Side - Sith
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Once I got a hand of my character, it became time to complete some tasks. Like any other MMO, missions tend to follow traditional paths: go to this place, kill these things, collect these things, talk to these people, etc. The Old Republic doesn't necessarily break this mold, but it does offer interesting takes on these missions. Almost every mission is integrated into the story, and most offer opportunities for conversations with characters. They often end in either positive or snarky commentary from your character, influencing the light/dark dichotomy.
Many of the early missions for my Consular required me to head out and deal with the problematic Flesh Eaters, pink bulky things that have a taste for padawons. My Master Yuon Parr would see that I performed up to my expectations. Additionally, I would be tasked with finding ancient holograms of the original Jedi founders and even collect the hilt of the very first lightsaber. That alone was enthralling, but assisting a nearby colony of pilgrim Twi'leks with Flesh Eater and disease problems, becoming integrated into their religious culture, assisting new padawans, proved to be a whole lot more interesting. My favorite mission required me to snoop on some romantically-inclined padawons. Lie for them, and they'll pass on a rare lightsaber crystal, as well as send you down the path of the dark side. Rat them out, and besides pissing them off, you'll be rewarded with a boost to the light side of goodie-twoshoes. An easy decision to make, I exploited it for all that it was worth, gaining a crystal, lying to a Jedi, and generally acting like a jerk. It felt great, and many of the missions can be performed like this. For an origin world, Tython is surprisingly large, and the Bioware reps were proud to say that these origin worlds are nowhere near as large as later planets.
The game does branch off from other MMOs in a couple of ways. First of all, the companion characters seem to be more than just pets. There are at least five unique companions to each class, and they will fight alongside players with basic commands dictating how they act. The Consular class, for example, has a large lizard man equivalent to a scaly wookie, but other companions ranged from other humans to R2-D2-esque droid.
Remember, companions are very important to the game. Besides fighting alongside your character, they'll do other menial tasks such as collecting resources, forging items, or going out on diplomatic missions. Even the ones not currently being used on a planet will be based on the player's ship, performing passive duties while the player works on the ground. It's a pretty fantastic way of dealing with many of the classical MMO elements without becoming a drag on the action.
The more I read about this game, the more I want to play it!