Most of my experiences from planet to planet in The Old Republic are rewarding. Hoth had me expecting more. The planet is cold to the point of being uninhabitable except for the hardiest of species. Why is it then that I am running about in Imperial spandex with little to no regard. I was given a stimulant before reaching the planet that increased my elemental resistance by 10% for an hour, but is that enough?
What I really wanted from coming to Hoth was simple. Like some other planets in the game, you take your ship to an orbital station before riding a shuttle down to the surface. After the loading screen finished, I hoped to step off the ship in some generic fur-lined arctic gear. BioWare could make a skin for each of the four classes themed to your faction to differentiate players from one another.
Once on the planet, you could be directed to an NPC who informs you the weather is too harsh for your speeder and offers you a tauntaun based on your riding proficiency instead. This would really sell me on being a character in the Star Wars universe.
That said, the planet does feel large and barren. I like the feeling that I could get lost on Hoth exploring it’s icy wastelands. The experience wasn’t bad. I just built up this notion in my head of “The Empire Strikes Back” meets the snowfall detail from Skyrim. Clearly, it was nothing like that.
It’s a tough balancing act. On the one hand, I want to be fed great storylines from the guys at BioWare. They’re damn good at it and it’s thousands of years before the setting of my beloved trilogy. On the other hand, I have these perceptions of what I want these planets and stories to be, solely based on the remnants of movies and books from my youth. I know it’s not fair to the developers, but I can’t help it.
As I near the end of my story for the Imperial Agent, I’m quite content with the twists and turns. Nerfs are coming to a few abilities on my Agent, so I’ve done my best to take advantage in pvp for as long as I can. I don’t foresee the changes to the class making my game time any less pleasing. If anything, I’m going to enjoy mixing up my approach to opening on enemies.
Hoth is one of the first times I participated in ganking. I was first on the receiving end of it. Quietly minding my own business, scavenging some droid parts, I was attacked by a higher level Jedi Guardian. Having just left combat, my health was low. That’s my excuse for losing this battle, so get over it.
I’m not one to hold a grudge, but this exchanged rubbed me the wrong way. Little did this guy know, I’ve got patience and stealth. So what did I do? I followed the poor sap and let him fight through a few packs of mobs. He engaged a particular group just as I considered moving on, when I noticed the equipment chest being guarded nearby. I won’t go into gory detail, but this guardian ended up with a spawn timer and an empty equipment chest. I think that’s a draw.
Unfortunately, the majority of my eighty-some hours played on the Operative were done alone. I somehow convinced Joey Davidson to play his first MMO and lo and behold, it’s The Old Republic. He and I started fresh characters on the same server my Republic Trooper is on.
Leveling consistently with another person is, I’m convinced, the only way to play the game. You really do benefit from bringing someone along. Questing is faster, more enjoyable and you reap greater rewards from them. Heroic quests no longer have to be skipped over. As much as I applaud BioWare for redefining the leveling experience in terms of story and entertainment, they’ve also sold me on their appreciation for the social aspect of MMOs.
The only real challenge is convincing players to open up to the idea of working together with people they don’t know. Yes, it sounds odd, but if two people are questing in the same zone and killing the same NPCs, it makes sense to form a party and do it together. Not only will you progress through tougher mobs with less downtime, but you’ll get a good start on leveling your social points as well.
What’s difficult for Joey and I, is finding the right times to play. Our situations with work and family are very different, which can cause issues on occasion. I’m an admitted alt-aholic though, so when he and I aren’t on our Smugglers, I’m fine progressing another character. The two we play together will take a longer stretch of time to level because of that, but it’s some of the most fulfilling time for me in The Old Republic.
I’m equally excited to reach level 50 on my Operative and continue playing my new Smuggler. Questing with someone who is new to the genre is refreshing. However, it also brings the shortcomings of the MMORPG, in it’s current form, to the forefront.