Love it or hate it, Star Wars Galaxies is still up and running after six years with a loyal following. The game itself has morphed into a completely different game than when it was first launched in June 2003. In fact, it is safe to say, SWG is an almost completely different game from when the NGE was pushed to it in November 2005. If you are new to Galaxies and thinking about trying it, you will hear tales from many disenchanted players about updates that broke the game. I guess you can't log into this game without a quick history lesson.
In June 2003 SWG launched and everyone was happy to finally have a Star Wars RPG. The game was made up of a skill based profession system and the economy was completely driven by the players. You were literally in a game where you exist in the Star Wars universe. However, there were still a lot of bugs and gaps in the game and while the concept is awesome, many felt this game was rushed out and still needed development. The SWG team continued to fix issues and add new systems, so by mid 2004 the game was pretty stable and offered game play in an MMORPG unlike any other game in existence. In late 2004, Jump to Light Speed was released and added space to the game. There were talks of another expansion and Rage of the Wookiees was announced to come out in May 2005. However, with this expansion a new combat system was set to be pushed to the players. The combat upgrade or CU was going to make combat more challenging and make the game more group oriented than the solo game Pre-CU had become. The CU was pushed and there were some growing pains but in time many Pre-CU players came back to SWG. Overall the CU was not as bad and did make the game a better place. After the success of Rage of the Wookiees, another expansion was announced and Trials of Obi-Wan was to be released in Nov 2005. Players rejoiced as two expansion packs in one year was going to bring much needed content to the masses. However just after the expansion pack was released the "NGE" or New Game Enhancements was announced and was to be pushed to the players in two weeks. The NGE was a radical change to the overall game. The Player base went ballistic, and to this day the NGE is the text book definition of what NOT to do to a player base. People left the game in droves. Not only did they leave, but they felt the need to get even. If you read product reviews on major retail websites you can still see the hurt and anger players have toward this game. SWG has been limping along ever since and to this day any talk about it will ignite a message board with discussion of the good old days.
This is not a review of the past but more of the game as it appears today so on to the review:
Since SWG has changed so much, vets from the Pre-CU era would be logging into a brand new game. There are nine player classes to choose from and they are pretty balanced against each other. While there are advantages to some classes there are no more "I win" classes like there were in the past. All of the classes can be effective in combat, except Trader. Trader is completely useless in combat so unless you are going to craft your best bet is the combat classes. Players can now have two characters on one server so a crafter is a very good second character. All classes have expertise trees which allow professions ways to change their roles in groups and emphasize the class's offensive or defensive skills.
When choosing a server make sure you do not select a light population server. Earlier this year SOE gave free character transfers for active players to move their characters to other more populated servers. They did not close the other servers so maybe five of the 25 servers are populated with people. I was on Ahazi and I had problems finding groups and that was a medium population server. So choose your server wisely and do not create a character on any server labeled "very light". While the game has become solo oriented in quests you will be fine for a bit but when you hit the end game missions you will have an extremely tough time finding groups on a very light server so make sure you choose a server with people on when you play.
The new player tutorial is now based on a station in the Ord Mandell sector of space. You get there via Han Solo and I won't go into details but it is not a bad introduction into the game. You get missions from various people on the space station and learn how to play the game. Once you reach level five, you can continue to Mos Eisley were you will lose Han and begin working for Jabba the Hutt. From here begins your level up process. The legacy quests will take you across all of the core planets and you can choose to work for the Imperials or Rebels. Once you are finished with the legacy quests you should be leveled enough to hit Kashyyyk and begin running quests there. Then it is off to Mustafar for some more leveling and missions.
Overall the PvE is very easy and the game has shifted back to a solo type game where players can charge off into the unknown alone. There are times where you will need groups to finish quests. Some of the quests are very fun and challenging and do require some degree of team work to complete. The Mustafar quests were built on team work and doing things together so they are pretty fun.
If you play your cards right when you have finished up on Mustafar you should be very close to level 90, which is the max level.
"I am level 90 what do I do now?" The end game of SWG at this point is mainly PvP but there are heroic encounters and collections for people who don't like taking on theor fellow man.
PvP and Battlegrounds
PvP is alive and well in SWG and speaking with people, they have all said there is no longer an "I Win" profession. Commando is the hardest to defeat but overall all of the professions are balanced. Restuss was PvP active while I was playing and there were at least 10 to 20 people there fighting at any point. There was some ganking but it seemed even up pretty quick when I was there.
The SWG team recently added battlegrounds which are very similar to the WoW and Warhammer battlegrounds. You get into the queue and wait, once ready you are transported to one of four areas. Win or loose, you get tokens which can be used to get new gear and other items. This solves the issues of gank squads tearing around Restuss. My only complaint was wait times and I had a bug where I could not switch queues, so I ended up waiting almost 30 minutes for a battleground.