2012-01-25

Star Wars: The Old Republic – The Starting Worlds

by Yo Snyder

Welcome to the first of the Star Wars: The Old Republic reviews from The Guide. The Old Republic (hereafter referred
to as TOR) is a huge game. To say that it’s mind bogglingly big is an understatement.
Here at The Guide, we want to help our readers understand what to expect from
the games, movies, and media you might enjoy. A review of TOR would be an
immense undertaking, so we’ve decided to go about it a little differently.
We’ll be bringing you several reviews for TOR, based on the zones you’ll quest
through. I hope you’ll join us on the journey. Today, I want to start with the
Republic starting zones, Tython and Ord Mantell. I’ll try to make this as
spoiler free as I can.

Character Creation:

Character creation is a breeze, and you’ll have loads of
great options for your in-game avatar. Your species choices will vary based on
the class you choose. On the Republic side, you have the options for Jedi
Guardian, Jedi Consular, Trooper, and Smuggler. On the Empire side, you can
pick a Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Imperial Agent, and Bounty Hunter. Each
of these classes is similar to the other faction’s analog, but with slight
twists in abilities that you receive in game. For an inquisitor you might get
force lightning, where the Consular gets to pull rocks out of the ground and
pelt their enemies with pebbles. For the purposes of expediency we’ll be diving
into the Republic side of things.

Tython:

If you elect to play a Republic Jedi, either or a Knight or
Consular, your story starts on Tython. This world is an ancient Jedi world with
lots of history that you will uncover. You begin the story by speaking with
your Jedi master, who sends you on your first class mission. Your class has its
own specific story missions, and this is where the meat of TOR is. Each mission
in the game is fully voiced (TOR was recently awarded the Guinness world record
for most voice acting in a game). The acting is generally very good, and you’ll
enjoy it as long as you understand there is some camp sprinkled in here and
there.

Your missions on Tython take you to a camp of Twi’leks
who’ve settled on the planet, despite the wishes of the Jedi. The Jedi are
unable and unwilling to officially provide help and welfare to this camp of
people. However, your character becomes an integral part of their town, and in
the end convinces the Jedi to provide official protection and assistance. The
story begins with a group of natives called “Flesh Raiders” who are ceaselessly
attacking the Twi’leks in the village. Depending on your class choice, the
story varies. Regardless of your choice however, it seems someone is influencing
these creatures to do evil and attack the village. Your Jedi training helps you
earn the villagers trust as you’ll unravel the mystery of who is behind the
Flesh Raider attacks. This eventually leads to a showdown with the villain in
the story, which is unique to your class story. The Flesh Raider questline
isn’t the most compelling story, but it does help you learn who you want your
character to be, as well as set the stage for your story beyond Tython.

On Tython, you build your first Lightsaber in one of the
first Lightsaber forges from a forgotten age of Jedi. You also get your first
companion. A Knight quickly gets a droid, T7-01. This droid is very reminiscent
of R2D2, and you’ll grow to love him the same. The Consular on the other hand, meets
Qyzen Fess, a Trandoshan hunter. If you remember the lizard bounty hunter from Empire Strikes Back, you’ll get the
hint. Once you complete your class quests, you graduate from Padawan to Jedi
and get sent to Coruscant; the capital of the Galactic Republic.

The Jedi Knight plays best when you jump into the middle of
a fight and sort it out later. You have a nice variety of force powers to play
with that mostly involve swinging your lightsaber. The class can be either a
damage dealer (Often called DPS in the online gaming world) or a tank (Someone
who holds the enemy’s attention while your group kills them). If you’re looking
to play a more careful and conservative class, the Consular is right up your
alley. The focus isn’t on swinging your saber, but on using force powers to
your advantage. You keep your lightsaber out to deflect incoming shots, but
mostly use your environment to your advantage. You use the force to throw rocks
and affect the minds of your enemies. Your first healing abilities are
available when you get off Tython, and you can either play a damage dealer or a
healer. Healing in a Flashpoint (More on Flashpoints later) as a Consular is
one of the better experiences I’ve had in the game.

Ord Mantell:

Your experience on Ord Mantell as a Smuggler or a Trooper
will be very similar, but the story here is much different. Ord Mantell is a
much more savage place, full of scum and villainy. As a Smuggler you’ll start
off making a landing under fire. However, it’s not long until everything goes
downhill and your ship is taken. Much of your time here is spent in tracking
your ship down. You meet Corso Riggs immediately, who eventually becomes your first
companion character. He takes you to his boss, who tells you that you’re in
even further over your head than you thought. It seems because of your
attachment to him, you’ve become a very large target for some very powerful
people. Your missions help to alleviate the issues with this mafia type group,
although you still end up fighting a bounty hunter out for your head. You also
become involved in trying to foil the plans of a separatist group. These
separatists are making life difficult for the Republic on Ord Mantell, and
there is a variety of missions to help refugees, as well as the local government.

The Republic Trooper starts on the same planet andmuch of
the story is shared. But, instead of a hot-shot pilot in your own ship, you’re
a trooper who is flown in on a transport after just joining Havoc Squad. Before
you know it you’re loaded onto a walker and heading straight into a war-zone.
The walker is damaged, and this is where your story starts. You hold off the
enemy forces while the walker is repaired. However, this ends abruptly as your
walker is unable to be repaired. You continue to fight against the separatist
forces, which are besieging the nearby villages and republic fortifications.
The Trooper meets up with Aric Jorgan, your first companion who will be a
fellow trooper.

The Smuggler has a unique play style, as it’s based on a
cover system. After playing with the Smuggler (And the Imperial Agent, the
Empire’s version), I draw more parallels with Gears of War than the standard
MMO. Your abilities primarily work from behind cover, wheather that be rocks,
logs, walls, ruins, or so on. Eventually you’re given a portable cover system
that gives you cover wherever you need. The Smuggler can either specialize in ranged
damage, or healing. Healing is interesting, as you shoot healing goo, called
Kolto, at your party members.  The
trooper is much more confrontational, and deals in heavy weapons, armor, and
grenades. The Trooper provides ranged damage, and can also tank.

The Esseles:

Once you leave your starting planet, you’re sent to the
fleet station. From here, you’ll get your first group Flashpoint mission. A
Flashpoint is a group “Dungeon”, “Phase”, or “Instance” where you fight bosses
and enemies tuned for a group. If you’ve played another MMO, the concept will
be familiar to you.  The Esseles is my
favorite Flashpoint, and one of the best reasons to play through the starting
zone. To be fair, there is some voice acting in Esseles that comes off as very
cheesy. But overall, this is a great experience for a group of players.

Final thoughts:

The starting worlds for the Republic are incredibly polished
and feature an incredible amount of detail. The voice acting betrays a deep
love of the Star Wars property and the desire to make a truly unique MMO. The affection
for the Star Wars universe shines bright in the first 10
levels, and The Esseles Flashpoint really pushes home that this universe is
unique and exciting. During these levels you feel exactly like your own
personal Star Wars saga is about to unfold, and the universe seems ripe for
experiencing. My rating for the starting zones is definitely high, at a 6 out of 7. Will the pattern continue
through Coruscant, Taris, and the space battle system? The Guide will soon have
the answer.