Ok, after I queued up yesterday’s post about my generally ambivalent if downright negative impression of the early SWTOR experience, I decided to soldier on (literally) in the waning ours of the beta to push my Trooper on to Level 10 and get off that god forsaken rock that is Ord Mantell.
I finished the slogging and class questline just shy of level ten. I leveled on the turn in and got my promotion to Lieutenant. With level ten, I received my first companion. I’ll leave out spoilers but the basis for the companion was explained in the dialog. As a result, he just showed up when I leveled rather than STO’s shopping for bridge officers.
Promotion in hand and lackey in tow, I was directed to report to Coruscant. To reach Coruscant I was to hop a shuttle from the Republic fleet. Shuttle to fleet and there I was. After navigating through the station to the Coruscant shuttles, I was offered the alternative to take a more luxurious accomodation aboard the Esseles though the trip would be more dangerous.
I was just about to log out and say Sayonara to SWTOR for a while but I thought since I’m an explorer at heart I should see what Corscant looks like. I was just about to take the solo shuttle when I decided to throw caution to the wind and take the Esseles.
The Esseles is the Republic-side version of the first instance or “Flashpoint” in the game. Its group content with 2 or more recommended. Without a meaningful LFG tool, peeps were relying on the old school “LFG” or “LFM” chat in general.
I was quickly able to assemble two other hardy adventurers– a level 10 Jedi Knight and a Level 12 Smuggler. With my level 10 Trooper we decided to go without a healer.
Bioware’s earlier trailer does a good job of describing the general experience. After having now played through it successfully, I would say its fairly accurate. The story line works and the conversation mechanic fits in well in the plot and environment.
We quickly got into the flow of things and progressed our way through the beleaguered ship. Of everything I’ve experience in SWTOR to date, this is the closest to what I imagined it would be with a movie like character. A cogent and story driven plot driving the mission at hand, an emergent situation to deal with and a goal to seek in the confines of a large space vessel.
The enviroments were right sized to the action so running around wasn’t an issue. And what running around there was made sense in the context of the plot. The action culminated in several tough boss fights that were steeped in Star Wars goodness.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably thinking, isn’t this exactly the opposite of what you were whining about in your last post? Well, you’d be right.
If the flashpoints are as well done as this first one, I’d say that is how the game should be driven. Everything that was annoying in the open world was made much better in the more compact and more restricted flashpoint experience.
The overall instance took us about 1-1.5 hours to complete. It felt a wee bit long, but was satisfying. I went in as Level 10 and came out 11+ so I felt like real progress was made both in terms of basic character advancement as well as plot development.
So am I changing my mind about SWTOR at this point. No.
I still think that the rough patches of the starter experience can be smoothed and should culminate with this sort of flashpoint plot device. If only the rest of SWTOR could be like this first run through The Esseles…