For the past few weeks we’ve been bringing you bite-sized pieces of our Star Wars: The Old Republic review, giving you an inside look into our thoughts on the game as we experienced it. First, we chronicled our early-game experiences through the first 15 levels , followed by the middle of the game as we explored ship combat and flashpoints through level 30. Now, in our final review diary before the actual review posts next week, we have the near end-game impressions up to level 45.
Above: Tatooine's world boss is, depressingly, not a krayt dragon
More planet hopping
As we traveled to the game’s ending planets, we started to get a much better sense of war. The cold war tussles of the early and mid-game – factional battles that flared up against the backdrop of the flimsy treaty between the Republic and the Sith Empire – have now given way to open warfare with Republic forces on planets like Taris, Quesh, and Belsavis. So instead of our Sith Lord Hollander (who was promoted to an actual “Lord” earlier in the game) wading into conflagrations against whatever factions were duking it out on a given planet while searching for (and exposing) each side’s ties to the Republic (and they all had ties to the Republic), we were blatantly battling the Republic. The slow ramp-up of the war was done really well, and made us feel even further connected to the story.
When compared to the planets we explored during the first half of the game, which were entirely hit or miss, the second half featured a more consistant stream of enjoyable locales. Even the wintry tundra of Hoth was surprisingly fun, despite, well, being a giant ball of ice. Alas, we weren’t able to ride a tauntaun, which feels like a missed opportunity. If we could ride a dumb flying manta ray on Alderaan we should be able to ride a tauntaun on Hoth. The only real issue we ran into came from the Sith Inquisitor story, which became somewhat muddled and convoluted after a thrilling climax mid-way through the story missions. It eventually found its footing, but there was some time of confusion near the middle.
Flashpoints finally get flashy
Another element that picked up a bit after the mid-game was the Flashpoints, which took a decidedly disastrous dip after the first one’s success. While some of the ones in the 30-45 range were still mediocre, a few (Boarding Party/Foundry) were absolutely brilliant. They were story-based, had interesting characters, and even featured some interesting ties to the Knights of the Old Republic series.
Above: Giant alien worm in space? Sounds legit
We also delved more into the “Heroic” missions on each planet. While most of the game can be completed solo, each planet features a number of repeatable Heroic quests that require 2-4 people to complete. Sometimes they’re outdoor quests, and essentially boil down to harder versions of the regular quests, but other times they’re more akin to mini-instances with small plots and a boss battle or two. While we didn’t seek these out at first, we ended up loving them by the end, both for their hefty rewards (a good deal of credits and a ton of experience) and for the challenge.
"Hutts don't have feet!"
As we leveled up we also took more time out of our busy grind to explore PvP, both on the open battlefield and in Warzones. Currently there are three Warzones available, each taking place in different locations and featuring unique game modes.
Above: Fighting for a planet that will be blown up in 4,000 years
Alderaan Civil War is a traditional capture point map, where two teams are fighting over three turrets, which, when controlled, fire constantly at the enemy ship. We like this mode, but it needs some heavy improvements – often a team is able to lock down two of the points quickly, and it’s incredibly hard to break through the middle one to get to the other because of the way the map is laid out. If more points were added or the level’s geometry was modified a bit we think it would be more fun, but usually the victor is decided fairly quickly.
The second traditional map is the Voidstar, which is an assault mode. Teams take turns trying to attack or defend a series of doors, and while we enjoy this mode too, the timing of the bombs/respawns could use some work. Too often we see stalemates at the first door, though whenever a team does break through the first door they almost always get to the end.
Check out page two for more Sith-tastic escapades...