Now that the SWTOR NDA has been lifted, let me talk a bit about Star Wars: The Old Republic

Greetings and Salutations!

If you are like me, both a fan of Star Wars and a fan of MMO RPG gaming, then this blog is definitely for you! I’ve been lucky enough to test SWTOR for awhile now, and I must say that it’s among my top ten favorite PC games of all time! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and a second copy for my wife. I anticipate many hours of fun in our new future.

First of all, I decided that I absolutely MUST play out a Bounty Hunter. Yes, this is an Imperial class and NO your character cannot ever switch factions. However, there is no need to feel that you have to be a despicable character for being a BH. You are free to choose Light Side or Dark Side options regardless of whether you choose a Republic character or one from the Empire. Each faction has four classes and those four are relatively mirrored in each faction. But on to the Bounty Hunter.

As a BH you can be a healer or decide you want to deal out massive damage. At first I was unaware of the fact that my choice of class could lead to being a healer, but someone pointed it out to me in a FlashPoint mission and I realized that they expected me to heal our tank. Now, I’m not naturally a guy that chooses a healer as my primary focus, but alas I went along with it. Now, please bear in mind, I chose my advanced class with the thought that dual pistols not only seemed like they would be a more damage oriented role, but because wielding two weapons just looks damned cool! (More about Advanced Classes later.) Within my advanced class I went towards the damage spec (again, not a healer type guy here) but it was undeniable that I had some healing abilities. It actually came in handy, but I wound up spending more time healing than fighting, much to my chagrin. The upside though, is that healers seem to be in large demand. It seems that I’m not the only person who isn’t particularly drawn to healing as a class focus. However, I still managed to have some fun and… as a healer I got to keep away from some serious butt kickings and even managed to stay alive and finish off a boss when everyone else had finally fallen. I couldn’t possibly keep three other people in full health and help destroy enemies all at the same time. So… it was nice to finish things off solo and show them what a BH can really do! 😀 I will probably make at least two BH’s at release so I can try both AC’s. Don’t be suprised if you find out I made two more to try different Skill Trees as well. More about skills coming up… (wait for it… waaaaaaait for it…)

So what is this talk about AC’s (Advanced Classes) you ask? With each class, you get to choose between two AC’s that vary from class to class. You might have the option to be Damage/Defense, Damage/Helaer, Tank/Damage, etc. It’s worth reading the descriptions before you choose because you don’t get to change later on. Also worth noting is that when you do choose your AC, you get three skill trees to add points into, but it seems that there are only enough points to gain any real proficiency with only one of those trees. I recommend against trying to mix and match. You can reset your skill tree, but the cost increases drastically with each reset so I recommend that you take a little time checking the trees before you start throwing points into them all willy nilly. Yes I just said willy nilly and you probably laughed 😉

The story lines .. so very immersive and over 900 voice talents! That’s right, over 900 people were hired to produce the voice-overs for all the NPC’s in this game. You may even recognize a few of the more famous voices that were employed. 😉 I couldn’t believe how much fun I had interacting with the various characters as my characters progressed through story lines that would carry from place to place, level to level, world to world.  If you’re unfamiliar with BioWare’s more recent releases, you may not be familiar with the system they have for conversations. You can choose from two or three replies with each NPC that you talk to. It’s really fun and allows you to create a character that is all your own. In addition, you can often have these conversations while in a group and everyone chooses a response. When you choose, you get a virtual roll of the dice and the player with the highest number is the one to act out the response. All the while, everyone in the group gets to see each other during these NPC conversation cut away scenes. Truly awesome!

Now if you’re wondering whether I played any other classes, the answer is YES! I played most every available class at least a little bit. As a matter of fact, I never thought I would enjoy playing a Sith class (not to be confused with the Sith Race), especially a primarily force using Sith, but between the ability to down a foe with lightning and the storyline, I enjoyed this class as much as the Bounty Hunter. I was VERY pleasantly surprised. Not to mention the double ended light saber a la Darth Maul. What surprised me even more was that I was able to play a Twilek race Sith! The force class is the Inquisitor, the melee known as a Warrior. Warriors, FYI, get the chance to use two single sabers at once. My buddy and I had so much fun just running around from quest to quest with our light sabers drawn that we would often talk about how much we loved it! Every time a fight was over and the characters put their sabers away, we would purposely unsheathe them just for the look. I also really loved playing the Smuggler class, but I’ll probably talk about that later in another blog or perhaps on the GS Forums. Worth noting, if you pre-order before the release, you will be the proud owner of a free color crystal to change the color of your blade or gun bolts. 😉

The graphics seemed to leave a little bit to be desired when I first started testing, but let me tell you that they have made some massive improvements along the way. The textures are beautiful, the worlds are rich in detail and some of the environments are just downright epic, in my opinion. Statues that tower up into the sky, cities that seem to go on forever and underground areas that make you feel like you are truly in a deep cavern or deep in the gutters and dark underworld of a massive city. And if you haven’t already heard, it’s very much worth exploring. Each started planet has three “datacrons” and every planet thereafter has five (or six?) of these items. Datacrons will either lend a permanent stat boost or give you a shard that can be used to create an item later on. I won’t go into details on the shards, but you can find more information on them if you like.

All this said, I would love to go on and on, but then I wouldn’t have any more to blog about later. So I hope you have enjoyed my little blog about SWTOR and be sure to check back for more at a later date!

Have fun, be sure to get your copy sooner than later and.. as always,
Good Gaming Everyone!

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