Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

Hey man, Just a pointer: after you get your ship you'll find crew skills a lot more useful because you'll after TWO companions at that point. Until then just focus on leveling up your gathering :) Welcome to TOR and if you're on the twin spears my toon is Xzolar. May the force be with you!

On Friday I obtained my own ship. I have to admit that the extra companion has helped immensely with getting my skills up on Treasure Hunting and Scavenging while I’m trying to complete regular quests. The farther I get into The Old Republic, the more I appreciate all that opens up to me, and the more I enjoy the main story arc.

Thanks for the tip and the message!

A Slight Change In Plans

For my sanity and for the fact that it will be less of an exposure in doing so, I’ve decided to go from a weekday piece to a twice a week piece. One of the major reasons? To be quite honest, I am enjoy this even more than I ever dreamed I would. I think it would be better to keep each installment to a twice a week format, that way I can soak up more for my own pleasure, and then share with everyone else with more time under my belt and a clearer reflection. It feels a bit more natural to me as well to just sit down and reflect upon my experiences a bit more, rather than rushing to get an article out each day without fail.

What I will do however, is try and keep up with screenshot posts though. For The Old Republic, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Quick word too - next piece I’ll likely be talking about space combat and functionality with companions a bit more, both of which seem off at first, but quickly become enjoyable.

Day 002: Back to Where I Left Off

For Those Who Came In Late….

Day 001

If you missed out on any previous installments, links to each will be provided at the end of each piece. It’s recommended that you start off with the first entry and continue forth, as each installment may have some gameplay or audio/visual details that you might have missed before.

I think with this whole set up, I’ll aim to talk about what I did the previous day only (sans Monday’s that will go over more than one day.) For day 2 I will continue from where I left off on the day 1 piece and wrap up my experiences for Thursday as well, and the weekend wrap up on Monday will go into Friday through Sunday, with more brevity than anything, especially since I may not have as much play time on the weekend.

Quite a few things have happened since we last parted. Galarian has started to receive orders directly from Darth Barus now, who holds a wealth of influence throughout the the academy. Furthermore I am being groomed for something substantial. I was sent to locate and obtain an ancient lightsaber for my own personal use, which would help in sending me forward with the plans Darth Barus has set up.

It wasn’t very easy to get this fabled weapon however. Two things seemed to have slowed my progression more than I had anticipated. First, it seems as if the difficulty was raised just enough to make each battle and quest seem more like a challenge, rather than the walk through the park that beta seemed to be. For solo content, I am more than satisfied with having a bit more of a challenge thrown at me, so long as it’s fair, and it has been more than fair. Downtime is kept to a minimum, as each class is given some kind of health regeneration stance that can be used out of combat. In a way, this can dumb down soloing and make the experience easier than it should, though with the somewhat higher difficulty I am experiencing atm, the stance is nothing that will completely send solo gameplay off balance.

The second and unfortunate issue has to do with way-point discrepancies. During beta, there would be a number of instances in which your mini-map, which is located on the bottom right of the screen, would not highlight an objective or where about a quest trigger is. Only by pressing M twice (M opens the larger map of the area you’re currently residing in) would reset this folly. Then sometimes a way-point would indicate that you’re supposed to go upstairs to find the source, when in reality it’s really the bottom floor that must be covered. The frequency of this nuisance isn’t significant, though noticeable, and quite aggravating when it happens.

I did reach the point where I gain a companion throughout my journey. A Twi’lek named Vette was introduced officially, and she became a non playable assistant of sorts. Think of a mercenary from Everquest, or if you want to go a bit further, one of your companions from Gods & Heroes – while you cannot directly control these individuals like you could in say Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you can set them to be aggressive, passive and so on. They act as a duo partner, only with less bathroom runs. They can be equipped with their own weaponry and armor, and have roles with some of the storyline arcs that come up, both directly and indirectly. Influence can be gained or lost from these companions, though in the grand scheme of things, I’m not totally sure what a positive or negative influence will gain you.

During my lightsaber retrieval, I encountered another solo instance to progress my storyline along. Instances in an MMO is nothing new and has been a key to alleviating downtime and congestion as a whole when it comes to certain things. With solo story instances I can take my time getting through the dangers that lay ahead of me, all the while not looking over my shoulder for someone trying to snipe in and take what I’ve been clearing towards. Granted this still can happen if you run solo and are attempting to complete tasks, but it’s nice to know that each player has their own place to advance their story arc, without any kind of grievance and such. It’s a shame that there’s no real immediate need or urge to group up with other players right now. There are a handful of Heroic quests, which recommends two more more participants to complete, but I have not heard any rewards yielded that would further entice me to seek out a PUG (pick up group) and take a gander at what there is to offer.

I’ve finally made it out of Korriban, the starting planet for Galarian. I had already grown tiresome of the rocky terrain, brownish tinted colors and lack of energy and life. But then again, this is a Sith starting planet, so it’s not like I would have been expecting to see two suns, clear ocean water and Jawas merrily dancing about. Once each class hits level 10, they are able to leave their starter planet and officially choose their Advance class. A majority of each class available, if not all of them, have a DPS (damage per second, those that focus on dealing as much damage as possible) section or two dedicated to that within each class selections skill tree.

I chose the Juggernaut path, as my usual MMO callings are the tanking classes.

My orders took me from a spaceport in which I acquired my advance class, to a planet called Dromund Kaas. The brown, depressing colors of Korriban has not turned into an overcast night sky filled with a abundance of foliage and vicious four legged beasts. The Galactic vibe is thick here, from the outpost I first appeared in, to checkpoints and settlements sprinkled throughout the area. The change in scenery was more than welcome, though this one seems to be wearing out its welcome just a hair faster than Korriban.

Throughout my continued exploits, new skills have been acquired. Now with my status as a Juggernaut official, I am gaining those specific skills to use at my disposal. Not only that, but current skills are gaining ranks whenever I visit my trainer and train those skills up. It’s nothing foreign to those who have played Everquest II or World of Warcraft, so the wheel wasn’t reinvented in that sense. Same goes for the skill tree, which enables me to learn new attacks, gain passive attributes and so on. So far, it really does feel like a blend of MMORPG staples into the Knights of the Old Republic ideology.

While running about, I recalled companion skills that Veete had learned. These are basically tradeskills and sources of gathering that can be accomplished by your companion. There are definitely perks to this aspect of The Old Republic, but there are some disadvantages that will be noticed. I’ve noticed that with this new planet I have entered, the enemies around me are vastly superior in terms of damage output and hit points overall. Missing Veete during some of these battles could end up being fatal. as her DPS greatly helps in dispatching the enemies that I encounter. Taking on a solo adversary will be a winnable challenge, though not as easy as it could have been with the assistance, but fighting two or more enemies at once can prove to be problematic.

But the benefits of sending Veete out to random Treasure Hunts? During the 3-6 minutes expeditions that she partakes in, there’s a chance that something worthwhile can be obtained. From green gear that can equal a slight upgrade, to even the more uncommon blue ranked gear that can be significantly stronger than what’s currently equipped in that area. Did Veete manage to come back to you with an unlocked treasure that you cannot use? Why not just vendor it, or even try and sell it to someone within the community? It’s a quick way to earn a few bucks, all while gaining experience, and maybe even some much needed random upgrades.

My time is almost up for this week. As I leave you, I am currently in the middle of a quest that involves a prominent figure in the Knights of the Old Republic history, though mostly in both name and equipment. It is not a part of the official story arc for the Sith Warrior > Juggernaut line, so I may delve into the details come Monday morning. Another quest I have embarked on is storyline related, and has to do with an assassination. Definitely some fascinating turns with the story so far. So after two days and a mostly back and forth experience between my desktop for gameplay and my laptop for jotting down my experiences, I have to say that I am enjoying myself, both in game and in sharing this with everyone. I hope that with each installment, you all are getting a sense of my experiences within The Old Republic, as well as slowly learning about the myriad of sights, wonders, controls, sounds and so on that’s being provided. Check back here Monday morning for the third installment of this ongoing series, which will ultimately lead to my review of Star Wars: The Old Republic in 2012! Once again, here are some more screenshots that chart my adventures thus far (as always, click each image to enlarge them):

Day 001: Early Access, Getting My Feet Wet Again

Early access was granted earlier in the day, though I only just got started at about 4:30pm est. There’s a slight hint of trepidation going on, as this became one of the most anticipated releases I have encountered. I did enjoy my time with the beta, however I had concerns with certain aspects, such as the massively multiplayer online portion of this RPG. But, I can’t hold out any longer….mostly because I’ve been craving to hack away into the Sith Warrior > Juggernaut storyline to get back to where I had left off when the beta closed.

I chose to start with, and most likely main, a Sith Warrior > Juggernaut for the simple fact that throughout my MMO life, I have always veered towards a tanking class (for those unfamiliar, a tank is basically the wall to your group or raid, keeping every enemy on them and absorbing the damage as the rest of your party delivers damage to them, as well as keep you alive with heals.) I tried out several classes in beta, and quite frankly, I wanted to play them all equally, but knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on all of them enough to be satisfied. While I will delve into the Bounty Hunter and Jedi Consular arcs in due time (probably while doing this Sith Warrior dissection) I think that most of the attention in gameplay and written pieces will be on my main focus.

I had a Cyborg make during beta, but decided to switch it up to a generic Human Male. From an aesthetics standpoint, there isn’t a great deal separating either one of them. That and I had a little boys haircut during beta that looked ridiculous with my head equipment I received towards the closing stages. So I just decided to go to the ordinary man route. In terms of customization, there’s enough meat to the bones in which it’s entirely possible to create a character that looks just different enough from you, from the myriad of facial selections, to the skin tone and complexion combinations. I’m sure I’ll have a few people ripping off my style since, admittedly, it’s pretty plain Jane. But at least there won’t be exact duplicates of me roaming around, like a bearded man with an eye-patch from Everquest. (click each picture to enlarge)

Star Wars theme away!

While discussing my journey, I’ll try and keep anything that can be a mid range or major spoiler, unspoiled. I definitely will mention some gameplay aspects, as well as certain events that take place, but in no way will I ruin any part of any storyline that will leave an impact. Meddling through side quests without much bearing to the grand scheme of things will be discussed, as well as some early tidbits. Screenshots will be taken and shared, some of pivotal moments as well, though I won’t make mention of those moments, nor will I let them lead to any kind of spoiler laced comments. The reason being? The Old Republic is story heavy, something that no MMO has ever focused so much upon. There are a good number of classes, each with their own storyline, which judging from even the first twelve levels of the several classes I already tried out last month, will not disappoint.

Galarian (my Sith Warrior’s name) is a new recruit who has some untapped potential. He must face certain trials in which his worthiness to be a Sith will ultimately be tested. If he survives, he has the potential, if he dies well….he wasn’t going to make it that far anyway.

Every bit of information is voice to me, something unprecedented within the MMORPG genre. Anytime dialog is initiated, either by an NPC (Non Player Character) or your character as well, a vocal delivery is given. You can always see what is being said through subtitles and such, which is greatly beneficial to those with hearing loss and such, so a vocalized performance does not hinder the enjoyment of those who rely on reading captions.

The dialog wheel return in The Old Republic. For those unfamiliar, as with other Bioware RPG hits such as the Mass Effect series, the dialog wheel lets players select the kind of response they want relayed to the NPC. There’s an added fold to those who cling to the light side in terms of their responses, or hold the dark side close to their hearts. There will be a point later on in the game where certain items can only be used by those with an affinity to the light or dark sides, in regards to the decisions they make within the dialog wheels. You can be a Bounty Hunter, a staple in the Sith line up, yet have compassion with how situations are dealt with, leading to light side points being awarded. So even if one picks a Sith or Rebel character, they can act upon certain things to their liking, changing perspectives along the way

So right away, I was informed that someone wants me dead already. Such in the life of a Sith combatant. I am told the practice sword I have arrived with is insufficient for someone such as myself, and that I am to go into a temple and retrieve a more powerful relic to use at my disposal.

Once I officially take control of Galarian, I am reminded of the rich, orchestral compositions that the Star Wars franchise has been known for. After setting my graphics to maximum on all settings (how I can run The Old Republic and Final Fantasy XIV on max settings on this relatively strong year old rig yet Everquest II chugs along, I couldn’t tell you) I begin to venture forward, just in time as well, as it seems like you get auto logged out for inactivity, as an onscreen prompt showed me. Guess I should spend more time gaming and less time discussing?

Respawn points are dependent upon whether or not players identify Offworld Orientation computers that are spread around certain sectors. Activating these computers act as a beacon to which you will respawn to upon a death that isn’t revived. Players can revive themselves to either move away from where they had just perished, or re-engage in battle once they pop back in, although there is a bit of fatigue thrown in. Death never really feels like a deterrence though, it just feels like a rewind key in some cases. At least early on in The Old Republic, death seems like a joke, as the penalty for dying is negligible, due mostly to the fact that one can recover where they died almost every single time, as they come in invisible for about eight seconds. Even though movement is snared somewhat, it’s relatively effortless to escape imminent death once more. Furthermore, no experience point penalty is given towards a death. It might be a breath of fresh air to some, but there’s a distinct lack of risk versus reward when you’re playing in your teens. Again, we’ll cross this bridge again much later on in our journey and see if anything changes.

Already near or at 1200 words for this initial entry. Didn’t think I’d give so much to read on this first day! I’ll wrap a few things up for now and if there’s anything significant I’d like to share then I’ll do so before posting this officially. If people want this much to read each day, let me know in the comments here, on my Twitter or my Star Wars: The Old Republic Blog on Tumblr. Lets keep going for a little longer though, shall we?

With my experience in this story arc still fresh in my head, I was quickly able to gain a few levels, locate the weapon I was told to retrieve and advanced the story somewhat. Throughout all that, I just noticed that the final build finally unlocked anti aliasing, which really does improve the rough around the edges presentation that The Old Republic beta had. It’s not a visual marvel like Final Fantasy XIV was at times, but it’s not an aged, second grader with broken crayons look that World of Warcraft possesses.

I exit the crypt like area and emerge towards a much larger Sith settlement, to which I meet up with my superior once again, and am introduced to the person who so desperately wishes me dead. The exposition banter during this portion, as well as the following portion, help infuse more intrigue to the story. Mention is made of a higher ranking official named Darth Barus, who sees potential in this Sith that has threatened my life, so he has been deemed untouchable for the time being. I am being sent to the Tomb of Marka Ragnos in which I await a beast to arrive and slay it by my own hands.

That is where the coverage for today will end. I’ll give a brief recap of things tomorrow on the things of note that I experience overnight. For now, here are a few screenshots taking place between just before where we left off, and a little taste of things to come. Again, if you have any comments, suggestions or anything about this that you would like to say, leave a comment below, follow me on Twitter and ask me there, or drop a line in my Star Wars: The Old Republic Blog at Tumblr. For now, here are some screenshots I’ve taken throughout the early portion, as well as a little past where we left off. Any questions or suggestions for this once each weekday piece, please leave a comment below. Remember to click each picture to enlarge:

Check out this and other gaming related articles I’ve written at http://clgamer.com

And So It Begins….Again

I decided to branch off my Star Wars: The Old Republic weekday blogs to its own little area, as well as share it on Chocolate Lemon. I usually keep my thoughts, ideas and work between there and my Twitter account, but maybe we can get something going here. I dunno how I’ll approach this yet in terms of how I present each installment. Either I’ll be informative while I dissect each nook and cranny I come across, or perhaps I’ll tell a tale as the tale is being told to me. Weekends will be update free, though I’ll do some kind of recap on Monday’s.

Either which way, I’ll be sure to add in screenshots and other information where needed. I’ll even answer some questions that you folks may have.

Currently awaiting my early access email. Once that is obtained then the ball will really start to roll.  I enjoyed the beta, though had a few reservations in terms of how the game is billed. But we’ll explore those concerns some when I get some time with the final version.

Are you ready? I know I am.