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Companion Clarifications


Riverwine

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I’ve been playing this game for a couple weeks, and have a few questions about companions. For reference, I’ve been sampling several of the healing classes and am mostly interested in the companion management in H2+ areas, as a player healer (46 Sage, 23 Operative, etc).

 

Companion Resource System?

 

As for as I can tell, companions don’t have a resource system, meaning that turning auto-cast on/off on abilities only affects other abilities activation through prioritization. Is that correct?

 

Cooldown Locking

 

If I turn off one or two abilities (generally AOE so that CC’d targets remain untouched) my companions end up “cooldown locked” and so use their default attack. I don’t really have a problem with this, but I think it does mean that Alacrity is not that useful a stat on gear I hand over to my companions, right?

 

Defensive Stats

 

As a healer both DPS and Tankish companions seem to be effective in H2+ areas. If I bring a DPS companion I end up spending more time healing and managing aggro. Bringing a tank means that I need to spend more time DPSing to kill stuff effectively. This leads to the following questions: Does adding defensive stats to a DPS companion improve their survivability, or do these defensive stats require Tank companions? What defensive stats do you prioritize on your companions for killing “boss” mobs? Is there a crossover point where a defensively geared DPS companion is similar in survivability and damage potential to an offensively geared tank companion?

 

Direct Ability Management

 

I am impressed by the number of useful abilities my PCs have. For a healer I am looking at 6-10 valuable abilities in each of these categories: healing, damage, utility, cooldowns. That is a lot of keybinds! I bind the “companion attack” to an accessibly key as well since I want her/him to charge in first, but so far I don’t directly manage much else. I guess I don’t really have a question here, but the skill cap is high since I could be managing my companions directly as well. Impressive!

 

Presence

 

I like the idea of this stat, but do I really have to trade off my primary stat to pick up more presence? Ahhh, choices! I guess gimping myself while buffing my DPS companions is one way to transfer aggro, right?

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Very interesting observations. Companions do play a significant role and each of your questions are valid. Personally my play time is probably 80% solo/20% grouped heorics/flashpoints, or said another way, 80% with my companion & 20% without. Given that balance, managing your companion's gear and abilities is very important.

 

Afraid I don't have answers here but I'm interested to hear the feedback from the community on this one.

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Presence

 

I like the idea of this stat, but do I really have to trade off my primary stat to pick up more presence? Ahhh, choices! I guess gimping myself while buffing my DPS companions is one way to transfer aggro, right?

 

Presence is never a tradeoff except through stims.

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direct ability management

 

Your comp will have a lot of abilities but most of the times you just leave them on autocast and let the comp do their thing and you will be ok. The one that i use the most is CTRL+1 to make them attack, but i've noticed my comps will run up to the target if they are melee instead of charging/dashing which is a separate keybind. For the comps that have CC, which are the healer comps i only ever manually use it when i am fighting a hard group. For those hard groups i turn autocast off on the CC ability, and i target and click it when i want my comp to CC.

 

But back to micromanaging, i only ever do this when i am playing my commando-gunnery or bounty hunter-arsenal. For those i will bring out Aric Jorgan and Gault, who are mirror comps (lots of abilities are similar). So i run dps/dps and i nuke stuff down so i have to micromanage, but just a little bit. I've found that some classes lack the burst so i'm not able to pull off dps/dps as well.

 

But for all other comps for my other classes i pretty much just hit CTRL+1 or if i have tank comp i will hit their shield ability if i am up against a tough mob.

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Presence is never a tradeoff except through stims.

 

I guess I was thinking of augments. I think command augs (Endurance / Presence) and resolve augs (End / Willpower) are options. Admittedly, augmenting while leveling might not be the most sensible thing to do.

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Presence

 

I like the idea of this stat, but do I really have to trade off my primary stat to pick up more presence? Ahhh, choices! I guess gimping myself while buffing my DPS companions is one way to transfer aggro, right?

 

There are a few ways of increasing your Presence permanently. Some are tied to your Legacy, and thus affect every character you have or will make on a given server.

 

1. Datacrons. There are several datacrons that boost Presence. This method is not tied to your Legacy, so each character must find them. I use this site for my datacron hunting needs.

 

2. Level a Human to 50. Because Humans have the ability to be any class from the beginning, the reward for reaching level 50 as a Human is a 100 point Presence boost given to your Legacy.

 

3. Complete all quests and conversations for as many companions as possible. Each companion that you finish grants a 10 point Presence boost to your Legacy. With 40 companions across the 8 classes, this totals to 400 potential Presence points. You can view which companions you are done with on the Imperial/Republic Class tabs of your Legacy window. (Note 1: you'll need over 9000 affection for most if not all companions to finish with them, as well as progression in your Class story.) (Note 2: Bonuses given for completing a companion of a given Role (Healer, Melee Tank, Ranged DPS, ets.) do not stack. Thus finishing both Theran Cedrax and Doc will grant 20 Presence, but only one boost to Healing Received.)

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Companion Resource System?

This is correct. Normal companions do not have a resource system, and almost all of their abilities have longish cooldowns. Turning off companion abilities simply advances them to the next cast in their normal queue. If everything else is on CD ~ they proceed to use their free cast attack that does not have a CD. However, HK -51 has a resource mechanic in the form of a stacking buff that is consumed by a special attack.

 

Cooldown Locking

Alacrity as a stat is not useful for tanking companions that are being used as tanks, but a gearing that stacks power & alacrity instead of crit & surge works quite well for any companion used to dps or heal. Imho power/alacrity works better than crit/surge because companions lack any of the on proc crit rate boosting mechanics that players characters benefit from. The tank companions have a dps stance, and are comparable to the dps companions if geared for doing damage. I've tested this with 6 of the 8 tanking companions on the Republic side. And yes Qyzen and Iresso both work quite well as dps companions when wearing the correct gear ~ equipping generators instead of shields and using power/ alacrity instead of defensive stats.

 

Defensive Stats

Adding defensive stats to a dps companion is simply a waste. A big part of the mitigation that tank companions have is due to their proficiency with the shield offhand item, which a dps companion cannot equip. Another big chunk of their damage mitigation comes from their tanking stance improving their armor rating. And still another chunk comes from their use of heavy armor and droid armor. By stacking defensive stats on a dps companion you will simply reduce their damage output, prolong the fight encounter, and end up needing to do even more healing and damage yourself.

 

Direct Ability Management

I don't find that it's necessary to do any direct ability management beyond putting companions in passive stance, and issuing them new attack orders in the middle of some encounters. There behavior is predictable, so I adjust my play style to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing my micro management of them. Because they fire their abilities as soon as they come off CD, there really isn't any need to manage their ability rotation ~ they're automatically using a pretty optimal rotation.

 

Presence

The effect of small amounts of Pressence is pretty minimal, and it's not really worth being concerned about. It does accumulate fairly quickly through the legacy system as you level alts to completion of their companion stories. And this makes it easier to level successive alts. So that's really it's value. I wouldn't say that you would ever want to take presence at the expense of any other stat, even if it helped your companion to hold agro better. A better approach is to simply give your companion a head start on each mob by ordering them to hit each mob at least once before you engage the fight. ~ with 300 presence a level 11 Qyzen can pretty much solo the Esseles.

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When playing my healer scoundrel I control one of Corso's, my tank-comp of choice, taunts myself. I let the AI use the area-taunt and I use the single-taunt myself. This way I have a way to get rid of unwanted attention but he still has some regular taunting going on without me having to do it.

 

If we are dealing with a group and someone starts shooting at my smuggler, I just target that npc and let Corso taunt it. Made my life much easier.

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SNIP

 

 

That is very helpful, thanks.

 

I did notice the presence bonus attached to the human legacy. Since I have no desire to level a human, I used my first month of "free" cartel coins unlocking the human race... Perhaps an odd choice, but it works for me.

 

I think I need to get the companion presence bonus the hard way, correct? (Not that I am complaining!)

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@SilentKitty.... That's an interesting way to micro your companion! I may have to try that out for myself. The companions use their single target taunt pretty much on CD, and it isn't really used that much by them. The CD may be 60 seconds, I have not really paid attention. But on a fight where they were tanking only 2 targets, that could be prefereable to issuing them 2 attack orders on different targets........

 

 

@Riverwine... Glad to Help! No, it doesn't seem strange, I bought my human unlock with CC as well. The +100 is a large enough chunk to make a difference right away, and is probably the most helpful unlock for a new account. I would say that you chose very wisely. The biggest source of Pressence is the legacy bonus form finishing companion story arcs. There isn't any onther way to get those bonuses besides leveling up characters and the affection of their companions. Once you've finished 2 or 3 sets of companions, the effect of Pressence becomes very noticeable.

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Companions indeed do not have a resource pool, and they generally have few or no cast-time abilities. The DPS companions have two I think, usually one like "aimed blast" and one AOE channel. This means Alacrity does nothing for them, even after 2.0, because they have no resources to regenerate, and their output is gated by the hard CDs on all their powers, which Alacrity does not reduce. Left to their own devices, companions will pretty much just spam every power they have until everything is on CD, then use the basic attack, then repeat.

 

Other than main stat and Endurance, you will get the most benefit just stacking Power on all DPS and heal compantions, and Crit/Surge where you can't get Power. DPS companions will not benefit at all from Shield/Absorb, because they can't equip shield generators. Any contribution to their survival from Defense would be so marginal that you're better off just pimping them for what they do, which is damage. They all have a pretty nice defensive CD though, which you might want to set to manual and activate only when you decide it's needed.

 

Presence becomes a very big boost to companions once you start to get a lot of it. The main way you do that is leveling up alts and maxing out the affection on all of their companions to get the legacy unlocks that add to your baseline presence. You can also get an easy +100 through either getting a human character to 50 or buying the human species unlock. Once you have four or more classes worth of legacy presence (+200) and the human species unlock, you can have 300+ Presence starting from level 1.

 

Since Presence basically doubles as a second main stat + endurance for companions, they will wind up being far more powerful than your own character is at low levels. At 300-400 presence, they'll have twice your HP and bonus damage at low levels, and will still be ahead of you well into the 30s and 40s.

 

It's generally not worth it to use Presence stims instead of main stat ones, especially for a healing class, until you already have quite a lot of Presence to build on. Once you have a lot of it though, it becomes worth stacking in its own right, since the healing companions can make you nearly unkillable, and the DPS companions start to become real monsters. When they're able to kill things so fast that you hardly need to heal them much, then Presence starts to have a value all its own.

 

I think very few people use presence on gear, but if you really wanted to see how far companions go, you could stack the legacy perks, command stim, and purple crafted gear with presence as a secondary attribute + presence augments. Using all of that, you could get quite a stupid amount of it, although you're also, as you noted, giving up a lot of your own primary and secondary stat budget.

Edited by Heezdedjim
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@SilentKitty.... That's an interesting way to micro your companion! I may have to try that out for myself. The companions use their single target taunt pretty much on CD, and it isn't really used that much by them. The CD may be 60 seconds, I have not really paid attention. But on a fight where they were tanking only 2 targets, that could be prefereable to issuing them 2 attack orders on different targets........

 

 

@Riverwine... Glad to Help! No, it doesn't seem strange, I bought my human unlock with CC as well. The +100 is a large enough chunk to make a difference right away, and is probably the most helpful unlock for a new account. I would say that you chose very wisely. The biggest source of Pressence is the legacy bonus form finishing companion story arcs. There isn't any onther way to get those bonuses besides leveling up characters and the affection of their companions. Once you've finished 2 or 3 sets of companions, the effect of Pressence becomes very noticeable.

 

Thank you :p

I got the tip here on the forum. Someone made a pretty great post on how they used their tank-companions and I started to use a few of those tricks myself. So nice when people who have figured out something really good come back here and share the information.

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Does anyone know of any guides out there for companions, beyond the usual background/role/gifts? Reading through the posts here, I would really like to get a clearer picture as to which gear would help my companions the most. For example, I have a Corruption Sorcerer that doesn't go anywhere without Khem. I have mainly geared him in STR gear, although END is an option. My question is what would be good for him as far as secondary stats go. This is where I think a guide addressing this would be really helpful.
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Companions indeed do not have a resource pool, [...]

 

Other than main stat and Endurance, you will get the most benefit just stacking Power on all DPS and heal compantions, and Crit/Surge where you can't get Power. DPS companions will not benefit at all from Shield/Absorb, because they can't equip shield generators. Any contribution to their survival from Defense would be so marginal that you're better off just pimping them for what they do, which is damage. They all have a pretty nice defensive CD though, which you might want to set to manual and activate only when you decide it's needed.

 

[snip]

 

I think very few people use presence on gear, but if you really wanted to see how far companions go, you could stack the legacy perks, command stim, and purple crafted gear with presence as a secondary attribute + presence augments. Using all of that, you could get quite a stupid amount of it, although you're also, as you noted, giving up a lot of your own primary and secondary stat budget.

 

Again, this is very helpful, and makes a lot of sense to me. One of more unique things about TOR are these companions, so I think it is interesting to see how much we can push that mechanic. For fun.

 

What is the best (or a good) why to build up affection? Once I decided I wanted to "unlock" a few of my unused companions I did this (eg, for Theran Cedrax)

 

1) Go to the companion gift vendor on Coruscant / Dromund Kass and figure out which gift type he likes best. (Luxury, apparently.)

 

2) Buy a bunch (40+) of the type 1 gift of their choice, and give him these until the affection gain drops to 19 (from 96 -> 48 -> 19).

 

3) Run Underworld Trading missions (or any other companion gift mission), using the Luxury gifts while selling / saving the rest. (Un-needed companion gifts sell for enough to make this a credit neutral venture overall, at least on my server). Running missions takes time, obviously.

 

Does that seem effective?

Edited by Riverwine
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Does anyone know of any guides out there for companions, beyond the usual background/role/gifts? Reading through the posts here, I would really like to get a clearer picture as to which gear would help my companions the most. For example, I have a Corruption Sorcerer that doesn't go anywhere without Khem. I have mainly geared him in STR gear, although END is an option. My question is what would be good for him as far as secondary stats go. This is where I think a guide addressing this would be really helpful.

 

Their role is defined by their stance that you put them in. So in Khem's case, you can put him in tank stance which increases his shield and threat or dps stance which will increase his armor pen and lower his threat.

 

The short, short version:

 

Tank stance, tank gear; shield, absorb and defense.

 

DPS or healing stance use power, crit, surge.

 

As a healer Sorc myself, I did find it more useful to gear Khem with tank gear but used might (higher strength armorings and hilt) over guardian (higher endurance armorings).

Edited by Ridickilis
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What is the best (or a good) why to build up affection? Once I decided I wanted to "unlock" a few of my unused companions I did this (eg, for Theran Cedrax)

 

1) Go to the companion gift vendor on Coruscant / Dromund Kass and figure out which gift type he likes best. (Luxury, apparently.)

 

2) Buy a bunch (40+) of the type 1 gift of their choice, and give him these until the affection gain drops to 19 (from 96 -> 48 -> 19).

 

3) Run Underworld Trading missions (or any other companion gift mission), using the Luxury gifts while selling / saving the rest. (Un-needed companion gifts sell for enough to make this a credit neutral venture overall, at least on my server). Running missions takes time, obviously.

 

Does that seem effective?

That's exactly what I do. As you observed, it's worth it to use the green vendor gifts until they run out of gas, because they're pretty cheap. The legacy character perks that boost affection from gifts and conversations are also cheap, and will make maxing them out noticeably cheaper and quicker.

 

With maxed perks, you can actually get a companion up to 8,000 affection using just the green rank 2 gifts. If you do the math, it's worth it to stick with rank 1s even at their minimum gain, because three of them give more affection than one rank 2 gift, and the rank 2s are 3x the price (600 vs. 200 credits, as I recall). But the rank 2s still work after that for another "tier" or two of affection.

 

The clicking gets pretty tedious, but for the ones that like gifts that aren't often available cheap on the GTN, like weapons, this can be a cheaper way to go than buying blue rank 5 gifits. If you have the time to run the missions though, then the most economical way is just farm them up yourself.

 

I will sometimes buy a bunch of gifts from the GTN to top a companion off, then farm some to sell to pay for it later. Like you said, as long as you can sell whatever you farm for more or less what you spent on the ones you needed, it works out. I only buy gifts if they're available for 2,000 - 5,000 credits though; any more and it's just too much expense to justify for convenience alone.

 

The other thing is make sure your stop every 2,000 affection or so, go back to the ship, and do whatever conversations have unlocked. They have triggers to unlock the conversations around every 2,000 breakpoint, and some unlock at the end of chapter 1 and 2. If you're taking a companion from 0 to 10,000 all at once and are in the mid to high levels, you will get a little bit of XP and a nice boost to affection by doing all their conversations.

 

I think it is also possible to farm affection by soloing the Esseles or Black Talon flashpoints over and over. It's free, but it might be pretty slow; I don't think you get more than a couple hundred points out of it per run, which can be less than what you get from one favorite rank 5 blue gift. Other than that, farming gifts is probably the most effective, besides just saying things they approve of in cut scenes while you're leveling up.

Edited by Heezdedjim
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As a healer Sorc myself, I did find it more useful to gear Khem with tank gear but used might (higher strength armorings and hilt) over guardian (higher endurance armorings).

I did the same. Since you're healing him non-stop, he only needs enough HP to not get one-shotted before you can catch up with the incoming damage, and that basically never happens in normal PvE anyway.

 

If you want a companion to do damage though, I would use a DPS companion rather than a tank companion in DPS stance. Other than the basic attack and maybe one special, all of the tank companion powers are made for generating threat more than damage, so the DPS of a tank companion will be quite weak even in DPS stance. The DPS companions are not noticeably harder to keep alive if you are decently geared and specced as a healer, and they will do a lot better job at killing things faster.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I think it is also possible to farm affection by soloing the Esseles or Black Talon flashpoints over and over. It's free, but it might be pretty slow; I don't think you get more than a couple hundred points out of it per run, which can be less than what you get from one favorite rank 5 blue gift. Other than that, farming gifts is probably the most effective, besides just saying things they approve of in cut scenes while you're leveling up.

 

This works, and especially if you're enough over-leveled that you can just run past most stuff without aggroing it(or are a stealth class), goes very quickly, especially once you realize that you can ride your speeder through the whole thing. However, only your starter companions(Qyzen, T7, Corso, Aric, Kaliyo, Mako, Khem, and Vette) gain affection from those conversations, so don't bother trying with anyone else. And I definitely wouldn't bother even with them until rank 2 gifts stop giving affection.

 

However, if you get a group together, you can also use BT/SLS to farm social points. You will still get companion affection for the conversation choices even in a full group, so if you're doing the one you may as well do the other.

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Can you stack Command Augments on companions to get better heals or dps from them?

 

No, companions have no Presence stat and gain no benefit whatsoever from having it on their gear. They only benefit from your Presence. Stacking Command augs on your gear will improve them, but Presence is a wasted stat in groups where you don't have your companion out.

 

If you're willing to spend the money on it, I suppose you could carry two sets of gear, one for grouping, and one for soloing with Command augs in it, but I still think you're better off just improving your personal stats.

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