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SWTOR's Free Play: Really Free?

By icarasDate: 12-04-2012 Views:

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This article is less of a review of SWTOR, but more of a documentation of feelings and thoughts of a few weeks of playing it. This article is an effort between GG.Alecto and I, so I hope you will enjoy the style of writing.

When I first knew that SWTOR was coming out, I was excited. I mean how you could not to be, because you will get to run around with a light sabre saving the galaxy! Of course, if you're so inclined, you can go around wielding dark force and creating mayhem which both ultimately sound like great fun. It's developed by Bioware, and I generally enjoy their games, in spite of their single play RPGs, such as the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. I am not a fan of the Pay-to-Play model, and I think it's out of date. It pushes players away from games, and need people to play them for helping to be successful. I would prefer Buy-to-Play with a cosmetic cash shop. So I as much as it pained me for not being able to be all the Jedi I could be, I passed on SWTOR in favour of other games. So you can imagine the excitement I had when it was released that there would be a Free-to-Play option, awesome I thought! I don't mind being excluded from a few things as long as I can still enjoy the game.

Therefore, I happily downloaded and started playing the SWTOR. I was slightly sad, because I only had one race as with so many I figured they’d give you at least 2 to fill the charter slots. For the first few levels, that none of the content was locked off really bothered me, and I couldn't sprint until level 15, which is not really one of the biggest issues. Being unable to use cash shop buffs, no bank slot, and no extra bag space, all of these really does not matter, because they are just minor inconveniences. Morever, they have to motivate people to subscribe somehow so that seems fair enough.

The exp on the other hand is ridiculous. I find that it's the same as before. Free-to-Play and subscribers just have it increased.  Before Free-to-Play, they already had “rested EXP” where you log off in a resting area which is usually a cantina, then you basically get double exp .Subscribers now get this as well as an overall  exp increase, which  didn't show as a problem until I reached to level 23+ when I had done all my quests, but still being unable to have the levels to do anything , so I figured I'd just do space mission to get my levels,  otherwise I would just have a grind in a game where grinding would be more painful than any of game due to slow re-spawn timers and diminished exp. I happily did and escorted mission. When I went do another, I was told that I couldn’t do that for another week. This was quite annoying. Being a Jedi world lose its fun when you kept the same mob for very little exp, and watching my bar slowly going up was killing me, but I had gathered a fair amount of money, so I decided to reward myself. I would uber gear myself, but it turned out that I wasn't allowed to upgrade my gear as there would be a slot for it, due to me being a Free-to-Play player.

I was getting really annoyed, because everything I like to do in games was slowed down, limited or ridiculously capped. I decided to stop just stumbling upon what I wasn’t allowed to do, and actually just checked what I was banned from. I was not impressed.

There were a lot more limits to me than I first thought. I know that they still want to make money, so they need people who are Free-to-Play players to become subscription based. However, I was still hoping for more access to content. The small annoyances started to add up,  and I was no long caught up in the story, but wondered what the evil Empire would do next, and how my Jedi would handle it. I was just more thinking about how long it would take me to get to a decent level to be able to do the next boss without being massacred in 2 seconds (when you are at the correct level or one below, the boss was tricky which I did really enjoy).

This was a shame because before I started noticing everything I was missing out on or the disadvantage became noticeable, the game was fun. Sometimes you could still noticed slower levelling, but it never really got in the way. The game has an intriguing story, and romance options always amuse me. Combat would sometimes bug out. When guy hovering in the air, only my companion could hit him, and I just had to stand watching him hit me, but the community was one of the best I have come across, if sparse on some servers. Just after a while grinding was wearing thin when other didn’t need it too. Overall, it is a good game, but I feel some of the restrictions almost force Free-to-Play players into subscribing. 
  

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