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Hyperspace Beacon: Making sense of Legacy


Last week, I spent some time in Austin, Texas, at BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic studio. One of the many things I saw was the Legacy System. Although it's a great tool, it is far from the good storytelling device it's intended to be. But perhaps we can make some sense out of it.

The Legacy leveling system begins when one of your characters completes chapter one. Without revealing too many spoilers, I can say that chapter one ends in a non-planetary quest just after the main Alderaan quest line. Based on the average, your character should be level 32 when this happens (or if you're like me, you were level 30 and a friend helped you pass the final stage). At this point, you begin to gain legacy levels, which Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert says cap at level 50 currently (that's 50 legacy levels, not 50 combat levels).

Until last week, we were uncertain what the legacy levels would actually give us. Thanks to the latest SWTOR video, we now know that the Legacy System provides rewards ranging from ship customization items to species unlocks. I won't be able to talk about all the Legacy additions in this article, but I can hit the highlights.

Hyperspace Beacon: Species unlocks
How does it work?

When a character has completed chapter three of his class story, he unlocks his species for any future alts. For instance, if I complete the Sith Warrior story as a Sith Pureblood, I can play my next Bounty Hunter as a Sith Pureblood or my next Jedi Consular could be a Sith Pureblood. But what about a human? Humans are available across all classes. At the guild summit presentation, Daniel Erickson said humans will give a Presence stat boost. Before people start jumping out of their skins: Presence is only a stat that affects your companion. It's great for the leveling process but has little effect on endgame.

The light side

I can finally have that Chiss Sith Inquisitor that I always wanted! Not only that, but there are now many combinations of species and classes that make sense now. Not all Purebloods would be born Force-sensitive, so it's very possible that one would become an agent for the Empire. If you have always wanted a Zabrak with those cool-looking Sith tattoos but you play a Republic character, you'll be happy to see all skin-tones and features opened up with the species unlock. Yes, that means your Smuggler can now have those cool Imperial Agent cyborg sunglasses.

For those roleplayers who love tragic characters like Visas Marr, the legacy will allow you to play a Miraluka character on both the Empire and Republic side. In fact, if you take your character's story to heart, then you could play out your character's career as a Jedi and fall to the Dark Side as a Sith through the storyline or vice vera (but it's more fun going light to dark!).

The dark side

I am all for choices in MMOs; it's part of what makes these kinds of games fun. However, when you have an existing universe like Star Wars, certain canonical ideals can be broken if players were given complete freedom -- not to mention cosmetic issues. Remember in Star Wars Galaxies how Wookiee Jedi were frowned on by some people because George Lucas never intended for them to be Jedi? Imagine something of the reverse happening. I'm not really one to judge another's roleplay fun, but I think my personal line will be crossed when I see a Sith Pureblood Republic Trooper. And this is probably a rant for another day: Game artists never seem to know what to do with Twi'lek Lekku, so you know they are just going to weirdly poke out of Trooper, Bounty Hunter, and Sith Warrior helmets.

Hyperspace Beacon: Ability unlocks
How does it work?

When you've completed chapter two for any given class, you gain its class buff across all other characters on that server. For instance, if my first character is a Trooper, when I roll my Imperial Agent next, he will have the Fortification buff as well as the Agent's Coordination buff. Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller did clarify later that it will be the factional equivalent buff. Instead of being Fortification, it will be the Bounty Hunter's Boon.

Also, when you complete chapter three, you gain a heroic ability based on your class. These abilities were not revealed in full, but during the guild summit, we learned of three. When a character is questing with a companion, that character gains an ability that performs a tremendous amount of damage. For the Smuggler, it's a groin kick; the Sith Warrior gains Force choke; and the Bounty Hunter wears a super-powerful flamethrower. These abilities are gained by all of your alts.

The light side

Having extra class buffs will be great for instances when you cannot find that fourth class. These buffs aren't usually the difference between living or dying, but they do add a nice performance boost to your character. I believe everyone at the summit gave a grateful cheer when this was announced.

I'm still trying to figure out the light side to the heroic ability. It's fun -- maybe? Will it help you level an alt faster? I guess I will have to wait and see.

The dark side

The biggest dark side that I see for the legacy class buff is that you have to have completed chapter two. That's not really a dark side, but I would like to see it come into play a bit sooner for completely selfish reasons. I do a lot of solo questing as of late, and the extra buffs would help that tremendously. But I can't have everything.

On the other hand, the heroic abilities break down the immersing fabric of the game. When a Sith Inquisitor's most powerful move is a swift kick to the groin instead of lightning to the face, baby Yoda cries. I like the idea that abilities are passed on to the next generation or taught to a friend, but perhaps it would have been better to allow the legacy alts to unlock the same weapons as the mains.

Does legacy make more or less sense to you now? And why does legacy control your last name? Could BioWare have found something better?

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 Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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