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Introducing: DIY Challenge Modes for solo playthrough

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Hey folks,


so a lot of us have been around a while and enjoy playing class stories and heroics, but the total lack of challenge in those is a bit of a downer.


Don't fret though!


I have developed a system of what I call


DYI Challenge Modes


that will help you get some challenge back into your solo gaming. It's basically a combination of a number of factors that all contribute to adding difficulty, and they can be combined.

I'm also introducing nomenclature to make specifying specific challenge modes easier and to be able to quickly compare difficulties between different toons.



The factors are the following:

  • Limiting the contribution of your companion
  • Limiting the abilities of your class


Note: there are no achievements for this. There is no way to prove you did this. This is all for your own enjoyment, not really suitable for bragging rights :)



Limiting the contribution of your companion

Hardly anything makes your playthrough easier and more dull than having a companion that is set to heal you whenever you take damage. It makes every fight a total faceroll. You could just hit basic attacks all the time and still win every fight, it would just take longer.

I know, I've tried: I have two toons that are still on their base class (sith warrior and imperial agent) and no matter what I do, if I have a healing companion with me, I'll win.


So here's a list of things to do to make stuff harder:


A - Companion set to tank or damage role

In this mode, your companion will not heal you, but will still contribute to the fight. Depending on the enemies you are facing, this might just make the fight quicker (if you're both dps) or much harder (if there's an opponent dealing a lot of dmg and you're not a healer)


B - Companion set to passive

In this mode, your companion turns into a pet. However, you can still use some abilities that you couldn't use if your companio wasn't around: Unity and Heroic Moment. Those're a great help in a pinch!


C - No companion at all

In this mode, you're truely on your own. No heals, no unity, no heroic moment, no companion dance, nothing.



Limiting the abilities of your class


Since it's no longer possible to just pick a base class like Sith Warrior or Imperial Agent, we need a different way to make things harder. The easiest way to solve this dilemma is by taking away your mainhand weapon, which will automatically disable a lot of abilities.

How hard this makes your playthrough depends entirely on your class, as some classes can cope with this very well, while others will have a hard time doing even small amounts of damage without their mainhand weapon. For some classes, taking away the main hand weapon also means taking away the off hand:

A mercenary can't have only an offhand blaster, for instance. This adds extra penalties because your equipment rating will be even lower than with only the mainhand weapon taken away.


On the plus side, if you remove your main hand weapon, you can now use new abilities: The legacy abilities punch, jab, uppercut and bash which can be found under "Global Unlocks - Valor" and which only work without a mainhand weapon equipped.

Any help you can get from items or cool armor is fair game, too, in my opinion: medpacks, stims, adrenals, crafted grenades? Bring em on.


I've tried to come up with a list of classes and how I'd rate them in terms of difficulty, based on what abilities are left for unarmed combat. This list is nowhere near complete, and some items might not be placed entirely correctly, but you get the basic idea:


1 - Easy - most attacks and self heals work:


  • Sorc, everything works except
    • whirlwind
    • phase walk
    • static barrier
    • cloud mind
    • polarity shift
    • recklessness



2 - Medium - self heals and some attacks or no self heals but most attacks:

  • (Concealment) Operative:
    • Veiled Strike
    • Laceration
    • Volatile Substance
    • Crippling Slice
    • Sever Tendon
    • Debilitate
    • Fragmentation Grenade
    • Stealth
    • Stim Boost
    • Tactical Superiority
    • Distraction
    • Cloaking Screen



    [*] (Arsenal) Mercenary, self heals/cure and these:

    • Tracer missile
    • Heatseeker missiles
    • Missile Blast
    • Explosive dart
    • Concussion missile
    • Electro dart
    • Stealth scan



    [*] (Advanced Prototype) Powertech:

    • Vent Heat
    • Carbonize
    • Shoulder cannon
    • Thermal detonator
    • Rocket Punch
    • Retractable Blade
    • Shatter Slug
    • Jet Charge
    • Flame Sweep
    • Stealth scan
    • Neural Dart
    • Sonic Missile
    • Grapple
    • Guard



3 - Medium hard - a few rays of light, otherwise pretty glum:

  • (Rage) Juggernaught:
    • Force push
    • Endure Pain
    • Disruption
    • Force Choke
    • Taunt
    • Threatening Scream
    • Assault



    [*] (Lethality) Operative:

    • Corrosive Grenade
    • Shiv
    • Lethal Strike
    • Fragmentation Grenade
    • Debilitate
    • Stealth
    • Stim Boost
    • Distration
    • Sever Tendon
    • Cloaking Screen


4 - Hard - almost nothing works:


  • Sniper, nothing works except:
    • Fragmentation grenade
    • Distraction
    • Sniper volley (marksman)
    • Corrosion grenade (virulence)
    • Explosive probe (engineering)



    [*] Sith Assassin, nothing works except:

    • Force Cloak
    • Overload
    • Saber strike (basically a punch)
    • Force speed
    • Electrocute
    • Jolt
    • Stealth
    • Force Slow



    [*] (Fury) Marrauder, nothing works except:

    • Assault (punch)
    • Force Choke
    • Cloak of Pain
    • Disruption
    • Undying Rage
    • Frenzy (useless ofc)
    • Force crush



Putting it all together


Now if you combine these two Factors, if you'd take your companion with you on passive mode and remove your main hand weapon playing an Arsenal Merc, you'd end up with Challenge Level B2.

I'm currently playing through on C3 - with a concealment operative and without any companion (I keep having to send it on long-time crafting missions or it'll just come back if I just dismiss it, but that's a seperate topic). some heroics are suddendly much more challenging:

if you're level 35 and have no healing whatsoever, Sav Darnell suddendly does a heck of a lot of damage!


Hope some of you enjoy these ideas for your next playthrough and get an extra kick out of bleeding a lot more, just like in the olden days when this game was at least somewhat challenging! :)

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  • 4 years later...

Apparently, Kaldron, this Fell on deaf ears....

Interesting ideas for sure.  Personally lately I've been avoiding playthroughs with my companion on heal mode just because it makes the game completely unchallening and thus quite boring.  I truly wish they would bring more challenge back to the leveling experience.  It has me wishing there was a "SWTOR Classic" flavor of the game.

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Not quite the same league, but I'm coming to the end of playing the Imperial Operative class story without doing any non-class quests and not making any effort to finish quest bonus targets (sometimes you can't avoid them).  I've also been swapping my companions around so that they are not overpowering,

As an aside, I'm not sure how you could possibly appreciate the Operative storyline if it was played along with planetary operations - it is simply to complex to keep proper track of.

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9 minutes ago, GeneralGyro said:

i recently started putting my companions on dps only and my enjoyment risen

Same. Also forces me to use my dcds and heals and has me looking for out my companion as well. 

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On 1/19/2024 at 7:19 PM, Deelmackey said:

It has me wishing there was a "SWTOR Classic" flavor of the game.

I mean this is what happened to WoW too right, people wanted challenging leveling but in reality it wasn't challenging the people back in the days, 15 years ago, were just bad. Just think about spell batching that they added to simulated packet loss from the bad internet back in the days. The reality is that classic WoW and classic SWTOR are/would not be difficult. Hardcore WoW however is quite a challenge, because it takes so long to take no risk, it is essentially the least rewarding way to play the game so its possible to die while looking at youtube on the other screen because you've been walking for 4h into one direction to get an item that makes the walking 5% faster, or walking 4h to get a spell from the other side of the map. 

It would be (at least for me) way more interesting to get 1.0, 3.0 and 5.10 as permanent patches because: 

  • 1.0 just to see how it way back then
  • 3.0 to get conquerer and deposer and see how hard that truly was, if thats even the correct patch and not 3.2 or whatever
  • 5.10 best patch this game has ever been on 
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