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Is KOTOR Still Worth Playing in 2024?

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a darling classic of the RPG genre. Originally released in 2003, the game popularized CRPGs among the casual console audience. It also iterated upon BioWare’s beloved Baldur’s Gate gameplay formula derived from Dungeons & Dragons, simultaneously combining it with the similarly adored Star Wars IP. This proved to be an ideal mixture, as KoTOR quickly became both a critical and commercial success. Now that it’s coming up on its 20th anniversary, however, some questions on the game’s datedness arise. In this article, we’ll be examining the question of whether Knights of the Old Republic is worth playing in 2023.

Is KOTOR Worth Playing in 2023?

We’ll examine this question from a handful of angles.

Character Creation and Customization

KOTOR Character Generation - Choose Your Class Screen
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Character creation and customization is a core aspect of the RPG genre. KoTOR‘s visual character customization is pretty basic and primitive. Essentially, you just select your character’s gender and face model and that’s all there is to it. That said, the deeper mechanical character creation is fun and interesting. The game is based on Dungeons & Dragons, which has long been lauded as one of the best systems of character creation in existence.

KOTOR Character Generation - Portrait Screen
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts
KOTOR Character Generation - Attributes Screen
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Players of D&D will recognize the core stats available to players. While they do have slightly differing functions from the tabletop classic, the idea is still the same. The true meat and bones of the character creation system is picking which stats to prioritize over others. You can create a totally balanced jack-of-all-trades character or specialize heavily on one certain function. For example, you could create a Jedi Sentinel who’s pretty good but not excellent in every area of expertise, or create a Jedi Guardian who focuses hard on lightsaber combat.

KOTOR Character Generation - Skills Screen
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Another system carried over from D&D is skills. There are 8 total skills you can put points into. This adds another layer of roleplaying into the game. Having a choice between a jack-of-all-trades or specialized character is an interesting one but pretty surface level. However, having the added choice of which skills your character is good with adds even more depth to them. For example, maybe your character works with computers as a hobby, and so they have high computer use. Maybe they spent some time as a medic in the Republic, so they’re proficient in Treat Injury.

KOTOR Character Generation - Name Screen
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

At the time KoTOR was released, this style of RPG character creation was a pretty novel addition to games. It had been used in computer RPGS for some time, but that was a relatively niche market compared to the casual majority of gamers playing on console. Knights of the Old Republic introduced these in-depth roleplaying mechanics to casual players, propelling the genre into popularity.

Story

Character waking up in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

The story of KoTOR is a pretty standard one. It’s a fun romp that’ll take you trotting all around locations both old and new in the Star Wars galaxy. The storyline isn’t anywhere near as interesting or gripping as its sequel, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords. In fact, most of the game can be summarized as good but not as good as the game which came after.

Go Help Bastila Story KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Your player character goes through quite a bit of an arc in the game. We won’t share any spoilers here, but one thing KoTOR does exceptionally well is the sense of journey. It takes you on a real adventure where your character learns, grows, and changes as they discover more about the galaxy and their place within it. This can also be said about the companions adventuring alongside you. All of them have unique backstories and inputs on the quests you’ll partake in. As well, many of them have unique personal quests which develop their characters even further and gives you a sense that you’re helping your friends learn and grow in their experiences.

Traveling with a bot and pink lightsaber in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Ultimately, the story of KoTOR is good, particularly if you’re a Star Wars fan. As said, however, it doesn’t match the complexity, originality, depth, or interest which its successor proudly holds.

Alignment System

Light and dark side points gained UI in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

If you’re familiar with Star Wars, you know how character alignment works in KoTOR. Do a bad thing and you earn Dark Side points, do a good thing and you earn Light Side points. There’s actually quite a bit of difference between each route, enough to earn the game some extra replay value. As well, certain companions also have their own alignments, and will react differently to your actions.

How dialogue works in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Gameplay

Lightsaber combat in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Combat is turn-based but moves in real time. It’s an interesting balance between traditional combat systems such as those seen in Dungeons and Dragons and the newer systems which were being pioneered around the time of the game’s release. The system isn’t exactly the best, especially in 2023. Of all the game’s aspects, this might be the one which has aged the poorest. This might be the thing that turns many new players off from Knights of the Old Republic.

HK-47 Robot in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

The dialogue system takes place in these little letterboxed conversation scenes. An NPC tells you something and you are then prompted with a series of responses to what they said.

Conversation system in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

This conversation system will be familiar to anyone who’s played an RPG since the 90s. It’s been used in countless games since the genre’s dawn, and Knights of the Old Republic is no different. Therefore, this is probably the game’s aspect which has aged the best. Dialogue in this game is intuitive, and likewise fun to engage with, especially due to the quality of the writing.

Conversation system 2 in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts
Running around in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

So, is KOTOR Worth Playing Right Now?

An alien Star Wars species in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

So is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic worth playing in 2023? We say yes. It definitely shows its age 2 decades later, but that doesn’t stop it from remaining one of the best RPGs of all time. Moreover, it’s one of the best Star Wars games of all time, telling a compelling story while simultaneously beginning one of the most beloved eras in the franchise. It spawned a sequel in 2004 which we’ve discussed here and an MMO spinoff-sequel in 2011 called Star Wars: The Old Republic. Both of these games are great in their own rights, and KoTOR 2 even exceeds its predecessor in almost every way.

A frog like creature in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Ultimately, Knights of the Old Republic could be worth playing if you’re an RPG fan, but it definitely is if you’re a Star Wars fan. That being said, however, the sequel offers more in just about every regard. KoTOR 1 is a fun game and an enjoyable experience. KoTOR 2 is a transcendent work of fiction deconstructing and analyzing the Star Wars franchise in a way no other entry has matched.

Still, as said, the game is fun. Likewise, there’s a very active modding community for the game. If you find the graphics a bit too dated, you can check out a plethora of graphics mods, including FENS, which we used in our gameplay screenshots.

More combat in KOTOR
Image: BioWare via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Join the High Ground

That’s gonna wrap it up for our input on whether KoTOR is worth playing in 2023. Did you agree with our opinions? Have anything more to add? Feel free to leave a comment below or share this post on social media to let us know your thoughts. Also, be sure to join our newsletter for more Star Wars game guides and gaming content.

Happy gaming, and may the Force be with you!

 

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