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Star Wars: The Old Republic Previews: Jedi Consular Beta Impressions

By Chris Higgins on October 20, 2011

Since rumors surfaced of the fabled BioWare MMO, I have been pining to get into the Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I finally got the chance and decided to give Republic a whirl because odds are I am going empire when the game launches (ED: and we were only allowed to write about the Republic).  I will admit I am a jaded SWG player so my hopes were low when I logged in because I felt no game would hold a candle to the game I loved.  After playing this Jedi Consular class, I was pleasantly surprised and have changed my view of SW:TOR

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The character I created progressed from levels 1 through 14 before I wrote this article.  I always felt these levels are the times most players will determine their overall opinion of the game.  Impressing a player in this timeframe is very important and normally determines if a player stays or quits.  Overall I was very impressed with this game and the class in general.    

Story

I will not go into details and spoil the story but from the moment you login you feel as if you are playing a Star Wars movie.  The quests and dialog you see are unique to the Consular class.  From your first interaction with NPCs it feels like the fate of the universe hinges on the success of your character.   Much like Luke in "A New Hope" you know this character is important but you are not sure how or why. 

The main story foundations are built while giving you area-specific problems to solve.  So instead of random NPC quests almost all the quests you get advance the story in some way.   You will run a bunch of quests which don't seem to tie in with the main story but at points the Jedi Masters will reference the outcome of those seemingly unrelated quests.

I had moments where I had to make hard decisions and live with my choices.  I was able to run one of the heroic instances with three other players.  When the group spoke to the mission NPCs, everyone spoke with the NPCs.  When I say everyone I mean various players would appear and ask a question to advance the mission dialog.  There was a social system for this decision making process but I was not able to determine how it worked (ED: It’s based on a dice roll).  However the game maintained that movie feel where a group of people were working to solve a problem.

Overall this game does something not many MMOs do and that is make you feel you are the hero of the game. 

Class Combat Skills

Starting off you do not get a lightsaber.  The weapons you use sound and act like lightsabers but do not use plasma blades.  As the story progresses you do get a lightsaber but it was around level nine or ten for me.  I really did not miss the lightsaber and by level four I did not even notice it was a fixed blade weapon. 

The Consular class does not focus on lightsabers like a Jedi Knight.  You use telekinesis and throw objects at your opponents.  One of the attacks you get pulls objects from under the ground and hurls them at your enemy.  The objects vary and can be anything from droid bodies to boulders.  Consular also uses also stun attacks for which work well for mob control while fighting. 

Once you get to level ten you can choose a specialization and can be a Sage or Shadow consular.  Shadow seemed to have stealth capabilities which allowed you avoid combat.  However I chose Sage for healing.  Sage's have force healing which can be used on you or other players.   It was very easy to find a group when being a healing sage.  The great thing was while I was the normally the groups healer I could still fight while healing so I did not feel like I was just there to keep people alive. 

Reading in game chat there were ways to use Sage as a DPS class but I did not explore this option so this class seems to be very versatile for any game play style.  I was bummed Sages got one-handed lightsabers while Shadow Consular's got double-bladed lightsabers but it does make sense based on the specialization descriptions. 

Worlds

The worlds are massive!  There is a lot of overall game area.  There are public speeder pads and for a few credits you can use them to ferry you around the map.  This was something I did not like about SW:TOR.  It seemed the worlds were needlessly massive so I spent a lot of time walking and turning in quests.  The worlds were beautiful don't get me wrong but the price of the enormity of the Jedi Council building meant lots of walking to turn in or get quests early on.

The areas were aimed at level specific points in the story.  Once I hit level ten, I was off to Coruscant and when I arrived, it was the first time Coruscant felt like Coruscant.  The buildings were massive and the lush backgrounds made the planet look exactly like they do in the movies.  Once again though, I found myself wandering quite a bit to turn in quests.  I did not mind walking around but once the new wears off it can become tedious.  Chatting with others I did learn that at level fifteen you do get a sprint skill which helps greatly turning in missions.

Summary

I never thought I would enjoy being a republic character or a Jedi.  I enjoyed Consular so much I am reconsidering playing Sith.  The class was easy to play and quite entertaining with a very fun progression.  Being the healer was fun and allowed me to ensure the groups I played with were successful.  Combat was fast paced and the NPC companion, Qyzen Fess was very useful when I was solo.

This game is not sandbox at all and really while my hopes of a SWG type game were dashed playing SWTOR I did find myself having a lot of fun playing.  The game does not feel like grinding but more like playing a movie where you are the hero while the plot unfolds in front of you.  The Light and Dark side options they give you allow you to have some fun with your character on quests.  Sometimes I made dark side choices but for this character I tried to stay light side. 

The game brings all the great things about BioWare games along with some of the best MMORPG game systems the industry has to offer.  I’ll be playing it come launch, that’s for sure.

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