It’s been a little over a month since the official launch of BioWare’s much anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, which means the time is right for a retrospective look at how the game has performed following its release.
I currently play a level 50 Smuggler on the Republic side of the fence, with a level 43 Consular slowly climbing towards 50 as well. Sadly, when it comes to the Empire faction, I haven’t had the time to get any character beyond level 13.
As far as the leveling process goes in SWTOR, it is hands down the best MMORPG currently on the market. While certain character stories are (subjectively) better than others, and they do hit a lull on certain planets, the roleplaying narrative does a good job of keeping you engaged in the story and the game. I could tell you ‘why’ I did the things I did on my Smuggler, whereas I’d be hard pressed to remember what I achieved in most World of Warcraft zones.
One of the more interesting facets of leveling in SWTOR is the increase in difficulty which comes at higher levels. I died quite a lot before securing my healing companion, and I kept dying afterwards. As a Gunslinger Smuggler, I wasn’t exactly able to take much of a beating or heal myself at all, so I imagine certain classes have an easier time of it, but certain planets (*cough* Belsavis *cough*) forced me to utilise every trick I had to win through solo content at times. While my list of deaths is long, I have to say I preferred taking my lumps as opposed to breezing through the content with ease.
Once I hit 50 I began to run my dailies, which take around 2 hours a day if you’re completing them all. Some of the Republic daily quests are poorly designed, requiring the deaths of certain mobs which are in limited supply, and this will become immensely frustrating as more and more players reach 50. Thankfully I’ll no longer have any need to run dailies after this week.
Daily quests are all good and well, but at 50 you’re able to leap into end-game content. I haven’t. Not out of a lack of desire, but instead a lack of guildmates and players at the appropriate level. Admittedly, I rushed ahead of the leveling curve on my server, and I’m fine with that. What I’ve read and heard suggests that SWTOR’s end-game is lacking for those interested in particularly difficult content. While this concerns a small portion of the total player base, it doesn’t really affect me or those still working towards max level. I’ll be running normal mode operations and hard mode flashpoints come February, and being able to see the areas and the story interests me far more than running the same operation on three different difficulty levels.
High end flashpoints and end-game operations were also plagued with bugs following SWTOR’s launch, and while that isn’t great, another benefit of tackling this content belatedly is that most of the issues will be rectified. If you’ve actually sampled the current end-game content, I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments below.
Instead of end-game PvE, I’ve been tackling level 50 PvP. The recent Ability Delay bugfix has made playing a cover class less frustrating in PvP, as now my blaster bolts will actually fire off when I press the corresponding hotkey, as opposed to my character crouching and doing very little. As I play on one of the few servers where there isn’t a giant faction imbalance between Imperial and Republic players, I’ve played a decent mix of all three warzones. Huttball and the Alderaan Civil War are usually enjoyable, but the Voidstar can be an exercise in pure frustration if your team lacks coherency or co-ordination. It’s certainly the warzone I like to see least.
CC/stuns are my other source of PvP frustration. You can and will be stunned often and repeatedly in SWTOR, and ten seconds of standing still is usually enough to guarantee your doom, unless you happen to be a tank or a healer. As a Gunslinger, I generally try to avoid being anywhere near heavy combat, but there are times (mainly in Huttball) where that is unavoidable. On the other hand, I quite enjoy knock backs. I have a few of my own, and being tossed off a ledge or thrown backwards isn’t as much of a death sentence unless you happen to land in a Huttball hazard or go flying off a Voidstar bridge. Both of these tend to involve a degree of precision, and I’ve killed a lot more people with my 360 degree knock back than have killed me. In fact, throwing people off ledges is probably the action I enjoy most.
While warzone PvP is fine for the most part, open world PvP is a mess. The problems with Ilum are well documented, and to be honest I never go there as there’s little point. I run my six PvE dailies and return to my ship. I have no doubt BioWare will properly incentivise Ilum in time, but at the moment, at least on my server, it’s a ghost town.
Finally, BioWare has rolled out series of bug fixing patches and the Rise of the Rakghouls content patch since launch, responding to various issues which have cropped up. For the most part, my play experience has been devoid of any crippling bugs. The only bug I regularly deal with is one which causes mobs to evade and reset. Others haven’t been so lucky. One of my guildmates recently ended up stuck inside her own spaceship, with the exit door refusing to function, and her emergency fleet pass on cooldown. Others were affected by the extremely frustrating party/guild chat bug, which caused them to be unable to see or type in those channels.
BioWare has been fairly proactive in countering these issues, and I expect that to continue over the coming months. As far as the recent content patch is concerned, I’m happy with what was added. It might not be enough for high-end guilds, but the majority of players have yet to even reach 50. February will see level 50 characters become the norm, and in a month’s time we’ll have a better idea of how end-game content and PvP is holding up.
Until then, enjoy SWTOR if you’re currently playing, and if you’re not, you are at the very least missing out on an enjoyable story-focused romp from level 1-50.