There comes a time in every MMO that you hit a plateau. A time of stasis, when there are no more levels to gain. This mythic place is known to many as ‘Endgame’. A fitting title many of the times, because it can often represent the end of the game, and the beginning of the work. Gearing up, perfecting your rotations, grinding your reps… it’s a completely different world than the ‘level up game’, and definitely takes getting used to. No matter how long I’ve played World of Warcraft, reaching an expansions level cap is always met with a stunned moment of “Okay… now I gotta figure out what to do next.”
However, WoW has been around that block a few times. It’s endgame is currently a paved and well-worn path known to many. Dailies/Rep Grind, Heroics, then Raids. Or if you’re a PvP fan, battlegrounds then arenas or rated battlegrounds. The formula almost feels beaten to death for some, and probably one of the reasons it seems that Mists of Pandaria wants to shake things up. I know I am watching MoP news pretty closely to see how well that works out, because if there’s one thing that playing The Old Republic has shown me, it’s that having things to do at endgame is important!
SWTOR, at the moment, has a fairly limited list of things to do at level 50. Even more limited if you don’t want to look around for some other options. There’s a small handful of normal level 50 flashpoints, a slightly larger selection of Hardmode flashpoints, two operations, and war zones. Though it seems from TORHead’s sneak peek (leaked?) look at the future of the game, there is definitely a lot more solo content, flashpoints, and operations coming. But I thought I’d take this chance to make a few other suggestions for things to do:
Unlock Your Dailies: As soon as you finish your class missions and close out Chapter Three, you’ll be getting a breadcrumb mission to Ilum. Ilum is the notorious PvP world that has had more than its share of controversy since the game launched. However, beyond the PvP component, there is an actual storyline here. Along the way, you’ll start gathering Daily Commendations that can be traded in for high level artifact gear (purpz, y’all) and mods. This is actual a fairly cool storyline that sets up the two level 50 flashpoints – Battle for Ilum and The False Emperor.
However, there is another set of dailies you can do on the prison world of Belsavis. This doesn’t give an obvious bread crumb trail as far as I know. I actually didn’t get the mission until I arrived at Belsavis at level 50. This ‘bonus series’ will also unlock several dailies for you to help bridge that gap between leveling gear and operations.
Complete Missed Heroic Missions: If you’re like me, you may have had a hard time finding people to do heroic missions on planets with and just decided to skip them. Well, here’s your chance to go back and do all of those. Many I’ve bumped into award moddable oranges that will be useful to have to further customize your appearance when Bioware updates the moddable gear to include all the endgame gear, so that you can truly look the way you want.
Finish Those Bonus Series: There are a LOT of bonus series in the game. Especially towards the end of the leveling experience. Most of these can reward you with anything from item boxes that you can sell the contents on the GTN, or more orange moddable gear (I collect the stuff like crazy. I love being able to change my appearances.) Not to mention for the story enthusiasts, many of these bonus series will expand, extend or conclude some of the events that occurred in the main storyline of that world. Can’t go wrong with a bit more story!
Datacron Hunting: Datacrons. I can’t even begin to go into my love/hate relationship with these wannabe companion cubes. They provide an excellent puzzle for those who want to searching for them. I usually use a guide to find their locations, but then I try to solve how to get to them myself. It’s a fun activity that can actually take quite a while. However, there are a good number – more than I would like at least – that often require 2-4 players to actually obtain. So now you not only have to solve a puzzle, you have to get another person to help solve it. Grouping up for things a lot of people like to do is a pain at the moment in the game! Now I have to find someone who actually cares about Datacrons?! Possibly an entire RAID GROUP!?! Give me a break! Curse me and my rabid completionism… /1 LFM Datacrons…
Complete that Pokedex… I mean Codex: If you open your codex (it’s a tab at the bottom of your mission log. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Neat, huh?) you can find entries for each world you visit. In these entries, there will be a breakdown of how many codex entries you have from that world, and how many you are missing at the moment. Now is your time to shine Lore Nerds! Go forth and fill those bars! But be warned, a lot of the codex entries are bugged. I do mean A LOT. On top of the fact that many of the titles mentioned are not obtainable in game (They were in the beta. They removed them for some reason. I am VERY cross about this.), many others are not obtainable at the moment either or can only be obtained by certain classes (Such as the Deshade entry for Korriban is only obtainable through an Inquisitor class mission. You must play as an Inquisitor, or group up with one, to get this entry). Fixing the codex appears to be a low priority for BioWare at the moment, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t get 100% currently.
Kill the Avatar of Sel-Makor: The final gold elite on the Voss story missions SUUUUUUUUCKS. The amount of ridiculous line of sight tactics you have to pull off on this thing is a ridiculous ramp up in difficulty. I just skipped him until I hit 50. Then came back and finished the story line. I hate this monster. With a deep loathing of a thousand burning suns. It is probably the closest I’ve ever come to smashing my keyboard. Skip it. Come back at 50. Be at peace.
Level an Alt: I know. This is a tired and beaten down one. My years of WoW have made me very cynical to this response to the “what should I do now” question, and I don’t blame you if you gave me an eye roll as soon as you saw this on the list. But hey, SWTOR has a lot of great reasons to roll an alt. There are 8 class stories, and 8 advanced classes (if you include the fact that the mechanics are roughly mirrored on both sides. Yes, I know about the animation lag on some abilities. Don’t bother dragging that up here.) This gives you a reason to enjoy a new story line, make different choices on shared story lines, and experience a new class mechanically! And yes, the different choices thing is sometimes just an ‘illusion of choice’ resulting in the same. But not always. I’ve been surprised but how the opposite choice will sometimes give new objectives, skip battles or reduce the number of enemies I have to deal with. It’s definitely worth doing if you enjoy the story of the game. But here’s a tip to help with your sanity: Alternate doing republic and imperial alts. It will make seem WAY less repetitive.
Wait for More Things to Be Added: This is just a snarky response. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t holding out some hope for less ‘standard MMO fare’ at level 50. Some more interactive and dynamic content, like playing Pazzak in cantinas or Nar Shadaa’s casinos. It’s an easy game to learn, fun to master, and can be done against an NPC or other players! I’ve heard other suggestions like bringing swoop races into the game, which would be another fun one. I realize I might have to wait a while on these, but a guy can hope can’t he?
I know that there will be many people who will see this list and see this as a pointless gesture to find something to do in the “horrible and dull” endgame of SWTOR. All I can say is – is this really any worse than unlocking the molten front or getting your reputations all to exalted? Those are the exact kind of activities I filled my time with in WoW. They were fun and entirely optional. This list is pretty much the same. If it doesn’t raise your ship from the swamps of Dagobah, fine. But hopefully someone will see this list and go “Oh! That’s something I hadn’t thought of before!”
I would like to blame my lack of writing on SW:TOR. Just saying. That game has its hooks in me right now. So much so that I can happily say that without space bar skipping, I’ve already got my bounty hunter to level 50, and my Jedi knight and Sith inquisitor well into their chapter 1 story lines. The game has just been really enjoyable, and I like doing different things in different playthroughs. My professional bounty hunter didn’t do nearly as much sadistic crap as my inquisitor has, and sure as hell didn’t flirt as much.
I can’t say the experience has been downright fantastic though. It has made me miss some things like the Dungeon Finder, a tool that I honestly never really had many problems with. But the fact is that in my time playing several characters in TOR, I pretty much always run the Black Talon or the Esseles, and that’s pretty much it for flashpoints. For me, it’s just not worth sitting around in the fleet and looking for a group for some of these things. The only other time I’ve run a flashpoint was when I stumbled on a group for Hammer Station that just happened to be looking for a tank the same time I was meandering toward the space station on Balmorra. While the comparisons of a single player game with a chatbox tacked on are usually meant to be insulting, I honestly found that mentality much more enjoyable. Because honestly, looking for a group right now has SUUUUUCKED. Maybe it’s just my server. Who knows, when I wander over to the server my Inquisitor is on (Space Slug) there are a LOT of people looking for groups… for Level 50 hardmodes. And ONLY hard modes by the way. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone looking for a group for regular False Emperor or Battle for Ilum. Hopefully, this will change as people continue to push toward max level and I know Bioware is exploring options for a more robust LFG tool (or at least I hope so. They said they were working on one.)
Either way, my card has been charged and I’ve got my founder title. Now Bioware has six months before I decide what I’ll be doing next. In that time, you can bet I’ll be leveling a ton of alts and hopefully making friends in new guilds. I hope at least. I have almost as much of a hard time socializing on the internet as I do in real life. Which means I have a hard time /whispering people I’ve never met before. So finding a guild is hopefully my chance to meet some people to actually do stuff like flashpoints with. (Speaking of which, if anyone is on Begeren Colony or Space Slug and knows of a friendly casual guild that I can enlist with, let me know. I’m trying to keep with West coast servers.)
But overall, looking back from level 50, I really enjoyed my bounty hunter. The end of Chapter One was immensely satisfying. Like ‘Beat the Lich King’ satisfying. Chapter Two felt a bit meh, as most middles do. It mostly spent time setting up the Second Act Turning Point that launched me into Chapter Three. The bounty hunter story definitely took some settling into though. At first I honestly didn’t ‘get it’. I just rode around space. Caught some dude. Rinse and repeat. It wasn’t till someone on the SWTOR forums mentioned that the story isn’t about capturing bounties – it’s about THE HUNT. That made it all click. The class missions became much more enjoyable as I learned to appreciate the tactics of hunting prey. I had honestly expected something a bit more like Hutta on every world. Collecting lots of bounties for warlords, hutts, the Empire… whoever. But as I settled in, I really enjoyed the long drawn out hunts and luring them out. This especially becomes prevalent during Chapter Two when you reach Taris. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but prepare for some Predator stuff.
The other thing I really enjoyed was how my reputation as a bounty hunter grew throughout the galaxy as the story progressed. I land on Hutta as just some merc looking to make some creds. At the end of the prologue, you start to see people recognizing you. “Oh you’re that bounty hunter.” and what not. This becomes really noticeable on Nar Shadaa where you really feel your reputation grow as you get passed around from Imperial officer to Imperial officer around the massive city. By the time you get into Chapter Two, you are a freakin’ VIP. That’s not an exaggeration. You literally get called a VIP by one of the Imperial troops. You work your way up to becoming the Empire’s “go to” bounty hunter by the end of the story. Which, really, is up to you how to proceed with that. Personally, I blew off the Empire. I’m no one’s lackey. You want me, you can hire me.
Overall, the game is a blast thus far. Time will tell how fun it stays. But I don’t regret putting my money down for six months of game time. Can’t wait to see what the Legacy system brings in March!