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Default SW:TOR. The good, the bad, the good

November 19th, 2011, 00:50
So, NDA for TOR is lifted finally.
I've been in beta for hmm… 3 months already?
So, in a few words, I love it!
Someone else will probably post a more complete review (and I'm sure you can read many reviews around), so I'll just summarize my experiences from beginning to end.
- Beginning: Character creation:
Those who love character customization, don't look here. There are 2 sides (Sith and Republic), each side with 4 mirror classes (i.e. Jedi Consular is basically the same as Sith Inquisitor with different animations for the attacks). Male and female (obviously) options, each with I think 4 'race' options (I don't consider cyborg a race but whatever). The only difference between a race and another is just appearance, and a social ability (non-combat). As far as appearance, you have 4 body types, some options for hair, scars, etc, but don't expect a City of Heroes customization system.
At level 10 you get to choose your specialization, so there really are 8 different classes gameplay wise. Each specialization has 3 skill trees to improve advance (you get 1 skill point per level from 10, so 31 skill points to distribute) making some differentiation even for two people of the same specialization (but not too much)
-Initial gameplay:
If you like action and different combat systems, don't look here. This is basically WoW in Star Wars. Click abilities, use mana or energy, wait for cooldowns, etc. Nothing revolutionary there.
-Continued gameplay:
This is where the game shines. First, at about level 5 or so you get your first companion. They fight beside you like in KotoR or Mass Effect, and they have different abilities and even their own mini-storylines. They complement your abilities, and after a while you'll have up to 5 or 6 different companions that can fill needed roles as you see fit (say you're in a group with 2 tanks and you're DPS, someone pulls their healing companion and group is set). You can only have one companion with you at a time.
Speaking of storylines. This is what sets this game apart. Each class has a different story (and they're really well done). All the way from 1 to 50 you'll be following your character from a nobody to an epic finale, with cutscenes and decisions.
What's not so great is that your quest line is about 30% I think of your experience, the rest are the shared quests, flashpoints (explained later), heroic missions, exploration, etc. You'll play them as a Jedi Knight, and when you play a new character as a Smuggler, you'll be doing them again. Only variation is that your responses can be 'light side', neutral or 'evil' (and for smugglers/imperial agents you usually have an extra option to flirt your way around things). So you can be a good Bounty Hunter and these quests will have different speeches when you play a bad Sith Warrior (though their outcome is pretty much the same), just different flavor.
Max level is 50. You should be able to reach this in about 100-150 hours per character I think, obviously depends on how much of the time you're just counting the pixels of your screen, but I think that's what it took me in the char I took to 50.
-Multiplayer gameplay:
Groups are made of up to 4 characters (that includes companions). There are heroic quests which are basically normal quests with stronger enemies. But, there's also the Flashpoints…
This is another area where the game shines. Flashpoints. The most awesome gameplay experience I've had. Basically, these are long quests (take about 1 hour to complete) done with 4 people (usually), with lots of conversations in which decisions and responses are decided randomly by different members of the group. For example, at some point you may find 10 enemy mobs inside an airlock threatening 10 scientists. A decision would popup to a) save the scientists and fight the mobs (light) or b) open the airlock and let them all die (dark). You may decide option (a), but a roll is made, whoever has the highest roll actually makes the decision (though for your personal effects, you get light or dark points depending on what you decided). This makes it so each time you play the flashpoint, you can have a wildly different experience depending on party composition and who wins what decisions… I love flashpoints.
-PvP:
No comment, as I don't PvP.
-Crafting:
Basically standard MMO here, just gather components, click and craft. Nothing too fancy like in Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest 2. Still, there is a twist, in which you are not the one who crafts, your companions are, so you can send them to do the crafting while you're adventuring or either offline.
-3d vision:
Ok so this won't affect many people, but I LOVE IT! it works fine for this game. I've also played Skyrim with 3d vision and it's not nearly as good IMHO.

Final comments:
I like the game. Combat system is nothing new, but following the stories of each class will be enough to make me play the game for some 8 months or so (calcuguessing about a month per char).
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November 19th, 2011, 01:53
Oh you ARE kidding me! I've had this review hanging around for a month and a half and it's always had the good/bad/ugly format. This stealing of my thought patterns is NOT acceptable, Wolfing. Cease and desist immediately or I'll whine about it. Anyway, since your topic title works OK for my own review and since I've got it sitting in my clipboard from posting it elsewhere….

(Note: I wrote this for my City of Heroes friends, as you'll soon see.)

Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first. If you’re wondering whether this game is better than City of Heroes, stop wondering. SWTOR is pretty much a decade-old MMO smothered in a lot of BioWare goodness. CoH is, IMHO, the better game. Of course, I've played CoH to death so I still very much plan to play this one.

A quick disclaimer – I really concentrated on the single player aspect. The few “heroic” (read: group oriented) missions I did were done solo. I also stuck to the dark side the whole time, in anticipation of playing mostly on the light side come release. I never even thought about doing the PvP thing.

The Good

First of all, it’s STAR WARS! It looks like Star Wars, it sounds like Star Wars, it feels like Star Wars. There's fan service galore, including a smuggler power called 'shot first'.

It’s also BIOWARE! There are lots of very good stories in this MMO. When I was playing my sith Inquisitor, the story was clearly building up to a battle between my character and my master. Gee, what a shock. It finally built up to an epic showdown between upstart apprentice and evil establishment master then… well, let’s just say my faith in BioWare storytelling was fully restored. They foreshadowed what would happen quite well but still gave a shocking surprise. Even the quick little one-off quests are OK.

The art is really great stuff, particularly the landscapes. I’m not a big fan of the cartoony look at all but the artists did a super job with what textures and polygon limits they had. The music is also done very well.

There’s some exploration to do! They’ve got datachrons (little glowing boxes) scattered all over the planets in out of the way places. If you find one, it will give a small, permanent boost to your stats and an extra lore entry. Those things are NOT easy to find! Even when you do find them, they often aren’t easy to get to. I found them very enjoyable. I just hope people don’t spoil the fun by blabbing locations on the general chat channel.

There’s good variety in the classes. Not quite as good as City of Heroes (that slot system is simply amazing) but good enough to be fun.

The companions work well. I particularly like how you can send them off to do crafting for you while you do your adventuring.

The voice acting is extremely well done. Every once in a while it sounded compressed but that got rare as beta moved along. In fact, the voice acting was so well done that I think it completely ruined Two World 2 for me.

The Bad

Forget customization. There is some here and there but very little. To City of Heroes veterans, this can really be painful. Your choice in looks is small, lasers only shine in one of six colors, your powers have no choice in colors at all, your gear will mostly be dictated by stats (though there is a little wiggle room there) – hell, you can’t even pick what color your HUD should display. You can pick a few presets for companions but why not just let us into the character creation area to pick what we want?

The game is really easy in the mid-levels. One reason I didn’t group is because there didn’t seem to be much point in it. It would be like Darth Vader needing the emperor to help him take on a bunch of scared younglings. I’m hoping the instanced areas beef up at least a few of the encounters when part of a group. (Note: some nerfs came down recently that may help this problem.)

Asheron’s Call actually has a better interface. Seriously. All you can do is turn some pre-placed power bars on and off.

There’s not enough instancing, IMHO. They’ve done a pretty good job with spawn rates to keep you from standing in line a whole lot but standing in line AT ALL really disturbs me. It does seem to get better in later levels as instances get larger and more common.

The (no longer) Ugly

When you finish your first combat mission, you will have seen almost all the enemies you will ever see for the first 30 levels. There will always be the guy that shoots and the guy that runs up and hits you. Maybe the guy that runs up at you will be a big lizard instead of a twi’lek with a vibrosword but it really doesn’t change what tactics you will use.

On Alderaan there were some neat looking bug people. How do you think they attacked? A stinger that would paralyze you for a dozen seconds? Maybe an acid spray? Perhaps a chance to summon two or three smaller ant people? Nope. Most shoot you with blasters. Some of them run up and hit you with vibroswords. Honestly, it’s like fighting the Skulls through your entire career.

You do eventually see some variety. At first it’s just tiny status effects that come and go so fast you’ll be doing well to even notice they happened at all. Then you get some enemies that will actually heal each other. Then you start running into force users that will knock you around a bit and use holds that actually last long enough to notice. (And that’s about as far as I saw.)

What’s even more disturbing to me is that nobody else seemed to care in the forums. People EXPECT this!?

(Note: Yesterday's patch notes said there's more variety in enemies now, mostly in bosses and particularly in world bosses.)

(Note2: CONFIRMED! They have added tons of powers and abilities to the enemies! The game is actually challenging enough that you might even need to use a medpack instead of just selling it off! Shrunk the font of my Ugly because it no longer applies.)

So Anyway…

The game is all right. It's got a few good advancements to the genre but it's also walking backwards in other areas. The bottom line, though, is that I was very much looking forward to playing this game every night for a couple of months. And that was playing it as a solo game instead of having even more fun with friends. That makes it well worth the cash, IMHO. Buy, but I wouldn't recommend getting a full year's subscription.

P.S. Mako is teh hot. You can dress her up to look like Kate Archer, too. That's worth $20 right there.

P.P.S. Yep, the 3D does work quite well and NVIDIA hasn't even put a profile in for it yet. The interface even pops out of the screen slightly.
Last edited by Zloth; November 24th, 2011 at 02:30. Reason: no more Ugly!
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November 19th, 2011, 02:51
oops, lol.
I do suggest you do the flashpoints, they are GOOD (some more than others but still).
As for the variety of enemies, yes, they're not too varied, but it does get better (obviously not like city of heroes). Like, last class quest I made had the boss enemy constantly mezzing my companion (taking him out of the picture for a while), also using force lightning that would stun me, or get near me and stomp on the ground sending me flying (and stunning me again), and when low on health using a regeneration ability. Fun fight.
And in Flashpoints, fights are a LOT more interesting, specially the boss mobs (there are usually several in each flashpoint).
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November 19th, 2011, 04:17
I'm saving those flashpoints for later. In fact, I'm saving grouping for later! I did team up occasionally when a boss had to be taken down or to avoid standing in line but I never even learned how to exit a group.

There's one tricky bit about grouping: need vs. greed. That whole concept got common while I was sitting in City of Heroes so I had no clue what it was talking about. Click 'need' if I need it? Nope. At least I think it was nope… that was a couple of months ago….

Anyway, a bunch of screenshots here: http://photos.3dvisionlive.com/Zloth…0000a8/page/2/
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November 19th, 2011, 06:36
if you need it, click need. If you don't need it, click greed or pass. They added a 'disassemble' option too last build, not sure what order it is
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November 19th, 2011, 12:07
Sounds ok I guess… Thanks for the impressions.

Kinda like what I expected, but I fear I will not be able to look past the MMO trappings and truly enjoy the KotOR aspects. That said, I know I will be playing this upon release. For how long, though, is hard to say.
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November 19th, 2011, 18:31
Are there any notable additions to the Revan/Exile storyline that would interest a KotOR fan?

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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November 20th, 2011, 08:39
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
Are there any notable additions to the Revan/Exile storyline that would interest a KotOR fan?
they are in the game, and others
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November 20th, 2011, 18:03
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
they are in the game, and others
Lets say I wish to be spoiled.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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November 20th, 2011, 21:49
Well, regarding Revan…
Spoiler


If you've still got Knights of the Old Republic handy, now would be a good time to play through it again.

(I never played KotOR 2 so I wouldn't have known an Exile reference even if I saw one.)
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November 21st, 2011, 00:26
Thanks, that was quite helpful and I found a quite a few forum threads and Youtube vids on Revan with more that I had expected. Somewhat disappointed with the way Bioware handled his legacy but it's only a MMO afterall.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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November 21st, 2011, 01:36
The book Revan that released on November 15th have lots of stuff on the subject as well and tie in the game (SWTOR). It's a "sequel" of both KoTOR and KoTOR 2, involving characters from both games. It's also written by KoTOR main writer, Drew Karpyshyn.
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November 22nd, 2011, 01:00
oh there's a lot more than the Revanites. Like I said, try the Flashpoints
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November 23rd, 2011, 05:59
Tried the game again tonight. I got killed! On Drommund Kaas! MULTIPLE times!! And I wasn't just dying as an easy way to travel, either. I actually had to start thinking and everything! Force users were using force powers against me instead of just wandering up and swinging their vibro sword at me, too.

Much much better!
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November 24th, 2011, 13:47
Why can't they do such an offline thing again ? *sighs*

Okay, I know : Because "we" pirate so many games that it really isn't worth to do offline games anymore … *sighs again*

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November 24th, 2011, 19:13
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Why can't they do such an offline thing again ?
I did a little testing with a World of Warcraft server. There everything resides on the server. Mobs placement, movement simulation (with collision detection), itemdatabase, etc. Both when you roam the world and even dungeons. The WoW client is basically just audio and artwork. It's very hard for private servers to mimic the original servers. There are lots of little details that get lost in translation. Same would apply to Swtor I guess. The server is basically responsible for the whole experience (hence the subscription).
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November 25th, 2011, 01:36
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Why can't they do such an offline thing again ? *sighs*

Okay, I know : Because "we" pirate so many games that it really isn't worth to do offline games anymore … *sighs again*
piracy is a factor of course, but I think it's more to do with having 1 million people paying $13-$15/month in addition to buying the boxes. That allows them to make a game much bigger in scope than a normal game
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November 25th, 2011, 03:04
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Why can't they do such an offline thing again ? *sighs*

Okay, I know : Because "we" pirate so many games that it really isn't worth to do offline games anymore … *sighs again*
I agree with you. I was excited when it was announced they were making a new KOTOR game. Then came the announcement it would be a MMO. I lost all interest.

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November 26th, 2011, 01:44
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
piracy is a factor of course, but I think it's more to do with having 1 million people paying $13-$15/month in addition to buying the boxes. That allows them to make a game much bigger in scope than a normal game
That's what I'm thinking, too. They said the content for this game was larger than all the other BioWare games combined. I believe it.
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December 5th, 2011, 11:01
Quick question: What classes have you tried out at higher levels, and how did high level gameplay seem? I see a lot of videos and posts from level 10-25 characters, but they're pretty much irrelevant to me as I've tried characters in that range myself.
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