I have a confession to make: my excitement for the release of a new Star Wars movie is surpassed only by my crotchety aversion to large crowds and general laziness to buy tickets on time. So while it’s going to be a week or so before I get to see The Force Awakens, and I’ll be avoiding the internet for fear of spoilers throughout that time, I’m doing the next best thing: jumping back into Star Wars: The Old Republic.
I’ve always liked SWTOR, but stopped playing in the mid-level areas for want of more story content and less grindy side quests. I knew that there had been some leveling reconfiguration in advance of Knights of the Fallen Empire, and was happy to see Bioware and Electronic Arts confident enough in their game’s main narrative to make it the only requirement to hit cap. Far too many MMOs provide story quests as afterthoughts, or require you to trudge through fetch/kill quests to pad gameplay time, which are two of the most glaring weaknesses of the genre.
Having given SWTOR another whirl for a couple of weeks now, I can say with certainty that its current form represents the vision that was originally intended when the game first launched. It’s taken some time to get there, but the leveling experience is tight, the cash shop is well-implemented, and space battles look to be worlds apart from what was offered at release. The class stories in particular feel all that more meaningful for being put on center stage. Playing them exclusively to the other content feels a little weird, as there’s this huge universe built around side quests and other activities, but it’s a paltry complaint when viewed against the much streamlined experience.
The real kicker? SWTOR’s current promotion that allows you to create a level 60 character and try the first chapter of KotFE for free. I had played much of the chapter for a pre-launch preview a few months ago, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing content on your own rig. Chapter one of the expansion is, in a word, awesome. It’s evenly paced, well-written, and epicly realized, pushing the boundaries of cinematic gameplay. The set pieces and storytelling take their cues more closely from the films than from other MMOs - including, interestingly, vanilla SWTOR itself. I would say that the expansion content will have more context if you use your regular 1-60 character, but the promotion is unquestionably worth a try, and has easily piqued my interest enough to consider subscribing for the full experience.
One part of SWTOR that I haven’t yet delved into is the new (to me, at least) space combat system, which I’m undeniably looking forward to checking out. I played through a bunch of the repetitive, on-rails original missions, and have never looked back, but the new system looks to be an altogether different beast. I have no doubt that The Force Awakens is going to spur my need to play and purchase everything Star Wars to new heights, and SWTOR, space combat included, is going to be the first line of defense in that venture.
Are you playing SWTOR and Knights of the Fallen Empire? Is it feeding your craving for more Star Wars?