SWTOR First Impression Review

Now that SWTOR has officially launched, I figured it would be a good time to give my first impression review for Star Wars: The Old Republic. While I had the opportunity to get into the last two beta weekends, I wasn’t able to due to other obligations, so my first real taste of the game was when the early access began.

Going into it I was expecting to dislike it; boarder-line hate it, so I’m actually quite surprised that I’m enjoying myself and even more surprised that I’m still listening to a good portion of the voice-overs.  Being one of the biggest selling points for BioWare, the billions of hours (ok, maybe not billions) of voice-over acting was going to be what separated it from all other MMORPGs and quite frankly has to be because so much of the gameplay features have been done before.

Currently my Sith Bounty Hunter is at level 21 and while I still listen to the main story-line, for just about every other quest I’m hitting the next button after a few words. The NPCs tend to ramble on and in most cases I really don’t care what they have to say, but that sort of fits my characters persona, so I don’t feel too bad. So in terms of the voice-over acting, I’m happy to report that it’s a big plus and being able to select the answers for yourself in conversations is also fun, or maybe it’s fun because I’m playing a Sith.

One of the new features that I haven’t seen before are the “personal zones” in the game that don’t revert back after you complete your mission. In many MMORPGs when completing a quest it resets back to normal for the next person to complete, but not so for SWTOR. Once you enter one of these zones, marked by a green force-field, you enter a zone that is personalized to your progress and the choices your make. Meaning if you leave that area and go back later, it doesn’t reset, which is nice as it feels you’re decisions in the game actually mean something.

Moving on to Flashpoints which are small group missions, up to four players, and instanced. Flashpoints are basically missions given to you by the “leader” of your faction, in my case Darth Malgus, and are accessed from a single ship in the fleet. They’re really nothing new in terms of gameplay or features when comparing Flashpoints to any other instanced mission from any other MMORPG, so I’ll just skip ahead.

Traveling is a lot faster than in any other game I’ve played before. You start off with a slow run, then by level 8 (correction, lev 14) you get a passive sprint which is not based on stamina and never runs out. There’s also plenty of rides and ships that can take you from location to location for a small fee and at level 25 you get your own personal transport.  Plus players get two skills that can automatically transport them to the fleet or a city, but they have a 24 hr and 30 min cool-down respectively. Being a sci-fi futuristic game, it would be strange to not to have so many traveling options, so I’m more than fine with the quick transportation.

Getting into PvP Warzones and PvE combat, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Basic tab and hot-key combos for combat and your normal queue up for PvP, join a match and receive some PvP tokens to use at PvP vendors. I’ve only had the chance to play the Huttball Warzone and while it was fun, I already know the Warzones aren’t going to hold my interest in the long run.

Getting to crafting, I absolutely love the system BioWare has implemented, but only because I hate crafting. Players can send out their companions to gather materials and do all the crafting themselves, so as the player you never really have to do anything. Sure you can still gather resources in the field if you spot them, but you don’t have to bother grinding for them. While I’m not sure how crafting will change towards the end-game, right now it’s perfect for me.

Companions are the second big feature BioWare added, but my feeling so far are mixed. Players can have up to six companions and while only one can be active at a time, you can still send the other 5 on crafting missions which is great for crafting. My grip with them is there isn’t enough control on how they behave. When I got my first companion, I wanted to set it up so they would tank for me, unfortunately as far as I can tell it’s not possible. Even if they attack first, after my first attack I end up pulling all the aggro.  So I figured, ok, they can’t tank, so I’ll have my companion just heal me, but that doesn’t work either, because they’ll constantly attack and while they’ll still heal me, it’s no where near fast enough to keep me alive in tough fights. I would love it if there was more control on the role you wanted your companion to play, but so far there isn’t.

Finally there’s space combat which is just a rail shooter. Quite frankly if feels like I’m playing an oooold arcade shooter that sucks. Players are able to upgrade their ships with better equipment, but that still doesn’t change the fact your playing a rail shooter.  On the bright side, they offer a ton of XP and can be completed daily, so they’ll help you level quickly if you won’t mind them.

The shining light in Star Wars: The Old Republic is bar-none its voice-over acting, which I really didn’t think would make much of a difference to me, but has now become the reason to continue playing. We all know BioWare knows how to create enthralling store-lines with their games and they’ve done it yet again with SWTOR.


  1. Hmmmm – sounds like its as we all thought, more of the same cookie cutter stuff with added voices.

    However am surprised at the positive stance you took here – was expecting something a bit more critical.

    So voice overs aside – having ascertained its pretty much more of the same – is it more of the same done much better, and would it be worth dropping a WAR/WOW character someone had spent years building up to sub to this game instead?

  2. Seeing as its 15 when you get your sprint… I wonder if you actually have played at all. Even though there is an underhanded positive side to your review I would suggest people make there own conclusion and base their opinion on personal experience and not one persons opinion.

  3. @Ravenblack Honestly I forgot what level I got sprint at. Up until about level 20 I was visiting the class trainer once ever 3-4 levels, so I really don’t know when I was supposed to get a lot of skills. But 15 is probably right.

    SWTOR is pretty much the same as WAR/WOW with voice, so if you have a well geared char in another game and are happy, I would recommend staying.

    But the story-line is worth playing for. Maybe by the time I get to lev 50 and the Stat Wars effect wares off, my opinion might not be so positive.

  4. Okay as much as i really dislike leaving comments to reviews, i have to break that decision and say this review is absolutely rubbish. Granted i love the whole Starwars sci-fi/Fantasy genre, however it is very clear that this review should not be going out 1 day after proper launch, secondly you haven’t even gone far into the leveling system and proper gameplay and economics to put that as a general taste of the game, talking about companions not working exactly as you desire is just a darn pain for me to read, we are gamers my dear sir and when they dont work properly we are meant to compensate. Atleast we dont have to wait 1,2 or even 3 hours to get group for 4 to enter a dungeon as in Wow(I still love you guys at Blizzard), we just get half the numbers and then summon the right companions to do the rest, i have benn doing that and so far things have been going perfectly well for me and everyone i have played with in the game and the funny thing is i dont know anyone on my server personally or previously through any of my previous MMORPG’s. I’ll take what Ravenblack said and also request then you hold from publishing reviews about MMORPG’s that are released until you have put a 30 days of interaction with the software. Thank you very much.

  5. @decova this is why it is called a “first impressions review”. Granted the game just launched officially yesterday, but early access began a week ago, so I feel that is more than enough time for a first impression to be given.

  6. In fairness to mike he has clearly stated in the title it is a “First Impressions” review, which to me at least does indicate it is not indepth & should be taken with a pinch of salt for the time being.

    First impressions are important, and if first impressions are bad many people will not even make 30days of play time.

    I for one actually found it to be quite interesting.

  7. Thanks Mike. Give a little credit guys/gals…first impression reviews are needed upon release, I am looking all over for them right now. There are many of us waiting to see if this thing is all the hype or just good marketing and “play” on Stars Wars nostalgia. The push to “try it for yourself” sounds like a BioWare fan pushing sales IMHO. The whole idea of throwing down $60.00 on something I try for a few days and then feel obligated to play for a month just because of the $ dropped sickens me…Wish there was a 10 day trial or even 2 day just to look at the real experience, with a trial it leaves room for monthly subscriptions to be honest since it is all about a long term commitment and not just a quick money grab. Then I could “try it for myself”

  8. @Xaras here here, if you don’t want to read a review made 1 day into the game which is a 1st impression review then don’t.
    I on the other hand am debating whether or not to buy the game and was interested in a few opinions, because I probably wouldn’t make it 30days if I didn’t enjoy it to begin with.
    So stop trolling.
    Although as it sounds like more of the same from bioware I guess I’ll give it a shot.
    Thanks btw enjoyed the review

  9. SWTOR is an epic game it’s like playing Mass Effect, KoTOR and WoW all in one game…in the friggin Star Wars universe. The storylines are amazing and the entire game feels like you’re in the movie ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It has that great undertone of darkness that this movie had.

  10. @decova – I would suggest you tone down a bit and consider the hypocrisy of your own post with regard to Wow. While I do agree that in the past it is exactly as you describe, almost to the point of certain content being exclusionary, however for the past year or more this has not been the case. This first impression seems accurate with regards to TOR. Aside from the voice overs, it’s still the cookie-cutter mmo that we’ve been playing for the past 10 years. The fact that the genre of the game has changed doesn’t detract from the fact that players will treat this as all other games and ultimately become bored of it unless they make radical changes with regards to personalizing the experience and making them feel like they are a part of the world they have created.

  11. I have heard so much about how SWTOR is ‘just another cookie cutter mmorpg’ so I was blown out of my mind by how totally freaking GREAT it is. This is the first time I’ve been glued to my computer all night long since the early days of WoW, some five years ago. I think for any MMO fan looking to regain a certain level of excitement, SWTOR offers so much. People are underestimating how deeply inventive the leveling and character defining systems are. Your own personality imprints onto the character and defines him in ways that have not existed in any previous MMO. I am probably more picky than average, and went into this really expecting to be disappointed, and I am truly surprised to be sitting here and typing this: I very highly recommend this game. I think, on paper, Darkfall is probably the best MMO in the history of the genre, and WoW has been the most entertaining. I will say that Darkfall probably still has the PVP edge in terms of how totally brutal and realistic it is, but SWTOR is by far and away more entertaining and fun then WoW when it comes to PVE; if you’re jaded on WoW and endlessly disappointed by all the promising releases that end up in the “WoW clone” dustbin, SWTOR will provide you with a surprising shot in the ass. It is VASTLY entertaining and exciting.

  12. For anyone who thinks this is another clunky warcraft clone dressed up in shabby “next gen” clothing, you have a very pleasant surprise waiting for you when you log into SWtOR: it kicks intense amounts of booty, and the graphics and gameplay are things of glory.

  13. Regarding the new Star Wars MMORPG: I love the UI. I love the in game map system. I love the movement mechanics of the characters. I love the look and feel of the overarching universe. I love the classes and races. I love the story lines. I love the sense of adventure. I love the profession system. I love that we get giant ships and hangers to house them, and that you can really fly around in them and travel to different, fully formed and interactive planets. I love all the stuff that makes this game so unique and refreshing. I love logging into this game. I can’t wait to get home from work and do just that.

  14. This game is actually really awesome i played wow for some 5 maybe more years and the beta for this was released and it just caught my attention basicly wow is your grab the quest move on run back this game has so much more it lets you decide whats going on with letting you talk and the enviroment is AMAZING compared to wow. this game is a 10/10 in my book bioware did a awesome job with it and im looking forward to level 50 :)

  15. ” They’re really nothing new in terms of gameplay or features when comparing Flashpoints to any other instanced mission from any other MMORPG, so I’ll just skip ahead.”

    You mean you played games in which all group members particiapte in dialogue with NPCs while only one player’s choice is chosen and some of these choices effect the plot of them flashpoint? Which games are those?

  16. I played in the beta, and have been playing through the pre-release. As a former Wow player and long time Star Wars lover, my first impression was, looking around, they got the star wars look down, “it’s freakin’ star wars”. Critically it’s easy to tell it’s a new MMO, it lacks the polish that years of development of games like WOW and Eve have, but still a much more solid launch than Fallen Earth or Earthrise.

    There is a great deal to be critical of, but given this is a game that is meant to challenge WOW I feel that the from what the dev team has said, they are up to it, with changes being made early on. As it is now, it’s a highly playable single player role playing game, and can see it being re-playable several times. The pvp and multiplayer stuff is there, and expect new pvp content to coming soon.

    I disagree with the critique of the space based content, while it is on rails, and it does model an old arcade game it is not crap. The game reminded me of the arcade game from the early 80s, and I think thats what they were going for, it’s a super fun change of pace from the more serious roleplay elements, but more importantly it’s a starting point, I would expect the first expansion to be centered around making this aspect of the game closer to what is to be had on the ground.

    For me, after cataclysm I had no problem leaving my WOW characters of several years behind. While it may be closely modeled after that game it’s a fresh take, and if its going to be cookie cutter in some areas it might as well be modeled after something that worked.

  17. If you use a tanking companion they tank fine, if you set your healing companion into their healing stance, they focus on healing not attacking… or if you really don’t want your healer to attack at all use the ship droid, he has no attacks…

    you major gripes sound like personal problems :|

  18. Much too early for such a review as you don’t understand the systems yet. I’ll just point out one thing in it that you didn’t fully understand – companions.

    You can set which abilities they have available to use and which they don’t. You can set them for aggressive or non. You get 5 class companions, 1 for being republic/sith, 1 with your spaceship – and all are different classes. One might be a ranged tank, one a melee dps, one a healer. They go off of your actions – They’re not going to blindly attack everything they see but rather only attach what notices and attacks you ON THEIR OWN. Which means they don’t know you’re getting into cover and starting your powerful attack until you actually do it, and then they attack. That means you attacked first and have aggro. Intead pick a target and tell them to attack it, then follow them into melee.

  19. The space part is well done, for what it is. With so much content, that is all I expected. Did Star Wars Galaxies have space when it came out? No, it came with the first expansion.

    I’ll bet you a paycheck a full blown space system will be with the first expansion of TOR.

  20. Still the same old MMO rubbish with some extras, rubbish graphics and a grind, usual mind numbing stuff.

    1000x better than what crappy ancient WoW has to offer though.

  21. I played WoW for years, I recently got a char to 50 in SWTOR and there are some big differences in gameplay that really should be touched on:

    This game plays like most MMOs up to about level 10 so if you haven’t gotten beyond that you really have no point of reference. The combat system is similar to WoW, but the feel of the combat is very different and much more fun. It does require actual strategy which is why most WoW players can’t get past level 10. You have to learn how too work with various companions to get stuff done, sometimes you’ll want a healer other times you’ll want a tank, etc.

    Most of the real cool content in multiplayer, but the solo story is gripping (and even that is superior to WoW’s “end game” content). I sense they are being very careful to avoid the pitfalls of vertical gear progression which ruined games like WoW and RIFT. Ops (Raid) sizes are 8 to 16 players and they are very challenging- you can’t faceroll a 2-man in this game let alone an Ops at the appropriate level. Party size is 4 players normally, but there are a good amount of 2 player missions which are cool if you like leveling with friends.

    The graphics in this game are top notch, on par w/ FFXIV- so to say the game has rubbish graphics means you probably have a rubbish comp so don’t hate. I play on the highest setting and it looks 1000x better than WoW. Plus the voice acting makes the game realistic feeling so much so that I never felt like I was grinding- the story is just that good.

    I guess my only complaint so far would be that some planets look similar, though I’m sure that will change too as new content gets released. Other things like Guild banks and the legacy system are already in the works. The good news is there is no random group finder so you can be assured your party members will be competent.

    Being an ex-raider in WoW I kinda had to laugh at the comment about building an end game character that took “years”- you do realize I could level to 85 and probably have better gear than you in under a month, right? Not that you suck, its just that’s what Blizzard does- better start farming some epics for the next tier of pointless raids that will be forgotten in six months… lol

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