[SWTOR] More thoughts from beta (space combat, PvP, etc.)

This was the last weekend of beta testing for The Old Republic, and now the servers are down and being wiped. Hopefully some of the team get a few days downtime too before the craziness of launch.

The changes from last week’s build were noticeable. I think graphics were improved, servers seemed more stable (we didn’t suffer lots of d/c during flashpoints this time around) and I noticed some minor but very useful UI changes. For example, last week people commented that it wasn’t obvious where the bindpoints were or how they worked unless you specifically set them to show up on your map. Now they’re indicated more clearly in the game. There’s no doubt that the game itself is ready for prime time — main technical issues I had were with how long it takes to quit out of the game. (And it did hang my computer while quitting at least once, or at least took long enough that I got bored and rebooted.)

This time around I aimed to try a few of the classes I skipped last weekend, and level my sith warrior high enough to get my own ship and try out the space combat. My overall impression is that the story emphasis has a much bigger effect on how involved players get with their characters than I first thought. I did miss my sith warrior when I didn’t have beta access, gonzo as she is. Agreed with Arb and other friends in the beta that we had all enjoyed all the classes we’d tried, and thought it would be fun to play all of them at some point to see their stories. (That’s quite a lot of replayability in itself, but raises other issues around communications. This is a game that could really use a realID style comms channel, so you can chat to your friends without having to remember which alt they’re on today.)

So here’s some notes in bullet point form:

  • Found out how to buy advanced class skills. Apparently I did have a taunt at level 10, who knew? (Will post separately to explain how that’s done, in case anyone else misses it the same way I did.)
  • Sith Warrior still is a faintly embarrassing indulgence for me. I don’t know what the rest of her story is like but Act I is a gonzo non-politically correct power fantasy. There’s nothing really surprising yet, it’s the sort of stuff you’d expect, but beautifully implemented. Vette did imply that I was bonkers at least once, not sure if I should punish her for insolence or buy her a new blaster. No signs of any romance yet, but I think you’d have to be crazy to flirt with a sith lord anyway, even if they were hot. (OTOH, I could imagine my character picking out a hot imperial soldier with: “You, my room, tonight!” because that’s how she is. Like I say, it’s not politically correct. But probably something that everyone should try once 😉 ) Am puzzled that my protective headgear seems to consist mostly of a mouthpiece — it is thematic but does the rest of my head not need protecting more? I do love how her voice changed when she was wearing it though. Darth Baras still sounds cool although am suspecting he is in fact a colossal jerk (you could argue that I should have twigged this sooner.) Created a male sith warrior to compare the voices, and he sounds awesome.
  • The ships are nice, similar in style to the KOTOR ship with floor plans and several rooms. It is basically player housing. It also comes with a friendly droid (who is excessively subservient if you are a sith warrior.)
  • Space combat is a separate minigame with its own missions, tokens, and rewards (mostly stuff to kit out your ship to make it better at the minigame.) It’s not difficult and I’m not sure how deep it really gets but is pretty and can be a bit fiddly, I had to repeat the first mission a couple of times before I got it. Kitting out your ship also helps enormously. Ultimately I thought it was fun so we’ll call that a win, but it’s not full 3D elite-style dogfighting, Star Trek possibly still your best bet for that in a MMO.
  • Tried PvP on my Bounty Hunter, I suspect strong influence here from the WAR team. Scenarios are compact and combat is fast paced. I tried Huttball which is a capture the flag scenario with extra tweaks involving ramps, platforms and air vents that help you jump. And you can pass the ball from one person in your team to another. Was fun, and worth doing once for the xp, but reminded me of all the annoying things about MMO PvP that bug me (ie. the bunny hopping rogues.)
  • Played consular some more. I still enjoy the slower, more thoughtful pace of the storytelling. And being able to throw rocks at people with my mind; that’s quite good and is a skill I’ve often wished for iRL. I’m curious to see how they deal with the mind reading/ controlling aspect of this class (a la Obi Wan), or whether it gets glossed over.
  • Played smuggler; the Han Solo quotient is high here. I find the class quite fun and like the cover mechanic. The smuggler isn’t as sarky as some of the empire classes (no really!), instead she has some cocky conversation options and lots of opportunity to tell people that it’s all about the money and you’re not really fighting for the republic. Liked the starting storyline also.
  • Character models are stylized and that can sometimes mean odd design decisions. All the male models except the weediest have huge barrel chests, and all the female ones have big boobs. (Was touched to hear someone on one of the republic chat channels wondering why the female models all looked skinny with big boobs, because he wanted to make a char that looked like his girlfriend who was “small and normal looking with big boobs.” Awwww.) Male characters do get an option to be fat, the female equivalent is merely very curvy with a big bum that sticks out when she is in combat stance in a way that makes you wonder if she’s about to fart.

As you can see I’m very positive about the game, and can’t wait to play it with friends in live. Haven’t decided yet on which class. I loved my sith warrior so much, but the bounty hunter was awesome too and it’s nice to have ranged options. Plus BH can be Chiss (ie. blue).

The judgement call is “if you like this sort of thing, you’ll really like this game.” It is what it is, but I’ve never played any RPG with this kind of attention to detail/ story/ voicework.

16 thoughts on “[SWTOR] More thoughts from beta (space combat, PvP, etc.)

  1. I think your experiences map largely with mine. I had a lot of fun playing through the Smuggler story to the end of Act 1 and I strongly suspect a cover using DPS class will be my first alt (after the Jedi Consular, of course 🙂 ). On the character models, what did weird me out was the female children. They appeared just to be scaled down models of the adults, still with very large chests, which, well, yeah… I think less of that sort of thing, really.

  2. I was quite pleased on my Consular to see [Force Persuade] showing up at appropriate moments as a conversation option – this may only start on Coruscant (second planet), but that would make a certain degree of sense. I’m not sure that’s a skill I’d be teaching to trainees.

    One of the high points was using the [Force Persuade] option on somebody, getting him to do whatever it was I was brain-twisting him to do, then have him immediately realize what I’d done and stomp off muttering something about how Jedi cheat.

  3. I played this weekend gone too, and wished I’d had more time in the evenings to get into it. I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling aspect, and more so than I’d expected. I think it makes sense to level one character for each starting zone all the way to endgame (ie. bounty hunter or imperial agent), since you’d get to experience four unique perspectives.

    I can’t wait.

  4. I played a Republic Trooper to lvl 20 over the last couple of weekends (this from someone who always, always play healer/ranged caster types) and I LOVED her.

    Her ship droid was also very sweet – it informed me once that it had re-upholstered all the cushions and seatpads on the ship and hoped I liked it. 🙂

  5. I feel a strong disturbance in the Force, as if millions of players get a serious case of alts-it, and died trying to play all classes at same time…

  6. I did my Sith Warrior with all light-side choices and Vette thought she was insane as well. Maybe Vette is just programmed that way? But it was a lot of fun doing the exact opposite of what might be expected.

    @Bex: I loved the BH as well and loved her story even more after I left the starting planet. I found myself cracking up laughing sometimes!

  7. I really wanted the largest female body type (the one that corresponds to the fat male body) to be overweight, or at least heavily-muscled in the style of East German female Olympic weightlifters. Since that’s never been an option in any MMO, ever, it didn’t surprise me that I couldn’t do that in SW:TOR.

    Too bad, it would have made for a great Bounty Hunter character.

  8. I really enjoyed the space combat missions. It took me a few tries to “get” the first one, but after that I played the three available to me (at lvl 19) repeatedly. Clocking in at 4 to 6.5 minutes, these seem perfect for gamers with distractions or other obligations; log on, run a few missions from your cabin, no waiting.

  9. Agreed on the models. An honest-to-goodness merrily fat chick would be welcome. And a couple of the races (Rattataki come to mind, Chiss to a lesser extent) seem a little lazy in the customisation department. And more beards, for heaven’s sake. The Obi-Wan thing is a bit of a bore.

    I must disagree on the space combat, though. As much as I’m an overall fanboi of this game, it’s one of my greatest gripes. Space combat in Star Wars deserves to be epic and a core part of the multiplayer experience, not a minigame. Perhaps in time.

  10. I was going to do a SI until I spent time as a Jedi Knight. I decided to see how Sith Warrior was in comparison and got all the way to level 18 over the weekend… I’ll now be going into live as the Warrior as it was just so much fun leaping into mobs and laying to with a glowbat. Really psyched for this game, roll on Early Access!

  11. Re: Character models
    Female 4 is meant to be more fitting with “real” women (i.e. they have curves and aren’t a size 2). Wait, maybe I should qualify that. American women (though that body type is also prevalent in many Caribbean island nations). I equated the body types like:

    1 – Gymnast
    2 – Track star (Jackie Joyner-Kersee-ish)
    3 – Bodybuilder/She-Hulk
    4 – Rap video vixen (Esther Baxter, for example)

    Personally, female 4 is my preference, since it best fits the women around me (family members, friends, etc, not a single waif or IBTC member in the bunch). If they had a more extensive character creator, I would’ve made my characters to that body type anyway (like I’ve done in City of Heroes, Champions, STO, and tried to do in EVE). Granted, the female Trooper and Smuggler look like their outfits can barely keep it all in (just like General Garza) but still, I like the look.

    Having been in beta since September, I find that what I’m doing now is trying to figure out race/class combinations. I have my favorite races (Mirialan female, Zabrak, Chiss, Human) but I have to find combinations that I like. I know one thing though: I’m rolling at least one Smuggler on every launch server. I fell completely in love with the Gunslinger (and the Sniper for IA), both mechanically and story wise. Sure, the Inquisitor’s story is awesome as well (the classic rags to….) but the Smuggler hooked me from the first 30 minutes (“Where’s my ship?!?”). Luckily, I haven’t played it too far so I still don’t know whether I get to kill the antagonist in the end (same can be said for Bounty Hunters and I already know Troopers don’t get to kill their first companion. Bummer.)

    • I quite liked the curvy type 4 body shape tbh, my issue was that it just didn’t look right to me when it was in a combat stance.

      But I’m a chiss fan too 🙂

  12. The Imperial Agent story is absolutely top notch. I played that class through most of my beta experience because my main at launch will be a Smuggler and I wanted to learn Smuggler mechanics without spoiling the Smuggler story. I can only hope the Smuggler story is as good as what the Agent got, or I may find myself drifting back to the Empire. 🙂

  13. ” with a big bum that sticks out …. that makes you wonder if she’s about to fart.

    As you can see I’m very positive about the game, and can’t wait to play it ”

    People get excited over the weirdest things.

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