Hyperspace Beacon: Five things Star Wars The Old Republic still does well

    
30
I have been harping on so many things that BioWare is doing wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic that some have wondered why I still play the game. I will admit that I have been playing it less and less. Some of that has to do with the amount of free time I have, but if I’m honest with myself, my desire to play the game has dwindled. But I still enjoy it. I know that I don’t need to justify myself; if I like something, I like it, and if I don’t like it, I don’t.

But there are still reasons to like SWTOR, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. I think it’s time to put a bit of a positive spin in my column, so in no particular order here are five things that SWTOR still does well.

Solo gameplay

I don’t want to give the impression that I believe that Star Wars: The Old Republic is the best at any one of these items, but everything I’m going to mention here is executed well enough to hold my attention. The first is, of course, related to story. After all, it’s one of the pillars of the game. But I believe that it goes beyond that. Its whole solo gameplay is still quite fun.

I have been playing this game for more than six years now, and I’m never been without something to do as a solo player. I can log in and immediately do content that’s interesting or challenging. Admittedly, if I set a specific large goal, like hitting Command Rank 300 in a day, things will get very grindy very quickly. But if I log in and want to play a part of the Eternal Throne storyline, I can hop right in and do just that.

I like to ease into challenges. In solo games, I will start with a low challenge setting and slowly graduate to the more masterful modes. And SWTOR has that same kind of feature for its solo gameplay. And it’s challenging. From the Eternal Championship to the master-mode Eternal Throne instances, SWTOR delivers on difficult solo gaming.

Utilizing influencers

We are past the time when SWTOR fansite will get millions of hits just on the SWTOR content alone. Despite this, SWTOR fans continue to produce internet content revolving around the game. There is even some highly produced regular content like SWTORista’s instructional videos and Vulkk’s news and commentary.

Recently, Community Manager Eric Musco and Creative Director Charles Boyd made the rounds through some of the content creators, answering questions about the future of the game. In particular, Musco and Boyd revealed that there would, indeed, be a new expansion coming in the near future. They also revealed that they weren’t wholely sure what was going to be in the expansion yet.

I am not an influencer for SWTOR because I’m press, but I do work closely with some of the people who are. And I don’t want to give the impression that everything that BioWare does with the influencers is the greatest, but the studio does utilize them well, and the devs aren’t afraid to talk to them directly on a regular basis. I personally know a couple of influencers who have Musco’s near-immediate attention. And from what I know of Musco personally, I think if you make regular content around the game and would like to have some questions answered, he’s more than willing to answer them directly for you.

Fashion!

I don’t think I have to go any further than TOR Fashion to demonstrate just how much character customization has played into the role of SWTOR‘s success. There are thousands of outfit pieces and literally millions of combinations of pieces. There are so many different armor pieces and combinations, and there are so many people interested in finding just the right outfit for them, that TOR-Fashion has been one of the longest-running SWTOR fan sites still requiring full-time maintenance.

I don’t think that SWTOR‘s handling of its armor options is 100% the best. The fact that the vast majority of good outfits have been available only as random loot box items really puts a stain on the whole system. But with very recent changes to the Cartel Market, we are starting to see more and more outfits come up for direct sale, an improvement that I have been asking for for a long time. It still means that you have to spend real-life dollars to access the good outfits, or like me, have a lot of in-game credits to buy them off the GTN.

PvP

Here’s another thing that I think that seems to perform well for SWTOR, even though I don’t think it’s necessarily handled well. First, PvP in SWTOR is really easy to get into and there are excellent daily and weekly rewards for participating. It’s likely that is the main reason for its popularity. It doesn’t require much thinking to play a substantial role.

But I think the fact that you can pop in and be done in about 15 minutes makes it the most appealing. Most anything else in the game is going to take a lot of time, and players like how easy PvP is. I also think that I don’t give SWTOR enough credit for its maps. I know there are flaws, and there are many people who can exploit those flaws. But averaged out, SWTOR‘s PvP is solid.

Small-group PvE

Lastly, I have enjoyed SWTOR‘s small-group PvE since the game launched. In fact, more than PvP, this is where this game shines. The massive variety of content in this area still blows my mind. More than anything else, SWTOR devs continue to make good content in this area. Flashpoints, Uprisings, and Heroics fall into this category. The challenge levels range from sleepwalking through Heroics to what-just-happened-to-my-face master-mode Uprisings.

Small group content is only a hair more difficult to get into because much of the more challenging content requires specific roles, but the group-finder queue doesn’t usually take too long to pop. Also with the recent addition of gear score averaging, it’s not difficult to determine if you’re ready to participate in certain activities.

People are going to disagree with my list. There are other things that SWTOR does well, and maybe you think SWTOR doesn’t handle something well that I listed. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Thomas

I had a lot of fun with this game.

I do wish SWTOR (and other companion-utilizing games, such as Neverwinter) would open up solo versions of group content by allowing players to take multiple companions at a time (as in the original Guild Wars) to fill any (or all) “missing player” slots.

Playing DPS means you have to wait and wait and wait for a player group to form. Waiting is pretty much the suckiest part of playing group content in any MMO and is the main reason I don’t play group content much anymore.

In Guild Wars you could always just form an AI group (or a mixed player + AI group) and PLAY.

Reader
Rolan Storm

As an active subscriber agree on every point.

Reader
Crowe

Well, I agree with the author on one of those points… solo play. The class stories were very hit and miss for me. I heard great things about the Imperial Agent story but the class mechanic/gameplay were so antithetical to me that I couldn’t progress very far before deleting the character. The Sith stories didn’t catch on with me but they weren’t awful. The trooper story was quite good and I enjoyed that. I preferred the consular style gameplay but the story was just the pits. Still, that’s a game you can play to level cap pretty much solo. Sort of defeats the purpose behind playing a MMO but I know quite a few of my friends were really just hoping for a KOTOR sequel so they enjoyed it for a few months.

Reader
Anstalt

Interesting read. I only played it for the first 13 months after release so I am quite out of touch, I thought it was a pretty awful game tbh. Especially on the solo front, not only was it mind-numbingly easy, there also wasn’t much of it so I was “done” within 2 weeks of release.

I will agree on the PvP front. Whilst they totally screwed the pooch regarding world pvp, the battlefronts were pretty fun. I did love huttball and the attack/defence one (forgot the name now). PvP was also the only part of the game where the combat system gained any depth due to all the CC. In PvE, CC was mostly useless so everything just became about executing a rotation and avoiding damage, but PvP you could really get some good tactics going.

Also nice to see Vulkk getting a mention. He was in my guild in LotRO and SW:TOR (assuming it’s the same guy….Divine Retribution ftw! <– Jennifern / Svard / Anstalt here) and he was an amazing player. Glad to see he's still having fun, he was just getting into producing videos when I quit but seems like he's gone all out and done an amazing job.

Reader
Vulkk

Hey, hey! It’s been a long time! :)))

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

As someone that played the snot out of this game for most of its life (until only 6 months ago roughly) I’ll add my own observations on the 5 points here.

Solo play: It does work pretty well although maybe a bit too easy with the new companion setup. My main is a jugg tank and with a healing companion I can solo almost anything. When my companion is in DPS mode I can burn through the easier stuff faster than with the healing companion but I can handle harder content more easily, albeit more slowly, than with the DPS companion. This may well be less viable with the tanking nerfs though as they again don’t seem to understand the actual ‘skank tank’ issue in PvP and hurt tank’s PvE viability for anything other than just getting attention. Juggs look to get hit only slightly but any damage loss in PvE is not a good thing.

Influencers: I can’t say much about this as once I stopped playing heavily the only SWTOR videos I see that popup on my Youtube home page these days are how dead it is.

Fashion: Overall pretty decent but too many outfits are just slightly different versions of others far too often. As an RPer I had all 16 outfit slots unlocked account wide but there were bugs with them where I had to have 2 outfits that were the same to swap too when I wanted to say just remove the gloves and they’d stay on anyway. EQ2’s outfit system was great, WoW’s xmog system is decent but wish we could have a large selection to hotswap. The ability to have so many stored you can swap to the touch of a button is nice in SWTOR.

PvP: not a fan of PvP so can’t say much except that reading the official forums it seems to have many problems (or it could just be the loudest voices I see there) and then there’s the skank tank issue that messed up the PvE tank changes. GSF seems to be in terrible shape but then even at introduction it was not a hit to put it mildly, so with the low population of the game now and the reputation GSF has, it’s no shock that it’s like that now.

Small group activity: I used to love it. I ran HMs with my guild all the time and then as they showed up less and then quit I used the GF a lot as I had 7 55s to run their weeklies though (that’s 21 HMs a week!). When they first left the queue would pop instantly on my tanks but even that became a longer wait but I knew all the instances back then and was comfortable flying through them or taking my time based on the group’s comfort levels. I’ve never ran an uprising but they sound quite dull and uninspired but to this day I still find BT (Black Talon) as one of my favorite instances in any MMO I’ve ever played.

John Artemus
Reader
John Artemus

Of all the MMOs I play, SWTOR has the best outfitter system. FFXIV and WoW are way too restrictive with theirs. Whether it’s having to have glamour prisms and be in a major city, or the yak mount with the transmog NPC, it’s just unnecessarily inconvenient.

SWTOR, meanwhile, when you find a new piece of gear, you can just equip it in any slot no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and it won’t affect your look at all unless, of course, you want it to.

It’s strange that other MMOs haven’t copied this.

Reader
Ben Stone

EQ2 just had an appearance tab you could play with on the fly many years before WoW even thought of transmog. Still one of the better systems out there. DCUO also has an on the fly system where you can change your appearance without hassle. Its one of the few things SoE got right before anyone else.

GW2s system is half there, but throws in some inconvenience to lead people to the cash shop. The dye system in GW2 is the best though.

Reader
Rayko

Lotro is even better. You don’t have to pay extra to unlock on every character and you can earn the credits in game to buy items from the store. You can tell the SWTOR system was based on LOTROs.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Space Captain Zor

I will just have to say this, of their outfit customization system… the color dye modules are criminal. There is absolutely no reason they couldn’t be removable/re-usable just like crystals, mods, enhancements, armorings, augments, and tunings.

There’s just no logic to have crystals and tunings eligible for unlimited copies from collections and not do the same for dyes. Especially when you can find a crystal for 500 cc and a dye for 600 cc (or more, way more).

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

The dyes are horrendous! Such weird combos for some that no one wants so you end up half a dozen “pink/brown” dyes in your storage. >.<

Reader
Sana Tan

PVP was good in theory. The maps are great specially huttball.

But the current state is pathetic simply because of the lack any matchmaking system (talking about quantity of healers in each team for example, one can get 3 and the other zero) and the class balance disaster.

It’s very clear that the devs don’t have any idea about pvp, none of them plays it. Just look at this new debacle about skank tank, they have no idea how to fix it!

Reader
Ben Stone

I love Huttball but the latency of this game since F2P ruins it for me. PvP is just too frustrating now. It is why I only jump on for casual PvE content.

Reader
Sushi Maru

Is MO really resorting to making “Top 7 things you just NEED to know about” articles?

Reader
Akagi

What’s so bad about it?

Reader
Exxar

Agree with a lot of it. Some different perspectives on other points. Here goes:

Solo gameplay
I suppose I have a widely different opinion on this topic than the majority of people, but solo play for me was awesome from the very begining all until KOTFE came. The format of KOTFE and later KOTET runs 100% contrary to the format established by the game previously and I find it a worse bait and switch than people normally consider the transition from leveling to endgame in WoW-like games. It’s rather difficult for me to enjoy the KOTFE/ET stories on a drop-in, small bits at a time basis which was very enjoyable in the game before, since they remove you from the “normal” game world for the most part. Sure, you couldn’t replay the old solo content, but while I had a lot of fun leveling all of my ~16 chars, I can’t fathom playing the KOTFE+ sotires more than a couple times.

Utilizing influencers
No comment, I read Dulfy for the news and that’s it. Never ever followed any other SWTOR media.

Fashion!
Ehhhhh…. Rather good in princimple, hamstrung by an unwieldy dye system and crippled by the fact that for an average player the vast majority of good costumes is too expensive either in real money or in in-game credits. I may be a relic of a bygone era though, where you had a wealth of cosmetic options included in the sub.

PvP
Spot-on. Best PvP experience I had in any mmo. Accessible, fast, not too toxic, enjoyable. I understand if it’s not very good for serious PvPers, but for us filthy casuals it’s perfect.

Small-group PvE
Best feature of the game. Now only if they made group sizes larger so that there were 3 or 4 dps slots per party, playing tanks and healers all the time gets old but what can you do since dps queue times are terrible. And no, tacticals are not nearly as enjoyable as “proper” flashpoints.

And yeah, as someone mentioned below, it does Star Wars very well. Well, did it until KOTFE.