Remember what leveling at launch in SWTOR was like in 2011 and 2012? It almost feels like we played a different game. Or did we?

From Vulkk:
I have asked Endonae to write a retrospective article about his memories with SWTOR going all the way back to the launch in 2011. He started with an intro that turned out to be long and interesting enough to be an article of its own, so we split it. This is a shared memory of Endonae’s first leveling experiences with SWTOR from ten years ago. Enjoy!
The Retrospective article will be next :)))


December 20th, 2011: Endonae arrives at the Sith Academy on Korriban for the first time. He wasn’t always a fearsome member of the Dark Council, then Outlander, then Alliance Commander, and finally Dark Councilor again. In the beginning, he was but a lowly apprentice to a rising Sith Lord named Zash. 

Apprentice was a fitting title for me back then too. SWTOR was my first real RPG and let me tell you, I had no idea what I was doing. It took me several pulls to defeat Khem Val in his stasis chamber because I was underleveled. I spent a whole evening trying to beat Zash and Thanaton took several weeks at least. 

Back then, concepts like rotations, optimal stats, LoSing, and the value of interrupts were foreign to me. I didn’t hesitate to put enhancements with shield or absorb rating on my Sorcerer. I figured they’d increase the strength of my bubble shield somehow. What other use could those stats possibly have? I didn’t know tanks could equip shields, let alone know how they worked. 

It wasn’t all bad though. I finally reached level 25 on Tatooine and gained access to Speeder Piloting I. Unfortunately, I was so dirt-poor that I couldn’t even afford the 25,000 credits for a base model Rendili Watchman. Thankfully, a random guildie was kind enough to give me the credits I needed so I didn’t have to travel across the desolate sands on foot. 

First Mount - SWTOR leveling at launch

I remember on Alderaan, I think near House Alde, I saw my very first purple column of light beaming from the corpse of Kath Hound I had just slain (at least I think it was a Kath Hound). It was my first piece of purple gear ever – a cool chest piece called the [Prototype] Stalker Robe. 

Potential Early Armor Set - SWTOR leveling at launch
The chest piece alongside what I could have been wearing at the time. We didn’t have the ability to unify colors yet though.
Prototype Stalker Robe - SWTOR leveling at launch

Given it has a level 26 requirement and I got it halfway through Alderaan, I must have been a bit underleveled then too. 

I remember I was so excited to finally reach level 32 on Taris. That was when you used to get Force Storm, which I thought was (and honestly still is) the coolest ability ever. Back then, its channel time was longer, 6 seconds I think.

Once I reached Hoth, I decided to take a break from my Sorcerer. I just couldn’t handle traversing the vast wasteland of nothingness. Remember, this was back when Quick Travel had a 30 minute cooldown and taxi locations needed to be individually located. I’m pretty sure I still had Speeder Piloting I as well because I couldn’t yet afford the steep 150,000 credits it cost to learn Speeder Piloting II, let alone a speeder that could go that fast. 

Hoth
This was the view that made me realize I wanted to take a break.

I decided to take a stab at an Assassin instead. I tried to make her look like the Assassin depicted in the original Sith Inquisitor trailer. I found surviving to be much easier thanks to a hybrid tank-DPS build and Dark Charge, the tank stance. I quickly grew bored and frustrated at how long it was taking to defeat regular enemies though, and it wasn’t just because I was doing a hybrid tank build. 

Anserium

I was also trying to play Assassin as ranged DPS (10m Force Lightning with 100 Force isn’t as good as 30m Force Lightning with 600 Force) and I still thought I could benefit from stats like Strength, Aim, and especially Cunning, alongside Willpower as an up-and-coming Sith. I was also annoyed that stealthing out in PvE would reset all the adds, so I couldn’t play stealth how I thought I’d be able to based on the Sith Inquisitor progression trailer

As a result of all this, I gave up on my Assassin partway through Nar Shaddaa, and I would not return to that toon and advanced class until several years later. I also determined that I was encountering too many people for my liking and decided to make a Jedi Sentinel deliberately on the least populated server I could find, though I didn’t stick with that toon for very long either. 

I finally decided it was time to return to my beloved Sith Sorcerer, Endonae, and fight through the blank expanse of Hoth. It was pretty smooth sailing for a little while after. I found Belsavis and Voss to be really cool planets, especially the later areas with the Esh-Ka and Dread Masters. I was also finally able to get Speeder Piloting II and a Lhosan Duster. I hated the color, but it was the cheapest mount available that could reach 100% mount speed.

First 3 Mounts

Things didn’t get challenging again until I tried (and failed) to take shortcuts to reach my mission objectives on Corellia. In all seriousness, I did struggle with my fight with Thanaton there, but somehow the Imperial Guards got aggroed and helped me defeat him. Part of me felt bad for not being able to beat him on my own, but at the same time, he was cheating, so was it really all that unfair to get some help from those guards?

In the end, it didn’t matter too much since I had to chase Thanaton back to Korriban and fight him again, for real this time. I remember the fight just lasting longer and being slowly whittled down. Xalek didn’t seem to be particularly helpful, but none of my other companions had good gear or high affection. 

After a while, I decided to start leveling another toon again, this time, an Arsenal Mercenary. Things were definitely going a bit smoother. I had more experience under my belt at that point, heavy armor, and a healing companion right from the start. I think I had a slightly better understanding about how some stats were better for me than others, but I still remember being confused about the difference between Aim and Accuracy. 

While leveling my Mercenary, I would periodically return to fight Thanaton or do other missions on my Sorcerer. I can’t remember if I managed to get a couple of pieces of endgame gear or what, but after a few weeks, I finally managed to best him somehow. 

At last, my ascension to the Dark Council was complete. Lord Endonae became Darth Nox.

Throne 1
Author Lokzmir
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