Back to The Old Republic

I got swtor pretty much when it was released. I played it for a few months and I really enjoyed it. However, when given the option I usually opted for playing Warcraft back then so I couldn’t justify two subscriptions. I wasn’t logging into swtor often enough for it to be good value for money.

Once it went free to play just over a year ago I tried it again briefly but I was busy in Warcraft at the time, trying and failing to set up a new raid team. I tried to play it again this past summer but whenever I booted the game my computer would crash. I think it was because it overheated. The game required more resources, resources my computer had but it made it run hotter, as it was already hot from the ambient room temperature it just couldn’t cope. Which brings me to the present day, playing again now it’s winter time.

Back to The Old Republic. So what’s new?

Preferred vs subscriber
I’ve never been counted strictly as f2p in swtor as I bought the game, I was subbed for a few months and then after it went f2p bought a pack of coins to get an unlock in the market. However, preferred is closer to f2p than subbed is. For some time I played as preferred and for the most part it worked fine, until I got to a point where I wasn’t getting enough experience. I was level 43 on my Bounty Hunter and I’d finished Belsavis. I’d done the bonus series, I’d done all the bonus quests, and I was half a level short of 44 which I needed to go onto the next planet of Voss. I thought I’d run into the same situation on my Jedi Knight as I was half a level short of 32 but then I found a bonus series for Nar Shaddaa. Some bonus series unlock as soon as you’ve finished the planet, others unlock at a higher level.

Now as I said I do all the bonus quests and the bonus series. I don’t however do the heroic missions, I don’t run flashpoints, I don’t do any group activity at all. This is probably why I was running a little short on experience, as if I did those extra things then even as preferred I would have been fine. However, I recently re-subbed just for one month. As a subscriber you get a 25% boost to your experience across the board, you also get rested xp on top of that. Now you can buy xp boosts on the cartel market, and you get given some as quest rewards for free. This will give a 25% boost to a preferred player but you don’t get the rested xp bonus which does make a difference.

There’s a world event that happens every month, the Bounty Hunter’s guild, which is appropriate for my Bounty Hunter. I did a couple of missions as preferred with it and then a couple as a subscriber. The missions when I wasn’t subbed didn’t push my bar that much further towards level 44, the couple when I was subbed got me that half a level. I was then subbed all the way through Voss. I got to 47 like I was supposed to, then I got to 48 and I’m halfway to level 49.

This annoys me quite a lot actually. It’s like the game’s saying that I can’t play the way I want as a free player, which I suppose makes sense as they want people to subscribe as it gives them money, the servers aren’t free after all. So I guess I shouldn’t be annoyed by it, you get what you pay for and getting anything for free should be a bonus, being annoyed that is isn’t perfect is a bit wrong. I can’t help it though, I am irritated by it, it’s unreasonable of me and I do know that.

The game itself
What I love the most about swtor are the class storylines. I’ve been playing my Bounty Hunter again and it’s approaching the storylines conclusion and I’ve ran into a problem. As I took about a year out in the middle of the story I’ve kind of forgotten what happened at the start.

Now the beginning is separate from the end. I remember that I took part in the great hunt and that I was crowned champion. I remember then that I became eligible for some big bounties that were only available to champions and I don’t recall at all what happened next. I vaguely remember that I had to board a ship and kill a jedi, I became republics most wanted which I did find a very cool title, but I don’t remember the details of what happened. I also don’t remember how I got to be where I am, who my enemies are or anything really important. So it’s a little disconcerting as I just went after this General on Voss but I don’t remember why.

I think I would enjoy the story more if I knew what was going on and google is being singularly unhelpful. Seriously has nobody ever typed up a synopsis of the class storylines? Well if they have I can’t find it so I’m thoroughly confused. Which leads me to my next complaint in a way. My holoterminal on my ship said I had a quest so I clicked on it and this sith lord popped up and congratulated me for killing someone but I hadn’t. I googled and found that it was the intro quest to the expansion and that it did spoil the end of the class story.

It said that in the in game mail for the expansion there was a PS note at the bottom that warned you. However, it didn’t warn me, it said that completion of chapter 3 wasn’t required to go onto Makeb, nothing about a quest on the holo confusing the heck out of me. I realised when the first dialogue option popped up that this was a quest I shouldn’t do so I hit esc and backed away but still, couldn’t they have made that quest inaccessible until chapter 3 is completed? I’ll know for next time not to click it but still that’s not right, especially as from googling to find out what the hell this quest was, I learned that I didn’t actually have to kill this guy. So I guess it was giving me the default option quest as it didn’t know what my choice was yet, as I hadn’t made it. It was just strange all round, like time travelling in a way.

The games future
Now I haven’t played through Rise of the Hutt Cartel, I don’t have any characters at level 50, I’ve never been to Makeb. All I know about the expansion is what I found by googling and what I found was worrying. I play swtor for the class storyline. I’m almost finished with the Bounty Hunter, halfway through with the Jedi Knight and just started with the Sith Warrior. I still have a long way to go before I’ve finished all the storylines. However, I read that they weren’t continuing the storyline in the expansion, that Makeb had one storyline, that of the planet and that was it.

Now, what I don’t like about levelling in Warcraft is that it’s the exact same everytime you play through it. Levelling in swtor is like a breath of fresh air as it’s different, it makes levelling different characters worth it. Now, as I said I’ve not played through Makeb but if it is the same for all characters, or at least the same per faction, then that is a worrying development. It makes swtor the same as Warcraft, it’ll be worth playing through once but won’t have any replay value.

I also like the companion storylines. I finished Mako’s yesterday and asked her to marry my Bounty Hunter. Now her storyline might have been sort of finished but there was still lots of places it could go. Just as they can add more chapters to the class storylines, they can add more to the companions, so they level up with their storyline alongside you. From what I’ve read nothing more is being added to the companions either. They’ve added a couple of new companions but not touched existing ones.

With all the voice acting I’m sure that adding in class specific content is expensive and time consuming. However, it’s what makes me play swtor, it’s what makes the game special in my eyes, so I really hope that it’s something they add in the future. There was some suggestion in the forum thread I read that swtor were doing minor expansions, like Rise of the Hutt Cartel and the new Galactic Starfighter, but that they would do a major expansion where they developed the classes and added a chapter four. I don’t believe there’s been an official comment on the matter so perhaps it isn’t decided for definite yet. I really do hope that this isn’t the end for the class storylines. Otherwise when I get everything to level 50, and maybe one class to level 55, I’ll be done with the game.

The Galactic Starfighter
This is mostly why I resubbed for a month as I really enjoyed the space missions, I thought this could be fun. I was in for a massive disappointment. First of all it’s PvP and so new players are extremely unwelcome, chat is filled with the usual battleground abuse. I didn’t really know what I was doing at all. When I first loaded the interface I shut it back down again as I just couldn’t cope. There were so many options, so many different menus and selections and I didn’t understand a word of it. I saw there was a tutorial button in the corner and I clicked that with relief but it was the worst tutorial ever, it taught me nothing and confused me all the more.

In the end I queued for a battle, using what default options it had selected and I figured I’d learn by doing. I did one battle and that was it. Like I said new players are very unwelcome and I probably wasn’t helping my team at all. I wanted to but I didn’t know how. So I’m at a loss really. How am I supposed to learn how to play this? I want a step by step guide, I want an explanation of the confusing interface and that’s before you even get into the battle. In the battle I’d like an idiots guide on how to play because obviously I’m an idiot. There’s a lot of people playing this without a problem. However, I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is confused.

I want to like this feature. Though I don’t think I could play it much as the 360 degree playing space makes me motion sick. However, right now I don’t have a chance to play it at all as I don’t understand it. It’s not very user friendly in my opinion and so they should fix that. I don’t mean make it easy to play, no I win buttons or anything. It can be complex but please give a lesson on it first.

What else?
I really don’t like the talent system. It’s the same talent tree that Warcraft used to use and I just don’t see the point. I love the new talent system in Warcraft and so I kinda of resent having to go backwards in swtor. I look up where to put the points on noxxic and plug them in with no understanding. Noxxic is kind of annoying as a guide as it assumes you are level 55 so it gives the talents, and the rotations as if you have all those skills and points unlocked. I’m not sure if I’m right for levelling or not.

While there are negatives there are positives. I absolutely love medical probes and I have to admit that’s a good benefit to being a subscriber, getting an unlimited amount of them. It means you can always res where you are if you die, no corpse running and no having to re-fight your way into wherever you are. Plus using the ‘res at base’ option is a quick way of getting out of dodge if it’s a really long cave you’ve fought to the back of and things have respawned. It’s annoying that this is counted as an extra as it’s great feature. You get 5 free medical probes as preferred and once they are gone you have to buy more at the cartel market, or always run from the med center.

I’ve mentioned before how much I like the ability that Bounty Hunter’s call ‘Recharge and Reload’ but each class has it, it’s just called something different. Jedi Knight’s is called Introspection and Sith Warrior’s Channel Hatred. I don’t know for the other classes as I haven’t played them but it’s all the same thing. Out of combat it’s a channeled ability which restores your health and resets your resources if required. For example Bounty Hunters abilities generate heat, if the heat bar is full then they can’t use their abilities, so this ability heals and gets rid of heat. In Warcraft you have to carry food to achieve the same effect, which obviously gets consumed on use.

The companion system, having one to fight for you, or to be able to send on missions to level up professions is pretty cool. You have a selection of companions that perform different roles and you can pick the one that best matches your spec. I roll with Mako on my Bounty Hunter as she’s a healer and I’m specced tank. Plus I like Mako, now I’ve maxed her affection and finished her story I suppose I should run with another companion, at least for the conversations. However, Mako compliments my bounty hunters character.

You know it’s odd I don’t roleplay but because of how swtor works, giving you dialogue options, options on how to complete quests, kill or not etc. then you sort of have to give your character a personality. My bounty hunter is all about looking out for number one, he will do almost anything for credits. However, he doesn’t like cruelty, or pointless violence, he has honor and won’t attack the weak. If it’ll avoid conflict then he’ll let people go so long as he’s sure they won’t come back to attack him later. After all if he still gets paid and doesn’t have to fight, well that’s just safer. He’s light side more the dark, he’s no hero but like I said he doesn’t hurt people for pleasure. He’d work for the republic if they’d pay him but as the republic are the ‘good side’ they don’t hire people to kill others. He has no love for the empire but supports them publicly because he doesn’t want them as his enemy. I’m playing my sith warrior in a similar fashion only my bounty hunter is more of a hero than my sith warrior. My bounty hunter would risk his life, play the hero, if he was moved to do so. Like how Han Solo came back at the end of A New Hope, well my Bounty Hunter would probably do that. Only he wouldn’t land at the end like Han Solo did, he’d just jet off into space and pretend like he didn’t have a moment of compassion, it wouldn’t be good for his reputation.

So I don’t want to run with another companion. If I wanted to please them and get reputation, I’d have to say and do things my bounty hunter wouldn’t do. However, I do want to do the companion storylines and so it’s free rep I’m throwing away. I see the rep bar pop up saying that I’ve got rep with Mako, except I don’t as she’s maxed so it’s worth nothing. It’s a conundrum and one I haven’t solved yet, I don’t know what I’d like to do best.

Swtor has done a lot right. It’s a very immersive game. Whereas I’ve said that in Warcraft levelling is kinda an afterthought, it’s not really part of the game, it’s just something to be done before you get to the endgame where everything starts. It’s not like that in swtor, levelling can be the whole game, I certainly play it that way. I have zero interest in the typical mmo endgame that it offers. I raid and play seriously in Warcraft, I play swtor for fun.

I know some people just level in Warcraft and I’ve never really understood how they can stand doing it. Even before I started raiding, or playing at endgame, I never liked levelling. My very first character I decided I loathed questing. I levelled that one 73-80 almost entirely in dungeons, levelled my paladin entirely through dungeons till level 65 and so on. I realised that questing was faster for levelling so I did pick it back up again begrudgingly. Half of my alts I didn’t level properly I recruited myself and did it that way with the big boost. Leveling in Warcraft isn’t fun in the slightest. Well, as I said some people find it fun, but I obviously don’t understand why. I love levelling in swtor, which I guess is obvious as it’s all I do in that game.

As I said I resubbed for a month. For some reason I got a free month when I did so which gives me 60 days as a subscriber. If I’m still playing the game in those 60 days I might just stay subbed. I don’t know for instance what would happen to the class/race combinations that aren’t unlocked for f2p, it might render those characters inaccessible unless I bought an unlock from the cartel market. I’ll run the figures and see what’s most economic.

So to summarize this entire post – recommended. I don’t know what the future holds for swtor. However, as it stands there’s enough content to keep going for quite some time yet. Try it, it’s now free so there’s nothing to lose. May the force be with you.