SWTOR: Follow up impressions

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…

2 thoughts on “SWTOR: Follow up impressions”

  1. But trooper IS healer at level 10 (if you chose the right advanced class)!
    Surprised by the time you took, I did it twice over the betw week end – once with jedi guardian as tank and once with trooper as healer (though not much healing was needed and I shot a lot).
    I think it took less than ~1h each time.
    For an entry level instance, it is of reasonable quality. How long did it take to do the Deadmines in 2004!! (I have great memories there though)

  2. @Coubo: Well, it was geting late on Sunday and we were all noobs, so we sat watched all the dialogs and managed to wipe a couple times until we found our feet a bit as a group.

    Which of course brings me to yet another missed opportunity– up until the first instance, there really is no how to play as a group tutorial. Fortunately, the beta crew were pretty obviously experienced MMOers, so no new concepts needed to be learned, but it was probably the first time that the Smuggler and I really needed to understand what it would take to pull aggro, etc.

    How hard would it be to require (yes require) each class to complete a small solo instance with complementary NPC groupmates the sole objective of which was to teach you how to play your class in a group? It doesn’t need to be long– 15 minutes or so should do it with three or four basic encounters to cover boot camp basics. It should be repeatable so players could practice.

    Imagine how much less PUGs would suck….

    In re healing: shows you how much I’d been paying attention, I hadn’t selected my advanced class as trooper. I didn’t even know a healer type was possible…

    I was still a bit mystified by the whole companion thing which I think they need to do a better job of explaining. I was thinking it would be a bit more like STO bridge crew or hiring henchmen so you could choose how you want to roll, i.e. choose dps, tank or healer companion.

    And I wish either you could change the companion’s name (I know, it breaks the story), or that Bioware had come up with another plausible mechanism to assign you a randomly named companion. Everyone running around with the same companion for the same class is a bit immersion breaking.

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