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A WoW player's guide to The Old Republic


Whether you're a longtime World of Warcraft player or someone who's just recently tried the game and fallen in love with it, you're probably aware that there are other MMORPGs out there. Recently, the game that's been getting the most press is Star Wars: The Old Republic. And if you've sat down and tried it out as a veteran on World of Warcraft, you probably had some idea of what was going on when you started playing, with the only initial speedbump being the lack of an auto-attack feature.

But there's more to the game than combat and more things that might trip you up in the long run. So Eliot Lefebvre and Matt Daniel are here to help you out with a massive guide to coming into TOR when you're accustomed to the environment of WoW. Take a skip past the break to find out almost everything you'll need to know when converting from the world of Azeroth to the galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Just put in someone yelling to fight on the flag and we're all set.It's PvP for me

Fans of World of Warcraft's PvP should find themselves right at home in Star Wars: The Old Republic's warzones, but there are a few distinct differences that warrant a bit of elaboration. Let's start with the warzones themselves (though we won't be going into too much detail on the warzones themselves, as our own Larry Everett has already done that for us).

As of this writing, SWTOR has three different warzones in which players can duke it out with the opposing faction. The first of these warzones is the Alderaan Civil War map, which is a control-point map most similar to World of Warcraft's Arathi Basin except on a smaller scale. Alderaan contains three different control points (in the form of anti-air gun placements) over which players must fight for dominion in order to destroy the opposing team's starship. For all intents and purposes, if you've played Arathi Basin, you've played Alderaan.

Next up on the list is the Voidstar, which is an attack-and-defend assault map in the vein of WoW's Strand of the Ancients. At the beginning of each round, one team is designated the attacker and the other must defend against it. The offensive team must make its way through the map, placing bombs on a series of doors that are blocking its progress. The attackers win if they manage to reach the ship's data core before the time limit runs out, while the defending team achieves victory by preventing the opposition from completing its objective until time is up.

Lastly, and most interestingly, we have Huttball. There's really no Azerothian equivalent of this warzone, but if you'll just think of a game of football played on a field strewn with death traps and populated by an opposing team intent on your death, and you've got the general idea. A ball spawns in the middle of the playing field, and each team is responsible for taking the ball and running/passing it into the opposing team's endzone, all while avoiding pools of acid, flaming floor panels, and of course, enemy players.

Huttball, sport of kings!  And choking or shooting people.
WoW PvPers will likely have no trouble getting into the swing of SWTOR's warzones. The rewards system, however, operates in a markedly different manner than its WoW counterpart. Each warzone will reward players with Valor and and Warzone commendations. Valor can be thought of as PvP experience. Earning valor increases your Valor rank, which maxes out at 100; your Valor rank determines the highest quality of PvP gear you can wear. Warzone commendations are the currency used to actually purchase items from PvP vendors.

Buying lower-level PvP gear is fairly straightforward: Go to the Combat Training area of your faction's fleet, find the PvP vendor that pertains to your class, and enjoy. Once you hit level 50, however, buying PvP gear becomes a bit trickier. Each faction's fleet will have an NPC designated as the PvP Items vendor. From this vendor you can purchase 10 Mercenary Commendations for the cost of 30 Warzone Commendations, which you can then use to purchase a Champion Gear Bag, which itself has a chance to contain a random gear token that can be exchanged for a piece of equipment.

Wait, what? That's right, to acquire high-tier PvP gear, you're going to have to shell out 200 Warzone Commendations and 200 Mercenary Commendations in order to purchase a Champion Gear Bag. These bags have a chance to contain an item known as an Unassembled Champion token, which can be exchanged for a piece of gear that corresponds to the token type. For instance, you may find a token called Unassembled Champion Wargrade Tech Battle Armor. This token can be traded in for a piece of Champion-level gear that falls under the Tech Battle Armor category.

At least not being able to use the Lumber Mill on the other side made a bit more in-game sense.Each Champion Gear Bag will also contain a number of Centurion Commendations. If the bag contained an item token, then it will also contain a single Centurion Commendation, while a bag without a token will contain three Centurion Commendations. Centurion Commendations can be spent on Centurion-tier gear, which is a step below Champion Tier. The benefit to Centurion Commendations, however, is that they can be used to purchase specific pieces of Centurion gear rather than having to rely on the RNG to give you the tokens for the Champion-tier gear that you want. Centurion gear will cost you about 67 Centurion Commendations, so transfer your Warzone Commendations to Mercenary Commendations often and buy Champion Gear Bags frequently. Unless you're incredibly lucky with token drops, you're going to need a lot of commendations to get a full set of gear.

If you're not feeling the "let's grind Warzone Commendations until our eyes fall out" vibe, don't worry -- there's another way to acquire Champion Gear Bags. Questgivers in the Combat Training area of your fleet will provide daily and weekly PvP Warzone quests, and completion of these quests will grant Champions Gear Bags as rewards. Daily quests will supply one bag, while weekly quests will provide three.

Acquisition of Battlemaster-tier equipment (which is the highest tier currently available) works much the same way, except for the fact that players must be level 50 with Valor rank 60 in order to acquire Battlemaster Gear Bags, and there is no way to purchase the items directly with commendations; they can only be purchased using Unassembled Battlemaster gear tokens. Once you've hit level 50 and Valor rank 60, you will be able to complete daily and weekly quests that will reward you with aforementioned Battle Master Gear bags, which (like their Champion-tier counterparts) have a chance to contain a gear token plus Champion Commendations.

In a nutshell: Do warzones and daily/weekly PvP quests in order to acquire Valor points and Warzone Commendations. At level 50, but prior to Valor rank 60, trade in your Warzone Commendations for Mercenary Commendations, and use these to purchase Champion Gear Bags. Use the tokens and Centurion Commendations found within the bags to purchase Champion and/or Centurion gear, respectively. After reaching Valor rank 60, continue doing daily and weekly PvP quests in order to acquire Battle Master Gear Bags, which have a chance to contain a token that can be used to purchase Battle Master PvP gear, the highest tier in the game. It seems like a convoluted process (perhaps because it is), but once you get the hang of things, you should be rolling in PvP gear in no time.

Nearly every single lightsaber can be modified.Mod scene

One of the more interesting (and at times, confusing) features introduced by Star Wars: The Old Republic is the gear modification system. Modifiable gear is equipment that contains a number of modification slots that can be filled with a variety of mods in order to confer stat bonuses upon the item in question, akin to slotting gems in World of Warcraft. However, unlike World of Warcraft's gem system (in which you can slot any gem into any socket), SWTOR's modifications will only fit in specific pieces of equipment with the appropriate types of slots. For instance, many pieces of customizable armor have an Armoring slot, a Mod slot, an Augment slot, and an Enhancement slot. An Enhancement modification can only be placed in an Enhancement slot, a Mod in a Mod slot, and so forth.

The interesting part about some of SWTOR's modifiable weapons and armor is that they have no innate stats of their own. These items are called Custom items. Players can choose the stats on a Custom item simply by choosing the modifications placed into that piece of equipment. In this way, it's entirely possible to keep the same piece of Custom equipment as you level up, as long as you upgrade its mods regularly.

For example, say you found this Modified DTB-27 Bolt Pistol, handily linked on Torhead for your convenience. As you can see, it has slots for a Color Crystal, a Barrel, a Mod, an Enhancement, and an Augment. So let's choose some modifications, shall we? For the Color Crystal, we'll choose the Advanced Blue Hawkeye Crystal, which gives +41 power in addition to a nice blue bolt color. For the Barrel, we'll choose the Advanced Beguiling Barrel 25, which grants +33 Cunning, +31 Endurance, and +50 Expertise Rating and gives the gun a base Weapon Damage/Power Rating of 140. It's important to note that the item in the main modification slot (Barrels for guns, Hilts for lightsabers, and Armoring for armor) is what will determine the item's level. Since the Advanced Beguiling Barrel 25 is a level 50 Barrel, this gun will only be useable at level 50. Next, we'll throw in an Advanced Artful Mod 25A for +61 Cunning, +37 Endurance, and +11 Power. For the Enhancement, we'll take the Advanced Finesse Enhancement 25, which adds 24 Endurance, 51 Accuracy Rating, and 37 Critical Rating. And finally, to top it off, let's add an Advanced Accuracy Augment 25 for +34 Accuracy Rating.

What was previously a statless shell of a gun is now a level 50 blaster pistol with 52 Power, 94 Cunning, 92 Endurance, 50 Expertise, 85 Accuracy Rating, 37 Critical Rating, and a base Weapon Damage/Power Rating of 140. And before you tear us up in the comments, no, we're not suggesting that this is a good combination of mods; this gun exists only as an example of how modification of Custom items works. Players are obviously encouraged to experiment with mods in order to find the combination that works best for their character builds.

But wait, what if you found a new Barrel for your gun but still wanted to keep the old one to sell or to use in another weapon? Don't worry! Unlike WoW, SWTOR does allow players to remove mods from their items. All you have to do is open up the modification panel for your gun by control+right-clicking on it and then drag and drop the Barrel to your inventory. For a small fee, the modification will then be safely removed from your weapon. It's worth noting that many cities and settlements across the galaxy contain item modification tables. While these are in no way necessary to mod items, removing modifications from an item while at a table will allow you to do so free of charge.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into the art of item modification.

The craft's the thing

Whether or not you're a fan of crafting in World of Warcraft, crafting in Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to be a bit of a different experience, mostly because you won't be crafting anything yourself.

Crew skills are your means of crafting and gathering in the game, and they come in three flavors. The first are the actual crafting skills, which will feel familiar at least on the surface. The second are gathering skills, which also look similar but also have something in common with the last category, mission skills. Both gathering and mission skills allow you to send off your companions on little "missions," spending a small chunk of credits in exchange for some worry-free gathering. You can also have your companion gather things out in the world and then send him or her off to craft some new equipment or stims or what-have-you.

You may have already noticed the difference from that paragraph, but let's just spell it out: Your crew skills are named as such because they're handled by your crew. When you want to craft something, you select it from the crafting interface and send a companion off to craft it. If you're crafting a bunch of things, you just wind up sending a companion on a long task. At the beginning of the game this can be a bit problematic when you just have the one companion, since you obviously can't be using said companion while he or she is off on a mission or craft run, but you get your second companion early enough that it's not a major issue.

Look, I mostly joined your crew for fun times, maybe the occasional meal.  Crafting you stims isn't on that list.
And that means that you don't have to take big breaks away from actual play to craft. While you're fighting your way through a quest, you can take a couple of seconds, send off your idle companions, and then get right back to business. If you can't find any nodes in an area, you can send your companion off to find the right resources. And since the rare resources are all found via mission skills, you have a little extra incentive to keep sending your companions on busy little tasks.

(If you're unsure about which gathering skills go with which crafting skills, check your codex, which helpfully lists the associated gathering and mission skill for normal and rare materials. Slicing stands apart from the other mission skills, however, as it finds no rare materials, just credit boxes, Augments, and bonus missions.)

The other major element to crafting that's different from WoW is reverse engineering. Once you've learned your craft skill, click the Reverse Engineering button in the upper right-hand corner of your inventory to switch to reverse engineering mode, which lets you can right-click on items you craft to break them down into component parts and possibly learn a higher-quality version of the schematic. So grinding on recipes can actually result in you having better recipes in the long term.

Moving through the story

In World of Warcraft, you progress in the game solely by leveling. This isn't really unusual; each level band should have enough stuff to do so that you're finishing up with an area's content right around the same time that you're being pointed to a new one. Do enough other stuff, and you can wind up skipping from Ashenvale to Southern Barrens because you're already too high-level for anything in between. Star Wars: The Old Republic mirrors this to a degree, but in many ways, your major points of progress are marked by your class story.

This is important when it comes to things like unlocking companions, unlocking your spaceship, getting your Legacy surname, and so forth. Your level isn't actually important in these questions -- you can get your ship very early if you power through nothing but your class story quests, or you can wind up getting it much later because you were leveling up through other means. Companions are also brought onto your roster gradually as you progress through each individual class story. So while there are loose levels you can expect to have certain things, the biggest marker of progress is how far you've made it through the story.

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