Several major gaming magazines and web sites have participated in a special event held by Bioware, where they were able to sit down and play Star Wars The Old Republic for 5+ hours and experience the game the way MMO is supposed to be experienced (not 15-60 minute gameplay sessions we heard about so far). Reviews are generally favorable and most of the reviewers finally confirm what Bioware has been emphasizing for so long – story does bring a new dimension into the gaming experience and it does make this game stick out.
Things to note from all the articles I’ve read so far is that you get to forge your own lightsaber at level 10 and are faced with a mini boss encounter at that point (like we saw in that PAX video). Some of the reviewers even managed to leave Tython and get to Coruscant. There is a flashpoint while traveling to Coruscant where you are faced with a moral dilemma to save some engineers and take a harder route in order to save the attacked ship, or flush the engineers into space but repair the ship faster. All of the flashpoints can be played with a group and the content scales with the group’s size.
Here are some quotes and links to articles I found more interesting out of the bunch:
I often find myself concerned with being “hooked” by early starting experiences after the Age of Conan debacle in which 1-20 was amazing and then the rest of the game lackluster, but Tython felt like a small sampling of an even greater experience. It easily rivals the Goblin and Worgen starting experiences found in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and in some ways tops them thanks to the questing system.
I’m told by one Jedi trainer to keep an eye on a young couple. It seems they might be in love, an emotional bond considered dangerous amongst Light Side saber-wielders. I track them down, learn their love to be true and am faced with a decision. If I turn them in, I get the standard quest reward and Light Side points. But if I decide to keep their relationship a secret, I get the bonus of a lightsaber crystal. Since there’s no reloading the game in an MMO, these decisions are permanent, and I find I’m actually spending time thinking about how I want to treat these characters instead of blindly focusing on amassing money and experience.
It was not an easy fight, and it really proved to me that they can make the one on one battles feel heroic too. At one point I charged towards him and used my “Force Wave” ability in the hopes of pushing him back and down to the ground, but at the same time he stomped on the ground! The result was my companion, him, and I, all hurling back in opposite directions just like Obi-Wan and Anakin in their duel on Mustafar. I eventually took him out, but not before getting down to around five percent health even after using a stim pack during the fight.
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