Playing Star Wars: The Old Republic - Prologue

Star Wars: The Old Republic Logo

Purchase and installation

The adventures with Star Wars: the Old Republic begin even before purchasing the game and installing its client on the computer. Especially if you haven’t encountered the world of online RPGs with a subscription until the last moment.

The first quest for both MMO newcomers and seasoned players is to actually obtain the game key. Residents of 18 cities in Russia can take the simple route: go to one of the “1C-Interest” stores and calmly purchase the game box and game time card (the latter is almost mandatory, more details below). For everyone else, as well as lazy homebodies who don’t want to take advantage of the benefits of successful physical copies game respawn locations, they have to go to the online version of the same store, which entails the delivery of your product by various courier services with all the consequences, or to the EA Origin website, which sells keys directly.

If the options with “1C” are more or less clear, it is worth telling more about Origin. This clone of the Steam service has already become famous for scandals of various calibers and the unpredictable performance of its website and client program. Nevertheless, it can be said that the service works more or less properly, the main thing is to know how to approach it.

I will immediately please fans of paying for their online purchases with internet currency – Origin works with WebMoney. One small caveat: if you want to buy SW:TOR specifically with this type of virtual money, then immediately create a WME wallet for yourself, Origin will issue invoices to you in this currency and no other. Distributing money to new pockets as usual will incur a commission, and if you don’t really want to deal with all this hassle on your own, you can make the purchase in the old-fashioned way, with a credit card. If you have one, hehe.

The key to the game itself with a month of paid time on board Origin was sent to me by email within 15 minutes, but I had to wait for the key to the card with an additional 60 days of SW:TOR for an hour.

Epic Adventures

Here, however, there is one trick: with the same credit card, you can subscribe, go through all the necessary steps to register an account, and then calmly cancel it, and closer to the end of the prepaid time, decide if it’s worth it. From what I’ve heard, this method works perfectly. Personally, though, the system didn’t work for me for unknown reasons, refusing to work with my – normal! – credit card that I honestly used to make a purchase in the Windows Phone Marketplace just three days ago. So, great strategists, be prepared to spend money on a backup option if your card (second, third…) doesn’t work.

The client for the game is traditionally healthy for an MMO, around 16 gigabytes (well, at least it was around 20 on some December day, what will happen with patches is an open question). If you purchased SW:TOR through Origin, forget about downloading the game with a separate client. I couldn’t even install Alice: Madness Returns on my computer using this method, let alone a tightly tied SW:TOR account. It’s better to be safe and download the game directly through Origin.

Oh, and one more thing. Registering on will change your Origin password, which may result in an error in the system and prevent you from accessing anything. My advice – don’t waste your nerves and immediately request the password change procedure through email. It will be quick, easy, and save you money on sedatives.

Character creation

After watching a moderately epic intro video – Star Wars fans will appreciate it anyway – I immediately went to sign up as a bounty hunter, because Boba Fett. By the way, did you know that according to Star Wars mythology, he didn’t die after being swallowed by a giant worm in the sixth film of the series?

Naturally, all bounty hunters work for the Sith Empire, which, as you know, puts the Old Republic in a precarious position; well, all the better for us. There are a total of eight classes in the game: four base classes with two further development options for each. What exactly mercenaries excel at on the battlefield, and what Sith sorcerers do, is still only vaguely clear, so I’ll refrain from any detailed explanations of who’s who for now, especially since I’ll have plenty of time to figure it all out and tell you about it.

Galactic Battles

The player is offered a choice of avatars from five races. Republicans got humans, cyborgs (the same humans, but with cyber piercings), Twi’leks (for the uninitiated – guys with two flesh horns on their heads), Zabraks (friends with real horns), and orcs (no, seriously, natural green-skinned orcs, called only Miliarans). The Imperials walk the galaxy with the same humans, cyborgs, Zabraks, pale-faced Rattataks, and dark elves (and again, no name “Chiss” will hide the natural dark elves standing before us). The choice of class will not affect anything, the only practical difference is different types of group spells that increase the power of heroes and their allies by a couple of points.

There are many appearance settings, but I wouldn’t advise getting too hung up on them – armor will hide everything as usual, except for the face, and the face will also be hidden if you don’t specifically mark in the options that you don’t want the equipped helmet to be displayed on your character (or whatever will be there for other classes).

Phew, well, here we are, landed on one of the servers. We’ll soon start figuring out what’s what.


Engrossed in stories about gamer avatars in The Old Republic worlds, I completely forgot to describe the situation with the local servers. Geographically, they are divided into “American” (where there is already a division between the western and eastern coasts of North America) and “European” (here individual game platforms are divided into “English” – or rather “English-speaking” – “German” and “French”). For a domestic gamer, it makes more sense to play on European servers, where the situation with command delay, aka ping, is easier. It is worth noting that the quality of the connection during journeys to distant places varies significantly, sometimes quite sharply. I cannot say yet how it affects PvP, unfortunately, stay tuned.

In addition to the geographical division, servers are traditionally divided into peaceful PvE worlds, more aggressive PvP universes, and platforms for true role-players primarily focused on character portrayal. Why specifically The Old Republic, where the player will inevitably assume various roles regardless of the circumstances (more details below), needs the latest servers is unclear, to be honest. I haven’t dared to venture there yet – SW:TOR already devours time mercilessly, so spreading efforts between multiple characters in the first months of the game seems unwise.

Currently, only the most popular servers are heavily loaded, with queues lasting up to half an hour. If you are still considering whether to purchase the game, know that the scary stories about “not being able to get into the game, everything is full” are not relevant to you, there are many platforms and space on them. The only problem is that BioWare is currently struggling to meet the announced deadlines for technical maintenance, often extending them for almost a whole day. I think, for now, this can be attributed to the game’s youth and inexperience, but still, for an online subscription project, long offline server periods are very unpleasant.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Galaxy

The very first steps

Finally, I was landed on the first planet where the game introduced me to the mechanics of local dialogues. BioWare wouldn’t be BioWare if it didn’t try to insert its beloved “wheel” instead of the typical MMO “accept-decline” system, and it did. The various options for responses and actions in the story mini-scenes – which, by the way, will be in every first quest, everything is scripted and voiced, it’s amazing how much talking they packed into SW:TOR – will elicit different reactions from the people participating in the conversation and can lead to different consequences.

The two main turning points in the dialogues are the relationship with your companions (someone aptly compared them to pets from other MMOs, but as you can guess, there are also many differences and innovations here) and the disturbances within your avatar’s Force. In short, good relationships with your teammates unlock additional story quest branches, and a significant imbalance towards the light or dark side of the Force (by the way, there is absolutely no reason to stay in the middle, which is slightly disappointing) will grant access to special armor and artifacts.

Well, now you can truly play online RPGs like traditional single-player ones, but with one big difference – our MMO has significantly more content, even without considering cooperative missions, PvP, and all the social stuff. I already love to criticize Dragon Age 2 for its lack of content, but now, after The Old Republic has practically implemented all the functionality of DA2 with exponentially richer everything – dialogues, missions, world, entertainment, equipment, diverse graphics, universe – I absolutely don’t want to spend $50 on DA2, nor do I recommend the game to anyone.

Intergalactic Conflict

After chatting enough, I finally managed to reach the nearby post terminal with the bonus items from the Digital Deluxe Edition waiting for me. In short: the items are garbage. The only things that slightly pleased me were the glider (local “mounts” are various futuristic motorcycles that can be a) bought with not too much in-game money, b) assembled by oneself, c) like me, bought in some special version of SW:TOR), on which you can’t ride until level 25, and the camera, which allows you to take screenshots without the game interface. The third item gives access to a shop where you can buy a special bike for level 50, and the fourth and fifth items are just for showing off to others. That’s it. Get the regular version and don’t worry.

My bounty hunter started on a swamp planet controlled by the familiar to all fans of the original trilogy, the healthy Hutt slugs. Very canonical, nothing to say. In general, Star Wars is rightly called “space fantasy” – whether it’s ten thousand years or twenty, through any time jump, the world and technology look almost identical, except that the emblems are slightly redrawn and repainted. However, it is not worth counting on the full integration of The Old Republic stories into the official SW mythology, otherwise fans’ brains will melt from logical, geographical, and other inconsistencies.

Oh well, let’s deposit the expensive garbage in the free storage and go on a reconnaissance mission.

We are dealing with the combat system

As already noted earlier, the first few hours of The Old Republic can be confidently spent in complete solitude, thanks to the traditional “go-kill-bring” quests, which are, first of all, filled with beautiful screens of story dialogues, and secondly, not so boring if you look around.

The quest-giving NPCs will invariably explain to you (by the way, all dialogues are fully voiced – your character, companions, and NPCs themselves all have their own voices) why it is absolutely necessary to shoot those bandits, blow up those barrels, and extract that data from the hacked terminal. Of course, after n evenings spent playing, the detailed stories of Imperial soldiers and Republic fighters will become boring, but one cannot fail to note BioWare’s diligence in this aspect – already on the fifth planet in a row, scandals-intrigues-investigations are raging around me, rather than just numbers of new mobs to kill.

Staying on the distant-distant planets is not limited to clearing all locations of all their inhabitants – sometimes gamers blindly following the chain of quests located at the top of the MMO iceberg risk missing entire areas full of content. Among the familiar chests, there are items hidden in the surrounding territory that tell the mythology of “Star Wars” (and give experience points for their discovery), secret quests, bosses chilling relatively peacefully in the shadows, and secret and not-so-secret paths to new places. All these entertainments are already present on the first planet, so no one will have to wait long for their portion of exciting exploration.

The first ten levels are pretty much the same for all classes. We are introduced to the history of each character – it takes a long time to ride along personal story rails, so be prepared to pay attention – and we are introduced to the local combat system, skills, equipment, and so on. The applied side of SW:TOR should be more or less familiar to anyone who has ever tried to play human MMOs in their life: we have several combat skills, each with its own peculiarities and area of application. Something simply cripples, something increases the character’s parameters, something disrupts the enemy’s armor, and so on for all classes and RPG standards. At first, the character knows little, and the gamer only needs to use one or two quick keys on the keyboard, but then, as usual, to truly effective combat, it will be necessary to awaken the pianist within oneself.

Heroes of the Old Republic

And almost all of these abilities really need to be used!

The developers of SW:TOR have replaced the traditional mana with a system similar to the upcoming Diablo 3: the heroes of the Old Republic are not powered solely by the Force, but by various means, including blaster charges and combat rage. Different energy is consumed and accumulated in different ways, but the mechanics of each class can be understood on the fly. For example, my bounty hunter can unleash projectile after projectile on enemies until the blasters overheat. In other words, our “mana” starts at zero, and access to combat oxygen is cut off when the meter reaches 100%. It’s simple. At the same time, the smuggler – the Republic’s alternative to the bounty hunter – uses the classic “from full charge to zero” system.

In the first week after the game was released, there were issues with cooldowns and ability activation times, but it seems to have been fixed now. Either way, be prepared for some abilities to drop out of the overall chain and slow down due to code errors, network lag, or computer slowdowns. Interestingly, this sluggish behavior is more characteristic of certain game locations and less characteristic of others, which suggests problems within the code itself. We are waiting for new patches.

Unusual tasks

There are such semi-instances, also known as Heroic areas, also known as “heroics”, present at local locations, which we are also introduced to almost immediately upon landing on the starting planet. As it is known, in these gloomy corners, tough enemies roam, special items drop, and in general, it’s more fun, the main thing is to find the right company. MMO is an MMO for people to go on monsters together, isn’t it?

However, finding a company during peak evening hours is a long task. Despite the fact that quests in “heroic” arenas can be taken again every 24 hours, no one is particularly eager to stand in line for dynamic battles, big money, and serious equipment.

Mysteries of XCOM

Republic smuggler's starting planet. Beauty.

Fortunately, none of the “plot” tasks on the player’s winding paths of “heroes” will ever lead, and these locations can generally be ignored. On the other hand, it’s still disappointing that you can’t find companions to explore various caves, warehouses, and bases, and claim the local treasures.

In the early stages, online solitude is cured by a computer companion, who stands out after several plot tasks. With their help, all the heroic places on the starting planet can be cleared alone. This activity will be slightly tedious, but nevertheless useful at least for getting acquainted with the world and the game rules. But later, when full-fledged instances like Flashpoints and tougher “heroes” come along, it will be impossible without company. Here, either the planetary chat or some guild that you can join and wait for the coveted raid hour can come to your aid.

Meanwhile, our companions are not only loyal fighters for the player, but also, firstly, full-fledged characters, and secondly, star laborers who extract resources for you and craft various things from them. More details about this (and also about flying on your own spaceship!) – next time.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Universe

Let's fly!

The central fleet station is a useful place. First of all, there are shops, many shops. Everything that a galaxy conqueror may ever need is gathered here – on some planets, there will be no terminals of the local auction, somewhere it will be inconvenient to run to sellers of various weapons and armor, somewhere there will be other obstacles, but in the faction’s space center, everything will be literally at hand.

Subclasses are immediately clear – BioWare didn’t bring anything new here. Only, of course, you won’t immediately guess which comrades are in which role: for example, the Jedi, who are they, tanks, damage dealers, or maybe mage-buffers? The advice to enthusiasts is to plan out their future progress for all 50 levels and months of gameplay in advance, in order to dominate everyone in raids and PvP – first read on thematic forums what class is actually occupied with what. However, why am I talking about this, you won’t take a step in a far-far away without a week of theoretical preparation anyway.

Journey Through the Old Republic

Here is crafting, which you will also need to decide on upon your first arrival at the station, already implemented in a more fun way. The local system of making goodies is closely tied to sending companion-partners somewhere for a workbench or on business trips. From the very beginning, you need to decide on the main profession, well, what will we be producing, armor, lightsabers or blasters, or something else. By the way, you are not allowed to choose more than one “producing” specialty. There is one guess as to why, but more on that later. Then you need to choose two “gathering” professions. They are divided into two categories. Knowing one, you can gather valuable resources right on the battlefield, for example, dismantle a defeated enemy droid for scrap metal, and also send tired companions to the bench of spare partners (only one computer companion can run next to you, and as you progress through the storyline quests, several more AI adventurers will settle in your spaceship) for missions. The second subclass, however, only works on the principle of “send for items”.

The catch is that some resources can only be obtained by sending companions to work. Moreover, following a centuries-old tradition, companions sometimes bring back souvenirs of varying degrees of usefulness from their business trips. Some specialties are even focused on shopping tours to planets.

Galactic Heroes

Among the general mass of “extractive” professions, two stand out: hacking (called slicing in the Star Wars world) and diplomacy. The first allows you to extract… money, a lot of money. So much money that you can completely avoid crafting and simply empty the auction shelves. Developers have already managed to reduce the intensity of star hackers in one of the first patches, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out too well. Meanwhile, the second standout profession, diplomacy, is amazingly useless. For completing diplomatic missions, you receive… medkits-stimpaks (dropped by monsters, cheap on the regular market) and dark/light side points (earned automatically during quest completion). And this is considering that our companions still need to allocate a certain amount of travel expenses before sending them far away.

The other professions are more or less balanced, the main thing is not to get stuck as a lightsaber maker while playing as a simple mortal who loves blasters, and vice versa.

I remember in the previous article I promised to tell you about space travel and battles in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Well, it’s time to disappoint you: SW:TOR is not Eve Online or even Skies of Arcadia. It’s more like “Space Rangers” from the arcade side.

On your UFO, you can neither fly through open space nor try to board someone’s ship, nor even set up an aquarium with fish in the captain’s cabin. The spaceship in the new “Star Wars” is just a teleport to new locations plus a quest hub. At least they gave us the opportunity to earn some easy experience on a simple rail shooter. The poor implementation of the truly space part seems like a serious crime; they skimped on space for such a universe.

Lightsabers Clash

For the Empire and experience points!

Alright, it’s not so bad. If you look at the problem from a different perspective, arcade spaceship shooting games are a good way to distract yourself from quests, leveling up, companions, and everything else, while also contributing to the overall cause. Spending 20-30 minutes a day (more often doesn’t make sense) destroying enemy spaceships of all sizes can be quite fun. Plus, during that time, your teammates can craft new armor for you.

And you can also equip our spaceship with various equipment. However, hanging cute pink curtains in the cabins won’t give you +5 to spaceship blasters and +350 to hull thickness.

Let’s keep flying.

Star Wars: The Old Republic
Electronic Arts, LucasArts
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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