Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP Impressions

I am a very PvP oriented person. When I pick up a new MMO to play, I just can’t stick with it unless it provides a deep, engaging, and fair PvP experience. I was fortunate enough to play Star Wars: The Old Republic in the last two beta weekends, and the PvP gameplay doesn’t disappoint! Read on to find out what SW:TOR has going for it in regards to PvP.

It is somewhat rare to find a game that provides an enjoyable pvp experience. Developers must strike a nice balance between different player classes, gear levels, flow of combat, etc. It is detrimental to the PvP experience to have any of these things severely out of tune. For example, if gear makes a lot of difference, and the grind for competitive quality gear is excessively long, your players who are new to PvP are going to get stomped regardless of their skill. This creates a negative PvP experience that people aren’t likely to stick with.

So, let’s take a look at some of the things that SW:TOR does to try to combat some of the common pitfalls of the MMO PvP experience:

  •  The matchmaking system: When the game selects players for a Warzone match, it will try to select players of similar levels. The system will expand the level range from which it selects players if it is taking a long time to find enough players to join.
  •  The bolstering system: The way I understand the bolstering system is whenever you are put in a match, your stats and damage will be increased to be similar to the highest level players in the match. This bolstering mechanic makes it so even if you queue up for a Warzone as a level 15 player and your are fighting against level 30-40 players, you can still be of significant use to your team. Another nice bonus of this system is because you get bolstered up, skill becomes more of a determining factor in who wins a fight rather than just the level difference.
  • Responsiveness: The controls in SW:TOR are smooth and responsive. Movement is fluid, controls are very customizable, and hot-keys are very responsive when firing your abilities. This is probably one of the most important aspects of PvP game play. If movement and combat are unresponsive, it’s difficult for the player to become engaged because they feel that they don’t have control over what’s going on.
  • Visibility: Being able to tell what is going on in combat is something I think a lot of games overlook. In SW:TOR, each class has a distinct look, and important abilities have distinct visual representations. Having these very unique visual representations makes the PvP more engaging because you can tell what’s going on and respond accordingly.
  • Class Balance: From what I experienced, the classes in SW:TOR are generally balanced. I was able to play 3 different classes, and I never felt like any of the classes I went up against completely dominated everything. I am surprised at the state of balance in this early stage of the game. Most games have severe balance issues in the beginning and struggle with solving balance issues well into release. Also, even though there are two factions in the game, the class mechanics are mirrored between them. For example, a Jedi Sentinel will have the exact same abilities as a Sith Marauder, just with different names and animations.
  • Minimal AoE spam: This is something I thought was worth mentioning after having played Rift. SW:TOR does not have super powerful, spammable AoE attacks. Most abilities in SW:TOR have a cool down of anywhere from 6-15 seconds and the AoE attacks generally don’t last for very long (Usually one instant hit or channeled for 3 seconds). One of the things I really disliked in Rift was how a lot of the PvP matches came down to an AoE spam fest because the AoE attacks were really powerful, typically had no cool downs, and lasted for a long duration. When you have too much AoE damage and healing, the game becomes very boring.
  • Depth: PvP must not be too simple. There needs to be good interaction between use of abilities and counter abilities to create an environment where strategy is important. All of the previous points add up and contribute to this. I believe that SW:TOR does a really good job in giving depth to their PvP system. There are lots of opportunities to use counter abilities against other players and develop strategies against specific classes.

When I started playing SW:TOR, I wasn’t really all that interested in the game, but after having played some of the PvP content, I am VERY impressed with what it offers. All the above points really come together to create a very fun and engaging PvP experience that I think will keep people interested for a long time to come. I know I’ll be playing it for a fair amount of time!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Slasher443
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 14:08:04

    Nice article. Does SWTOR PVP have large area battles? Something like Alterac Valley in WoW. Or is it arena style combat?


    • Greenfuzz
      Dec 06, 2011 @ 14:24:42

      I only experienced the Warzones, which are 8v8 I believe. There are 3 different Warzones in the game.

      There is an open world pvp zone called Illum, though, which is supposedly very large. I didn’t get to play any of the open world pvp content because it’s mostly for high level players I think.

      Lastly, there is a place on Tatooine where you can participate in free-for-all pvp. The only people you can’t attack in this area are members of your own guild or group.


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