Sunday, February 17, 2013

How I plan to play SWTOR for the rest of 2013 for just $15

*Plus expansions costs

Unlike most, I was excited when BioWare announced Star Wars: The Old Republic would go free-to-play. I played free-to-play games in the past, but they hardly held my interest for more than week. With SWTOR, I could dive deep into the free-to-play experience in a game I already played and enjoyed. My playstyle wasn’t vigorous enough to warrant paying $15 a month when I only completed a flashpoint two or three times a week, and luck out into a spot in an operations group on the weekend.

However, I wouldn’t be able to make the switch from subscription to free-to-play, or more specifically preferred, overnight. I knew it would take time, effort, and many credits to be where I wanted to be and not pay a subscription fee. To start, I already had two characters at level 50, a Commando and a Jedi Guardian. The Commando had a leg up in Rakata gear from my time playing before the transition to easily complete quests and flashpoints. I also seemed to luck out in my server, The Bastion, has reasonable prices on the Galactic Trade Network, making the process of buying Cartel Market unlocks with credits much easier.

I paid my $15 and had 30 days to get everything ready. For the first two weeks, I focused solely on my Commando, bettering her gear and setting her up to be in a place to support other and future characters. This meant doing daily quests every single day for those first two weeks. Between the Black Hole, Section X, and the Ilum daily quests, I earned rough 350,000 to 400,000 credits a day. If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention the other Belsavis daily quests, my Commando encountered a bug during the introduction quests to the daily quests and can’t access them. I could have completed them on my Jedi Guardian, but the quests are scattered and integrate too many heroic quests to be efficient.

The first few days’ worth of credits went toward purchasing the Covert Pilot Suit off the GTN. It was the only suit from the Cartel Market resembling Trooper armor, and I needed some kind of constant armor I could switch armorings and mods in and out of as new content and gear became available. Between these daily quests, flashpoints, and completing every weekly quest involving operations I could, I earned enough Black Hole commendations to get four pieces of Campaign gear armorings, Black Hole bracers, belt, implants, earpiece, and a Campaign relic with daily commendations. In those first two weeks, I was able to upgrade my Commando to full Campaign gear with Black Hole off-set pieces while sitting on a pile of credits, ready to start working on other and future characters.

The first thing I bought off the GTN was an account-wide artifact gear unlock. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much at the end-game without the ability to equip and use purple-level gear. I then bought the event gear unlock for my Commando only, despite the fact most event gear and quests are bound to legacy. I didn’t plan to complete any future events more than once, and I knew I would be completing them with my Commando, so an account-wide unlock seemed wasteful. The other single character unlock I bought was guild bank access. All of my current and future characters will be in the same guild, and with the ability to mail items in between characters, only my Commando needed guild bank access.

Next were all the aesthetic and customizable options. While none of these are necessary, I wanted to have some of the same levels of display other players did, and that meant buying account-wide unlocks of: hiding helm slot, unifying colors, displaying normal and legacy titles, and crew member appearance. All of these were under 200,000 credits, one of the results of being on a server with reasonable GTN prices. I also snagged an account-wide crew skill unlock, rounding out the unlocks for all current and future characters.

I bought the Section X unlock for my Commando, mainly for more credits and Black Hole commendations, but this might be the one unlock I change my mind on and buy the account-wide version later on down the line. If I could earn an extra six Black Hole commendations on other characters besides my Commando, it would make gearing future characters easier through buying the armoring and mailing it through legacy-bound gear.

There are more unlocks I will buy, but they are all on an as-needed basis. I’m in the process of leveling up a Smuggler and she will need inventory slot unlocks soon, which run about 90,000 to 100,000 credits on the GTN. Weekly passes for operations can be anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 credits, depending on the time and day. With daily quests, I can make that many credits easily, giving me access to operations if I choose to for a week. I’ve never needed more than three quickbar slots on both of my characters so I don’t believe I’ll need additional quickbar unlocks as I have up to four total as preferred, but I can buy more should the need arise. I also have up to six character slots total, but those are easily purchasable off the GTN too if I ever wanted more.

The only item I actually purchased off the Cartel Market with cartel coins was rocket boots. The free 500 cartel coins from a month’s worth of subscription and leftovers from attaching a security key before the transition from subscription to free-to-play were enough to buy all the ranks of rocket boots. They apply account wide, so any current or future characters will have a short burst of speed starting from level one, even before speeder training is available.

We’ll see how long this strategy lasts. For me, this is less of a how-to, and more of a, here is how I did it. You might be able to maneuver down the same path based on how you play Star Wars: The Old Republic. Things may change once the expansion releases. My plan right now is to level up a Smuggler, Sith Inquisitor, and Imperial Agent.

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