Star Wars: The Old Republic — GameFront Impressions (Part 2)
If there’s a part of progression that TOR nails, it’s the early levels. The game makes you feel powerful from the get-go, and you’re introduced to a flurry of skills right off the bat. Once you reach the teens, the new abilities stop coming quite so thick and fast, but there are still a number of fun milestones: choosing an advanced class; getting the sprint ability to move more quickly when not in combat; finally getting your personal starship.
If there’s one area that I think the progression could improve, it’s the skill trees — I hate that feeling when you’re staring at a list of upgrades that feel marginal and useless (at least, to the untrained eye), and you think “I don’t want any of this stuff!” Clearly I need to do some homework on ideal builds — all my points so far have gone into my Bounty Hunter’s “Bodyguard” tree, which seemed to have the best upgrades, in addition to making him a more desirable groupmate.
Now that I’ve got a starship, the galaxy is at my mercy. Hopefully character progression continues to be as fun as it has so been so far.
As Ben said, TOR makes you feel powerful and important at level 1, and keeps moving upward from there. NPCs treat you like a big shot, attack animations are loaded with Hollywood bravado, and you feel as though you’re an integral part of your personal quest line, not a replaceable marionette.
The game is dotted with milestones that I’ll never forget: acquiring my first lightsaber after an elaborate trial; unlocking my Advanced Class at level 10 and gaining the ability to dual-wield lightsabers; my first speeder bike at level 25 — the mounts of TOR. And I’ll forever remember the awe-inspiring scene in which I received my starship, despite my predisposition to disliking space combat.
In a similar vein to Knights of the Old Republic, TOR continues with the tradition of earning Light Side and Dark Side points. Earn enough points either way, and you’ll advance a “tier” down that path. As a bonus to practitioners of the Dark Side, your character’s face becomes visibly “corrupted” by the dark side as you progress through tiers. Tier 1 sees your eyes become a fiery orange. With Tier 2, veins appear around your mouth and darkened eyes. Tier 3 has you take on a sickly pallor. For those concerned about sullying the appearance of their beautiful fashion model, yes, you can turn off this effect.
To my knowledge, progressing down the Light Side path sees no such visual effects, which is unfortunate, because it makes an already fan-favorite Dark Side all the more inviting. However, it wouldn’t exactly be keeping with canon to have halos, angelic wings, or golden eyes appear on Jedi.
Your progression throughout the game is further noted through the acquisition of titles — affixes to your name that all can see. Acquire your first Sith Warrior warblade and earn the title Acolyte. Unlock the secrets of the cult of Revan to earn the title Revanite. Execute a certain NPC in a flashpoint and earn the title Merciless. It’s one of the many systems whereby the game entices the player to keep advancing their character.