Hyperspace Beacon: Freedom

Hyperspace Beacon: Freedom
I was taken aback by BioWare's lifting of the NDA on Star Wars: The Old Republic last Friday. Few of us saw that coming. I highly suspect that wasn't when the devs originally intended to drop the NDA. I mean, really, when media sites were allowed to produce videos and livestream, there was bound to be some confusion. Perhaps BioWare couldn't contain all of it. Even on my end it was very confusing; there were weird stipulations on the embargo because BioWare didn't want parts of the story completely ruined. That's one of the reasons I kept my stream as simple as I could.

However, now the gloves are off. SWTOR enthusiasts can write about anything they want. Unfortunately, unlike other people who can talk about the game now, I have only been back in beta for two weeks, and the characters I played previously have been wiped. I am happy to tell you that I have a Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor on Dromund Kaas and Smuggler on Nar Shaddaa with a peppering of other characters on various other planets. I have PvPed alongside one of the best PvPers I've ever met, and I have plenty to talk about in the coming weeks until launch.

Beyond the break, I want to share with you my plan for the next three weeks until launch, and then when I'm done, I'd like to take your suggestions. As a teaser, I've added a few screenshots into the gallery below, pics of places my Smuggler has been over the last couple of weeks. I haven't labeled them, so maybe you can guess where he's been.%Gallery-139964%
Hyperspace Beacon: Leveling
Star Wars: The Old Republic has a very typical leveling system for an MMO. When people are asked to describe character progression, the words floating out of most people are "just like World of Warcraft... but that's not a bad thing." Although it's very true that SWTOR's process for leveling resembles World of Warcraft's in many ways, to say it's #justlikeWoW over-simplifies it. Because of WoW's popularity, it's not uncommon for other game designers and especially investors to want to emulate its design, hoping to emulate its success.

Unlike previous WoW-wannabes, SWTOR actually learned from one of the major mistakes WoW made: Leveling is a grind. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration; there are still some grindy parts in TOR, but as BioWare founder Dr. Ray Muzyka said, "One of the most common things we're already hearing is that people seem to find it hard to go back to other MMOs once they play The Old Republic." I find it hard to go back to other MMOs myself. There are other factors, sure, but the primary reason is that the leveling process is actually enjoyable and not just something I have to do to get to endgame.

Next week, I'll give you my overview of leveling in TOR.

Hyperspace Beacon: PvP
As many of you are aware, PvP is not my strong point. I'm never on the high scoreboard in PvP matches, but thanks to some help from my friend Ed "Taugrim" Park, I am no longer at the bottom either. The first day the NDA broke on Friday, we livestreamed some player-vs.-player action on Gamebreaker's channel. I hope to call on Taugrim's expertise pre-launch to help guide you guys into TOR's PvP scene. It's OK if I call in some help, right?

I was completely surprised by SWTOR's PvP, too -- both positively and negatively. For week two, I want to basically give you the noobie's guide to PvP in SWTOR. I usually PvE like a champ, so I figured that PvP wouldn't be too much different. I was completely surprised when I rolled up my first few Warzones. My personal investment in what was going on -- defending my ship from Imperial invaders to scoring big in the Star Wars version of full-contact soccer -- really gave purpose to the PvP. Although I can't pinpoint what exactly it is that keeps me coming back, I will give you my perspective on all three warzones in the second week.

Hyperspace Beacon: Endgame
By week three, I will have leveled at least one character to 50, so I can talk about endgame. If you're looking for story spoilers, then you will be disappointed. I truly want you to discover that for yourself, and there are plenty of other sites that have pretty much already spoiled the story for you. Feel free to visit them. As with the rest of the articles in the coming weeks, I want to give you a taste of what you're getting yourself into when you buy this game. I know there are some who have no interest in endgame, but given the emotional investment people have had in this game, I suspect more people will be drawn to this endgame than in other MMOs.

I have not been more excited than I am about these next few weeks. I know I will be completely exhausted spending late nights learning as much as I can about the game then turning it around to give to you. Speaking of which, I ought to ask: Is there anything you would specifically like to learn before the game starts up? Perhaps there are some people who are sitting on the fence. What question can I answer that will sway you one way or the other? Ask me in the comments below. If I'm not writing for you, then for whom am I writing?

Until next week, I will be playing beta. If you happen you see Shaddoe on one of the servers, feel free to say hello.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
This article was originally published on Massively.