If you’ve heard about Star Wars: The Old Republic, and have been wondering about whether its worth trying or not, this video will go through all the pros and cons about the game for new players in 2023, whether you’re brand new to online gaming or if you’re a seasoned MMO veteran. If you’re a returning player, you’ll want to check out my other video, “IS SWTOR worth returning to?” instead. UPDATED for 2023 and patch 7.2!
Note, video is from last year.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is an online game based around the Star Wars universe, but set thousands of years in the past. In the game you can take on the role of a Jedi, a Sith, or even a Bounty Hunter or a Smuggler. The big difference between Star Wars: The Old Republic and most other Star Wars games is that you can play online with other people – it’s a massive multiplayer online roleplaying game. While you’re exploring the harsh deserts of Tatooine or are going through your trials on the Jedi homeworld of Tython, you’ll run into other players, each with their own highly customizable character. You also have the option of participating in exciting group missions including 4-person Flashpoints, 8-man operations, player vs player matches, or even just have a friend or two come along with you on your main story quests. In many cutscenes you’ll be able to see both you and your friends together in a living movie – where you get to hear and see your character and make decisions live. If you prefer playing alone, Star Wars: The Old Republic’s main class stories are ideal for solo players, and the later story expansions are specifically built with solo players in mind.
If you’re a new player who’s trying to decide if the game is worth playing, let’s first go over the cost of the game. Good news – it’s actually free. To download and play an expansive free demo of the game’s first sixty levels and original classic story can be done without spending a single dime. New players who have never spent money on the game are referred to as free-to-play players, and although they have convenience restrictions, all 8 class stories can easily be accessed on a free to play account, and the original 8 class storylines are considered some of the best story content in the game. So if you are concerned about spending money on a game you might not like, SWTOR might be perfect for you to try out. Personally I’ve played over 50 hours on my free to play account, and while there are some restrictions, I didn’t find that they hindered my enjoyment of playing the storylines, they were mostly convenience restrictions like not being able to wear the few rare purple items I came across, and being restricted to only being able to hold a certain amount of credits at a time.
2023: Free to play players have access to all the base game’s stories plus the first two expansions for free, including the Rise of the Hutt Cartel and the Shadow of Revan expansions. While some newer features are restricted to subscribers, others are hybrid and you can take advantage of parts of them without having to subscribe. For example, the cool new “second Combat Style” feature is only for subscribers, but free to play play can still take advantage of the awesome new Loadouts system that lets them easily and painlessly switch between their three different combat disciplines. Update 7.2 also made PvP have no more limit to the number of matches you can play as free-to-play!
If you’re worried about breaking the piggybank down the line with all the expansions that are out, I’ve also got great news for you. First off, the first two expansions are, I’ll say it again, completely free. You can then unlock all the current and past expansions simply by subscribing for just one month at about $15 USD – you no longer need to buy each expansion individually. Awesome. That means when you decide to subscribe, you’ll get all four other expansions for only fifteen dollars, and you’ll get them permanently – you’ll be able to continue playing them even if you unsubscribe the next month. Currently there’s six expansions: Rise of the Hutt Cartel, Shadow of Revan, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Knights of the Eternal Throne, Onslaught, and the newest expansion Legacy of the Sith.
2023: Legacy of the Sith’s launch was pretty bumpy, but a majority of the biggest issues related to it have been fixed as of Update 7.2. There was no expansion in the end of last year, but there was a big update called Showdown on Ruhnuk.
New players who have played other online MMOs will be pleasantly surprised about the interactive cutscenes in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The cutscenes really are like being in your own movie – and even better, a movie you get to make decisions in. Every cutscene is fully voiced and animated, and the main class stories are exceptionally good. There’s also 8 different classes to choose from – so if you choose to play a Sith Inquisitor, you’re going to have a drastically different story than someone playing a Republic Trooper. Your class decides your combat style, your weapon, and your class storyline – you can play a Sith Inquisitor, a Jedi Knight, an Imperial Agent, a Smuggler, a Sith Warrior, a Trooper, a Jedi Consular, or a Bounty Hunter.
2023: Last year, the character creator was expanded, and some cool new options became available when it comes to choosing how you want to fight in the game. For example, you can play the Bounty Hunter story, but have the fighting style of a Sniper. With some work, you can even unlock some really interesting options, like playing the Jedi Knight story, but fighting like a Sorcerer with lightning in combat.
No More Side Quests and Faster Leveling
There have also been some major improvements to levelling since launch. When the game first came out, players were encouraged.. err… well, required, to do almost every quest to gain enough XP so they could be at the appropriate level for the next area. This often included doing fetch quests and side quests alongside the main storyline just to keep up.
Now, these types of side quests are actually hidden from players by default. Instead, players are encouraged to do their main class storyline and the main planet storylines, which should give most players enough XP to progress without having to do any side quests. These two types of main quests are marked with a giant purple icon to make them easier to distinguish from the optional exploratory quests. To prove my point, I’ve levelled on a free-to-play account, and even without the boosted XP of subscribing, I was only about halfway through my class story and was already level 50 from doing every single quest. A little over levelled, much?
There’s also some great news when it comes to over-levelling compared to when the game launched. The game has introduced level syncing to planets, so you can earn experience even from quests that are far below your level. If there’s a cool quest on one of the earlier planets you wanted to go back and do, but you’re level 48 – no problem, you’ll be temporarily synced down to level 48 while you’re on the planet, and in return, you’ll get the appropriate amount of XP. Even better, you get to keep all the abilities you would have by level 48. Nice. It also makes the game even better to play with friends – you can join low-level friends for quests and you’ll still get XP for completing them and you no longer have to worry too much about staying in the same level range. Personally I really like this feature, but some players dislike that you can’t rampage your way across lower level planets once you’ve reached a high level.
2023: Most of the level syncing issues have been fixed! You’ll still occasionally run into over-tuned fights, but all the big ones have been fixed.
If for some reason you want to jump in to endgame or to go straight to the later expansion stories, when you subscribe to the game for the first time you’ll be able to receive a free high-level character token. This will allow you to make a level 70 character, who starts their story right before the Onslaught expansion. If you’re trying to quickly get in to endgame, say to do operations or to play with a friend, this token is the fastest way, but you’ll still have to level from level 70 to 80. The downside of this free token is that it will auto-complete some of the earlier storylines for you, most importantly being the well-liked class stories. This type of token is called a Commander’s character token, and you can buy more of these if you want to on top of the free one you get. There’s also a second type of token you can buy though, that allows you to boost any of your existing characters to level 70 without auto-completing the storylines – so you can make a level 1 character, boost it to 70, then go back and play the storylines at your leisure.
Players new to MMOs may be pleased to know that the game’s base difficulty is incredibly easy. One of the main focuses of the game is the story, and the developers have made changes to the game to make it more accessible even to the newest of players.
Experienced gamers who are looking for a highly challenging experience from level 1 onwards will likely be disappointed with the combat, and will only enjoy the game if they enjoy the story and the universe.
The good news is that there are more challenging modes available for players at later levels. Players who reach the later expansions at level 60 and beyond have the option to play two of the expansions in Story mode, Veteran mode or Master mode.
Flashpoints / Dungeons: If you’re willing to group up, there’s also Veteran Mode and Master Mode operations and Flashpoints that offer team-based challenging fights that will really keep you on your toes.
Operations / Raids: If you enjoy group content, although there are not many world-first raiding groups left, progression and endgame raiding is alive and well in the game. Update 7.1 brought a brand new raid with two difficulty levels – the easiest is still pretty hard, and the harder mode is incredibly difficult.
PvP: If you enjoy player vs player content, there are two modes of PvP available – death match and objectives-based. Players of all skill levels are thrown into the same match, but rewards are based on winning and your personal skill for medals.
Because SWTOR is a massive multiplayer game, players often ask how good the game is for a solo player.
Although the game will never be as good as a game designed specifically with solo play in mind like Knights of the Old Republic, when it comes to online games, it’s probably the most solo-friendly game that exists. The entire class storyline is designed with a single player in mind, and the developers have added more options to solo content over the years. All the story expansions also offer story content catered towards solo players.
Don’t believe me? I’ve created a massive story order guide specifically for solo players. I have no idea how long an average solo story campaign might take you, but at the time of making this video, if I’ve counted right, a single character can visit 28 planets, play 19 solo flashpoints, and enjoy 6 expansion storylines. Players who are willing to try group content will unlock an additional 11 group-only flashpoints and 12 8-man operations once you reached endgame.
Do you need to know about Star Wars?
I’ve also seen players ask if it’s important to know a lot about the Star Wars universe or if you need to have seen the movies before playing. I feel I can pretty confidently say no – the game starts you off as an apprentice in the various classes, and your story mentors will teach you more about the world around you as you play. In general, the story is set in a fairly generic sci fi universe that follows many of the same rules as our world does, with the additions of space travel and sentient aliens. Add in the more fantasy-based Jedi and Sith
magic *cough* Force users, and you’ve got the idea of the Star Wars universe. The big things to know about this game is that it is set over 3,000 years before the Star War movies take place… so you likely won’t see any references to Darth Vader or The Mandalorian kicking around. I believe anyone who enjoys Sci Fi based games or games that have a huge established lore base would enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Population & Update Frequency
Instead of having many smaller servers, SWTOR now has 5 mega servers. While some servers were very quiet before the merge, all five servers currently have a good population. The merge allowed more players to use the group finder together, and it seems to have worked very successfully, and all the current servers seem to be active except for the French one. SWTOR’s exact population is a bit mysterious and hard to count, but at least from the Steam charts, it’s been pretty steady the last two years or so, and the game being added to Steam seems to continue to be paying off even two years down the road.
The update cadence of the game isn’t as frequent as most long-time players would want it, but the game is by no means dead either – last year’s expansion brought a huge overhaul to many of the game’s systems that really points towards the development team investing in the game’s infrastructure and future. This big change brought big delays to the last expansion which were only fixed as mid-2022, which lead to one big update at the end of the year.
One of the nice things about the game being focused on story is that there is never a bad time to jump in to the game – I often get ask if it’s “too late to join”. None of the older storylines are removed or made irrelevant, so you can start at level 1 and play the story at your own pace, no matter how many expansions have come out since you started. It’s never “too late” to jump in to the game – new players of the game will have over ten years worth of content to explore and enjoy. Even the stuff that got added this and last year, including a lot of throwbacks to the older Knight of the Old Republic games, will simply be available to you whenever you get there. As of the last update, there’s been a ton of story teasers showing the different story threads that will be pulled in future updates.
Too late for gear? Another question players often ask is if it’s too late to catch up with the more technical side of things like gearing, or reaching level 80. Every couple of years, the entire gearing system of the game is reset, and all players have to start fresh at endgame. This reset makes it really easy for players who haven’t been playing for ten years to jump in. You don’t have to catch up with ten years of gearing.
One of the other big concerns I’ve seen about the game is the lack of endgame content. At the launch of the game, once you had reach max level, there was very little else to do in the game and this lack of “endgame” content really hurt the game’s population and reputation. It’s been 10 years since the game’s launch though, and a huge amount of content has been added since then. To give you some context… the game launched with a single 8-man group operation, and now the game has twelve including the one added last year. These operations are in addition to many other types of content that now exists including 5 single-boss operation instances, monthly events like the Swoop Event, Bounty Week, and Rakghoul event, over 40 4-man flashpoints many of which have a solo option available and I’m really sorry I’ve last track of exactly how many there are at this point, 15 player vs player maps, 4 galactic starfighter player vs player maps, a solo tournament-style fight pit called the Eternal Championship, repeatable Heroics on almost every planet, and 12 daily areas that didn’t exist when the game launched. So if you’re worried about starting the game and then running out of things to do when you reach max-level… I say good luck buddy, because even I haven’t done every single thing available at endgame yet and I’ve been playing since launch!
Who Might Like or Dislike SWTOR
Now let’s go over who might like or dislike this game.
- If you are a new player looking for great MMO story content, I think you will love the game
- If you love Star Wars, I think you will love the game
- If you enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic, lower your expectations a bit and I think you will enjoy this game… but it ain’t no Knights of the Old Republic 3. Uh… we’ll see if the remake happens, I guess?
- If you are looking for a sci fi mmo, I would recommend this game
- If you liked the Disney+ Star Wars tv shows and are looking for more expanded and adventurous lore like that, I think you will love the Old Republic
- If you are looking for a game to play with a friend or significant other, I have personally enjoyed playing this game one-on-one with both friends and family. The game is especially good for long-distance play. Unfortunately, no couch-co op mode.
- If you are looking for a game with fun group activities, I would recommend this game’s Flashpoints and Operations as being really fun, but I’d point out that the story and levelling content leans more towards solo players
- If you are looking for top-notch challenging combat, I would not recommend this game – while positioning yourself can be important, you can not manually dodge or evade attacks. The combat is similar to older styles of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, and may feel a bit slower than newer style MMORPGs like Elder Scrolls Online and won’t be anything like extremely mobile games like Overwatch or battle royal games like Apex Legends or Fortnite.
- If you are looking for hyper-realistic next generation graphics, I would not recommend this game. With that said I like the aesthetics of the game a lot and it can look pretty stunning for an MMO if you have it running on the Ultra settings. The developer team has been slowly added improved graphics to the game over time as well, but in the end it’s a ten year old game.
- If you are looking for a perfectly balanced, bug-free pvp experience I would not recommend this game. With that said, many of my friends do enjoy both the casual pvp in the game.
- If you are looking for a game that uses cutting-edge technology, I would not recommend this game. Due to rushing the launch of the game, the game is stuck with an older engine and is not as well optimized as it could be, especially compared to newer online games.
- If you are looking for a game that is 100% free-to-play, I will warn you that you may experience frustrations, and will hit a paywall at around level 60 and at the end of the free expansions, but as I’ve mentioned I’ve really enjoyed playing the class storyline on my free to play account, and if I decide to play the other 8 class storylines I could easily clock over 200 hours in the game without spending a dime. If you have at least $15 to spend you can unlock all the expansions permanently.
- If you’re looking for a game where you can really customize your character, the game is great for that. You can have the looks of one armor while using the stat of another, mix and match armor sets, dye armor, and choose from hundreds of color crystals for your lightsaber or blaster. It’s very rare to see two identical charters.
- If you’re looking for a game you can really invest in to, even beyond the huge amounts of story and quests that are available that I’ve already talked about, the game also has really extensive player housing that you can decorate, indepth crafting, guilds, roleplay, and lots of other things that exist outside of the game’s main spheres of play. Because there are so many facets to the game, if you get bored of one you can always check out another.
- If you are looking for a game where you can really connect with your character, SWTOR is great for that. When you combine its customization options with the movie-like cutscenes, and the ability to make long-lasting choices, many players feel very connected to their ingame characters.
If you’re a new player trying to decide if you should try the game or not, I hope by now I’ve covered enough to help you decide. The easiest way to get the game is to find it on Steam or go to swtor.com/download and it will start downloading immediately. If you’re still wondering about specific aspects of the game, like the classes or story, I’ve created dozens of videos ranging on every topic of the game and if you plan on playing I highly suggest checking out my playlist called “The Academy”!
Good luck in the universe of Star Wars: The Old Republic… and may the Force be with you!