Three month review: SWTOR

In response to Kristalys call for re-reviews I thought I’d post my thoughts on the game.

As important background my time in SWTOR to date has been limited due to my part time Masters degree studies. This has tempered my ability to become obsessive about the game, and in many instances has limited the length of my play sessions as well.

I think SWTOR is an excellent MMO and a well polished successor to the KOTOR legacy it follows. I am still enjoying each session I play, and I certainly do not lack goals in game to achieve. The Jedi Sage is a fun healer class to play, and given the excellent companion system it also isn’t an absolute slog to level solo either (as was the experience of levelling a holy priest in WoW before Cataclysm).

To date I have travelled through Tython, Coruscant, Taris, Nar Shaddaa, Tattoinee and about half of Alderaan. Each planet has presented a new experience with varied climates, landscapes and ‘atmosphere’ (how the planet feels to play in). The artwork is simply stunning, I’ve made many posts showing off screenshots from SWTOR already, mainly because I want to showcase just how lovely the environmental art really is.

The PVE content has been surprisingly challenging at times. Sure the random wild creatures are generally not much of a fight. But the widespread use of mixed groups as encounters does make you pay more attention to surroundings. The presence of ‘gold’ elite mobs out in the open also offers the chance to test your skills and to get some better loot if that’s important. I particularly like the inclusion of ‘elite zones’, areas of open world where grouping is a good idea for survival. This leads me neatly onto one of the biggest advances I see this game bringing. It is very small group friendly, during beta I pugged a lot of heroics and found them to be challenging yet good fun to play through. Since launch I’ve done many more of these with friends or guild mates. They’re the perfect ‘bite size’ content for modern MMO gaming.

In contrast I’ve done very few instance runs. Those I have seen have impressed me for their artistic quality and challenge but I simply find I haven’t the time for them at the moment and having other group content to do is a real bonus.

I’ve played Sage mostly and enjoy it immensely, I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with healer spec at cap and give healing in instances or even raids a go depending on what my guild needs over the summer. I’ve also played a trooper up to level 10 and do look forward to returning to that character both for the class story and for a variation on play style. I’d agree wholeheartedly with Shintar on how much fun troopers are to play. I think this needs some emphasis as ‘warrior’ types can be bland as hell. I never could get into playing my warrior in WoW, I just found it so dull. I doubt personally though I’ll ever swap to a trooper for main as I love me some Jedi mind-trick action ;-)

My one negative would probably be crafting at present. It’s interesting in concept as a companion activity, queueing the tasks or missions with inactive helpers. But in practice its a distraction from missions or instances anyway, I think I’ve really been spoiled by EQ2s superlative crafting system here. Anything that is WoWesque (WoW, Rift, SWTOR and others) just isn’t engaging enough. I do continue to level my biochem of course, but I’m not feeling the need to have a stable of alts to cover the whole gamut of crafting options.

I think the game certainly has a bright future. I’d like to see Bioware avoid the ‘raids, heroics and more raids’ trap that has befallen Rift and so many earlier games. Let’s keep the 4th pillar (story) well in the centre of this game please, I want to see new planets and new story lines to explore as content releases begin to flow! Expanding on housing would be great as well, more customisation of our personal ships and eventually the guild capital ships too.

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