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Swtorcrafter’s Bounty Hunter and General Gameplay Impressions

Published by under SWTOUR on Apr. 29. 2011.

 

I was recently given the opportunity to play the Bounty Hunter class in an origin world experience at the  first ever Bioware Fan Site Summit.  It was a fun time indeed and I am thankful for the opportunity.  It has answered a lot of questions for me personally about more than just the class, but on a broader level of having to do with my views on the game.

I want to preface this article with the statement that what I played in this stage is in no way what I expect to be set in stone come release.  Things are in flux with game design and class balance every day and things change.  We were also told that the game build that we played was not even up to date with what is currently being tested and that a lot is already different and has been tweaked in the current beta test version of the game.

 

Also keep in mind that I only got to level 9 so the experience was just a taste actually of what is to come at release.  I am sure that as the character advances and get to a higher level it will play completely different once the origin world is left behind and other mechanics like companions and crew skills and advanced classes and other things are added in.

 

With my background in industrial manufacturing QA, and having beta tested at least 15 different games to date though, I feel that my eye is trained enough to spot any issues that might seriously effect this game.  So I feel confident in my opinion that I am going to speak on.  I have played this genre for over 15 years now to this point.  Not trying to sound like a hot shot or something I just want the readers to have a frame of reference so you know that I am a REAL MMO GAMER, and not a console player trying to review and speak on a game genre I am not familiar with like some of the articles I have seen lately in the print media about SWTOR.

 

This experience has been extremely fun for me personally because I just couldn’t resist playing the class I thought I wanted to play come release day.  I weighed the options of not playing the class so as not to spoil my story chain before release but I just couldn’t resist because I just have to know whether I am going to be happy with this as my main or not.

 

For me personally, floundering on a class choice at release is not an option, I want to have it set in stone in my mind so I can begin at minute one of server opening and progress with that class from the get go as my main.  Republic or Empire for me is really not a choice because like I have said in other articles I have written, “I play Vader or I don’t play” is where I come from when I try to answer that question for myself.  Empire all the way baby.

 

I had also thought I had decided on the fact that from a game play mechanic standpoint, DPS was the role I want to fulfill as it is what I choose most often and I feel most comfortable playing usually.  It is the role that allows me to progress in other areas of the game like I feel most content doing.  Whether it be gathering or PVP or PVE or just whatever, it always seems to me that the way to be the most successful overall is to make stuff dead, and to do that I need more DPS.  “more deeps”

 

I am going to come at the Bounty Hunter part of my impressions from three different angles.  Story impressions, general  Bounty Hunter game play impressions, and then give a general impression of how the game affected me as a whole.

 

STORY IMPRESSIONS OF THE BOUNTY HUNTER CLASS

 

Something I have come to realize in the last two years of following this games development is that the story of my character and all the work Bioware has put into the voice over is going to be way more important to me in this game than it ever has been for me personally from a MMO style standpoint.  When I play a single player computer game based on the type that I normally play (RPG or RTS style) I expect a high level of story to immerse in, especially from a Bioware game.

 

When I play a MMO it is different, I don’t normally hold to those standards because I find myself gravitating to completely different play styles and different things interest me like crafting, exploring, PVP, and the list goes on.  There are humans involved with the other characters and that usually changes everything about how I play those style of games versus single player software.

 

From what I saw from the story of the Bounty Hunter I am extremely pleased.  Without ruining the story for anyone (no story spoilers from me, sorry) and laying it out piece by piece, I will be general and say that it was what I totally expected, it fit the character in an iconic sense as a Bounty Hunter, and it gave me the opportunity to play what looked to be a fabulous story in many different ways due to the choices of options I had whether they be evil, neutral, or good-ish.

 

What I saw of it was very compelling and I found myself really getting into the thought process of what might happen if I choose this option versus the other in how I respond to the quest NPC’s.  It was fun to actually be able to play that evil  “kill em all”  mentality and see it acted out once I chose that option.  So needless to say that all my choices I made were of the darkest nature possible, and it was fun.  It scratched an itch I haven’t been able to feel in a MMO before.

 

Oh sure there will always be those that will say if I wanted to play that way in any MMO I could have done it  just by using role play, it and it can be done I agree.  To actually have it affect my options and my game play however, based on the choices I make and visually getting to see it and audibly getting to hear it delivered to me, is a whole other thing.

 

The voice overs were flawless, minus some small facial bugs that were said to be fixed in the next build already, and the characters emotions that were visible when making responses was very good.  In my honest opinion I am sold on what they have done so far and I have no reason to think fourty more levels of it will be any different in a negative way.  I totally expect the story to rock, immerse me, and captivate me all the way through based on what I have seen so far.

 

Let me describe it this way, Serge Stanarevic, my partner in crime at this event, leaned over to me during the play test and said

 

“oh man you have to do this part of this quest because I just did it and it gave me chills and almost made me tear up at the ramifications of what story option I chose”

 

He then went on to tell me to

 

“be ready for it cause it was intense”.

 

Honestly, we wouldn’t even be having that discussion if it weren’t for a captivating and enthralling story.

 

Bioware wins on story.

 

MECHANICS AND GAME PLAY IMPRESSIONS OF THE BOUNTY HUNTER CLASS

 

From what I played the mechanics were solid for the most part.  Only got to level 9 though so I didn’t really get a full scope of the action.  Would gladly test this game again at anytime, seriously.

 

The skills I had were effective and I felt like I could fulfill my perceived role of DPS fairly well.  I could take on mobs of my level easily, one was no problem, two was no problem, three was do able and slightly a challenge, four mobs at my level was starting to make me keep a escape route handy using a standard rotation.

 

I felt like I had plenty of skills to use and as my level increased I found the Bounty Hunter trainer to buy more, pretty normal to other standard MMO’s.  I don’t think I even came close to dying until I got to around level five or so.  But by that time I was already antsy and was trying to kill stuff three or so levels higher than me for a challenge, which I could do but it was only one at a time I could handle.

 

I had a vent heat ability from the start that got rid of my built up heat from using my skills but could only be used in non-combat situations.  It had a self heal associated with it as well and I found myself using it more and more between battles as the mobs started to get harder to manage.  I also had a heal others skill, and a buff that I could apply to all party members to increase the damage they dealt in combat.

 

The strength of the mobs my level was normal but I can see how inexperienced players might have found them hard to deal with, especially when four of them are all beating on you. I really think the balance of how hard the mobs are in the starting area is ok, some have said they were too hard but I found them to be average power wise.

 

I felt the skills DPS output was slightly lower than I had expected, and I think they need to bump it up slightly for this class, (very slightly) to make me feel like I was primarily a DPS machine.  When I started getting into areas where I had multiple groups of mobs in the immediate area and the content was a level or two above me it got difficult, but manageable.  I did feel slightly heroic when taking on groups of three or more as it required quick skill usage to make it through.

 

The animations on all my abilities up to level nine were awesome, very fluid and I loved them all.  Can’t make up my mind whether “rocket punch” or “death from above” was my favorite, probably “death from above”.  My cool downs on some of my higher end abilities seemed like it was a tad too long, I wanted to be able to use them a little quicker than I was able too.  I think this needs adjusted down to less time on the cool down (just a tad) for certain higher end skills at this level.  The lower end skill cool downs were fine allowing me to rely on my blaster shot ability, flamethrower, and arm rocket when everything else was on cool down.

 

The aggro range on the mobs bothered me because I felt they were a smidge to nosey as they started chasing from what I felt was too far away.  I think these aggro ranges need backed off a bit to allow me to find holes in the coverage so I can run through a zone avoiding mobs when I want to.  Maybe it was just the area I was in because it was kind of tight with terrain features like trees and logs and stuff all around and it was not like a open plains zone or anything but it still felt off.  Being able to find holes in the coverage and sneak through zones when I am busy exploring is something I enjoy and a useful mechanic and I would like to see that supported better.

 

Bioware  from my experience wins on Bounty Hunter game play.

 

GENERAL GAME IMPRESSIONS OF OVERALL GAME

 

The game world itself was vibrant and awesome to behold.  Even in this build it was something I enjoyed looking at.  The world designers have done a very good job making things interesting looking and I like the direction it is taking.  Honestly, I would be satisfied with its look and would play it in this stage it is in now, can’t wait to see what it ends up being at launch after they have had even more time to tweak.

 

The inventory was spacious and I did see the option to upgrade your personal storage for 1500 credits.  I killed and looted for over an hour and was in no danger of getting full with drops.  On average each thing I killed dropped some credits and a item.  The average credit drop I saw at this level was about 15 per kill at around level four.

 

Found some crew skills stations in the open world at Hutta, unfortunately I could not use them because I did not make it to the level I needed to get a companion.  It sucked to be so close to finally being able to see one of those workstations and then not having the ability to use it.

 

I also saw Item modification stations where “crystals” could be added to various weapons.  Judging from the recent release of the mission skill “Archaeologist” I am thinking the crystals they supposedly get as drops is what you use on these items to do weapon modification, that’s my guess as to where they come from anyway.

 

The main map console was very nice with lots of features, I especially liked the zoom/magnifying glass feature I thought that was neat.  Also the standard opacity setting were there, nice features.

 

The codex was nice, I did get codex entries with lore on special mobs when I encountered them for the first time.  There was special lore totems in game that when clicked on gave you other lore style codex entries, I also can confirm that I got codex entries when I found new unexplored areas, plus exp for exploration.

 

The other UI features were nice as well, the character panel, the skills panel, stats panel (with six available character stats that I saw like “presence” and “strength” and etc) they were all pleasing to look at with so many options as to what you could do and play with.  The character equipment slots section had many spaces for gear, that was nice because that ensures to me that I will have plenty of different types of items to equip and I am all about having plenty of gear options.

 

The hot bar set up was good, it had a lot of features built in and it seemed functional.  I had the ability like most MMO’s to bring up some more item or skill hot bars if needed so don’t worry about that.  It had a functional design.

 

one of the last things I will mention is the datacron Serge found and then directed me to.  When I found it, it was accompanied by a little graphic on my character when I used it.  It was kind of like a power up in design and it looked great with your eye’s lighting up and the power flowing through you.  The one I found on Hutta gave me a +1 to agility, I could not choose the ability to get the bonus in but it still was very cool, one use per player type of thing.

 

Overall I honestly think Bioware wins again with general game play.

 

This game is so fun and has so many things to explore and investigate I can only imagine how fun it will be for me once the other game features are released.  I can not understand how anyone could not like this game actually but I suppose there will be a few.  I know for me though, this play experience has answered a few questions that have been nagging at me.

 

Will I love the look of the game?     ( totally )

 

Will I love the feel of the combat?     ( oh yeah )

 

Will I have plenty to do in game to keep me from getting bored?    ( It appears so, the jury is still out on this one until I see the rest of the features planned )

 

Will the Bounty Hunter satisfy me as my main starting class?    ( I am thinking so, but honestly some of the other classes are starting to look really nice as well to me )

 

Will story be as important to me and as enthralling as I had hoped?   (  heck yeah!  )

 

Will I be happy playing this game for a long, long time?    ( Resounding yes, but to really knock it out of the park for me there are still key systems that need to be seen, Crew Skills being the most important to me  )

 

So with those questions answered I sit back and wait.  Wait till I get my chance to get my hands on the game again to hopefully answer the rest of the questions I have about SWTOR.  Unless something unexpected like a beta invite shows up in my email box, the next time I will touch it is in June at E3.

 

I look forward to that adventure as this one closes, see you there!

 

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19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Swtorcrafter’s Bounty Hunter and General Gameplay Impressions”

  1. Chris (antihuman)on 29 Apr 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Nice writeup hence retweeted the link. Cant wait for this game and had it pre-ordered since January 2010

  2. Swtorcrafteron 29 Apr 2011 at 8:32 pm

    thank you very much I appreciate your support!

    Thanks for reading.

    :)

  3. sleepron 29 Apr 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Really good write up! I like that you didn’t include story spoilers and im also glad to know that you are an experienced MMO gamer. I’m pretty sure this game will be amazing once it gets finished! Oh btw can’t wait to read about your PvP experience, i know gabe as some cool ideias.

    Cheers! ;)

  4. […] SWTOR-LIFE Video: Interview w/ Damion Schubert on Crew Skills Swtorcrafter’s Impressions on the Summit Exclusive Screenshot Video: Unedited Video of TOROcast Recording Show 100 at SWTOUR Impressions: Bounty Hunter and General Gameplay […]

  5. Swtorcrafteron 29 Apr 2011 at 9:02 pm

    thank you Sleepr i appreciate you stopping by to read this, sorry it was so winded i get wound up sometimes :)

  6. sleepron 30 Apr 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Hey Swtorcrafter, i have a little question for you. Did you felt that “magic” in SWTOR? I’ll try to explain… i don’t know if you ever got to play WoW, but that game had some kind of “magic”, something that made you want to go back to the game. The world was beautiful and it gave that feeling that you were really in that universe… i’m probably not explaining it well. Do you understand what i mean?

    Cheers! ;)

  7. Swtorcrafteron 30 Apr 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Hey Sleepr,
    Let me say this, i understand exactly what you mean about the “magic” That is what i had in my first experience with MMO’s starting in the alpha test with UO so many years ago.

    I have been looking for that again for so many years and sadly i have not found it again.

    SWTOR was awesome, hell i would totally play it right now as is. I would pay for it right now as is.

    I am saying that when I got in that game for the first time at Bioware Studios i thought I was gonna break down and cry like a baby i was so happy. I think the developers that were watching us play really got a kick off of my face, I couldnt keep the smile off, I honestly tried because i felt like a geek sitting there with a smile stretched across my face the whole time, but i couldnt help it I was that happy to finally see this game and to realize its potential at last, my face hurt when I went back to the hotel.

    This game is going to be so awesome, and it has so much potential from the systems that we havent even got to see yet. I can honestly tell that the world will be so alive and vibrant when it is released and populated by people.

    I see there being so much magic here that I will never play another game, it had it, i felt it I cant deny it.

    You have good reason to be asking this question because we as customers have been hyped up and then let down so many times, I have been there too I know what you mean.

    SWTOR=MAGIC
    :)

  8. sleepron 30 Apr 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Oh man i’m really glad to hear that! I’ve been following the game since 2008, but sometimes i have doubts if Bioware is going to pull this off! Mainly because, there is so much hype around the game and also because of some negative previews, that sporadically appear in the internet.

    Even if there are alot more positive previews than negative, people only like to highlight the bad ones… there is an hate for this game around the internet, it’s just something i don’t understand! If you go check gaming websites and some MMO forums, when there is one new update or released video, there is alot of people saying stuff like “this game will fail”, “this looks like crap”, etc. And i guess that kind of stuff, makes me doubt about the game.

    But after reading your write-up about the fan summit and also some other fan sites that were there, i feel alot more confident! Thanks. ;)

  9. Swtorcrafteron 30 Apr 2011 at 3:43 pm

    ohh man dont fear! Seriously

    we tried to bring you as much coverage as we could from inside the studio but we had certain limits we had to abide by. If you could have just seen the intense amount of creativity and energy there you would totally be stoked. It is electric inside the studio and the people love what they do. How many people do you know personally that can honestly say that? I really don’t know many that can. everyone I talked to at Bioware sure could though.

    Apart from being totally professional these people have a love for what they do that I have never experienced before, ever. They have every minute detail under control of this games development. There are so many features and mechanics they want to add that it is daunting.

    I honestly feel that a lot of the negativity we see on the internet is just based off of not actually knowing what is really going on there. I feel it is mainly uninformed opinions and from what i saw they have no basis in fact. Just like that recent PCgamer article that was released a few weeks ago, that guy honestly had no clue even though he played it. I seriously believe he had none if very limited MMO experience.

    Star wars is too big to fail and if they manage their release right (which I am very confident they will) we are going to see this turn into something that is going to be what we have waited for for years now.

  10. sleepron 30 Apr 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Other fan sites also said the same thing, that the devs love what they do and have an huge passion for the game! Which is awesome. But regarding the negativy, i think you’re right… some of the complainers are people who just like sandbox MMO’s and can’t accept that this is a themepark MMO. Others just complain because they very little knowledge of the game and don’t bother searching information.

    Just to give you an example:

    “The expectation for this game are just so damn high, that it can only fail. Same was with DA2. We think from bioware allmost as high as from blizzard. I believe him that the game is not as good, it covers that what I have seen in videos and read from rumors. I will buy it anyway, and have fun for 1-2 month, no big deal its just a game and its just 50 bugs.”

    I copied this from MMORPG.com, it’s hilarious some of the comments you find over there. People will bring all sort of arguments, most of them don’t make any sense. Anyway, who cares?! I’m pretty sure SWTOR will be sucessfull enough for staying in the market and entertain us for years to come!

    :)

  11. agthompsonon 30 Apr 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Custom avatar

    Excellent write-up! I do enjoy these impressions. Cheers!

  12. Rammion 30 Apr 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Good write up sir!

    Just had a chance to read. Shame you never got your hands on crew skills!

  13. Swtorcrafteron 01 May 2011 at 5:51 am

    thanks for stopping by and reading we appreciate it.

    agthompson, white mountain Apache is that you? Glad you enjoyed it, if this is you then i just want to say that I really enjoy what you guys do too. One of the worst moments for me at the event was the fact that I didnt get the chance to hang with the TTcrew. I wanted to so bad but everything was such a whirlwind. Those were the two people that I am most sad about not getting to talk to and get to know after all these months of listening to you guys :)

    Rammi, man you don’t know just how much it killed me to be there and see those stations and not be able to use them, I was like Vader “noooooooooooooooooooo”

  14. Xaeberon 16 May 2011 at 6:43 am

    Hi guys, I’m new to the site. Was just poking around the net for some interesting reads on TOR and spotted this one.
    You played my class of choice in your demo, BH. I was pleased to read a bit more about it.
    I haven’t had a chance to play myself.

    Absolutely amazing, even at this stage of development the game looks ready to ship.

    Looking forward to E3 with a lot of hope for a open beta release date. *fingers crossed*

  15. […] should also check out Swtorcrafter’s Bounty Hunter and General Gameplay Impressions for another view of the hands on experience.   Within the first 15 minutes of playing Star […]

  16. Totalpackageon 21 May 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Great write up! I always enjoy reading peoples opinion of this game :D i’m really looking forward to playing the game myself and been extremely excited too also! I’ve been harassing friends and co-workers to try it out with me too.. Some of them are worried they will get lost in the game because they don’t know much on Star Wars.. So I was curious if the game would be fun for people who aren’t knowledgeable in Star Wars too or even people who never played a MMO? :O

  17. Swtorcrafteron 22 May 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Hey Totalpackage thanks for asking!

    Well if you are a mmo gamer then this game will be very familiar to you, all experienced mmo players will be able to fall right into TOR whether they have star wars knowledge or not. The mechanics are just that familiar.

    Now, whether you will be able to pick this up and play it without any mmo experience at all? Hmm, that could be a tiny bit challenging but I feel that most people would have no problems learning the game fairly quickly.

    Of course there will be things like raid strategies and such that will take a bit of practice, like how to tank, how to heal, learning your roles in a group, etc but for the most part i would think that even someone who is not experienced in mmo’s would still be able to pick this up and learn just how to play fairly quickly.

    Thanks for reading and submitting questions!

  18. thomasron 22 May 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Swtorcrafter great write up. From what I understand archaeology will get crystals for lightsabers. In this article it says for multiple weapons, so are they for blasters as well…. I am just curious I have not come across specific info either way, do u have specifics? Thanks a bunch regardless!!!

  19. Swtorcrafteron 22 May 2011 at 8:53 pm

    @thomasr you know what? I do remember going around and finding a “modification station” while I was in the utility station area. It did have options for me to modify my blaster but I was never able to make it work, I am not sure if its because I didn’t have any components that would complete the process or because that feature was turned off or something.

    I do remember it saying something to do with “crystals” too. I am not sure if that was just a normal option that you get when you access the mod station or if the crystals were the components for blasters. Playing as a bounty hunter I am guessing that the blaster was the only weapon i had at the time which could be modified because it was the only option I had available.

    I was pretty low level at this time however so that could have had something to do with it too. I think i was level 5 when I found this station.

    Thank you for reading!