Like many I have been waiting years to test Star Wars The Old Republic, when I got my weekend invite I jumped on it. If you didn’t get an invite to test and you where signed up through Bioware’s testing program, don’t worry you’ll get another chance to try it before release. Bioware has sent out invites to everyone who was signed up before 11/11/11 to the final weekend test! If you where apart of it you should have received an email already.
Because of the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) I cannot post screens or videos but I can give you a few ideas what you’ll be facing.
There are two player factions, the republic and imperial. In these two factions you can choose to play one of 4 classes. The Republic consists of a Jedi Knight, Jedi Counselor, Smuggler and Commando. Imperial is similar Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter. There are also a number of different races for each class.
The character generation is pretty basic but pretty typical of Bioware. If you have played any other of the series you will feel at home. Personally I was kinda bummed being used to a Cryptic character tools. But it is acceptable.
Each class has their own quest lines that determine when you get certian items like companions and your personal ship. There does not seem to be a set level for these items they only show up at certian points through out your quest line.
As soon as you get in the game you instantly feel that you are in a star wars universe. The cut scenes and voice acting is purely amazing. I felt like I was taking part in a movie, it is truly amazing. Plugging through the first few missions you will notice that some of controls are a bit different than you maybe used to in other MMOs but nothing too major. You should have it all figured out by the time you leave the first planet.
Once you reach level 10 you will be eleigable to pick your advanced class. Each class has two options and one of those options is basically a dps role and the other will vary depending on which base class you chosen. Also at level 10 you can start to take part in Warzones. Warzones are basically PvP ques. I notice there are 3 different types my favorite being Hutt ball. These give some pretty good experience and okay credit rewards. If you get stuck at a certian point or are just bored que up for some pvp for some xp. In theory you could level up the whole way just by doing this but you would be by passing some great content and rewards (like your on ship and such). Personally, when live hits I plan on doing missions in between my PvP que’s only to get the class missions done.
When you get your own ship (I got mine around level 17) you can do some space battles. In this weekend test it was rather lacking. If you where expecting something like Star Wars Galaxies Jump to Light speed (which is the only good thing left in SWG in my opinion) you will be sadly disappointed. While it is very smooth and pretty looking it felt more like a game you would get on an iPhone or Android. I have the impression that there will be more space combat options in the future. It is okay xp and very easy to complete, again if you are stuck and need a bit of xp to progress go ahead and do it a few times. I expected more but it serves its purpose.
Over all it is a wonderful experience, there are still a few notice able bugs and a few things you know arn’t finished but most of it is art work. Other than some login wait issues there did not seem to be any major issues through levels 1-20. My hats off to Bioware