Before I get down to the nitty gritty here, I would like to admit for all to hear that I was wrong about Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). Due to boring circumstances that I won’t go into, I wasn’t able to beta test this game and I admit that I went into this with a terrible attitude. I was expecting WoW.2 for the most part, and had my first experience with the game a few days early due to pre-order early access goodness. So far, I’m pleased to say that the game has exceeded my expectations. Because I’m only a few days in, I haven’t got a GREAT idea about how things work, but I feel I’ve got a pretty good general idea.
With that in mind, let’s get the ugly bit over with first – What I’m not liking so far:
Customer Support – If I had to grade them on this, they would get a big fat F. On the first of December, I put in a ticket regarding a change of email address that I couldn’t resolve through the website, and the only reason I went through the website was because there was a notice stating that the only issue the call center would be dealing with was account security questions. Fine. This wasn’t an urgent issue and I’m a pretty laid back person in general, but when I ask for assistance via email and web forms, I expect to receive a response in a timely manner. I don’t mind a day or two wait, but I received a reply at the two week mark and that’s not acceptable. It’s also not acceptable to get an automated response stating that due to patches since the last beta event, the company expects the majority of issues to be resolved – and then close my ticket. Never mind the fact that my issue had nothing to do with the beta event. Normally I’m pretty understanding, and I get that they’re swamped because everyone and their mother has been waiting to play this game. However, based on the day that we were allowed to sign up for beta as well as all of the beta events, BioWare should have been better prepared for the need of epic customer support in these early days.
Essentially Being Alone in the Galaxy – I’ve never played a game where communicating with friends and other players has seemed difficult. This may sound weird to you, but bare with me here. There are two major features of SWTOR: Cut scenes for EVERY NPC that you interact with and class specific quests. This might not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. When you have to listen to and watch a cut scene every time you pick up and turn in a quest, paying attention is required since you can’t pause the conversations. Trying to listen to what I need to do AND be on ventrilo while guildies are talking absolutely does not work. Class specific quests are a big part of this game and can be pretty time consuming. Players of different classes can help each other out with their class quests, but they’ve also got their own to do, and unless you’re around the same level and in the same zone, helping out is a pain in the ass. My experience so far has been that it’s difficult to just hang out and group with people if you’re trying to get things done because you need to be more focused than normal.
Dragging Abilities onto the Action Bar – This is REALLY starting to piss me off because it’s much more fiddly than it has any right to be. This SHOULD be a simple task, but if you don’t perfectly position an action on the action bar, the game decides that you must not want it that bad, will throw it away, and you must then go to the abilities panel to try and get it right on the next go. Today it took me four attempts to do this properly.
All in all, three non-major issues about a new game isn’t too bad. Now the fun stuff…what I’m liking:
Class Quests – This seems to be the meat and potatoes of the game so far, and I’m really enjoying it. There are general quests to do as well, but the class quests are pretty cool since they really create a bond and understanding between you and your character. You will also get summaries of your exploits upon every log in and they’re personalized, which is a cool little touch. Each class has areas (green doorways) that only they may enter, but if you have a friend of a different class with you, they can come in to help or observe.
Companions Rather Than Pets – Every class has a companion, and every companion works differently. In my case, my companion does moderate DPS, but heals like a freaking champion. In fact, the way that she heals is almost on par with a human player. Besides helping you out in battle, companions do your crafting for you. You can queue up five crafting jobs for them, or have them do one gathering mission at a time. Whatever the case may be, they are deployed for several minutes before coming back with the goods. They will also ask to speak with you privately if they’re concerned about something, will randomly comment on stuff, sell grey level items in your inventory (another deployment), etc. At this point, if I lost my companion I think that I’d be pretty bummed out.
Storyline & General Game Play – So far, the story lines have seemed fairly engrossing, and I think that’s partially down to cut scenes with every NPC that you interact with. Listening to them (tone of voice, etc.) and watching them is much more interesting than reading line upon line of text, and there seems to a point to everything you’re asked to do, even if the quests at their most basic level are the same types we’ve all come across: kill and/or collect. Most of the quest story lines follow a similar train of thought, so to speak, so there’s not a huge sense of disjointedness. The general game play is fun as well, even though I DO feel pretty overpowered. I don’t know if this was intentional, and I’m also sure that this is not down to my prowess or class choice. Also, the graphics are lovely, hold up in the world outside of cut scenes, and having your own ship to fly around the galaxy is cool…just make sure you have the gas money to do so.
More to come when I have more playtime under my belt. In the meantime, here are some videos I took: Some general game play, and a tour of the bounty hunter ship, the D5 Mantis (both in HD, just change the resolution). Enjoy!