Back when Star Wars: The Old Republic came out in the fall of last year, I was really really really excited for it. Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel are still pretty much my favourite video games of all time, and The Old Republic was being advertised as its sequel. I've never been attracted to MMORPGs because I hate people, but I was desperately itching for another KOTOR, and The Old Republic was being touted as very story-focused and amenable to curmudgeonly misanthropes like me who just wanted to play by themselves. So I tried it out.
I was very disappointed. However, not in the way I was expecting to be. I didn’t find the multiplayer aspect nearly as distracting as I’d thought, and the writing in the game was really strong – but what do you mean I have to grind through the same area for three more hours to level up enough to beat this story-end boss? But my character wouldn’t want to murder thousands more Sand People! Also I have things to do! Not cool, game. Not cool.
Also, the monthly subscription fee was insidiously making me not play other games or read books because I “wanted to get my money’s worth” - so I quit the game. I just wanted the story and to swing a lightsaber around. I’d read the Wookieepedia entry on the game’s story and be done with it.
However, The Old Republic recently went free-to-play. So I’d be able to play other games without guilt and I still reallllly wanted to have that KOTOR III experience. Also, the game sent me an email saying my R2 Unit missed me and it was emotionally manipulative and, and, and…
So I booted up the game again. Here’s what went down.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON, 3pm:
Alright, booting up the game. I’ve got a couple hours to kill so this... a gigabyte of updates are necessary? Ugh. I guess I’ll go to the gym and come back.
Okay, time to bust out that lightsa- NINE MORE GIGS TO GO!? Update five of twelve?! COME ON.
Five and a half hours to patch a game. Really. COME ON. Alright, now I’m booting up the game.
I decided to go with a dashing human Sith Warrior named Nyvaan. I wanted to call him Niven because I modeled his stellar moustache on actor David Niven, but unfortunately that name was taken and I had to Star Wars up his name with a ‘y’ and an extra ‘a’.
In my first hour I killed some space bugs and decided the fate of three Imperial prisoners – sparing two of them (the light side option) and granting the last wish of the third - honourable death by combat. I find the idea of playing a good-guy Sith Lord appealingly contrarian, so we’ll see if the game tolerates this.
Welp, I obviously like this game. Got my first lightsaber, met a weird Sith Lord in renaissance armor, chose my prestige class – awesome. Until…
“After level 10, free-to-play players begin to accrue less experience.”
Really? Really. COME ON.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON, 4:30pm:
Belay that last order. You only gain experience at a -25% rate by being a free-to-player. That's not that bad. Especially because every so often you get quest rewards that boost your experience gain back to normal for an hour - which is good for people like me who like to artificially set a limit on how much time they sink into a game.
Still successfully playing a light-side Sith! I'm changing the Empire from within by murdering people quickly rather than needlessly! Am I not merciful?
THURSDAY AFTERNOON, NOON:
I'm beginning to be sold again. Not literally, I can't abide subscription-based gaming. I bought the game already! Let me play it! Thankfully, the free-to-play option gives me that right, and the restricted features for non-subscribers don't break the game and give me an irrational sense of self-satisfaction that I'm resisting them.
I'm still not a huge fan of the game's Warcraft style click-on-the-toolbar-in-the-optimal-order combat, but it's still kinda fun. At this point Nyvaan has ingratiated himself with his Sith Master enough that he can casually suggest that he try not being a total douche without fear of reprisal, and is a hero to the moderates of the Imperial military who just want to keep the peace with a semi-benevolent iron fist, rather than actively antagonize the citizenry with lightning hands. I really like that this play-style is an option.
Long-story short, it's entirely possible that I'll come up against an end-boss that my character can't handle and I'll quit out of righteous frustration, but for the moment The Old Republic is letting me have a lightsaber and pretend to be a Jedi in a very well written story without massively inconveniencing my experience by being an MMO. So I'mma keep playing. Again, until a Rancor stomps me out with one hit.
See you next week, nerds!