The entire world has been taken over by “League of Legends”. However, “Star Wars: The Old Republic” can definitely stand in as a substitute for League for those looking for a change of pace and a break from the same old video game, but perhaps not for those not wanting hardcore gaming. Since League’s inception five years ago, in 2008, and its beta version premiere a year after that, the completely free-to-play model supported by microtransactions, all anchored by highly addicting gameplay with millions of players worldwide has done its part to drastically alter the way consumers purchase video games.
While virtual token economies have long existed before, where a buyer can spend some amount of real money for an equivalent amount of electronic “points” or “coins” to buy individual components of a video game, Riot Games, maker of League of Legends, have become massively successful through this approach. This business model now directly interjects into the spotlight of the competitive market and quickly has become the prime example of how to attract buyers. Gone are the days where gamers can only play on a several hundred dollar entertainment system while paying for each individual gaming cartridge. Now, a player can simply connect to the internet and download a fully professionally developed video game that will certainly suck the player into hours and hours of game play.
At some point not too long ago in a galaxy very close, Star Wars: the Old Republic (SWTOR) joined the imperial ranks of the “Free-to-Play + optional buy in” gaming models. At its core, SWTOR is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG or just MMO for short.) MMO’s have long existed in the video game industry, where many people even outside those who play video games have heard of such big names such as World of Warcraft. In many aspects, SWTOR resembles many aspects of the typical MMO like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. There is just one tiny, indiscreet detail that makes SWTOR an extremely unique experience that separates it from not just other MMO’s, but all other video games at large, it is set in the Star Wars universe and follows story canon.
The Star Wars story dates back all the way to the last generation. George Lucas’ brainchild set a new precedence for the quality of the science fiction genre, though it originally existed in film format. Fast forward all the way to 2013, the Star Wars story continues not in movies but in this very video game. If anything can be said about SWTOR, it would be that this game is completely story driven. Not only does the game feel like the player is watching a genuine Star Wars film, the game actually transports the gamer deep into an interactive story where irreversible decisions have to be made.
The very beginning of the game poises the player right away with an important decision to make: which story will unfold exactly. Players get to choose from eight different “classes” that go far beyond the simple fighter and healer. After picking whether to ally with the Republic or Sith Empire, players pick the type of Star Wars character they will play, such as the heroic Jedi Knight or devious Sith Inquisitor, which ultimately determines what story the player will live through. The college student who has dreamt about following the suave path of Han Solo can do that by training as a Smuggler, or those just wanting to duke it out flailing a lightsaber can learn the ways of the Sith Warrior.
One of Star Wars greatest attributes is the sheer grandeur of lightsaber combat. Everyone remembers the duel between Young Anakin slipping to the dark against Obi-Wan Kenobi on a volcanic planet, and for just a split-second the SWTOR player can feel like they themselves are wielding the awesome power of the lightsaber.
Beyond the scope of feeling a part of the Star Wars universe, SWTOR is a relatively straightforward MMO. For those unfamiliar with the whole concept of paying a monthly subscription for a video game instead of just buying the whole game outright, MMO’s heavily reward time played and dedication. Some players will find immense satisfaction drudging through the entire game’s story, from level 1 all the way to level 55, but others looking for just a “quick-fix” of gaming will not find it here. SWTOR costs roughly $15 a month for a subscription, which gives full access to all content in the game. However, anyone with Windows operating software and internet, can download the game completely for free at absolutely no cost and try it out. Fifteen dollars goes to pay for the servers SWTOR is played on, and if it was not obvious before the player controls his or her own unique Star Wars character alongside thousands of other players, really lending to that whole phenomena of feeling part of an organic world. That said SWTOR should be picked up by gamers acceptable with entering a commitment of sorts. Despite how daunting the thought of a Mines student spending time on something else besides studying or homework may seem, just know that for every hour put into this game, an unquantifiable amount of enjoyment is paid back, varying between person to person.