28/02/2012

My journey to 50 in review, part 3

It's been a while, but I did not forget!

Part 1
Part 2

Hoth

Hoth is another really iconic Star Wars planet and invoked similar feelings in me as Tatooine. I loved the wide open spaces, even if it took ages to get from one place to the next. I was just a bit surprised by the amount of wildlife we met in the snow, as it almost seemed like a bit much considering the extremely hostile environment. Still, at least it gave my boyfriend and me excuses to take turns squeeing at the sight of familiar creatures. "It's a tauntaun!" "It's a wampa!" "It's a blue dude!" (That's what I called the Ortolans, they were adorable.)

I also really liked the quest where you get to cooperate with the Imperials for a brief period of time to defeat some pirates, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like from the other side. Finally, we picked up our last companion on this planet.

Act 2/3 Transition

The trooper class quest at the end of Act 2 is another exercise in boarding an enemy ship, but you actually get to take your entire squad with you this time, sort of. I was honestly pretty awed when they all charged in guns blazing at the start, though you're then forced to split up for gameplay reasons. It does make you wonder whether there's some potential extra gameplay to be had from being able to control multiple companions on special occasions.

Act 3 opens with two class missions in space in a row, and the second one was quite remarkable in that it confronted me with what was probably the hardest decision I had to make during the entire game. It's probably the most talked about trooper quest on the forums, and for good reason. You get to decide about whether people live or die throughout the game all the time, but this quest truly made it difficult, and even though I thought that I had made the right decision in the end, I still felt genuinely bad about the negative side effects. Kudos to Bioware for successfully tugging at people's heartstrings there.

Belsavis

I thought that this was another visually interesting planet, what with the contrast between snow and jungle. Surely I can't be the only one who thought what a complete waste it was to turn a planet like that into a prison of all things? I mean, potential swimming pools and opportunities to ski right next to each other? What else could it be but the perfect holiday resort!

I liked the quests on here alright, though I was a bit disappointed that they didn't do more with the prison theme. Considering how many powerful enemies I had captured over the course of my levelling until then, it would have been nice to meet one or two of them again, but I guess that would have become too complicated in terms of tracking of storyline threads. Still, a bit of a wasted opportunity.

This was also the first time I felt that either the quests were becoming a bit predictable, or I was simply becoming too good at reading the minds of Bioware's writers - what else was going to happen after that guy made a point of emphasising three times just how upset he would be if anything bad happened to his little lady helper...?

I do kind of wish they hadn't picked this place to make us come back for dailies over and over again though. I'm getting tired of the loading screen with the ugly monster on it by now.

Voss

My first impression of Voss was: it's Azshara! Visually it has a lot in common with the classic zone from World of Warcraft, what with the serene landscape perpetually basked in autumn colours, but the lore behind the area soon turned out to be quite different.

I'm guessing that this planet must be a lot more fun if you're a force user of some kind, as the Voss are heavily steeped in mysticism and a lot of their quests feel just plain weird when you do them as someone who's supposed to be just an average Joe in terms of psychic ability. However, this also highlighted for me why I really love the conversation system even when the dialogue we pick doesn't make a difference to the outcome - I simply felt a lot better for being able to respond with confusion and disdain to everything the Voss asked of me, even if I did end up doing it in the end.

Weirdness aside, I did quite enjoy the quests on this planet. It's also the first place where I noticed that the game does actually have at least some phasing in the open world as well, when a little cliff that had been abandoned earlier became inhabited by friendly NPCs after I completed most of the missions in the area.

Corellia

It didn't take us long to hit max level by the time we arrived on Corellia, and in fact I still haven't finished the planet, so it's hard to fully judge it at this point. However, one thing I do think it's safe to say is that this might've been my favourite city planet so far - not a favourite overall, but at least I can see the sky and there's a bit more variation in the environment. The tram also makes for a very different mode of transportation, and every time I ride it I feel a bit like I'm on a rollercoaster. The only thing that bugged me a little is that it felt to me as if Bioware tried a bit too hard to portray the Corellians as an entire population of Han Solos, which feels a tad strange to be honest.

In summary, while the journey to 50 is very linear in terms of questing, I still felt that the available content overall was varied enough to allow me to choose between different options. I did all the normal mode flashpoints up to Red Reaper at least once while levelling, and skipped two and a half planet stories, not to mention all the bonus series except Tatooine's. There is plenty left for me to explore at max level as I haven't even touched Ilum yet, and my alts will also have plenty of opportunities to try out content that I haven't seen yet.

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