2011’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is currently the only MMORPG that immerses you in the Star Wars experience. However, there is a crowded field of both competing MMORPGs and competing Star Wars games. That leaves a big question: is this aging game worth your time?
Ultimately, The Old Republic is a mirror of the Star Wars movies themselves. Some parts are good, some parts are bad, and some things we’d rather just forget (we’re looking at you, Jar Jar Binks).
Want to find out which is which? Keep reading to discover the answers!
Many people love Star Wars for the special effects. Equally important, though, are the sound effects: things like the snap of a lightsaber activating or the hiss of Darth Vader breathing are downright iconic.
The familiar sound of Star Wars sound effects makes The Old Republic feel like the movie we all love. And the familiar sound effects mix well with an amazing soundtrack that brings this world to life.
My favorite feature, though, is the dialogue. No matter how minor the character or their story, every single bit of their dialogue is spoken out loud. Similarly, your own responses during dialogue (a system familiar to players of Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic) are fully voiced. The result is an MMORPG that feels more immersive than most of its competitors.
Free to Play… Sort Of
The Old Republic is one of many MMORPGs that has embraced the “freemium” model. This means that the bulk of the game is completely free to play, but players can enhance their experience by paying for various perks (mostly cool gear).
However, free play comes with a few catches. Your experience rate is slightly nerfed, and the amount of things like operations and flashpoints you can participate in may be limited. The only way to experience things fully is to become a subscriber, and this is also the best way to unlock the many expansions for the game.
Want to experience it all on a budget? Subscribing for even a single month gives you permanent access to the expansions, and joining guilds can offer XP bonuses that make up for the nerf when you go free-to-play.
A Real Story
If I’m being honest, the story in most MMORPGs is really lacking. Even if the quests are cool, you eventually feel like just another nameless killing machine wandering around a fantasy environment.
But The Old Republic provides a more engaging story on several levels. First, each character class gets an overarching story that plays out as you approach max level. So, in-between the inevitable random quests you pick up, you never lose the thread of your particular character’s story and development.
Second, playing with others is engaging because your choices really matter. Certain quests (particularly Flashpoints, which are this game’s version of Dungeons) present players with options about what to do. These typically flavor morality, with a “light side” and “dark side” choice available.
The game randomly selects whose decision to go with. Therefore, you constantly have a chance to affect the overall mission. Furthermore, these decisions feel like real character development — for example, you slowly discover just how closely your Jedi Guardian will stick to his code of beliefs in a galaxy of evil.
In terms of story, this game takes place in a unique time period, thousands of years before Luke Skywalker is born. However, it also takes place hundreds of years after the Knights of the Old Republic games. The result is a setting that is simultaneously familiar and new.
That extends to the characters available as well. You can choose from a number of familiar Star Wars archetypes, including Jedi and Sith warriors as well as Smugglers and Bounty Hunters.
There are also some more “outside the box” archetypes. This includes an Old Republic trooper as well as an Imperial Agent (think of this as evil sci-fi James Bond).
Each character has a unique story, interesting dialogue, and fun designs. And with these characters, the game meets a goal that most Star Wars games fail to meet. It doesn’t just look like a galaxy far, far away… it also feels like it.
A Mixed Bag
The Old Republic is a game determined to offer you a ton of replay value. However, this does lead to some times when it tries a bit too hard.
For example, there are different opportunities to control a ship. This includes piloting your main starship through some arcade shooter type sections or piloting a smaller Starfighter against other players.
It sounds neat, but it’s not nearly as fun as the core gameplay. Similarly, some of the PvP warzones feel more like futuristic competitive sports than the kind of narrative-driven combat that players want.
Ultimately, though, it’s tough to hate The Old Republic for these additions. The core gameplay is strong enough to keep me coming back, and it’s tough to fault a game whose primary sin is trying to give players too much to do.
All lovers of MMORPGs and Star Wars should give The Old Republic a chance. Considering it is free to play, you literally have nothing to lose.
In time, this game may be supplanted by a newer Star Wars MMORPG. But right now, this is your only chance to experience the Star Wars universe in this kind of unique and immersive way. And it’s worth playing simply because it sets the bar for all future Star Wars games so damn high!