Friday, April 6, 2012

A Trial by Force Lightning (The Story of a Free One Week Friend SWTOR Trial)- Part I

          In the last week I invited my old real life buddy to Star Wars with the Friends Trial.  We have been gaming together going on a decade now and we attempt to play as much co-op content as we can get around to.  The weekend before he started his trial we were mixing it up in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer but with his new computer I thought pushing him back into an MMO would be some fun.  I also invited him to write a guest post about his experience he had with the game.  He took up my call to write a post and due to its length I will be splitting it up over 3 parts this week.  So without further ado here is part 1 of the guest post Trial series by Cob.

Snipes and Sarcasm

Author: Cob

I’ll start with a little background to establish my credibility in this quasi review. I am a big fan of the first two Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) games and BioWare games in general. Kicking Jolee Bindo in the face after joining Bastila on the Dark Side is still one of my fondest gaming memories. I also have a history of disliking the sequels to my favorite games (see Halo 2 or Oblivion). I also played World of Warcraft (WoW) for almost two years during my escapist days in college, so I have opinions on what I like in a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). All that said, I enjoyed my time in the Old Republic, and consider it a solid game.
Cob's first character:  Imperial Agent Sniper

                My first experiences were as an agent for the Galactic Empire with aspiration to train as a sniper. I chose this class because I played a Hunter in WoW and figured I would be comfortable in a ranged damage roll. I chose the Cyborg race since I thought that the “keen cybernetic eye,” from the Scan racial ability, that was advertised would aid me in my sniping, I was later disappointed to find that it only meant I had a lame social skill, but no matter. I was joined in my adventure by my good friend Eli. We have been gaming together since the golden days of the Super Nintendo, so a rhythm was quickly established. Once I got through the initial trails of key binding and figuring out the quest log, I notice something. I was playing a dialog driven role playing game (RPG), and one with some solid co-op besides (I really enjoy the conversation roll system). This games definitely seems like it was designed as an RPG first and an MMO second (not meaning that the MMO side was lacking). The story actually makes fairly good sense and all the dialog had good voice acting (at least everything that was in Galactic Basic, the Rodian was an over actor).

It seemed no time at all before I had expanded the Empire’s influence on Hutta, acquired a companion who shared my love of sassing authority, and was ready to head into the wider galaxy. I left without the feeling that I had only accomplished what had already been done by hundreds if not thousands of people before me. This was good and an uncommon MMO experience for me. The fact that all the meaningful quests were class specific, and occurred in my very own instance, left me without the feeling that I was beating any dead horses. The Datacrons hidden around the planets were a nice feature, as I am a fan of exploration and collection, and stat boosts are nice.

Arriving at fleet I was treated to my first Flashpoint (FP) by the level 17 Sith Inquisitor that Eli had brought out to simplify the experience. The first thing that I noticed was that it could be run with two to four people, giving a good range between two player simplicity and four player craziness (be it good or bad), which is cool. The second thing that I noticed was all of the dialog. Yep, I’m definitely playing a dialog driven RPG. I don’t know if it is normal for most parties to just skip through dialog as fast as possible, but as a guy who likes dialog and story when I can get it, I enjoyed it. Other than one death from my early pulling of a boss (I couldn’t resist tossing a grenade into the five pull), we breezed through the FP without troubles. We then ran through it again with an even higher level Sith Warrior of Eli’s to run me through, but this time we ran it with dark side choices. This led to a refreshingly different experience and is another cool feature (a strong argument for the dialog). From my first Flashpoint a gained the feeling that something interesting had just happened (without the overinflated level of importance that some games try to attach to low level content), through meeting with Satele Shan (I knew sexing up Bastila was a good idea), and a shiny new chest piece.

Now I was ready to show the Old Republic my PvPness. The ability to gain experience and credits meant that I wasn’t wasting my time, and the bolstering of my level meant that I wasn’t being a tremendous letdown to my team. These are outstanding features. Even if I was operating with a very limited skill set (sprint was certainly pined after), I felt that player skill was the main deciding factor in my victories or defeats (mostly defeats, I hadn’t quite mastered my skills and key bindings enough for PvP yet). The game types were varied and fun to play. Huttball is an interesting twist on the CTF (capture the flag) archetype, even if I sucked especially badly at it. My only complaint was not being able to queue into a specific game type, but being able to queue from anywhere is very handy.

A few quest on Dromund Kaas later, that I was now over leveled for (thank you PvP experience!), and I was now level 15 and my time with my sniper had come to an end. My impressions of this character were mainly that 15 levels wasn’t quite enough time to really get the character figured out, while also learning how to play the game in general. I did enjoy playing the character and wanted to play more. The character and story was interesting and I liked the way my skills were panning out. I didn’t quite crack the nut that is using cover effectively, but given more time I think it could have led to some interesting play options.

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