I was given a chance to try out Star Wars: The Old Republic last weekend during their weekend server stress test. Problem is, I found out I was invited the weekend it was happening which resulted in around just about a day of testing out the game. Lesson learned though: Emails must be checked religiously when applying for beta testing. Regardless, I did get enough game time to get a feel of how EA's new MMO plays.
I just had to realize the invite late...
It sucks, I know. Found out last friday that I was accepted and received the link to download the client, but with how big the client is, it took me two days to download it. 20gb was it? I do have decent connection but I occasionally turned off the PC to de-stress it since it's usually oven hot in the afternoon, which resulted in me having the client all patched up and ready for use by Sunday afternoon. Then when I saw the login screen all ready for me to add my info, I had to go out for the night. Before leaving though, I quickly created my character so it's all ready when I get back. I knew server's were going down after the weekend and that I had a very small window to try out Star Wars: The Old Republic. So I decided that when I get the chance, regardless of how late it already is, I'll try the game. 1AM in the morning, I started my Human Smuggler class.
There where 2 region's to choose from: North America or Europe. With me living in Asia, lag was inevitable with those choices, but Europe felt like the best choice to have less lag, well that's what I thought. I had a latency of 600-800(1-2 bars) which was close to annoying at certain points during play. I bet there will be asian servers but during my time with the game, I had to live with it.
Fully voiced NPC's makes a HUGE difference
While I did start having my first character as the Han Solo class of the game, the lag avoided me from enjoying the unique cover system for the class, so I quickly switched to something easier, the Jedi Knight class. What came out awesome when I started with both characters was that each class has it's very own prologue. With the jedi Knight class, the prologue has you coming out of a transport ship, with a training lightsaber stick equipped ready to be assigned as the new Padawan of a Jedi Master. The back story given gives you a sense of how important you are to the story it tries to tell, and with the whole game fully voiced, it's the best introduction you will experience in any MMO.
The conversations you have is as if your playing a Dragon Age/Mass Effect game which is the games strong suit because it actually works well. Choices at times also matter since there is light and dark alignment. If you choose a more jedi-like approach(Which is always the top choice), you earn light reputation; If you pick the dark choice(always the bottom choice), it will earn you dark reputation. They say raising this will give you access to certain items depending how high you are in that alignment, so there's a bit of an incentive to choose what path you'd like to take for your character. It's literally Bioware's conversation wheel in their past RPGs but now placed in an MMO. You will see a conversation bubble above a player's head to indicate that he is engaged in a conversation with an NPC.
Gameplay is nothing much to mention since its very similar to World of Warcraft but with a slower pace. Which is proven by WoW to be a very effective format, so why change it? Quests still require to kill this much, or activate certain devices but again what makes it unique is that you can engage in conversations that make you care about the quest a bit more. Even with a mini boss that die in like 2 minutes, you first talk to him and have the option to find out his intentions(If you really want to care). Thanks to this sto-driven element they focused so much on, this MMO will definitely stand out and make players look the other way, question is for how long.
I sadly only was able to produce a level 8 Jedi Knight and was so close to finishing the prologue to see the game outside the introduction. Was close to collapsing so had to call it quits. They say around level 10 is where you get out of the prologue and at the same time pick your specialization(two for each class) - For my Jedi Knight, I had the choice to be either more damage focused or more designed for the tanking role.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Opening Cinematic
Am I Interested?
No. While I enjoyed how this MMO is very story-driven , the gameplay has too much similarities to a game that I've spent 2 years of my life on. While it's a formula that just works in the MMO world, I personally don't plan to go through it again. Thanks to this beta opportunity, I get a chance to get rid of my curiosity in Star Wars: The Old Republic. For avid MMO gamers though - It's worth exploring and is definitely THE Star Wars online that fans have been waiting for. Its sound score gives me goose bumps as I charge through a group of droids and the quality of the voice acting is one of the best, just as expected from Bioware. How I wished I had more time to explore more of what the game has to offer but If I was still into MMO's, I'd definitely pick this game up, even pre-order it since you get to start playing the game 5 days earlier.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is out this December 20 for PC only. It will have a monthly fee of $14.99 with other payment plans like a 3 month plan or a 6 month plan. If you want to gather more info, head over the official site or check out the game's FAQ.