Tatooine was the first planet that really blew me away. It helps that it's one of the iconic Star Wars worlds and that they managed to really make it look like in the films, but I also appreciated the greater freedom it provided. For the first time the terrain didn't make me feel like I was just being funnelled from one place to the next, and I was truly free to go wherever I wanted. It felt kind of liberating to just cruise across the dunes at random, though I definitely wouldn't want to be stuck on Tatooine without a speeder.
This was also the place where my guild killed its first heroic world boss, Trapjaw. It was nice to have a reason for people of varying level ranges to come together, and I ended up winning an epic chest piece. Though I have since replaced it, I've kept it in my bank as a reminder of that very first "raid" with the guild.
From a healer's point of view, I also found the Trapjaw fight interesting because it made me curious what SWTOR's endgame raiding might have in store for me. The boss is pretty much a tank and spank fight with a bit of AoE damage every so often, but as it turns out even something as simple as, oh, not having any strong AoE heals, can be enough to make even that an exciting challenge.
After we had completed the main storyline, we headed back to the spaceport and ran into the quest giver that starts the Tatooine bonus series. We were enjoying the planet, so we thought: sure, why not! However, it ended up being the only bonus series we did. I'm glad that they exist, to give people more options in regards to how they want to level, but we were already outlevelling things as it was, and completing an entire bonus series only made things worse. Not to mention that helping farmers kill ten dozen sand people felt like a bit of a let-down after the epicness of the planet's main storyline.
Due to the experience boost from the Tatooine bonus series, we had once again pretty much outlevelled Alderaan before we even got there. The quests and mobs hadn't turned grey just yet, they were still green, but we still decided to limit ourselves to our class quest only and then jump straight ahead to the next planet.
This was a bit of a shame, because visually Alderaan was another stunning planet. I loved the green meadows and the backdrop of blue skies and snowy mountains. In some areas you could almost forget that there was a civil war going on, and the lush scenery seemed like the kind of place where you'd want to go on an afternoon hike or a camping trip. I'm looking forward to exploring the story behind it all on an alt.
As far as the trooper story went, I rather enjoyed the chapter on Alderaan and how it focused more heavily on politics than blowing shit up, and the "rescue mission" quest was fairly amusing. I just wish that I could have adopted the House Organa prison guard as a companion, as he seemed like a very nice chap. (Why yes, "being a nice chap" is a perfectly fine criterion for deciding whether someone should join the Republic military or not.)
End of Act I
After this I got to storm an enemy spaceship as the end of my class story's Act I. It felt like a worthy ending to the story to me, though my experience was somewhat spoiled by the extreme bugginess of the whole thing at the time.
The transition between acts strikes me as interesting because you basically get told something along the lines of "well done, enjoy a bit of a break on the space station", and then immediately get sent back to your superior to start Act II. I've seen people complain about this pointless back and forth, but personally I'm willing to forgive it because it strikes me as an indicator that Bioware is really committed to treating the class stories as an ongoing thing and has been developing them that way from the start. If future acts are released one by one, it makes sense to be told to take a break while you wait for the next chapter to be released; it's just that the first three acts were all bundled up and included with the base game at once.
Act II started off with the promise of two more companions, the first of which we'd pick up on Balmorra. Somehow, even though we had just skipped Alderaan, we were already on the higher end of the level range for Balmorra as well. Must've been all those flashpoints. Again, we decided to just do our class quest... but then ended up accidentally sabotaging our own intentions.
As we left the space dock above Balmorra, my boyfriend pointed out that we might as well pick up the quest there, because it was "just a breadcrumb quest" to go to the surface. Big. Mistake. There are no such things as breadcrumb quests in the Old Republic. Or rather, maybe there are, but with the way accepting and completing quests works, you can't just complete one and then not accept the follow-up, one automatically flows into the other. So, as we talked to the guy on the surface, he immediately sent us off on another quest, after we completed that there was immediately another one, and so on and so forth. It wasn't possible to abandon the chain either, so our only choices were to complete it to the bitter end or to let it "clog up" our log pointlessly. In the end, we ended up doing both our class quest and the planet's main storyline, only skipping the side quests.
The Balmorrean trooper story ended up being pretty annoying to be honest, as least from our point of view. You basically get sent on a wild goose chase to find this guy, and every time you get to where you were sent, he's already gone but the local guys won't let you continue on your way until you've helped them out first. It was a small comfort that Bioware seemed to be aware of how annoying this would be and at one point has your active companion initiate a conversation just to complain about it.
Of course it didn't help that neither me nor my SO were particularly keen on getting this particular new companion. A trooper's first three squad members are all pretty similar in general attitude, very pro-Republic and all about following the rules. This suited us just fine because of the types of characters we played, though I feel bad for anyone wanting to play a sassy and ruthless trooper - they're pretty much bound to receive nothing but companion disapproval until at least level 35 or so! Anyway, the companion you pick up on Balmorra is the first and only real "rebel" in your squad, and we didn't really care for that.
In summary, Balmorra was a kind of frustrating experience due to circumstances more than anything else: getting ourselves "locked" into doing the planet's main storyline even though we hadn't meant to, and having to deal with a companion that we personally thought was kind of annoying. I'm looking forward to giving the planet another try on an alt, hopefully without the associated emotional baggage.
I don't have much to say about Quesh, other than that I'd love to hear Bioware's reasoning for why they made this planet the way it is. There's nothing wrong with it, it's a nice little planet, but why is it so small? I don't understand why they made every planet cover about five levels or so, and then they made this one world that has a comparatively small amount of content and only covers two. It's just random.
And that's it for part 2. Part 3 will cover everything else up to me reaching the level cap.