SWTOR Galactic Starfighter Impressions
When Star Wars: The Old Republic was initially launched, I was ecstatic. I have to say that no movie has had a bigger impact upon my life than the original Star Wars. My father took me and my brother to see it when it came out way back in 1977 and I was immediately hooked. My favorite scene in the movie is the Rebel assault upon the Death Star. Since then, I've equated space combat with Star Wars. Just like many other gamers, I was extremely disappointed with space combat as it was done in SWTOR. Now the mmorpg has decided to take space combat off the rails with their Galactic Starfighter update. After updating the game, I ventured into the icy depths of space to see how BioWare changed the game. Here are my SWTOR Galactic Starfighter impressions.
Galactic Starfighter has been out for a while now, and the chatter I've been reading has been pretty positive about the expansion. I've been away from Star Wars: The Old Republic for a bit as other mmo games have snagged my interest, but any chance to dabble in some space combat is very alluring. After patching the game, I logged in and found myself aboard my spaceship. I immediately clicked on the tutorial update icon and started reading through the notes for Galactic Starfighter. While SWTOR does an excellent job of putting tutorials at the players' fingertips, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming.
I opened the Hanger tab where you'll access your starfighters and modify them as long as you have the resources to do so. Every player starts out with two ships (one is an all-around ship whilst the other is a speedy one) and you can add more later on. I have to admit that Star Wars: The Old Republic has packed a lot of details in how you wish to customize your fighters. There are cosmetic options you can do that have no impact upon the gameplay. The other options include changing the ship's components (engines, weapons, shields, magazines, etc.) and your crew. You'll start with basic components but you'll be able to purchase more later on. Also, each component has upgrades that you can purchase to enhance their performance. As for the crew, you'll have a number of slots you can put various companions into. Most of these positions will give passive bonuses to your ship based upon the crew member, but your copilot gives you an active ability you can use in combat.
Once you're ready to take part in some space duels, just queue up as for either solo or group play. You'll be entered into a team deathmatch or a domination (control) scenario depending upon your choice. Then you're thrown to the wolves as you'll fight. You can alter power to your weapons, shields, and engines based upon your needs and gameplay preferences. Your speed can be raised or lowered and is shown on the right side of the targeting HUD. Your weapon power is shown on the left. Your mouse buttons control your weapons, with the left normally used for blasters and the right for missiles. Number keys activate your abilities.
Be prepared to die a lot when you start playing for the first time. Players can bring multiple ships with them (between spawns you can choose which one to use) and you'll definitely find yourself outgunned. Also, learning to fly properly isn't the easiest thing to do. I had to reduce the sensitivity of my mouse as any movement would cause me to zip around wildly. I heartily recommend using the tutorial which you can access on the upper right of your hangar. While just going over the basics, you can practice flying until you feel more comfortable with it.
As for the space combat itself in the Galactic Starfighter update, it's actually pretty fun and a far cry better than the regular space combat. Even if you're getting hosed, you'll still gain resources to spend to upgrade your ship. It took me a long time to actually get a kill. Most of the time when I played, I had a few assists with a lot of deaths. Seeing my starfighter blow up on my screen was a regular occurrence. Still, it's great to have open space combat in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
There are a few negatives though. The first is that this is strictly PvP, which means that most players taking part will by hyper-competitive. If you're normally a PvE player such as myself, you will be outclassed on a regular basis. The second negative is that this update continues the game's trend of not being able to pick a map. Still, you do get to choose which style of space combat you'll enter, which is a huge improvement over how SWTOR has handled PvP in the past. In addition, you'll have to contend with the standard queue times for your server.
There's a wealth of details found in the Galactic Starfighter update for SWTOR. There are so many systems that you can tweak and upgrade to make your starfighter as good as you want to make it. It's especially gratifying to go to your hangar and start tinkering with just the click of the mouse. I think BioWare has done a tremendous job of adding some much needed off-the-rails space combat to the mmo. I hope that they use this template to add similar space combat to PvE in the future.