Revisting SWTOR Part 2

Getting back to talking about SWTOR has been really difficult for me. My feelings about everything is extremely jumbled and teasing these things out is not straight foreword.

Let’s Start With The Good Things

Nothing has really changed with the level 1-50 storylines, and they are definitely still worth seeing. The best way to see all of the storylines is to level with three other friends, each playing a different class. This way you won’t have to go back through leveling again (which can get pretty tiresome) and you’ll still see all of the storylines which interweave with each other in interesting ways.

When it comes to the Rise of the Hutt Cartel there is only one story per faction, and both are worth going through once. My recommendation would be to do the Republic story first, but it doesn’t matter very much. Making the content from this expansion available to F2P people is one of the better changes BioWare has made as it encourages less stratification of the player base.

The best change which has been made recently is the addition of Galactic Starfighter. For anyone unfamiliar with this addition, it’s free-form space battlegrounds. I had more fun in these battlegrounds than I have had in a long time playing and characters can take part in battles at any level because it’s the quality of your ship and your skill which matters not the lvl of your character. Here’s a short video I made soon after this feature launch where I was playing with one of my friends.

 And Onto The Bad Things

My biggest issue with SWTOR for a long time has been how they chose to run their F2P system. This aspect has gotten a bit better over time but I still often feel like I am being strong armed into giving them money. Most things can be bought with credits, but it takes a lot to get enough, especially as a first time player. I had a bit of a leg up because I had Preferred status.

The biggest annoyance I have with the F2P model they went with is it stratifies their players. Remember how I said the best way to experience the class stories is playing with friends? Well you’ll want to make sure everyone is either subbed or is F2P together. When I first started playing again I accidentally aggro’ed  too many mobs and sadly I died. I was quite happy to see I had the option to rez right at my body. Naturally I thought to myself “oh cool, I guess they let you have a certain number of rezs at your body now.”

The next day I was working on clearing a four person Heroic with a friend. We unfortunately pulled a pack we were trying to avoid and died. Much to my chagrin I had no option to rez at my body. There was only the one time. Just once. Now for my friend and I, this wasn’t a huge deal because he was willing to run back with me. If I had been running with a group of strangers  it would have been a bigger deal. Especially since the area to rez was outside the instance and there were a few mobs which needed to be killed before zoning in which makes running back take even more time.

Another issue with playing with friends who are subbed when you aren’t is they will level twice as fast. To even this gap out the F2P player will have to spend a fair amount of time playing on their own to just stay even with their friends. Some of this discrepancy can be mitigated by buying the experience boosts in the Character Perks Menu. There are six lines and each line only affects one area. To fill out all the lines all the way would cost 150,000 to 275,000 credits depending on which lines you buy. Alternatively there is the “Ultimate Leveling Bundle” which contains all the XP unlocks for 5,125 cartel coins (4,100 sale right now) which would run $$39.99 with a few coins left over.

Another thing which really rubbed me wrong is some of the restrictions on what rewards can be selected after completing quests. I don’t in general have a big issue with not having some of the rewards available. Quests have two level of rewards, automatic and optional. Restricting optional rewards seems fine, not awesome but definitely livable. However there were a few quests where both of the automatic rewards weren’t available to me, which just really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean an automatic reward should be automatic.

So is playing F2P really worth it?

SWTOR is still a lot of fun and like I said even if nothing else interests you seeing the class stories is fun and interesting. Though my recommendation would be to sub for a month or two and see all the class stories you want and then unsub. Playing F2P isn’t really worthwhile and more than likely will just be a frustrating experience for most people. Which is just all around sad because overall I really enjoy playing SWTOR. Their current business model just makes me resent giving them money.

Revisiting Star Wars: The Old Republic, Part 1

After taking about a ten month break from Star Wars: The Old Republic I have decided to go back and give it another look. Sort of see how the game feels at this point sort of thing. One qualification is I haven’t resubbed, I am getting the experience of a preferred account (with the benefit of having about 2k cartel coins from when I was subbed but not actually playing.

First here’s some background on where I was with SWTOR in the past. I pretty much fell in love with the game during beta. I loved the storylines and really loved the dialogues. Leveling was a ton of fun, I did it with a friend (consular), my husband (trooper), and I played a Knight. We were really impressed with the quality of the story telling and how we could follow each other’s class storylines. There were tons of bugs, but as a brand new mmo we were sort of willing to let those slide, none were game breaking for us.

After reaching max level we realized the hard mode flashpoints were a bit over tuned for fresh 50’s and that we could get just as good of gear through PvP which would allow us to start raiding. Raiding was a ton of fun, and there were some different and interesting mechanics to learn. Of course once you learned them it was much easier, but that is true of pretty much everything. There were some frustrating bugs, but we tried to not let those get to us too much. We weren’t a super hardcore guild or anything, we did some hard modes but it was always more about seeing the content for us.

Then some content lag happened. And then after new Ops were added and they didn’t continue the gear progression and it became harder to get people to show-up for ops. They felt like once we did it once there wasn’t much point to keep working on things or to try on a harder setting, and they really weren’t wrong to feel like that. There was so much potential for SWTOR which just felt squandered after awhile.

What did it for me was the way the transition to free to play was handled. I went into it with very hopeful feelings and it just ended up feeling like the people who were in control were bitter about the need to transition. It is easily the most restrictive model out there, and I can’t help but wonder if that actually costs them money. It’s one of those things which we can never really know for sure. Either way the whole thing rubbed me wrong and I quit playing and canceled my sub.

Let me be clear on one point though. It isn’t a case of me not liking f2p models, I am actually a fan of well done f2p games. My issue was completely about how they were implementing restrictions and communicating with their fans. An example of this failure to communicate properly was in the midst of announcing all the restrictions they posted something saying people shouldn’t be upset about the restrictions because they had considered not letting f2p people skip dialogue. Which was intended as a “see it could have been worse” but really just served as a “see how much the people running the show are out of touch”.

I was mostly upset about things like having showing titles, unify colors, hide head slot, and quest rewards all behind pay walls. You might say unify colors and hide head slot are cosmetic so it shouldn’t matter if you have to pay for these things, but for me they are things which matter a lot. I like controlling how my characters look. The not being able to show titles is just inane. If you did the things required to obtain the title you should be able to show it. Same thing with quest rewards. You did the quest, why shouldn’t you have access to all the quest rewards?

So after many moments of facepalming and just being generally disappointed I called quits. However, now I have been wonder how the Imperial Agent storyline ends so I have decided to return and chronicle the experience as a preferred account here.