The Old Republic – A Retrospective
Star Wars: The Old Republic (TOR) is a game which has been out since the beginning of 2012. I was not in the beta, and when I picked it up it had been out for several months. I had then (and still do for the most part) have an aversion to MMO games, on the basis that I shouldn’t have to pay for something repeatedly when I’ve already bought it.
With this existing bias I bought TOR and subscribed for a couple of months. It was not an enjoyable experience. I never progressed further than level 24 and cancelled my subscription. The game, for me in this early state, featured far too much grinding, had an unwieldy and drawn out, not to mention that it was hard to acquire good equipment. It was, honestly, a chore.
And so I left it for over a year, eventually picking up a 60 day subscription in 2013. Things had improved, and I was determined to stick with the game for one character rather than three. It took me the whole 60 days to finish this first campaign, my Sith Warrior. By the end of it though I was totally burnt out and wanted nothing to do with further stories. It was still a chore, though a standardisation of equipment did make things a little easier.
And so another 9 months passed and because of a forum post I saw there was a double XP week coming up. I jumped on it and got my Jedi Knight through quite easily with this to help, but it still took about 45 days to do so. Interface changes and some additions to the game system had again made things better.
And finally this year. Seeing that they had released big changes and had the 12 times XP window, I dived in and in short order I had finished 5 stories. What’s more, I even subscribed for the first time, and I’ve stayed subscribed since.
So what’s changed? How is it a game almost 4 years after release is arguably so much better? Quite simply, they reduced the tedium, frustration and busywork from the game. Now one has no cooldown on quick travel, can use speeders to go to places they’ve not explored, collect regular and standardised equipment tokens. Companions, as of Fallen Empire, no longer require tedious maintenance of equipment and can fulfil any of the three roles easily. If I want Mako to be a tank or Khem to be a healer (an amusing thought) I can.
For someone who only has a chance to play an hour a weeknight and maybe 3-4 hours each weekend it’s made it actually enjoyable. I can actually enjoy the story because I am not trying to kill dozens of low XP enemies to grind to the next level in order to be competitive.
There is an argument to be made that TOR is now almost trivial in difficulty. Since the 12x XP I’ve had 2 classes which didn’t die even once, and the remaining 4 died once from level 1-50. This, to my mind, is not a bad thing. Games and events which mistake frustration for difficulty are not entertaining, for me anyway.
And so as I finished the trooper origin story yesterday to become a ‘Legendary’ player I am actually planning to remain subscribed. New chapters coming out each month next year will build the story further I’ve found an MMO I’m happy to keep paying money for.
It’s interesting that my thoughts on the Trooper have changed. Trooper was the first character I actually made in 2012. After struggling through to level 24 I’d had enough, and relied on reviews and videos to form my opinion of the rest.
Having played it now, doing only the class and planet stories, I am pleasantly surprised to say I have enjoyed it much more now. It is an inferior story, and I would rank it 7[sup]th[/sup] still, but its flaws I noticed less.
And so, TOR is a game where 7 of the 8 unique class stories are enjoyable enough, and 2 of those I consider fantastic. Only the Sith Inquisitor’s story fell flat for me, which for a game with such an overwhelming amount of content is not bad at all.