Star Wars: The Old Republic

Levels 1 to 19.

So I bit the bullet and joined Star Wars: The Old Republic. Playing as a Sith Assassin, cos the Sith are awesome. Also – WoW’s evil characters were too cuddly or cute. Old Republic’s Sith are fucking evil, and my Darth Maul wannabe looks it, too.

The unique selling point for SWTOR is the fact that it is the first fully-voiced MMORPG. There’s no quest text like in other MMOs; each and every quest giver will launch into a little cinematic with your character, and true to Bioware standards, you get a choice of good or evil responses that you get get your character to reply with. As I begun my game, I was eagerly listening to every single word in each cutscene, amazed that the Bioware system works so well in an MMO. However many hours later, I don’t give a shit what they say – I’m waiting for the response wheel to come up so I can pick the nastiest option and giggle as my character says something awesome. Having said that, I doubt I could go back to the WoW quest text method. At least you’ve got something to look forward to when you pick up a new quest here, as you don’t know what the next cutscene will have in store for you.

As for how different it is to play compared to WoW, you’ll have to ask someone else, cos I’ve gone with the rogue class. If you really want to know what my character plays like, fire up WoW and play a rogue. What I can tell you is that the world Bioware have created is both better and worse than Azeroth. It’s better cos I like lightsabers. And blasters. And little shoebox robots that wheel across the floor making cute beeps. And using Force Lightning. It is worse than Azeroth because Bioware have added a few frustrations to their world that aren’t really present in WoW’s world.

For example – WoW  runs in a pretty seamless  fashion. You get a loading screen when you log in, when you use your hearthstone, and when you enter an instance. That’s pretty much it; for the rest of the time, it’s one mahoosive constant world. Star Wars: The Old Republic will give you fucking loads of loading screens and interruptions to go from one place to another. For example; in order to get to the equivalent of one of WoW’s major cities, you need to get back to the start of the play area (you can either run back through it, use the equivalent of a griff in WoW, or use your quick travel power), run into the spaceport, run through the spaceport to get to the elevator, use the elevator to get to your spaceship hangar (loading screen), run through the spaceship hangar to get to the door of your ship, use the door (loading screen), run through your ship to get to the captain’s seat, use the seat to bring up the galaxy map, find the Imperial Fleet marker, click on that (loading screen), get out of the captain’s seat, run through your ship to get to the door, open the door (loading screen), run through the hangar to get to the elevator, use the elevator (loading screen), and BOOM! You’re where you wanted to be. To be fair, I’m running the game on a SSD drive so the loading screens are gone in 5 seconds, but before that I was running the game off a hard drive and it sucked.

And it’s a damn shame, cos the flow of the quests is miles better than WoW’s. There’s the usual “kill 5 of these and bring me back their balls” quests, and in some areas you get bonus quests for killing 30 of something or whatever, but the quests are spaced out. You’ll get a couple of quests here, which lead you to a few there, which then lead you to a few more over there, which leads you to an instance, a boss character, an “ending” to the current planet, and then the next quest directs you to the next one. You’re never stuck in one place for long (fucking Nessingwary and that whole Stranglethorn Vale can fuck right off), and the “ooh new shiny!” eye candy keeps on coming.

Something else it most definitely does better than WoW is PvP. It doesn’t necessarily have better game modes or anything (although it might well have; I’ve only tried it twice), but what it does do is make people from all levels play in the same match. “That doesn’t sound like fun!” you may be thinking to yourself. “Lower level players must be getting ganked on repeat, surely?!” Nope. SWTOR (cos I can’t be arsed typing it out all the time) does something awesome. It gives all levels the same health and equivalent damage outputs for their moves. So I can play PvP at level 12 and kill someone at level 50. Which I did. A lot. Bear in mind that you’ll only be able to play with the moves you’ve learned already; level 50 characters will have access to all their character’s talents and moves, while you’ll be stuck with whatever you had when you went in. The whole damage / health buff thing though means that you’ll still be able to take much higher level players on.

So that’s it, really. It almost makes you give a shit about quests with the dialogue thing. It feels like a slog when you have to leave a play area for something other than quests cos the other areas are so segregated. The quests are fairly quick, and you never get stuck in one place for long. The PvP is hugely entertaining if you concentrate on killing level 50 characters when you’re level 12 like I did.

Up to now – like it a lot.

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