It's too bad there's no option to just settle down and retire in BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. After hours of questing amidst the tranquil sands of Tatooine, I'm ready for a lengthy break.
Having played massively multiplayer online games for more than a decade, I've developed an extremely low tolerance for boredom, and the endless sand dunes of Tatooine, where my level 26 Jedi Shadow Accel is currently languishing, aren't exactly a bastion of excitement. Sure there are Sand People to battle, Jawas to haggle with, and the odd Sarlacc pit to circumnavigate, but everything's brown in this world. It's like Thanksgiving dinner, rich and delicious but ultimately sleep-inducing.
But is it just Tatooine? I abandoned my level 23 Gunslinger on the colourful moon of Nar Shaddaa, the Las Vegas of the galaxy, filled with flashing neon and female aliens of questionable morals. If any place could hold my attention, that would be it. Still I find myself bored.
Is it a level thing? Am I devouring the game too fast and choking on it, or have I just not found the character class for me?
For answers I turn to the dark side of The Force.
One core factor that separates The Old Republic from say, World of Warcraft, is that while either the Alliance or the Horde have reasons to consider themselves the good guys in their never-ending conflict, the Sith Empire are clearly the baddies in The Old Republic's universe. Even if you decide to make decisions that lean squarely on the light side of The Force, as a member of the Empire you're guaranteed to do some pretty evil stuff.
Take Dymars, my Sith Juggernaut, for instance. Over the course of his 18 level career he's murdered countless innocents, unleashed horrible dark forces on his own faction, slaughtered his rivals, and fostered a master-slave relationship that has to been seen to be believed.
Then there's my Sith Sorcerer, Rubygloom (the bright side of the Dark Side!). She's the brightest, happiest Sith you've ever met, but still she's been forced to kill to maintain her position, something that clearly falls on the side of evil.
If international terrorist organisation Cobra taught us anything it's that evil is always tons cooler than good. That's certainly the case in The Old Republic. The clothes are sexier. The powers and skills, while similar in function to their Republic counterparts, are much more impressive. The dynamic between the player character and their NPC companions is more intriguing, with certain relationships verging on the truly disturbing (more on that later).
Does cooler equal more entertaining? So far it certainly does. Rather than being driven forward by the story or mission-giving characters, I feel motivated to continue playing simply to see how horrific my characters' behaviour becomes. Will the novelty last? Let's hope so; I plan on taking a Sith character all the way to The Old Republic's endgame.
The Story So Far...
I've now leveled all character types to at least level 10 with the exception of the Imperial Agent and Republic Trooper. My highest level character is my level 26 Jedi Shadow, followed by a level 23 Gunslinger and a level 18 Sith Marauder.
Now three weeks into my four week journey, I'm still enjoying the starship battles, the crafting, and group Flashpoints, while I'm still struggling to find a class I fully enjoy and player-versus-player combat is still an ugly mess that I find no enjoyment in whatsoever.
With only one week left in my journey to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it's now crunch time. I'll be spending the rest of my time seeing how far I can progress one of my Sith characters. It's level 50 or Force Choke for this MMO addict!