Detailed review after 2 beta weekends (possible minor spoilers)
-I've played every Bioware game (I think)
-I've played almost every Blizzard game, including WoW off and on until not long ago
-I'll try to keep any possible fanboying to a minimum
-Favorite game ever was probably KOTOR (definitely would recomend it if you're going to try this even if it is old)
To start off the game may not be best for you if....
you don't like RPG's (especially Bioware games)
you don't want more RPG elements in an MMO
you don't like story and voice overs
you want to skip everything and go to end game
That's not saying "hey don't play this game", but some people play and then complain about story/voice acting when that's one of the main selling points. There seems to be a lot of people that didn't look into the game at all, and was expecting something else. That's not going to happen. Granted people have different tastes, but bashing a game because it doesn't fit yours is just wrong. I've seen a lot of comments, and there was definitely a lot of people testing recently. Most people that kept playing seemed genuinely interested, or had already preordered. Some people were disappointed, and were looking for something the info that was out there wasn't about. Some people that compared the game to WoW and called it mediocre ....... kept playing. Would you really keep playing a game you thought was mediocre? I know I wouldn't.
Classes I played: over level 10
Smuggler - Scoundrel
Siith Warrior - Marauder
Bounty Hunter - Mercenary under level 10
Imperial Agent/Sith Inquisitor/Jedi Knight/Consular
Now onto the reviewing...
I much prefer the space setting compared to the played out fantasy orcs/goblins/humans/whatever. If your a fan as well, then that shouldn't disappoint. The planets are rather large and give you some nice scenery. My personal favorite planet I went to was Dromund Kaas. It was good sized, but I especially liked the environment and music. It was fun to explore, had interesting quests and didn't drag much. Very well done. Others planets didn't leave me as excited. I was really looking forward to an Old Republic game that finally went to Coruscant. However Coruscant it seemed to lack the intrigue of it's Emperor counterpart. I did find a few datacrons, but most you have to go out of your way to look for.
I'd say though the planets really start to get big and expansive around Tatooine. Some didn't like Nar Shadaa, but I found it better than the previous planet. Seemed like it had a lot of unused space though. Taris on the other hand ...... was kind of annoying at times. I enjoyed the KOTOR references, and some of the questing, but it didn't seem to flow as well as other areas and had a lot of glitches which I'll get to later. Later planets from what I've seen seem to get a lot bigger and more exciting. There's enough to explore without it being too open world. Personally I don't care for complete open world like Oblivion/Skyrim.
I usually always go light side in games right away, but Empire definitely caught my interest as I expected. I do like being able to be light side Sith if I chose though.
Rating: The world and setting I would rate as one of the games high points. Some people will have fun just exploring.
This is another one of the strong points I'll say right off. You'll immediately get a nostalgia feel getting music from the movies, along with KOTOR 1 & 2. I really love what they've done with the sound and music. I rarely if ever bothered to play with sound/music on in WoW, but here it really adds to the atmosphere.
The voice acting/dialogue is standard stuff from Bioware a lot of people love it, and some not so much. Personally I love it. It's a lot more interesting and fun than the typical boring long quest text. If your intent on skipping again this isn't going to interest you and there's things you'd rather do I'm sure. With multiple characters some stuff could be repetitive, although that's not a terrible thing. Other games especially WoW don't give you anything different in leveling classes. Blizzard completely removed Class Quests which were something I enjoyed. Bioware definitely delivers a unique experience with each character if you chose to make it that way.
You actually have a character here, and get to define the character based on your actions. There was some rather humorous dialogue especially on my Smuggler. I loved randomly discovering titles while doing certain quests. Quests would make you think and ponder a choice. Certain dark/light choices were questionable, should you let that criminal go even if he could go free and kill again? That indivual is rather shady, and has done some bad things but could save hundreds with his information to the Republic, what should you do with him?
The leveling really didn't feel grindy even with a lot of side quests.
At some points it felt like there weren't enough quests in an area (I only hit 9 before leaving Korriban despite doing everything I could find). While at other times it felt like there were too many quests in areas (Taris.... again).
Lack of grey rewards/options. Maybe I'm not a murderer, but I'll take a bribe or do certain things for some extra credits. I love the grey path. Not being evil, just doing what benefits you. However there isn't really grey rewards yet, though they do plan to add them in later.....
So far I much prefer the Codex system. It gives you in game story info as well as combat stuff. It tracks achievements for epic kills on world bosses and such. It doesn't look like something people will link about. Hopefully it doesn't become like a certain game where you have to link achievements just to do anything. It sounds like they plan to add more achievement stuff later, which should work out well. It's also fun to just read some "lore" if you have nothing else to do, if your interested that is.
If you are familiar with Bioware games you know about companions, their roles and how they work. If not well you might have a differing opinion and think of them as "pets", or just not be interested. I personally think they add a lot to the RPG aspect of the game, but also help with the combat. They can easily provide whatever role you want whether it's ranged tank, melee tank, dps, or healer. Definitely makes leveling a lot easier. One of the nicer things people seemed to like is being able to send your companion out to vendor/and or do crew skills and missions while you are in questing, running somewhere, or in flash points/warzones/operations.
Crew skills in general seem like less of a grind and a more fun process. You'll find plenty yourself along the leveling path, but at the same time if you lag behind you can use your companions to help you catch up in certain skills. Some crew skills provide better rewards, but this kind of stuff can be changed with patches if needed. Slicing in particular made me quite a good bit of credits. I would say crew skills are again one of the better things about the game.
There's a lot of companions so chances are you'll like some and probably not like others. I've always loved how they use in companions, but there is always some I don't like. Empire in particular seems to have more interesting starting companions. Qyzen for the Consular didn't seem very popular. T7/Corso seemed rather boring. While Mako/Kaliyo caught my eye, and personally I really liked Vette. Some classes have to wait longer than others to get their next one. When I finally got my Bowdaar on my Smuggler I was pleased to have a big Wookie following me around.
To me companions are more than just "pets", they are again one of the games stronger points. I wish you could talk to your companions more often like in other Bioware games and for more interactions between your companions.
This aspect of the game seems to take a lot of flack for some reason. It's true it could be better with more options, but again I find they give much more variety than WoW (which I'm using as an example again since it's more relate able). I love the fact if you want your character can be bulky, or fat and not have the exact same build as the next guy. I do find some species especially Miraluka severely lacking in options. I'm sure they can always add more in later so this isn't one of the most major things. I wouldn't rate customization super high, but it's far from terrible.
Species variety also has garnered a lot of discussion. For the most part I think they did fine given what would make sense. Cyborgs though, I find disappointing. I just don't see the point, might as well just have an extra option for humans or even aliens that lets them have cybernetic features instead of having them as a separate species. I would have much rather had a race like Cathar which could easily be implemented. I'd also hope for Togruta at some point. Some people have unrealistic expectations .... BUT SWG had it! No, that doesn't mean that race should be here. Wookies in particular I don't ever see working. Gear wouldn't look right (Wookies generally don't wear much), plus the voice over and romance problems in addition to story issues. Wookies rarely left Kashhyyk in the Old Republic Era besides as slaves. In reality though hearing a Wookie groan in their language for multiple levels would get old fast.
I think they implemented a lot of nice things. Loot coler differing based on drops, and AoE looting are really nice and convenient features. It also felt like there was a lot less down time with the self heal and resurrection system.
Some people might get turned off here if they were hoping for something the game wasn't going to deliver. Combat will feel like other MMO's, it's nothing innovative, but works for the most part. Some will like it, some won't. Don't get your hopes up if you want something completely different, that said there's nothing wrong with the combat and it's fine in its own way. Mobs are labeled different based on difficulty, so you don't get in over your head. Sometimes taking on hard mobs can be a "fun" challenge. In WoW fighting more than 1 mob could often mean death, or at least trouble. Here you almost always fight multiple enemies, it does make for more interesting fights at times.
Some classes definitely have similarities to WoW. With my Scoundrel I noticed some similarities to playing a Rogue. Still it definitely felt different, and it's hard to describe, but it was definitely more fun. I loved the feel of being able to sneak in/out and get the job done. I kinda preferred the run and gun style than the cover system. I didn't hate the cover system and I do plan on playing an IA using it. That said it probably won't be one of the more popular builds, but the ones that do play it should like it. You get a lot of abilities fairly early on, and most have their uses. Also enjoyed the Sith Warrior/Bounty Hunter a lot more than I thought I would.
I had 12 lvl 85's in WoW which was probably overdoing it. The leveling here definitely has more long term potential, and replayability. Some people don't like it being so linear, but with the way they do the story I don't see how they could do it less linear. In Mass Effect or Dragon Age you could go to places in different orders, but with balancing levels here it would be a lot harder. I stress again you can totally have a unique story each time you level.
I've seen a lot of comments saying "single player rpg with other people", I really don't get where people come with this statement. There was plenty of people around, and plenty of grouping. Not to mention warzones/flashpoints that were very accessable. World bosses were another thing people had fun grouping up. In fact it seemed they really wanted to encourage grouping maybe a little too much. Some planets had WAY TOO MANY group quests for my liking.
Flashpoints seem epic and the feel can be fun. People will say it could get old after a while, but really all dungeons in games get old after a whlie. It will be exciting at least for a while trying to win the roll for dialogue and choices. I wanted to see what my character would say/do. At one point, I was the guy who made the dark side choice when everyone else made light. I do hope choices don't provide trolling opportunities, which some MMO players seem to love.
With that said I didn't get to do as many flash points as I'd like as I got shit FPS on this computer, while waiting for my new parts. With that said there seemed to be a good amount of flash points early on, and they should be a fun thing to do. The Holocommnicator (pretty sure that's what it's called) is great for grouping and flash points, starting dialogues while your friend catches up or is doing something will make a lot of people happy.
They'll most likely have to add some improvements to looking for groups at some point. I think it's mostly fine as is, but could be a bit more convenient. I really really really really never want any cross server grouping added at any point though.
I didn't get to try a whole lot of PvP here, but I did try each warzone at least once. PvP is one thing that still needs some work, but was still fun. Hutball is one big chaotic mess of fun. The Alderaan battle is also set up rather nice. I didn't really enjoy the Voidstar much, it's similar to Strand of the Ancients for any that played WoW where teams take turns attacking and defending. It's not terrible, but the other two were easily more fun. I do look forward to Outlaw's Den and the other outdoor PvP content.
This is still beta so it was expected. Still some things were rather frustrating, and I hope they get as many fixes as they can before release. A lot of people were reporting bugs when they found them. Personally I submitted bug information when I found any, and filled out the surveys when they popped up. I hope everyone else did as this information could help towards release and give them future ideas.
There were a few bugs that generall frustrated people. One included hearing other peoples companions yelling constantly. This glitch unfortunately could have given people the wrong idea, despite it being easy to fix. There was a few quest bugs, but again should be easy to fix. The biggest downer for me which I really really hope they get fixed before release was the constantly getting stuck on invisible walls on Taris. This only seemed to occur on Taris, and others also had the issue. /Stuck wasn't much of a fix unless you liked dying a lot. It was a bit disappointing as well not being able to play some of my characters from the first weekend despite being told we could. Oh well, it happens.
I always enjoyed collecting vanity pets and mounts. I don't think they've forgotten about collectors as the last beta weekends added some vanity pets. They seem to listen about vehicle feedback so I expect more options there as well. I hope to one day have Gizka wondering around my ship!
Only time will tell about the end game and lasting appeal. I have confidence they can make keep it interesting with things like operations and the legacy system. I do hope they don't make it too much like WoW as I'm not really a fan of the current system of easy/normal/heroic mode encounters. It's just doing the same stuff over and over again, but next time ..... it's somewhat harder! I don't see rushing to max level a good thing, besides missing on some of the best parts of the game, well you'll want other people max level to do things with. Ultimately this will be what decides game longevity for a lot of people. I won't speculate much but I really hope they come up with a model that works and not just something similar to other games. It seems hard to have a balance for raiding where most people can see it, but still keep it challenging. I do not want old operations to become irrelevent with future patches, don't kill interest!
I did really enjoy my time with the game despite playing on an old pc. Still I didn't want to do too much as I wanted the game to be fresh at release. At the same time I felt it really hard to quit playing at times. I really anticipated this game for some time. If you also like strong RPG elements added into the MMO genre, I don't think you'll be disappointed. The space fighter mini-game is a fun little distraction. I hope they add more mini game things like Pazaak later on. I think the game will be successful.
Things I'd like to see added include more ship and companion customization. These things can be patched in easily. Having things you can add/keep up with on your ship like Mass Effect 2 is great. Speaking of that, having your own ship in it itself is awesome (yes you can invite people in now, and they added sittable chairs for the people complaining about that of all things )
Some people are going to hate just to hate. If it's not what you are looking for that's fine, but you don't have to go out of your way to hate. I saw quite a few people over the weekend that were undecided, decide to preorder. I'm sure I'll end up making one of each class at least once....
I played with Intel I3 530, 4gig RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5570 Low Profile.
I could play with Medium Settings without problems, just in Big Citys with alot of people / npc's I got some probs, later I turned the settings to low and had zero problems. And only shadow and Character textures were bad (with low settings, on medium they are fine!).
But I think there will be some perfomance fixes, because in Beta SWTOR used 1,4 gig of my memory alone! But I'm sure this will be lower on release and there will be some performance fixes.
Nice review, I agree espeically with the part about not being a MMO. I would go as far to say there about 4x the amount of group content just from questing than the majority of MMO's out atm. People get wrapped up and not think about the basics, they have the opoion because you have to go through gates on your own alot of the time to complete or start certain quests.
Current pc meets the min requirements but that's about it, this weekend it was much more playable than the last. I think they may even try to fix it a bit more. I had settings around low to medium. Load times were prettyslow, and it was a bit laggy in Coruscant/Dromund Kaas but it was playable. So I didn't do too many flash points as people don't want to wait for you to load.
Just got all the parts though so I'm gonna build the new pc now.