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After several years of waiting, Star Wars: The Old Republic has finally gone live, launching BioWare’s first foray into the MMO genre. We’ll post a full, cohesive, in-depth, Midi-chlorian-filled review next month, but in the meantime we’re writing weekly review diaries to fill you in on what we’ve done so far, and to let you know how we’re enjoying our time in The Old Republic.
We jumped into the game late last week, and spent the past 17 in-game hours grinding up to level 15. Our main character – a Twi’lek Sith Inquisitor named Hollander – has gone from slave to apprentice after a lengthy, interesting quest that involved solving puzzles on the Sith homeworld of Korriban for an extremely rude Sith who we genuinely enjoyed pissing off. During the early levels it really did feel more like a Knights of the Old Republic game than an actual MMO, with a focus on solo quests over group encounters, but that was shed once we hit level 10.
During one of our final missions on Korriban (after completely and utterly pissing off the guy in charge) we met up with our companion, a monstrous Dashade named Khem Val. Khem Val freaking hates us. We found him in stasis, where he was kept by his Sith master, but after his Master’s death he was just… left there. Once we set him free (and beat the crap out of him) he has agreed to to follow us, but he does little to hide his disdain, calling us “Little Sith” and making frequent mention to his desire to eat us. He follows Hollander everywhere regardless, however, fighting alongside him in every battle and mumbling angrily whenever we choose the “weak” dialog options.
Above: We can't help but feel like he's just waiting for an opportunity to bite our faces off
We don’t actually know for sure what happens with our companion’s loyalty – or what it means when it goes up or down – but we hope to find out soon, considering how important companions are in The Old Republic. Currently we’ve only unlocked one companion, but others are gathered as the game goes on (though only one can be used at a time). They essentially act like the squad members from Mass Effect and Dragon Age, following us around and fighting by our side, while occasionally making snide comments about the people we’re forcing them to hang out with. They can be equipped with items and bonuses, they take part in dialog sections every so often, and they can even lead to their own storylines from time to time (we think). But beyond that, they actually have another gameplay implication: crew skills and crafting.
Above: We're often given the option to "flirt," an option we always take
When we hit level 10 we made our way off Korriban and into the Imperial Fleet, where we were able to choose crew skills. We picked three crew skills – one crafting, and two gathering – and began to figure out how they worked. Instead of working himself to the bone to craft items, Hollander can send out his companion to gather and craft, letting him continue to fight while Khem harvests the resources we need to create medical supplies. While we can still gather things from the world itself, we can also send our crew on missions that will not only improve our crafting ability, but reward us with materials to craft with. This might be one of the neatest changes to the MMO formula BioWare came up with, and lets us multitask by sending our companions on crafting runs while we fight.
Check out page two for more Sith-y adventures...