back to article Hands on with Star Wars: The Old Republic

So I have been waiting and waiting and waiting and finally the gaming world is flooded with Star Wars: The Old Republic beta keys. Star Wars: The Old Republic Slays against the machine My first question is, what level could I get to before Sunday night? After that, I don’t get to play again till 20 December, the day the game …

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A caveat on Light Side/Dark Side

Certain equipment has restrictions depending on how far you've gone with either Light/Dark conversation choices (for example, one of the equipment vendors in Dromund Kaas would only sell me a set of gloves if I met the Dark I criteria). I also believe that later dialogue choices also have Dark / Light options, again, once you've met specific ranks.

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I participated in the beta weekend as well. It's an extremely polished and well-executed MMO, and effortlessly consumed 12 hours of my life (as well as, subsequently, the time it took to pre-order). It is, however, at least in the first dozen or so levels, not much more than WoW with a Star Wars skin, modern graphics, and some small innovations. If you're okay with that, you'll love it.

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Anonymous Coward

WoW with lightsabers

Having played in the same Beta, I had 2 underlying feelings at the end, firstly, that Bioware took Star Wars and shoved WoW up its' backside, and wait for the flame wars from all the pre teen level 50 uber jedi's.

Despite the good story telling and nice graphics, it still falls into the same structure as WoW, LoTR, D&D et al,

Level to 10, get access to a skill tree.

Follow a carefully scripted quest chain doing side quests along the way

Everyone at a similar level of the same class in the same area at the same time

Very cookie cutter :(

Worst thing was having 15 other Jedi's around me, when I was being told that only I can do this task of finding the artifacts... knowing full well they were being told the same thing.

Can't wait for the swathes of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo wannbe's.

Bubba Phet anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

i look at it the other way...

slightly off topic and probably controversial but...

i never really got into rpgs, but i liked star wars, so gave KOTOR a bash. Was pretty darn good.

I Started playing skyrim the other day, it didn't have any light sabres, and is therefore not as good (at least so far, at about a day in to it)

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Headmaster

SWG is by far the worst MMO I've ever played (and I've played a LOT) so I very much hope this bears no resemblance to that farce of a game.

Anyway this preview was ridiculously short but the few details included match what my beta-testing mates have been telling me this weekend (4 of them so far).

Seems there's big balance issues already with Healers/"Casters" just being too good though my old WAR guild were quick to point out they are "not as bad as Bright Wizards".

Bitter?: yes

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aha

but maybe because you have played a lot of MMOs your are jaded? For those of us who have played little (pretty much just asherons call over 10 years ago) then this might be a decent laugh.

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swg was too complex for kids indeed, but for intelligent adults it was the best mmo ever bar none.....I've never seen any mmo with the social aspect that well developped, nor the freedom in what to play and how to play it....While in wow, swtor and other mental midget mmo's you're stuck with 1 of very few options, in a sandbox like swg you were completely free.....not "choose a class and be stuck with ot forever" but "spend 250 skillpoints to master up to 2 elite professions, and drop/pick up skills at ANY time......my swg char played melee tank/dps, AND glass cannon (bh with uber llc), AND commando (solo pve king), and smuggler (pistolero) etc....

really the only people that did not like the plethora of abilities and possibilities inswg were either sociopaths or mental midgets...

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Very promising

I spent an enjoyable time this weekend and its left me hungry for the release . As already said this review is so short as to be near meaningless . Everything gets compared to WoW and if WoW was released today then yes sure the graphics would be better but it would still lack the way this sucks you into the stories . Thanks in large to the cutscene dialogue with npcs . Will it be perfect and balanced at release , No but then again WoW was pretty bad at release as well . Given some time and patches I think we may finally see WoW lose its crown .

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Obligatory whenever I see "Old Republic"

"For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic, before the dark times, before the Empire. A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights."

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I found it interesting but the game which so far has the most impressive cutscenes which really make you feel a part of the game is Final Fantasy XI, you find yourself building a relationship with the NPC's who you interact with, memorable characters who you'll remember long after the storyline is done (Burn Shantotto!!!!), no MMO has been able to capture that feeling, not even the "sequel" FFXIV.

That said I'll probably pre-order this game to keep me occupied over the dark months, or until FFXIV 2.0 is released.

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Rob
Alien

This is WoW in it's early days...

... but in a galaxy far, far away. That was a sweeping generalisation so easy on the flames fanboi's.

I did enjoy the beta, after firing up a Sith Warrior on Friday night my aim was to get a starship before my last opportunity to play on Monday night. Although that was a bit of an anticlimax as I was expecting slightly more freedom with my ship, instead it's planet to planet travel and missions are 'on rails', still enjoyable though.

I know it's not exactly the same but the game engine is very similiar and the reason for that is probably because BioWare looked at successful business models for MMO's and what works and clearly thought Blizzard have got a majority of right as it's pulling the customers so lets do similiar. Also the fact that all the keyboard shortcuts being exactly the same will help any WoW player transition over to this one. (I'm looking at my budget to see if I can afford to run both together, I may have to play them alternate months).

The biggest difference between the 2 was probably that I found more drawn in by the quest dialogue but then you would when the camera locks you in, you can do nothing else other than watch and wait for your interaction point. Plus I know more about SW universe, despite the fact that I have been playing WoW for 7 odd years.

I wasn't worried by the graphics glitches and the fact that most of the character animations hadn't been enabled (WoW was the same in it's beta, along with a few other MMO's that have been in Beta).

I think a previous poster was right in the fact that a lot will draw comparsions with WoW, especially seeing as the game engine is virtually the same (including all the keyboard shortcuts) and the fact that WoW is currently the leader in monthly paid MMO's.

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Pint

Good review. I was quite impressed myself. It's an interesting mix of the familiar MMO elements, and some strong story-based gameplay.

Though I have to disagree about the controls: I found them awful. As a reasonably seasoned PC gamer, I'm use to the ol' "WASD to move/strafe, mouse to look" combination that has worked well for so many games. But SWOTOR ditches this in favour of using W/S to move, A/D to turn, and Q/E to strafe. The only way to aim with the mouse is by holding down RMB, something which sounds small but had my hand cramping after a while of constantly holding down the button. So I spent most of my game running around facing slightly the wrong way.

It sounds like I'm making a big deal of this, but for me it was the only thing that spoiled the game. 'Steering' with the keys feels very clunky and inaccurate, it was reminiscent of playing Doom (surely a classic, but not right for a modern game). It was a jarring experience, I could only feel immersed by imagining that my character had some sort of deficiency that kept him from being able to face the right way!

I can understand why the makers would want to distance themselves from 'normal' PC games, because it is in many ways not a normal game. But it'd be nice at least to have the option to control our characters in a way that works.

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Stop

Key Bindings

Change the bindings in the preferences menu.

Not that big of a deal ;)

Sorry, had to misquote the old Messiah there. Key bindings are very easy to change and it's weird they set it up that way by default, but nothing you have to live with.

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Coffee/keyboard

Normal MMO Controls

So you're complaining that a new MMO uses the same control scheme as every other MMO (including the massively successful WoW)?

Interesting...

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Flame

Most promising aspect

Not brought to you by the complete, total retards also known as SOE. This game has to be at least 50% good because of that.

I'm in therapy, but my therapist is pissed about SOE too. FTW

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Alien

SWG pre CU FTW

It wasnt the lag fest of corronet or the naf missions. It was the community making your own towns and making the world around you, spending an hour sorting out a set of orange padded armour some rebel scum had msgd you about simply because i hannt done it.......... now this? hmm im a big ME fan and am eyeing a full play through once more before 3 comes out, do i wanna sub to that type of game? not with BF3 and Skyrim i dont:P

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting post.

Any chance of getting an English translation of your post?

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jai
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very looking forward to it

I know people claim it's much like WoW and very cookie-cutter, but, it is an MMO. There's only so much you can do with that genre. The alternative would be something totally different like Eve Online, but that wouldn't appeal to as many people.

I've heard that the devs have made a concious effort to ensure the game is story driven, so not so many random pointless quests purely for the sake of leveling up. Also, no grinding mobs for the sake of levelling too. All of which appeals to me.

And to be honest, the core demographic for this game will be Star Wars nuts, so it makes sense for the story to drive the game.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much, MMO's aren't really my thing, but I'm quite a fan of Star Wars, so I played it to check it out. And I really enjoyed it. Found myself logging back in for another hour or two again and again. And when I wasn't logged it, I found myself thinking about it, wondering what it'd be like when I got to the higher levels, what it'd be like to play the other classes. Whereas, with WoW, I only played the other classes out of boredom, not because I was genuinely interested in how they differed.

Can't wait for Dec 20th.

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Silver badge
FAIL

"but that wouldn't appeal to as many people"

Bullshit.

We have no way of knowing what or won't appeal to as many people. We only know what gets funding sign-off, and games execs these days basically want WoW because it makes money.

The stupid part is of course, that if you want to play WoW, you'll play WoW.

I weep for the lost designs and the horrible WoWification of different designs (all of which fail after being WoWified, you'll note, probably for the reason given above) and you say "wouldn't appeal to as many people"?

I hate you.

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F**k games make movies

Seriously, have you seen the SWTOR trailers? These people make better Star Wars movies than Lucas ever did, not that that's particularly hard.

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the trailers

I've only seen the one from a couple months ago, which ended in the hangar deck. Made by Blur Studios, and yep, f'ing brilliant, I could easily watch 90 minutes of that.

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Mushroom

There are 2 (NEED MOAR):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0RuR3FREFw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lrk2BE4Tqc

Holy shit I would hunt down and kill every one of you to get to see a full feature length amount of this awesomeness. As for another version of WoW, even with a Star Wars skin on it - meh. I guess I would probably try it out if it was free. Galaxies was kind of neat, but not enough to pay a monthly subscription for, glad I didn't since they murdered the thing anyway.

Cookie cutter quests on rails are BORING. It should be totally player driven. I want the fat slob in his mothers basement who's been playing 20 hrs a day for 6 months and built up a Hutt empire the likes of which has never been seen before to have a guy in a cantina where a noob like me can sign up and get marching orders to join a campaign to burn down Mos Eisley on his whim. Or something like that. I want to be able to join the Stormtroopers and work up to being a company leader and then just decide to mutiny and take my men out to be mercenaries for hire, and I want that to piss off whatever guy is battalion commander and for him to hire an assassin to take me down. Or whatever the hell anyone wants. Anything else might as well be single player.

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I played the beta all weekend until they kicked me at 6am on Tuesday. Going to work on Tuesday after 2 hours sleep was tough.

There were lots of people in the general chat saying "it's just WoW with a Star Wars skin" but it's exceedingly rare to find any game that is completey new and anyway WoW is just Everquest with a Warcraft skin. Personally I found SWTOR reminded me of older Bioware games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. The quality of the storyteling and voice acting made me forget that most quests are of the 'kill x of something' type and the class quests in particular were great.

I've participated in a few MMO betas in recent years and SWTOR was the most polished and stable at this stage of development. I only had one crash to desktop all weekend, no lag and the fps on my old Geforce 9800 was more than good enough.

I still haven't decided if I will part with my hard earned cash for SWTOR but I think I will and I'm a tight Scotsman with an EVE addicion to finance.

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A lot of fun

I played SWTOR this past weekend, and enjoyed it quite a lot.

The combat flowed nicely, the quests were fairly predictable (as were most of the plotlines), but it all came together very well.

The feeling was that it was a coherent universe, with various factions that had actual causes and reactions, not just "oh, yeah, here's a random monster or thing to do." Some of the NPCs had real personalities, like the fairly-awful reporter you run into in one war zone (which was when I wanted the option to "smack her in the head").

A lot of the game won't really "work" until the servers have been up for a couple of weeks. The auction houses were mostly empty because people were too busy leveling and exploring to buy or sell, and most people weren't using the social aspects of the game - it really cries out for active guildmates to play with.

But - this is the important bit - it's Star Wars.

When I created my first character, and The Titles came up (with The Music), telling me about my role in the universe... it was May of 1977, sitting in that theater all over again.

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Fun...

I too managed to play some this past weekend and throughly enjoyed it.

As a seasoned MMO player since Everquest in 1999 I feel all these games are EQ clones anyway, but this is a good one.

I loved the story elements and even enjoyed classes I won't play after launch, I played Republic as not to spoil the Empire side when the game releases but that smuggler was fun to play even if a bit stereotyped (actually come to think of it, that was the fun part)

There is also a certain questline on Coruscant that at first had me in disbelief at the dialogue but had me in stiches of laughter at the end... I'll just drop one hint for those who did it as well: "we have achieved purple parallel"

As to killing 4 enemies at a time at lvl 2, that's normal, the game is setup this way to make you feel more heroic... hence nearly all encounters are groups of enemies.

Apart from some queuing and some laggy moments I didn't run into any real technical difficulties either, unlike other games I have tested in the past.

I'm looking at you here, AO & SWG.

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Happy

Hmm

Some points to remember:

-All MMO's go through the initial growing pains that plague the genre. WoW was nigh inaccessible for weeks on end due to server side issues...I remember being gifted a free month and a half because of all the issues, so it's to be expected that there's going to be lag issues until players spread out across the game's universe. Look at what happens whenever a new expansion comes out, all the players clog the starting areas until the content gets into it's second or third week then the issues largely become self-regulating.

-In that same vein, keep in mind the beta weekend stress tests are just that...tests for the server and to give players some exposure to the game before release... they are NOT current clients either, they are often several months old and the "Elite" Beta testers have the most current clients which fix a lot of the bugs present in these beta versions.

-Everyone is going to make the comparisons to WoW. Why? Because WoW set the bar. EQ was king until WoW came along, and promptly handed over the crown, the keys to the kingdom and called it a night (though EQ is still going fairly strong). WoW Revamped the genre and became what every MMO since has aspired to become, and surpass. Lofty goals to be sure.

-Balance is an impossibility considering everyone wants the differences. Unless the classes are absolutely identical in every regard (thus removing any semblance of story and variation) balance is a pipe dream. Yes, something's need to be tweaked here and there, but that's what the development teams are for, and something even the vaunted WoW struggles to achieve constantly. Fixing one class might make another much more powerful because it was kept in check by that other class. Then comes the question, what determines being OP? SOmeone might be more adept at using their class abilities, or reacting to multiple targets and CCing like a boss, or maybe they're adept at using movement and terrain to their advantage. Warhammer comes close to havign balance, but that's because most classes mirror others...then it becomes an issue of RNG (Random Number Generator), Gear, Teamplay, Latency, and other mitgating factors.

Point is, this game offers the feeling of a much more visceral immersion in the gameworld than WoW offers. How many years did it take those guys to build the Inn in Westfall? You immeadiately get the sense of being embroiled in this massive conflict whether of your own volition, or merely being a soldier for hire. In my playing of a Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, Trooper and Sith Warrior, I found each story was its own flavor, each class had their reasons for being there...

I was somewhat timid in approaching the game because of Bioware's typical novel sized conversations between PC's and NPCs, but I was glad to see most conversational custscenes are kept fairly short and to the point, but have their own quirks. The NPCs FEEL fleshed out, and possessed of their own personalities and motivations.

Overall I was truly impressed with the product I played for the few weekends I had access, and can't wait to get my hands on the finished product. I'm certainly approaching the game with an open mind and understand that the growing pains will be there for a little while, but I think the end result will be a supremely enjoyable product. In that regard I really don't think anyone who judges the games "Awesomeness" or "Suck" factors in terms of best-ever or worst-ever are doing so half-cocked, as it's an unfinished product most were exposed too.

If you loved the game, GREAT! If you didn't like it, that's unfortuante, but where it wasn't JUST a sneakpeek, it was a beta - meaning your input is looked at much more than it might be three years after the fact. If there's something you don't like, mention it and offer improvements. When gamers don't bother to make suggestions or only provide criticisms with no constructive element, it seriously hinders the development of the game. Who knows, that little idea you suggested may be the thing that changes it for not just you, but everyone else and brings them into the fold, or makes the other players go: Wow, that's an awesome idea.

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I played briefly...

...and I was utterly bored as well as plagued with lag.

There are plenty of free MMO's out there that fill my need now. If I'm going to be paying for it, it has to be something special and for me this is not it.

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Anonymous Coward

never fear it'll be f2p in 6 months

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Happy

Played all weekend

I had fun.

Regardless of what other MMOs the game is like, the fact that I had fun overrides every small complaint I came up with.

People seem to forget that - too much nitpicking when all you need to ask is "did you enjoy yourself?"

I'll be there on the 15th and a good while thereafter!

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Anonymous Coward

The big disappointment for me was the lack of classes and role discrimination.

The four Republic classes are identical to the four Empire classes. Their abilities have different graphics - force lightning for the Sith, rocks pulled out of the ground for the Jedi - but the game effect is the same.

And once you get to level ten and can pick between 1 of only two advanced classes you discover that all four classes get the choice between tank-healer or tank-damage dealer. (This applies to both Jedi classes and their Sith clones and the Trooper and it's clone the Bounty Hunter. Didn't play the smuggler / imperial agent).

That said, I've pre-ordered so I'll be playing for at least the first month.

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Played this weekend, and yes, it's a WoW in starwats theme with some extra whistles and bells....and it will never hold a candle to pru-cu SWG (which to date is the greatest MMO concept EVER)...people that did'nt like pre-cu swg tenden to be on the dumb side, as the game system was not made at the difficulty level of a toddler, as with wow and swtor.

Still hoping for "swg 2.0" a sandbox mmo in starwars setting, in stead of the xth themepark mmo with EXACTLY the same gameflow, start in starter area, move to capital, clear capital region move on etc.. BORING!!!!!!!

Ah how I miss the social aspects of a game like swg

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Anonymous Coward

"people that[sic] didn't[sic] like pre-cu swg tendon[sic] to be on the dumb side"

Was every "pre-cu swg" player as incoherent, illiterate and randomly insulting as you?

I shudder at the kind of "community" you must had "enjoyed".

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Silver badge

Nah.

Let's be honest with ourselves - PreCU was unbalanced crap.

The CU itself did great things for everything in the game, especially balance. EXCEPT...

Jedi. With the CU, Jedi became the only class you'd ever want to play. I remember a massed battle in the CU testlive beta, it was fantastic. Thirty or forty imps, similar number of rebs, a planted base outside Mos Eisley and a running siege for about 4 hours straight. Everyone was having a great time.

Then a jedi showed up and killed all the Imperials. Every last one.

There was some nerfing later and some boosting of everything else but it wasn't the CU that killed SWG, it was jedi. The later NGE fiasco was just giving the game a decent cremation.

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Paris Hilton

A missed opportunity

I tried the beta too, fairly intensively too since I had the time, reaching level 28 (my target had been level 25 so I could ride a speeder). There were a few bugs, nothing too game breaking, the worst of which being that all my recipes disappeared after doing some crafting, that's a known issue though so should be fixed for release. The graphics (particularly on Aldebaran) were good although some levels feel a bit too 'enclosed' for me.

However as I played on, the overwhelming feeling I got was one of a missed opportunity.

Like other posters have noted WoW has been out for seven years now, I've played it for five of those seven. SWTOR has the same basic 'kill, collect or click somewhere' that WoW had when it first came out, but now WoW quests offer a lot more variety, mini games, vehicles and so on. SWTOR feels like going back in time in terms of quests.

Also as others have noted, the UI and controls are WoW with a new skin. But again where is the innovation? Group healing in WoW is only really made sensible by the use of addons (Healbot and Grid if you're into WoW). Why didn't the SWTOR delevopers build some of that into their core UI? As it is, group healing is once again a mess of constantly switching target before casting a heal.

SWTOR apparently won't support addons at launch, so although I'm at least tempted to see the class storyline through, I'm not sure that it will hold players for the endgame, which is really where WoW has been successful over so many years.

Paris, because she knows how to play a good game.

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