Star Wars The Old Republic 2023 Review - The Tank Club (2024)

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TC_Lee132024-02-06T12:46:41+00:00

Should You Play Star Wars The Old Republic in 2023?

Introduction

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is an MMORPG which released in 2011, that immerses players in an epic journey across the expansive Star Wars universe. Developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, this game invites players to forge their own path, make alliances, and uncover the mysteries of the Old Republic. In this review, we explore the captivating storytelling and exciting gameplay mechanics that define SWTOR.

SWTOR has garnered significant acclaim since its release, boasting a healthy player base with a 24-hour peak of approximately 7500 concurrent players on Steam. Its success is further highlighted by its impressive lifetime revenue of over $1 billion. Initial reviews were overwhelmingly positive, with respected sources such as IGN awarding the game a solid 9 out of 10 rating and on steam it also has Very Positive reviews from players.

To ensure the game’s continuous growth and content updates, SWTOR has undergone a transition in its development team. BioWare, the original developers, are passing the torch to Broadsword Online Games, renowned for their work on Ultima Online. As part of this transition, half of the current development team will join Broadsword, bringing their expertise and passion to the ongoing development of SWTOR. With this new partnership, players can expect solid updates and dedicated support from the game’s new team.

SWTOR’s dedication to providing regular content updates ensures that players can look forward to a dynamic and evolving gaming experience. The game’s engaging storytelling, immersive world, and exciting gameplay mechanics continue to captivate players, making SWTOR a standout MMORPG set in the beloved Star Wars universe.

First Impressions

I must mention that I am not a devoted Star Wars fan, as the franchise has never quite captured my interest. However, after delving into SWTOR, I find myself compelled to explore the movie franchise. Surprisingly, the main story quest has completely hooked me, and I’m amazed by the fact that there are multiple storylines depending on the character type chosen. The level of engagement and quality in storytelling is truly impressive, making SWTOR the first MMORPG since The Elder Scrolls Online to provide such a captivating narrative experience.

The story segments in SWTOR are well-balanced and not overwhelming. Interactions with NPCs are accompanied by cutscenes where players make decisions that shape their character’s responses in conversations. Following these exchanges, players embark on thrilling quests and engage in combat with adversaries. What sets SWTOR apart is that the entire game, including the player’s character, is fully voice-acted, making the experience truly immersive and brilliant.
However, one aspect that could be improved is the beginner experience. As an MMO veteran with 20 years of experience, I found it fairly easy to jump into the game due to familiar controls, hotkeys, and movement mechanics. However, the in-game help primarily consists of lengthy on-screen text, which many players may skip without reading, leading to potential difficulties later on. Some essential aspects, such as acquiring and using mounts/vehicles, could be better highlighted, making it clearer where and how to obtain them.

One noteworthy aspect of SWTOR is that it offers a completely free-to-play experience with no major paywalls. Despite this, my enjoyment of the game led me to purchase a one-month subscription at level 15, and I was pleasantly surprised by the benefits it provided. The subscription unlocked all the latest DLC content, and I also gained the ability to instantly create a level 70 character. For MMO enthusiasts aiming to reach the endgame swiftly, a single month of subscription allows for an unbelievably rapid progression, however I would suggest enjoying the experience and playing through the story content.

Character Customization and Classes

SWTOR excels in providing a robust character customization system, offering players an extensive range of options to create unique and captivating characters. From selecting your allegiance and choosing a specific character to exploring various origin stories, the game allows for a highly personalized gaming experience. Additionally, SWTOR presents a diverse selection of classes, each with its own distinctive playstyle and abilities. Whether you yearn to wield a lightsaber as a noble Jedi Knight or embrace the power of the dark side as a cunning Sith Inquisitor, there is a class tailored to fulfil every player’s preferences. Furthermore, once in the game, you have the opportunity to acquire or purchase new outfits, enabling you to craft the perfect look for your Star Wars character. With an abundance of customization options, SWTOR truly empowers players to bring their envisioned characters to life in the expansive Star Wars universe.

Graphics and Sound

SWTOR offers a visually appealing experience for Star Wars enthusiasts. The game showcases well-crafted environments, character models, and visual effects that contribute to bringing the beloved Star Wars universe to life. While the graphics may not reach mind-blowing levels, they still provide an enjoyable and immersive backdrop for gameplay. On the other hand, the sound design truly shines, with iconic music and authentic sound effects that enhance the overall immersion. From the distinctive hum of lightsabers to the intense blaster fire in battles, the audio elements flawlessly complement the gameplay, ensuring an engaging experience for players.

Storyline and World-building

SWTOR’s greatest strength lies in its rich and expansive narrative, drawing inspiration from the Star Wars lore. Players are given the choice to align themselves with either the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire, shaping their own destiny as they progress through the game. You make choices during cutscenes which dictate your character being on the light or darkside and you’ll view difference scenarios depending on which options you decide to take. The attention to detail in world-building is commendable, as players are transported to iconic locations from the Star Wars universe. Whether it’s exploring the bustling cityscapes of Coruscant or navigating the treacherous landscapes of Korriban, the game captures the essence of the franchise admirably.

SWTOR can sometimes give the impression of a solo RPG game, particularly during extensive portions of the early stages. The game’s emphasis on storytelling and immersive narratives can create a sense of playing a single-player game. It is worth noting that player encounters may be infrequent until reaching certain milestones or main cities, where the player base becomes more apparent. This aspect may appeal to those seeking a more personal and introspective gameplay experience, but it could be less appealing to players who prioritize consistent multiplayer interactions.

Levelling

The levelling experience in SWTOR is notably fast-paced, with substantial XP rewards for completing the main story quests. By utilizing the XP boosts obtained during your journey, you are likely to out level the content, particularly if you focus on the main story quests. However, it’s important to note that rushing through the levelling process is not recommended. Instead, take the time to immerse yourself in the captivating storylines. Exploring alt characters is also encouraged as it allows you to experience different class-specific story options.

In my personal playthrough, I dedicated myself to the purple story quests and eventually reached the level cap of 80. However, upon reaching this milestone, I found myself unsure of what to do next. The game lacks explicit guidance on post-levelling activities, and I realized that acquiring new and upgraded gear would be necessary since enemies at level 70 and beyond proved to be challenging opponents.

While progressing through the levels, you also gain Legacy levels, which are shared among all your characters. The Legacy system unlocks various perks that apply account-wide, such as increased XP gain. As you accumulate more Legacy levels, you have the opportunity to unlock additional benefits, which can be purchased from the Legacy screen.

Gameplay and Combat

SWTOR seamlessly blends traditional MMO mechanics with real-time tab-target combat, resulting in a highly engaging gameplay experience. Despite its age, the game’s combat feels impactful and effectively merges the Star Wars universe with MMO-style combat. The combat system itself is intuitive and responsive, granting players a diverse array of abilities and tactical choices. With a wide range of skills and passives to choose from, players have ample options to tailor their playstyle, and these choices do not overly burden early game progression, allowing for flexibility in skill selection.

Adding depth and versatility to gameplay, SWTOR introduces companion characters. These companions can be customized and leveled up, serving as valuable allies during your adventures. It’s even possible to develop personal relationships with them, further immersing you in the game world. The companions’ roles can be adjusted to suit your needs, whether you require a tank, healer, or damage dealer, allowing you to strategize and optimize your party composition as per your individual requirements.

The developers have truly succeeded in transforming the conventional MMO format into something special by infusing it with the essence of the Star Wars universe. SWTOR stands apart from other MMOs with its refreshing and unique approach. Instead of traditional dungeons, we explore flashpoints, and rather than raids, we engage in operations. PvP takes on a thrilling new dimension with aerial combat and PvP overland maps. SWTOR encapsulates all the content one would expect from an MMORPG, but with a captivating twist that immerses players in the iconic world of Star Wars. This innovative adaptation is what sets the game apart and contributes to its exceptional appeal, making it a truly standout experience in the MMO genre.

Questing and PvE Content

Questing in SWTOR is a true delight, offering an abundance of story-driven missions that captivate players throughout their journey. The main story quest in SWTOR ensures accessibility for players, even during challenging battles. Throughout these quests, you are accompanied by formidable companions who possess high levels and contribute significantly to both damage and healing. Additionally, during intense boss encounters, the game implements a mechanic where your character performs a restorative action, resembling a prayer, that rejuvenates their health when it reaches critically low levels. This feature provides a safety net, preventing players from falling in battle and allowing them to continue the thrilling journey of the main story quest without undue frustration or setback.

The game presents a rich tapestry of main storyline quests, engaging side quests, and challenging flashpoints (group instances) that provide a diverse range of gameplay experiences. The quality of writing shines through these quests, with meticulously crafted narratives and memorable characters that draw players into the Star Wars universe.

PvE content in SWTOR also includes operations, which are large-scale raids designed to test players’ teamwork and coordination. These operations feature intense battles and require the collaboration of 8 or 16 players to overcome formidable bosses, providing a thrilling challenge for those seeking a more demanding gameplay experience.

While flashpoints can be completed solo for players who prefer to focus on the story, they are intended as 4-player content. During my playthrough, I joined a flashpoint to fulfill a quest using the group finder. Immersed in the engrossing dialogue, I didn’t realize it was possible to skip it, as I was thoroughly enjoying the narrative.

However, I learned that some players may prefer to rush through these interactions, so it’s worth considering the pacing preferences of your group.
During the flashpoint, I encountered a minor setback as I didn’t yet possess a mount, causing me to lag behind my group who swiftly moved through the content. Nevertheless, the experience was rewarding, as my character gained a significant amount of experience and leveled up four times during the flashpoint. The inclusion of dialogue options within the group added a fascinating dynamic, allowing the story to adapt based on the collective choices made by all group members. This feature generated a sense of camaraderie and unpredictability, making the experience highly enjoyable, albeit time-consuming.

In my first flashpoint, I accidentally chose the wrong dialogue option, leading to unintended consequences where a selection of NPCs were ejected out of the space craft and killed. As a result, the game singled me out from the group, causing frustration among some members who left the instance. Fortunately, my character’s level was scaled up to match the challenge, and with the assistance of a teammate and our companions, we managed to complete the flashpoint successfully.

Player vs. Player

SWTOR caters to competitive players with its vibrant PvP scene. Engage in thrilling player-versus-player battles across a variety of maps and game modes, including Warzones, Arenas, and open world PvP. However, I must note that my personal experience with PvP in SWTOR had its challenges. During my first attempt at a Warzone, I found myself kicked out of the group for not attacking anything for an extended period. This incident highlighted the potential need for more beginner-friendly tutorials to aid players in understanding and navigating this gameplay mode.

Prior to entering the Warzone, no training or information is provided on PvP mechanics, which can be off-putting for newcomers. It would have been beneficial to have a dedicated tutorial instance that offers flight training and introduces the basics of aerial combat. Such a tutorial would have eased players into PvP gameplay, equipping them with knowledge and understanding to fully participate and enjoy the various PvP game modes.

While my initial experience had its drawbacks, SWTOR’s PvP scene still offers opportunities for competitive play and thrilling encounters. With a bit more guidance for newcomers, the PvP content could become more accessible and engaging for players of all skill levels.

The Store

Similar to other MMORPGs, Star Wars: The Old Republic features an in-game store where players can purchase items using real-life currency. However, what sets SWTOR apart is that a significant portion of the game can be enjoyed completely free of charge, which is a rarity in the MMO genre. For players looking to enhance their experience, there is a subscription option available at £8.99 per month.

Subscribing provides various additional benefits, including monthly store coins, an increased level cap, boosted XP gain, improved reputation and renown, and most importantly, access to all expansions and content. Unlike games such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, or Final Fantasy 14, where individual expansions must be purchased separately at around £40 each, a subscription to SWTOR grants you access to all expansions without any extra cost. Furthermore, subscribing allows you to create a boosted level 70 character, which can be advantageous if you wish to quickly level an alternate character.

Regarding the in-game store, it’s worth noting that it is not a pay-to-win system. Instead, the store primarily offers cosmetic items and convenience options. Players can choose to purchase items that allow them to skip certain aspects of gameplay or enhance convenience, such as a level 80 boost with relevant gear for £15. While these purchases are not necessary for success in the game, they do provide a means for players to progress rapidly if desired.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  1. Captivating storytelling: SWTOR offers a rich and immersive narrative experience, with multiple storylines depending on the chosen character type. The engaging main story quests and well-crafted side quests keep players captivated throughout their journey.
  2. Expansive Star Wars universe: The game successfully captures the essence of the Star Wars franchise, featuring iconic locations, memorable characters, and attention to detail in world-building.
  3. Robust character customization: SWTOR provides a wide array of options for creating unique and personalized characters, allowing players to tailor their gaming experience.
  4. Diverse class selection: The game offers a variety of classes, each with its own distinct playstyle and abilities, catering to different preferences and playstyles.
  5. Engaging gameplay mechanics: SWTOR seamlessly blends traditional MMO mechanics with real-time tab-target combat, resulting in impactful and engaging gameplay. The inclusion of companion characters adds depth and versatility to the gameplay experience.
  6. Regular content updates: The dedication to providing regular content updates ensures a dynamic and evolving gaming experience, keeping players engaged and invested in the game’s ongoing development.
  7. Free to play: The game allows players to experience a vast amount of content without having to spend any money.

Cons

  1. Beginner experience could be improved: The in-game help primarily consists of lengthy on-screen text, which may be skipped by players, potentially leading to difficulties later on. Some essential aspects, such as acquiring and using mounts/vehicles, could be better highlighted.
  2. Lack of post-levelling guidance: Upon reaching the level cap or completing the main story quest, the game lacks explicit direction on what to do next, leaving players unsure of their objectives. Acquiring new and upgraded gear becomes necessary to face challenging enemies at higher levels, but a lack of information on where to find it.
  3. PvP can be challenging for newcomers: The PvP experience in SWTOR may pose difficulties for beginners, as there is limited information or tutorials provided on PvP mechanics. More beginner-friendly tutorials could improve accessibility and enjoyment for PvP-oriented players.
  4. Sometimes feels like a solo RPG game: While not inherently negative, SWTOR can sometimes give the impression of a solo RPG game, particularly during extensive portions of the early stages.

Star Wars The Old Republic 2023 Review Conclusion

Should you play SWTOR in 2023?

Taking into account the aforementioned pros and cons, SWTOR remains a captivating MMORPG set in the beloved Star Wars universe. If you are a fan of immersive storytelling, engaging gameplay mechanics, and the iconic Star Wars lore, SWTOR offers an enthralling experience worth delving into. The game consistently receives updates, ensuring a dynamic and evolving gaming journey. However, it is important to acknowledge the potential challenges faced by beginners and the need for self-directed progression beyond the level cap. In the end, if you have a passion for the Star Wars franchise and appreciate the unique fusion of MMO gameplay and narrative immersion, SWTOR can deliver a gratifying and satisfying experience in 2023. If you’ve been a long-time fan or player of MMORPG games, you may be seeking something fresh and distinct from the repetitive offerings of other games, and SWTOR manages to achieve that. It successfully captures the essence of an MMO while providing a refreshing twist. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try out this game in 2023!

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