You, Robot – Part 1

Love them or hate them, companions are a pivotal part of the SWTOR experience. Our resident companion guru, Simon, will be covering in-depth over three parts, everything you need to know about companions. If you’re looking for the full Companions Chart, here’s where you go, otherwise read on below.

Part 1 – NPCs that need NPCs are the luckiest NPCs in the world.

As I stared at my Twilek slave, pondering the merits of freeing her or bestowing another 20,000 volt love-tap, I noticed an irritating buzz in the back of my head. I should mention that I usually ignore most of the activity in there, but this time was different.

This time I realised what it was, before anyone had to accuse me of being insensitive, ripping the ethernet cable from the PC, storming from the room then skyping her mother for two hours whilst eating all the ice cream. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Where was I? Oh, right -feelings. In this case guilt. And while your frontal lobe may know it doesn’t matter in any real sense how you treat a computer generated, scripted character, deep down in the squishy gray recesses of your brain are neurons that don’t differentiate bad behaviour towards one of your companions or a flesh-and-blood person. For me, that’s where the magic begins.

Bioware’s companion characters have always been deep and contrary with their own agendas. In SWTOR, as you should know by now, this tradition has developed further. With their deft facial animations and sometimes inscrutable likes and dislikes they slowly take on a more real nature then you’d expect. Granted we humans are great at finding patterns where none exist and filling in details that are only suggested. This is why people in Tallahassee occassionally see the image of Elvis on their toast.

But even knowing that, it’s sometimes hard to believe they don’t have a more profound opinion of you than ‘+15 affection’. All of the companions have their own quirks and it’s not always straightforward identifying their likes and dislikes. Having said that, if you’re looking for some insight into your companions or simply want to suck all the fun out of life, you’ll find some useful information in the linked tables accompanying this and the next two articles in this short series.

By now all of you have met several companions and how you feel about them will depend on how you choose to play the game. In some ways it’s easier to ignore them when they start prompting you for a cosy chat everytime you go into a cantina and just use them for the extra firepower, healing, crafting or running off to sell your accumulated junk. But if you do that you’ll miss all the other benefits of getting to know your new imagninary friends. Not only will they add depth through exposition and open up additional side missions, you also have the much discussed opportunity for romance. At this point there’s been little revealed about the depth of this feature, either in the current patch or future ones (barring the same-gender aspect).

There’s always the chance that giving gifts to a companion may be as exciting as giving your toaster the gift of bread – but Bioware isn’t just going to give us toast, as these romantic tangents will offer additional side quests. Even if they don’t ‘love’ you, some companions will offer opportunities for gear if they like you enough. Everyone hates you? No problem, just buy them gifts until they’re borderline co-dependent. Not sure whether they’d prefer ammo or flowers? Just check the table.

All that said – if Bioware adheres to canon, the exploration of love will necessitate flirting with the dangers of passion, although you could remain pure if you only participated in meaningless sex. But that wouldn’t appeal to most players… would it?. I should also mention that not all companions are romanceable, so if you are a smuggler hoping for a little wookie-lurve, you are out of luck. Bioware’s criteria of only having human-like playable races also extends to the races that you can flirt with. If you are curious about your chances for love, you could look up your horoscope or for more reliable information, try the table.

Of course, the best feature of your companion is that, unlike a real person, you can dismiss them when they start to get on your nerves, instead of having to sit smiling through Notting Hill for the hundreth time.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

In the second part of this brief guide we’ll be looking at combat, AI and the all-important ability to pimp your companion’s appearance.


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