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While I am a massive Star Wars fan I must admit that I am a MMO (and to a lesser extend RPG) noob. Until recently I had never dipped my toe into the murky, clandestine world of online MMOs – not because they are too nerdy or not my ‘cup of tea’ but more likely because I knew once I got going I’d be hooked. During the summer, in preparation for the release of SWTOR, I downloaded and played Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). As I haven’t played any sort of game using keys since the days of the 48K and Miner Willy it did take me a while to negotiate the controls and the myriad of key shortcuts, menus, roles, character traits and abilities. It was a serious amount of stuff to take in especially for someone weaned on Dizzy as a child, loves shooters and the most complex adventures game I play is Zelda. However over the following hours, days and weeks I did familiarise myself with the aforementioned MMO elements and controls and genuinely began to see and appreciate why so many people play MMORPGs. While I briefly played some portions of the game as part of a clan/fellowship I didn’t get to experience a fully fledged, completely human controlled, large scale skirmish – which would have been cool! The size of the maps, amount of characters (human and AI), variation in terrain etc gave the game a depth and scale that you cannot really experience in any other type of game.

28 November 2011 KingofMetal79

Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Impressions by a MMO Noob.

swtor logo

Now if you can take that style of game and mould it round one of the richest universes ever (and my particular favourite) you could create a complete life destroying monster that many people (myself included) would find an attractive and exciting prospect.

As good Star Wars games are few and far between (Star Wars Lego and Rogue Squadron games are probably the only two I can think of that I really thought were good, enjoyed and thought made a good use of the license plus I unfortunately never got to play Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox or had a PC to run Star Wars Galaxies), I have become very excited about a MMORPG based in the Star Wars Universe set some 3500 years before the film saga created by the team behind Mass Effect (sometimes itself compared to Star Wars).

 

The opening video is very cool, really sets the scene and has some great action. The opening vignette shows a republic cruiser attacked and boarded by the recently re-emerged Sith. An epic and rather cool light sabre battle ensues between two Jedi and two Sith lords – the action is fast paced and the visuals good looking. While this ‘prologue’ sets the scene it also makes you wonder how amazing the prequels could have been if a different approach (and director) had been taken.

 

Once you have experience the opening cut scene you are then able to create your character. Character creation tool isn‘t the most elaborate in terms of facial features, body shapes and clothes but I’m sure you’ll be able to unlock more permutation/clothes/and even races at a later date and maybe Bioware are keeping some gems back for the retail release? In the beta there were 8 Classes (see below for more info) and 8 races spread across the Republic and Empire factions. While Humans and Zabrak can pick any class available, other species have been restricted to only several classes each.

Republic

 Smuggler (Gunslinger and Scoundrel)

 Trooper (Commando and Vanguard)

 Jedi Knight (Guardian and Sentinel)

 Jedi Consular (Sage and Shadow)

 

Empire

 Bounty Hunter (Powertech and Mercenary)

 Imperial Agent (Operative and Sniper)

 Sith Warrior (Juggernaut and Marauder)

 Sith Inquisitor (Sorcerer and Assassin)

Classes will also be exclusive to one faction or the other, however, the classes of one faction mirror the classes of the other (for example, Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior).

 

I chose to play as a Jedi consular – It was a tough choice especially with the prospect of reeking havoc as your very own ‘Boba Fett’ or ‘4-Lom’. However as I always seem to gravitate towards the ‘good’ or more righteous character then the Jedi consular seemed fitting.

After the now legendary double whammy of “A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away….” And a story trawl, my story started on the Jedi home world of Tython (which for a Star Wars fan is cool in itself!) I am quested to retrieve a series of Holorecorders which should enable the council to understand more about recent reappearance of the Sith.…  While the initial mission is a well worn ‘explore and gather’ mission it does give new comers the chance to get use to the controls and the MMO combat system.

Initially I was hit with hideous frame rate issues and horrible lag which made the game near impossible to play…However after changing the server and dropping some of the settings to ‘low’ the situation improved and I could actually start to enjoy it. I am hoping that was due to the server stress tests that Bioware were scheduled to implement over this test weekend otherwise it looks like my new laptop ain’t gonna be up to the challenge come December 20th.

 

Each class has a distinct backstory and a branching storyline which is affected by players' moral choices. Unlike LOTRO you have the ability to choose various dialogue branches (a la Mass Effect) during conversations which dictates the path your character takes. In the case of my character there is a possibility, via choices I make, to follow story threads/characteristics more akin to the Dark Side than the Light side even though my character is a Jedi.