After playing SWTOR up to level 37 on alliance and level 18 on empire, here are my thoughts on space battles in Star Wars the Old Republic.
Space battles are repeatative. There are only a few and yes, they are on rails. However, I don’t mind the rails too much. But the repeatition of the missions themselves make the missions very predicatable. Even the character banter is always the same, queued up in the same parts of the mission.
So when you fly the same path, over and over, you can almost put zero effort into the missions because you memorize them to the finest detail. I know when the ships are coming to come from the right, now the bottom, and now from behind that ship over there. You can literally aim in advance.
- Escort a ship. The ship you’re escorting flies a crazy path past all kinds of dangers. Makes zero sense, but it is fun.
- Blow up a space station. This mission, more than any other makes me want free flight. The path is just weird.
- Ice Field. Take out enemy fighters and a “boss” ship with it’s escorts.
- Asteroid field. Blow up enemy fighters while dodging rocks. The path is one that you wouldn’t take if you had a choice and your side kick in the mission even says “Can’t we go around?” when you fly through a narrow crack between two tumbling asteroids.
- Take down the super star destroyer while half a dozen star destroyers attempt to stop you. More specifically, take out it guns and shield generators, but nothing you do can actually take it down.
- Take out enemy bombers. Prevent many dozens of enemy bombers from blowing up a friendly space station. I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think the space station is ever in any real danger. You win the mission by how many bombers you destroy… not whether the space station survives. Drives me nuts.
Each of these missions has a higher difficulty version. They are in totally different locations and have different names, but are otherwise exactly the same as their easier bretheren. I mean exactly… same path, same ships, etc. only there’s more and they are harder.
There are quite a few quirks to space combat as well.
- The gun turrets on large ships are target able THROUGH the ship. If you’re on the port side straffing turrets, you can also target the ones on the starboard side. Kinda weird. Also, those very same guns can target you… they even fire right through the ship to hit you.
- Large ships that have no guns left (because you destroyed them all) still manage to make pot shots at you. It’s not clear where the beams are coming from, but they do still hit you despite the fact that it doesn’t actually have any gun turrets left.
- I also hate, hate, hate that even though I have destroyed the shield generators and every single gun on a star destroyer, they never actually blow up. I can fire 50 missiles into it and it never gives me the satisfaction of exploding. It just flames, smokes, and lists to the side.
- Friendly ships fire at enemies, but don’t damage them at all as far as I can tell. Two large destroyer type ships will fire on each other and do nothing. But you come along in your little ship and pew pew pew every gun and shield generator to oblivion in one pass.
- On the super star destroyer and the space station, there appears to be one target-able spot left that is indestructible. I’ve fired 20 missles at the star destroyer one and it doesn’t leave a dent. Maybe I can destroy it on higher levels or something.
- You can explode defense satellites in the space station mission, but that’s the largest thing you can destroy.
Also, all of the missions have bonus missions that open up on higher levels. For example, you might get a bonus mission to destroy all of the defense satellites in the space station mission. Here’s the thing… even if you destroy all of them in lower levels, you won’t get credit for it until the bonus mission opens up at some point. After destroying the sallites the previous 20 times I did the mission, imagine my surprise when I suddenly was asked to do it for extra experience. I want my back pay, er, experience!
Here’s the ultimate face palm of the space battles in swtor: the empire missions are exactly the same as the alliance missions. They have different names, locations, and ship types, but are otherwise the same. You fly the same path with the same goals.
Despite all my bitching… the space missions are still quite fun. Here’s my top three suggestions to Bioware. I have many more, but I think these three are most realistic to achieve and would bring the most value to players.
- Make the empire and alliance missions completely different.
- Make ships solid so you can shoot or be shot through them.
- Create a multiplayer aspect. Multiple players could be on rails, but you can both affect the outcome of the same mission. This could work awesome in PvP too.