Last weekend was the second and sadly the last Beta-test weekend for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and this time my playing experience was a lot more positive than the last time.
If you’ve read my review of the 1st weekend (here) then you’ll know that I left it with a negative feeling. It just felt like World or Warcraft with a Bioware Star Wars RPG skin on it. Well I’m happy to report that my opinion this time around is a lot different. Of course there are still a lot of WoW-esque elements in Star Wars: The Old Republic but this time around I got to experience just some of the things that push it away from its Warcraft counterpart. In fact as the weekend drew to a close I found it hard to tear myself away.
So in no other order than the order I remember them, these are the shiny things that caught my attention on the 2nd SW:TOR beta weekend.
Firstly, I dumped my Imperial Spy. In true Sith style I cared little for her so I threw her into the abyss where all level 10 alts wallow. I created a Sith Sith Marauder, Sith being both the race and class, which is rather confusing. It was so much more fun and leaping into combat with dual light sabres swinging was much more fun then sniping people from a distance, which coming from a hardcore ranged class player is something. There was also something marvellously fun about acting the evil violent, crazy Sith. The opening storyline was so much fun to play, so much so that I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play a Jedi. Although, being a Republic Jedi but following the dark path did appeal to me. that’s something to try when the game’s released I suppose.
My favourite part of the Sith Warrior’s story is that you’re given a Twi’Lek as a companion. She is wearing an electrofied slave collar and when ever she spoke to me, I had the option of shocking her which I did on every occasion. When I finally chose to release her from the collar (followed by a threat on her life if she annoyed me again) she did seem more compliant and less outspoken. I don’t know whether this is scripted or all in my mind but I wonder if I had been nice to her and never shocked her, would she be different? I’m sure there are a few layers of character development to wade through If I was ever going to know, but I’d like to think that we do have that level of control over our companions, Bioware put it in to the Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
I explored crafting a lot more this time round. You can learn three skills, which are a combination of Gathering skills, Production skills and Mission skills. Gathering skills such as Archaeology and Bio-Analysis function in a similar way to other MMO’s, you find nodes on the ground you activate them, get supplies and get a little better at gathering etc. Production skills are as the name would suggest skills that physically create items, such as armour, lightsabers healing kits. The final crafting type are Missions, these have your companion going off into the unknown to find treasures, or perform diplomatic missions. Returning after a set time hopefully with the items you were looking for. It’s important to note that companions do the crafting for you, They go out on the missions, they gather and they produce.
For my crafting skills I chose artificing (making sabres, which I thought made sense), archaeology (Looking for crystals) and treasure hunting (Looking for lockboxes, gemstones, companion gifts etc.)
You can send a companion out on a mission by accessing the Crew menu, choosing the crafting skill you wish to use, then selecting the appropriate mission from a list. When you select a mission, a small amount of credits are deducted, and your companion disappears for a few minutes. After the allotted time, the companion returns with any goods they have gathered during their expedition.
After level 10 you are able to put points into talent trees like, well like Warcraft. Though World of Warcraft when it when it first come out and you had large and expansive talent trees and you could put your points in any tree you want, rather than get to the top of one and use the rest on your second tree. I only got to level 15, so haven’t been able to explore them thoroughly, but you do get a point every level so there’s a prospective 40 points for you to put into talents.
Finally, and this was the real humdinger that left me practically panting… my very own Space Ship.
At a certain point in your personal story you are given a spaceship, in my case I was level 15. Every class/race gets their own spaceship, my Sith Warrior got a spaceship called… a Sith Warrior. (yes, maybe they could have thought about that one a bit more.) Your spaceship, apart from zipping you around the galaxy functions like a home of sorts, but you can’t decorate it at least as far as I am aware. You do get a second companion as well, in my case a rather obsequious droid. Once you own your ship you can visit any plant in the solar system, and more importantly you can take part in Space Combat.
Space Combat is a mini-game, where your ship is on a set path. You move around the screen by moving the mouse and firing lasers/missiles with your left/right mouse button. It took me back to the days of ‘X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter’. It’s simplistic and It’s not going to sell the game by itself but the possibilities for this are interesting. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this area is expanded upon in it’s first add-on, though I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. The mission I tried was a simple escort mission. Protect this little ship from the countless Republic ships trying to destroy it.
This time round there was no umming and arring over whether I wanted to play Skyrim or SW:TOR, it was a very easy clear choice. Star Wars won.
Though I still have a few reservations about this game.
- Will the RPG conversations/storylines etc still be brilliant after so many play throughs, or will people just click through them and not pay attention. Would these ever be updated?
- When add-one are released will they make any end game progress you have so far, pointless? Will add-ons be nothing more than a few levels to climb and a new gear grind or will they do something different.?
- When is the endless class tweaking/nerfing/op’ing going to begin? Technically a Republic Smuggler would not have much chance against a Sith Marauder. Though not impossible, the non-force races would have a big disadvantage in the Star Wars lore.
- After the free-trial period is over and the inevitable glamour has worn off, will it still be worth around £120 a year to play it?
Oh, and if you want to see some more screenshots… here you go.