Last hours of the last SWTOR beta session

In case you hadn’t heard, Bioware have announced that this weekend’s beta test marks the end of the testing program for everyone.

So for those lucky enough to have had beta access, it’ll be quite a wrench having zero access for a little over two weeks.

On the other side of the coin, it’s an expected milestone in the progression to launch. It’s also a damn good opportunity to go out, get lots of exercise and healthy food, buy the odd Christmas present if that’s your thing, and generally enjoy all the aspects of your non-SWTOR life.

Because from the 15th December onwards….

Over to you: did the beta experience have any impact on your perceptions of SWTOR, positive or otherwise? How will you fill in the time until launch?

SWTOR mega beta test: around the grounds wrap-up

Time for some more views via Twitter from the troops on the ground fighting the beta war!

Based on a totally subjective, non-scientific analysis of a few hundred individuals tweeting, I’m happy to report that most enjoyed playing SWTOR and are looking forward to the launch. Who’d a thunk?

Most gripes came around installation issues and queues, although the queue issue seemed pretty tame on most servers given the size of the test. Then there were those who’ve burnt out on MMOs and don’t see enough new in SWTOR to get too excited.

Onto the Twitter randomness:

archonsg: Has #swtor beta ended or will cut out in several hours? Hoping EA/Bioware will extend it one more day. :p

hulgarth: after playing all weekend I just pre-ordered #swtor the leveling alone with companions + story alone will be worth the 60 bones like #skyrim

SabrinaLianne: Really enjoyed flashpoints in #SWTOR – felt much more interesting to play through, more invested in outcome than other MMOs.

VexingVision: So the general consensus among the non-WoW-players seems to be that #SWTOR is a bit boring, despite the voice-acting. Ah well. 🙁

EvionFox: Okay, the beta has definitely sold me on #SWTOR. I was iffy about the graphics, but they use light so well, looks like a SW painting.

Lunatich: While #SWTOR did slightly scratch my MMO itch, it doesn’t do anything new and I’m bored w/ hotkey MMO’s. Will not buy it – sad as I love SW.

josmiller: #swtor Beta weekend was fantastic. Great combination of the familiar and the new all in an immersive realisation of the Star Wars I.P.

Crazycommander: #SWTOR weekend was great. Will I subscribe? Probably not, I think I’m fed up with that type of game.

chung105: And btw if #swtor is canon then Luke, Vader, Palpatine, Darth Maul, Darth Oldballs, and all the rest really sucked at the force.

andrealessi: Tatooine is where #SWTOR really comes in to its own, I think. It’s a huge area with so much to do, and the Czerka quest line is great.

Trayionlh: You know you’ve been playing too much @dragonage when you notice protocol droids in #swtor going “thank the maker”

Shades_of_Mauve: #SWTOR ran pretty well, except for my miraculous disappearing pants. Who cares? When you’re a jedi you can run around in your skivvies.

GirlyGamerSite: really liking #SWTOR Went from not interested in even playing the beta to most likely getting the game for release in a weekends time.

Bullet_beast: So after watching the chat in #SWTOR I’ve realized I don’t think I’ve ever talked to big fans of star wars before, at least not knowingly.

Elastoman: Sooooo…. fewer drunk tweets tonight than last night. But I think I can say I Jedi’d the shit out of this weekend. #swtor

AgentStephens: Sitting here in a Jedi Bathrobe playing #SWToR 😀

sevquis: want 2 play more #swtor but that leads 2 unhappy wife, which leads 2 fear, fear leads 2 anger, anger leads 2 hate, hate leads 2 suffering.

Now it’s your turn: how did you find the beta weekend?

First SWTOR beta access? Then watch this

With the big beta access weekend only a few days away, there’ll be a lot of people playing SWTOR for the first time. If you fit that bill, spend half and hour watching this home made-beauty from a more experienced beta participant than myself:

It covers off pretty much everything you’ll need to know and will give you more actual playing time – that’s what it’s about isn’t it?

What to expect during this weekend’s mega test weekend

It’s fair to say there’s quite a bit of excitement building for this weekend’s huge game test, with everyone who registered for game testing before the 11th November getting a chance to have a try of SWTOR. If you haven’t already, the email invite you’ll receive will tell you how to download the 25+GB client and you’ll want to start that as soon as you can so you’re ready for when the virtual doors open. When they do, here’s what to expect:

1. A queue: every test weekend I’ve been involved in (i.e. one) has had queues of 500+ people. I have no doubt Bioware will have huge number of servers online but still expect to queue – it’s a great time to read some strategy guides of maybe listen to a Flash Point podcast!

2. Crowded questing areas: once you’ve actually been able to log in and set up your first character, you can expect to be rubbing shoulders with lots of fellow testers. That can make achieving quest objectives a little more time consuming but it also gives you an excuse to slow down and check out your surroundings rather than rushing to level up.

3. Crashes: like any beta you may have the whole game crash, although I have to say that’s happened to me a sum total of once. Even if it happens to you more often, think of it as great data for Bioware to make the game even better.

4. Fun: yes, you will have some of that thing called fun. Even if you have the worst of luck with queues, crowds and crashes, you’ll still get some time actually playing!

Over to you: have you received your invite and if so, what are your specific plans for the weekend?

SWTOR: Simon’s take

You’ve heard Mark and David’s take on their beta impressions of SWTOR, now it’s Simon’s turn – enjoy!
Caveat – I’m not a hard-core raider or PvP puritan and my MMO experience consists of WoW, LotRO and DCUO, so bear that in mind as you read on.

If variety is the spice of life then cover me in cinnamon.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being in beta for over six weeks now and have been through 3 builds so far, which has given me a chance to play all the classes up to at least level 10. With each new build you can almost hear the beads of sweat hitting the keyboards in Austin, Texas. The latest build, released on Nov 17, has seen a quantum leap in polish. For the first time, to me at least, this looks like a retail product. Once you get your invitation to the upcoming weekend beta, you are in for a treat.

But hyperbole and metaphor aside, how does the game play? First, latency. I’ve had no problem with this. No drops, no lag issues, always below 300ms, usually around 250ms. While proxies are an option I’ve not found it necessary so far.

Regarding play style I think it’s fair to say it’s more Mass Effect than LotRO or WoW. In part this is down to the depth and pervasiveness of your class storyline. Story is the driver, story is the master, it is the delicious grape jelly around which the whole donut is built. The positive side is that you’re swept into a cinematic epic that inexorably builds to a spectacular crescendo. But, and there is a but, this also means that the game, of necessity, needs to shepherd you here and there. Because of this, mostly in the early stages, it may feel a little linear. But you will stop noticing, if you ever notice at all. So why mention it? Well, I don’t want you to misunderstand the underlying rationale as I did and it’s one that features a little bit of Star War’s history.

In the original movie some unlucky actors featured in the Tosche Station sequence. These scenes were cut because having Luke wander off to chat with his friends interrupted the flow of the story. It destroyed momentum and, to apply this kind of thing to an RPG, potentially  disrupted the necessary sequence of events. In most MMOs my tendency is to do exactly this kind of random walkabout so I initially found the game’s nudging a little limiting – perhaps you might too. However, any initial misgivings I had quickly faded because this game drags you in like a Sarlacc on a bread and water diet.

You will settle in quickly once your fingers settle over the WASD keys (or Razer Nostromo) as there is much in the UI that feels familiar, but the depth, the richness of the environments and the classic Star Wars ambience feels new, fresh and remarkably addictive. Each class has something to offer, none that I’ve played have felt OP or weak. As always, bear in mind that there is still room for improvement and additions. Character creation is a little restricted, but this may change. The lack of an appearance tab is also an irritation. You will undoubtably have your own list of improvements – but it’s still early days and nothing is ever set in stone.

Let’s face it, everyone has their own dreams and expectations of what this much-anticipated game will be. It can’t be everything to everyone, so my recommendation to you is leave your expectations at the door and let SWTOR draw you in on its own terms.

You won’t be disappointed.

SWTOR: Mark’s take

Now that the embargo on talking about the SWTOR beta has lifted, we’ll start giving you some impressions of the game. Starting out is our own Mark Duncan, Flash Point co-host and arguably the TOROZ staffer with the longest time in-game.

Having taken part in two betas now, I wanted to give you all my opinion of the game and perhaps give you a little insight in what to expect. The short answer is: it’s all good!

In my opinion MMOs have become stagnant over the last few years. Since World of Warcraft, I have tried many MMOs from Star Trek, Rift and Aion to DC Universe and quite a few others. They all lacked something that WoW has, and the only way I can describe that something is one word: polish.

Star Wars: The Old Republic now enters the fray and trust me, if your looking for polish, this most definitely has it.

Every thing about the game speaks quality: a whole galaxy of work has gone into making sure we have an amazing experience while playing our characters and progressing through content.

Probably the most compelling aspect in my opinion is the story. I have tried most of the classes in the game to at least Level 10 and am simply blown away by the story of each class as it unfolds. It’s like a good book that you cannot put down, I just want to keep playing to find out what my toon has in store next. It is clearly evident that the writers and the developers who implemented all this work are very passionate about the game.

Right and Wrong – those are decisions that will be a major factor for you when you play the game as both light and dark side. Decisions are common and can make a large change in how your story plays out. I won’t include any spoilers here, however having played solely as a dark side player, some of the decisions I made were downright nasty – evil just flows out of my toon and I love it!

Every class has a role and in beta I am glad to say that I have seen all classes represented well and I cannot say I have seen any particularly weak class.

As a disclaimer, please understand that all of my opinions are based on the build I have been playing which is an older build and should not be compared with the finished game that we will all play in December. If this beta is anything to go by I know what I will be doing this Christmas, and it won’t be eating Turkey!

Next beta weekend announced: November 25-28

Bioware have just shot out a heads-up on Facebook that the large testing weekend that everyone will be able to access, will occur weekend after next on the 25th to 28th November US time.

If you registered for game testing before the 11th November, you’ll be getting an email invite – and yes that includes oceanic players. Otherwise, try for a free code from one of these third-party sites.

It’s fair to say it’ll be one interesting weekend given the expected volume of players – expect queues but some fun as well.

How SWTOR Ate My Summer Holiday

It’s with a great deal of pleasure we welcome the latest member of the TOROZ team. Simon Potter is Victoria-based and you can find out more about him here.

Simon will be writing regularly on what takes his fancy really – so make him welcome!



One penultimate test weekend is all that stands between humanity and the release of a game that may melt the InterWebs. It’s going to be so big, you can see it from space.

The good news for everyone in RedZoneLand, (ie. everyone who isn’t into Gridiron* or Lederhosen), is that we  get to play along with anyone else whose already signed up for testing on (so long as you checked the box before November 11). Not only that but Bioware has dropped more beta keys on US and European websites than Tony Abbott has smuggled budgies.  I’ll let that image sink in… all done? Good.

So lets do a little math. How many invites are we talking about? Massively has 75k, Curse 12.5k, had at least 14k and while the other sites haven’t disclosed how many keys they have, we can estimate at least 12k each. Add those numbers together and we’re heading towards 150k. Factor in all those preorder codes punched in to and you’re looking at a stress test even a Jedi is going to feel.

So what should you bear in mind before that email arrives and you become Charlie Bucket for a moment?

1. Remember, this is a stress test. There will be delays. There will be queues. There will be some technical issues. Relax. For every frustration you encounter in the test, that’s one more frustration that Bioware have a chance to fix for the final release. Remember /bug is your friend.

2. Watch the SWTOR forums. All information will be posted as stickies. I’d also suggest that you only post if you really need to. There will be a lot of people in there once the beta is announced and the last weekend test brought the forums down for a couple of hours due to excess traffic.

3. Download as early as possible. Speeds will be slow, so set and forget. Don’t sit there watching the progress bar. I’ve tried it and it isn’t fun, even with beer and corn chips.

4. It’s a beta. Remember that what you see will be close to the final release, but not the final version. 

5. Your character will be deleted. “No duh, Sherlock” you may be saying. But there are people out there who have mistaken ‘Beta’ for ‘Early Access’. I’d hate for you to be one of them.

6. Read up on your advanced classes. If you play one character over the whole weekend, you’ll probably level up enough to make that choice. While the client is downloading, do some research, that way you can make an informed decision and have unimpeded fun.

7. Go nuts. Try a class you wouldn’t normally go for. Make choices you wouldn’t normally make. Nothing you do will exist after the test, so use this opportunity to experiment. Save your favourite class for the real deal.

* I should note that Canadian Football is different and far superior.

UPDATE: As I’ve certainly missed a few gems of wisdom, any additional suggestions or tips regarding the upcoming beta are most welcome, however please make sure that, if you have played or are playing the beta, any advise doesn’t violate the NDA.

Beta Testing: for everyone!

Yes, Christmas has come early for any SWTOR players that want a taste of the game before its launch on the 20th December. Bioware have announced that:

Well, for starters we are happy to announce that anyone who has signed up for our Game Testing Program prior to today, November 11th, will get invited! Invites will be sent in the coming weeks.

I’m pretty safe in saying close to 100% of you that are reading this have signed up for game testing so you will all have the opportunity to take part. If you haven’t signed up, you also can try for some beta access codes from a bunch of gaming websites.

No date is confirmed as yet except that it’ll be before the end of the month: so clear that pre-Christmas social calendar!

Beta Test Weekend #3 on its way

Over on the official SWTOR forums, Allison Berryman has confirmed the third beta-testing weekend is coming this weekend. The target group are North American players, with the US East Coast servers being the focus for this one.

One step closer to launch….

Oceanic SWTOR beta invites are rolling in

Just a quick note to say that we’ve had a number of oceanic players email / phone us to confirm they’ve received beta invites for Star Wars: The Old Republic. As you can imagine, they are pretty damn excited.

So, if you were cynical about oceanic players getting more widespread beta access, then maybe it’s time for a Force-induced attitude adjustment!

UPDATE: Some great comments pointing out that invitees may have registered their SWTOR account under a US address – we’ve confirmed with one invitee that that was indeed the case.

[Picture courtesy of Walk Sydney Streets]