Monday, January 2, 2012

SWTOR Mid-Game Impressions

This is the third set of impressions that I've done for Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you want to check out an overview take a look at my beta impressions write-up and if you want to read about, or watch, early game gameplay then check out my last impressions. This impressions is all about mid-game, which is level's 20-40 of this MMO. The two big areas for these levels are Tattoine and Alderaan, both of which you should be familiar with if you are fan of Star Wars.

This is not my character, but is indeed Tattoine

Tattoine was the first planet that required the use of a speeder, the games mount that you get at level twenty-five for every class. It costs a hefty amount of money to get a speeder, of which there are various cosmetic options, but exploring Tattoine without one would be disastrous. Like earlier areas of the game the developers did a great job lumping quests together, making it so you rarely had to venture through areas more than once. Tattoine highlighted one of the growing annoyances with the game, Heroic Quests. While regular quests can be done by one person or four, Heroic Quests require you to have a specific number of people in order to have any chance of success. The story through heroic quests is fine but they are essentially the same as regular quests, they don't have a heftier weight story wise nor do they provide rewards worthy of the trouble and time it takes to complete them. They are of course entirely optional and early on in the game they are great to do but I've noticed the the higher level you get the harder these quests to do and now only are they more difficult but they also are far lengthy. Tattoine delivered one of the least enjoyable quests I've ever done, a quest that said go into this cave with a full party and kill fifty elite sand people, FIFTY! So not only did this very long quest have a boring uninteresting objective but it was also a very repetitive objective. After an hour of doing this quest we finally finished it and got our meagre rewards, rewards that were barely better than many normal one person quests.

In comparison to earlier Heroic Quests the mid-game one's feel hardly worth it and the higher level I get the more I find that are uninteresting. One of the major problems with quests in general, by the time you get to around level twenty-five, is that you either are leveling too quickly or the planet is set at too low a level. Alderaan seemed to correct this issue once I got to the last section of it but with all of Tattoine and the beginning of Alderaan we were always several levels above everything. This issue also harkins back to the problems with Heroic Quests because by this point you don't really want to do any unnecessary quests in order to try to expedite yourself to an area that is actually your level. So Heroic Quests are almost always tossed aside, even if they are interesting or look rewarding. I'm sure this isn't true of everyone but I'm fairly certain that most people between level 20-32 are far ahead of the level curve.

Well that was quite a lot about quests, now onto some specifics. Despite my complaints Tattoine has been one of my favorite planets so far. It is full of adorable Jawa's to murder, Sand People to hate and Womp Rats to get ambushed by. One of the most interesting areas is the area displayed in the screenshot above, the Dune Sea. This area is splendidly large, taking you quite some time to cross from one side to the other. Amidst the Dune Sea is broken down Jawa Carriers, crashed spaceships, sand people camps, Imperial camps and Republic Camps. This area is one of the first area's in the game that almost seems to encourage PVP. Tattoine in general is open pvp between Republic and Imperial players but in the Dune Sea both factions have quests. There are several areas on the next planet, Alderaan, that are like this as well but most of the time you have to go a little out of your way to run into the bulk of each factions playerbase. As soon as you finish your class quest on Tattoine you are off to Alderaan.

With my Sith Warrior Alderaan has been one of the most interesting planets. Not only is it a gorgeous planet, mixing snowy mountain tops and colorful forests, but it also has a full scale civil war going on. Most of the side quests here are pretty enjoyable since they involve battling whatever House you are hired to fight against, if you are Imperial you are doing everything to help out House Thul, a House that supports the Empire. The other exciting aspect of this planet has to do with the class quests. Even for other classes I've heard that their class quests come to a sort of climax by the end of this planet. Throughout the majority of the game, as a Sith Warrior, I've been looking for a Jedi Padawn and her master. Right after Alderaan I immediately set off to confront them both, a glorious confrontation that brings the full weight of your past actions (light/dark) into the forefront. The confrontation is an example of why SWTOR is a unique and exciting MMO. It cares heavily about your characters story and gives you many choices to make it your own.It also helps that companions, crew skills, conversations and combat is all well done, but I will still always wish for a more interesting combat system that doesn't rely so much on the well defined MMORPG combat system. Check out this video of two sections of Alderaan, with my Sith Warrior.

SWTOR may look like a typical MMORPG but it absolutely isn't. The farther I get into the game the more I am pleased with my decision to purchase it. I have no idea what end-game will hold but I can only hope that the story continues to get better. I am thoroughly pleased by how they handled light side/dark side, making it not only possible to be a light side Sith but they make it feel just as significant as the more common route. Will bring further impressions once I get closer to end-game, which may take a while now that Christmas break has passed. Thanks for reading. 

 -Written by Sean Cargle


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