Star Wars: The Old Republic review diary, level 15-30

Above: Seriously, that looks so Star Wars we can barely take it

Following up Shaddaa was Tatooine which, as expected, was a giant desert. The massive sand dunes likely would have gotten boring if not for the fact that we landed there around level 25, which is when we were allowed to purchase our first mount. The mount itself was far from exceptional, but it made traversing the vast deserts a treat. Fighting against Jawas, Sand People (they’re not called Tusken Raiders because they won't have raided Fort Tusken for a few thousand years), and other creatures from A New Hope was a delight, and we loved our time there enough to finish all of the quests we had available, and to group out for some four-person missions we might otherwise have skipped.

A problem in the Force

Though we really enjoyed our trek to 30, we did find ourselves becoming slightly more frustrated with some of the elements of BioWare’s game. Bugs and glitches, for instances, have become more abundant, and while the game is still more polished than most MMOs at launch, it’s still rough around the edges. We also found that the Flashpoints we loved so much early in the game changed the further we got until, well, we just stopped doing them.

Above: Action? Adventure? A Sith craves these things

The first Flashpoint was fun, story-based, and really took full advantage of the game’s unique mechanics. The second and third? Incredibly generic. Sure, there had spots of dialog here and there, but instead of continuing the story-based approach, the Flashpoints became very run-of-the-mill. Anyone who has played an MMO knows the formula, and we were sad to see it show up in SWTOR. There’s a hallway full of guys, a room with harder guys, then a boss with a strange mechanic.

Then there’s a hallway full of guys, a room with harder guys, then a boss with a strange mechanic.

Then there’s a hallway full of guys, a room with harder guys, then a boss with a strange mechanic.

Then there’s a hallway full of guys, a room with harder guys, then a final, really difficult boss with a few tricks up its sleeve. Then you get good loot. And a bunch of experience. And maybe some tokens or something that you can turn in for more experience or loot. Yay?

We skipped the next few, because it felt like it was taking time away from our enjoyment of the story-based elements of the game, but we’re planning on doing more on our quest to level cap. We're really confused by how large the drop-off is in enjoyment with all of the Flashpoints past the first. We have no idea by BioWare decided to suddenly abandon the story for the traditional MMO formula, and we hope that it adds more narrative-based Flashpoints in the future. Those are what we signed up for, not generic level grinds.

Above: That flying fish thing is the coolest thing about Alderaan

Thankfully it didn't really matter; there was more than enough content to level up even without doing Flashpoints. In fact, we often found that we had missed our chance to do them entirely - until level cap, when they open back up, at least.

A not so long time from now…

There are still many worlds to explore, many more stories to uncover, and many more Republic scum to slice apart. Be sure to check back next week for our trip from level 30-45 to find out about planets like Hoth, and to hear how the game’s player-versus-player combat is shaping up. Then, soon after, we hope to have a full-blown review for you so that you can decide whether or not Star Wars: The Old Republic is right for you.