Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Although I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked during the weekend Beta event that Bioware ran for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I did manage to have an extremely good time playing what I did. This is just a blog to round-up my experiences during that time and generally give across my impressions on what I think, is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO for a very long time.

Update 18/12/2011: After playing the full retail version of the game for a couple of days now, I’m actually loving the Sith Juggernaut class and I am right now, focusing solely on that character. I have no others at the moment and for the time being, I’m keeping it that way. I can see myself, in the future, trying out the other classes as well, but my main will be my Juggernaut. I’m already level 21 and having a blast, so you can look forward to hearing more about my exploits in The Old Republic soon enough.

Going into The Old Republic, I knew for a fact that I initially wanted to see the Imperial side of things first. Even from the first time I had watched Star Wars, I was always a fan of the Empire side. Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, the bad guys just seemed so damned cool. Though I had no idea what class I would want to play. After reading up all the data on the creation screen, I settled first on the Bounty Hunter for a couple of reasons.

The first, and main reason, being that Boba Fett is one of my favourite characters. The other being that I felt that the two Sith characters would most likely be overpopulated for the sole reason of them having lightsabers. My path was then chosen, I had my class. The race was another interesting choice for me. Having known about, but only just started reading Heir to the Empire, I was interested in considering Chiss. Admiral Thrawn seemed like a very intense and interesting character, so picking his race would be definitely something to see. However, I did see one other race that instantly caught my attention. The Zabrak, of which Darth Maul was a member of, was a playable class. This is what I ended up going for, as I personally love the character of Darth Maul and was probably my favourite thing about that first Prequel Trilogy film.

Happy with my choice, I started it out and was surprised to find that the story started off in a way that was completely unexpected. I turned up to meet a group of people and, although I was the “newbie,” I wasn’t treated as a character that had little to no experience and was incapable of doing anything for themselves. I was already established as a good shot and a Bounty Hunter that was gaining a name for himself. This was severely refreshing and was only solidified more by the superb voice acting of not only my character, but the others as well.

I progressed, having fun with the shooting mechanics and fast paced combat. Coming across simple, MMO type quests and some interesting story beats. Some of them actually shocked me, as I was trying to play my character as a Sarcastic dick, leaning towards the dark-side, though is more into money than being evil. Some of those dark choices were surprisingly dark and brutal as well. Purely just shooting a guy in the face right in front of his kid is one thing, showing a wife her husbands severed head and then asking, as she runs away screaming, “Hey, wait, can’t we talk about this?” is a completely hilarious other thing. It shows how dark some of these choices can be, and the variety of options you actually have to do some of these bigger quests.

There are some good twists and turns in the story, that I won’t specifically spoil here, but never-the-less, going to the next planet was interesting and I stopped my Bounty Hunters journey at level 11, sitting in the Imperial Fleet.

Boba Fett, the most well-known Mandalorian in ...

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The next time I played, I had decided that I wanted to try one of the Sith classes. I felt that, it being the later half of the weekend, the influx of Sith characters would be lessened, and I could have fun trying out the other classes. I went through a similar action as I did the Bounty Hunter and I came up decided to be a Sith Warrior. Looking through the races, I was tempted again to make a Zabrak, though after looking through the rest, I settled on created a true blooded Sith.

The beginning of the Warrior slightly mimic the Bounty Hunter. You’re brought in as a promising student, ahead of schedule for some very secret reasons. This, however, is where the similarity ends, as you quickly learn that the Sith handle things very differently. Again, the voice acting is excellent and the story goes in ways I didn’t expect. Playing my Sith as, of course, a pure dark character was a lot of fun, and very amusing at some points (especially when you meet your first companion.)

Through the last few missions on my starting planet of Korriban, I did hang around with a friend who was playing a Sith Inquisitor. After I had retrieved my real lightsaber and finished off all my missions, we left together for the Imperial fleet and our first experience of a Flashpoint, The Old Republics answer to classic MMO dungeon instances. This was of course, after we trained up some Crew Skills for professions and I had chosen my advanced class of Juggernaut, so I could tank in those Flashpoints.

After a while of sending my companion out to missions and crafting a couple of new armour pieces, we were ready to tackle the Black Talon. I was very interested to see how these work, especially since we went in alone, with our companions for company (as companions themselves take up a party slot, we technically still had a full party.)

I was pleasantly surprised when we did enter the instance, however, as it still felt like we were playing a story driven game. It didn’t start with those inevitable trash mobs that we had to clear to get through to the first boss. We were greeted and introduced to characters before the fighting even began. Even when the fighting began, it was still exceeding every low-level instance I had played in WoW purely in terms of the amount of fun I was having. Each battle was intense and we could handle multiple enemies at once without feeling too overwhelmed or overpowered. The balance was perfect, especially with the bonus quests that lead to a bonus boss.

Speaking of which, the boss battles have started off interesting. Even with a couple being “tank and spank” it’s still very fun to fight them. Some of them have masses amount of health that slowly gets chipped away as you start to stack up debuffs and others have interesting moves that need you to be on the ball. It’s fun, engaging and doesn’t feel as slow as World of Warcraft did.

The way Bioware have also implemented the conversation wheel into multiplayer situations works surprisingly well. Players choose what they’d select and the game rolls for them. The winner of the roll is the option that gets picked. This even counts for Light and Dark side choices (though you don’t gain the points if you didn’t pick the winning option) which even changes the outcome of the dungeon itself. New enemies and locations, with the story playing out slightly different is refreshing to see and encourages me to try out that flashpoint again at a later date. Especially since I personally only managed to run through it once before the time in the beta ended.

After we had successfully killed the last boss of the Flashpoint, I travelled to the second planet and started questing there. This is where my journey as a Sith Juggernaut ended, as I ran out of time to play the beta before the weekend was over. Overall, I had a complete blast with it and have been eagerly looking forward to the release ever since. I have my pre-order verified and cannot wait to see if I can get some early access. It’s definitely my favourite MMO to date and it being Star Wars just makes that ever so much more awesome.

So there’s my opinion and experience with this game. Thank you for reading, and may the force be with you.

(I can be cheesy if I want to be.)