Star Wars: The Old Republic — Second Opinions


Several weeks ago IGN put up its review of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Nick Kolan liked it. A lot. But he is a dumb idiot (according to the comments), thus we nerdlings have compiled what we thought of the BioWare MMO as well, so that we could give you – the fanged, venomous maw of the Internet – a broader sense of the game.

Maybe it was because I knew I’d be addicted, but I really was opposed to Star Wars: The Old Republic early on. So many of the early demos I saw of it made it seem like “just another MMO,” but in reality it’s that and so much more. Sure, it has the typical fetch quests and enemy grind that have been around since the genre started, but on top of that is layered BioWare quality storytelling. Storytelling that’s so good, in fact, that I’ve rolled alternate characters. That’s common practice for many players, but something I’ve never done until it came to The Old Republic. The intro stories are fantastic, and make my character feel like my character. I agonize over morale choices, and worry about whether or not my companions love me. I guess in the end The Old Republic puts just enough of a BioWare touch on the genre that I’m hooked all over again. God dammit.

Played a Bounty Hunter (Mercenary)

I’d like to preface what’s about to come from my fingers with a disclaimer: Anyone that already loves MMOs and Star Wars can entirely disregard me. Pretend I don’t exist, or read the following words with an exasperated facepalm and a trace sentiment of self-righteous contempt. I’ve never before played an MMO. Think that’s outrageous? I didn’t even watch Return of the Jedi until a couple of years ago.

Like everything else I don’t understand, MMOs scare me. They’re big and complicated and filled with other people, and I once heard some sad man shot himself over the misfortune of his WoW world and surely that all means MMOs aren’t for me. Still, I wanted to give Star Wars: The Old Republic a shot. I dinged Level 15 last time I logged in.

Yeah, MMOs — even ones about Star Wars — aren’t for me. I prefer more linearity and less dialogue. I like real time, mechanical combat, not number-crunching dice rolls. I’m not surprised by these elements of SWTOR, but I am surprised by another thing: It’s not scary at all.

SWTOR starts easily and gradually, introducing the player gently into what turns out is a massive, massive galaxy. I never really felt lost or overwhelmed until after I’d left Korriban, and that’s about the time I was ready to start feeling lost and overwhelmed. The game is big and complicated, no question. But it’s far from scary to a total neophyte like me. That must be a success.

Played a Sith Warrior (Juggernaut)

Overall, after some 30ish hours of play with a character in the late-20s, I do end up liking this mash-up of KOTOR and WOW. As much as I roll my eyes at quests that ask me to collect krayt pelts or become an interplanetary FedEx courier, there is enough Star Wars lore and production values to mitigate that feeling. I haven’t played every Flashpoint, but Black Talon is a damn fine introduction to the “major instanced group story” — I love how the final boss of that encounter gets prefaced by a cool back-and-forth dialogue scene. Sure, that character apes the “You shall not pass” mentality of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, but I remember that boss encounter more than how someone like Herod just yells at the air before attacking you.

Though, as solid and refined as the MMO gameplay is, I’m a bit tired of that formula. I know it works, but I was hoping for something more or newer. As neat as the classes are, they still fall into the trap of the Holy Trinity Featuring Tank, Healer, and DPS. BioWare breaks out of that box a little bit, but I was hoping that the studio was more daring in defining, rather than refining, MMO concepts.

Played a Sith Warrior (Marauder)

As a previous World of Warcraft addict (2 years sober now), I felt like I’d relapsed the moment I started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I mean, here I was again, drunk off an insatiable need to get “just one more level.” Luckily, I shook off the auto-pilot leveling mode relatively quickly simply because the beginning of the game struck me as awfully boring. Having played plenty of WoW in its heyday, the initial 20 levels in SW:TOR were a snooze fest.

That Star Wars: The Old Republic is a World of Warcraft clone with lightsabers is not an uncommon saying around the internet. Many SW:TOR devotees balk at the comparison, but the parallels between the two are plain as day. However, what SW:TOR does do perfectly is blend WoW’s successful MMO formula with BioWare’s aptitude for story-telling and immersion.

I appreciate all the voice-acting, but I honestly often found myself skipping the spoken dialogue simply because I read a lot faster. The story elements are great for people who are interested in a solo MMO experience. Plus, even lone wolves get Companion characters that fill helpful combat roles, allowing them to complete most quests by themselves.

I’m still hoping to see mods soon. I can’t wait to be able to customize my user interface, as the default UI just doesn’t do it for me in its current state.

If you’re curious about the fervor behind MMORPGs, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a great gateway to the MMO space. Plus, if there’s something you don’t understand, you can simply go to the IGN Star Wars: The Old Republic wiki for your information fix. Smiley face.

Played a Sith Inquisitor (Assassin)

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