This week’s Choose My Adventure piece is a homecoming for me. I was one of the folks who was all in on Star Wars: The Old Republic during its lead-up to launch. I’ve had no small measure of history with the game, including making some good friends as a result of it and even learning that sitting in front of a game for an entire day to grind my face off is an outstanding source of burnout. After some time, my circle of friends playing the game dried up and I grew increasingly ambivalent to the game. Then, its free-to-play transition arrived with all of the grace of Godzilla doing a cannonball into a major city, and that was that.
It all starts with my character. I elected to go with a class I never played before: an Imperial Agent Sniper whom I named Jaenneh, which is a derivative of one of the auto-generated names that also doesn’t sound like a goldselling bot. As is often the case with my MMORPG characters, I came up with a quick headcanon for her, which I find doubly important in a game like SWTOR owing to the conversation choices one can make during their adventure. In Jaenneh’s case, she’s pretty cut and dried — a loyal agent of the Empire who follows orders, but is not above utilizing her good judgement and slinging some fun snark along the way. She’s basically less Daniel Craig and more Roger Moore.
My arrival to Hutta immediately struck me with a sense of enjoyable ambiance. Despite the sickly color scheme of the entire planet, it was really nice to see my character make her way through the slimy environs as some truly Star Wars-y tunes set the scene. The story immediately attempted to pull me in to a web of intrigue and machination and was generally successful in doing so. I was invested in the twists and turns of the narrative, and I particularly liked how the Sith appeared to be interfering with the regular day-to-day business at hand; it’s not a narrative angle I’ve seen explored in Star Wars stories before and wasn’t even a thought that not everyone in the Galactic Empire would be a-okay with every psychotic whim of the Sith. Really, it’s just nice to get a view of the normal person for once.
It was also nice to see a pretty healthy number of other new players charging about. So often you hear the bleating of “dead game lol” in reference to SWTOR, and while I don’t have any hard data, things still seem active as ever, even in the lowbie zones.
I’m also extremely pleased with my choice of class. The Sniper is a great long-distance combatant with a level of punch that feels suitable in terms of abilities. I started out with the Shae Vizla freebie companion which was in my mailbox for reasons I forget about, and her backup was pretty invaluable as she diverted mob attention while I snapped off sniper shots. Once I learned how to change her stance to a tank and arranged my keybindings to have her strike first, things felt even better.
I also have to give it up for the sound design in this game. Star Wars has always had a very high bar of quality when it comes to its sound effects, and SWTOR really nails it, particularly with the Sniper Shot skill. The cracking echo of the rifle’s blast combined with the under-explained, high-tech digital wind-up and energy expulsion really drove home the point that this ability hurt, even before I saw chunks of health bar get hacked off. Which is good, because I’m pretty sure this is my best attack button.
I think the only real sticking point I might have with the Imperial Agent is my first major companion. I’m undecided about Kaliyo right now. She comes off as a tough guy internet commenter brought to digital life, and her manner of speaking sounds like she’s trying to be sultry while also trying to talk me into buying a new mattress. It’s a little weird. I do like that her approval of my actions seems to belie her bristly demeanor, rewarding moments when I question her motives and those of others. We’ll see how it goes and whether my next companion holds more of my interest, but I don’t expect that’ll be happening any time soon.
It’s been a really great ride so far and I’m itching to press forward, but before I do so I’ve got to ask you fine CMA readers a few questions. I was convinced I was only going to have one polling option for this round, but I ended up with three.
First is the question of my character’s alignment. I know that this, ultimately, doesn’t have a greater bearing on my gameplay at this stage, and I have made a headcanon for her as I mentioned before, but I’m also not against asking for some opinions on which side I should lean towards.
Which alignment should my SWTOR character follow?
- Dark Side. I heard they have cookies, and evil triumphs because good is dumb. (18%, 78 Votes)
- Light Side. Just because you're an Imperial doesn't mean you're a moustachioed villain. (19%, 81 Votes)
- Follow your headcanon. You know her better than anyone else. WWJ(aenneh)D? (63%, 276 Votes)
Total Voters: 435
Next is the question of content. Obviously, SWTOR is a themepark MMO and so my choices are limited. I suppose this is more a question aimed at those who regularly play the game or have more experience than I do; should I pick up the planetary missions as I go along for maximum XP gain and story goodness, or do the main story missions of my Imperial Agent offer enough rewards and progression to just get on with it?
What should be my focus while moving from hub to hub?
- Stick to the story. Planetary missions are throwaway and boring. (46%, 191 Votes)
- Do everything. Why leave XP sitting on the table? Besides, the stories aren't that awful. (54%, 227 Votes)
Total Voters: 418
Finally, there’s my specialization. The Sniper is all DPS all the time, but there appears to be a few different flavors of DPS, whether it’s DoT poison, using tech to hurt things, or just straight-up rifle shooting. I’m open to suggestions.
Which specialization should I follow?
- Marksmanship. You like Sniper Shot so much, why not have more sniper stuff? (63%, 250 Votes)
- Engineering. Use your gadgets and robotic friends to hurt things. (18%, 72 Votes)
- Virulence. 'Cause your lips are venomous poison. (19%, 76 Votes)
Total Voters: 398
Polls close at 1:00 p.m. EDT this coming Friday, May 10th, like usual. I’m extremely curious to see how these results shake down, especially since I want to keep following along with my Agent’s story. In the meantime, maybe I’ll roll an alt…