Ryu’s Musings – Star Wars the Old Republic

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Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is the only massively-multiplayer online game with a Free-to-Play option that puts you at the centre of your own story-driven Star Wars™ saga. Play as a Jedi, a Sith, a Bounty Hunter, or as one of many other iconic Star Wars roles and explore an age over three-thousand of years before the classic films. Become the hero of your own Star Wars adventure as you choose your path down the Light or Dark side of the Force™.
Along the way you will befriend courageous Companions who will fight at your side or possibly betray you based on your actions. Get ready to face powerful enemies in dynamic Star Wars combat as you team up with other players to overcome incredible challenges to save or control the galaxy!

  • KEY FEATURES
    Enjoy Choice and Flexibility — Play the complete story-driven adventure up to Level 50 for free with some restrictions or enjoy unlimited game access as a Subscriber including a Rewards Program which will grant Complimentary Cartel Coins, a new virtual currency used to purchase valuable items in the Cartel Market.
    Define your Star Wars Saga — Choose from one of eight iconic roles and become the hero of your personal Star Wars saga—an interactive storyline with cinematic dialogue and full voiceover for all in-game characters.
    Engage in Heroic Star Wars Combat — Fight against powerful enemies in dynamic Lightsaber duels, cantina shootouts, and large-scale multi-player battles.
    Choose the Light or Dark Side — Meaningful choices throughout your journey will determine your path down the light or dark side of the Force™.
    Pilot Your Own Personal Starship — Earn your own ship which is your base of operations as you explore the galaxy and participate in epic space combat.
    Adventure with Companions — Build or betray meaningful relationships with your Companions as they join in your journeys and fight at your side.
    Discover a Fully-Featured MMO — Join your friends in fast-paced combat encounters, player-vs.-player Warzones, multi-player Flashpoints and Operations, and much more!

This game has devoured my life, it’s part of the reason why I’ve not posted anything for a while (that and the hard drive on my comp dying). I bought the game on release played for a month or so and then left, severely disappointed with the game. For me, as with a lot of fans i believe, the problem was we were fans of the original Knights of the Old Republic games. Like a lot of fans i was hoping for KOTOR3, and while i knew this wasn’t it, it’s still hard not to get you hoped up. So when the game was released and it wasn’t KOTOR3 i was disappointed and gave up on it.

When it went free to play i picked it up again, and frankly, this is now the only game i play at the moment. The game has it’s problems, which I’ll get to eventually. However what this game has that most MMO’s don’t, is a story that carries you way past max level and full voicing of ALL NPC’s. It also has the ability to be played as a single player game, or multiplayer which makes it a double thumbs up from me.

The story has the illusion of being dynamic that makes it interesting to play, and increases replay-ability. Each class has three chapters to their story which plays out over the course of the levelling. The pacing of the story is pretty well done, with mission hubs opening as you move along, each with a series of new ‘side’ missions to complete. These missions basically help you level up, but also add some additional story, which while not ‘significant’ does make for interesting playing, and character development.

imperial-agentSo, lets talk a bit about the story, i said it has the appearance of being dynamic due to the way it plays out. Bioware did an amazing job with making a linear game feel and look dynamic. While the story itself doesn’t change, the way it flows and progresses does. Several factors come into play with the way things go. Race, Sex, and Light side/Dark side choice, some of these choices are small, others have huge impact. For example, at the moment I’m playing an Imperial Agent as a Dark Side Male Chiss. As a result of this the characters i get to romance change, as does the reactions of the people around me. However on certain planets entire sections are redone to make a unique story for that character. Hoth for example, because I’m Chiss i worked with the Chiss Ascendency, if I’d been another race something else would have taken that place. There’s also some hefty consequences for your actions, whether it’s good, or bad, they happen and add interesting dynamics to the story.

I also liked the way you revisit places. for example i visited Taris as a republic, and then again as an imperial Playing through as a republic player was interesting as it tied some loose ends from the original KOTOR game, and some really well done cameo’s. Later on when i started my IA character i revisited Taris and it was done completely, the changes were really well done and i felt like things had really changed rather than just stuck over the past.

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The game mechanics are disappointing in that it’s the typical hot button game, and your gonna need ALOT of buttons. I find this to be one of the most frustrating aspects of the game, having 4 hot bars full of buttons of varying usage. This is especially frustrating since the UI is unchangeable, unlike other MMO’s, such as WOW, Bioware decided not to allow mods, meaning you can’t change things and have all your buttons on a single hot bar or two. which if your on a high res widescreen monitor would make life a lot easier and less cluttered. However this is just a niggle really, it easy to understand why Bioware don’t want mods in the game, after what happened to WoW.

The missioning is interesting and done in five levels, Normal, Bonus, Area, Heroic +2 and Heroic +4; Normal ones are your usual missions. You talk to the person, and get a little movie which can net you some affection for your companion, and a light/dark side points. I found that i actually spent the time to watch the scenes because they were fully voiced, and because of this knew my mission better than just clicking through a wall of text. These missions are usually the generic go to area A and kill X number of mobs, pick ups and explorations. This is where the Bonus missions start, when you get to your mission area and start killing, you usually (not always) get a bonus mission of killing more mobs. While these are optional, they do grant you a good chunk of XP and credits and can usually be done at the same time as you mission. Bonus missions have two variants, single ones, which are just kill a number of mobs and that’s it. Or multi stage, which are usually completed in three stages and result in items, XP and credit rewards.

Area missions are like bonus missions, when you go into some areas you’ll get an area mission, these are multi staged and can be a bit tough, but are very rewarding if you finish them. The down side of the area missions is that if your solo they can be very tough and time consuming.

Heroic +2 ad +4 are very tough missions, the +2 ones are solo-able if your very careful, slightly over levelled, and have a decently equipped companion. These missions are generally full of elite mobs, some very good drops, and a load of XP. The rewards are commendations, items, XP and creds. The +4 ones you can not solo, unless your seriously over levelled to the point it’s not worth doing.

The game also has a companion system, which i do rather like. the companions you get are woven into your personal story, and there’s always a valid reason for them joining you. The companion system also has an affection system built into it, which means you can lose of gain affection depending on your conversation choices for missions and story. Some will like what you say and do, others wont. There is no penalty though for losing affection with your companion, since you usually lose only 1 or 2 points of affection, which can easily be replaced with gifts. Gifts are given to your companions to raise affection, each companion has a different reaction to the gifts. Affection also effects your crafting, since it’s your companions that do all the crafting not you. The higher the affection you have the quicker the crafting, and better chance of critical success.

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This means you get to carry on missioning while your companions go about and do the hard work Open-mouthed smile, you can do most Heroic +2 with your companions as well, so long as your careful.

There is one other bit to mention as well, those are flashpoints, these are dungeons, the first couple are heavy on the story which makes them really interesting to play through. Sadly not all of them are like this, some are rather plain and dull. but given the work needed for fully story driven experiences i can understand why some aren’t, most people tend to just skip it all. Doing flashpoints and grouping up with others leads to social points, these give you access to some nice gear.

Space combat is fun for a while, but it does get a little tedious after a while. this is because it’s on rails, and as you progress through the levels their is very little variety in the mission. They add different elements to the missions, but not enough to keep you do it a lot. Thankfully these space missions are a daily thing, so there’s no point in repeating them. What is interesting about these though is the direction that Bioware is taking them. In an upcoming patch we are supposedly going to get a free roaming PvP space combat and frankly that does appeal to me.

The game has a few other elements that I’ve not looked at, OP’s, and PVP. OP’s are the equivalent of WoW’s raids, as such you need a guild to really do them properly, as well as help you get the gear you need. The other, PvP, just isn’t for me. I’ve never liked PvP in any of my games and this is no different, so i can’t really say anything about it.

The game currently has three different types of currency, normal credits, planetary commendations, and cartel coins. Commendations are given for different things, completing story missions, sub missions and things like it will get you planetary commendations. These can be exchanged for higher level item modifications, modable equipment, or random luck boxes. Personally i think your better off sticking with modifications, everything else comes from missions rewards. There are several different commendation rewards, planetary, fleet, PVP and others. they’re all used for the same style of rewards.

Credits, well that’s your usual cash. Cartel Coins are the new currency brought in when the game went free to play, ad can only be bought with real money. It’s used for unlocks and that cash shop (cartel market).

While the game itself is on my favourite list, the way EA haven handled the F2P element is not, it’s the worst. The F2P adverts make the game sound really awesome, and very playable without subscription. However when you get right down to it the restrictions placed on the game for F2P and even the Preferred players make the game all but impossible to play, you have to buy unlocks from the cartel market or go subscription. This is sadly one of the problems when a previously premium game goes F2P, they never really do the transition right.

What’s worse is that the Cartel Market does a good job of ruining the economy of the game, as well as the balance. The gear you can buy from the market is not bad, however since they can be sold on the auction house the prices for these items ranges from fair to obscene. Some items got for next to nothing, where as others are stupidly priced, with some mounts hitting the 9million credit mark. Dyes, which are single use items, can hit as much as 5-6million. This is out of range of F2P/Preferred status members as they can’t carry that amount of cash and have to spend cartel coins to get money from the escrow.

What’s worse is that they recently introduced a Cartel Market companion called Treek, who is stupidly expensive and frankly breaks the balance of the game. Once you get Treek you don’t need any other companion, since she’s a very effective tank and healer. Treek is so damned over powered that she can and does tank elite mobs without issue, when i first got her i used her on a boss fight on Dromund Kass, and she killed the boss i was fighting while i worked on the trash mobs. This tied with the cost £12, makes it seriously over priced and game breaking.

So how is it to play, honestly, frustrating at times. this game is badly optimised and suffers from frequent FPS drops, even though your connection to the server is fine. Every time they release an update it breaks the game more, and then a few days later we get another update to fix what was broken.

Yet despite all the issues with the game i do still enjoy it, I’m really involved with the IA story and find it really engrossing. Given the other stories are all like this, it leads to a lot of replay-ability, i highly recommend that you try this game out. Play it for a while as a F2P and then give it a try for a month as a subscriber, I doubt you’ll regret it!!

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One Comment

  1. I completely agree with every single thing you said. Everything. This game is eating my life away. I tried F2P for about two weeks but I had a completely ripped off experience. I was forced to get a 60 day game pass. Loving every minute of though.

  2. This is my second favorite MMO right behind Guild Wars 2. My wife and I has poured countless hours into this game. I finally maxed out my Jedi Sage and i’m working on my trooper now :]

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