Based on the gentle chiding Oakstout gave me in the comment he left on my prior SW:TOR post, I don’t think I’m doing a good job of conveying my feelings about this game, so let me put this plainly: I enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic. In my last post yeah, I talked about things that bugged me about it, but I tried to balance those points with the things I do enjoy, and in fact thought I was defending some widely unpopular aspects of it (holocron hunting and space combat). I’ve been on vacation for the past week and the only game I’ve touched has been SW:TOR. I’m playing it to the point where Angela is getting vaguely annoyed at how often I play, though part of that might be because I’ve been choosing my Trooper over the EQ2 Beastlord that I’ve been leveling with her.
So anyway, with that out of the way let me tell you today’s story.
My Trooper, Bart, took Cybertech as a crafting skill. He also took Scavenging and Slicing, but no mission skill. That wasn’t a problem until he wanted to make a Mod that used a metal that can only be obtained via Underworld Trading. I went to the broker to see if I could buy some of this stuff (mulinium, I think it was) and I could, but the cheapest price was 10 units for 5K credits. Bart had about 18K credits at the time and there was no way I was going to spend 5K of them on 10 units of metal.
But Trae, my retired Sharpshooter, had taken Underworld Trading (as well as Armortech and Scavenging). He’d been sitting at level 15 in a Cantina since I’d rolled up Bart. I’d been making a half-hearted attempt to log in to queue up some crafting now and then but hadn’t really focused on it.
I love having a ‘family’ of alts who can aid each other though, so yesterday I decided to let Trae stretch his legs. My goal was to use up his “rested bonus” and then put him back on ice, and while playing him I’d send out his Companion to level up Underworld Trading during all those runs to and from the Senate Tower.
I’d removed Trae from the awesome guild he was in since I didn’t want to have to go through the whole “Hello everyone!” thing every time I logged him in to queue some trade skill missions. So all I had for ‘company’ was general chat, and it so happened that when I logged in, THAT person was online and yammering. Y’know the person I’m talking about? Generally they have an obviously female name (Babydoll or Bambi or something along those lines) and they talk constantly and flirt with everyone, often implying an interest in bisexuality so that no one feels left out. The only thing worse than THAT person is all the idjits that react and feed the ego of THAT person. Anyway, it’s a free game and General chat is called GENERAL chat for a reason, so they have every right to use it like an AOL Chatroom, but I wasn’t in the mood to listen so I switched over to my Other tab that has only game-generated text in it.
And that was how I played from level 15 to level 19 or so. Or put another way, from maybe halfway through Black Sun Territory all the way to the gates of the Jedi Temple. I soloed a couple of the Heroics and ignored the others. It was an interesting experience.
I finally started to ‘get’ what people are talking about when they refer to the stories in SW:TOR. Bart the Trooper’s story hasn’t really grabbed me and I hate his Companion, but I love his gameplay. Trae the Smuggler’s story I find to be pretty interesting and I genuinely like his Companion, but I don’t like his gameplay all that much. To try to maximize Bart’s Companion’s good will I have to “go by the book” with my answers, but Trae’s Companion gets as much of a kick out of Trae being a wise ass (under the right conditions) as I do.
But here’s where I make a confession. I’ve told you all that I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I saw Episodes 4,5 & 6 in the theater when they came out and I enjoyed them, but I’ve maybe seen them once or twice in the 30 or so years since. We actually own them because, y’know, as a geek you HAVE to own them, but I never feel compelled to watch them.
Here’s the new confession: I’m not a huge Bioware fan. I liked Dragon Age: Origins a lot and Jade Empire was ok, but I’ve never been able to get into Mass Effect and while I forced myself to play through KOTOR I didn’t like it very much. Baldur’s Gate? Played it for a few hours, max.
Yesterday, playing an MMO completely as a solo game, I felt like I finally drank the Bioware Kool-Aid. There were some quests and interactions that DID NOT go as planned and left me feeling really tore up. There were characters who I immediately took a shine to, and characters I really hoped I’d get the chance to kill. I was totally wrapped up in the world to the point where I hardly glanced up when the clock hit midnight and 2012 began.
What changed? I’m not sure but I think a lot of it had to do with isolating myself from the distraction of other players and having everything that was said spooled into the chat log. Quite a few times I found myself rolling back the chat to re-read what an NPC had said, and I think I absorb the story better that way than I do by listening to a character speak while I’m paying more attention to what’s going to make my companion happy and what’s going to lead to Light Force points than I am to the actual story.
SW:TOR is an MMO though and I was reminded of that at about 1 am. I was trying to finish The Works before quitting for the night and I came to an object I had to interact with. Another player was standing there, so I switched over to the general chat tab to ask him if he was waiting to interact with the object (I didn’t want to ninja it from him and make him wait for it to reset). A few minutes later I saw someone looking for a group for the Heroic in the Jedi Temple, which was where I was about to go, so I joined up and myself and 3 strangers had a very enjoyable few minutes of completing that Heroic Quest, snagging the holocron after taking down the mini-boss that guards it, and finishing up the other quest we had in the temple.
It was a really nice change of pace after spending the whole day solo, and the Sharpshooter is a great group class because everyone understands that his role is DPS. My Commando is more open to interpretation. I’ve been asked to tank and asked to heal and he can’t really do either all that effectively (yet), but he kicks ass as a solo character. The Sharpshooter is much more fragile and really struggled with soloing Heroics that the Commando farmed for gear without breaking a sweat.
Anyway, SW:TOR works well as a solo MMO and depending on how content rolls out I may wind up willing to pay a sub just for a monthly new story.
Now it’s a matter of combating my altaholism. I read that Jennifer Hale voices the Lady Trooper and I’m tempted to roll one up just to hear her work. And I kind of want to do another Smuggler and go Scoundrel with it. And I need some more crafters anyway. Hmm….