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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. SWTOR republic was an awesome game until i reached lvl 50 two weeks ago.  Since then i’ve had to come to grips with the painful reality that endgame crafting is broken and there’s nothing to do with your money except pay ridiculously expensive repair bills.  Republic is usually very low population as there is a huge population imbalance favoring Imperials.  You can do endgame operations but they are not particularly challenging.  Yes they have different difficulty levels but making something harder by increasing enemy stats is not a challenge.  The challenge is inherent in the puzzle involved and that doesn’t change.  However the endgame single player experience is horrible.  If you are not lucky enough to be in a large and well run guild that does end game operations, you are in for alot of pain.  Finally, PvP is broken all the way around.  Ilum open PvP is always empty and honestly the planet has the charm of a cockroach.  It is the most uninviting, most poorly designed open PvP world in the history of MMO.  I was skeptical about people who told me that it was really bad until i finally got there and got what they mean.  Warzone PvP is far better but Imperial win percentage on our sever is close to 70-80 percent.  There are alot of theories for this but the one i don’t accept is that only noobs play republic.  I think that the problem stems from population imbalance and jedi-sage/sith-sorceror being over powered.  Whereas the imps have a huge population advantage and sorcerers know they have a huge pvp advantage, this class is over represented in pvp.  That would be fine if they were spec’d as healers but they are all spec’d as uber efficent dps/healer combos with devastating CC abilities.  In short if you get a group of three sith sorcs together say good night.  And if you want to talk about statistical probability, i was once in a group against 8 sith sorcers on void star.  We did not kill a single one.  Maybe we sucked but just by dumb luck we should have managed to kill one.

    Don’t get me wrong, the game was great until 50.  My only complaint until getting to 50 is that it didn’t really capture the SW atmosphere.  I felt that the planets were too small and tried to fit too many crowds into small spaces.  Aside from Tatooine which is very well done, there is no room for explorers in this game.  Having said that, the storyline was top notch.  The game is nicely balanced (between classes) and challenging.  Crafting works real well until lvl 49.  The companion system is better than i expected.

    Still the problem is the endgame.  Its very disappointing because I want to love this game.  I helped build a 150 member republican guild.  However I see people moving away from the game when they hit 50 and i might not be far behind.  Bioware is moving veryyyy slowwlly to address what ails the community.  i wish they had done another game similar to this before they did SWTOR so they could have had a bit more experience.

  2. SWTOR is in big trouble and to be totally honest this game is done. Even spending 200-500mil on an mmo doesn’t guarantee it’s going to last. I trully hope SWTOR can keep their heads above water but the current end game is just horrible. My PvE guild clears the content in a day. Its buggy, unorginal, boring and won’t last. People projecting 4 million subs by the end of the year have to by fuckin crazy. I would be suprised if they keep 500k subs.

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