[SWTOR] My first thoughts on beta

swtorbetachars

((A sith warrior and jedi consular from my beta weekend – does this robe make my bum look big? YES!!))

After playing a bit (*coff*) this weekend, I’m very positive about the game.  Star Wars: The Old Republic is a well executed themepark style MMO in the WoW mould –  I’m looking forwards to playing the game when it goes live, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Anyhow, these thoughts are based purely on low level play of a few classes, so doesn’t represent much of the game. I also played a flashpoint (Black Talon) with some friends, which was good fun (there were three of us so we used a companion to fill out the group). Fun is the keyword here, because I had lots.

The Good

  • The fully voiced questlines are amazing. I predict that the PC voice actors in particular will become fan favourites at conventions, if they aren’t already. (Grey DeLisle as female bounty hunter is awesome.) I also liked the music.
  • I enjoyed the cut scene excepts. They aren’t really cut scenes in the classical sense, because they often frame conversations in which you can interacts. They occur in solo questlines, in group quests, and in instances. If you have the patience of a 2 year old on a sugar rush you will hate them.
  • Combat is snappy. Classes felt fun to play, not far from the WoW mould but fun.
  • Planets are large and the locations are very immersive. It doesn’t feel tiny, there’s room to run around.
  • The light side/ dark side choices are good fun. Group conversation options in instances/ flashpoints also work really well. Everyone picks their option and the game rolls to see who answers for the group. Everyone gets darkside/ light side points based on their choices. We found it amusing when the one lightside/ darkside group member got to make the choice, rather than irritating.
  • There are group quests in starting areas but you don’t have to do them, or you can always come back later. However, area chat was full of people looking to group, and that gave the beta a very old school feel for me. I put this as a positive because I did try some PUGs and had a lot of fun. Plus at the end of the PUG you get the option to add the other people to your friends list, which was a nice touch.
  • I liked all the classes that I tried: Sith Warrior, Bounty Hunter, and Jedi Consular.
  • Darth Baras, who you’ll meet as a Sith Warrior, may have the sexiest voice in the game. I recommend everyone plays one for a few levels just to meet him :P

The Bad

  • The main bugs we found this weekend were one which meant you couldn’t log out and log in again as another alt (they fixed this one on Sat), lots of disconnects while in a flashpoint which meant we couldn’t finish it together, and other bugs around logging out. There probably were more minor ones but those will need to be addressed.
  • Lots of running around. I don’t mind this, it just makes the game feel a bit more old school. Some people will find it annoying.
  • Minor clipping issues.
  • While the map is great and quest directions are usually fine, there isn’t a lot of instruction around game elements such as bind points etc or how to find them. This may be annoying for less experienced players. For anyone else, you can just set the map to show them.
  • I don’t have a lot of bad things to say about SWTOR because I was happy that the game met my expectations, plus I only played a few classes to level 10 so I’ve barely scratched the surface. I heard comments that some classes were associated with more fun storylines than others, but that may depend on taste as well as objective appraisal.
  • Screenshots weren’t working. I had to ctrl-prt and then tab out to get the ones on this post.

Some class thoughts:

Sith Warrior plays a lot like the WoW Warrior. Force charge replaces charge (it’s actually more like heroic leap on a short cooldown), saber ward replaces shield wall, etc. But I never get bored of landing on top of a bunch of unsuspecting mobs and laying around with a buzzing lightsaber so that’s OK. The storyline was pretty much as you’d expect: trials to complete, a rival to encounter, opportunities to stiff your master, but I was getting quite into it by the end. I liked how my true sith gal looked too, with the funky metallic skin piercings. And her voice acting was great – authoritative and a bit sardonic. The jedi and sith do seem to have more interesting dark side/ light side choices to make, I think it’s just more key to their characters.

Bounty Hunter is purest awesome. It’s a fun class, although less snappy than the warrior because many of the shots have cast times. The storyline was great and had me exclaiming “Oh no they didn’t!!” quite early on into the game. Also you get to feel like a stone cold badass all of the time, even when you are making light side choices. I think though that Hutta is the less interesting of the two Sith starting planets (this is where Bounty Hunters and Agents begin), but did very much enjoy the two group quests which I nipped through with an Agent at my side. (Bounty Hunter + Agent is going to make for awesome groups, and I imagine Sith Warrior + Inquisitor will also.)

Jedi Consular starts with a mixture of melee and ranged attacks, and doesn’t have as good a range as the bounty hunter. Because it’s a more fragile class, you need to play a bit more carefully but I didn’t have any trouble with the starting quests. When you do die, you have the option to res in place (with a few seconds grace to get yourself out of harm’s way) or back at the nearest graveyard. There is more crowd control later on, it feels very versatile in play. While people have complained that her starting story is dull, I think you need to ask whether or not you want to RP a jedi. Because if you do, there are plenty of chances to show wisdom and restraint and try to resolve things peacefully. I thought it was fine, but less overtly exciting than the more blood and glory sith style.

Conclusion

This is a large game, and regardless of the extensive solo class quests (which are fully voiced and rather splendid), it feels like a genuine MMO. Grouping is fun, combat is fast, flashpoints (instances) benefit from being punctuated with RP/conversation snippets which make them feel less like the standard ‘corridor full of mobs interspersed by bosses’ model. How that will play when everyone knows all the strategies and wants to grind them for loot I don’t know. But I think they’ll be fine.

Star Wars fans will love it, if they can stop whining about not being able to play some obscure species.

WoW players looking for a new game that isn’t too dissimilar will probably love it too.

I think single player gamers will enjoy the game a lot, but there are group quests and instances even if they’re not for you. So it depends on how annoyed you feel you will be to keep hearing people in area chat asking for groups for them.

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29 thoughts on “[SWTOR] My first thoughts on beta

  1. I really like it so far. I played a Jedi Consular until lvl 11 and absolutely loved the game play. I also really liked being able to do a bit of RP all on my own just by choosing conversation options etc. She was a very Jedi-ish Jedi.

    Have tried a smuggler for a few levels and it felt very different and fun with the cover side of things, if a bit tricky to get the hang of at first.

    We did one flashpoint (The Esseltes) which was really good – but gosh it was long. We loved it (it was my husband and I + our 2 companions), but you do need to have quite a bit of time set aside to complete it.

    We were thinking the same thing as you about the story-bits of the flashpoint (and the length) when it comes to repeating them. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the top-level ones that you will end up re-visiting many times will be designed differently?

    Definitely looking forward to playing the game. I will most certainly end up playing through the starting parts of all the classes at one point or another just to see the class-quests.

  2. I didn’t have long to play – just a few hours but my initial impression was that, gameplay-wise it was so close to WoW that if I squinted I’d struggle to tell the difference.

    I quit WoW because of extreme burnout, and I’ve never been a big Star Wars fan (nor was I a fan of Warcraft lore pre-WoW though), so it really didn’t feel like a game I’m going to pick up when it came out.

  3. I was unexpectedly impressed, and delighted, by how much I enjoyed questing due to the voice-acting and animations. I really liked the story-telling too, with plot twists and complicated politics which enriched it way beyond “get 10 zevra skins”.

    I think the learning curve is a little steep for new MMO players, but it was fine for me. Nevertheless, there were several in-game things I had to puzzle out which should have been explained – like how do you control the companion’s behaviour.

    None of that really matters though, because I absolutely loved the game. :)

  4. A further old-school note is the presence of open world raid bosses from quite early on (I found one on Coruscant at around level 11 or 12; I assume there are more on other planets).

    On voice acting, let’s not forget Jennifer Hale as the Trooper – Commander Shepard in the Star Wars universe with a gigantic auto-cannon? Hell yeah. I thought the Imperial Agent was also a standout (“You’re going under cover for this assignment. Lose the accent so people don’t immediately know you’re from the Empire.” and s/he does.)

    As far as the Consular goes, at low levels it’s a bit of an odd duck (or perhaps more of a platypus) with its mix of light armour, melee, CC, and short-ranged attacks, but it really comes together once you hit level 10 and pick your advanced class – the Shadow (melee DPS/tank) gets heavier armour, some strong defense buffs, and a wider range of lightsabre attacks, while the Sage (range DPS/healing) gets more CC options and a range increase that puts it on par (or longer for some skills) with the other ranged classes. Personally I loved the Consular’s storyline, but it’s very much down to personal taste – I really enjoyed the more mystical/contemplative/investigative feel of it, not something you see much in the MMO space, which mostly graduated summa cum laude from the Michael Bay school of storytelling.

  5. I really loved the questing. In WoW I tend to skip all the lore and just focus on the task, but SWTOR offered a pretty good storyline so far (lvl 10 jedi warrior). I could imagine playing the same class again with different dialog choices, just to see how that turns out.

    Agree with the steep learning curve. It definitely helps a lot to have experience with MMOs. I think they need to improve quite a few things here for the newbies, give them more guidance.
    Plus there are some design flaws imho, for instance the taxi droids and the binding terminals. These are often close to each other. But you must click the binding terminal to be able to quickly travel back to that place. You get no “warning” if you missed that, which is very annoying, when you discover that fact a long way in the wilderness. I just don’t get why you need that kind of travel system.

  6. I really enjoyed myself this weekend and played exclusively as a party of 2 with my step son. We both went different classes and I particularly liked how we could see the class story cut scenes for each of the classes as a spectator. That was a nice surprise.
    I think people levelling in pairs will get lots more out of the game. The dark side light side meta game and reaction to it adds more to social levelling than anything else I have seen in MMO’s as normally we would be powering through the content.
    Day 1 CE purchase for both of us, a large expense but one I am happy to make after this weekend.

  7. I too was very pleasantly surprised by the Beta this weekend. I only had the Sunday to play (how big a download!?), but found the pacing of questing to be excellent – far ahead of anything WoW has now.

    I played Sith Warrior almost at random and really loved it! I doubt I would ever tire of the jump, AoE smash combo – such a great opener for the tanking role.

    I think the difficulty is spot on as well, I did die a few times on the harder end-of-chain quests but mainly because of my mistakes than it being too hard for the level.

  8. My wife convinced me to give the beta a shot – and after wanting to *not* like it – I gave in.

    All I can say is… wow.

    Things that concern me:

    The game as is – totally worth the 60 bucks to play – however will it be worth 15 bucks a month … 6 months from now?

    What is the end game like?

    Yes it’s a ton of content right now – but with all the voice acting… will it go the way of EQ2 (which remember had voice acting 100% through the first game – but dropped it due to cost/time)?

    How fast can they add stuff with the amount of voice/complexity in the storyline?

    That being said… I think this went from a wait and see to a pre-order for me.

    • Will it be worth 15 bucks/month in six months? Ask me in six months :) I hope it will be, but if it’s not, it’s easy enough to hit the “Cancel Sub” button.

      As for end-game, at launch there’s one raid plus a bunch of instances (including scaled-up versions of the lower-level ones). Honestly, though, I suspect that for a lot of people end-game is going to be “Do it again only backwards, in high heels, and waving a red lightsaber.” – with no content shared cross-faction and 8 different class storylines, it’s an altoholic’s paradise.

      How fast can they add new content? Well, part of that, obviously, is down to how successful it is (if there’s no money coming in, they can’t pay level designers and voice talent). A lot depends on what kind of new content they add – I can see new instances and raids being a lot easier to pull off than, say, a new planet, since there’s less voicework involved.

  9. The jedi consular get better after you get the first companion, Qyzen. He is a melee tank, so just send him to attack the mobs then you start to use the ranged attacks. I think Qyzen makes a very good combo if the consular specialize at healing.

    And yes, you NEED learn to roleplay a jedi for like to play one, the options for gain more ligh points are ever… well… not bloody enough… mmmm…. maybe be better play a sith.

    • Some of the Sith light side options are great. Only on Korriban does “The Empire can always use more skilled assassins” qualify as a major light side choice ;)

  10. That’s it. I want to play this thing. I think I’ll even try all the classes (assuming one gets enough character slots) for the various storylines. You should get some little perk for convincing at least one fence sitter to order the game. :)

    *goes off to see about upgrading computer*

    • Happily one does – eight character slots to a server, two factions, four (base) classes to a faction, so you can get in all the storylines on one server.

      • Woo!

        It’s funny, I was originally only interested in playing Smuggler and Agent, which most closely match the type of classes I play in other games. (Well, aside from magic using types, but nothing in Star Wars really matches those.) The class stories and the good things I’ve been hearing (from here and other places) about the voice acting started tipping me toward “try everything,” but something here made it just all come together.

        Yes, I actually do want to try role playing Jedi. Not only does the Jedi consular stuff sound interesting (wisdom? restraint? resolve things peacefully? In an MMO!?), but it sounds like the class stories and dialogue wheel really do bring some cool stuff to the table. DO WANT! (bad joke, I know)

      • I’m in the same position – I had a few classes I really wanted to play, based on what I’d read, was planning on giving the others a pass.

        After playing a bit of most of the classes (haven’t gotten to the Sith Inquisitor yet)…well, just call me Commander Shepard, because they’re *all* my favourite store on the Citadel.

  11. Concur with Spinks, especially on the class descriptions for the ones played, except Sith Warrior since I didn’t play one yet. I think Sith Warrior and Imperial Agent are the only two I haven’t played yet.

    It’s going to be tough settling on a main; Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior or Smuggler and even the Trooper was a lot of fun.

  12. The Jedi Consular’s story is boring in the beginning and very slow – but you are rewarded with the best light saber building sequence of quests out of the 4 classes that use the force. While I might not have a Consular as main, I might run through the quest on the 20th just to see it again.

    After playing this weekend, the most fun I’ve had are the Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Sith Inquisitor, Sith Warrior, and Jedi Knight. And in all honesty, the reason I probably enjoyed the Sith Warrior so much was because I chose all “light side” options. It added a layer of humor to the game.

  13. I hit level 12 on a Sith Inquisitor/Sorcerer over the weekend, and level 9 on a Bounty Hunter, plus some playing around on other classes. Slightly disappointed that the Sith Warrior plays identically to Jedi Knight but with the different skill names and graphics, was hoping for a bit more ‘separate but equal’ there. Otherwise, had a great time and placed my pre-order. There’s nothing much innovative in MMO terms here, apart from the fact that the dialogue and storylines are just a whole lot of fun… but for me, that’s enough.

    Incidentally, you’re wrong about the sexiest voice in the game. The female Sith Inquisitor PC has an absolutely delightful upper-class English accent. I could listen to her being evil all day…

    • I totally agree on the voice. I picked a Sith Inquisitor because it seemed far away from what I planned to play on release… except her voice and the gameplay was just a blast. I may need to make one now. :D Thankfully there’s 8 slots per server, plenty of room for my alt disease!

  14. I played a few hours of the Beta as well. I leveled up an Inquisitor to 11, Jedi Knight to 7 and a Smuggler to 5. I did like the quests and the group quests weren’t a problem (it was easy to gain a group).

    However, I did not like the cutscenes. If they were short and sweet…fine. But most of them seemed to drag on and on and on. It was even more confusing when whole groups were involved in the cutscenes as well. Apparently the system rolls on who gets to respond. It was strange.

    I absolutely loved the companion idea. Although I put in a voice of protest against how hard it is for a dark force player to get their companion over light force players. My inquisitor had to fight the companion (who was practically elite) while my Jedi Knight just had the companion waiting for her. Whatever.

    I don’t think WoW has anything to worry about this game.

  15. Played two beta weekends, and loved both the Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter stories.

    I’ll say the same thing I’ve been telling my friends – If you’re sick to death of standard MMO leveling/combat mechanics (possibly due to WoW burnout) and haven’t been that into Bioware’s last few single player RPGs, you won’t much like SW:TOR. If you still like both those things and really wanted better story lines and voice acting in your last few games, you’ll love it.

  16. You basically played the classes I didn’t. I had a blast and I can’t wait until it comes out for good. I might just have to try the bounty hunter, the Imperial Agent doesn’t start as fun as I thought it would/ The trooper was awesome though. Pure killing machine and you can be cocky and still be light side which I liked a lot.

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  18. Getting companions is all story based. The Inquisitor has a reason for having to fight their first companion, just like the Jedi Knight (and Consular) have a reason for getting theirs essentially for free. Same for the other classes. To me, it makes perfect sense within the context of each storyline. The Trooper encounters the same thing as the Inquisitor later on.

    What’s really surprising for me is how stories are affecting what classes I will play (and under what circumstances). I’ve played all the classes and I know for sure that I’ll be using the spacebar a lot when playing a Trooper, until I get to the second companion. The reason? I despise the Trooper’s first companion, due solely to what happens during the story. I adore the Trooper’s second companion though, for much the same reason (though the second companion’s role is a definite plus as well). As you can probably tell, I’m trying SO hard not to even get close to spoiler territory so everything’s in general terms, without so much as gender hints.

    One word of advice I have for folks who plan to play: pay attention. If you pay attention to the NPCs you meet along the way, a few of those people you interact with are future companions. I really like how BioWare masked the basic ‘recruit party member’ mechanic with the story. You build a history with these people even before they’re officially companions (off the top of my head, this is the case for almost all companions, with a few exceptions). Heck, one companion thinks you’re the avatar of their god!

  19. Have played several classes to level 10, and was really disappointed in the consular story (JK one was not far behind it). If you really have to add “you have to want to RP as a jedi” when you talk about a jedi story it shows just how much writer XYZ failed on creating an engaging story from the start… I really hope it gets better later on.

    And I don’t think I’ll be able to stop whining about not being able to play as a Wookiee, who are not “some obscure species”…

    • I have to disagree. Not just because I found the Consular the strongest of the early storylines (the Sith Warrior’s I thought was really weak, and the rest ranged from good to excellent), but because the huge diversity of opinions on “Which class has the best storyline” shows that the writers did a pretty good job of creating a wide enough range of content that most people should be able to find a class they find engages them.

      To paraphrase the of-quoted Blizzard dev, “Bring the storyline, not the class.”

  20. I was in beta for a few months. I took a sith warrior, BH and Jedi knight to lvl30. The game was amazing fun. And I agree with you that the female BH voice acting is amazing. I have never played a female character before but will roll a female BH as my second character simply because the voice is perfect. The sith warrior will be my main: menacing voice, amazing story and I like melee characters.

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