I started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic over the past weekend. While I was active in the beta test and developed many opinions about the game, I decided to try to ignore those and start fresh hoping for nothing more than a fun game. Once I put the quest to find some new miracle game that solves all design flaws ever made aside, I found out there is a fun game to be had here – at least so far.
I wanted to play a Bounty Hunter based purely on a decision in my head to role-play someone that puts morals aside and focuses on the money. Naturally he is named Ethic.
My initial impressions on the quality of the game were not as good as I’d hoped. I expected the game to be highly polished but it did not feel that way. Character movement seemed sloppy and disconnected. I crashed to the desktop a few times. Choppy gameplay made it difficult to even want to move on. I spent some time out of game looking for video tweaks to make it run smoother and it helped, so I continued on with better results.
I really enjoy the voice acting, it brings the story into the quests and makes role-playing almost second nature, although to be honest it felt like at many times I was only being given 3 slighty different paths that all lead to the same result. My favorites were the times where you can decide if you want to let someone go or take them out. Those felt special.
Eventually I got my first companion and that really opened up the gameplay for me because this really feels like a single player game. I bet I saw less than a dozen actual players in the first 10 levels. Having the companion made the questing more interesting and it felt like I had my normal duo group that I am used to. The only thing I was having troubles with is trying to understand how my decisions affect our relationship. Some of my choices made her lose respect for me and others greatly increased it and I have not yet been able to see where the lines are drawn. This makes for another dynamic that interests me and I want to keep investigating.
One of my natural tendancies in games is to not read the tips, tutorials or manuals. I enjoy trying to see if my gut instincts on how things should work match up with the designers. One place this really hit me was with my companion. I was awarded some new armor pieces specifically for her. How to equip them was the obvious question. I tried clicking on her, clicking on her portrait, looking for a tab on my inventory, dragging the armor to her avatar; nothing worked. I had to fall back to the tips on the right side of the screen to find out I need to open my character sheet (which I had yet to view even once before) and then click on the companion tab and finally I could drag gear from my inventory window over. Seems to me the logical place to have this located would be on the inventory window or some sort of right click option from her portrait.
I really enjoyed the combat. Having to regularly take on groups of 3 by myself made me feel powerful and having my companion around only made it even more fun. The best moment in the game for me so far was when I got a skill called “Death from Above”. You target a group at a distance and then jetpack up off the ground and unload just about everything you have at your disposal. Epic skill and great wow factor.
One last thing I wanted to mention is datacrons. These are little boxes around the world which when found will grant your character a permanent bonus to your stats. At least that is my impressions as I chose not to read up about them offline. I found one datacron when exploring a little path, just because I wanted to see if there was anything out there. I was rewarded when I saw the glowing box. This is a perfect way to enhance one of my natural activities. I’m always wandering into the corners of the map just to see what is there. I only hope that they are not something you need to have, and must rely on a wiki. I want them to just be a happy little bonus for wandering.
I will wrap it up, just as I wrapped up my first planet and departed on the shuttle for places unknown, I can’t wait to get back out there and blow stuff up.