Helpful Hints and Some Sneaky Strategies for the Beginning SW:TOR Player
You’ve bought Star Wars: The Old Republic, installed the game, downloaded the patches, picked a server, created your character, and have set foot on Tython, Ord Mantell, Korriban, or Hutta for the first time. Congratulations!
If you read our game of the year feature you may have gotten a rough idea of just how much I’ve been enjoying this game (hint: a lot. Like…a LOT). To help you enjoy the game just as much, I’ve put together some helpful hints for the honest player, along with some sneaky strategies for the more Machiavellian among us.
Note that although some of these tips already appear in game, in the loading screen for example, others, you may only discover after spending an hour and a half attempting to land on that ledge just right (more on that later).
1.) “I Should Go”
If, like me, you obsessively save and reload before major conversations, you may experience some momentary anxiety when you see that yellow triangle appear above the head of an NPC. Maybe you’re worried what you choose on the conversation wheel won’t match your actual intent. Maybe you want to make sure you get the maximum number of affection points, or alignment points. Maybe you just like to try out all of the different dialogue options. What will you do now that F5 isn’t an option?
Fear not! Befriend your ESCAPE key instead. BioWare cleverly built in the option of leaving a conversation with the simple press of that glorious button. As long as you use ESCAPE before the very last exchange in a conversation, you are free to replay it, over and over again. And with the quality of writing in this game, that’s something you’re going to want to do.
2.) Don’t Trust The Map
If you have ever played Mass Effect, you’ll probably have learnt that maps cannot always be trusted. Oh, excellent! If you take a left turn right there, and go straight, you’ll be at the mission objective in no time! You tell your squadmates to buckle up and off you go, ready to drive up the mountain. Only to discover that your attempt to drive the Mako up a 163 degree angle just caused it to get stuck on a rocky outcropping, and unless you use your boosters and let yourself fall all the way back down the mountain, you’re trapped.
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly as much in SW:TOR. However, you must still beware of the map, for it will lie to you.
Sure, over time, you will get used to its architectural blue print style, and be able to make an educated guess on whether that line is a solid wall preventing you from reaching your objective, or if it’s actually just a bridge you can simply run underneath. But the map will still trick you. Worse, it’s in cahoots with the taxi vendors. You will complete a mission and prepare to fly back to…let’s see…ah, Taxi Point X to collect your rewards. Enjoying the scenery, you speed towards your destination. Only to discover upon your arrival, that actually, the turn in point for that mission is in a completely different area altogether! Time to take another taxi!
To minimize map and taxi vendor frustration, you can open up your map and click on the icons that show the area transition points. This will let you have a look at the lay out of other available locations and will help you track down where you actually need to go. Another useful check is to open up your quest log and read the descriptor for the mission you’ve just finished. That blurb will give you more detailed information on where to go than the one line description on the right side of your screen will.
3.) Do Trust The Map
One thing that the map does actually do very well is something that, embarrassingly enough, took me 32 levels to realise. Say you have a “kill/collect/destroy X number of Y thing” type quest. You head off into the the quest area and start running around, happily killing/collecting/destroying, only to realise that, hey, for some reason, none of your actions are counting towards the completion of your quest. What’s up with that?
Open up your map and mouse over the mission objective marker. You see the radius around it? That indicates the actual area in which you can expect to find the enemies/get the dropped items you need to complete your mission. Outside of that area, it’s not necessary to engage in destruction…unless you want to, for the Republic/for the Empire!
4.) Jump, Jump, Jump, Jump Around
Only with a leap from the pipe/ledge/cable/outcropping at just the right time from just the right place will you make it to the datacron. What to do when, instead of boldly leaping forward to stat increases, as your companion watches in awe, your character does an awkward little bunny hop in place, trips forward, and plummets to their death?
Don’t resign yourself to spending an hour and a half trying and failing to make that jump, heart racing, stomach flipping, palms growing sweaty from anxiety. Instead, check to see if you have Sprint enabled. If it’s on, turn it off. If it’s off, turn it on.
Still no luck? Try turning on walk, instead. You do this by hitting the forward slash (/) key. This may give you the edge you need to soar through the air like the bad ass you know you are.
If all else fails, spend a little time practicing your leaping. I’ve found that hitting W and SPACE BAR at the exact same time seems to give me better results: more leaping, less hopping.
Bonus tip 1: Sometimes, you’ll find yourself needing to drop down onto a lower area. If so, you may want to try simply walking slowly forwards: otherwise, you might accidentally jump down and over your destination…and have to do the whole obstacle course all over again.
Bonus tip 2: There are some pipes you can actually walk onto, even though they’re probably meant to be jumped onto. Try hugging as close to the wall as you can and very gingerly moving forwards. Or even turning around, and slowly walking backwards!
Bonus tip 3: Just in case you missed it, remember to visit the other starting planet for your faction and grab the datacrons there, too!
5.) Take an Interest/Feign an Interest
A successful adventurer may possess a variety of skills; strength, endurance, aim, cunning, presence…but none of these attributes count for anything, if he or she does not possess that most basic of traits: the ability to take an interest in the affairs of others, whether sincere or fake.
When you arrive on your faction’s fleet for the first time, you will be asked to learn up to three crew skills to assist in further the glory of the Republic/the Empire. Head over to the crew skills trainer area. In this case, you can trust the map to steer you in the right direction!
When you get there, look at all those people, standing around awkwardly behind their little counters, waiting to be talked to, bursting with anticipation, ready to fill your head with knowledge!
Seek out whoever you think sounds the most interesting, and let them initiate you into their wonderful world of gathering and crafting. Whether that will involve collecting Green Goo or scavenging Desh Piles, is, of course, up to you – although I would recommend you pick skills that make sense for your class: Archaeology for Jedi and Sith, for example, and Armstech or Armormech for the fighty types.
But wait! Before you go off contributing to the might of your faction and your wallet by making stuff, spare a thought for the poor, lonely trainers whom you passed by, standing around desperately hoping someone will talk to them. Oh, go on then, be polite, make some conversation. Imagine you’re at a party, forced to make awkward small talk with a group of strangers. What’s the standard icebreaker question? That’s right: “What do you do for a living?”
Whether you’re just saying it to be nice, or whether you’re secretly just asking to get 300ish experience points for talking to them, go around and (pretend to) be interested in every crafter’s profession. Mission complete!
You can even apply this sneaky, cheesy tactic to the flashpoint quest givers. Not only will you get experience simply for accepting the quest and travelling to the Fleet, you will get more experience for talking to the NPC in charge.
So run over to the flashpoint area, activate that holoterminal, have a nice chat with Satele Shan or Darth Malgus, and agree to do your part. If you decide you just aren’t that into flashpoints, no worries, simply abandon the quest. Either way, you’ll get experience just for pretending to want to serve your faction. Win-win situation, right?
6.) Working Hard For The Credits
If you’ve chosen a crafting profession, you may want to consider carefully what recipes you buy from trainers. My Trooper character is an Armsmech sort of lady, who quickly realized that she was receiving better assault cannons as quest rewards than she could craft, and that there was not a lot of demand for many of the other things she could make.
So instead of buying those recipes, and the ones for other class-specific weapons, such as sniper rifles and scatterguns, she decided to specialize in making the best damned blaster barrels on her server. Selling these on the Galactic Trade Network has fattened her purse and allowed her to buy herself some of the best equipment on the market.
Of course, how well your crafted items sell can vary immensely, depending on your profession and your server, but specializing your crafting can save you from spending big on recipes for items you might have a hard time getting rid of.
Bonus tip 1: Reverse engineer everything that no longer levels up your crafting skill, and even some of the things that do. Not only will this extend the “life” of your gathered materials, letting you get more skill points out of the same raw materials, you also have a chance to spontaneously learn a higher level recipe: green leads to blue, blue leads to purple, all of these lead to better stats and more credits!
Bonus tip 2: If you plan on having more than one character on the same faction, you may want to consider having one specialize in gathering skills only. Since items you send to your alternate characters appear immediately in their inboxes, this is an excellent way to ensure you’re never short of crafting materials, no matter which character you play. Just remember that right now, characters of different factions cannot mail each other items.
7.) The Mysterious Benefactor
With a fierce cry of victory, the Sith Warrior struck down her enemy. The smell of charred flesh reached her nostrils as she bent down to loot the corpse. Much to her surprise, she found that the Gundark had somehow been carrying around a sniper rifle; remnant of another fighter, one weaker than her.
Disgusted, she prepared to crush it into dust…until she recalled the Imperial Agent she seemed to share a mysterious, unique bond with. In his hands, what was a useless piece of junk to her, became a powerful weapon; a weapon that would be used to crush the enemies of the Empire for good.
So off she went, to find the nearest mailbox, because any items you send to another one of your characters appear in their inboxes, provided they’re part of the same faction. This works for credits too, so spread the wealth and become your own sugar daddy!
8.) The Need For Speed
25 levels and a total of 48,000 credits later, you have finally acquired your speeder. Congratulations! Not only will you spare yourself considerable time otherwise spent running around, you can also use your speeder to:
a.) Race past enemies you don’t feel like fighting. You can typically avoid drawing aggro if you stay far enough away, and if you do get attacked, well…let’s just say that every galactic hero can use a getaway vehicle at some point and leave it at that.
b.) Heal wounded companions simply by activating your speeder, then deactivating it. This is a very special tip brought to you by the powerful Sith Sorceror Lord Khaustic on the Ebon Hawk server. He says this works and I value my life too much to disagree!
c.) Jump more easily onto and over some obstacles! After many fruitless attempts to reach a Datacron on Alderaan, I was surprised and not a little relieved to discover that when I was on my speeder, I was actually able to reach it without following any part of the intended route. I like to think of it as “preserving my mental health” rather than “cheating”.
9.) Fleet or Foot
Once you travel to your Fleet for the first time, you gain the “Emergency Fleet Pass”. You might expect this to be a mission or a regular inventory item, but it is actually a separate ability that you can add to your quickbar by going into the Ability screen.
The Fleet Pass has an 18 hour cooldown, so you probably won’t be using it as often as you’ll use your Quick Travel ability. But when you’ve reached the end of a bonus series, and all you want to do is go home, sell your vendor trash, auction your greens, talk to your companion and gain some new skills, there’s no better alternative.
Dear beginning SW:TOR player: I hope this little guide will be useful to you during the many adventures that await you. May the Force be with you, and if you have advice of your own to offer, use the comment section*!
*Save Game reminds its readers that any resulting gain or loss of Social Points, Light Side Points and/or Dark Side Points is not guaranteed.