One of the nice things about Star Wars: The Old Republic is that you can try out the game as a free-to-play player without investing any money in to the game, and play all 8 class stories from levels 1- 50. Unfortunately, in return for the ability to play for free, F2P players are penalized with restrictions in the game. This article is specifically for free-to-play players, and I’ll be going over tips on how to mitigate the effects of the free-to-play restrictions.
Before I dig in to the tips, I will say I highly recommend subscribing for at least one month to Star wars: The Old Republic if you enjoy the game. This is because if you sub for one month, you permanently unlock all the current and past expansions and ability to reach level 70, even if you unsubscribe the next month. The following tips are very specifically for those who are unable or uninterested in subscribing.
Story & Quests
Free-to-Play players only have a limited amount of story quests available to them – they basically have all the quests and storylines that were released with the launch of the game, but they don’t have access to the expansion storylines. While you play your class storyline from levels 1-50 though, you’ll have the exact same amount of quests available as a subscriber would.
- Main Questline: The main quests in the game are the ones with a purple triangle – these are your class quests and the main planetary arc quests. These quests progress your main story in the game and are the ones you really want to try and complete. After you finish the purple quests on your final planet of Ilum, you will no longer be able to progress your main story unless you subscribe – but there are other quests available to you if you are interested.
- Exploratory Quests: If you really enjoy doing every quest in the game, there’s actually many additional quests available on the planets while you work on your class story line, for example on Dromund Kass or Coruscant. These additional quests are called exploratory quests and are hidden by default. To turn them on, open your map with the M key and check the checkbox that says “Show Exploration Missions”. This will allow you see all yellow exploratory missions both on your map and in the open world. You can choose to do these quests while you level since this makes the most sense in your story’s timeline, or you can choose to go back and do them at level 50 if you’ve run out of quests to do.
- Repeatable Heroics: In addition to these exploratory quests, each planet also has Heroic quests, most of which are repeatable once per day. Heroic quests have a yellow triangle symbol that looks like it making a loop, which means it is repeatable. Due to the amount of heroics available, Heroics might be something fun to do once you’ve run out of quests as a free-to-play player – not to mention they’re one of the easiest ways to make credits!
- Black Hole: When the game was first launched, level 50 players had multiple repeatable daily areas. Since then, many of the level 50 daily areas were converted to one-time exploratory missions… but if you are looking for more quests to do, there is one level 50 daily area left called the Black Hole. This areas is accessible from a shuttle near where you land on Corellia, and is meant to be played after Ilum.
- Solo Flashpoints: If you mostly play by yourself, you have the option of playing and repeating the solo-able Flahpoints available in the game. These Flashpoints were originally designed for groups of four people, but now have a single-player option available. If you missed them while doing your class quest, I highly recommend going back and doing them afterwards.
Free-to-Play Solo Flashpoints Required Level The Esseles (Republic only) Lvl 7+ The Black Talon (Imperial only) Lvl 7+ Taral V (Republic only) Lvl 29+ Maelstrom Prison (Republic only) Lvl 29+ Boarding Party (Imperial only) Lvl 29+ The Foundry (Imperial only) Lvl 29+ Directive 7 Lvl 45+ The Battle of Ilum Lvl 47+ The False Emperor Lvl 47+
- Group Flashpoints: If you are willing to try group content, even free-to-play players have access to many of the group Flashpoints in the game. Keep in mind though you will likely not be able to use the gear dropped in the Flashpoints, as it requires artifact authorization to wear. Personally I think the Flashpoints are worth trying at least once even if you don’t get any good rewards from them as a free-to-play player.
Free-to-Play Group Flashpoints Veteran Master The Esseles (Republic only) Lvl 10-15, 15-70 Lvl 50-70 The Black Talon (Imperial only Lvl 10-15, 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Hammer Station Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Athiss Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Mandalorian Raiders Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Cademimu Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Boarding Party (Imperial only Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Taral V (Republic only) Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 The Foundry (Imperial only Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Maelstrom Prison (Republic only) Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Colicoid War Game Lvl 40† No Master The Red Reaper Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Directive 7 Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 The Battle of Ilum Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 The False Emperor Lvl 15-70 Lvl 50-70 Kaon Under Siege 50+, no gf Lvl 50-70 Lost Island 50+, no gf Lvl 50-70 Kuat Drive Yards Lvl 15-70 No Master
- Make a New Character: Once you’ve completed your class story, many players recommend creating a new character of a different class. Free-to-play players can have 4 characters on each server, and with 5 servers that means you can have a total of 20 different characters – more than enough to try each of the 8 classes out and even try them again a second time as a different gender or by switching your alignment from darkside to lightside or the other way around. If you’re looking to start a second character, I recommend picking one on the opposite faction so you see an entirely new set of quests on your second character.
- Achievements: As a free-to-play player, you may want to visit the achievements section of your legacy panel. There are all kinds of achievements available – some for exploring all the maps in the game, others for hunting down all the datacrons or lore objects in the game. Because these achievements were placed in the game before the expansions were launched, you may be able to complete many of them as a free-to-play player.
- Expansions: If you’ve completed every quest available to free-to-play players, and don’t want to create a new character, this is the point where you’re really going to want to either try out a different Free-to-play MMO, or subscribe to SWTOR. It will cost you about $15 USD to subscribe for one month, which will unlock all the current and past expansions and will permanently allow you to play the expansion stories even after you unsubscribe.
- Warzones: Free-to-play players are limited to 5 pvp matches per week – but if you have a friend who is subscribed, you can queue up with them and run unlimited warzones as long as they are queing up with you!
- Galactic Starfigher: If you enjoy space pvp, even free-to-play players can run unlimited Starfighter matches starting at level 1.
- Space Missions: And if you enjoy solo space missions, you can play up to 3 per week from your ship.
- Roleplay: Apart from all the quests in the game, free-to-play players may enjoy roleplaying. Roleplaying is a way of acting as your character with other players using the chat system. Free-to-play players can start roleplaying as early as level 25 which is when they can start using the shared chat system.
One of the biggest restrictions free-to-play players face are the Credits Restrictions. Free-to-play players are limited to only being able to hold a maximum of 200,000 credit – and credits they earn over that amount go into escrow, and won’t become available until they subscribe. In my free-to-play playthrough I reached this limit pretty fast, at around level 30 on my third planet, and most players will reach this 200,000 credit cap by level 50, especially since credits come faster at higher levels.
Unfortunately this means you’ll only ever be able to buy something that costs a maximum of 200,000 credits – a large majority of cosmetic armors, mounts, pets and decorations on the GTN are going to be out of reach for Free-to-play players.
- GTN Searching: My first tip is to get familiar with sorting the GTN by price. Although most cosmetic items are quite expensive, there are quite a few that will be under the credit cap. First search in the category you are looking for in the GTN, then press the tiny arrows on the top right to sort by price. Then you’ll easily be able to see which items are available for you to purchase. If you also don’t want to be tempted by overly expensive items, you can limit your search to 200000 credits. Personally I like leaving the limit open-ended, so I can see things that are slightly out of my range which may go down in price later in the week.
- Legacy Bank: You can only hold 200,00 credits on your character as a free-to-play player. But you can hold unlimited credits in your legacy bank. Every time you get close to reach your credit cap, place your credits in your legacy bank. That way, you can withdraw up to 200,000 credits from your Legacy bank when you need them.
- Trade with other trustworthy players/friends: If you’ve managed to save up quite a few credits in your legacy bank, if you can find a trustworthy seller you can make a deal with them to purchase a more expensive item. They can place multiple “junk” items on the GTN for amounts under 200,000 credits – for example, if you wanted to buy a one million credit item from them, you could instead purchase five items for 200,000 credits each from them, and they could then send you the item through the mail. This requires a lot of trust on both sides as it is possible to scam on both ends – the seller could never send the valuable item after their junk items are bought, or the buyer could demand the valuable item first and never buy the junk items, so only make this kind of trade with a trusted seller or friend. Due to the possibility of scams and the extra work involved, don’t be surprised a seller declines this type of trade when you mail them about it.
- Have friends buy you items: If you have a friend you trust who is subscribed, you can have them place some junk items on the GTN for under 200,00 credits that you can buy to give them the credits, and then they can buy things on the GTN on your behalf. This is nice because then you can buy things on the GTN even if the seller isn’t interested in making a GTN trade. Just keep in mind that your friend has the ability to run away with your credits and never buy you the valuable item… so only do this with someone you really trust. If you’re actually a preferred player and not a true free-to-play player, you can just trade your friend the credits in chunks of 350,000 credits or lower.
- Fashion on a Budget: Due to the free-to-play credit cap, it can be hard to buy good-looking armor for your characters.
- One place to pick up some cheap fashion is from the Adaptive vendor on the fleet, located in the supplies section. You can buy armor pieces for 2,500 credits from this vendor.
- Another option for inexpensive good-looking gear might be crafted armor – even if you can’t craft it yourself, you can ask in general chat if anyone is willing to craft you a full set for a couple hundred thousand credits, as all Synthweavers and Armormechs have access to some cool schematics even if they don’t have any of the special schematics unlocked.
- Don’t forget you can also wear low-level armor found on the ground or bought from the GTN without compromising your stats if you use the outfit designer to make an outfit with it.
- If you play with friends often, you also have the option of wearing social gear, a type of gear that can only be earned if you do quests with other players.
- Mounts on a Budget: The mounts vendor in the Galactic Trade Market section of the fleet has mounts for as long as 8,000 credits, and there are 5 mounts within a free-to-play player’s credit limit: the Rendili Watchman, Czerka Patroller, Ubrikkian Hunter, Gurian Scorpion and Lhosan Duster. If you fly to Voss, you can pick up the Ubrikkian Raider, Lhosan Torch and Lhosan Stinger for 187,000 credits each from a speeder vendor in the middle of the map where you load in. On Tatooine you can get the Ubrikkian Striker, Rendili Watchman, Rendili Protector, and Czerka Cruiser for only 10,000 credits each. There’s also a “secret” mount available on Tatooine called the Gurian Shadow that you can get from the Black Market Trader in the southern end of Outlaw’s Den for 187,000 credits. On Quesh, you can pick up the Rendili Outrider, Czerka Invader, and Aratech Dagger, but you must be a high enough level to start Quesh’s planetary story arc before you can pick these up for 30,000 to 60,000 credits each. Much like the social armor, there’s also some mounts available to players who play with other players and have earned social point levels, including the Orlean Rebel for Social Rank 5 and above, the Orlean Flurry for social rank 7 and above.
- Decorations on a Budget: Although most cartel market decorations will be outside of your 200,000 credit limit, there are many decorations that can be earned from other sources. For example, with the new group finder panel, you can earn some unique decorations by running solo flashpoints even on a free-to-play account. Many crafted decorations also cost less than 100,00 credits… the trick is to buy their correct prefab that you can use to turn in for the decoration, instead of buying the decoration directly from the GTN.
Cartel Coins are normally earned by subscribing or can be purchased with real money. However, there are some ways to get cartel coins for free. These cartel coins can then be used to buy unlocks that will improve your quality of life in the game as a free-to-play player.
- Security Key: The first and easiest way to get free cartel coins is by using a security key. If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can earn 100 free cartel coins per month if you add a security key to your account – this also makes your account safer from being logged into by someone who isn’t you.
- Achievements: The second way to earn free cartel coins is through achievements. Some of the achievements are extremely easy like finishing the first act of a class story – while others are very difficult or are impossible for free to play players. Achievements are a great way to earn cartel coins if you only need somewhere between 20-60 coins more… but I wouldn’t recommend doing them to try and earn thousands of cartel coins, as some are difficult or tedious.
Some of the free-to-play restrictions can be removed with unlocks, while others are permanent. Here’s the unlocks I recommend saving up for – they can be bought either from the GTN with credits or from the Cartel Market with your free Cartel Coins. Keep in mind if you want to buy it from the GTN the availability might be low or the cost might be outside of your 200,000 credit cap, especially with inflation.
Preferred players receive many of these unlocks permanently for free if they have ever subscribed or purchased cartel coins in the past, so keep this in mind if you were considering buying cartel coins to purchase these unlocks. Chart of Free-to-play, Preferred and Subscriber differences
- Referral Code: If you are a brand new player and haven’t even made an account yet, you can use my (or a friend’s) referral code to get a free jumpstart bundle that has a free inventory unlock in it. Unfortunately this does not work if you’ve already made your account.
- Quickbar: The first unlock I recommend getting is additional quickbars. Without them, you will be limited to 2 quickbars worth of abilities at a time, which can really hamper your combat. At low levels this is not an issue – at high levels this can really restrict the amount of abilities you can use. Exactly how many you need will be up to your playstyle.
- Personal Bank Unlock: Without a personal green-colored bank, you’ll have no place to store bound items except for your inventory. If you enjoy playing space fashion, you will want to get access to the green personal bank to store your bound armors in. Unlock: Cargo Hold Access item
- Inventory space, Legacy Bank tabs and personal bank tabs: The higher your level, the more items you’ll own. Purchasing more inventory space or bank tabs can help you hold all of it.
- Unify Colors: Unify Colors allows you to match most armors to the color of your chest piece. This is nice if you have green boots, a red chestpiece and orange pants. If you don’t want to buy this unlock, you can just carefully co-ordinate your outfits so they match without requiring the color match option.
- Hide Head Slot: If you’re often wearing a helmet and want to see your character’s face in cutscenes, you’ll want to get the Hide Head Slot unlock.
- “Going Places” bundle for Rocket Boost: Rocket Boost is not a restriction – but it is an awesome unlock that allows you to use a temporary pair of rocket boots to fly around at high speed even indoors. Rocket boost is probably the most recommended unlock in the entire game.
There are also some unlocks you can buy with credits from your legacy panel that you might want to save up for. Under Character Perks in the Legacy Panel, these perks apply only to your individual character…
- Basic Field Repair droid for 50,000 credits at legacy level 5 so you can sell stuff and repair your gear on the fly
- A Field Mail Droid, which also costs 50,000 credits for legacy level 10 and allows you to access mail wherever you are
- Field Respec which costs exactly 200,000 credits and allows you to change combat proficiencies on the fly at legacy level 10
- There are a lot of other really useful unlocks, but they aren’t accessible until later legacy levels or are very expensive and free to play players likely won’t be able to unlock them due to the credit cap
Gearing at Level 50 F2p
Gearing up as a free-to-play player is pretty tough – but there’s very little content in the game you will need “great gear” for. Players who want to gear up as free-to-play do it mostly for fun and personal prestige – there are no free-to-play solo missions that require good gear, 8-man operations are not available to free-to-play players, and both flash points and player-vs-player warzones offer a bolster to undergeared players.
Note: I have not personally geared up at free-to-play level 50 yet. These tips are based on researching in game availability and other players’ tips.
- Companions: Players who want to gear up for solo content will actually want to focus on their favorite companion and make them stronger by raising their influence level. To raise your companion’s influence level, you should bring them along for cutscenes, make decisions they approve of, and give them gifts that they like. Gifts can be bought from a vendor on the fleet, gathered from crew skills, and bought from other players on the GTN. If you can get your companion’s influence level to level 50, they’ll be extremely strong and may even do more damage or healing than you can! Link to Companion Gift Preferences
- Gear Issues: Players will have a rough time gearing up as a free-to-play player at level 50 due to two reasons – first, gearing in the game is now focused at the new higher max-level, and two, the best gear in the game requires artifact authorization which free-to-play players do not have unlocked. Discussion about gearing at level 50
- How to Gear Up: Gear in Star Wars: The Old Republic is made up of multiple smaller pieces that give it stats – armorings, mods, enhancements, hilts and barrels. Once you have a moddable piece of gear, you can then right click it and drag your modifications into to make it stronger. Pieces of moddable gear can be bought in the Supplies section of the fleet.
- Color Crystal: Free-to-play players can get a hold of one of the best crystals available in the game for your lightsaber or blaster and for your offhand. There are many crystals available even to low-level characters on the GTN that are originally crafted, or from the Cartel Market. On the GTN search for Item Modifications – Color Crystal, with a cost range of 1 to two hundred thousand, then sort by price lowest to highest. Unfortunately there’s no way to filter out the weaker crystals and crystals that require artifact authorization – what you are looking for is a +41 crystal that’s lit up with the stats you want. It took me until about page 30 to find one, and until page 50 until I found a color I liked for about 50,000 credits. You could also try sorting prices highest to lowest, there’s likely to be more useable crystals in the more expensive range.
- Cheap Green Modifications: Level 50 free-to-play players on a budget will want to pick up green-bordered modifications from the level 48 vendor, that have the number 25 in the title and an item rating of 122, to replace any lower-end pieces they’ve picked up while levelling. These only cost 1,500 Credits each. This is the easiest way to get caught up to level 50 gear.
- GTN Blue Modifications: Free-to-play players also have access to blue-bordered modifications on the GTN that give a boost over their green-bordered counterparts. On the GTN search for Item Modifications – and then choose Barrel, Hilt, Armoring, Mod or Enhancement depending on what you need at the moment, and make sure to limit your search from levels 48 to 50 and price from 1 credit to 200,000 credits. The blue modifications you see in the search should be ones you are able to wear – but they can get pricey fast. For example, at the time of making this video, a blue hilt only cost 9,000 credits, but a single armoring cost 95,000 credits and you would need 7 of them to fully fill out all your gear pieces. Ouch! Availability on the GTN is also sometimes limited if you need to buy more than one or two – so if you don’t have many credits, stick to the inexpensive green mods from the vendor.
- Heroic Blue Gear: Heroic quests should give you unmoddable blue gear from lockboxes. These gear pieces can include the unbuyable earpieces and implants, and may be stronger than the moddable green gear listed above. (Untested)
- Fractured Gear: There is a type of level 50 blue gear that has the name ‘Fractured’ in the title. This seems to be the highest gear score you can wear as a free-to-play player. It is randomly dropped in the world so its availbility is pretty low, but you can sometimes find it on the GTN.
- Augments: Augmenting your gear is a way of making it even stronger. You must buy or craft an augment kit, then apply it to your moddable armor, then buy or craft an augment to place into your new augment slot. Free-to-play players stuck at level 50 will be looking for level 50 augments with a blue-border for the best augments available to them. On the GTN, search for the words “AUGMENT 25”, in the category Item Modification – Augment, limit the level to 50 and limit the price to 200,000 credits. The blue-bordered augments you find should be the ones you can wear. These augments require an Augmentation Kit MK-6 or higher, which can be found on the GTN by searching for Augmentation Kit and sorting by price. At the time of making this video, MK-7 kits were actually cheaper and more available than 6’s, so don’t be afraid to buy higher-leveled kits if they are cheaper. There is also a tier slightly higher that requires MK-7 kits and has the words “AUGMENT 26” in the title, but the availability of these on the GTN was very low, so get these if you can and then get the Augment 25 augments for the rest of your gear – you will need a total of 14 augments if you want to augment every single piece of your gear. Augment kits can only be used once per piece of gear, but the augments themselves can be pulled out and placed in different gear pieces. If you ave a crafty friend, you may have better luck getting them to craft a set of augment kits and augments for you at a lower price than the GTN… but since you can’t trade with them, it would either have to be a gift, or use the complicated methods of transferring credits via the GTN mentioned earlier.
And there you have it – every tip and trick I know about how to survive as a free-to-play player in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I hope you have fun learning how to work around the restrictions of being a free-to-play player, and as always, may the free to play, be with you.