Monday, 8 August 2016

Should you start playing SWTOR anno 2016? The game from an endgame perspective

Playing a lot of Lord of the Rings Online lately has had a strange side effect: four of our LOTRO gamer friends have now started playing Star Wars: the Old Republic. Discussions on voice chat about LOTRO's class balance and gear grind made Conrad and I bring up SWTOR. Our friends started out last week and three of them are aiming to hit level 50 already tonight, so they can come along for their first raid! Indeed, raiding was their primary decision to give the game a go. This got me thinking. What is it like to start playing SWTOR in 2016?

It is easy to forget how awesome the MMO you're playing is when you've played it for years, seen all the content and are waiting for new. I am also 'guilty' of this: in recent articles I've been criticizing the lack of new group content or plans to make it in SWTOR. When you are new to the game, though, there is much to see and the amount of content to play through is overwhelming. The current Dark versus Light event serves as an extra incentive for my new guildies to get to level cap faster.

Haffle - coincidentally also a LOTRO player by origin - sums up what there is to see for new SWTOR players in this brand new video:

(Source. Easter egg: you'll be able to catch a glimpse of my Nar Shaddaa and Tatooine stronghold if you watch closely!)

Haffle's 10 reasons are: F2P, gameplay, in-game economy, companion system, voice acting, mounts/pets/cosmetics, strongholds, legacy system, story & it's Star Wars!! He explains each aspect much better than I could, so I'll leave it at this. You can find his Youtube channel here.

The reality is that SWTOR has a lot to offer to new players anno 2016. For those of you that are interested in raiding I'll talk a bit more about that now. You'll have to take my word for it when I say the game also has a lot to offer in terms of role-playing, PvP and solo play.

Advantages of SWTOR to raiders

  • Great class balance
  • Quick to level up with compelling class stories
  • No pay-to-win items affecting gameplay
  • Quick to gear up at level cap (no huge gear grind mill)
  • Legacy system supporting and stimulating multiple raid-ready alts by sharing stat boosts (class buffs and holocrons) and gear (legacy gear can be shared between characters)
  • Well-designed raid instances that can be played on multiple difficulty settings (storymode, hardmode and nightmare mode)
  • Raiding available from level 50 onwards with scaled stats (level cap is 65)

What class should you pick?

Why, the class that sounds the most fun to you, of course! What people often actually mean by this is: what class is the strongest at the moment? What is the "flavour of the month" class? Thankfully, due to SWTOR's good class balance I mentioned earlier, almost all classes are viable in a challenging PvE endgame setting. I'll go over them quickly:
Tanking: SWTOR has 3 classes that can tank: guardian/juggernaut, vanguard/powertech and shadow/assassin. All classes are viable. Shadows are slightly favoured for the newest raids because they can negate some of the mechanics, but the other tank classes have similar advantages for the other raids (all of which are playable at level cap and grant rewards of equal value).
Healing: SWTOR has 3 classes that can heal: sage/sorceror, scoundrel/operative and commando/mercenary. They are all viable, each which their own strength.
DPS: I can only think of 2 classes that are in a somewhat weak spot at the moment: scoundrel and guardian DPS. Scoundrels are a bit squishy for a melee class with their medium armour; guardians score a tad lower on DPS than the other DPS classes (note that the difference is not very big). You could argue that ranged DPS classes are slightly favoured in SWTOR because you generally don't want more than two melee out of four DPS spots in a raid; 4 ranged, however, is fine.

I would stress that the above is relevant at this moment (summer 2016) only. It has changed in the past, and probably will again. I personally rather select a class based on its flavour and the class story and luckily each advanced class has at least one (and in most cases, multiple) optimal role(s).

Overall, I think Star Wars: the Old Republic has a lot to offer to people looking for end-game experiences in MMOs. The only downside I can think of, is that there is no new raid on the horizon at the moment. There is also an upside to this: people are organizing runs for all the available raids instead of focusing merely on the latest one. Raiding in Star Wars: the Old Republic will keep you occupied for a good chunk of your time.


  1. Thanks for the nod and for letting me invade your strongholds! I must say I envy your decorations .This is some very good insights for end-game, especially for me since I'm about to get into Ops. Looks like a made a mistake rolling Guardian for DPS. But I've gone too far with her for me to turn back. I guess I'll just respec to Tank.

    1. Great write up Rav!

      @Haffle My nephew plays the dps spec for the Guardian/Sith Juggernaut and pulls some crazy numbers during raids. Glad you enjoyed SWTOR/

    2. I'm honoured to have my strongholds in your video, Haffle! And don't worry about the guardian DPS: even though it's not the best class it's still fine to bring along to raids. The difference between classes is so much smaller than in LOTRO, none is worthless. One of my guild's hardmode raid team plays a guardian DPS, if that helps. Explicated this in the blog post so it's more clear for other readers.

      @Jason As guardian DPS players consistently score a bit lower compared to players of equal level and skill, I suspect your nephew is an awesome player! :)

    3. i gotta disagree with you, guardian dps is fine, some fights its little behind, other fights you can squeze crazy numbers out of saber reflects and top all dps charts

      the lackluster dps classes are shadows and scoundrels now imo

  2. I've been playing for a few years and there's such a wealth of things to experience, I'm still finding things to distract me. Doing the Dark v Light event on 2 new characters, I've done more flashpoints than normal, and braved PvP which scared me. Also in a guild doing conquests, which I'd not done before. And the journey to get better armour is an ongoing challenge.

    I do realise how some players get bored, especially when they play at speed and for hours on end. But that's not my style.

    1. Cool that you've braved PvP! I personally love the way PvP is done (while I really wasn't much of a fan of it in LOTRO) and I think it's a great way to learn to play your characters better, especially since movement is so important in SWTOR. And conquest is great for spending time with your guildies in a relaxed setting.

      Believe me, rushing through content is absolutely not for me, but if you've played since 2012 like I have, it's not unusual to actually have seem all the content! I don't mind this too much: I keep myself occupied with things (playing with an alt, PvPing or playing LOTRO), but I would really love to have a new raid to beat at some point. Raiding is just my thing. :)

  3. Interesting that so many of your LOTRO guildies are showing an interest in SWTOR. I would expect the two games to appeal to similar players, despite of their very different settings. Both have a deep respect for their lore and love focusing on the journey instead of prioritising endgame.

    Enjoyed Haffle's video!

    I think SWTOR's class balance is hugely underrated - especially that it's balanced reasonably well across the levels too! I mean, there will always be slight inequalities but... if you actually try some competitors on the market, it's a real eye-opener. For example Neverwinter has a class that is almost literally indestructible (the paladin) and has been that way since its introduction.

    Anyone worried about the power of dps Guardians should go do the second boss in EC NiM, stand in one of those lightning domes and hit saber reflect... ;)

    I have to say I was initially scared that your new character wasn't wearing any trousers in that second screenshot, fortunately enlarging it revealed that it's only a somewhat... tan piece of clothing. :P

    1. Just now realized I had not replied to this comment - bad Rav!

      Perhaps the reasons you just mentioned are the very reasons I enjoy both games! Other reasons involve looking realistic rather than cartoony and the availability of good-looking outfits that are not revealing. Yet the difference in setting matters a lot to some. LOTR fans are not necessarily Star Wars fans, and some of our old kinnies in LOTRO never came over to SWTOR because of that reason.

      And I totally agree about class balance. In LOTRO there's a DPS class (rune-keeper) that scores, I kid you not, almost 200% DPS of another (hunter). So instead of 2 hunters you're (almost) better off with 1 rune-keeper - it's ridiculous! The devs really have no idea what they're doing in terms of class balance; a great shame, because the new instances and raid are actually quite fun.

      I will have to replace those trousers at some point: I noticed the same as you when I looked through my screenshots afterwards. She is only in her twenties, though, and this was the first stuff I bumped into that I found acceptable and stuck to since.

  4. "You'll have to take my word for it when I say the game also has a lot to offer in terms of role-playing, PvP and solo play."

    Considering that solo play (with occasional random WB/FP/Heroic groupings as time allows) is what I do, I concur.


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