Star Wars: The Old Republic: in space, no one can hear you grind

, | Game diaries

Each day I wake up, put on my Sith dress and get ready for the party I’m about to crash. After scratching, yawning, and using the bathroom, it’s time to jump in the pilot’s seat and wreak some havoc. Space havoc. But first, I do my “I’m about to murder” dance (pictured above).

After the jump: space

One thing I never quite got into when playing World of Warcraft was the daily quest system. I did a few daily quests, here and there, but never cared enough about the rewards to keep doing them over time. I can think of very few rewards in any game that I feel are worth pursuing through monotonous repetition. Then there’s The Old Republic.

You can play the flashpoints and space battles daily. The flashpoints give rewards like you’d expect. They’re akin to the way World of Warcraft handles heroic dungeon runs with their timer and lockout. The space battles are a bit different.

The first time you do a space battle, the experience is substantial. Afterwards, on a daily basis, your ship’s computer hands out quests that require you to finish at least one space battle per assignment. At levels in the mid 20s, you have access to five space battles. Then, after the initial play-throughs, three repeatable quests.

Each quest rewards a bit of experience and money. More importantly, it also awards you Fleet Commendations. Those can be used to buy special equipment. But that’s not really why I do the space combat stuff. I do it because I enjoy it.

It’s a simple mini-game. Your ship is on rails. You fire at targets as you fly, trying not to take too much damage from the enemy while destroying the required objects to complete the mission before the time runs out. Think of it as a World of Warcraft bombing mission with a fail state.

For many reasons, simplicity being one, I keep asking myself why I enjoy these missions. The one thing I keep coming back to is the look. There’s something about traversing space and seeing foreign worlds that captures my imagination. Several of the missions occur directly above a planet’s atmosphere, taking place with the planet’s curvature making up the backdrop. I’m a sucker for that kind of imagery.

But I think the main reason I’m so into the space combat is that breaks up the grind. If I get tired of running around Tatooine killing Sand People, I can jump in my ship and get a quick burst of arcade action. This fits well in the Star Wars: The Old Republic framework.

I say that and it sounds so rational, but in my mind there’s a gnawing doubt. It’s like the one part of me doesn’t really believe the other part. It’s the breakdown between the editorial and the imaginative, the excitement and wonder of youth, versus the weathered and exhausted critic within.

I’ll never be an astronaut or make some amazing, galactic discovery…but Willy might. So I’ll continue to play through someone else’ image of a cold, beautiful universe and dream. That one part of me still dreams of the stars.

Next: The lighter side
Click here for the previous Old Republic entry.