Space, the most recent (SW:TOR) frontier

I finally got my spaceship in Star Wars: The Old Republic today. I’m probably the last player in the game to get one, save for people who just started playing in the last 12 hours.

I’m a slow leveler at the best of times. Combine that with starting over after I didn’t really take to my Sharpshooter, and then losing all my credits via a careless click (which had me going back to farm easy heroic quests for loot to sell) and I’m just barely crawling along. I also got my ship late: people will tell you it’ll come at level 15 or 16 but I was 19 when I got mine.

Anyway, so far the ship is a bit of a let-down. I assumed it would function like a house in other games: you’d be able to decorate it to some extent and it’d behave as a ‘rest area’ so you could log out in it. But that seems not to be the case (maybe that changes later). [Update: I just noticed when I left me ship I got a “Leaving Rest Area” message. So even though you don’t get an “Entering Rest Area” message I guess your ship IS a rest area.] Getting to it is a chore too, as it sits alone in a HUGE solo-instanced hanger. Why? Why make me run across an empty football field to enter my ship?

I also got an annoying droid with it, to go with my other annoying companion. I was a bit disappointed when I learned that certain classes get certain companions; I hope in some future expansion Bioware opens that up a bit. I’m envious of the people running around with a little R2-D2-esque droid following them. I’ve got a surly cat-man and now a goofball protocol droid. The best part about the cat-man is that whenever I wise crack or flirt, his “affection” towards me goes down. So I do it all the time just to piss him off.

So top of my wish list for Bioware would be a broader choice of companions, a broader choice of ships, and the ability to customize the interior of your ship (I get that customizing the exterior could have an impact on space combat). I’ll be really surprised if we don’t see a cash shop stocked with Companions crop up at some point; that’d be fine with me.

On the other hand, let’s talk about the oft-maligned space combat in the game. Maybe my expectations were pretty low due to all the griping I heard, but I actually enjoy space combat. I wasn’t really expecting it to be EVE Online or X-Wing vs Tie Fighter. And I don’t want it to be. I want a change of pace from running missions, but I don’t want a whole second game that I need to practice to get good at. Jumping in and blowing up stuff in an on-rails mini-game seems fine to me.

One of the things I’m finding surprising about SW:TOR is that it’s not as alt-friendly as I thought it’d be. Since every class has its own story I thought alts would be great. But the truth is that your ‘story’ consists of a small fraction of your missions. Each side has 2 starting planets (2 classes per planet) but then all 4 classes on a side go to the same place. On the Republic side that is Coruscant and it’s a long slog of a zone to get through. The idea of doing it all again with another character isn’t at all appealing.

SW:TOR isn’t alone in this; the days of parallel zones seem to have died out back when EQ2 and WoW launched. Hmm, or maybe Warhammer Online. I guess it’s too expensive to generate enough content for alts to go to different places. Anyway I’m just feeling it acutely because the other game I’ve been playing is EQ2 where for any level range there’re always a few zones you can go and adventure in. By the time Bioware gets around to adding new content they’ll have to focus on level cap stuff, so I don’t expect this ‘funnel everyone through the same zone’ thing to ever improve.

Now let’s talk Holocrons. These are artifacts that (usually) give you character a permanent stat boost, and Bioware hid them in some truly fiendish locations. Of course gamers being what we are, collecting every one soon became mandatory and there are guides with detailed walk-throughs of where and how to find them. I see a lot of angst over these holocrons because getting to them often involves lots of jumping. Here’s another place where I’m running counter to the crowd since I actually find all this climbing around to be pretty fun. I’ve been using guides to find the general area where they are, then I try to figure out how to get to them on my own (though I’ve had to resort to the full walk-through at times).

Basically at this point I’m enjoying blowing sh*t up with my Trooper and running around seeing the world. We launch-day players have until January 20th to decide if the game warrants a subscription or not and I’m still not sure that it will. I hear the higher level group content segments (called Flashpoints) are really long and for me, finding 2-3 hours of continuous time to play a game can be really tough. I did the level 10 one and it was fun but even that took a long time to get through. Most of the Mission Content (that I’ve seen) is meant to be soloed, aside from the “Heroic” daily quests.

Basically I’m not sure I’ll be inclined to pay a sub to get access to a game that I’ll be playing solo almost all the time. If Bioware were to add some 60 minute Flashpoints that I could do with my guild, that’d go a long way to convincing me. We took down a “world boss” the other night and that was a ton of fun; more activities like that, that a busy person has time to partake in, and Bioware might have me for the long haul.

2 thoughts on “Space, the most recent (SW:TOR) frontier

  1. Actually as you level up say around 20, you do have options for different areas to quest. Also, there are around 4 or 5 heroics on each planet so your constantly having to group with people or at least I am. I’ve done a few of the other flashpoints and they are fun. The second one isn’t as long, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

    I also want to disagree about being alt friendly. I have two characters on the Empire side, one is a really mean evil Sith Inquisitor and the second is a Sith Warrior with a heart of gold. I did both sets of off story line quest with both and found that having different choices even for repeatable quests that the outcome was different if you choose one as dark and another character as light. Also, on the first Flash Point the having someone pick light or evil during a specific cut scene can and does change the outcome of the entire Flashpoint so it makes it very repeatable as well just to see the other side. I think the game gives lots of options, sure the ship can’t be decorated.. yet. Who knows what will happen in the first content patch or expansion? The best part is the Story line for both my characters. They are so different and very interesting. One thing I can say about Bioware, they do know how to put lots of great twists in their story telling.

    I just think that your looking at the game from the wrong perspective. Its not WoW or EQ2 its SWTOR. If you stop thinking of it as last years MMO then I think you’ll dismiss a lot of whats bugging you about the game.

  2. I’ve been through the Coruscant content three times (and then some, when helping friends with their content), and I’ll shoot myself in the head if I have to go back there again. I noticed that I was getting really sloppy in picking up early missions the third time around, but shrugging it all off because I didn’t want to go through all that content again. I have a deep-seated hatred of repeating myself, and although I wanted to have a Jedi and a Trooper, my limit has been reached for what I can humanly undertake without going all psychotic.

    I’m enjoying the space missions also. They’re like rifts in Rift: gameplay elements that take you out of the normal style of questing for a change of pace, and can be done mostly at any time when you need a break from monotony so you feel reinvigorated when you DO get back to quest grinding. Also, it’s good XP, commendations, and a little bit of arcady fun in the usually top-heavy MMo genre.

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