But I don’t *want* to use the force, Ben! (SWTOR beta thoughts)

Everybody and anybody (who’s interested) is giving the SWTOR beta a try this weekend — the last chance before the early access launch to do so.  Many curious souls are eschewing second-hand articles for first-hand experience to satisfy their curiosity, as I did last week.  I didn’t get tons and tons of playtime while I was on vacation, but I was able to level up a Trooper to 10 and had a bunch of random thoughts to share with you.  If you don’t mind, that is.

  • Overall, I’m quite pleased with the game’s aesthetic, level of polish (although there were still noticeable bugs), and unobtrusive UI.  It looks good, and I think it should age well because of it.  The slightly cartoony thing worked for WoW’s longevity, so there’s that in its case.
  • Regarding the conversations, I liked how you had the freedom to reply how you liked without always worrying about dark side/light side choices.  Most of your conversational tacks are independent of the points system, and if a physical action or dialogue choice will have a DS/LS consequence, you’ll be informed in advance with related icons.
  • Like some others, I do think it’s interesting how our morality may conflict with BioWare’s; some of the “good” decisions I made were rewarded with DS points, as if the game was trying to tell me I was wrong.  Then again, I think it’s important to realize that DS/LS aren’t necessarily equal to Evil/Good, but an independent system that has its own code and standards.
  • Little touches I liked?  Random conversations you’d hear as you’d run by folks.  The interiors of homes and shops.  The seamless transition from the game world to a phased instance.  The high-tech trappings after being in fantasy worlds for so long.
  • Not every weapon or armor piece is moddable, but some are, and I enjoyed seeing how easy that system is to use.  At level 7 I was able to test out my early access crystal (the black beam with gold outline) and it was a cinch to equip and cool to use.
  • The stories are going to carry this game.  They’re really quite good, and I didn’t feel like I was getting “text box fatigue” like I do in other games.
  • I deeply appreciate that BioWare isn’t handing your character everything right out of the gate.  Getting your first lightsaber/companion/ship/personal transport are major milestones that are heady to achieve instead of just being dished out for the sake of convenience.
  • Having played so many BioWare games at this point, several of the quest “twists” weren’t as surprising as they were expected.  It kind of gets easy to predict these, but I think that’s true with any franchise (I felt like that after watching a bunch of Joss Whedon’s shows — the plot/character reversals almost became their own cliche after a while).
  • The game can get pretty dark, especially with your character.  You can do/threaten fairly despicable things.
  • I enjoyed exploring around, and I like that there’s a system in place to reward you for doing so (datacrons and exploration XP).
  • I’m very intrigued by the legacy, social, and LS/DS systems — all of these look to give your character access to more social gear and abilities outside of the standard gear grind.

Bottom line is that I’m still quite excited for next month and pleased that my expectations haven’t been too high nor too low for this title, but right on the money.  Revolution or not, SWTOR is going to make bank and make many gamers happy, and it should be a fun ride.  There’s plenty of room for BioWare to improve upon the game, but there’s a very solid foundation in place already — more so than World of Warcraft did in the beginning, I might add.

C’mon December 15th!

11 thoughts on “But I don’t *want* to use the force, Ben! (SWTOR beta thoughts)

  1. Its been fun playing my sith warrior, the storyline on Korriban is great. I made it to level 10 yesterday & can’t wait to see more of the story.

  2. Definitely looking forward to it. I’ve been playing an Imperial Agent this time, and I may have to reconsider my resolution to play a Trooper to 50 before I start an alt – the story is really drawing me in.

  3. There were a few moments when I also scratched my head at the light side/dark side choices like…

    “Wait, so taking a bribe is the RIGHT thing to do?”

    “It’s dark side if I DON’T betray my employer?”

    and “That guy totally DESERVED to get shot in the face, he was shooting other people!”

  4. @Njessi – I’ve had a few of those moments myself. “Wait – poisoning an entire camp of rebellious slaves gives me light side points?”

  5. @Aufero – If I’m thinking of the right quest (and I’m pretty sure I am), the choice was between insta-death poison (light) or slow, agonizing death poison (dark)…and considering you empire/sith, you’re hardly going to be saving them, so killing them quickly is the ‘nicer’ option.

  6. If I recall correctly, when BioWare wrote KotOR, the Dark/Light choices were made based on LucasArts’ own guidelines. If true, I’d imagine it’s the same here. (Which should not be construed as an excuse for questionable good/evil choices in other BioWare games.)

    I can’t quite fathom a licensed work that LucasArts *doesn’t* excessively micromanage for IP consistency.

  7. @Llokki – Yes, that was the one. It made perfect sense at the time, it was only afterward I starting wondering if the “slaughter everyone quickly” option was really something I should be doing for the light side.

    Nuke them from orbit – for their own good!

  8. @Utakata Do not be so optimistic. When expectations do not match results it is likely more painful than roids -_^

    @Njessi The Misses tells me there was a similar problem in the older console KotR where you found someone stole something off of you and you had the option to buy it back, kill them for it, or report them to the authority. She didn’t want to pay them for it, as that only says it is a good idea to continue stealing, and she didn’t want to kill them either, so reporting them to the authorities is the best option. Then the guy shows up and kills the thief, netting her unwanted points in evility.

    They need to learn to start adding sub-options or at least a short “…because…” to decisions instead of painting them red or blue. That leads to problems as you mentioned. Of course we did not write the game so we’d probably solve them differently in the first place, but it can still be difficult to decide between the selected outcomes they deliver for us.

    But I am totally on board for the Orbital Nuke option, Aufero XD

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