Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR awards

Hyperspace Beacon the SWTOR awards
The Oscars were given out two nights ago. Celebrities, actors, and film crews dressed in their red-carpet best to be handed a 13.5-inch golden statue of a naked bald man. As I heard these writers and directors give thanks to various loved-ones and talent agencies, I thought about Star Wars: The Old Republic. (Sad. I know.) SWTOR contains some of the best writing and storytelling in all of MMOs. In my opinion, it's better than some of movies represented on that stage. Sure, it didn't impact the world like Zero Dark Thirty, but it did impact my world, and I'd like to recognize some of the best parts of this MMORPG.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
Out of all the stories, the Imperial Agent's story combines great gameplay with meaningful, lasting choices. Other storylines, like the Jedi Consular's, fall short because they are a blatant series of FedEx quests. Although there is the element of fetching in the Agent story, it has been artistically masked by the compelling storyline. To top it off, there isn't one major, all-encompassing decision in the game. Instead, each decision that your character makes appears to be compounded by the ones you made before. If you've played the Imperial Agent, then think about Darth Jadus. What would have happened if you'd made a different decision at the end of chapter 1? Would it have affected chapter 3? If you've not played that storyline, yet, then what are you waiting for? I'm playing it again just because it was so awesome.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
There is no storyline in SWTOR that I absolutely hate, and by far it has some of the best dialogue in MMOs. Each character has very unique personality that is compounded by the conversational decisions that you make as a player. This made deciding which line was the best extremely difficult because of the sheer number of great lines.

Of all the storylines I've played through in SWTOR, the male Smuggler takes home this prize. My Smuggler attempted to play both sides of the Sith and Jedi conflict (mostly to save his own skin). At the end of the story arc on Tatooine, it bit him in the rear when the Sith and Jedi he'd been flirting with both caught up to him at the same time. Then when his companion Risha called, he blurted out another flirtatious quip: "I have a Jedi and Sith fighting over me, but I only have eyes for you." Sure, it's cheesy and would never actually win someone's heart, but I believe that's part of the charm. The Smuggler knows that these lines don't work, but he says them anyway.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
Most of the writers for Star Wars: The Old Republic have moved on to other positions in other companies or other departments within BioWare. Charles Boyd and Hall Hood are a couple of great originals who have stuck around. And I can't downplay the great work that Daniel Erickson did in SWTOR. But there is one name that sticks out in my mind: Alexander Freed.

Not only did Freed write some of the best plots for the game itself, including the Imperial Agent storyline, but he also penned the best comic book based on SWTOR: Blood of the Empire. I don't know how much plot input Freed had on the stories he wrote, but even if I were to base my decision on the dialogue alone, Freed wrote some of the most memorable characters in all of SWTOR.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
Each player character in SWTOR has a chance to form a romantic relationship with at least one of his or her companions. There are also romantic relationships built through out the planetary stories as well. The Inquisitor and Urtel Moren on Alderaan come to mind. But the companion romances are the most lasting.

The most intriguing and my favorite relationship is between the male Smuggler and Risha. Granted, Risha is probably the most developed of all the companions; the whole of chapter one revolves around her. But the dialogue between her and the Smuggler is what makes this the most interesting romantic relationship in SWTOR.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
Many of the flashpoints are great. The Rise of the Rakghouls has the best atmosphere; the Black Talon tells a compelling story. But if I had to narrow the list down the flashpoint that embodies everything that I want a flashpoint to be, I would have to go with the Esseles. Not only were there wonderful cutscenes, but the choices had impact on both gameplay and the players' emotions. The choices on board the Esseles were tough and made me really question the direction my character would take.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
Although it's difficult to tell a story with a PvP zone, the mechanics built into the Novare Coast zone embody the struggle between the Republic and Empire most poignantly. Each warzone has interesting mechanics, like throwing the flag in Huttball or charging the pylons in Ancient Hypergate. But all these warzones can easily be decided before the match even ends. No matter how good you are, you can score only so many points in a given amount of time in Huttball. On Alderaan, if the other team doubles your score, then you have to triple cap the node in order to win. Yet on Novare Coast, you can have 4% left on your base but still win the match if you play the game well. This heightens the action and suspense the whole round, and it also means that there is never a time for your team to just give up. Because of that, Novare Coast gets the golden lightsaber award.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
I like all the operations in SWTOR. It's tough to narrow down these challenging dungeons to the best. Explosive Conflict contains some of the most challenging boss fights. I love the Eternity Vault's setting, especially the Soa fight. However, Karagga's Palace is in another league. I absolutely love the set. I have mentioned many times that I would love to use the palace as roleplay venue. But the boss fights are also a lot of fun and present a challenge for their level. And anytime you run a boss fight and have to use to the term "anal cleave," it's doing something right.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
If you haven't run Terror From Beyond on story mode, you need to find a group to carry you through it. Next to Karagga's Palace, TFB contains the most spectacular juxtaposition of cybernetic and organic features of any raid I've seen. The zenith of this conglomeration is Operator IX, the puzzle boss for TFB. He sits in a Tron-like room surrounded by data cubes and multi-colored platforms. Beyond it being the most colorful boss fight and one of the most challenging. I love playing it every time I run the operation.

Hyperspace Beacon the <em>SWTOR</em> awards
I don't know whether it was just the timing of this event (as no one knew that it was coming) or the mechanics of the event itself that encouraged open-world PvP. It could have also been the amazing boss fight or the compelling PvE quests. But either way, BioWare needs to take note of what it did in its very first event and try to mirror that for its next.

I hope you enjoyed reading through my picks for the SWTOR awards. If you were to pick from the same categories, which ones would you choose and why? Let me read them in the comments below. See ya next week!

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.