SWTOR for the WoW Player

Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft has been a juggernaut on the MMO scene for years now, and many people coming to Star Wars: the Old Republic will have some familiarity with the game?s concepts and features thanks to spending some time in Azeroth. However, SWTOR is more than just a clone of WoW, and to get the most out of the game it?s a good idea to look at the ways in which it?s different.

In this guide we?ll present a few of the key things you?ll need to know about if you?re a WoW player trying out SWTOR. This isn?t a comprehensive guide to any of these features; instead, this is an overview to help you make the transition from WoW (or another MMO) as smoothly as possible.

Light Side and Dark Side

Unlike WoW, SWTOR has game mechanics to distinguish between ?good? and ?evil? actions (although they?re not always cut-and-dried choices). Dialogue and action choices will always notify you with icons of the effect they?ll have on your Light/Dark Side rating, although you can turn this off in the game options if you?d prefer to play without them.

No matter which faction you?re in, you can follow either side, or take the middle path. Sith Empire characters can be aligned with the Light Side, and Republic characters can be Dark Side, without getting kicked out of home. This applies to Force-users and non-Force-users alike.

You can find your morality displayed on your character sheet - it?s a vertical bar with a blue star at the top and a red triangle at the bottom, and if you mouse over it, it will tell you the details of your Light/Dark Side alignment. When you reach 1,000 points on either side, you?ll achieve Light I or Dark I - but the points do cancel each other out, so if you?ve accrued 1500 Light Side points and 600 Dark Side points, you?ll need another 100 LS points to reach Light I. (Or another 1900 DS points to reach Dark I, if you prefer.) Your Light Side/Dark Side Rating acts as a threshold; when you reach certain levels of alignment with your side of the Force, more equipment becomes available to purchase.

Classes, Advanced Classes, and Skill Trees

Compared with WoW, SWTOR has an extra level of ?choice? when it comes to making decisions about what kind of character you want to play.

Class

There are eight classes in the game - four per faction. Republic characters can be a Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Trooper or Smuggler. Sith Empire characters can be a Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter or Imperial Agent. You choose your class when you create your character.

Advanced Class

Each class has two Advanced Classes, which differ in playstyle, equipment, and character role. For example, a Jedi Consular can become a Sage or a Shadow; an Imperial Agent can become a Sniper or an Operative. You choose your Advanced Class at level 10, via a mission (SWTOR?s term for a quest). This is a permanent choice.

Skill Trees

Each Advanced Class has three skill trees, which are like WoW?s talent trees. Two of three trees are unique to that Advanced Class; the third is shared with the other AC for that class. This is not a permanent choice; you can reset your skill trees at an NPC for a fee. At the moment, there?s no dual-spec feature like WoW?s, but the SWTOR devs have expressed interest in it as a future improvement.

For a WoW player, it?s convenient to think of Advanced Classes as being equivalent to WoW?s classes; skill sets are obviously equivalent to WoW?s talent specs.

A couple of notes about the process of choosing your advanced class:

  • When you leave your starting planet, your next stop is on a space station. There will be a mission there that will walk you through the process of choosing an advanced class. If you accidentally miss it somehow, you can also choose an advanced class by going to your class trainer in your faction?s capital city.
  • Once you?ve chosen your advanced class, you?ll receive a free package in your inventory, which contains new weapons or offhand items that are specific to your advanced class.

Character Stats

In WoW, you?ll often have to share ?your? gear with several other classes. In SWTOR, however, loot is much more cleanly divided. There are five base stats, and each base stat except Endurance is the primary stat for two classes (one for each faction).

  • Strength is the primary stat for Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors
  • Willpower is the primary stat for Jedi Consulars and Sith Inquisitors
  • Aim is the primary stat for Troopers and Bounty Hunters
  • Cunning is the primary stat for Smugglers and Imperial Agents

This makes dividing up the loot very easy. Say you?re a Bounty Hunter Mercenary out killing things with your Sith Warrior Juggernaut friend. You?re both wearing heavy armor - but you need Aim and she needs Strength, and you won?t ever have to fight over the same gear.

Loot

SWTOR?s equipment quality system works in the same way as WoW?s, and the quality colours even follow a similar pattern to WoW?s. The levels are named differently, though: the order is Cheap, Standard, Premium, Prototype, Custom, and Artifact.

Conveniently, when a dead enemy has loot, you?ll see a beam of coloured light reaching up from its body - and the light matches the colour of the loot, which means you won?t risk missing important loot drops. (There?s no specific item quality level for them, but lootable mission items show up with gold beams.)

Companions

Much has been made of the Companions feature in SWTOR. We?ll have more information for you in a more detailed guide to Companions, but in short: they?re NPCs who will join you as part of your class story, and they can help you with gameplay and tradeskills - and they also provide story hooks for questing. You?ll get your first companion near the end of your class storyline on your starting planet - often around level 9, but that depends on how many side missions you do. Your early companions will have abilities specifically intended to fill the gaps that your own class can't perform.

Once you have a companion, their portrait appears in the bottom-left corner of your screen along with a condensed action bar (which you can expand to cover one of your action bar slots if you want to micro-manage your companion in combat). Your companion will fight with you, and like WoW hunter and warlock pets, you can set them to the equivalent of passive, offensive and defensive modes. The specific modes vary by companion - some have healing and DPS modes, some have tanking and healing modes, and so on. So when you get a companion, be sure to examine their abilities to see what they can do for you!

Companions can also perform tradeskills jobs for you - as well as crafting (look for our crafting guide soon!), they can gather resources for you while you?re out in the wilds with them. If you stumble across a pile of scrap metal to Scavenge, or a Bioanalysis node to gather, you can shift-right-click on the node to have your companion collect it for you instead (while you?re busy looting or gathering something else). You can even send your companion running off to collect from a node you can barely see in the distance - but be careful, as you can?t harvest a resource while in combat.

And on the subject of companions, sometimes they?ll want to talk to you, but if you try to talk to them while you?re running around out in the world, they?ll ask to talk somewhere private. Take your companion to a cantina (or to your ship, when you have one) and they?ll be willing to talk.

Social Grouping & Conversations

SWTOR?s fully-voiced, fully-animated NPC dialogues are one of the game?s biggest features, and they have a big impact on playing with a group.

Any time you talk to an NPC while you?re in a group, the other players in your group have the opportunity to join in, even if you?re half a map away from them (unless they?re ineligible in some way). They?ll get a notification dialogue, and if they?re nearby they can run over to join the conversation; otherwise, they can holocall in, and will appear as a hologram. Players who holocall in may not be eligible for conversation options that involve physical actions like giving an item or attacking the NPC.

When you?re in a group conversation, every dialogue choice gives you Social points, which increases your Social Rating (which is a threshold that gives you access to special gear). Once everyone has chosen a dialogue option, the game rolls randomly to see who gets to deliver their chosen response; the winner gets extra social points, and their selection is the one the story follows. However, if you make a choice with a Light or Dark side effect, you receive morality points based on your choice, not the winning result.

Enemy Difficulty

SWTOR has more levels of enemy difficulty than WoW does, and some of your abilities will work differently on enemies of different strengths.

Weak and Normal enemies are the standard; it?s fairly easy for a player to plow through a large group of enemies at this level. Depending on your class, a number of your damage-dealing abilities will also stun, knock back or knock down weak or normal enemies in addition to the ability?s normal effects. (For instance, the Bounty Hunter?s Missile Blast ability, or a Jedi Consular?s Project.)

From there, the enemies increase in difficulty: Strong, Elite, Champion, and various levels of Boss. These enemies have symbols next to their names, as well as a fancy border around their portrait and tooltip, to make it clear how dangerous they are.

Travel

The action of SWTOR is spread out across seventeen planets, and that means you?ll have a lot of travelling to do. Thankfully, there are various ways to speed up the process. Some will be familiar to WoW players, while others are new.

Bind Points

These are the equivalent of WoW?s Hearthstone, but they work a little differently. There are various bind points scattered around each planet; when you come across one it will have an icon above it to show that you haven?t tagged it yet. When you use the Quick Travel ability (which everyone starts with), you?re presented with a map that shows all the Bind Points on your current planet, and you can insta-travel to any you?ve discovered. You can?t use Quick Travel to move between planets, though, and it has a 30 minute cooldown.

Taxis

These are the equivalent of WoW?s flightpaths. There are taxi points all over each planet, and for a small fee you can catch a ride from one taxi point to another, provided that they?re connected and you?ve discovered all the taxi points in between as well. The mechanics will be instantly familiar to anyone who?s flown on a WoW gryphon, bat, hippogryph, wyvern, chopper, biplane or dragonhawk. There?s similar variety in SWTOR?s taxi vehicles; you?ll get the chance to ride various speeder bikes, landspeeders, and shuttlecraft. Again, you can?t use taxis to travel between planets.

Shuttles

These are accessible from space ports and space stations, and are the only way to travel between planets until you get your own ship -- although shuttle routes are fairly limited in some parts of the galaxy. To use a shuttle, you travel to the nearest spaceport on your current planet and head to the shuttle hangar. Depending on your location, there may be different hangars for different destinations, or just different shuttles within the same hangar - they?ll be labelled on the map. Click on the door of the relevant shuttle and you?ll get a dialogue box confirming your travel destination. One loading screen later, and you?ll be on a new planet!

Your Ship

Getting your own ship is the culmination of your class storyline on the second planet you go to. (For most people, this will come somewhere between level 15 and level 20, depending on how much extra questing you do.) Once you have your ship, you have access to the Galaxy Map, and you can travel anywhere you choose - just select your destination on the galaxy map and away you go. You?ll arrive at a (class-specific) hangar in the spaceport of the planet you chose, and when you want to leave you can enter your ship from the same hangar.

Vehicles

These are the equivalent of WoW?s mounts. You can purchase a range of vehicles from vendors throughout the galaxy. They include hoverbikes (like the Longspur Scout), speederbikes (like the Custom-Built Speeder Bike) and landspeeders (like the Korrealis Commander). There are three levels of the Speeder Piloting skill, which allow various speeds: 90% speed at level 25, 100% speed at level 40 and 110% speed at level 50.

Item Storage

Much like WoW, item storage in SWTOR is separated into ?stuff you carry with you at all times? and ?stuff you keep in a safe place?.

Inventory

You start out with 30 slots of inventory space, and your inventory is all-in-one rather than split into bags like WoW. You can expand your inventory space by 10 slots at a time; the first expansion is 5,000 credits and the cost increases with every expansion.

Your inventory window also has two other tabs. The ?Mission Items? section is where you?ll find, well, mission items. This includes items you?re required to gather from enemies or out in the world, and also items you?re given to use as part of a mission. So if your mission says ?use the Explosive Space Modulator on the probe droids?, don?t forget to look in your Mission Items tab to find the Explosive Space Modulator (which you can then right-click to use, or drag to an action-bar slot).

The Currency tab will be a familiar concept for WoW players; it?s where your commendations, tokens, medals and other non-financial currency items go. Note that, although SWTOR doesn?t have a formal ?reputation? system, the currency system plays a similar role. Each planet has a particular commendation type; you?ll get these commendations from killing particular enemies on that planet, and from quest rewards. Commendations can be used to purchase level-appropriate prototype gear from specialty vendors on each planet.

Cargo Hold

As well as your inventory, you also have a cargo hold, which is basically a bank. It?s accessible from major cities, and when you get your ship you can also access it from there. You start out with 80 slots in the first bay of your cargo hold, and a second bay becomes available at level 20. This works like other MMO banks, with one extra feature: when you send your companion off to craft for you, they will craft from materials in your cargo hold if you don?t have enough in your inventory - nice touch that makes it a little easier to save precious bag space. (Equally handy is the feature where, once you have a companion, there?s a button on the Crew Management window that will order your companion to go off and vendor all the gray items in your inventory. They?ll come back in sixty seconds with the credits.)

Instance Indicators and Class Missions

In WoW, it can often be confusing to work out which version of an instance you?re in, although this has been improved a lot over the years. SWTOR has a clear visual indicator around your menu bar to show which instance you?re in.

If it?s gold, it?s your instance; you ?spawned? the instance (usually by being the first to enter). If it?s red, it?s somebody else?s. If you mouse over the indicator frame, it will tell you whether or not you can complete missions inside this instance.

This is important to know, because there are class-specific instances related to the class storyline. They?re usually designed to be completed solo, but friends can assist you if you wish. However, you have to specifically enable an option in the preferences to allow people of the same class to join you in your class-specific instances, and even if you turn this option on, only one person can progress their class quests in a given class instance. (Most class instances are fairly short, however.)

There are very clear signs of phased areas and instance entrances - there?s a wall of coloured light in the way. Green light means you can run through and it contains content for you, red light means you can?t enter, and blue light means that it?s a generic group instance and anybody in your party can enter. If you?re in a group, you?ll often see a red area turn blue once someone else in your group enters the area. For instance, if you?re a Bounty Hunter helping your Sith Juggernaut friend with her instance, an instance for one of her class missions will show up as red until she enters - then it will turn blue, and you can join her. (Mousing over the ?curtain? of light will show more details, like the class the area?s for.)

Returning From Death

When you die, you?ll see a dialogue box on screen that gives you two options: reviving on the spot with a medical probe, and respawning at a medical centre. Other players may also bring you back to life. As with WoW, death reduces the durability of your gear.

Reviving means a medical probe will swoop in and get you back on your feet, although it?s not instantaneous. You also get a few seconds of post-revival ?stealth? mode to let you run away from the spot where you died, if there are still enemies around. Med probe revival doesn?t work in flashpoints.

Respawning means you reappear at the nearest med centre, alive and with all your gear. You don?t have to run back to your corpse as a ghost as you do in WoW.

Player rezzing is also an option, although a little different from WoW?s method. Any player can perform an out-of-combat rez, with a 15-minute cooldown. Characters with healing ability have a shorter cooldown for their OOC rez, and some also get an in-combat ability (i.e. a ?battle rez?).

Other Things That Differ From WoW

Names: Character names can include apostrophes and hyphens, but no special characters (at least, not on English-language servers).

Food and Drink: Everyone gets an out-of-combat channeled heal ability which replaces WoW?s food and drink. The name and animation differs by class (and some look extremely cool!) but all work the same way. They also restore your secondary class-specific resource (Force, Rage, Focus, Ammo, Heat, Energy). You start with the ability, there?s no cooldown, and you can?t use it up, so it helps to get in the habit of using it after every fight. Examples include the Sith Inquisitor?s Seethe or the Jedi Knight?s Introspection.

Swimming: You can?t swim, and won?t need to.

Guild Creation: Creating a guild requires you to have a party of four people. You talk to a Guild Registrar NPC, enter your guild name, and pay 5,000 credits. Your party members become the founding members of the guild. There are no guild charters required.

Lore Objects: These are all over the world. Clicking on one for the first time will give you a little XP, and will add an entry to your Codex so you can learn more about the gameworld. They?re not super obvious, but they usually have a slight blue glow to them like other interactable objects - but they?re not marked on your map or minimap, so they?re something of a reward for careful exploration.

Item Visibility: Your helmet is the only item slot you can hide, and its visibility is controlled through the Social section of the game?s options window. Note that some helmets affect your voice; this effect goes away if you hide the helmet.

Reloading UI: If you have any UI bugs, you can reload your UI by hitting Ctrl-U twice in a row.

Game Performance Meters: Your latency appears in a bar graph under your minimap. Ctrl-Shift-F will show your framerate in the bottom left hand corner (in fairly tiny text).

Tooltips: There?s a setting in the game options to turn on comparative tooltips for yourself and your companion. It works like WoW?s tooltips comparison, except that it conveniently includes a tooltip for your companion?s gear as well.

Auctions: The Galactic Market, or Galactic Trade Network, is SWTOR?s Auction House. Its symbol is a credit sign inside a pentagon, and GTN kiosks can often be found near banks.

Other Handy Tips

These are all points that caused a lot of confusion during the beta, so it?s worth mentioning them here briefly.

Many conversation choices will affect your Light/Dark Side Rating, your companion?s Affection Rating, or (if you?re in a group) your Social Rating. Once you?ve made the choice, you?ll get an onscreen indication of the effect on the rating in question, but the rating increase (or decrease) doesn?t actually happen until you?ve completed and turned in the quest. The ratings changes will show in the quest completion box as part of the quest rewards.

If your conversation choices regularly upset your companion, you might want to read their entry in your Codex (under Persons of Note) to find out what kind of behaviour pleases them. Unlike Light and Dark Side choices, there?s no indicator on dialogue choices to show you what effects they will have on your companion.

If you?re in a flashpoint or group phase that features an item you have to click on to progress the story (such as a computer, shuttle door, communicator, etc), everyone in your group has to click on the item to progress - a tick will appear over their heads once their click registers. Everyone has to remain in place until the whole group has clicked.

Resetting your skill trees is done at a Skill Mentor NPC. They?re in the capital city for your faction, as well as the space station hub for your faction.

If you?re playing a class with stealth abilities, your stealth will cover your companion too.

If you?re having trouble finding things, look at your map. There are several features that help you track down elusive NPCs. You can select a filter button to show all NPCs or facilities of a given type (like vendors, trainers, banks, and so on), and you can also select the checkbox next to the magnifying glass icon to give you a zoomed-in view on parts of the map when you mouse over them. And clicking the small map in the bottom right corner of the map view will let you toggle between the local map and the world map.

If you have any other handy tips, don?t forget to share them in the comments over here!

Written by Siha.