Welcome to this new column from EUCantina.net, entitled Life in The Old Republic. Here, I plan to showcase the excellent features and stories from the new Star Wars Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG, often just MMO), The Old Republic. I will do so by discussing the actions of one of my characters in the game, and describe the game’s various systems using that character as a medium. It is my hope that the column with progress as my characters do. I will also give a Tip of the Week. What I will not be doing is describing the stories or missions in detail; I want everyone to be able to experience the stories as they play (although certain story elements may be divulged, if relevant to the article, with the appropriate spoiler warnings).
In this first post, we will showcase the character creation system, as I create a new character for the game.
But first: a bit of background. Star Wars: The Old Republic (TOR) came out on 20 December 2011. The game requires that players pay a subscription fee of $14.99 USD per month, though the first month is free, there are price breaks by paying in lump sums (e.g. it costs $13.99 USD per month if you pay for three months at a time), and there are occasionally promotions for free additional time (for example, players who had a character at Level 50 as of Game Update 1.2 were treated to a free month).
I purchased my copy at the end of February 2012, and have been playing for a few hours a week ever since. I play on the server entitled “Sword of Ajunta Pall”, which is a PVP server (details later). I already have three characters, a main Sith Warrior by the name of Tarahl (a male pureblood Sith), a Bounty Hunter named My’Tillinahr (a female Chiss), and a Jedi Consular named Kyrahn (a male Miraluka). This new character will be my fourth. All characters are part of the Legacy of my Sith Warrior, the Veradose Legacy (more in a subsequent article).
Today, I will look at character creation, and showcase the development of my character. I have characters that start on Korriban (Tarahl), Hutta (My’Tillinahr), and Tython (Kyrahn). I have no characters that start on Ord Mantell, so I will pick between a Trooper and a Smuggler, on the Republic side.
The first time you boot the game, you are treated to the Return cinematic trailer, showing the Sith attacking and liberating Korriban. The first step in character creation is selecting a server. There are four main types of servers you can pick: PVE (player-vs.-environment, fighting against non-player characters, NPCs, though you may manually flag yourself as being available to fight others), PVP (player-vs.-player, where on most planets you are susceptible to attack from enemy players), RP-PVE (a PVE server, where you’re expected to roleplay your character 100%), and RP-PVP (roleplaying, but with a PVP element). Servers are geographically located, probably to reduce lag, but also to allow players to tailor their gaming schedule; if I would like to run Flashpoints or Operations at midnight, then a West Coast server might be good, because peak hours will be around 8pm local. Sword of Ajunta Pall is a PVP server, but without the RP element, meaning that, in the chat, people acknowledge that they are real people, and are not “in character.” It is based in the Eastern United States. I selected Sword of Ajunta Pall because my friend Nathan is operating there. He and I went to high school together, he’s dating my best friend, and he and I would sometimes play online games together (mostly Starcraft II). I had no other forces pulling me to any specific server, so I picked Sword of Ajunta Pall. Once you pick a server, you cannot move to another one (though that may change; under-populated servers may be closed later, and the developers may institute a “pay-to-move” system). You can, however, have different characters on different servers, but they can’t be part of the same Legacy.
When you click “Create a new character”, it brings you to the character creation screen. The first step is selecting your affiliation: Galactic Republic or Sith Empire. Like I said before, it was my intent to pick Republic. The first time you pick a Republic character, you are shown the Hope trailer, whereas the first time you make a Sith character, you see the Deceived trailer.
Next you pick your Class. Each side has four classes you can choose from. Republic can pick between Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Trooper, and Smuggler; Sith can choose between Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter, or Imperial Agent. As I mentioned earlier, it was my intention to pick either a smuggler or a trooper; I ultimately chose to make a Trooper. The next step is to select your species. Republic Troopers can either be Human, Cyborg (cybernetically-enhanced Human), Zabrak, or Mirialanm but other classes offer other species choices (Sith pureblood, Miraluka, Twi’lek, Chiss, or Rattataki). As my other characters were all aliens, I opted for this one to be Human. The last choice that needs to be made is the gender: male or female. When you make your choice, you are also treated to a sample of their voice. The male voice is Brian Bloom, and the female is Jennifer Hale, who is most renowed for being the voice of the female Commander Shephard in the Mass Effect series of games. As I always loved playing FemShep in Mass Effect, I chose my Trooper to be female.
Next comes customization. In order to ensure high variation between each player character in the game, there are numerous factors to customize. The Female Human Trooper can be customized in terms of her body type (tiny, small, medium, large), head (shape of face), scars, complexion, eye color, cosmetics/tattoos, hair design, hair color, and skin color (on a slider). You also pick your character’s name. I aimed to give my character a good name, that sounded appropriate for a Human female in Star Wars. Another trait it needed was to contain the letters AH, which are both my initials and a design I’ve decided to give all my characters. I settled upon Lenahra. Her last name is the same as my Legacy name, Veradose. Any name can be chosen, as long as it is not the name of a Star Wars film character, and that it has not been chosen by someone else on the server already. If you have trouble picking a name, there is a random name generator button to assist.
In the end, you have a wonderful picture of your character, how s/he will look throughout the game.
Another choice that I made is the direction in which to take my character: Light or Dark. This is by no means a choice you must make at the beginning, nor is it permanent. But with my other characters, I decided at the beginning that I would play them one way or the other. In some cases, I stick with what is expected (a Dark Sith Warrior, a Light Jedi Consular), but in others I chose the opposite (a Light Bounty Hunter with a heart of gold). Lenahra would be the latter; despite being a Republic character, she would be played Dark (a Trooper with ice-cold blood in her veins).
When you are finished customizing your character, a cinematic cutscene using the game’s engine shows your character landing on his or her planet of origin, and sets the story in motion. Lenahra has landed on Ord Mantell. She is the newest recruit in the Special Operations group called Havoc Squad, under Captain Tavus (who we first saw in Star Wars: The Old Republic 1-3: Threat of Peace, collected in Star Wars: The Old Republic Volume 2 TPB). She is there to help the Republic beat back Mantellian separatists, who wish Ord Mantell to secede from the Republic and join the Sith Empire.
Thus concludes my take on character creation. Come back next week for a look at character statistics and in-game controls, as well as the progression of the story through missions. Anyone who wants to play with me should create a character on Sword of Ajunta Pall, put a comment below with your character’s name, and send me an in-game email (to either Lenahra, if you are Republic, or Tarahl, if you are Sith).
Tip of the Week: Your character’s physical appearance will never change throughout the entire game (except for the physical toll that The Dark Side can manifest). Make sure you are fully satisfied with your character design and name before you click the Play button.
-Written by Andrew Halliday