SWTOR NDA Has Dropped
I was in the SWTOR beta last weekend, and now that the NDA has dropped I can tell you about it. Since I already discussed it a lot earlier in the week with a friend who was also in the weekend beta, I’m primarily just pasting in stuff from emails we traded. I apologize for the lack of screenshots, but I didn’t take any since it had the NDA and I don’t feel like going out and borrowing other people’s off the web. So enjoy the wall of text 😉
TL;DR — My overall summation was: My pre-order is intact and I’m wishing the beta went longer so I could play more, so even though there are some negative things said in the following, I don’t think they detract very much and overall the game is very enjoyable.
MSORPG. That’s “Massively Solo Online RPG” in case you wondered.
And yeah, that’s definitely what SWTOR is. At least in the 1st 10 levels, anyway. On my trooper I did the final phases of Ord Mantell at level 8, becuz I’d not grouped up for the Heroic missions that would have gotten me to level 9 or maybe even 10. So I was fighting level 9 and 10 mobs, often rated “Strong” and often multiple “strong” mobs at a time (I find it odd that that was considered “solo” yet the “heroic” quests that I went back and did later had you fighting level 8 “strong” mobs, with occasional “elite” thrown in for good measure, but the elites were so rare as to be easily avoidable. . . ) I took 1 defeat in there before I realized how it was set up and then I was more careful afterward. I even managed to take down the group of 1 elite + 2 strong needed to finish out 1 part of the story mission. It was a VERY near thing, but I managed it. It was actually nice to finally have a bit of challenge to the game, becuz so far it’d been a real cakewalk with lots of running back and forth and lots of loading time while the conversations loaded up. Finishing that took me to level 9.
After finishing that and getting my companion I went back to do the heroic quests and holy schnikes that companion puts out a ton of damage. Mobs were actually worth decent XP, so did a bit of grinding and got to level 10, then headed to the space station and went Commando. They gave me a nice blue-level BFG for my efforts. Decided I didn’t want to spoil too much of the actual game for myself, so I went back to Ord Mantell and ran around more in the heroic areas. Didn’t even need my companion anymore to take out the 2-elite battle on the island easily this time, though I’ll admit I did wait for him to come back from the harvest mission I’d sent him on before tackling the “Boss” level mob on that island. Between the 2 of us we took it out easily too. Surprisingly easily.
Sad – the “auto-attack” felt like it was usually the highest DPS thing you could do. Anything else might have a larger single hit but taking the GCD and the charge time into account, just spamming “1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1” usually seemed to kill things faster than anything. I also made the settings go such that hitting the attack key would auto-select the next nearest target so I didn’t even have to pick my targets out, could just spam away. This did change a little at level 9 (maybe 8, don’t recall for sure now) when I got the “mortar barrage” skill. That was a pretty massive AE skill that made a nice opener (so long as they were ranged mobs that stood still in your effect area, anyway) and then anything that didn’t die you could finish off easily with 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 – that skill was powerful enough that I was sometimes even killing the “strong” mobs on the heroic island with it and not needing to finish them off individually. So that was nice. Add in the nice AE burst that also did about 1000 damage from my companion and. . . yeah. Nice DPS from the commando.
Still, as expected/feared, the LS/DS choices weren’t what I consider to be right but rather what the Bioware devs decided. I’m big on family and forgiveness, so on the mission where you try to find the kid for his parent who the Separatists kidnapped and forced to fight but he’s too embarrassed to go back to them after you free him – in my world strongly encouraging (but not forcing) him to go back would be the absolute right thing to do, yet in doing so I got dark side points. WTF?!?!?!?! Also, the mission where the lady begs you to get her necklace then the repub guy says she’s actually a spy – how do you tell who to believe? I guessed and picked the repub guy and hey, got my LS points, so I got lucky there, but then a later mission where you have to free a pirate. Repub guy wants you to kill him instead and. . . .arguably letting him live would be for the greater good, but the guy was sooooo evil and also he was so arrogant and annoying when I met him I couldn’t help but kill him and yeah. . . DS points. Though admittedly it was a murder so I can totally see it for that.
Also, just before you get your companion you face a rival and have the choice to fight him or to be a baby and appease him for now. I fought him becuz he was simply a bully and was making things worse for the Republic there. Even got some LS points for it IIRC, but the rumor is that he’s got missions for you later if you don’t kill him so. . . . I don’t know since I didn’t play that far and apparently it’s quite a ways down the road, but still. Annoying to think that standing up for myself and to make the world a better place I might have to pay a penalty down the road.
Even more WTF – while doing the Sith Warrior thing you have to judge 3 prisoners. 1st time through I gave 1st prisoner death in combat, 2nd prisoner I simply executed, and the 3rd prisoner I freed. I got nothing from the 1st, DS points for the 2nd, and LS points for the 3rd. My master said “should have recruited the 1st, not killed. 2nd you did right, 3rd you shouldn’t have let go since now he knows things about our base that we don’t want him to. Later there was a queue on that server so I made a SW on a different non-queue server to try that again. I figured by doing what the master had told me I’d be going full DS this time, so I recruited the assassin and got 100 LS points, executed the 2nd (100 DS points) and told the 3rd to stay in prison and got nothing either way. LS points for recruiting an Assassin as my evil master thought was best? Seriously?
Sith Inquisitor was similar – hadda torture a prisoner to interrogate him. Found in the course of it that he was innocent himself, but he pointed the way to the bad guys. So as requested, I then arranged to send the SITH to a SITH master for additional training, just no longer on Korriban and. . . you guessed it. . . LS points. Ruined all the lovely DS points I’d just gotten for torturing the guy. Grr. . . . . . .
Agent was pretty fun and the story was very interesting. I made mine a female Chiss and the way the story worked she even got laid within about a half hour of starting. Got LS points for it too since it was the non-violent way of keeping a guy from blowing my cover. Wonder how that would have worked with a male toon instead? Anyway, the cover mechanic felt a bit clunky and I didn’t like how half your abilities could only be used from cover. Sure, they kinda made sense, but still… to have to hit “cover” before starting any fight just felt clunky, especially since if there was a cover spot nearby you’d roll or sprint to it rather than just activating your little forcefield. . . meh. That said, I did like the AE stuff you could do, but like the trooper, 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 seemed to be highest dps to finish the mobs off after you’d opened with the AE stuff. Still….. cover, explosive probe, grenade and boom! They all fall down so you can 1,1,1,1,1,1 while they’re on the ground worked realllllly nicely.
I also tried a Jedi Consular and got it to 7. The 1st 4 levels the skills were identical to Inquisitor, as expected, just different animations and skill names. I actually found myself really enjoying the story lines for the JC, felt it was every bit as brutal in combat as anything else and could really lay out the hurt in melee so far, at least. The “pebble throwing” had a good animation so it actually looked like you were machine-gunning the thing, not just throwing pebbles at it. My only complaint is the short range on the pebble and boulder/crate/astromech/several-other-objects skills. Made it so that you’d run in, hit the boulder throw as you got in range, then Force Wave AE knockback once in the middle of the group and it’d knock them all so far back you couldn’t follow up with the pebble toss becuz they’d be out of range. Still…. Between doing that, running after 1 mob to finish it with the pebbles, then 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 to kill the other 2 after they got back up I’d often have barely taken a hit or 2 at all. Worked nice.
Still got annoyed at their whole “Jedi can’t fall in love” thing. I got LS points for snitching on 2 lovebirds and I know I would have gotten DS points had I not snitched. Makes me wonder how “powerful” the lightsaber crystal they said they’d give me would have been and if it would have been worth getting the few DS points for it anyway, ya know?
I’d heard the DS/LS options would either be clearly labeled or always the same number or something, but they weren’t labeled and while it usually seemed 1- neutral, 2 – LS, 3- DS that didn’t always hold true, so. . . I dunno. That just annoyed me that I couldn’t say “this toon will always be LS” and know where to go with it, but rather had to guess what the devs thought would do it.
For all that I did enjoy it overall, I was also annoyed by a ton of it as well. I had better ping times than in my lag-free Rift (89 in TOR vs 109 in Rift) and yet I had a sluggish response when using abilities, dropping into cover, and especially when looting. That was pretty annoying. The 5-10 second delay while loading the conversation cutscenes was a bit of an immersion-breaker too. good thing I’m not really THAT worried about immersion. It’s definitely not the 2nd coming of the MMO, but I didn’t expect it to be either, so I’m not canceling my pre-order either.
This part here was my friend telling me why he didn’t like it and my responses back to him:
1. Cover game play mechanic. Nice for a bit, but locking out my most powerful attack behind it sucks. Also, it only works for things in front of your cover, so PVP is going to be a total joke for Smuggler/Agent classes, although Agents will probably do better as they have range that Smuggler lacks.
Response: From what I saw, SI and JC were identical for the 1st 10 levels (and then each tree still mirrors the other after 10 as well). Are the Smuggler and IA different after all? I didn’t try a smuggler to know for sure but I can’t imagine they’d be different. For pvp balance purposes, IA Snipers are limited to a 30m range just like anyone else; do smugglers not also have that range?
2. Melee smuggler is a joke. Granted we are in a high tech universe (and I will address that in a bit…grr…), but when my Blaster whip and groin kick are on a 15 second cooldown each, have no CC, and do slightly more damage than my standard attack…what is the point.
Response: I didn’t get far enough on my agent to get melee attacks that I recall. Or If I did get them I don’t think I ever actually got into melee to use them – I’d just explosive probe, grenade, 1,1,1,1,1,1,1 from range and call it a day.
3. No auto attack. I understand the reason why, but it drives me crazy having to button mash.
Response: Totally agree. What’s even worse is that the 1,1,1,1,1,1,1 does so much damage that if it was actually set as an auto-attack I think everyone’d realize its effectiveness really fast and no one would use the special abilities. I think it’s set up as it is to try to disguise that the 111 spam is so effective. TBH, I felt that (taking into account the charge time plus GCD) that the 111 spam did more damage than the “biggest hit from cover-only” that I had as an Agent plus it’d switch targets instantly after a mob death so it seemed to do more dps overall to boot.
4. WHY THE HELL AM I RUNNING ACROSS THE BLOODY PLANET WHERE THERE ARE SPEEDERS LYING AROUND LIKE BLOODY LAWN ORNAMENTS????? nuff said.
Response: Again, I totally agree. I heard you don’t get your 1st speeder until level 20 or 25. I also hear that’s a huge complaint among the “regular” testers – that Coruscant and some of the later planets are too big even with the taxi services and that you should get your speeder by 10 at the latest. But BW ain’t budging on it. Dumb dumb dumb.
5. Why are Smugglers treated like imbeciles? Seriously now…I’m supposed to be smart enough to avoid blockades, customs and the like, yet I manage to get my ship stolen in the middle of a warzone…You can say plot device, but when I spend WAY too much time on the planet playing gopher for the military and civilians and STILL don’t get my ship back by the time I leave…RAGE!!!
Response: Yeah, the SI story was also annoying. Everything you’d do your master and everyone else would be all “You stupid slave you think you can do this stuff? No, you’re nothing but a slave!” even though you’d not only just done it but did it well beyond their stated expectations.
6. Okay, something that bugged me a bit…I played KoToR and I remember that all the dialogue options told you which ones were light, dark, neutral. Why they didn’t do that for this I’ll never know. I hated when I’d choose something with my Smuggler and get dark side points, so I’d drop the quest and take it again to try and get the light side point only to find out you still keep the dark side point from the first time you took the quest…
Response: I think you saw in my 1st email that I completely agree with this as well. . . .
His overall summation: All in all…I wasn’t hooked. It didn’t feel like a Star Wars game to me.
And I’m up to 2600 words with no pictures, so… yeah, wall of text city. And I haven’t even complained about the Trooper’s starting armor that looks like cloth yet says it’s “Heavy armor” even though everyone else around me is wearing trooper armor.
Anyway, to any who have made it this far, I salute you!