Post Launch Thoughts on SWTOR

During the Thanksgiving Day weekend I gave my Initial Impressions of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Since then the game launched, and is undergoing its weekly Tuesday morning maintenance so I can’t play right now, I figured it is time for a little followup. I won’t go over everything I did there, so if you didn’t read that, it may be a good place to start. I ended up getting in the Friday before launch.

Overall I am very happy with the game. It is a fun diversion, and I have found the story line to be engaging on my main character.

I have seen a little bit of all 4 starting zones. The only two I played all the way through are the Jedi one and the Sith one. I have yet to finish the Bounty Hunter or Smuggler zones, and haven’t tried Agent, Trooper, Warrior or Consular yet. So I am not qualified yet to state which is my favorite yet. Some of those thoughts may be clouded by which class one finds more enjoyable as well.

I have hit ques on most evenings when I try to get in. This is to be expected as they try to get new players to move to the less full servers. The problem is they don’t have a toon transfer system in place yet, which would help things a great deal. People with no friends playing will move to the less full servers, but if you have a real life friend playing and they are on a particular server, then you will attempt to join that server, even if it is full. If you could transfer characters, then perhaps everyone would then agree to move and problem solved. The ques do seem to be getting better lately, at least on the servers I am on, and I know they are slowly removing the artificial caps on the servers, so in due time…

Graphics still seem functionally well on my mid-low level machine (Core i3 with a mildly low end GTS 450 video card). I know some don’t like the art style, but it is fine by me. I do find it odd there are no night/day cycles in the game and wish that was in the game. With the lower end video card, I haven’t gone through the trouble of turning on anti-aliasing. I have seen a few odd graphical glitches. Floating enemies aside and the Master Shatele Shan bug (she has been very tiny every time I’ve seen her in the chamber), the biggest one is the occasional green flashes across areas… sometimes it isn’t even a flash, but sticks around for some time. I would guess these are showing up between zones on the map. There is one cave I can count on having a green line cut through it, not a full zone cut, but a line…

I have attempted one Flashpoint so far, and didn’t fair so well. It was okay though. Nice story driven. Can’t say much more than that though yet.

I have done a few group Heroics and those are enjoyable enough.

In both cases there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue finding people in General chat. A Heroic +4 might take more time to fill out, but otherwise it seems okay. Would a system like WoW has help? Perhaps? But I understand BioWare’s desire to build a community. Perhaps there are just too many people used to WoW Dungeon Finder and don’t want to have to resort to the tools in the game such as flagging yourself as LFG. That said, I do see people spamming General Chat with requests so sometimes it is hard to pick a group up… then again one could sit in the Dungeon Finder in WoW for a long time too… On one occasion while doing a 4 man, we tried with just 3, wiped and tried to find a 4th and it took a while to get one. That group did a few missions together though after that.

I have done a few Warzones. It still seems to suffer severe balance issues. The other day I go in at 10, and I am with a lot of 20s and 30s, but the opposing team is fully loaded with 50s (their lowest that I could find was a 15, and he was followed by a level 50 healer), most of them tanks and a healer or two. Needless to say we lost rather quickly. Supposedly they bolster lower level players, but it doesn’t seem to work well. I am lost as to why they went this direction outside of lowering que times. With 1 million players in game now, I would think it time to reconsider the system they have in place. It is fine if both teams are fairly evenly matched, but a team of mostly low level player against a team of mostly high level players isn’t going to be even no matter the bolstering in place. Perhaps there isn’t enough people on each server, or group of servers if they do Battlegroup type cross server action, to allow for a more WoW like balanced bracket system, but I would think they could balance things better. While we don’t need lots of brackets, perhaps 2 or 3 brackets would help. Say one from 10 to 25, then 25 to 40 and 40 to 50. As more players get in, then they can break it down more. And bolster within each bracket. At the very least make sure the mix is closer to the same. I still haven’t managed to get into Hutt Ball yet… Anyhow the balance issue needs addressed soon.

While I still want the ability to add mods to modify the UI, the stock UI is still semi-functional most of the time. That said, I have come up with a major issue. While in a Warzone they put up a map on the right hand side. This is cool, the map helps. The problem is that if you have your right hand side quickbar turned on, it covers up the first few slots, so stuff there become unusable.

The achievement system could use some work… I guess it is okay being built into the Codex, but I would prefer a more straightforward achievement list system.

The Global Trade Network is a paid to work with and needs work. Plus this is another area that we need mods for. We really need an Auctioneer type addon for the game.

I haven’t dropped to the desktop as much since launch.

The Quick Travel system rocks.

The Crafting system is very cool. Crew Skills will be one of the things that help set the game apart from others. I can just imagine if they add an iPhone/Android app that lets you manage your crew while out of game…

The Friend system needs work in a big way. It is good to add friends that you grouped with, or chatted with, but with real life friends I would like a better way of managing them. I want to be able to add all their toons to all mine in one step. I don’t want to have to add each of their alts to each of my alts manually. It is a pain in the butt… This might create two tiers of friends, but that is fine, and is more or less the way it worked in WoW when they added that ability in. Just let us setup privacy options on all our alts. Perhaps I don’t want anyone to know about this one alt, let me set that one to private, or private except the following friends… Please BioWare, fix this. This and the Warzone balance issue… Then I would be even happier with the game.

There is more content coming soon:

 Posted by: James Ohlen
Next month we’re going to be releasing a new Flashpoint and an expanded Operation. The new Flashpoint involves a plague that could have significant repercussions across the galaxy. It takes place on a brand new world and involves some pretty epic battles. I can’t go into much detail, but be prepared for something different. The expanded Operation takes the existing Karagga’s palace scenario and more than triples it in size. It includes three new boss monsters and some pretty epic set pieces.

Sounds cool. I hope to see some more missions too… Of course missions tend to come via actual expansions, but I feel the game has too few missions overall…

Oh yeah, Space Combat. I have tried a couple Space Combat missions. Slightly modified shooters on rails, which seems a little overly restrictive. I would hope they add more that are not so restricted. Also perhaps a Warzone that lets us use our ships…