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Launch Day!

By Michael Bitton on December 20, 2011 | Columns | Comments

Launch Day!

When I first started out here at MMORPG.com in June 2009, one of the first articles I wrote for the site was related to Star Wars: The Old Republic. That first article discussed twelve possible classes we might see fill the remaining (at the time) unrevealed class slots. Since then, I’ve probably written almost 100 articles on this game, and now, over two years later, the game has actually gone live.

Having been a gamer all my life, I’ve closely followed the releases of many highly anticipated games, but even after covering the MMO industry for a couple of years, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like what we’ve seen over the past three. It’s truly been a rollercoaster ride of hype, high expectations, controversy and conspiracy theories, and most important of all: excitement. Even if you were excited for this game to come out and possibly fail harder than any MMO in history – you were still excited, from a certain point of view. In fact, for some fun MMORPG.com forum facts, over the past week our Star Wars: The Old Republic game forums have generated ten times as many posts as the second most popular game board, and at least double the amount of posts we’re seeing in General Discussion. Hate the game or love the game, one thing is for sure, people want to talk about it.

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Well, let’s talk then!

So far, all things considered, I’d say things have been going fairly smoothly. While Early Game Access kicked off with a lot of frustration as many pre-order customers weren’t too happy about the staggered invite system BioWare decided to go with, you’d be hard pressed to say things went poorly. Server stability has been great, server lag, at least for me, has been a complete non-issue, and the game is running just fine. Sure, the queues are long on many servers (though they have been improving), but these are just typical launch woes for a popular game. Of course, there are still some issues. Some users are experiencing technical issues stopping them from connecting or staying connected to the game, there were a number of reports of users receiving everything but their game codes in their Collector’s Edition boxes (trololol?), and even speculation that some users were exploiting their way to high-level.

Me? I spent my first week plugging away at my Sith Marauder, a continuation of my character from beta. This time I get to keep her, and I’m pretty glad about that. However, one thing that that has really surprised me about Star Wars: The Old Republic so far is how easy it is to outlevel content. Normally, this would be a negative for the game, but I’m a bit conflicted here. If you just play through the planets without doing anything else, you’ll likely be fairly close to the suggested level ranges for each planet, but if you mix in space combat, PvP, and Flashpoints, essentially experiencing all the game has to offer as you progress, you will far outpace the regular PvE. The reason I’m conflicted about this is the fact it makes the game harder to just play naturally, as the content can’t keep up with what you’re doing. On the flip side, it helps with replay value as there are clearly more than a number of viable ways to level up.

Most days I’ll work in a run of the newest Flashpoints I qualify to play, do my PvP daily (and a couple of extra Warzones), and do all my space combat dailies. So far, this has put me far ahead of the planetary content, but even so, I’m still having tons of fun. Ironically enough, the heroic quest content is just challenging enough for my friend and I to duo through due to our levels over the mobs (Heroic 4 included), which works out pretty well for us!

What I’ve also found surprising about the game (and myself) is how much I enjoy the Crew Skills system in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’m normally allergic to crafting of any sort, but I’ve been playing the Crew Skills game obsessively since I picked up Artifice, Archaeology, and Treasure Hunting. At level 29 as of this writing, I’m sitting at 250 Artifice and 200+ on both Archaeology and Treasure Hunting. I really enjoy learning new recipes to keep my lightsabers up to date, especially using Reverse Engineering (disenchanting) to learn blue, and eventually purple, recipes of my base green quality lightsaber hilts. I’m spending so much time with Crew Skills that I’ve pretty much become our guild’s designated Artificer at this point. Go figure.

The ability to send companions on missions while participating in other activities (or even while being offline) goes a long way towards making the system accessible and enjoyable to me, without undermining its complexity. It’s no Star Wars Galaxies, but it’ll do just fine. I was far too intimidated to try and jump into crafting in Galaxies. In TOR, the mission skills are incredibly addictive. They’re kind of like playing the lottery. The quality of the mission determines the potential results as well as that upfront cost. It’s really quite easy to run yourself out of money rolling the dice on a Bountiful or Rich yielding mission in the hopes of some high quality (or quantity) materials. At the same time, it’s just a really fun way to acquire materials. This is especially true when you find Discovery missions. Discovery mission objects basically grant you a special mission in your list of missions for the respective Crew Skill. These Discovery missions can grant special rewards, schematics, or simply a significant amount of materials.

In the coming days I plan on completing Act 1 of my class story and progressing through the next few planets. I'm currently wrapping up Nar Shaddaa and should be heading to the iconic Tatooine next. All in all, with the knowledge that MMOs only really get one impression with gamers, I'm pretty impressed. I'll be sure to let you know more as I delve deeper into the game over the coming weeks, and of course, you'll have the full skinny when we put out the complete review.

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing in The Old Republic this week. How about you? Share your thoughts and experiences (no spoilers, please) in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.
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