Back to the future, in a place far far away
After reading Yeebo’s developer appreciation post about BioWare and SWTOR, I decided I should try out the that game. I have to a large extent ignored most of the information and comments about the game in the past. Which means I have been fairly ignorant about details about the game, except that it is set in some past in the Star Wars universe and is supposedly with a storyline focus. Except for two sessions with Mass Effect, I have not really played any Bioware games before either.
So far I have created and played a bit with three different characters; a smuggler, a Sith Inquisitor and an imperial agent. In hindsight it is perhaps obvious, but I did not realize that each side has classes that are sort of mirror images of classes of the other side, at least in the early levels. Thus I discovered that the abilities of the smuggler and the agent were pretty much the same, with the weapon type being a bit different.
However, the storylines for each played out quite differently and I quite enjoyed it so far I have played with all three of those. Between the smuggler and the agent though, the agent story definitely takes the top spot for me – it has lots good ingredients of a secret agent story it seems and got me more involved in the story the the smuggler one managed to. Besides that, I also liked the look of my agent (a Chiss).
One of the things that Yeebo mentioned in his post that made me want to try out the game was that in terms of fighting enemies the game was more along the lines of City of Heroes, where beating up a couple of (relatively weak) enemies at the same time is the norm, even at early levels. This was certainly true in my experience and quite good fun:)
While I enjoyed the cover mechnic and combat of the smuggler and agent, the most combat fun was definitely with the Sith inquisitor. Shooting off electricity and jumping on enemies and swinging a weapon hitting them was quite enjoyable. Combined with an good story about a former slave rising to glory this is my current favourite.
There are some annoyance factors with the combat through; one is that there is a global cooldown for the abilities used – a bit annoying when you are used to games without it. Not as annoying as it was in Rift though, my previous endeavour into a new MMO title. Might be able to stand it in this game though. Another annoyance fator was that you needed to stand still to perform the magi…ehhm force abilities and you got an error message if you were moving when you tried to use an ability. Again, used to games where this is handled a bit differently; if the devs have decided that your charecter must stand still to perform some ability, then root the character then and perform the ability – do not give just an error message. Maybe I will get used to that part as well.
At around level 10 the missions in the starter area and the storyline for the chosen class came to sort of an ending – with the story continuing offworld. This kind of presented a dilemma for me – play alts or continue the story for a specific character and which character then. Right now I think I will perhaps do a bit of both and play some more classes at least for a few levels in the starter areas. But beyond that I will likely focus on a single character – feels more natural with the slightly more sophisticated story-telling compared to most other MMOs. Especially when you get to care about more abouyt the story and the involved characters, alternating too much might make story details harder to remember.
Getting off-starter-planet I also got to pick the advanced class and learned about the crew skills – some similarities to the STO duty officer system, but with less anonymous characters performing it. I also got to try out one of the story-oriented team missions, the Black Talon flashpoint. This was a quite fun experience and I enjoyed it very much! I found it quite refreshing that all members of the team could participate and follow the story. This is an area a lot of MMOs do not do particularly well, so it was nice to see an approach which allowe all team members to participate. I did not quite get what all the numbers and indicators meant at first during the conversations, but after some clarifications that got sorted out.
Moving on to Drumond Kaas I found the areas with jungles arond the city parts to be quite something that triggered my explorer itch a bit and it was fun just to get around and look around in the different areas. The wildlife certainly made it more interesting. Dense enough that you are likely to see wildlife somewhere from pretty much anywhere you go, but not dense enough to just be considered containers of XP ready for slaughter.
Overall I have quite enjoyed my start in the game so far and it is good to have some variation to mainly play City of Heroes. Although if I keep liking it there is going to be some difficult decisions when it gets closer to release for The Secret World and Guild Wars 2. As much as I like what I see so far in SWTOR, TSW and GW2 are still the games I am looking forward to the most.
From reading some chat conversations in game, I might not be alone thinking that either. There were people that had SWTOR as a stopgap until GW2 would be released. There also seem to have been a drop in activity across a number of the SWTOR servers and a few of the were considered “dead”. A few people had just re-rolled characters on the server I was playing on also, because there were more people on this server and they had given up on their old servers.
It is a rather nice problem though to possibly have too many potentially good options to choose from – the market has not been flooded with interesting MMO games in a few years now, althugh there has been some neat releases.