The Old Republic: the experience thus far.
Some of you, many of you, might be wondering why this post takes on the form of a pseudo-review when the game, Star Wars The Old Republic, has been out for about three years now. The idea behind this one is to really give a first impressions on the game all these years later, see where they still need work on, and what kind of scenarios a player can expect when they decide to re-subscribe, or start fresh for the first time. Let us begin shall we?
The game’s main attraction for a player such as myself is the story arc. The voice-acting and dialogue options are quite well done, and the world itself feels like a living one. There are certain instances where NPCs who a player cannot select come and go at various times during the day. Either this is just my machine lagging behind, or it is part of the game, but these semi-invisible NPCs (you cannot select them hence they are “invisible”) make the world feel alive and functioning. Story-wise the player will not be disappointed.
Now there are 2 issues with the game thus far in regards to function. The first issue is that sometimes the game might suddenly stop in the cut scene and while you can exit and re-enter the cut scene, the story will not progress. Surfing through the forums, it was discovered that deleting the “bit raider” folder from the directory is the only way to force a repair if the repair button is greyed out – which it was in most cases. This way the game will repair itself, but the issue that exists here is that Bioware chose a program that may miss a folder or two here and there when adding updates or when patching. Make sure to have a look at the reddit link down below for more details on that ‘bit raider’ folder phenomenon.
The second issue is the one-time passwords, and how it sometimes requires the user to request the password a second time. Note that this is NOT a password reset, rather a security feature similar to the authenticator available for Blizzard accounts: always check your spam folder and inbox before requesting another password. Usually the problem does not persist, but as late as 2013 there have been quite a bit of issues with the one time password feature. Whether or not the issue persists remains to be seen. Apart from these two main points however, the game runs fairly smoothly, and the UI customization options are quite satisfactory to say the least. Being able to move everything around makes life a whole lot easier, and enables a player to customize their UI to suite their play style.
Before we move on, this article will NOT explore endgame content. Therefore if you are here for that you might want to stop at this point. Those of you however who are interested in reading onwards, this article will move on to discuss the subscription experience verses the free-to-play experience in a ‘quick and dirty’ fashion. The hope is that in the end this will provide enough basic information for the potential player to download and try or subscribe to the game.
Now in terms of the main class story, the player can go through the entire story WITHOUT having to pay a single cent to the developers. With that point said however, the player will be grinding a few mobs even after doing all side quests just to get within 1 to 2 levels below the required level for a particular mission – effectively you will have to do the bonus objectives for all the side quests which can be seen as “grinding mobs.” Resurrection probes are limited to 5 (so when you die, you will have to walk all the way back to the boss you were killed by), and options for mounts come in later at around level 25, rather than around level 14 on Balmorra. The sprint feature also comes in later, whereas subscribers get the sprint function right at the start of their character on their starting planet. Experience acquisition is also different for free-to-play players as the rest bonus gained from logging out in either your star ship, or in a cantina is not available, so if a player wishes to pseudo-power level their character they will have to subscribe to save time. The subscription also offers access to the locker storage, though anyone spending money on the cartel market – the in-game microtransaction system – also has access to their locker.
Race selection options are also limited for free-to-play players, so if a gamer wishes to make a Chiss Imperial Agent without a subscription, they are sore out of luck. Whether or not the Chiss character is unlockable for preferred players in the cartel market is unknown as I only have experience with the free-to-play status, and the subscriber status. Now with all of that said is the game worth the subscription fee? The answer goes something like this: if you have limited free time, then the 60 day time cards ( in case later on you find it not so entertaining) is worth it. Should the game prove more entertaining than you expected, perhaps a more consistent subscription pattern is advised – such as the automatic monthly billing etc. Now if the player has limited funds but wants to subscribe, yes the 60 day subscription is preferred as once it runs out, it runs out – there is little room for error. Yet if a player is – say – in high school, and has little to no pocket money and wants to have preferred status, a simple five-dollar purchase on the cartel market will grant you this status. Now should a subscriber stop their subscription, they will simply move to a preferred player status – the free-to-play status is only held once as either a cartel market purchase of 5 dollars USD, or a subscription will eliminate this barrier. A note here before we move on, the free-to-play account is limited to 2 characters per server.
Now for those who wish to stay free-to-play, do expect to spend a lot more time in the game leveling to continue along in the story arc as the experience bonus that comes from a subscription – things like rest experience etc – are not available to you; granted preferred status players do not have access to this feature as well. Preferred status players can expect to do a bit more work as well, so keep that in mind. Ultimately the game is made, as with any entertainment piece, for one purpose in mind: to bring in the money. Not exactly the amount of money of – say – a casino for example, but to guarantee the developers, artists, and the sponsoring company a source of revenue for the hours of work they put into the game. Therefore with this in mind, do expect subscribers to gain an advantage over free-to-play and preferred status players.
Coming back to the story arc, during my time as a free-to-play, I have had little issue going from mission to mission. Indeed more time was needed, and at level 20 your experience acquisition is reduced, but this roadblock is only a minor one as the player may spend more time working on their character, but overall the game WILL NOT twist your arm too hard to subscribe. A subscriber may be able to skip a few side quests in order to get off – say – Korriban faster, but overall if you do the side quests and the main quests alongside group heroics, your experience will be about the same as a subscriber. Travel time is the same as the sprint function comes in around level 10, and at that point is when it is really needed. Ultimately if you have a lot of free time, you can play around with free-to-play for a bit and get through the entire story arc of a character before you pay anything for the game. Should you find time limited however, the game offers quite a bit of PVE content for a player so a subscription is well worth the money – there are also quest rewards available to you as a subscriber that are not available to the free-to-play player. These extra items do not overpower the subscriber, but may give them an additional weapon or upgraded armour for their level that helps with the leveling; instead of having to wait two quests to get the piece of armour equal to or greater the value currently equipped.
Now in regards to the PVE content, the game is quite enjoyable as the quests a player takes on are all voice-acted and come with a cut scene. Players can – as with any dialogue in TOR – choose dark or light options if the dialogue permits it. PVP content is the regular arena-based content where two teams carve at each other until the timer runs out. The game definitely hinges on the PVE experience, so do keep this in mind when you are going through the game – though PVP has a sizeable community and there is always a fight going on. With that said I hope this “quick and dirty” approach to the Old Republic has given you an updated glimpse into the game 3 years after release, and hopefully has helped you to confirm your own thoughts on whether or not you wish to subscribe. Now good readers if you will excuse me, I still have a good month and a half of time left, so I will go back online to continue on my 3rd character – a Sith Pureblood Marauder. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.