SWTOR: Starship operator's guide

SWTOR - Starships
Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of an actual, factual, interstellar starship! Or you soon will be, assuming that you're planning to play Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Starships have captured the imaginations of Star Wars fans for over three decades now, as the Millennium Falcon, Luke's X-Wing, Boba Fett's Slave-1, and Knights of the Old Republic's Ebon Hawk have become geek cultural icons. It's not Star Wars without the stars, after all, which is why BioWare will be handing you the keys to your very own starship as part of your SWTOR journey.

But what does that entail? There's a lot of confusion and misinformation swirling about starships, which is unfortunate. SWTOR's starships are part player housing, part combat vehicle, and part story platform, and that combination lacks an easy analogue in other MMOs. That's why you've got this handy holocron with all of the starship "must knows" to aid your initial voyage to the stars!

Coordinates for the jump are plotted. Punch it, reader!

Mantis
Getting your starship

Probably the most common question asked regarding starships is, well, when the heck do I get mine? If you're expecting to be able to jump to lightspeed minutes after creating your character, you're in for some disappointment. Gaining access to a starship is a monumental milestone in your adventures, and it's going to be a little while before it happens.

The good news is that it's not going to cost you a boatload of money like a mount will; you will get your own starship for free! This happens during your personal storyline on the second planet you visit, so expect to be somewhere in the 15-to-18 level range before it happens.

When it does, you'll be invited to board and tour your home-away-from-home that will be your personal HQ for the remainder of your character's journey in the game.

Ship droids
Bonus companion!

As an exciting bonus to starship ownership, you'll find that your ship comes with its very own droid: C2-N2 (Republic ships) or 2V-R8 (Empire ships). Initially, these droids are just there to show you around and provide some local color, but you can actually enlist them to become a true companion that can join you on your adventures.

Now before you get all a-twitter over an additional companion, C2 and 2V have struck some beta testers as, er, kind of annoying. "Nag" is a word that comes up a lot. And they only function as support healers for combat, with no offensive capabilities whatsoever, so you might want to leave your droid behind on the ship in favor of a better companion (unless you want them to tag along for their own sake!).

Map travel
Starship basics

There are currently six starships in the game, with the Jedi and Sith classes doubling up to share the same ship. There's the D5-Mantis (Bounty Hunter), Fury (Sith Inquisitor/Warrior), X-70B Phantom (Imperial Agent), BT-7 Thunderclap (Trooper), XS Freighter (Smuggler), and the Defender (Jedi Consular/Knight).

Currently, starships cannot be personalized with colors, names, furniture, or trophies, although BioWare is aware that this is a popular demand. You can sit in the chairs, however -- a feature that's found nowhere else in the game (at the time of this writing).

The starship's purpose is fourfold: to transport you between planets, to give you a place to craft and store materials, to serve as a setting for stories and companion conversations, and to allow you to engage in space combat missions.

Travel is the most basic feature, as you'll need to pay a pittance of credits for fuel to hop between solar systems and your faction's starbase, but this won't come into play too often in the beginning. BioWare has stated that it intends to allow other players to board your starship (and vice-versa) to check things out, socialize, and even travel together.

crafting
Crafting and storage

Since your starship functions as your moving base of operations, it makes sense that this is where you'll want to have your personal storage and crafting facilities.

Your cargo hold has quite a few slots per bay that will allow you to clean out your personal inventory and store crafting materials and gear that you're not currently using. Companion characters can be tasked with leaving the ship to go on gathering missions or to take collected mats and work on making you stims, weapons, armor, and other useful items. You can even order them to work on projects remotely while you're out and about on the planet surface!

Storytime!

Astute Knights of the Old Republic players will remember a few interesting missions aboard the Ebon Hawk itself, including ferretting out a stowaway and patching up the ship following a devastating attack. Expect several more quests and stories to take place on your ship proper during SWTOR -- especially for those playing Smugglers!

In addition to these stories, any time you return to your ship is a great time to make the rounds and talk to your companions, especially the ones you haven't been using for planetary duties. Companions have their own stories to share over time and can even offer you unique missions.

space combat
Space combat

While it's not everyone's cup of tea, space combat is nevertheless present for those who want a break from avatar combat to pilot (sort of) their personal starships in quick, exciting missions. As is well-known at this point, SWTOR's space combat is a rail shooter system in which the computer moves you along a path while you control your ship's attacks and some movement. If you're craving classic Star Wars space battles, this is what BioWare has in store for you.

Through space combat you'll be able to earn upgrades for your ship. While these upgrades aren't visible, they will increase your capabilities for combat, including better shields and weapons. Space combat also nets you valuable XP and credits, so it's another way to beef up your numbers if you're looking for alternatives.

Coordinates added to the nav computer...

Enough reading, pilot -- it's time to blast off and see what awaits you in this exciting galaxy of ours! Good luck... you're gonna need it.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!
This article was originally published on Massively.