What happens when a crazy Smuggler is joined by, a Jedi Consular, a Trooper, and a Sith Warrior in week two of Kotaku's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO Log? Opinions change, ideas form, and they all learn a little something about friendship (and possibly crafting).
I spent my second week in The Old Republic branching out a bit. With the official launch of the game on December 20, more players flooded the already flooded servers, forcing me to slip into a server a little more comfortable to see things from the Sith side. Meanwhile, on my Republic server, I found myself growing bored with the duck-and-cover tactics of my level 23 Gunslinger character and decided to rack up 26 levels or so as a Jedi Consular / Shadow, or as I like to call him, my Jedi Ninja. He's got stealth, backstabbing, charm and grace. What he lacks in good looks I made up for with my female Trooper, voice by the always amazing Jennifer Hale.
The end result of a week's worth of multiple personality disorder? I find my opinion on some of the aspects of the game I hated last week softening somewhat, while features I found entertaining are losing their novelty.
Let's see what's changed, shall we?
One of the few places my opinion did not change over the past week was player-versus-player combat. It's still a mess, regularly pitting players with little or no experience fighting against live targets against level 50 guilds dedicated to the pursuit of PVP domination. If BioWare wants to inject console game sensibilities into the MMO space, they'd best start with a little matchmaking. I'd gladly wait longer in a queue if it meant not having to face off against players that eat, sleep, and piss killing me as efficiently as possible.
I know I whined endlessly about the game's on-rails space combat missions last week, but they're beginning to grow on me. It helps if I pretend I'm playing StarFox, another on-rails space shooter in which annoying AI character spout out useless instructions while you try to keep from crashing into asteroids. With the right mindset in place I went from avoiding space combat altogether to making the quick-and-dirty missions a part of my daily play schedule.
There is definitely room for improvement here, however. What I'd really love to see is leaderboards for the top pilots in the game, calculating score versus damage taken during these high risk, high reward missions. If you're going to make me repeat the same handful of missions over and over again, at least give me the chance to show off the skill honed through dozens of deep space escort and combat quests.
One of the highlights from my first week of playing, the entertainment value of ground combat in The Old Republic plummets significantly in the mid-20s. In other MMO games it's these middle levels in which I hit my stride, my role in a group becoming clearer, my tactics honed to a razor's edge. That's not the case in The Old Republic.
Take my Jedi Shadow, Accel. He's got two full hotbars filled with colorful icons, and additional hotbar on the right side of the screen. I've got a basic grasp of the tactics I should be using. I know that stunning into a backstab is a great maneuver, and saving the power that resets the recharge for that stun is a great way to deal extra damage to a boss character, but most of the time I feel slightly lost looking at all of these colored icons.
So my plan next week is to hone these skills, optimize my bars, and work my way towards level 50 with a tighter understanding of what I am supposed to be doing. Hopefully that'll happen.
I hit level 25 and got my own personal mount. Ain't she a beaut? Now those wide-open space feel like slightly less wide-open spaces, though I still get the feel that a lot of the surface area of the planets I am exploring is just there to make the worlds seem completely huge, not actually adding anything to the overall plot or gameplay. This is especially true of Tatooine. I get it, it's one grand desert. I've got sand everywhere.
Companions and Crafting
I still adore both the class-specific companions and the unique companion-driven crafting system. Nothing to report here other than I am one hell of an Artificer, and I owe it all to my lizard man friend.
Get to know your party members. This is the key to surviving the long, frustrating pauses in the BioWare dialog system during group missions and Flashpoints. If you're just sitting there quietly waiting for the story to progress then yes, it will be a horrible experience. If you're playfully teasing the light or dark-siders in your group, snarkily commenting on the NPCs' reactions, or cooperatively dreaming up your own dialog tree choices, the wait doesn't hurt quite as much as it did.
And if you end up with a group filled with quiet types? Take a nap. They'll love that.
As the Jedi Turns...
This week's Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO log is a prime example of why we do four weekly sessions and then a review. My opinions have greatly changed between one period of seven days and the next. Who knows what next week will bring?
Well I do. More levels, more crafting, and more hot Jedi on Sith action. Be there!
Kotaku's MMO reviews are a multi-part process. Rather than deliver day one reviews based on beta gameplay, we play the game for four weeks before issuing our final verdict. Once a week we deliver a log detailing when and how we played the game. We believe this gives readers a frame of reference for the final review. Since MMO titles support many different types of play, readers can compare our experiences to theirs to determine what the review means to them.