So there’s this new game out…you might’ve heard of it…Star Wars Something or Other…

RE: my last blog post…yeah, I’m COMPLETELY done with LOTRO for now.

May the Force be with me…always.

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, as many of you know, and recently they announced that many players that pre-ordered the game would gain access to the game in what they called their “Quick Start Program” (I think that’s what it was called…maybe Early Access Program…something like that). Starting on the 12/13/11, players would get invited to begin their journey in the game based on when they pre-ordered.

I pre-ordered pretty early on, and thank my lucky stars I did because I got the email to begin around 6:24am on Tuesday morning.  As a result, as of 10:01pm on Launch Day, December 20th, 2011, I had my Jedi Sentinel at Level 21, knee-deep in quests on Nar Shaddaa.

Exciting stuff, you might say.  Ah, so true. But let’s dive into this thing…and break down what the pros and cons are for this game so far. First, what I don’t like, since that list is a LOT shorter than what I do like.

CONS

Right away, let’s talk about the bad stuff.  There isn’t much here to discuss, as I really haven’t encountered many things that discourage me from playing this game. I will say that loot drops aren’t really up to snuff right now, and that’s it’s not really clear (nor are you given a lot of direction) on how to handle your loot from quests.  Right now, on many of the quests, you have options for choosing what type of loot you want.

There is an option to get a “box” that will produce a random level-appropriate piece of gear. The problem with this is in many cases (for me), it’s provided a piece of gear that I either can’t use or wouldn’t use. So that’s not really a great option. Another option is to simply take the gear they provide, in many cases, better than what you currently have, but there are many types of gear and sometimes you get stuff you need and sometimes you don’t. The last option involves electing to take a “commendation” for the planet you’re on. These commendations can then be turned in for gear and modification upgrades.

From what I can see, the gear and stuff for commendations is pretty good, but limited, and quite expensive for the amount of commendations you have to spend. I expect the devs of SWTOR to begin to tweak the loot system a bit as we go…either making commendations drop more often, or improving the chances of you getting a piece of gear from the random box drops that you can actually use (example, I’m a Jedi Sentinel, using medium armor, and almost every time, I’ve gotten a piece of light armor gear…worthless to me).

The only other real complain I have is about the crew skills system, but this one is mostly on me. Not having played beta, I had no idea what they were nor did I know how to really use them. After hearing lots of guildies comment on them, I decided to investigate it. There isn’t a ton of information given on them from the vendors themselves, so I think it’s assumed you should know about them before you decide which ones to get. I picked Slicing and Archaeology, and sent my companions off on adventures of their own.

Leveling up your crew skills is expensive though, and not having a ton of credits to begin with, I quickly realized I needed to slow down. I guess my complaint in this is that more emphasis should be put on how to utilize crew skills to the best of their abilities and maybe reduce the amount of credits it takes to run the crew skill quests.

PROS

So let’s dig into the meat here…right away, I can tell you that combat is fun from the Jedi Knight perspective. Not having done anything with any other class, I can’t really speak to that, but the Jedi Knight is a fun class to play. The Force Jump ability gets you right into combat quickly, and you can lay out a ton of damage.  I don’t think I died until I got to Coruscant.  The quests on each starter world are geared to help you get acclimated to the pace of the game, and I think they do a good job of that.

The thing that really separates the game from others of the genre is, of course, the storytelling aspect of the game. Each person you talk to you as it relates to the story and/or quests you’re completing are completely 100% voiced and each cut-scene is a story in and of itself. I friggin’ love this. It’s amazing to walk into a room set up for you and you get to hear the story play out, and the responses you have help shape not only you but the people around you. You really feel as if what you do matters to the story.

Having completed the quests on Coruscant, I got my first ship…and man, what a feeling to head out of the spaceport on Coruscant with my own ship, my own droid, and my own protocol droid in tow.  The ship itself is a great way to get around, and there is space combat (although it’s instanced as well).  The ship serves as part-apartment, part-storage, part-fighter, and part-freighter.  It’s a great thing, and you get it early on.

The skills available to a Jedi are also very force-centric, as you can imagine.  Lots of “Force” abilities that allow you to deal a great deal of damage to your foes as well as replenish your own health and protect you.

The worlds are big, and there is plenty of room to explore, but on the planets like Coruscant and Nar Shaddaa, you’ll notice you don’t just have free reign.  To get to most places, you have to take taxis that will transport you from place to place for a small fee.  Taris was sort of free-reign, but you don’t really get the feeling that you can “explore” in this world like you can in other MMOs.

That’s not a pro or a con, it just is.  To me, the story and the characters and the combat are all worth it.

One other thing I will mention is how great the flashpoints and heroic areas are. Flashpoints are advanced combat areas that tell specific stories. As a level 10’ish character, you get introduced to them with the Esseles Flashpoint, a ship that’s being attacked by the Empire and you (along with some of your friends) are tasked with several missions to help secure it’s escape from the Empire incursion.  It’s fantastic storytelling and the combat is just plain fun.

There are also heroic areas on each planet that will give you a chance to group up for bigger enemies and better loot.  These can be instanced areas or even open areas, but you will always know where you are by just giving the map a quick glance.  My suggestion…don’t head into an heroic or flashpoint area alone unless you’re a good 10+ levels above wherever it is you’re going.

That’s about it so far. Like I said, I’m up to level 21 and still very much enjoying it. Get in and have fun, people.

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