Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Played Lately: SWTOR

My lack of blog posts lately can be attributed to several factors. I was out of town for most of last month, doing real life things like hiking and hanging out with familly. Since I got back into town, I have also been obsessing so hard on Star Wars the Old Republic that when I get home from work I simply haven't wanted to spend an hour knocking out a blog post. It's odd to see my MMO addiction get in the way of my MMO blogging.

This view of Nar Shadda when I stepped out of the spaceport really impressed me. We're not in Azeroth/ Middle Earth/ Norrath any more, are we? I have found complaints about the graphics in SWTOR odd, even on my aging rig they are often stunning.

However, another contributing factor is that a series of short posts about SWTOR I did preliminary drafts of turned out to either be flat wrong, or at least oversimplifications when I got further into the game. In no particular order, here is my current take on several issues I almost blogged about earlier this month, but for the most part decided were non-issues by last weekend.

Giant gold statue of some famous hutt on Nar Shadda. Nar Shadda is ruled by hutt crimelords.

1. Slicing is still a good crew skill even post nerf. At launch slicing was basically "Print money" the crew skill. It lets you send out crew members to look for money, or to open up boxes of money you find while out wandering around. By level 16 I had more than twice the cash I needed for my first vehicle at 25 saved up, largely from running slicing missions. Obviously this couldn't last, and Bioware eventually nerfed slicing hard pretty hard. The money you can earn per minute is now something like a fourth of what it was. However, having spent so much time leveling it already, I decided to keep going and take it to 400. And I'm glad I did. Since I made it to Alderan I've been tripping over computer terminals, each of which has at least few hundred credits inside. Taking slicing as my third crew skill also kept me from spending cash to level something else. I'm currently well on track to have the 225K I'll need for my advanced vehicle training at 40.

In lieu of griffins or horses, swift travel is usually handled by aircars (though there is a big flappy bat thing that is used on Alderaan).

2. I still can't decide if crafting is pointless or not. I like the crafting system a lot. When you craft items, you can use them, sell them, or deconstruct them. When you deconstruct a crafted item you have a chance to learn a schematic for an advanced version of the item. There are usually two possible tiers of advancement. For example, breaking down green cybernetic implants can teach you to make blue ones with better stats, and blue ones can be broken down to learn recipes for purple ones with even better stats. Once you know an advanced recipe, you can make as many of those items as you like. All in all a neat system.

The problem is that it can take a really long time to earn the more advanced recipes. It's rarely worth the trouble to get to better than the blue version of a recipe. It is also incredibly easy to get gear on par with blue crafted gear just by questing. Admittedly, purple crafted items will often be best in slot for your level range. However, you wouldn't really tend to use any crafted item long enough to go to the bother making purple ones for yourself as you level.

Further, at level 50 I am hearing reports of gear that is easy to obtain which trumps any gear you can possibly craft. Like all too many MMOs, the crafting in SWTOR seems primarily a system for allowing you to inexpensively twink alts. I was really hoping for something more useful along the lines of launch LoTRO crafting. There, even crafted greens tended to make solo quest rewards look dumb (though that's sadly only true for character below level 51 in the modern game).

This is a view of part of Korriban, where the dark side jedi start.

3. Damn, Biochem rocks. The one crew skill I have no doubts about is Biochem. I originally took it because it's the crew skill that lets you make cybernetic implants, (oddly, Cybertech does not) and I was playing a cyborg. That aspect of it has remained useful, implants are rarer than hen's teeth as quest rewards for some reason. However, the skill also lets me make healing kits and stim packs (items that give hour long stat boosts) that are better than anything that drops in the game or that can be bought from vendors. That is a huge bonus, and I'm overall really happy with Biochem in its current form. I can't wait for Bioware to nerf the hell out of it . . .

Inside the sith jedi temple. One of my favorite things about Star Wars as an IP is that it seamlessly blends fantasy and science fiction sensibilities.

4. Money is not really very hard to come by. At one point I was looking at all the fees I had coming up as I leveled, looking at my bank account, and starting to panic. Between inventory slots, vehicle training, skill training, and ship upgrades you are looking at something on the order of a million credits in fixed costs on the road to 50. However, now that I'm into the 30s I'm finding that I make at least a few thousand credits an hour just questing and looting mobs. As long as you don't spend too much on your crafting as you level, I don't think fixed money sinks will be much of a problem.

All in all I'm still having a hell of a lot of fun in SWTOR. It's not for everyone, but it's my cup of tea for certain. I can see getting multiple characters to the level cap, which is something I've almost never done in previous MMOs.


  1. If you'd rather play than blog, you're probably doing it right. :)

    I hope that I can find time to play again. I'm enjoying myself also, even though I've invested in crew skills related to making armor. That's never been about min-maxing for me. I just like making stuff.

  2. That's certainly one way to look at it :-)

    I have one guy that is an artificer. I have to agree that it's a lot of fun to mess with, I really like how they set the system up. Deconstructing for more powerful schematics is a clever mechanic. I just wish the stats on crafted items were a bit better.