A while back, a friend suggested I try Star Wars, The Old Republic (http://swtor.com) as an epic, free to play RPG where I could just play verses the environment, and follow some interesting storylines. So I signed up, and this is what I found.
This game first came online in a partnership between Bioware and LucasArts, and was first announced in 1008, going live in 2011, and is set 3000 years prior to the rise of Darth Vader (http://www.swtor.com/info/setting).
When you first join the game you find there are a number of species to choose from (and many can be unlocked for real $), and 8 classes. Some races can only select some classes (humans can select any) which are: Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire; and the Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Consular for the Galactic Republic. Each one has a sub class, for example a Sith Warrior later gets to choose a specialisation and be either a marauder (DPS) or a Juggernaut (TANK). Ultimately, if you want to have one of each, you would end up with 16 characters, all of whom form a part of your legacy (a family tree, along the lines of the Skywalker family). The stories are the same, for each class regardless of specialisation.
Each of the 8 main classes has their own story, and each story has 3 chapters. Once you have completed these you then move into expansions, which can be fun and the game opens up hugely allowing you to travel in your spaceship throughout the galaxy
Along the way you meet companions, whom become a part of your story and have their own side stories too, which you can choose to assist them with. Companions used to be able to be dressed, and equipped, and had certain specialisations, which had a huge impact on your game play. Your character gets the choice of making light (good) or Dark (evil) decisions, which your companions either agreed with or not, although this had little effect really. In recent expansions, the need for armouring/weaponing was removed (although you can still play dress up), and any companion can have any specialisation (healer/tank/DPS), so a lot of people just stick with one whom they have the most “influence” with, which increases their abilities (and makes them a bit OP). With the new expansions comes the possibility that your companion might leave if they disagree with your – frustrating if it is your best one.
All the way through your story progression you will fight beasts, bosses, peasants and royalty. You can also do PVP (although I find it confusing and hard so I don’t bother), and Starfighter battles (even more confusing and hard). You can buy your own stronghold, and join a guild that has a guild stronghold and even its own command ship (which is massive). The strongholds can be HUGE, the one on Yavin4, can take several minutes to get from one end of it to the other; it has secret caves and rooms and waterfalls and a temple!
Every game has its issues I guess, and the primary issue these days is the change to more “story” oriented game. It has removed many of the skills required to play. There are less customisations, less need to know how to use your characters abilities in given circumstances. There is also a growing push to subscriptions and having to “pay for the good stuff”. Unfortunately this has resulted in a number of the “old school” players giving up, as they find there is no challenge any more.
The up side is with the new content, decisions you make some times do have an effect on those around you, and I have on some of my characters (called “toons”), lost a companion – fortunately I didn’t like him anyway and I am looking for a way to get rid of him on my others too 😛
SWTOR is definitely epic. The scale of the game is galactic. You can move around the galaxy, visit 17 or more planets. On planets like Tatooine and Hoth there is the potential to spend time flying around – I once got lost for 30 mins, just a note, on Hoth, a shortcut is often not a shortcut. In the recent Star Wars movie, Rey is seen climbing in a Ship Graveward scavenging for parts. There is a similar graveyard on Hoth, and you too can scavenge in a ship with the same kind of scale. Epic.
https://youtu.be/SoG1SjfBB-U – cruising around Hoth.
Currently Bioware are releasing a new chapter a month until the end of the year, as opposed to just releasing a bunch all at once. I guess it is designed to try and keep people subscribed and interested, however, some of the chapters are a bit boring, and a lot of people have multiple characters (I know people with 20!), and each one has to do each chapter. Some of the storylines are quite epic (a lot of people really like the Imperial Agent story), but you know that if you get to a slow bit, you can speed through to some action, but that is not possible with the way it is now. Some of characters are quite hard case, and will give you many laughs over the things they say, so will your companions.
If you’re into Star Wars, this is a very cool game. Some of the graphics are a bit outdated (2011 styles), but each new chapter brings new and better graphics. You’ll get to live in the SW universe for a little while, get to explore worlds and defeat impossible bosses, view amazing scenery and meet some pretty awesome people (and some not so awesome too, sorry). This game has a bit of everything for everyone, and I reckon, if you haven’t at least tried it, you cant really call yourself a geek 😛