With the NDA lifted in TOR, I decided to take a big hit for the team and amassed around 70 hours of play time in the past week to get a good feel for the solo game-play.
First things first. Playing solo, or mostly solo, works very well. You will be faced with challenges that will need more than one player, yet these tend to be outside your story quest lines and, as such, can be bypassed.
Also, some content can only be completed solo when you gain your first companion at around level 8 or 9. For those wishing to be companion-free and still play solo, you are going to have a real hard time at this game. Each companion is tailored for your class needs, and as such, will hit you hard if you try and play without them by your side.
I played solo on every class apart from the Imperial Agent. I had major concerns about the cover system on both the IA and on the Smuggler. After playing the smuggler, however, I have to admit I enjoyed it greatly. Its not all about sneaking up from behind cover. You have some good AOE skills early on that makes it play different from what I expected.
The starter worlds begin nice and easy, as you would expect. You have to start to think a little at around level 5 on how you approach your combat. You have to plan your attacks and be aware of what is going on around you. Before level 5, you feel untouchable and you will be shooting things down with ease. Soon after, the game becomes somewhat challenging.
You gain some great skills at level 6 that you will use time and time again. These are part of your core abilities and its nice to get the hang of them so early on in your play time. You’ll start at level 6 and 8 to unlock AOE and stun skills.
BioWare has timed these skills very well as you do need them at this level because the the mobs you come across from now on tend to be epic mini battles all on there own.
You can die quite easy from here on in if you do not use your skills wisely. You seem to come out of every battle by the skin or your teeth, which is a nice touch. You’ll also be glad you have out-of-combat heal, because after every encounter you have to regain HP. Not doing so will not end well if you continue on.
Playing solo, you have to keep up on your gear. Some of the quest rewards are nice but you can find drops that are way better. Always try to keep eye on what the vendors in-game have to offer. Unless you get really lucky on drops, you will need to top up at these vendors.
All the class stories so far are great, and playing on the same starter worlds with different classes gives you a whole different prospective of what is happening around you. Sure, you will come across some quests that are the same, for example, between the smuggler and the trooper, but most of the time you have vastly different reasons why you end up in the same places.
Unlocking Your Minions
Once you gain your first companion the game changes for the better. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without them until this point. Every class gains their first companion at around level 8 or 9. This just happens to be the time you are looking to finish your starter world story lines and get on to your next planet.
At this point, you’ll start to come across some elite mobs, and without your side-kick, this part of your quest chain would be almost impossible to continue without them.
I have to admit I’m a huge fan of how BioWare has used the companions. They are not just idle pets you find in other MMOs. In TOR they take on a life of their own, to such a point you will feel like you are no longer playing solo.
Keeping them happy is also a task in itself. You’ll soon find out what they like and dislike, and on a few occasions, they will take you completely by surprise. Yes, your companions have their own reasons why they joined you on your travels, and if you are not doing what they want you to do, you will see your affection points plummet.
As you would expect, the starter worlds are just to get you used to the game. Once you leave, you should be fully versed in how your new class plays and its time to move on to better and greater things.
Level 10 Advance Class And Crew Skills
Two things happen at level 10. You will be asked to choose your advance class, and you’ll get to choose your crafting profession.
Take your time over these as they will decide how you will continue to play the game. Also, take into account the strengths of your companion when choosing an advance class if you intend to continue to play solo. Is your companion a tank/healer or a DPS class. You should take these into account if you want to enjoy the game as a solo player.
Picking your crafting skills is not as important as your advance class. You should get something that benefits your class (eg. Don’t take Synthweaving (Jedi + Sith armor) if you are rolling a trooper.) Everything is viable, and you are able to sell your spare equipment for extra credits as each class is limited to only one crafting skill and you will need to buy from other players.
Crafted items early in the game are some of the best items you will come across, and being solo when you get to your next planet you should seek out the galactic market kiosk. Which is TOR’s answer to the auction house in other MMO’s. Here you will find a great number of crafted items players have made for trade. Don’t forget to upgrade your companion’s items also. These will save your life a vast number of times, so keeping them in tip-top condition.
When Not To Solo
If you want a quick fix to getting better items, you may wish to run a few flash points or do some Heroic content (Heroic areas are the locations of elite mobs encountered on all worlds intended for group questing).
I highly advise everyone to group for these. Early on, with your companion, you can tackle Heroic 2 type quests. They may take a little time to complete, but with a little effort you can get them done. They will give you some much-needed items in the gaps left by crafting.
For instance, you can’t get a crafted chest armor at level 11, but they drop quite frequently in heroic content and flash points. Something to be aware of when tackling the game solo.
Solo-Play Is A Challenge
If you are after a challenge, solo will work out nicely for you. You may not be able to cover all the content alone, but you will have plenty to keep you occupied and engrossed for many hours. You should never feel the need to group to complete your class quests. Sure, it will be a little easier, yet doing it solo does not mean you will be unable to complete your story arcs.
I can’t see many attempting to play without a companion at their side, though. They are so interwoven into the game they’re a must-have. They also bring with them a welcome distraction as you battle your way through the quest system.
TOR, as far as the solo early game is concerned, leaves you with the feeling that you have earned every level, even though, for the most part, you are blissfully unaware that you are about to level up. The story keeps you so engrossed within the game that levels kind of fade away into the distance and you are more focused on what is about to happen next in the story, as opposed to other MMOs where you just see the level progression bar as a thorn in your side, and a never-ending mountain that needs to be climbed.
For those of you wishing to solo in TOR, you will have more fun in this game than any other MMO you have played to-date. The story heightens even the most mundane tasks. You may find reasons to group for some quests, but if you’re dead set on going it alone, the game is set up in such a way that no matter what your play-style is, you can do it your way.
TOR is the first MMO where I’ve liked playing solo on every class and every role. In the past, playing the role of a healer, for example, I would have to seek out other players just to continue on my way. With my companions by my side this now becomes a non-issue, and thankfully, you will no long need to wait on anyone to continue along your chosen path. Every class I’ve played is viable for solo- and group-play alike.
Well, thats all from me for now.
Until next time, MrWarlock signing off.
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