Written by Kevin Chow Wednesday, 22 February 2012 06:00
|Star Wars: The Old Republic Review (Up to Patch 1.1)|
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by BioWare. It was released on December 20, 2011 and is BioWare’s first MMO. As of February 1, 2012, there are over 1.7 million subscribers and over 2 million copies of the game has been sold.
As with other BioWare games, Star Wars: The Old Republic has a very strong focus on story. There are eight different storylines (one for each main class). Because these storylines have so much depth to them, I won’t be going over them to prevent spoilers. For those who want to know when the story takes place as a whole, it is set more than 3,500 years before the films. A peace treaty was formed after a long Galactic War, and the events in the game are leading to the outbreak of another war.
Like most other modern MMO’s the player starts out as a low level character and must acquire gear and levels by killing monsters and completing quests. There is one main story for each class. All missions (quests) that are not related to the main story can be considered side-missions. The player can choose to not do them, but doing so will likely result in not getting good enough gear and levels for the main missions. All players have an out of combat self-heal ability as well as a revive ability that can be used to revive other players. At level 14, all players get a sprint ability, which can be toggled. At level 20, the first of the vehicles (mounts) can be bought. These are only ground based vehicles and can’t fly. These can help the player travel from place to place more quickly. There are also taxi stations available to travel longer distances. In addition to experience points, players can also gain legacy points. The legacy system isn’t really implemented yet, but so far you can give yourself a last name. This last name applies to all characters on the same account. Legacy level also applies to the entire account.
The character creation process has five steps. First, you need to choose your faction (The Galactic Republic or The Sith Empire). Second, you need to choose a class. I’m only going to list the classes and advanced classes here since a lot more information about each and their abilities can be found on the official site. The classes in parenthesis are the advanced classes.
Republic: Jedi Knight (Guardian, Sentinel), Jedi Consular (Sage, Shadow), Smuggler (Gunslinger, Scoundrel), Trooper (Vanguard, Commando)
Empire: Sith Warrior (Juggernaut, Marauder), Sith Inquisitor (Assassin, Sorcerer), Bounty Hunter (Powertech, Mercenary), Imperial Agent (Operative, Sniper)
Third, you need to choose a species (race). The Republic can choose between Human, Miraluka, Twi’lek, Zabrak, Mirialan, and Cyborg. The Empire can choose between Human, Sith, Cyborg, Zabrak, Twi’lek, Rattataki, and Chiss. Which species is available to you also depends on which class you choose. Each species also has a different social ability. Social abilities don’t impact the value of a character in combat, but it does allow fun things like making people around your character cheer, or scolding your companion and hearing them cry.
Forth, you need to choose a gender (male or female).
Fifth, and probably the step people spend most of their time on, is character appearance. There are sliders for many types of customizations, but most only pertain to facial features and hair. After deciding on how you want your character to look, the last thing to do is to enter a name and you’re set to go.
In the beginning, the player can select one main class. Once a character reaches level 10, the player can select one of two advanced class. As of this writing, once an advanced class has been chosen, it cannot be changed without creating a new character. So make sure you are certain about which you choose.
For companions, some people might consider naming them spoilers, so I’m only going to talk about them in general. Unlike most other MMO’s, Star Wars: The Old Republic has companions that can follow you around as you do missions and aid you in combat, as well as other things such as crew skills (professions). Companions can also be geared like a player character can with the exception of a few slots. Companions don’t have slots for relics, but they do have one for customizations. These customizations can be bought from special vendors and it changes the looks of companions. Each class gets a total of six companions by the end of the main storyline, including the ship droid. Only one can be with you at a time, but depending on your level, you can have multiple deployed on crew skills. Companions have affection, which determines how much they like you. The higher it is, the better they will be at crew skills and it might affect how they react during the story. Sometimes they will also have missions for you. Having high affection with companions can also lead to marriage. More on how to increase affection in the section below.
While communicating with certain non-player character’s (NPC), players have dialogue choices, similar to Mass Effect. Depending on the choices, the character’s alignment can increase to the light side or the dark side. Selecting the good choices will increase your light side points, and selecting the evil choices will increase your dark side points. The alignment is based on a single scale though, so if you have points on both sides, increasing one will decrease the other. Alignments aren’t dependent on faction. You can be a dark side Republic player, or a light side Empire player. There currently aren’t many differences to either side, in terms of gear choices, other than color crystals for lightsabers and blaster bolts (light side can use blue and green crystals, dark side can use red crystals), and equipment from the light side or dark side vendors. As for the main story, your alignment can affect dialogue and how NPC’s react to you during cutscenes. If you have the Diplomacy crew skill, you can also increase your alignment that way.
If your companion is out while you make dialogue choices, it can also increase or decrease his or her affection towards you. Each companion has a different set of moral values, so make sure you look over their information in the codex to find out what they like and dislike. The codex is like a journal and achievements at the same time. Every time you discover something new, such as lore or an important person, a codex entry is created. Every time this happens, you also get experience points. A quicker way to increase affection is with gifts. You can find or buy gifts that the companion likes and give it to them. There are also different ranks for gifts. The higher the rank, the more affection is gained.
One thing most people don’t realize about dialogue choices is that if you make a choice and later decide that was a bad choice (resulted in wrong alignment/affection increase or decrease), you can actually press the Esc key to cancel out of the conversation. Doing so will allow you to go through the conversation again. This can only be done before the conversation ends though. If you want to make sure you always make either dark or light side choices, there is an option in the preferences that you can turn on that will make symbols appear next to the dialogue choices.