When it comes to bandwagons, I always feel it’s best to jump on rather than get run over (or fall off in the case of that other wagon) so after Kristalys started the ball rolling and others have followed suit, I’m going to give my own thoughts of the first three months playing SWTOR. As a bonus, there will be some poor quality screenshots thrown in as well.
I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I’m loving SWTOR so far and, importantly, I am still having fun playing it. Pretty sure I say that in every post! I’d be lying if I said it’s been a turbulence free journey and there are some disappointments I need to mention (although they may be a little surprising.)
More than any other game I’ve played, I feel a real affinity for my characters which I put down to both the voice acting and the class story. I realised this early on – before the game even launched – when I was deliberating whether to make Rouf a smuggler or a trooper. It came to light even more when I created a BH. Back in SWG, I had a Zabrak Bounty Hunter who I quite enjoyed playing so I figured he’d be reincarnated in SWTOR too. But 5 or 6 levels in and I didn’t feel comfortable. A quick re-roll as a female human and suddenly I had a character I liked and believed in. She’s only level 16 though as I’m currently spending all my time playing this lady:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love playing my Trooper. I also love the fact that she’s a (Jennifer Hale voiced) woman too. And hard as nails. I finished Chapter One of the Trooper story last night and, honestly, I thought it was intense. I was even willing to accept Jorgen’s -1 of shame for doing what she thought was the right and honourable thing to do. (He got a promotion later though which made up for it… and then there was the small matter of post-op flirting that happened on the ship. I don’t know why it happened – it wasn’t in the plan. The character is writing itself, honest!)
Why do I like PVP? This is a good starting point:
I like it when I win. I also like it when I feel I’m not a pushover – the main difference between the Scoundrel and the Vanguard I’ve found so far is the Vanguard can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone. Stealth really ain’t my style! I like it even more that I’m really enjoying PVP which surprises me as I’ve always been a PvE carebear at heart. (I don’t enjoy griefing which is why I avoid playing on PvP servers). I still stand by my initial thoughts on PvP that I think the Warzones are really well designed – or at least, they give me reason to play. Watching the ships fall from the sky in Civil War still hasn’t got old (even if it’s ours) and harpooning enemies into the acid/fire in Huttball will always put a smile on my face.
I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about Space Combat – so much so that I’ve started several posts about the topic and have yet to publish any. Generally, I come down in favour of it because it’s a welcome diversion and fun mini-game (with the bonus side effect of being a useful way to earn XP and credits).
It’s almost pointless me talking about World Design because you know what I’m going to say. But my normal effusiveness has to be tempered by a feeling that the worlds could be more open. By that, I mean that the way the planets are designed, you feel almost funneled or rail-roaded through to your next location and that your freedom to wander is artifically limited. Then again, for reasons I’ll get to, I have to admit that I have yet to fully explore planets like Tatooine or Alderaan and I’ve barely scratched the surface on datacron hunting on any world after Coruscant or Dromund Kaas.
But although each planet – the equivalent of a zone in WoW or LOTRO – can be huge, they’re seperated by having to visit your ship and fly to the next location. In LOTRO, you can ride from Forochel to the Gap of Rohan in one go with no loading screens and in WoW you could fly from Winterspring to Uldum taking any route you want and the only loading screens you see are when you swap continents. In some ways, the very nature of the game has to make it be like this. Each planet has to feel like a planet, not an adjacent zone on the same world. The design, look and feel of the worlds, however, is great. I’m a sucker for scale and the worlds and architecture feel big and impressive. This is another topic I’ll have to come back to.
Story & Quests
Story was Bioware’s big selling point for SWTOR and I’m more than happy with it. I’ve read people calling it cookie-cutter and predictable and perhaps, from a Kill Ten Rats perspective, they are. But so far it hasn’t bothered me that much. What I do like is that most of the quests feel that they’re important enough for my character to do (or, in some cases where they’re a bit benign, at least demand money for). It’s also useful that some of the quests can be refused in dialogue – something I’ve done a couple of times in a fit of pseudo-RP. I’m sure that it’s not 100% of the case, but generally I feel that the quests fit in with the overall arena of the SWTOR
world universe galaxy and aren’t too demeaning.
Compare, for example, to some of the quests my Champion had to do in LOTRO. In Evendim, for example, there’s a quest chain where you have to prove your loyalty to the Rangers (because Aragorn, leader of the Rangers and future King of middle earth, had sent you there for help). One of the quests requires you to heroically sort out pottery pieces. At the foot of the quest giver. I kid you not – the text is
‘You have recovered quite a few artifacts and bits of pottery from the shores of the lake, Rouf, so now we need to sort out the valuable pieces from the rest.
‘I have been separating the pieces I have collected by size on each of these mats, so if you do the same I would appreciate it. Then I can examine them easily for clues to their history.
‘It should not take long.’
Honestly, my initial, in character response would have been “Fuck you, Gunga-din! You’re the big hard warrior who’s too lazy to go collect the pieces yourself and now you can’t be arsed to sort them out, even though they’re at your feet!”
The quests leading up to that one are equally as dumb. Go to Rivendell, talk to the noble Lord Aragorn. He asks you to go and ask Elrond about the location of really important stone so that he can reforge the really important sword, Narsil. This is really important. And he’s asking me to be involved. That’s great… but if it’s so important and he’s really important and Elrond is really important then why the fuck isn’t he asking the elf the really fucking important question himself. Okay, I’m heroic but I’m really not important enough to be running messages between those guys like they’re two lovers who have had a tiff and aren’t talking to each other. Seriously, where’s the respect?
I’m glad I got that out of my system.
Anyway, back to SWTOR. As I was saying, I like the way that the quest make you feel well regarded and generally you’re being asked to do things which the quest giver can’t actually do themselves. I also like the way that the class story quests make you feel special. I don’t much care for the Jedi playstyle (I’m sure it will grow on me) but I have to say that forging my lightsaber definitely gave me a bit of a flutter.
The Dark Side
But the last three months has also had some disappointments. The first of these is Alderaan. Now it’s not that I dislike Alderaan, its quests or its look – I’m a bit of a sucker for the verdant pastures and snow capped peaks. It’s very… Alpine. But my laptop doesn’t like Alderaan at all and regularly freezes. I have to resort to running SWTOR on another, graphic-card-less PC and trying to get off the planet at 3 FPS. So I haven’t been able to properly take in Alderaan at all. I’ve had similar issues on Balmorra too – although disabling SLI and using one gfx card seemed to help enough to let Rouf complete his class quest. I should be resolving this soon with the acquisition of a new PC (cost permitting) and then, perhaps, I’ll be able to properly appreciate the worlds and be able to take screenshots more regularly (another side effect of the issues my laptop has with the game).
Another disappointment is that the shine of the game has gone off for a lot of people and I cannot think of a way to impart my enthusiasm and love of the game to them. A lot of my guild disappeared off to play Mass Effect 3 and very few seem to be coming back. The last couple of nights it’s been either me or me and one or two others (as opposed to a month ago when there was regularly 15 to 20 people online). There’s a thread in my guild forums called “Problems, Issues & Concerns” and the overall impression I get is that no-one, bar myself and a couple of others, wants to play the game any more because… well, I’m not sure why. They just don’t feel like logging in any more. That is their perogative, of course but it leaves me wondering what I’m going to do. Update 1.2 may bring a few people back but in the echo chamber of a forum filled with negative feelings towards the game, I don’t feel positive about the guilds future.
The last disappointment I had is one of those clever “ha ha, not really a disappointment after all, is it?” ones – I just don’t have enough time to play. So far, I’ve concentrated on two main characters on the Republic side, a Smuggler and a Trooper. I have a Jedi Knight that I’m levelling in a duo (providing my levelling partner doesn’t decide to stop playing entirely) and I also have a level 16 Mercenary and a level 14 Assassin (and a few place/nameholders for the other classes). My trooper might go on hold so that I can play on the Imperial characters a bit – another weird thing about this game is that I don’t feel the partisanship I did while playing WoW. In that game, I was Horde For Life and never enjoyed playing Alliance characters (not even enough to finish the Draenei starting areas which, by all accounts, was a great experience). But I want to play both sides in SWTOR and I’ve enjoyed what little I’ve played so far. I just haven’t got enough hours in the day to play them all.
So, that’s my lot. Well, it’s not – but I realise that I could write a lengthy post on just about all of these areas (and may well do at some point). The tl;dr is that I’m still loving the game, I’m having fun and there is more than enough content in the game to keep me going for a long, long time. That’s all I ever wanted from the game to tell the truth – something to amuse and entertain me. As soon as it stops doing that, I’ll stop playing but I don’t think it’s going to be for a while yet. In the meantime, I’ve got princesses to rescue, armies to defeat and planets to liberate before I can fly off into the sunset.