MMO Burnout: Star Wars Uprising

    
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MMO Burnout: Star Wars Uprising

When I heard that Disney’s first foray into the new Star Wars gaming universe was a mobile-only RPG, it made me sort of angry. Not Vader-force-choking-his-wife angry, but angry enough to indulge in a brief dark side daydream involving lightsabers!

See, I started gaming in the 1980s because of Star Wars. As a kid, I wanted so badly to live in a galaxy far, far away, that I saved every possible penny and put them all toward a gaming PC that put me squarely in the cockpit of an X-Wing circa 1993. Even sans the Star Wars IP, I game because I like to be immersed in fictional worlds — or digitized versions of the real world — not because I need or want fake progression and all the related skinner box bullcrappery.

Star Wars: Uprising, then, gets off the bus with two strikes against it.

final_bstSnapshot_945771Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Jef, if you dislike grinding and mobile gaming, why are you writing about a mobile game? And the answer to that is Star Wars. If it’s a Star Wars game, I own it. It’s a sickness. Also, Disney saw fit to introduce its post-Return of the Jedi canon with Uprising. This game is literally the flagship product for the new timeline and a sort of lead-up to December’s movie main event, so not playing it — despite its gross mobile underpinnings — was never an option.

Incidentally, wouldn’t you just love to own an IP where my sort of blind brand-loyalty is the norm?

Happily, Uprising doesn’t suck. This is partly because I’m playing it on my PC thanks to BlueStacks, which means that I can use my mouse and my keyboard, I can see it on my 40″ monitor without my fingers and my finger smudges getting in the way, and I can take screenshots and Fraps all the live-long day. It’s almost like a… real game.

Platform shenanigans aside, this is a decent RPG. Would I play it for more than five minutes without the post-RotJ story sauce? Probably not. But you might, if you’re into dungeon-crawling, loot collecting, gear upgrading, and so on.

final_bstSnapshot_891611Characters and open classes

Character creation offers options in the form of sex and race (human, zabrak, twi’lek, mirialan) and a few visual presets in terms of faces, hair styles, tattoos, etc. The avatar visuals are, well… they’re good for mobile, I guess? At the risk of beating a dead gungan, I admit that aesthetics are one of many reasons that I can’t take the mobile platform seriously. The screen size and the resolution are of course limited by default, and Uprising embraces that cutesy stylized look that exists for lowest common denominator hardware and that takes me back to turn-of-the-century gaming.

You can make multiple characters, but I stuck with my initial one because each one after that requires a good bit of in-game currency. And as I mentioned earlier, I’m not here to grind.

There’s no class selection per se, since everyone starts as a Smuggler. That endeared Uprising to me straight away, and I rolled up the same character I’ve played in various Star Wars tabletop adventures set during the classic film era. As you level up, though, Uprising allows you to select skills that further define your character, so if you want a bit of Rebel Guerilla, Street Punk, or Enforcer to go along with your Smugglery self, feel free to train some of those skills at the appropriate NPC.

final_bstSnapshot_506981No Jedi for you

You’ll notice that I left out Jedi, and that’s because developer Kabam did too. Completely. You won’t be playing any sort of Force-sensitive in Uprising, which is appropriate and fantastic, since it’s set during a time when their fire has gone out of the universe and it’s got a multiplayer component that would immediately turn into J3d1 Uprising! if the devs had allowed it.

Many fans are unable to think beyond Jedi when it comes to the Star Wars IP, and that single-mindedness is on display en masse in Uprising’s multiplayer chat lobby. Every five minutes I see someone ask where or how to get a lightsaber, and it reminds me of all the tone-deaf people who played Star Wars: Galaxies exclusively for its godmode Jedi while ignoring the other 90% of the game and the fact that thousands of Jedi made no sense.

Fortunately Kabam is smarter than SOE in this respect, and Uprising is much better for it.

final_bstSnapshot_773601Skills and gear

Skills are many and varied, and frankly at level 15 I’ve barely scratched the surface of what seems like a pretty deep progression system. There are passives, ultimates, directional attacks, and heals. You can also roll around the screen, dodging those big red don’t-stand-in-the-fire circles and retreating from melee attackers.

Gear is a big deal, too, as you get a couple of guaranteed drops during every story mission, and most of it is upgradeable to a certain level based on its rarity and whether or not you have enough credits and crystals. You’ll probably run out of inventory space during your first evening, but achieving level 9 unlocks salvaging, which grants you both space and additional upgrade crystals after you break down some of your crap equipment.

final_bstSnapshot_969191Singleplayer, multiplayer, and costs

The bulk of my gameplay thus far has focused on the single-player story missions, which are a series of repetitive kill-everything-in-this-room exercises that unfold across various maps that look sorta similar. Before, during, and after, you’ll see cutscenes and a ton of NPC dialogue bubbles, which for me at least are the reason to play the game. The early missions, for example, take place on the new-for-Episode-VII world of Burnin Konn, and while it looks very much like a dozen other mobile game levels, the Star Wars fan in me still had a good time rolling through it.

You can choose mission difficulty based on your level and you’ll be rewarded with more challenging enemies and better loot accordingly. Multiplayer guilds are also a thing. They’re called cartels, and they can hold up to 40 players and they feature their own chat channel. Missioning with friends or cartel mates seems like the most efficient way to gear up and is the only way to get past some of the more difficult encounters.

Kabam has also thrown in a sort of companion system. While it’s not as robust as the one in Star Wars: The Old Republic, it’s similar in that you acquire minions and send them on crew runs instead of doing things yourself.

Unlike most mobile and free-to-play titles, Uprising doesn’t build in a bunch of roadblocks designed to sell you “convenience” items. If you have a lot of time and the patience for grinding, you can basically do everything without spending a dime.

final_bstSnapshot_748331Final thoughts

Ultimately I do and do not recommend Star Wars: Uprising. It does what it sets out to do reasonably well, but unfortunately what it sets out to do is more limited than I’d like because of the platform. It’s easy to understand why Disney chose mobile for Uprising, though. From a business perspective, mobile fluff is quicker, easier, and more seductive than the big boy RPG that the IP deserves and that the huge timeline gap brought about by the end of the Expanded Universe demands.

And given the legions of time-poor thirtysomething Star Wars fans who are thirsty for The Force Awakens and its practical effects-driven love letter to the original trilogy, Disney would have been really dumb to do anything other than take the path of least resistance when draining this crowd’s wallet.

On the other hand, the lack of intrusive monetization is a big surprise, and a welcome one. If you have a long commute or some other reason for preferring small screens and limited graphics/gameplay, Uprising may well scratch your Star Wars itch for a while.

Are you burned out on MMOs? It happens. But there are plenty of other titles out there with open worlds, progression, RPG mechanics, and other MMO stalwarts. Massively OP’s MMO Burnout turns a critical eye toward everything from AAA blockbusters to obscure indie gems.

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seast868
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seast868

I like th this game.  Lots of gear and characters to find and upgrade.  It constantly crashes on my Galaxy Tab 3 though so I’m thinking of dropping the game because the crashes are so frustrating.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

pepinocantador 
Another issue I’m hearing about is that (as of this writing) the game tends to crash constantly on the iPad 2. 
I’m not certain this happens to everyone who plays on the iPad 2, but a lot of people seem to be having the problem, and are anxiously awaiting some sort of bugfix. 

Hopefully, developer Kabam will sort it out soon,

Cheers,

Craywulf
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Craywulf

I just started this game yesterday on a whim. I think the only thing that’s holding my interest is knowing it’s part of the new canon of ROTJ. I’m already level 4 and the missions are dull so far but the story is where it’s keeping me mildly entertained. I’m not sure how much longer I will play this game. I tend to get burned out on grind-induced RPGs.

Lethality
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Lethality

I can’t recommend this game enough… it’s a total blast, with good progression systems and ways to keep from getting bored even when the story is over. And the fact that it’s the first new canon post-Return of the Jedi, it’s a bonus! :)

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

Janio2 Sorenthaz Supposedly winning planetary battles has a chance to unlock new planets.  And it sounded like that was a pretty big feature.  So I imagine they’re going to add more planets as time goes on and the playerbase unlocks them through planet battles.

Janio2
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Janio2

Sorenthaz  the planetary battle I saw was temporary map of star destroyer you fought through and extra tab of crew missions quite nice. I just wonder if there are more worlds past bespin (only see 6 in total at lvl 28)

Janio2
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Janio2

Kass40 I would recommend expanding you storages (there are types crew,  gear and upgrade mat) when needed or buy an extra toon slot. I did not spend any money an I have now more then 800 after spending like 90 on storage 300 on  1 credit/mats pack and one extra char slot (does not share storage also no ingame item mailing I think).

Janio2
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Janio2

pepinocantador Yup am realy slowing down now around level 28. Went from get a level each 15 minutes to maby one a day if I do all the dailes, opperuniteits  and assaults missions and send my crew away many times a day. I did spend some of my chroniums (real money) I got ingame on the RNG boxes and on a big credits/mat pack (sort of ingame shop,  but it splashscreen on start up).

Janio2
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Janio2

The writer did not real get to the core game play of using your crewmenbers and the gear collecting and leveling of gear/gearset to advange his gear and blupeprint for his crew. Seems to me he did not see or unlock the armory and crew missions sub menus. 
Also seems he did not any invasion stuff or how varios of repeatable / daily missions work. This probably because he stopped at level 15 and did not read chat where players tell new player when ask who can I sell my grap drops.  T

They answer : You can sell salvage around level 9 when you do the main story line. AND do not Sell only salvage double gear/weapons Tillu u you understand how the armoury and crewsystem work together.

To explain this game has 4 main class vendors,  4 main armour set to find by grinding mostly or by RNG real cash box buying. Then you level gear and weapons with items you salvage from double drops looking out if it can be leveled past the max level. When you level you get real money chromnios (forgot the real name) 50% of the time. With two of those drops you could buy like 30 more slots for gear, crewmembers  or upgrade mats slots. 

How you get stormtroooper armor and what imperial opperunities are stil unknown too me.

pepinocantador
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pepinocantador

Although the game is amusing, a word of warning to… basically every commenter (and probably the article author) – long about 20, the F2P mobile part kicks in, bringing that fun, continuous progression you’ve been enjoying to a screeching, daily-cooldown-having halt.

You’ll suddenly find you aren’t high enough (character) level to do story missions. You’ll get a random daily, some gold missions and assaults, and those are the only missions that give experience besides the story missions. This will eventually get you mayyybbbbeeee a level a day, at which point you’ll be locked out of even doing the story until the next day.

Item progression will start to get stupid expensive, as will material upgrade costs. Your only real source of income for that is grinding the repeatable missions, which offer low gold rewards and zero experience. Higher tier rewards also become impossible to get without either some insanely lucky drops, or lucky item pulls from the chrome slot machine. Chrome comes in at a steady pace early on, but that will drop off drastically too, and the prices on chrome are insane for the value you get out of them.

All of that aside, the game is entertaining. Just be aware that, without paying any money, progression is going to eventually become a glacially-paced, tiny-bit-a-day affair unless you pony up.