Life at (Level) 50 – Star Wars: The Old Republic Revisited

26 Jan
Hitting 50

Finally!!

If I haven’t seemed active on this blog in a while, there’s a good reason. I’ve spent almost every non-working, non-sleeping moment playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I posted a first impressions article shortly after it came out, but I really hadn’t gotten far in the game at that point.

A few days ago, my smuggler hit level 50 (the current level cap) and I finished his storyline. I figured now would be a good time to write about the game from a (slightly) more seasoned angle. Plus, it would give me a loophole to look at the game during my current self-imposed SWTOR hiatus (in order to get other things done, like these blog posts).

On Tatooine

My travels took me all over. From the deserts of Tatooine...

When I last wrote about this game, my smuggler was level 17 and had recently received his ship. I was impressed with the storyline on the first two planets, and hoped that the rest of the game was as well done.

Was it? Oh, yes.

 

 

 

Grinding to an Alt

On Hoth

...to the ice fields of Hoth...


Levelling here isn’t the grind it is in other MMO’s. I think the engaging storylines have a lot to do with that. Aside from your main, epic story, each planet has a main storyline as well – generally involving helping the Republic defeat the Imperial presence (or visa versa) on the planet. There are side quests as well, though those are generally smaller in scope and are more for filler.

A nice added touch is bonus quests. Each planet has a series of quests that open up after you’ve completed the main story there. It allows you to stay on a planet you might like for a little longer and squeeze a little more experience from it. I did them on a couple of worlds, and they definitely help you level.

Fly Me to the Moon Space Station

Space Battle

...to everywhere in between.


Speaking of help with levelling, space battles are a must-try.

From shuttle escorts to space station takedowns, space battles are action mini-games that provide not only a change of pace from the rest of the game, but experience and credits as well. They even provide commendations that you can use to purchase special items with.

The one gripe I have with them is the lack of missions for a given level – at most there are usually 4 missions that will grant experience at any point. But they’re still fun, and especially challenging at the highest level (don’t even attempt the hardest missions unless you’ve fully upgraded your ship).

I’ll Shoot First

Smuggler portrait

You'd think it'd be hard to sneak around with a Wookie, but you'd be wrong...


I can only speak for the smuggler story, but it feels very much like an epic Star Wars tale. There are nice twists and turns that keep you wanting to see what happens next. In fact, I hit 50 a day before finishing my main storyline, but kept playing to see that story through – just so I could see how it ended. I don’t remember ever getting that compulsion in other MMO’s.

It’s also immensely satisfying to be able to complete your story without having to rely on a group of players. Any casual player who ever wanted to take down the Lich King in World of Warcraft probably knows what I’m talking about.

Some random thoughts about my smuggler and things I liked in general:

I have to say I think I made the right choice with choosing scoundrel over gunslinger as my smuggler’s advanced class. While wielding two blasters is undeniably cool, sneaking around past hordes of enemies to get to your objectives is just awesome. And you get a skill called “Shoot First”. Enough said.

Calling in your ship to air strike the enemy is extremely satisfying. A bit bizarre when you do it inside a building, but I tried not to think about that much.

In less than a month, Bioware has put out a fairly large content release. They’ve also been quick to squash bugs that have arisen, and have been pretty transparent about it. While you can’t tell from the vocal minority of whiners on the forums, they’ve done a very good job since launch.

You Missed a Spot

Glitches

I did encounter a few odd things from time to time.

No games are perfect, and this is no exception. There are some issues I encountered while playing that frustrated me, but they are minor compared to everything else in the game.

The way I played my smuggler, he became a paragon of the light side. That doesn’t mean he made nothing but light side choices, though. I would love a buffer so that if I make a bunch of light side choices while I’m maxxed out and then a dark side choice, I’m not immediately dropped down the scale.

The galactic market *really* needs to be fixed. It’s just too hard to search for things. And it’s almost impossible to know what price to set items for without investing a ton of time looking for individual items.

Group shot

Risha, I thought I told you there might be company coming...

It might just be because I played almost exclusively solo, but most of my companions seemed unnecessary. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy their stories – I just never took out anyone but Corso or Bowdar (my two tanks).

Finally, if you sneak past tons of imperials to finish an objective (as I did toward the end when I was already 50 and just wanted to advance the story), and in the cut scene the good guys arrive and clear everyone out, the imps I passed should be gone when the cut scene ends. It’s weird to have to sneak back out through the enemy as if the cut scene never happened.

What now?

Flying off into the sunset

Flying off into the sunset...

Now that I’ve hit level 50, what is there to do? End-game content for casual players is a little lacking at the moment, but there are Operations, Flashpoints and PVP options. Or I could cruise the galaxy looking for datacrons.

But I’ll probably start an alt – a new character – because for all the other good things about the game, at its heart is great storytelling. And I want to see what happens next…

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