Saturday, December 10, 2011

Phase 5: Where do I go and what do I do?

Note: This article may contain spoilers for the upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you don't wish to have anything ruined, I suggest you keep scrolling to the next article.







The Sarlac Pit! Just outside of a Republic base. Convenient, no?


An excellent question for any new MMOer. Or even us old ones. It’s a Star Wars universe. You know the first thing you want to do after getting your lightsaber or blaster is to jump on a ship and head to Tatooine and visit the Sarlac Pit. Yes. There is a Sarlac Pit. Sadly no you will not get digested for 1,000 years if you jump in, however you do die and you kind of have to go back to a medcenter. But other then, it’s kind of amusing to see.

While you can leave your starting planet at level 1 if you really want to, odds are you are going to get pummeled to death either by the opposing faction or enemy NPC’s.

There is a system in place that is similar to other MMO’s that allow you to progress gradually and see new planets as you go. You start out on your “home” planet. Well it’s not really a home planet to most of the jobs, but it’s where you got to go to begin your journey. Tython – Ancient Jedi Temple, Ord Mantell – Warzone for Trooper and Smuggler, Korriban – Sith Homeworld, Hutta – Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent operations.

You learn all of your basics on those planets. What to do, how to aim, how to trade, how to buy things, and learn how your personal class story works into the SW saga. To progress through leveling just follow your story. You’ll have a quest tracker on your top right hand corner telling you where to go and what to do and you can pick up more quests along the way to help you level. If you want a WoW comparison it’s like starting as a Night Elf and you’re in Teldrassil. You do the starter quests to get a feel for a game before you move on to the next town and more quests. Eventually you’ll reach the sea and can explore other aspects of the world…of warcraft. FFXI: Start as a Tarutaru in Windurst, do your fetch quests, and move on to explore the rest of the realm. You have to learn the basics before you’re allowed to move forward. Not like Galaxies but not all that unheard of for MMO’s these days.

Coruscant just outside the Senate Hall.
Simply put, if you don’t want to be bantha fodder just follow your class mission log, pick up quests along the way, and you’ll be fine. At level 10 you can unlock your advance classes to progress with leveling further and do Warzone PvP (special areas where players can combat with one another using different rulesets-I personally like Huttball).

All fine and good there, but what is there to see in TOR? Lots of stuff!

Most of us SW nerds will probably want to check out the basics. Tatooine, Hoth, and Coruscant (Republic only, sorry folks) to make sure everything is the way that it should look. (While we’re on the topic, there are some planets that are for Empire only and some that are Republic only. It’s a nice break if you’re into PvP and takes advantage of the story, so it’s not all bad. I mean really if there is a war and you’re a Sith the chances of you getting to Coruscant are non-existent.) Yes Tatooine has two suns. It didn’t during the very first beta build and we all got on the art teams cases about that one. That’s Star Wars 101. But a lot of the tropes from the movies can be found on these planets. Before you ask No. Luke’s home on Tat is not there. Why? Because the game is set 3,000+ years BEFORE the movies so please don’t do the nub thing and ask about it in chat. But you can see giant Jawa Crawlers, sandpeople, and lots of other cool stuff you’d expect to see.

Hoth...it's really freekin' white.

The other planets are a little out there that you may or may not have heard of, or even remember but they’re pretty nifty. Alderaan for example is an independent planet that both Republic and Empire can visit. You know Alderaan right? That planet that got blown to bits in Episode 4 by the Death Star? It’s a really pretty place with some finely-tuned music. You might end up chuckling at some of the bad foreshadowing by NPC’s regarding Alderaan’s future demise. “Oh if they only knew what happened 3,000 years from now~”

It had been a few years since the orbital assault,
so the environment took over.
There’s Taris, a planet trying to rebuild after an orbital bombardment. Think Datoine with less marshes and random smells. There are moments where you’ll look up at the former skyline and think how awesome of a job the design team did at making this planet come alive.

Voss-Ka, capital of Voss.

My favorite is Voss, an independent planet with two indigenous groups trying to ensure control over the planet and its beings. But they aren’t apart of the greater galactic war. Nope. They insist that the Empire and Republic play nice together. XD So your job ends up being prove why the Republic and or Empire is bad news and the Voss should join your side. But it’s a really, really pretty planet. It makes me wish that the Voss were a playable race; they have some interesting facial features and textures not seen on other aliens, but that would kill the entire story-line so that won’t happen.

Nar Shaddaa, Central Promenade
What’s there to do on these planets? Well that’s still a work in progress. You can visit the locals, talk to random NPC’s and take lots of pictures. Interaction with the worlds is still limited but something that dev’s have mentioned they are incorporating over the next few months after release. What I’m looking forward to are the casino’s on Nar Shaddaa. NS is a neutral planet but controlled by the Hutt family. You might hear from past testers that they dislike the planet. I actually enjoy it. The way that it was designed works quite nicely to keep Empire and Republic separate from leveling areas but still allows them to meet in the middle. I remember when it was a pretty flat design. It was just another planet along the way. Then bam! One update later the planet became alive. So much light and color! There is a floating casino that everyone has access to but right now it’s a little stale. We’ve been asking for months to get something going in there. It’d be a great place for people to meet up, do some harmless gambling, and make it a social hub that the dev’s were looking for. In due time I suppose.

You can't deny that this looks like a fun place.
 As you progress in the game jumping from one planet to another, your final destination will be Ilum, a 50 only zone that you can not unlock until you have finished certain pre-reqs. It’s a free for all death zone for both factions. Kind of a nifty looking planet if you don’t mind the massive amounts of death surrounding you.

One thing you’ll probably notice when you first start playing is that the worlds don’t feel as crowded as they should. Ok well not for the first planet. That’s going to be ass crazy busy the first week of release, but the rest will seem tolerable. TOR works on a series of instances. You can have 1,000 people on one planet but its split until multiple instances so you may only see a few hundred at a time. However, you can communicate with everyone on that planet so there’s no loss of human interaction. You can also use your main map and change instances to meet new people or to join your other group members.

For those who haven’t been in testing just a few general rules to planet hopping:

~Get to level 10 on your first planet (it’ll save you headaches in the long run).
~Try to pick up every quest marker you see as you travel.
~Don’t get ahead of yourself. If you see a planet is listed as level 40 and you’re 25 don’t go there. You will get annihilated the moment you leave the spaceport.
~Be prepared to have your camera ready.
~Don’t be afraid to explore! There are lots of hidden goodies and SW jokes laying around that most people will probably overlook. And there are xp bonuses for exploring all areas for a map.

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