Returning to SWTOR

Last month, I had the opportunity to take part in the early access for the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This would be the first time in over a year that I played the game, having sunk about 140 hours after it launched in December 2011 (plus a significant time spent during the beta and early access). I decided to play the game before I was scheduled to receive the expansion and the biggest shock to the system was my non-subscriber status. Tragically, SWTOR didn't perform as well as EA and Bioware hoped, and not even a year into the game's lifespan it went Free To Play. The devs assured that players could still experience the character stories and a few raids and dungeons would be blocked unless one became a subscriber. I didn't think much of this at first, but to actually encounter these roadblocks quickly reversed my position.

Thankfully, the Galactic Starfighter content kicked in, I received 60 days of game time, taking me back into the game proper and all was well. Originally, I had planned to spend the time just going through the new PvP space combat gameplay and calling it day. I did some pick up quests with my level 50 Sith Warrior for awhile until I experienced the itch to create a new character. Rolling an Imperial Agent, the floodgates opened and I was reminded why I really enjoyed SWTOR. It is true that the game offers a great deal of startling similarities to World of Warcraft, but I found that Old Republic did story so much better than Blizzard. Much of the quests are of "Go here and grab that" and "Get me X of Y" variety, but the reason for seeking out 10 Tauntaun scrotums were well reasoned and more often than not fit the planet's current conflict. Having the quest givers speak in full voiced helps quite a bit, I'd say. These individual quest stories are topped by your character's primary story arch. My first character was a Sith Warrior and I felt Bioware really nailed what it means to be a Sith. Because they reign as fanatics who place strength and power above all, there's a great opportunity to do some pretty heinous things to most characters. The best moment of the story, however, was being responsible for turning not one, but TWO Jedis to the Dark Side. Admittedly, I did feel a little bad about crushing their world views, but the direction of the scene and the choice of music was handled so well, it was hard not to feel triumph over my dark deed.

I'm enjoying my Imperial Agent character so far, though I've just finished operations on Hutta and have been tasked with returning to the Imperial capital world of Dromund Kaas for my next mission. The spy game has been handled well so far, with some good opportunities with double crossing various marks. It'll be interesting to see where it'll go from there.

41 Comments
42 Comments
Edited by Tom_omb

I played it for a while at launch. As a Smuggler liked the story content a lot, but my patience for the MMO parts wore thin. I was looking forward to playing it again once it went free to play just to experience that story, but I the character limit was a bummer. What I really wanted out of that game was a story driven Bioware game, and it's in there, but it's watered down with so much other crap I don't want to deal with. Maybe I'll work up the nerve to give it another shot, or maybe I'm just finished with MMOs.

Posted by BisonHero

Sorry if this is completely off topic, but I still think it's really interesting that WoW is like the Wii/Wii Sports of MMOs, in that it got a generation of people into MMOs, but otherwise the MMO genre isn't doing much better than it was before, as everybody is either still playing WoW, or has gotten back out of MMOs altogether.

By all accounts, SWTOR is a better WoW that has more interesting quests and far better writing, but overall interest in MMOs still just isn't that high, so SWTOR and other current MMOs are doing so-so in terms of subscribers. And people kinda only played WoW for so long because of this weird zeitgeist where all of their friends were playing it (again, like the Wii).

Posted by Loremiser

My brother and I were in the first car on the Swtor hype train, being huge fans of the original RPGs, and we both ended up having a similar experience to you. We played a huge amount of the game upon release, then just had to stop.

My brother isn't anywhere near as into games as I am, but the original Kotor is still one of his favorites, so he played through the Sith Warrior story, enjoyed it, but was pretty much done at that point. An MMO wasn't something he wanted to invest himself in, and with the story done he saw no reason to keep going at the time.

I ended up going a bit further, playing an Inquisitor and raiding a little while before getting bored of the content. MMOs, WoW in particular, are big parts of my gaming still, and the lack of endgame content slowly drove me back to Warcraft, which I still play today (albeit in 2-3 month increments with large breaks).

Though I occasionally kept my Swtor account subscribed in case something new seemed worth looking at, so when the time came for Galactic Starfighter, I ended up keeping my account going for the early access, and like you, it rejuvenated my Swtor experience for a while.

The PvP seemed very well made from both the videos Bioware released as well as the beta videos that I looked up on Youtube, so to get ahead of the curve I ended up investing some time into making a trooper to have characters worth playing on both ends. Luckily, right before they had released the access, they also had a week or two of double exp for the release and for Thanksgiving, and that really made a huge difference to me.

The biggest thing that I thought was a downer about the game were the first 15 levels. While the story is good and it starts the investment into your character, the big things about kotor were your companions and the ebon hawk, and the first 15 levels felt like they dragged on until you were finally given a bit more freedom upon getting your ship. So the experience boost allowed for you to invest time into the first planet, reach level 12 or so (as opposed to just making 10 most of the other times I had done some of the intro planets) and then doing your story missions and dungeons to hit 16-18 in time to leave the second planet.

But past that point, the story was very well done, especially with many I've heard on the swtor forums calling the trooper's story the second worst behind the Jedi consular, and I still go back to play it for an hour or so every few days. The vengeance thing allows for an interesting way of keeping your character as a Captain America-esque super soldier of good, or a sadistic killer who only wants to see people hunted down, with your growing party of squad mates stuck in the crossfire.

I decided to not attempt to get too invested again until the full release of the Starfighter PvP in February though. The mode is very well done, but with it being early access, there wasn't too much to see in the way of new stuff once you played the mode 20-30 matches or so. With the January payed access, and the February full access, they've said they're adding much more to the mode, so with that double boost of new things i'll be sure to check back in on what could potentially be the thing that finally makes me want to really enjoy MMO PvP, because it's the first time anything has made me want to.

Edited by soulcake

The agent has a few good story missions i really enjoyed.

Posted by librariangmr

@bisonhero:

I think you bring up a good point, actually. Before SWTOR, WoW was the only MMO I played mostly because everyone was talking about it. I thought it was pretty fun, but looking back I wonder if I thought it was fun because everyone else was SO into it. Old Republic has a lot more going for it that made it feel less of a slog than WoW, but take those away and it would be pretty much the same thing.

That said, Warcraft did do some interesting things later on. I got back in the game during the Cataclysm expansion to play the Worgen character and was really impressed with the phasing stuff. However once I got through the race's opening moments, it just a bit too much like plain old WoW - minus the new and updated world map, of course. Galactic Starfighter is a nice addition to TOR and has potential for some cool stuff later on.

Posted by librariangmr

@loremiser: I'm right there with you with PvP. I am no good at it. The warzones I found myself in just seemed like a real big messy and confusing melee. Using my abilities and such against AI characters is one thing but against the living? That's something else!

The type of PvP in Galactic Starfighter is much, MUCH easier to get my head around. I just wish it allowed for joystick support. I think I'd be a much better pilot than with the mouse and keyboard config. My only real complaint is that it feels like you need to play (and win, ideally) A LOT before you can really invest in your equipment and build up a really decent fighter.

Posted by shatteringlast

This has only made me want to play SWTOR again. Jerk.

Posted by believer258

Why did you need Tauntaun scrotums?

I signed up to play the F2P version of TOR, started the download, and then stopped the download halfway and never tried it. A lot of people seemed sour on that game, and even more seemed sour on the way it handled F2P content.

Posted by insane_shadowblade85

This reminds me that I should return to Star Wars The Old Republic, I have like 6 or more characters that I haven't even finished the story line with.

Edited by CornBREDX

I played it recently again as well.

I feel the game still lacks anything that keeps me playing for any significant amount of time past a month.

I don't know what it is, maybe the maps feeling small so the world itself feels tiny, or the tedious fetch quests that permeate the game but no amount of good story telling and voice work makes the game very fun to play for long stretches. It is an ok game to go back to, though, for short amounts of time.

Posted by Loremiser

@loremiser: I'm right there with you with PvP. I am no good at it. The warzones I found myself in just seemed like a real big messy and confusing melee. Using my abilities and such against AI characters is one thing but against the living? That's something else!

The type of PvP in Galactic Starfighter is much, MUCH easier to get my head around. I just wish it allowed for joystick support. I think I'd be a much better pilot than with the mouse and keyboard config. My only real complaint is that it feels like you need to play (and win, ideally) A LOT before you can really invest in your equipment and build up a really decent fighter.

The problem with people PvP in any MMO to me at least, is that there is stratagy involved in group things (Arenas in WoW come to mind) but in things such as warzones/bgs/etc, it's the character who is geared up with PvP items and is flailing their mouse around you who is doing the best job in most occasions, which kind of sucks to me :/

Yea, from what i've heard, is that you mainly have to decide early on which ship you want to invest in, and stick with it, or else if you want to swap out to something else then you are waaaaay behind at the moment. I ended up playing around with the gunfighter (the sniping ship if i remember the name correctly) and because of it, my scout fighter is lacking, to the point where I could straight up lose fights to other people on the grounds that they had most of the passive upgrades. I eventually decided that one characters for gunships and the others for scouts, so at the worst case I can just swap characters when I feel like doing a different role, but it takes a bit away from the switch between death option, since it makes you feel kind of cemented.

And the mouse/keyboard isn't horrible, most dog fighter controls scare the crap out of me so I never involve myself in them lol.

Posted by librariangmr

@believer258: Oh, you know...for...stuff. Yeah, stuff. Imperial stuff........

Posted by Hayt

It's seems pretty good for a free mmo but playing it I kept thinking that it'll likely be the last kotor game we see and that just washed the fun away like thinking of monday on the weekend

Posted by rmanthorp

Always intend to get back to this game. It was fun! Good read man, the PvP was never really my thing but this makes me want to check it out again.

Moderator
Edited by danmcn12

@believer258 said:

Why did you need Tauntaun scrotums?

I signed up to play the F2P version of TOR, started the download, and then stopped the download halfway and never tried it. A lot of people seemed sour on that game, and even more seemed sour on the way it handled F2P content.

Eh, it's not that bad. It's just they force you to eventually spend money in strange ways. I think people felt like they were getting ripped off. I'd try it myself first if I were you. I've stopped trusting people's opinions on F2P when I heard people continuously praise LOTRO's f2p model yet then turn around and bash KOTORs. Both are done poorly and not truly F2P, but rather alternate payment schemes.

Posted by Veektarius

I resubbed a couple weeks ago (after trying to play F2P and deciding I'd rather not deal with the hassles involved). First off, I was surprised at how little the game had changed in a year.

1) TOR launched as a very polished product, I'll grant you, but it is virtually the same experience thirteen months later (aside from the microtransaction elements) and it really gives me the impression that EA is cutting its losses and not investing significant amounts of money in the product from this point forward. (Disclaimer: I have not yet played the expansion content, which would really serve as the best measure of how many corners they're cutting)

2) As a consequence of point 1, my feelings on TOR are also pretty much unchanged. The story and companion systems are great innovations on the genre. The stories are well-written, and considering there are 8 of them to go through, TOR ends up being worth going back to despite the lack of changes.

3) The two aforementioned systems make TOR the most solitary MMO experience in existence. It has great potential as a duo experience with two players challenging themselves to take on 4-man content with their companions out, but I've never really been in a position to try this. Essentially, what it comes down to is a solo game, where at one point on each planet you'll search around for a pick-up group to complete the area's few party-sized challenges.

4) The quality of group content, particularly in terms of flashpoints, quickly degrades as you level up. In fact, no later flashpoint measures up to the intricacy of the first in terms of integrating branching pathways and moral decisions.

5) The biggest flaw with TOR is the amount that it tries to brake your progress with sidequests and unconscionable numbers of trash mobs leading up to each quest objective. I'm thankful that this time around I chose a scoundrel character who can stealth past them and cut completion time by at least half, while suffering virtually no problems in terms of leveling. When you consider that the game offers the most reason to roll new alts (up to eight times) of any MMO out there, the economic justification for doing so seems questionable.

Posted by librariangmr

3) The two aforementioned systems make TOR the most solitary MMO experience in existence. It has great potential as a duo experience with two players challenging themselves to take on 4-man content with their companions out, but I've never really been in a position to try this. Essentially, what it comes down to is a solo game, where at one point on each planet you'll search around for a pick-up group to complete the area's few party-sized challenges.

You make a really good point. I almost prefer the near solitary experience with TOR. Trying to get groups together in WoW, especially for my Warlock's lvl 60 mount quest, was like pulling teeth from a wolverine. The only time I really needed someone else's help was for a boss or I wanted to do a Flashpoint. I never felt compelled to do any of the Heroics or the Flashpoints. I think I only did three Flashpoints and felt gipped because they weren't nearly as exciting or interesting as the first one (which received the most attention during the game's development). I'm challenging myself this time to explore the social end of the game more, perhaps join a Guild or do more PUG stuff.

Edited by Wampa1

@veektarius: Point five is what essentially made me stop playing after 20 hours or so, it just made me wish the zones were smaller with zero mobs at which point it may as well be a single player only game.

Posted by Funkydupe

I still welcome a new Star Wars MMO. It is a great universe and it should be possible to make a successful MMO, less linear and story heavy perhaps allowing Players to Create Their Own stories through actual exploration and less hand-holding. Who knows what the future will bring. Hopefully I'll not be dead of old age before a new attempt at a Star Wars massively multiplayer experience has been attempted.

Posted by Veektarius

@veektarius said:

3) The two aforementioned systems make TOR the most solitary MMO experience in existence. It has great potential as a duo experience with two players challenging themselves to take on 4-man content with their companions out, but I've never really been in a position to try this. Essentially, what it comes down to is a solo game, where at one point on each planet you'll search around for a pick-up group to complete the area's few party-sized challenges.

You make a really good point. I almost prefer the near solitary experience with TOR. Trying to get groups together in WoW, especially for my Warlock's lvl 60 mount quest, was like pulling teeth from a wolverine. The only time I really needed someone else's help was for a boss or I wanted to do a Flashpoint. I never felt compelled to do any of the Heroics or the Flashpoints. I think I only did three Flashpoints and felt gipped because they weren't nearly as exciting or interesting as the first one (which received the most attention during the game's development). I'm challenging myself this time to explore the social end of the game more, perhaps join a Guild or do more PUG stuff.

Just FYI, joining a guild will get you bonus xp, which is why I did it.

Posted by Lyisa

Sorry if this is completely off topic, but I still think it's really interesting that WoW is like the Wii/Wii Sports of MMOs, in that it got a generation of people into MMOs, but otherwise the MMO genre isn't doing much better than it was before, as everybody is either still playing WoW, or has gotten back out of MMOs altogether.

By all accounts, SWTOR is a better WoW that has more interesting quests and far better writing, but overall interest in MMOs still just isn't that high, so SWTOR and other current MMOs are doing so-so in terms of subscribers. And people kinda only played WoW for so long because of this weird zeitgeist where all of their friends were playing it (again, like the Wii).

I know this is weird, but the genre is actually doing a lot better than it was before WoW came out. Issues of scope not withstanding, there are a lot more people interested in the genre than when very few of them in the west broke 500k subscribers.

The biggest hurdle facing the genre more than interest is resource investment and expectation. SWTOR had the expectation of reaching a couple million subscribers and their investment reflected that. The idea, however, that WoW players are MMO players is really weird because only a fraction of them would ever play another MMO. Looking at other MMOs like FF14 and comparing the interest in that to say, interest in Everquest and ff11, it would be hard to say it hasn't grown since those times.

Online
Edited by BisonHero

@lyisa: Fair enough. I was largely going on anecdote in my post. The 3 types of MMO players I know are:

-People who still play WoW

-People who used to play WoW, but now play no MMOs

-People who have never played WoW but play LotRO, because they are huge LotR fanatics

I basically don't think I've ever personally known an "MMO person" at any point in my life. The way Dave Snider and some of his cohorts (Andy B, I think? Or some other Andy?) would talk about migrating from MMO to MMO just sounds completely alien and insane to me, because I've never met anyone who thinks that is actually worth doing, instead of investing a bunch of time in one you actually like a lot.

Posted by Veektarius

@bisonhero: If you're ever in an MMO open beta or join an MMO during the first week of play and read the general chat, you'll see them in all their legions.

Edited by BisonHero

@veektarius: Is there some ur-MMO that they keep wanting each new MMO to be, and then giant surprise, it's just a WoW clone? Do they all want it to be Ultima or EQ or AC or DAoC or something?

I just get the sense that they're chasing some impossible dream and there's probably some old MMO they like a lot that they should just go back to playing and/or find a private server for or something.

Posted by librariangmr

@bisonhero: One MMO I thought was pretty interesting at first was Tera, only because the combat system was a bit more than just the clickclickclick variety. I thought the rest of the game was dull as nails, though. Then again, its so easy to make a WoW clone because that game really took off.

Since I am relatively out of touch with the MMO scene, have there been any other game post WoW that tried to do something different? How was Conan? And LOTR for that matter? Star Trek is F2P, was that worth looking into?

Posted by Veektarius

@bisonhero: I don't think there's any one answer to what you're asking. I think I might have been one of these mythical players at a time, and I know some others who are, so I can tell you that there are some people who want some very specific things and there are some people who just want an intangible experience that's unlikely to ever be repeated.

One group of the former are girls. Maybe they aren't all girls, but some of them are, and what they want is a good extension of the non-game elements. They don't care about progression as much as they care about player housing, and there are some games that sort of scratch that itch, like EQ2 or LoTR, but those are getting a bit long in the tooth. Another group are the 'hardcore'/'old school' people who want something that's hard. I have some sympathy for that. In most MMOs, you have to go out of your way to find a challenge for yourself before you're max level, or you have to rely on PVP.

I think that the group who aren't going to find what they're looking for are people who experienced the magic of their first MMO, discovering the world, exploring, seeing an item they didn't know could drop and going 'wow'. For some reason, in games that are too similar, it's just hard to feel that more than once, even if you don't specifically know what's coming. I guess it's like you've seen the wizard behind the curtain and you keep trying to forget he's there.

@librariangmr: Star Trek might be worth trying for you. The ship upgrade paths can be addictive in a way. Personally I think it's only fun with friends. Neverwinter is kind of actiony, like Tera, though more of a hybrid. Can't speak to much else.

Edited by DonChipotle

My issue with TOR is that Alderaan is in it. That is the worst thing in that game.

Posted by Encephalon

Well, glad you're enjoying yourself. I actually fired it up yesterday, though only for long enough to realize that I wasn't going to run the endgame treadmill, and I loved my Agent so much that rolling an alt would probably just be a letdown. Bye again, TOR.

I would probably jump back in if they ever put out another chapter of my class story, but probably only until that content dried up. Not that I expect them to ever invest that heavily in solo story content ever again.

Posted by Aetheldod

The only thing I dont like is havng to do the heroic missions to get good loot :/ , im not a person who like to rely on other , yes I know this is a mmo but , Im not very sociable D:

Posted by HelicopterSpy

I think I played like 40 hours or so and had a pretty okay time, I'm just not that into MMOs, so never subbed past the free 30 days. I played an Imperial Agent which was cool because you could kinda do it all. Then when the game went Free-To-Play, I jumped back into only to find my secondary hotbars were gone and I was going to have to pay to get them back. So I could no longer do it all.

I have nothing against dropping money into free-to-play games, just ask Riot. But the fact that they took away something I really enjoyed and put it behind a paywall really rubbed me the wrong way.

Posted by scrappypixels

Not to intrude but i used to play a bit of this a while back but never really got anywhere. After reading all this I'm thinking of re-starting it but with a new character, is it worth the time and effort? Cheers!

Edited by Aetheldod

@scrappypixels: I would think so but have in mind that there is a lot of stuff behind paywalls

Posted by scrappypixels

@aetheldod: To an annoying extent or is it something that if i was playing more casually i wouldn't notice too much?

Posted by Veektarius

@scrappypixels: I would think so but have in mind that there is a lot of stuff behind paywalls

For example, you get speeders (mounts) later, fewer inventory slots, can't equips certain mods for your gear, can't get rested xp... you have to be really dedicated to F2P to play the game that way without getting fed up and dropping your 15 bucks.

Edited by librariangmr
Edited by librariangmr

@scrappypixels: I would recommend subbing (or getting game cards) if possible. You can play the game free, but it takes away from the experience.

If you're looking for a good character to roll, again I thought the Sith Warrior story was pretty damn awesome and goes to some dark places :)

Posted by fox01313

Ditto on going back as I needed some kind of pc mmo like swtor to play while listening to podcasts. Glad I bought the game at launch as it at least put me between free to play & subscriber for a few nice perks along with the lvl30 agent I had. At least now with the achievements & other activities they at least fill the game with some ways of getting in-game store money without subscribing if just testing the waters again.

Posted by ZGoon

As someone who has no friends to play mmos with, the old republic is a really fun big single player rpg with some multiplayer parts. I play it kinda like a mix between kotor and dark souls, only grouping up for flashpoints or heroics. I don't really join guilds or anything. Having said this if this wasn't a star wars game I probably would have zero interest. I just love being a roguish smuggler dude right now. The only story I have played fully is the imp agent and it was very awesome.

Posted by The_Ruiner

I had fun in the early levels because i could ignore the tedious MMO stuff and play it like a Bioware game. The most fun I had was with a friend of mine playing our story quests and flashpoints. But eventually he fell off and the grindy MMO parts became the majority of the content and the story bits were fewer and increasingly far between.

Posted by librariangmr

@the_ruiner: Agreed. I don't think I ever encountered a Flashpoint that was as entertaining and engaging as the Endar Spire. Even some of the Sith Warrior story moments were "eh," like Hoth and Tatooine. I'm willing to give Alderaan a pass only because of how evil you can be with the story quest line.

Posted by Brodehouse

A long grindy single player game with an always-on multiplayer lobby and my character's actions contextualized in a massive setting is kind of exactly what I want from MMOs. I liked Maj. Catherine Huxley and her various adventures, and being able to drop what I'm doing and do a group mission with all the teamwork and synergy of party based RPGs... I like that.