I’ve had a fun weekend of gaming, fitting in a good session of SWTOR and some Neverwinter. In both games I have a collection of companions to juggle while playing. I find I really enjoy having companions to manage, I’m not much of a “pet-class” player (never got far with hunter in WoW for instance) but the newer breed of upgraded pet, the companion, I find a pretty compelling gameplay addition.
SWTOR: the crafting shuffle
While playing my bounty hunter with his Sith sorcerer and Sith marauder allies I have three companions available. One of us has a companion out at all times to make up the party to the max size of four. When doing a class instance it’s best for that character to have a companion out. Otherwise we decide based on the challenge who has who running with us. Sometimes I use Gaunt for extra damage, more challenging times (such as a Heroic-4 zone) our marauder will have Malavai out for off-healing duty.
Beyond the decision of who gets to have a pet out at any given moment we are all working on crafting so we also have to send off our resting companions on crafting missions to gather rarer materials and to craft items. It’s a fun crafting system that fits well with a more active adventuring playstyle. No need for us to sit at crafting stations for hours leveling our crafting we just send people off on missions to do it in the background.
Neverwinter: efficient companion leveling
In Neverwinter I have a set of four active companions for each of my two main characters. Although I’m only leveling one of them at a time through actively having them help me quest, there are also a few foibles of the system to note. Firstly a low-level companion, especially for a high level character, will be next to useless in combat in later zones. Area damage effects can one-shot a companion and their AI-movement routines will not necessarily dodge them out of danger. So it pays to have a capped, best-quality available companion as your active helper.
Occasionally I prefer to have a healer out, my white-quality cleric can keep my health topped up in-between fights but she’s not much use in combat though. The most important time to be aware of which companion is out however is when you hand-in quests. Your active companion gets a chunk of experience at the same time when you hand in quests so it’s important to not keep a capped companion out all the time – that’s wasted companion experience!
Companions need to be sent away for increasing amounts of time to level up, so timing handing in quests can also be important if you care about efficient leveling. If you are leveling multiple companions at once then at least you have other options if one companion is away training.
In SWTOR the emphasis is on gearing and gaining affection with your companions, whereas in Neverwinter leveling them is the larger task with a bit of gearing on the side. In both cases there a crafting ‘scheduling’ game to be juggled as well. All in all I’m happy with both approaches to companions.