Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Your Twenty-sixth Assignment: Contact

Contact!  Enemy contact!  Watcher Two, get me Control!

Hang on, Agent.  Patching you through ...

Get me some damn reinforcements, Control!  My position is being overrun!  Advise!

Ladies and gentlemen, lock and load.  It's here.

Last week's early access went off without a hitch for most (more on that later), but today marks the official public release of the game.  Expect queues and prepare accordingly.  Our home server of Shien (US RP-East) is already jam packed.  How jam packed you ask?  At 7:00am this morning, I had a 10 minute queue.  Whaaa??

So the game's early access started last week.  Yours truly was invited to the game on Tuesday at 7am EST ... and from that point till last night, Monday 1am EST, I have put 74 hours into the game.

74 hours.

That's over 3 full days.

Now, I had scheduled my vacation around the release date (yeah, I'm one of *those* guys) so I've had plenty of time to play.  And oh, by the grace of Malgus' balls, is this game everything I thought it would be.  It's just ... I mean, it's TOR.  It's hard to explain, but this is the game I've been waiting for.  It's KOTOR 3 through 10, but I get to play alongside all my friends.  This is MMO perfection ... to me.  I realize that this won't be everyone's cup of tea, and I'm ok with that.  I've seen what happens when you try to make convenience features to appeal to as wide a base as possible (*cough* WoW *cough*); to me it generally dilutes the gameplay experience.  TOR seems to be aiming at an older audience with its themes and storylines, and you know what?  That's fine.  If the userbase stabilizes around 2-3 million players with a vibrant, helpful community, I'd consider this a win. 

Ok, fuzzy warm stuff over.  Let's talk about what could have gone better.  Staggered release could have been better.  Now, since I was an early adopter, of course I have no problem with getting in early but the manner in which it was handled could have been executed more professionally.  I don't mind the idea of a staggered release, but what it winds up doing is whipping the fans into a frenzy (and not the good kind).  A little more transparency on when we would be receiving access would have been appreciated.  It at least would have defused the raging pit of nergasmic despair known as the forums.  Yeesh, that's a dark, lonely place.

Guild assignments seemed to have worked out okay.  All of our allies and enemies made it onto the same server; although I've heard reports that some alliances were broken.  The guild import feature was a very neat feature to include and definitely aided in group cohesion, but they probably need to take a look at how it was executed.  They'll need to refine the process for the Mass Effect MMO (oops did I say that?).

As for gameplay, there are still some bugs.  The first holo-conversation between the Agent and Darth Zhorrid is missing the conversation responses (just shows 1, 2, and 3).  Enemies on Tatooine, Alderaan, and Balmorra are still bugged; they evade all incoming attacks.  Rather annoying.  Some draw distance problems with Alderaan during cutscenes as well.  Other than that, it's been pretty smooth.

Now, a few tips for you noobs.

1) Enable comparative tooltips!  Preferences -> User Interface -> Tooltips
2) Shadows!  Dial down the shadow detail to Low and notice an immediate response.
3) Action bars!  Preferences -> User Interface -> Action Bars.  Remember to lock them!
4) Windowed Mode!  Turn that thing off for a serious performance boost.
5) Mail!  Look up in the left top corner.  If you have mail, it'll show there!  Get to a mailbox.
6) Mods!  VERY IMPORTANT.  You can remove mods from items.  Click and drag into your inventory.  The mod is still bound and costs credits to remove, but it can save you a good mod instead of destroying it.
7) Crafting!  You can queue multiple crafting items by simply pressing Craft more than once.  A companion can build up to 5 things.
8) Social abilities!  Press 'P' to access the ability list, go to General, and locate your racial social ability.
9) Same Class Story!  Want to help another person of the same class in their class story?  Preferences -> User Interface -> Social.
10) Sprint!  Get the sprint ability at level 14!  Go now!

Status report on Targeter, Imperial Agent.  I'm up to level 33 now and just completed Chapter 1.  Rewards are good so far; I just picked up a new sniper rifle that's just amazing.  Space combat is a hoot as well, and a perfect way to blow 30 minutes or so.  Lastly, the Agent just doesn't get companions fast enough; didn't get my second companion (sorry, the ship droid doesn't count) until I was nearly done with Alderaan (level 30).  Then, when I got the second companion they sucked.  Nice.  Back to Kaliyo it is!

Fly safe, shoot straight.  For the glory of the Empire!

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