Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMORPG set 300 years after the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and 3,500 years before the films. The Jedi and the Galactic Republic are reeling after nearly three decades of war, and in desperation agreed to the Sith Empire’s offer of a peace agreement. While representatives of the Empire and the Republic conferred on Alderaan, the Sith launched an assault on the Republic capital world of Coruscant, holding it hostage and forcing the Republic to sign the Treaty of Coruscant, which acknowledged the Sith Empire as the victor and giving them half of the galaxy. The players step in 10 years after these events.
The gameplay in SW: TOR is mostly your standard MMORPG fare, with several action bars that you’ll load up with abilities as you progress. If you’re familiar with World of Warcraft or any of its clones, you know what to expect. It’s not exciting or new, but it is comfortable and executed well. It does, however, bring an interesting companion mechanic. Each class has their own unique companions, and they are basically an AI party member you can use when not in a group. The AI is actually quite good, though their abilities are noticeably worse than a player of equal level.
Though the gameplay may be a bit bland, the graphics and art style are not. The environments are beautifully detailed and enough on their own to encourage exploring, though the addition of the stat boosting datacrons doesn’t hurt.
The best thing about SW: TOR is the story. Each of the eight classes has a unique, compelling and powerful quest line that can easily hold its own against any RPG on the market, let alone any MMORPG. These storylines come complete with compelling companion characters and an astonishing amount of character choice. You really feel like your decisions matter, which is an impressive thing to accomplish in the MMO genre.
But the best part of all? SW: TOR went free-to-play this past November. Though the free-to-play restrictions are pretty harsh, particularly the limit of 1 crew skill and the weekly passes needed for Operations, it still allows you to experience the story content. You can also make any $5 or higher purchase on their store to unlock preferred status, which gives you a pretty substantial increase in overall game access. If you want to play the game as it was on release, however, you’ll need to start a subscription.
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