SWTOR: Simon’s take

You’ve heard Mark and David’s take on their beta impressions of SWTOR, now it’s Simon’s turn – enjoy!
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Caveat – I’m not a hard-core raider or PvP puritan and my MMO experience consists of WoW, LotRO and DCUO, so bear that in mind as you read on.

If variety is the spice of life then cover me in cinnamon.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being in beta for over six weeks now and have been through 3 builds so far, which has given me a chance to play all the classes up to at least level 10. With each new build you can almost hear the beads of sweat hitting the keyboards in Austin, Texas. The latest build, released on Nov 17, has seen a quantum leap in polish. For the first time, to me at least, this looks like a retail product. Once you get your invitation to the upcoming weekend beta, you are in for a treat.

But hyperbole and metaphor aside, how does the game play? First, latency. I’ve had no problem with this. No drops, no lag issues, always below 300ms, usually around 250ms. While proxies are an option I’ve not found it necessary so far.

Regarding play style I think it’s fair to say it’s more Mass Effect than LotRO or WoW. In part this is down to the depth and pervasiveness of your class storyline. Story is the driver, story is the master, it is the delicious grape jelly around which the whole donut is built. The positive side is that you’re swept into a cinematic epic that inexorably builds to a spectacular crescendo. But, and there is a but, this also means that the game, of necessity, needs to shepherd you here and there. Because of this, mostly in the early stages, it may feel a little linear. But you will stop noticing, if you ever notice at all. So why mention it? Well, I don’t want you to misunderstand the underlying rationale as I did and it’s one that features a little bit of Star War’s history.

In the original movie some unlucky actors featured in the Tosche Station sequence. These scenes were cut because having Luke wander off to chat with his friends interrupted the flow of the story. It destroyed momentum and, to apply this kind of thing to an RPG, potentially  disrupted the necessary sequence of events. In most MMOs my tendency is to do exactly this kind of random walkabout so I initially found the game’s nudging a little limiting – perhaps you might too. However, any initial misgivings I had quickly faded because this game drags you in like a Sarlacc on a bread and water diet.

You will settle in quickly once your fingers settle over the WASD keys (or Razer Nostromo) as there is much in the UI that feels familiar, but the depth, the richness of the environments and the classic Star Wars ambience feels new, fresh and remarkably addictive. Each class has something to offer, none that I’ve played have felt OP or weak. As always, bear in mind that there is still room for improvement and additions. Character creation is a little restricted, but this may change. The lack of an appearance tab is also an irritation. You will undoubtably have your own list of improvements – but it’s still early days and nothing is ever set in stone.

Let’s face it, everyone has their own dreams and expectations of what this much-anticipated game will be. It can’t be everything to everyone, so my recommendation to you is leave your expectations at the door and let SWTOR draw you in on its own terms.

You won’t be disappointed.

Comments

  1. KoalaAssassin says:

    Simon has the right of it here, I had the pleasure of a beta session before now nad the upcomming “stacks on” for server load testing. The storyline is a strong guiding force but if you want to deviate to kill critters for hours if you like you can and it’ll be there waiting for you to continue on. The Sith characters I played so far were suprisingly true to story form (no spoilers, I promise), and brought exactly what I was expecting.

    You really will enjoy the game and while it does play out as MassEffect-StarWars Edition, that isnt a negative thing to me becuase the play mechanic similarities give way to StarWars immersion immediately.

    I hope you all enjoy the game as much as I did.

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