Oh My God! Did I have fun!!
My first dilemma was Republic or Sith? The mouse hovered and moved over those icons for quite a few moments… Republic or Sith? I have played both, both were engaging and entertaining. The Sith side seems to have a Star Trek: TOS “Mirror, Mirror” feel to it – killing superiors to advance. (It’s a wonder there are any of them left…)
Each class has different starting story lines, with COPIOUS voice-acting and animated NPC/quest-givers. Occasionally, you will have to make a choice that will increase your “Light Side” or “Dark Side” standing. After you reach level 11 you will make your way to your sides space fleet. At a space station, there are Light and Dark Side vendors – that I never got around to seeing…
The game shows a list of unobtrusive help tips on the middle-right of the screen as the game progresses. If you click on one, a pop-up window shows a short description of the topic, the tip will then disappear from the right side.
After you reach around level 10, you will get a companion. There are 40 Different companions in the game, and each class gets a different starting companion. My Republic Jedi got R7, a droid (with combat capabilities, yea!). My Sith Inquisitor, got a REALLY huge, bad-ass nasty alien as a companion… and it HATES me. It wants to kill me, and consume me. I have to work on building companion loyalty on that guy… yikes! As in Diablo 2, you can equip your companions – which I thought was an incredibly good idea.
Weapons, such as the Light Saber, and blasters were brilliantly designed; you upgrade them by swapping in add-in modules. If you want to keep an in-use module, you can pay a small fee to “pry it out,” rather than destroying it.
Movement and combat was very similar to other MMORPGs. The default User Interface would also be familiar to players of MMORPGs – with the exception of 2 things (which I reported, and hope they fix before release):
1) If you target an enemy, the info-panel that pops up on the lower right does not indicate if this target is part of a quest, or display a running counter. This is a default in WoW and Rift, and should probably be considered a default UI element for all future MMORPGs.
2) There is a tracked quest log displayed on the right-hand side of the screen, but if a quest requires the use of an object in your inventory, it does NOT display a mini-icon of that item, and allow you to click it – you have to bring up your inventory, and switch to the Quest Tab at the bottom. I was unaware of this, and it took me a while to find it. (See comment above about default UI elements.)
The beta did have one interesting graphic bug that made me laugh: My Republic Jedi, was talking with a major female Jedi character – who was about a foot tall – AND I was bent over and looking DOWN at her. Being a programmer, I got to thinking about code that would make characters have “eye contact.” 🙂
When you reach around level 8, you will get a couple “Heroic” 2-man quests. The game has a fairly standard “Looking for Group” feature. You can also click on another players portrait, and on the right is a purple <+> icon used to invite them to a party. Party members and quest items are displayed on the minimap in the same purple color.
Walking into instanced areas was absolutely seamless – what a pleasure! Instances available to you are shaded green, red ones are unavailable you.
Skills are handled differently in SW:TOR than in Rift or WoW; your companions handle the skills for you. You can send your companion off on assignments (and have them sell off your inventory trash items – which is REALLY nice), they will return with the rewards, and level up a point in skill. I did not try any crafting skills during the beta.
I did not get a chance to play any PVP – the one time I tried, I got booted back out to the character selection screen.
So, will I be playing this game? Heh HEH! HaHaHAHAHA!
I saw Star Wars 21 times in the theaters in 1977; There’s a Galaxy that needs saving!