Influence is primarily increased by giving gifts to your companion. Each companion has different likes and dislikes. Although giving a companion a gift that they do not like does not result in negative influence, neither will you gain influence. You can increase this through the character perk Legacy of Altruism, by up to 30%.
Influence can also be gained by your choices during conversation. A companion needs to be actively summoned in order to have influence changed by your decision, unless it is during certain class story discussions on your starship in which your crew is involved. The baseline for your reactions that they approve of is +200 influence; disapproval is +50 influence. You can increase this through the character perk Legacy of Persuasion, by up to 30%.
Crew Skills missions
Finally, Crew Skill missions from mission-based skills and gathering-based skills reward a static amount of influence to the companion assigned to them, based on their yield/difficulty.
The obvious drawbacks are that you would have to commit one of a character's three crew skill slots to do such missions, and it is the most expensive route to start out with. On the other hand, you can get items for your own crafting, sell them on the GTN, or with mission skills, you can get gifts directly from them which can also be put on the GTN. Slicing has missions that can help make back the credits, eventually making a profit with higher grades.
There is no way to increase the influence gains, but even if the companion fails, they are still guaranteed to receive the influence amount listed.
Influence Rank and gift ranks
As you give your companion gifts, their Influence Rank will increase. Companion gifts of a given rank are only truly effective in certain ranges. Gifts will produce the maximum influence when that companion's Influence Rank is in the following range:
- Rank 1: 0-2000 : Influence Rank 1-10
- Rank 2: 2000-4000 : Influence Rank 11-20
- Rank 3: 4000-6000 : Influence Rank 21-30
- Rank 4: 6000-8000 : Influence Rank 31-40
- Rank 5: 8000-10000 : Influence Rank 41-50
Influence gained from gifts
The amount of influence a gift of equal rank to your companion's Influence Rank will increase by:
- Favorite gifts will produce an influence gain of +96.
- Love gifts will produce an influence gain of +54.
- Like gifts will produce an influence gain of +24.
There are other factors which can change the amount of influence your companion can gain from a gift by the following:
- Blue Gifts will produce an extra 166.66% bonus influence over a green gift.
- Purple Gifts will produce an extra 400% bonus influence over a green gift.
- Gifts two ranks higher than your companion rank produce an extra 130% bonus influence.
- Gifts one rank higher than your companion rank produce an extra 110% bonus influence.
- Gifts one rank lower than your companion rank produce 50% less influence.
- Gifts two ranks lower than your companion rank produce 80% less influence.
- Gifts three ranks lower than your companion rank produce no influence.
Efficient influence gain
Rank 2 gifts cost triple the money but only gives double the influence of a rank 1. When leveling up a companion's influence it is most cost effective to use rank 1 gifts until they achieve rank 3. It takes about 62 rank 1 gifts to go from 0 to 4000 influence costing 12400 credits. Similarly, going from rank 3 to rank 4 uses 42 rank 2 gifts costing 25200 credits.
The rule of thumb is a gift one rank below their current rank is the most cost effective.
Since influence received from conversations remains the same regardless of influence rank, but gifts lose their potency and become increasingly expensive, it is most cost effective to boost a companion's rank with gifts as early as possible and use conversation for the rest.
- Use rank 1 gifts between 0 to 4000.
- Use rank 2 gifts between 4000 to 6000.
- Use rank 3 gifts between 6000 to 8000.
- Use rank 4 gifts between 8000 to 10000.
Effects of influence
Each Influence Rank gained with a companion grants +0.5% critical rate and +1.5% time efficiency for crew skill tasks, and +50 Presence boost, which improves their health, healing and combat damage.