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Getting into Star Wars: The Old Republic a Decade On

Getting into Star Wars: The Old Republic a Decade On

Much like I did at the end of 2020 with DC Universe Online, when I realised that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to turn 10 years old on the 20th of December 2021, I installed it right away. After all, if something has been getting regular updates for a decade, I’m curious how well it holds up as a new player experience.

First off, a couple of admissions. I’m a sci-fi fan, but I’ve only seen four and a half of the Star Wars movies, a bunch of LEGO Star Wars cartoons, and I read some of the Marvel comics in 2018. There’s just so much there and I have other things going on… However, I did create an account for the game when it had its first open beta, so I have a tiny bit of experience with it.

Currently, the game sits at 43GB worth of hard drive space, but this was before the Legacy of the Sith expansion which is coming in February. That wouldn’t be too surprising with game sizes these days, but this is a 10-year-old game. That means it’s got a lot of content, even if you didn’t realise it before you downloaded it.

After logging into the launcher — which doesn’t require an additional download when using Steam — I had to agree to the usual terms & conditions and the rules of conduct. I was surprised to learn that the rules of conduct haven’t been updated since the 17th of November 2011, so probably during the pre-release betas.

There was the choice of creating a new character from the Old Republic (original), Knights of the Fallen Empire (third expansion) or Onslaught (fifth expansion). As someone who likes creating evil characters, of course I chose a Sith character and I went for Onslaught, because the game said it would get an XP boost. I chose a Sniper Imperial Agent for long range damage, and made them a Cyborg when asked for a race. As a non-subscriber, I could only choose from Cyborg, Human or Zabrak.

After some character customisation, I loaded into the game and was facing an area I was not allowed to access because I wasn’t a subscriber. On the left side of my screen was a big menu taking up a fifth of the screen, telling me that I had a login bonus, that I should subscribe, and about my missions. I made my way outside the building that I was in and tried out shooting random people, before attempting to work out what my mission was and where to go. Making my way to my ship, I left the system and found my way to a space station where multiple mission markers made me realise that I was absolutely lost, with no idea what was going on or who/what anyone was. I was being offered quests based on things I had apparently already done, from people I’d never heard of!

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So I logged out and created an Old Republic character instead. Same species, etc, but this time not level 70. I found myself on Hutta, posing as the Red Blade, a famous pirate who nobody knew the appearance of. I did various jobs for the local gang leader, culminating in leaving the planet to help the Empire in other ways.

My main complaints aren’t really about Star Wars: The Old Republic as a new player experience. The loading times are shockingly long, for one, and having to use my two-factor-authentication every time I log in is annoying because there’s no “remember this device” option. I’d also like to point out that the music is actually oppressive. I know it’s a Star Wars license, so they have to use the soundtrack they paid for, but even with the music turned down it was overwhelming. Just wandering around and exploring, fighting a bit here and there, and there’s this massive, booming audio following you around. Star Wars has some great music, but there’s a time and a place for it. Killing a couple of mutant bats isn’t the same as a minutes-long boss fight, the music shouldn’t be randomly chosen!

Despite the game telling you every time you enter a rest area that “only subscribers get rest XP”, and that one-fifth of the screen box which tells you to subscribe upon every login, I managed to complete the first world without feeling like I had to subscribe. It increases the level cap to 75, but while writing this my character is nowhere near that, and at one point I had a three-hour XP booster! You also get some premium currency, but it’s perfectly playable as a free-to-play player. Unless you want to have a new character that isn’t one of those aforementioned three races.

While you do have quite limited inventory space, you can use (lots of) in-game money as well as premium currency to buy more. It costs less than 400 Cartel Coins to unlock one extra line of inventory space for your entire account, so you’d need to buy the £2.99 pack. When I logged in for the first time, I had 11 in-game mails which contained some armour and a couple of astromech pets, as well as the XP booster I mentioned. Also, as it turned out, enabling two-factor authentication back in 2017 meant that I was getting 100 Cartel Coins every month. I was shocked when I saw that I had 5,500! Passive income for the win.

The gameplay loop is pretty good, you can avoid combat on your way to missions if you want, and because it’s a Bioware game you can even play it how you want. A good Sith? A bad Jedi? Play to type? A mixture? A Sith who is mean and kills on a whim, but asks no questions from authority figures, blindly obeying orders? Oh, except for that one person they apparently sleep with to avoid being asked questions — they don’t kill them.

If you’ve been looking to get into Star Wars: The Old Republic, but have been put off by the fact that it’s 10 years old: don’t be. If you’re a Star Wars fan then you’ve probably played this already, but I don’t think you have to be a fan to play it. Just be aware that most aliens don’t speak English, so you have to listen to three seconds of literal nonsense whilst quickly reading a subtitle that would take 15 seconds to speak.

Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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