So this weekend marked the last beta testing for SWOR before it goes live on December 20th, and I got in on a little piece of the action. Which I didn’t think I would get, considering the beta was on Thanksgiving weekend, and I was driving 9 hours to visit family and friends and run around like a crazy person. I did however get enough time to create a bunch of characters, and play one in particular, my Sith Inquisitor. The character creation can be a touch clunky, since you go through a series of screens, instead of having it all right there on one. But you get to zoom in and out, and get much more choice in the variety of faces, skin tones, tattoos, scars, and whatnot, not to mention features specific to your race. For my Sith Inquisitor (which is like a caster/melee dps/heal class) I chose the Rattataki race, which I thought was the race of Asajj Ventress from Clone Wars, but she’s apparently a different bald grey-skinned alien. Anyway my bald grey-skinned alien came with a condescending, vaguely British-accented voice perfect for what she was destined to become–a lightning-throwing, lightsaber-wielding badass.
I was able to get up to level 10, running around with a ton of other Sith (many of which had the too-obvious name of “Darth(insert dumb word here)”). The things that really set this game apart from WoW have to be the voice acting and the story. I was much more interested in completing my class quests and advancing my storyline than playing with other people. Maybe that was a bit of a downfall for me, since now I can’t talk about what group dynamics were like. But the solo stuff was interesting! I couldn’t help it. And hearing it all spoken out, and hearing my character’s own voice in the mix brought you into it that much more. I tried to make her as bad as possible. Except sometimes, when I thought I was obviously picking the Dark Side option in my conversation, I got awarded with Light Side points. I can’t have those! I am Sith! Not some goody-two-shoes Jedi. I’m creepy-looking for god’s sake. Well. I guess some Jedi are pretty creepy-looking too.
Anyway, as I traversed the ancient Sith homeworld of Korriban (Did you know that the Sith are actually an alien race too? I sure didn’t.), I died. A lot. The combat forces you to think on your feet a touch more than questing in WoW. There’s not a lot of single creatures roaming around, or ones you can isolate from a group. Very rarely did I fight less than 3 mobs at a time. If you’re not paying attention, you can die really easily. Thank goodness that you get a companion that helps you fight, to make things a little easier. But you have to work for that companion. I had to plot out who I was going to electrocute, then force-stun, then chop up with my training lightsaber (because of course you have to work for that too, you get it at lvl 10).
The comparisons to WoW will be infinite. But this is a different game. It’s not quite WoW with a Star Wars skin. It’s definitely got its pluses and minuses. And WoW has had quite a few years to get polished. But I think that people who are more accustomed to single player RPGs, that want to get into MMOs may find SWOR to be a good bridge. The story is intriguing enough that I didn’t care about power leveling through. Of course, that may change once you play it through on a toon or two. But having the different conversation choices also make for interesting differences. The controls were familiar enough, and the basic mechanics the same as WoW, so it wasn’t like I had to completely reteach myself.
Am I going to completely give up on WoW and scramble for SWOR? Not after signing up for the WoW Annual Pass I’m not. But eventually, after the initial rush, I would like to go back to Korriban, pick up that red lightsaber, and see how much more badass I can be.