My thoughts on Star Wars The Old Republic have been pretty much completely logged via this blog. For the period of a year I was following the development of the game closely, and then continued to play after launch for around eight months. I loved the game and had a blast, then got distracted by The Secret World which totally blew me away.
Recently I've got back into The Old Republic, lured to the dark side by a couple of mates, one of whom is playing the game for the first time. Quite a bit has changed since I last played in anger, most notably the move to a free-to-play funding model. When the details of the new pricing model were originally revealed I was quite adamant that it would stop me returning to the game.
Still, the opportunity to finally play through the Empire storyline with a couple of friends was too good to resist, so I patched up and headed back into the galaxy, this time as a Sith Warrior.
The first thing that struck me was that the new free-to-play model really is as horrible, stingy and cash-grabbing as I had originally feared, despite a few changes to the original proposed system. I still don't understand it as it is so intrusive and so punishing that I can see it pushing a lot of players away. My friends had purchased the game in an Origin sale and so had 30 days subscription, and were therefore spared the monstrosity of the system. However I was using the free-to-play option (though with preferred status as a lapsed subscriber).
It's a horrible system, made worse by the fact that much of the latest content requires you to spend cash, even if you are a subscriber! I was constantly reminded that I was being punished (as a free player I was given an experience penalty compared to my friends). It smacks of profiteering and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
All of which is a shame, because it is still a bloody brilliant MMO. I really could not stand the free-to-play system, so subscribed for a month, and the barriers just all dropped away and I'm having an absolute blast again.
I'm finding the Sith Warrior story to be fun and so far more interesting than the Republic side of things. I may even start up my character journal again. The Sith Warrior is a really visceral class to play, and leaping across rooms with a drawn lightsaber never seems to get old.
In the meantime I am having fun, taking things slowly and seeing how the game has evolved since I last played. It's an incredibly polished experience (once the nagging cash shop prompts have been made to go away), and whilst I'm continuing to have fun I'll continue to subscribe. The alternative, to go back to the free-to-play system isn't worth considering and would effectively mean me leaving the game again.
The Old Republic remains one of the best MMOs out there, despite what the naysayers would have you think. However, this is only true if you are willing to subscribe. If you're planning on trying the free-to-play version be prepared to be disappointed and have a much lighter wallet into the bargain.