I thought I would be playing TERA. But Josh convinced me to try this game, and I have to say it’s 1. Way better than I expected, 2. Very enjoyable and appears to have a very involved development team. With EA financially backing it, I don’t know how it can’t be a real success. Here is my little review of the game so far, after having played it since retail launch (a month ago). It goes into game specifics, but does not spoil any ingame lore.
- General Rundown of the Game
SWTOR focuses on storytelling through voiced cut-scene class quests, customizing your character with light/dark side quest options and points, dungeons/”heroics,” PVP “battlegrounds,” raids, some world bosses, and some world PVP (mostly at endgame). Since it’s Star Wars, there are two factions: Republic and Imperial. It should also be noted that Republic and Imperial have entirely separate quest chains and only share a few planets, it is basically two separate games meaning very high replay value. The classes are also mirrors, with only minor differences (Sith use lightning, Jedi use earth elements, Troopers get huge guns, Bounty Hunters get two pistols, etc.)
Leveling in this game is fast (compared to other MMOs at their launch) and there are many ways to do it. You can quest (class quests and universal quests both offer money, gear, and EXP), at level 18-20 you can do a couple space missions (on-rails space shooter minigame, more available as you level), you can do (instanced) dungeons (which also have many voiced cut-scenes), you can PVP (queue from anywhere, server-only pool of participants), and you can get a couple companion quests every few levels.
This game features companions. You get more as you play your class quests, and you can have one out with you for combat assistance while questing. When they are not fighting with you, they are used to craft. Crafting, known as crew skills, have the same general types as other MMOs (one makes armor, one makes weapons, one makes “potions” etc), but the difference is that it can only be done via companions, thus, higher levels have more companions and more of an advantage. Gathering is different in this game, too. You can gather from nodes in the world (and some in instances), or you can pay some money (credits) to send your companion to collect; at max level each gathering mission takes around 30 minutes, and they will come back with some items. Companions also get better as you interact with them, raising your affection with them via quest dialogue options (some characters hate when you kill people, some love when you focus on getting paid, etc) or with gifts that you can buy (or gather) will unlock quests with them for EXP, and also give them a couple more skills to aid you in combat. When in a party with the maximum amount of people (4) all of your companions will be dismissed; there can only be four people/companions in a party at once. Companions are not available at all in raids or warzones.
Gear is a significant factor like in most MMOs. At the moment, most crafting professions do not have an edge with gear. I think a lot of changes will come in the next year, so I would hesitate to make a lot of judgments on what gear is best right now. If you like to PVP, that gear is pretty easy to get (you will have to “grind” warzones, but I personally don’t think it feels like a grind).
There is a legacy system, although it is currently inactive. You unlock legacy when you complete one character’s act one story. As of right now, you can accrue legacy experience (like all other experience gain in the game), but there is nothing to do with it yet. You also unlock a legacy name, this is a surname that will apply to every single character you make on a particular server, across both factions. There is an option to not display your legacy name if you so wish.
There are achievements, but they are not a big focus like in WoW. They seem to exist mainly to grant titles and supply lore; around level 50 you should have 10+ titles to use if you played most aspects of the game to some extent.
Observations and Opinions
I love the storytelling in the class quests. I don’t think all class stories were created equal, but all do have their highlights and epic moments. I think the Imperial side is much more appealing than Republic, the quests and dialogue are more believable and interesting. I personally have mainly light side Imperial characters. I hope Bioware will add in some incentives to play Republic so that the servers are more balanced; as it stands, a majority of PVP servers have more Imperial than Republic, and a majority of PVE servers are the opposite.
-Light/dark side alignment
-Character appearances and armor
-Different body types
-PVP is pretty balanced among equal level players
-PVP gear is not gimped in PVE
-No effective racials! They are only social emotes.
-Never a need to grind anything for levels. There are always options to break the monotony.
-Game is not optimized well. Expect to upgrade your average computer if it’s more than two years old.
-While characters look good, there are not many racial-specific or class-specific customization options.
-The official forum general forum. Avoid it at all costs, as it is infested with trolls.
-No “bombshell” type body for females.
-No very blonde hair or unnatural hair colors (other than blue-tinted white)
-Non class-specific quests tend to be dull and generic.
My hopes for the future of SWTOR
I never played SWG, but Josh did, and he made it sound like a great game (before Sony wrecked it). I hope Bioware will take some cues from them and implement the following:
-Non-combat classes. SWG had entertainers. A merchant class would also be nice.
-Vanity item creating/lore exploration crew skills
-Better quality crafted armor on-par with raiding/PVP gear (this would have a high RNG factor)
-A more fleshed-out light/dark alignment system.
-More flavor added to Nar Shaddaa. It needs real gambling in the casinos, more dancing girls, more NPCs brawling, etc. Alcohol for players. Fist fights ala the Witcher would also be incredible.
-Non-class specific companions, maybe only for flavor purposes and be non-combative.
-Incentives to roll Republic to better balance PVP servers
My main is a Mercenary, healing specced. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun healing in a game, especially in PVP. WoW claimed it wanted healers to be able to DPS instead of healing everyone up to full, but SWTOR made it actually viable and enjoyable.
Mercs are tank healers with burst heals, one mobile heal, and one AoE heal+healing received buff, and I believe the “ultimate” healing talent unlocks another AoE heal (I’m only level 41 atm).
I also have a Sniper, not sure what I want to spec her as yet.
The “cover” (ducking so you can aim and protect yourself while sniping) mechanic is a bit laggy, if you press ctrl+f it makes it less laggy though. It’s not a very mobile class so I’m not sure if I will really play her much when I get her to 50, but the storyline is amazing and makes it worthwhile.
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