Those expecting an Eorzea Reborn column this week will have to wait an extra week, unfortunately, as I took a detour into a game I swore a year ago I would never play again.
The game, as the title points out, is Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have a feeling I’m like a number of people out there who, because of curiosity or boredom, decided to give the game a spin again in its free-to-play incarnation.
Why did I leave?
Nearly 3 years ago, on November 2012, I basically got angry at Bioware and Electronic Arts for their free-to-play conversion of the game. I have that very same article archived in its original and edited formats, actually.
It was a mean-spirited rant against how the game monetized itself, namely by asking people to subscribe to the game or otherwise pay to remove artificially created barriers to playing the game the way they’d like to.
I left the game because as much as I wanted to be a Republic Trooper and an Imperial Agent, there was a noticeable amount of sidequest filler that kept me from enjoying the game.
I wanted to play SWTOR in 2012 in the manner which I play Final Fantasy XIV now, which is to say that I want to be able to play for the story, and choose what additional quests I wanted to undertake for the hell of it, and not be penalized in terms of advancement for not doing something.
My plan of attack
To start, I purchased a $40 Amazon Bundle that included all the latest content, a two-month subscription, as well as a not-insubstantial number of cartel coins. With my security key still locked into my account, that gave me a over 4,000 cartel coins to remove hindrances that I thought would keep me from enjoying the game.
By being subscribed to the game via the Amazon bundle, I basically removed all the minor hindrances. I spent my cartel coins to purchase additional storage space in my account inventory, as well as some legacy storage space, and a fast travel cartel market bundle that provided me with a 12 second speed boost every 2 minutes or so.
Before I forget, it should also be noted being subscribed (from now until right before the release of the game’s Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion) provides class quests with 12 times the normal amount of experience, which greatly lessened the need for grinding the same quests across republic or imperial characters just to level up.
Simply put, I became an altoholic, particularly because it seems my original characters disappeared into the ether during server merges, and I wanted to roll characters on an RP server.
While my Imperial agent main is 42, I now have one of every class that’s doing the chapter 1 storyline or is about to finish the prologue. I did this in around 10 days of play.
I didn’t worry about gear, because of an adaptive armor system that allowed me to just slot in stat-increases according to my whims, retaining a look I wanted but with the character statistics I cared about to succeed.
Moreover, because I could actually play SWTOR the way I imagined it to be, I actually enjoyed myself immensely. I wasn’t obsessing over finding datacrons or having to do everything I didn’t want, and because of their expansions, I could also go ahead and build myself a home with a hook system reminiscent of FFXIV and Lord of the Rings Online.
Simply put, from a game I hated, SWTOR finally clicked and became a game I felt comfortable in, whether I was being a loner gamer or a social player.
Now, SWTOR isn’t perfect. There’s the odd texture clipping and “stuck in scenery” bugs here and there. I also still feel that the company behind the game is aggressively pushing people to subscribe, with the focus being on removing these barriers we’ve placed in your way.
I feel, however, that in today’s free-to-play heavy climate like they’re counterbalancing the removal of minor hindrances by taking out one barrier to enjoyment that I never thought could be removed.
SWTOR’s 12x EXP campaign allows players to skip the content they don’t care about so they can get to the juicy parts they actually want to participate in.
I encourage folks to try subscribing for a month and starting a new character. As long as you don’t go crazy and buy the entire shop though, you should be relatively safe subscribing and paying for things with the monthly subscription and security key stipends.