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Much Like the Force: Stillwater’s Star Wars Galaxies Impressions

July 5, 2010

Yes, I'm dancing. Shut up.

I spent a good chunk of time during my weekend playing Star Wars Galaxies and trying to get a hang of how the game plays. I guess it’s time to write some impressions of my own to add on to or contrast with what Elandarex was saying in his Star Wars Galaxies Impressions article.

For the most part though, let me spoil you now by saying that I am looking at this game without any knowledge of the New Game Experience. Whether pre-NGE was better than its current iteration is beyond me, but as it stands, the game has good and bad points, and I suggest that people try it out for themselves to make an informed decision of their own rather than simply reading my opinion on the matter. After all, I’m on the trial phase still and not the purchased portion of my free game time.

I rolled a Commando on the Farstar server in order to meet up with and get some additional training from Petter of Don’t Fear the Mutant. As such, I learned quite a bit more  about the game than what most newcomers would find, which included hanging out in Petter’s in-game home, as well as learning about beneficial buffs from Entertainers and Medics.

If you’ll read the blog post of Elandarex linked above, you’ll note some minor concerns with the character creation system, and I share those concerns myself. Starting off with a naked body and scaling it first before working outwards onto clothing options would have been a much more useful way of customizing the character you start off with. Luckily, my character looked Asian enough for me to be happy with, so off I headed to Tansarii station with my blaster in tow.

While Tansarii station acts as a one-time starter area for people to get used to the combat and whatnot, I found that there was quite a bit to do just on that station. Besides killing droids en masse there was also the option to try fighting in space with your own ship.

Personally, I found ship combat to be a pain in the rear end because I suck at it, but it was interesting enough to do, so long as you don’t get yourself stuck on a quest like I got, which was a quest to shoot down the engines of certain ships and then inspect them for contraband or some such. Thing is, without knowing what your ship looks like, I was shooting at EVERYTHING that moved hoping to drop one and get lucky finding that elusive single ship that had the quest objective. That took an hour, sadly, and afterwards, I didn’t really feel like going into space anymore.

After the initial tutorial quests and the Tansarii station quests, I was dropped off in Tatooine, and did my best to follow the Legacy quest there to gain more knowledge on the world. From my understanding of it, the Legacy quests are a sort of main quest line one can follow up until level 50 or so in order to get the feeling that they are part of some epic story of their own. Thing is, I found looking for non-Legacy quests a bit difficult, seeing as I had no manual to look for that would tell me, “Hey, this is what a quest giver looks like.” Instead, it feels as if you’re forced to follow the Legacy till you get stronger, which is a bit of a good thing if you like story, but a bad thing as well if you hate Jabba the Hutt, as it seems you’ll be working for him to some extent while trying to take him down or some such.

Ri'kali and Stillwater

It was around this time that I got to talk to Petter, who plays Ri’kali in-game, and he showed me some things about the game that newcomers wouldn’t be able to know unless they really searched the forums for it.

First off, entertainers and medics have some useful buff skills that can essentially make the game a ton more manageable and a whole lot easier, so long as you keep those buffs maintained. If you want a +15% experience buff that lasts five hours, you interact  (using the ~ button) with a targeted entertainer and watch them, and then ask them for specific buffs you’d like stacked on you after you’ve maxed out the time your buff will last through watching them.

Second, Housing in this game doesn’t appear to be instanced. Instead, guilds appear to be able to get deeds to cities or something of the sort, which guild members appear to be able to add on to to make it a bustling metropolis within the actual game world. In other words, you could travel around a planet and if you’re lucky, you could stumble upon someone’s house or a guild city. You could then enter that house or city, and just enjoy being there without repercussions… in a good way, mind you, since you can’t steal anything.

The Rattletrap

Lastly, if you’re looking for a way to travel across the game world, Petter showed me a couple of tips. In addition to a questable landspeeder you get early off in Tatooine, you can actually, buy a much faster speederbike for relatively cheap (5,000-20,000 credits is cheap here) from their auction interface, called a bazaar terminal.  Furthermore, faster travel around worlds will necessitate the use of Instant Travel Vehicles, which essentially act like portals to other parts of a local map. You can get a free one by collecting parts (much like shinies in EQ2) from eight different starports in SWG, and this will unlock the Rattletrap ITV for your personal use.

Now, in addition to questing, gaining loot, and killing stuff, I really didn’t find much else to do. For some reason, I don’t think combat classes like the commando can really craft anything, so I felt locked out of certain experiences, like macroing and crafting, and dancing anything other than a hideous ballet routine.

Strangely enough, as a result, I felt undecided about the game. The game is dated by most standards, but it’s charming in its own right. It has an iconic IP, but it feels archaic in some respects because of the limitations imposed on what a person can do (like craft) because of their character class.  It can be fun when you want it to be, but when it gets annoying, it certainly becomes one of the least wonderful things on Earth.

It is because of these reasons, however, along with my decided lack of decisiveness on the game, that I ask people to try it out to judge it on its current merits. I’m not asking NGE folks to play it, because chances are they’ve already made up their minds on it. Rather, I’m asking people who’ve never played the game at all to give it a try in its current incarnation. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you will see many things in the game that will appeal to you, from a ship resembling Jabba the Hut’s when he tries to off Luke and company, to the homestead where Skywalker was raised. If you’re not a fan of the series, like I am, you may be intrigued enough to remember the things you saw from the movies, even if you disliked them. Either way, you may regret playing it, or you may end up loving it, but the thing is, the experience is meant to be felt rather than explained, much like the Force.

With that said, May the Force be with you always. 🙂

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