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So, I got some solid time in on SW:TOR last weekend and it’s with some sadness that I realise that the servers are now being wiped and Tremayne the Sith Warrior, Kian the Bounty Hunter and Sareitra the Dark Side Sorceress are no more… at least until I get to re-create them. At least I had a chance to experiment with the three features of the game I wanted to – flashpoints (group instances), PvP and starship combat.

I got to play through Black Talon, the first Imperial flashpoint, twice, plus an attempt to solo it with my over-levelled sorceress (which ended badly). Playing through with other players felt more like a pen and paper RPG than a traditional MMO instance, very much a case of taking part in a story rather than a straight loot run. There are a number of conversations with NPCs that break up the fighting, and these aren’t entirely window-dressing; there’s at least one point where your decision affects what you get to fight through next. Doing these conversations with three other players competing to choose responses and actions adds an extra level of fun to seeing how the whole thing plays out.

Huttball is definitely my favourite of the PvP battlegrounds – an extreme sport played in a complex of walkways and barriers with flame jets and acid pools, where the objective is to get the ball over the other team’s start line by any means necessary. In a game with plentiful knockback abilities, there’s ample opportunity for slamming people you don’t like into all sorts of environmental pain. Yes, it’s instanced battlegrounds – the fast food of PvP. But in this case, it’s tasty fast food 🙂

Probably the best reason to avoid over-snacking on PvP is the fact that a lot of the goodies in-game, such as getting your own starship, are tied to progress on your class quest rather than to character level. Focus on your storyline, and you’ll have your ship by the mid-teens, but if you decide to live in the battlegrounds for fast levelling, you may never get your ship. And that would be a shame, because the ship gives you access to the wider galaxy, acts as a base of operations, and allows you to indulge in the ship combat mini-game. Starship combat in SW:TOR is a single-player experience where you pick a scenario to play and then get to see your ship fly through a space battle, with enemy fighters coming at you and capital ships lighting the sky up with volleys of laser bolts. Your general course through the battle is fixed, but you can move around the screen as you follow the course to shoot at targets or avoid fire. Your left mouse button fires blasters, which you can do indefinitely but need to stop shooting to let your shields regenerate (if you’ve fitted them – don’t forget to go buy some ship upgrades). Right button locks missiles on to targets, these are effective but you only have a limited supply. Overall, the ship battles are shallow but good fun and quite pretty. I can see myself doing a few of these if I’m at my ship and have a bit of time to kill, or just in the mood for some simple uncomplicated blowing stuff up. As with everything else in SW:TOR, there’s plenty of voice acting to listen to as you hear your character gloating over a kill or ordering your crew to check damage after taking a hit.

So, in a couple of weeks I’ll be playing for real – probably on the Imperial side. While I enjoyed playing my Bounty Hunter and loved their storyline and dialogue, chances are I will succumb to the lure of the Dark Side and level up as a Sith Sorcerer first… or maybe try the Sith Assassin… or one of the Sith Warrior advanced classes. I’ve got time to decide before I get into head start. For sure, though:

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.

See you on the Dark Side!

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2 Comments

  1. Do you think the flashpoints will have replay value? It seems like going through the story will be great the first time, a little bland the next time and will soon become boring. Or can you skip dialogue?

    • There’s definitely some replay value in the flashpoints – not only to see the different choices (as I said, without wanting to spoil things at least one conversation can change your path through the mission) but also to see the different dialogue for the different classes.
      You can’t completely skip the dialogue – you can press [SPACE] to move the conversation on, but you’ve still got to weait for the rest of the group to catch up and choose their responses.
      I can see how the conversations will get old to people playing through the same instance for the umpteenth time grinding for loot or XP. On the other hand, playing TOR in that style isn’t the best approach to the game. I found that if you did your class story quests, the side quests you picked up along the way, each flashpoint once or twice and the occasional PvP match or space battle then you stayed on-level for the class story content. If you decide to grind the Black Talon flashpoint (or go live in the Huttball arena) you’ll end up at level 20+ and still not have your starship, because gaining the ship and companions is tied to story progression and not explicitly to a character level. Despite a lot of combat mechanics similarities, TOR is not WoW and I think players will benefit from not approaching it as if it is.


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