Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) has always been touted as a World of Warcraft (WoW) clone by many, but that’s all in the past. Due to the many unique features it now has, the game has stepped out from the huge shadow WoW casted and become one of the top MMORPGs in its own right.
To start experiencing SWTOR’s amazing gameplay, you will first need to choose a faction to align yourself with – either the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. Then, you’ll need to pick a class. Different factions offer different classes. For instance, if you side with the Republic, you’ll gain access to the Jedi Knight, Republic Trooper, Smuggler and Jedi Consular classes, while for the Empire, you’ll be able to pick between a Sith Warrior, an Imperial Agent, a Bounty Hunter and a Sith Inquisitor.
Each class is explained in detail, including a preview of the classes’ equipment, abilities, combat roles and storylines. Classes in SWTOR can also be further advanced into specialised classes at level 10. The game actually encourages players to try out as many classes as they can by adding in class stories that players can collect by completing each class’ quest lines. Although free-to-play players start off with only 2 character slots, with time and perhaps a bit of premium cash, you can unlock up to 14 character slots in total per account.
That being said, once you have a class you like, you’ll be able to customize your character. Besides the wide range of species you can choose from, you’ll also be able to change your character’s gender and appearance. This, however, is actually one of the parts where the game falls flat. If you compare the game with other MMORPGs like Aion or Blade & Soul, you’ll notice that SWTOR only provides premade stuff. It is better than having no customisation whatsoever, but the rather limited selections in this otherwise epic MMORPG can be rather disappointing.
On the bright side, SWTOR contains one of the most brilliantly written storylines in the history of MMORPGs, making it worthy of its “Star Wars” title. Filled with amazing cinematics containing characters, including your own, that are fully voiced, the in-depth and very engrossing plotline is definitely impressive enough to reel you right in.
SWTOR also features dialogues where you can pick what you want to say. There are usually 3 choices available and each of them stands for one of the “sides” - the “light”, “neutral” and “dark” sides. Works like the reputation system in Fable, your character’s overall goodness will be determined by your words and actions. Your goodness will then affect how NPCs react to you. However, although you are free to choose which side you want, you will not be able to switch factions, despite being a murderous Jedi Knight who has gone down the dark. It is a real pity that Bioware and EA didn’t fully utilise this game mechanism.
Combat, on the other hand, is similar to WoW in many ways. However, the mobs that you’ll encounter in this game tend to come in groups. It can be rather hard to take them all alone, so thankfully, each class is given a set of crowd control abilities. Decide the order in which you take on the mobs and which mobs to incapacitate or you’ll find yourself overwhelmed.
In terms of PvE, the questing part of SWTOR is pretty much generic and can be repetitive for some. However, the dungeon raiding aspect is much more exciting. There are also Operations where you can participate in a massive, faction-based raid. If you would like to sample more of the game’s storyline, you might want to band up with some friends and play story-driven adventures in Flashpoints. For PvP, there are ranked and non-ranked skirmishes as well as exhilarating, objective-based warzones. Let’s not forget about one of the most amazing features in SWTOR - its space combat. In this game, you’ll be able to own and customise your very own spaceship. You can also sign your ship up for fun space missions that feel a bit like a challenging arcade space shooter game, and they can be extremely rewarding.
There are even strongholds that you can buy which works in a way that is somewhat similar to the Dimensions in Rift. You can own up to 3 strongholds (1 for each faction and 1 neutral), and each section within the stronghold will need to be unlocked to increase the amount of stuff you can put in it. Since you’ll get a decoration item with almost every achievement you get, you’ll definitely be able to convert at least one of your strongholds into a Hall of Fame for your character.
In SWTOR, players are given companions to recruit as well. You can have only 1 active companion at any time and companions’ roles can be customised to fit your need. The best part though? You can forge relationships – including romantic ones – with certain companions in the game, much like Dragon Age.
In short, SWTOR is an epic MMORPG that has managed to turn itself around and into a noteworthy game. If you’re a fan of MMORPGs, of Star Wars or of both, SWTOR is definitely a game you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
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