I have been waiting for this game since before the forums opened up on Oct 21 2008. I’ve been waiting for a new Star Wars MMO since Star Wars: Galaxies’ combat upgrade around 2004. This weekend was the massive stress test. Just about everyone who signed up for beta access on the official site (ever) got invited. As soon as the beta started this weekend; I was online within a minute.
Having played a Bounty Hunter prior to this weekend, I decided to give Jedi Knight a try. Later on I played with the Trooper, Smuggler, Imperial Agent and Inquisitor.
You probably have or had a specific class in mind. As did I. Originally I planned to play the smuggler. The least likely class I thought I would play: trooper. By the end of the beta my mind was changed. Trooper Commando (heal spec) is now high up on the list. As is Jedi Knight and Imperial Agent.
My experience with the Bounty Hunter was good, but not what I imagined. At least in the first 18 levels. The story just didn’t grab me. Bear in mind though: Bounty Hunter is still kind of a bad ass.
Each day (Friday-Sunday) saw a new wave of beta testers unleashed on the servers. At no point did I ever see a latency higher than 30-50ms. As soon as players were able to hit the play button on Friday their were around 150 players on Tython. Sunday I saw over 300 in some areas. If I counted correctly (give or take one) there were 52 servers on Sunday packed to the brim. Not counting EU servers.
Will dealing with a packed server be a problem? From this experience I don’t think so. The servers handle players extremely well. Areas are large enough. Phasing is done in the right places (and I wouldn’t mind if it was done more often). At one point there were around 50 players in a semi-small area (when the beta first started). I didn’t have any real issues doing my quests at that point and no lag at all (perfect 40ms latency).
Throw away your perceptions of what it’s like to play a healer. In World of Warcraft it seems like you’re constantly on the edge. One mistake or moment of lag and your party can easily wipe. Your peripheral vision is none existent. You’re either staring at the party bar or Heal Bot and just can’t immerse yourself in the game you are playing. In The Old Republic the opposite is true. You’re able to be immersed in the fight and the flashpoint (instance). There are also attacks that you can use to do damage without wasting ammo (or whatever your character uses to power heals and attacks). In other words: you can actually enjoy the flashpoint rather than going cross-eyed as you stare at health bars.
As far as bugs: not many. Small things like momentary issues with the map. Nothing inhibited gameplay other than a few crashes over the entire weekend.
Players were responding very well in-game. The same goes for Twitter. I would estimate that less than 1 in every 20 players weren’t entirely happy. The rest seemed extremely happy. I can’t recall any players that just outright hated the game. Unfortunately you can expect drama and immaturity. No differently than in World of Warcraft. The only difference being many SWTOR players won’t put up with it and are more likely to use the ignore feature.
Odds are if you are thinking about buying this game then you should buy it because you will love it. Get it and be ready for December 20th. It’s going to be the biggest (and likely smoothest) MMO launch in history.