A good friend from WoW has been interested in trying out The Old Republic for a while, but unfortunately his old computer wasn't up for it when the game first launched. I was delighted when he e-mailed me the other day to let me know that he had finally upgraded his PC and was ready to give it a whirl.
I was simply happy about the prospect of having him around, but a guildie pointed out that I might as well make use of Bioware's refer a friend feature, especially as they are finally implementing a reward for successful referrals.
As it turned out, using the system was quite hard in our particular case. First off, there is currently a bug that will prevent you from referring a friend if they already have an account with EA and ticked the box to not receive any "promotional" material. So I had to get my friend to untick that... except that he couldn't log into his account(s) because he couldn't remember making them! Resetting the password didn't really seem to work either. After a lot of digging through old e-mails he found that one of the accounts associated with his e-mail addresses was actually an old Ultima Online account and managed to access it again, so I could finally send him the referral mail. Soon another gaudy speeder shall be mine! To be honest I think my friend should be the one to get something though, considering the hassle he had to go through to be referred. Bioware really shouldn't make it this hard for people to play their game.
Once he got into the game though, we had a very good time. He rolled up a trooper and did Ord Mantell on his own, just to team up with a gunslinger alt of mine on the fleet. We ran the Esseles together and then spent the entirety of Friday evening questing on Coruscant. It really can't be overstated how great this game is for small group play, as the design manages to hit that sweet spot where it's perfectly possible to solo and have an enjoyable experience, but playing with a friend is simply so much better.
The group conversations make for some of the best fun ("God, there that goodie-two-shoes goes offering our services for free again... why can I never win those rolls?!"), and being able to duo most of the heroics is great too. We felt really challenged when we tackled our first four-man heroic with no healer and wiped several times on the last guy. Eventually we went back out to gain another level and wait for our cooldowns to come back up, and when we came back to it later we just about managed it with my tanking companion surviving with only a sliver of health left.
It was also interesting to see some of the small quality of life changes that Bioware made to the lower levels. They might have been announced in the patch notes somewhere, but I have to admit that I never read the whole lot... most notably all the final stage bosses for the bonus quests on Coruscant are now summoned by clicking on something, which was a nice change from endlessly having to wait around for respawns like I sometimes had to do during previous playthroughs.
The only thing I didn't like was discovering that all the security chests on the Esseles had disappeared, which gave me unpleasant flashbacks to when WoW removed all of its dungeon chests. However, at the moment the jury is still out on whether this was actually an intentional change or whether it is some kind of bug.