regions, during peak
hours. The new facility suffers from the exact same lack of foresight that
caused some of the Black Hole or Section X dailies to be an exercise in
patience: too few quest resources shared by too many players. Some players
have no problem sidling up and taking the kolto tanks or weapons crates or
other quest item you are fighting next to, or even jetting ahead with a
timely rocket boost to get to one before you do. You can't really blame
the players for behaving like selfish, over-competitive meat-heads - we
just want to get the colorless quests done quickly. The fault lies with
designers who fail to predict that competition for sparse quest resources
results in shabby player behavior, even after seeing how players handled
the Black Hole weapons crates and Section X prisoners. That sort of thing
should be instanced.

All in all, launch day of Patch 2.3 was bloody expensive. I had saved up
over 3 million credits, and ended up spending nearly all of them. I don't
care much about the Czerka stuff, which apparently is the main focus of
the update, but with my new Tauntaun and Ewok buddies, the game feels a
whole lot more like Star Wars. Cynicism shall resume next week at its
normally scheduled time.

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