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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: Playing With Friends

By Michael Bitton on August 10, 2011

I imagine most of you following Star Wars: The Old Republic are doing so either as part of a guild or, at the very least, with a small to medium sized group of friends. But have you given much thought to the logistics of how that will actually pan out in The Old Republic?

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Sure, some of you will play things loose and just group up whenever it makes sense and is practical, but what about those of us who like to play with a group and keep to the same pace? The Old Republic makes planning here a bit more complicated. Take most any other MMO, and you only really have to worry about catching up a few levels with your friends (except for, you know, that guy who hits cap on day two). The Old Republic has a story, and part of the draw is playing out that story with your friends, so it’s now much more than, “Oh, you’re 35. I’m only five behind. I’ll catch up while you’re at school”. Now, it’s about making sure you’re doing the story together so you don’t miss out on social point opportunities from a gameplay perspective or missing interesting dialogue possibilities that may crop up.

I’m sure some of you are shrugging your shoulders uncaring, but I imagine those of you who are haven’t played the game with other people. Whatever BioWare has been trying to sell you on story and however cool you ultimately find the game’s story to be, it’s really that much more fun with friends. Making the story bits social is what differentiates Star Wars: The Old Republic from simply being an MMO with KOTOR elements, and it really adds a lot. Trolling your friends in conversations is fun, and even if you aren’t trolling, it’s interesting to see what the different classes add to a particular situation.

A few months ago I played the game in a full group, and going through a bunch of the story content together was really unlike anything I’d played in an MMO before. Even as someone incredibly excited for the possibility of story in an MMO, I wasn’t really sold until I experienced it in a group. With more friends looking to play the game than the max group size allows, we often talk about the logistics of keeping the group together come launch. It wasn’t until recently that we started thinking about what the storyline implications involved, as we are all interested in playing the story together.

Our current plan is to split up all the people playing into two groups with the most in common schedule-wise, and only play those characters in those groups together when every single person of the group is on. Yes, this means those characters will progress a good deal slower than they would otherwise, but that’s what alts are for, right?! Basically, the only thing you’re allowed to do is craft (assuming it doesn’t grant experience), otherwise, hop on your alt and play with whoever is available and do whatever you want.  I’m not sure if we’re going to be so strict that we require the alt be on the opposing faction (so as not to spoil story content), but we’ll have to discuss that soon.

Sure sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few of you out there who are making similar considerations. So what are your plans for playing The Old Republic with your friends? Have you factored story into these considerations? Or will you all just meet at 50 and go from there?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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