Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massive multiplayer online game (MMORPG) that sits at the top 5 most popular free games on Steam. Nine years after its launch, the game is still relevant and among the top 10 most populated MMORPGs in the world.
Steam added the game on July 2020, where it found a new home amongst budget gamers and Star Wars fans. Keep in mind your progress transfers to Steam, no matter where you played the game before.
Back when Bioware was still good, they used to make the best RPG games of the business. Franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect represented fully-fledged fictional game universes the world was yet to see. Only studios like Bethesda could compete with The Elder Scrolls series.
I dare say CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 wouldn’t exist without Dragon Age, much less Cyberpunk 2077!
SWTOR is the only good Bioware online game to date, so let’s forget about Anthem altogether. Now that it’s free on Steam, many fans are excited to try again (or for the first time).
The free-to-play version includes the base game plus the first two expansions. You’d have to subscribe to the game to get the other three DLCs.
- Platform: Windows PC exclusive
- Developer: Bioware
- Release Date: December 20, 2011
- Publisher: Electronic Arts / Lucas Arts
“Play as a Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunter, or one of many other iconic STAR WARS roles in the galaxy far, far away over three thousand years before the classic films.”
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Review
The lack of good Bioware games is alarming. Since Electronic Arts bought the studio, Mass Effect developers lowered the bar so much they created Andromeda.
The Old Republic is the game that took the baton from a timeless classic. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (I&II) passed the torch to the multiplayer game back in 2011.
Since then, Bioware no longer supported their KOTOR games. That’s part of the reason SWTOR gathers so much hate.
But the primary reason is the inner conflict of the game. Bioware Austin produces The Old Republic, whereas Bioware Montreal has created the studio masterpieces. For years, the studio has tried to shift gears and moved its headquarters to the United States. Yet, they have failed to land the massive success they desperately need.
Still, when they made the game free in 2012, the game suddenly exploded in popularity. Worldwide fans were starting to realize the extent of this Bioware RPG. It’s a classic Star Wars opera full of incredible stories, numerous light-saber duels, a personal spaceship, and many classes to choose from.
It’s also an MMO that sticks to the World of Warcraft formula. It means that great Star Wars moments are hidden beneath hours of grind, fetch quests, and repetitive tasks.
But the game has moved forward in nine years. For example, after you finish your “class story,” there’s a new world of adventures, crises, and battles to play.
So, overall, there’s much to do in SWTOR. Even if you don’t grind for experience and loot, you can still play amazing storylines and forget about the online aspect altogether.
Your Star Wars Story
“Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is the only massively-multiplayer online game with a Free-to-Play option that puts you at the center of your own story-driven Star Wars™ saga.” – Official webpage.
The Old Republic is a narratively-driven Star Wars saga set almost 3,000 years before a New Hope. It is the first Star Wars online RPG game, and it allows you to play as a Bounty Hunter, a Sith, a Jedi, or other factions on the faraway Galaxy.
The faction you choose and the path you take builds a unique gameplay experience with a different line of main quests.
You can go about the cinematic interactive campaing solo or co-op. In Bioware fashion, there’re deep decision mechanics and full voiceover for every dialogue. The multiplayer game also includes boss encounters and PvP areas.
Even though it’s free, you’ll also enjoy the ever-growing Kotor experience. More so, with its eight playable classes, this game has high replayability value. Remember that each character class has a different storyline, different skills, and wields different weapons.
How does it work, really?
Bioware built the game in zones. That means you get quests on a planet or spaceship and then go to another part of the planer or a new world to complete the missions.
As you enter the new zone, you’ll immediately see the world’s hub. It’s full of players, NPCs with side quests, vendors, and such. You go out, complete the main story, wrap up the side quest, and then deliver your progress for reward and experience.
Whereas the side quests can be dull and repetitive, most parts of the main plot are engaging. And you don’t even have to be a Star Wars fan to love the story. It’s good enough for any RPG player.
Still, it’s the classic rinse & repeats you’d expect from an MMO game.
On the other, every zone is full of players, so you’ll always get the chance to tackle the toughest challenges with a squad.
Keeping your friends around also combats the monotony of the game. You can’t interact with almost anything, and locations are filled with empty decorations and lifeless NPCs.
But aside from questing, there’s large-scale PvP battles, PvP Warzones, multiplayer operations, and spaceship battles.
Furthermore, there’s a player housing system that allows you to build a Galactic Stronghold on any planet. Before Disney started milking Star Wars with PC messages, we fans got amazing things like Knights of the Ol Republic (KOTOR) and KOTOR 2
Overall, there’s quite a lot of content to play, even if you go for free and avoid the subscription system. Bioware recently released the latest expansion, Onslaught. It wakes the story further with a new war between the Light and Dark sides of the Force.
The MMO conflict on Star Wars: The Old Republic
You need to now the staple of Bioware games is choice mechanics. For example, in their Mass Effect trilogy, the choices you made in the first game still bring consequences on the third.
The studio makes every step you take. It makes you question if doing right is the right choice, or if doing wrong will ultimately save you.
Everything you choose, then, affects those around you. The consequences might extend to your relationships, the fate of a race, or the fate of the world.
Whereas The Old Republic has choice mechanics, the consequences pale in comparison. Because this is an MMO, the influence of your choices is kept tight, intimate. And when the things you do bring large-scale outcomes, a bunch of other real-life players are going to be running around everywhere, reminding you that what you do doesn’t truly matter on a multiplayer game.
And by the time you reach an expansion like Onslaught, which is the latest one, everything you did before won’t matter anymore. The state is clean, once again, for you to grind through the story.
Either way, the main parts of the plot can be so good they feel like a true Bioware RPG games.
The subscription gateway
SWTOR is free-to-play since 2012 with a subscription option. Without the subscription, though, you miss raids, rewards, gears, crew skills, bans, races, and even the sprint ability until later on. You also miss XP boosts, which means your leveling is going to be slow.
Moreover, you get a low credit capacity, which means you can rarely buy anything decent. And forget about buying and customizing a stronghold!
There’s also an in-game Cartel Market that works with real-life money. If you choose to buy from the Cartel Market, the game will give you a “Prefered” status. It raises the number of things you can do as a free-to-play gamer.
The Cartel Market is quite the cash grab, also. Most items are expensive. More so, you need to pay an extra fee to unlock the things you buy in the store to all of your characters. Otherwise, only a single character can use the items.
Still, you can play the class storylines with a level 50 cap. Keep in mind the subscription is not cheap. It sells for $14.99 per month. You could buy The Elder Scrolls Online for that kind of money and never pay again.
SWTOR is the reason why fan-favorite KOTOR doesn’t have a third entry. That’s because The Old Republic is getting all of the support from Bioware, whereas KOTOR is not.
That said, even though it’s old, clunky, and outdated, it’s still getting yearly content and improvements. That’s why the free-to-play version has much to do with over 20 Star Wars planets like Alderaan, Naboo, Hoth, or Tatooine to explore.
Choosing one of the eight factions, let alone starting a new game from a different part of the Galaxy is a great experience. It gives the game plenty of replayability. Or, at least, just enough to avoid the subscription-based end game. The main plot is the best part of the game, after all.
For a free-to-play game, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a great game. If you have the internet connection to spare and some downtime to invest, go ahead and try it. Otherwise, you can’t merely uninstall and forget it exists.