Released back in 2011, Star Wars: The Old Republic brought an interesting blend between a Star Wars MMO and Bioware’s unique form of storytelling. Set in the Old Republic era, SWTOR is technically a sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, telling the story of the galaxy 300 years after the events of the games. While a lot has changed since its release, not all of them good, SWTOR continues to keep chugging along. If you’re itching for more Star Wars games to play and you want to know if SWTOR is worth your time then you’re in the right place. Read on as we go over whether or not Star Wars: The Old Republic is worth playing in 2023.
Let’s start with arguably one of the most important aspects of any game: the gameplay. The first choice you make in the game is what side you want to traverse the world of Star Wars on; the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. There are eight classes to choose from, split between the two factions. The Republic classes include the Jedi Consular, Jedi Knight, Smuggler, and Trooper. The Empire classes include the Sith Inquisitor, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Bounty Hunter. While the classes are mirrored between factions, meaning classes like the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior fit the same role, they each have unique animations that make them seem wholly unique.
Once finished with character creation, players will be free to explore multiple planets famous in the Star Wars universe as they follow their class’s narrative. All the while picking up new abilities as they level, deepening the ability-based combat SWTOR presents.
While the game’s graphics may not impress some, it’s still visually appealing. Each world is finely crafted to maintain that Star Wars feel and it shows.
Other than unique animations, each class has its own storyline that deals with different problems plaguing the Republic and Empire. The Imperial Agent is tasked with keeping the Empire together from behind the scenes while the Sith Inquisitor explores dark sorcery to rise through the ranks of the Sith. A Jedi Knight must stop a doomsday device from destroying Republic worlds while the Trooper must hunt down a rogue squad. These stories are way better than they deserve to be and feel fully fleshed out and satisfying with a three-act structure.
Unfortunately, not every one of the class stories is built the same. Some of the classes’ adventures feel grander in execution, the Jedi Knight and Imperial Agent being good examples of that. There are even rumors that the Jedi Knight storyline was the first draft of what was originally going to be Knights of the Old Republic 3 before it shifted into an MMO. This alone makes The Old Republic worth playing. Especially if you’re a fan of the series. Regardless, each class story is worth the time it takes to go through it. Especially if you take the time to make your character and role-play it up.
Another aspect of SWTOR’s stories that sets them apart from other MMOs is that most, if not all of it is voice-acted. From main story quests to side quests and companion conversations, it’s all voiced. Even when doing group content with friends, all characters will chime into the conversation with that class’s unique voice and personality. This made the game feel less like an MMO at times and more like what a co-op KOTOR would be like. Which is a good thing.
After taking a bit of a hiatus from SWTOR, I was surprised to find that the population is still very strong. Every world I visited had numerous players going about their business and I even found some of the world instances to be maxed out. I had no issue queuing up for flashpoints (SWTOR’s story-driven dungeon) or PVP which is always a good sign for a game’s vitals. While I personally don’t do the many raids available in the game, I have seen content suggesting there are no problems with players finding groups for those either.
All this is made even better by the fact that SWTOR has seen steady updates since its release. The game has had six major expansions that continue the narrative of your character after the class story. One of which even acts as an epilogue to the first two KOTOR games. While the story homogenizes in the expansions, meaning a Sith Warrior and Trooper will experience similar playthroughs, the unique quirks of your class continue to pop up making it still feel personalized. Things like conquests, galactic seasons, and special events are also there to keep players entertained between major updates.
Now let’s go over the cost of the game and SWTOR’s interesting pay model. First off, the game is free-to-play. This comes with some good and bad connotations. The good thing is that it costs nothing to try out the game. You can play all eight classes to their conclusion and hit level sixty without spending a dime. This is great for new players who want to test out the game or at the very least play through the class stories.
The bad part of this model is that free-to-play players are hit with some noticeable restrictions. This includes things like halved XP, a cap on in-game money you can hold, and gear you can equip. At early levels, you won’t really notice the restrictions, but they become very prevalent the farther in the game you get.
These restrictions are less severe if you are a preferred player — a player that was subscribed at one point — but still pretty annoying. If you decide to subscribe, however, it will run you around $15 USD a month which is pretty standard for MMO prices. What’s interesting about SWTOR’s subscription model is that subscribing grants you access to all expansions available up until that point. That means you don’t need to pay for six additional expansions to continue your story. Subscribe once and you have them all, even if you let your subscription run out.
With all that said, let’s do a quick summary of what’s good about SWTOR in 2023. The main draw to this game for me was the different storylines you could play through. As a fan of Bioware titles like Dragon Age: Origins and Knights of the Old Republic, I was happy to see that the class stories played out just like those titles. The class stories got even better with the introduction of combat styles which allow for deeper roleplaying when going through your class. You can now go through the Sith Warrior story with the ability set of the Sith Inquisitor or a Bounty Hunter with the sniper abilities of the Imperial Agent.
Another plus is the fact that a new player could go through every class from start to finish for free. It costs nothing to try out the game and see if it’s your cup of tea. This is made even better by getting expansions. If you subscribe once you get every expansion that’s out on your account for the low price of $15 USD. That’s a deal I wish other MMOs I played had for sure.
With the good comes the bad, however. With the switch to a free-to-play model, many aspects of the game were put behind paywall restrictions. You’ll have a cap on money you can obtain, you’ll be locked out of the best armor and items in the game and you’ll be unable to play some of the end-game activities. What that means is that once you finish your class stories, there’s not much left for you to do unless you want to do the other class stories or subscribe.
While it does make sense to add incentives to get players to subscribe, it does suck for returning players who come back that no longer have access to some features they had before.
So, Is It Worth It?
With all that said, do I think Star Wars: The Old Republic is worth playing in 2023? The answer is yes. The game has a bunch of content to explore right off the bat without spending any money. Not only that, but the stuff you can play for free is very high quality. If you’re a fan of previous Bioware titles and their form of storytelling then I think you’ll find something you like here.
If you’ve played the game before and haven’t touched it in a while, I still think the game is worth a check. The combat styles alone are an interesting update that any returning player who enjoyed the game should check out. The strong player numbers and continued updates for the game also, hopefully, shed light on this game continuing to go strong for years to come.
Join the High Ground
And that’s everything. Do you agree SWTOR is worth playing in 2023? Have you given it a shot recently? Tell me in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe for more content like this.