This last week I had an unexpected opportunity to try out the 12x bonus to class quest XP that was introduced to SWTOR. It’s a system that lets you level characters by only doing the class missions. As presented it’s aimed at helping veteran players boost alts quickly up to the end-game (or near to it at level 55 as that’s when the bonus ends).
I’ve not subscribed to SWTOR since the first time I left the game back in August 2012. Since then I’ve played a levelling trio as a preferred player (i.e. ex-subscriber) up to about level 35. I also purchased the Makeb expansion (levels 50-55) but found the levelling as a F2P player to be slow and tedious so gave up barely into level 52. I signed-up for a week of subscription status via a refer-a-friend code. That gave me the chance to try out the accelerated levelling and to see what the game is like to play as a subscriber in 2015.
My Jedi Sage was languishing un-loved a few zones in to the Makeb planetary story-line and so I focused at first on him. This side of the experience of fast levelling was excellent. I was able to concentrate on the more-interesting main storyline for the planet and ignore the more grindy repeatable missions in each zone. These were, I guess, there to make up for lack of XP-heavy class story mission during levels 50 to 55.
I was partway through the planetary storyline of course and the bonus XP only applies to ‘class’ questlines – this includes the Makeb planetary storyline since there are no class-specific storylines in this level range. After playing through the story he was level 54 and a bit. I was then unsure what to do next as I’ve not followed the game properly in the intervening years but thankfully the various emails hinted at what I could be doing with him next. Running the Forged Alliances two tactical flashpoints with the helpful GSI support droid gave me the necessary boost to get to 55.
It was an interesting experience, especially compared to the similar buff that’s used for solo-conversion of story instances in LOTRO. I’d say the SWTOR system is slightly less extreme since it is perfectly possible to die if you ignore boss fight tactics or over pull. I took the opportunity of subscriber time to buy some inventory space and bank increases for credits since non-subscribers can only get these for cartel coins.
With a few days of the bonus XP left I felt it important to try out a lower level character to see how that plays with the bonus in effect. It’s been fun but I have somewhat mixed feelings on it. I’m levelling a Commando (DPS/Healer Trooper) that’s been on hold since I left him at level 15 on Coruscant.
In only a few sessions I zoomed him through the Trooper class missions on Coruscant (the latter half), all of Tavis & Nar Shaddaa and a third of Tattooine. The focus on the class storyline is a bonus for keeping the sometimes complex story clear, of course – at times when we were playing our sporadic levelling trio Empire-side we’d come back to play and be thoroughly confused what any of our characters were doing. I do feel somewhat rushed by such a crazy pace of levelling. It’s a good way to boost a new character up to 55 for future play in the new expansion or group content, but it’s not exactly a deep gameplay experience. Newer players, and returnees like me who are somewhat distanced in time from all the planetary storylines, are probably better off turning the XP buff off and playing at a more measured pace.
Having a heavy-armour character at the cap is something I actually would like. I’m finding my MMORPG tastes have changed and I’d rather play Commando than Sage (perhaps influenced by my recent Engineer experiences in Wildstar versus the Medic). So this once I was willing to use the bonus and give my Trooper a boost, but I’d hesitate to use it again in future. The levelling content in SWTOR is the best content in the game and it’s well worth playing it through.