My Second Sorc - A 12x XP Story
This is Dormaba. She was one of my earliest alts, probably the fourth of fifth character I ever created. I had heard some good things about the Sith inquisitor story at the time and came up with a character concept for a light side Sith. Of course, when my character opened her mouth for the first time, I had to discover that it didn't matter what you said, the voice actor for the female inquisitor managed to make all of it sound incredibly snarky, which wasn't really what I'd had in mind. I knew that my character probably wasn't going to manage anything better than a neutral attitude before I'd even left Korriban. I quite enjoyed the Sith starter planet, but towards the end of Dromund Kaas my enthusiasm abruptly fizzled out. Look for artifacts for my master, without even knowing what and why? Meh. Eventually I managed to continue the story anyway, but it was in very rare and small bursts of gameplay. Nearly three years later, Dormaba was still only level 30 and had yet to set foot on Alderaan. I didn't help that I had rolled up another Sorcerer in the meantime and actually levelled that one to the cap.
Cue this whole 12x XP thing.
My initial impressions of it were humorous. Gaining nearly a full level just for handing in a single quest is pretty silly. I tried to mix things up a bit by doing some exploring in between class missions, but quickly found myself frustrated by how much travelling I had to do compared to engaging in actual gameplay. When you do all of the missions on a given planet you're generally forced to travel around in a small-ish area and get several quests done at once. When you're just following your class story on the other hand, you're constantly moving from map to map, to the point where you almost spend more time travelling than actually playing through the story.
I also noticed that my XP gains were wacky in more than one way. The floating text, the listed XP reward in the mission window and in the chat box almost never seemed to agree on a number, and sometimes it seemed to bug out completely, granting me little to no XP at all. Other people agreed with me on the forums that there seemed to be some sort of bug, while some claimed that it was just a graphical glitch. I think that if I was supposed to earn enough XP to earn a level and then I didn't actually level up, there's more than a UI malfunction going on - unless someone has actually been able to gain levels by resetting their UI or relogging.
Due to this I was falling somewhat behind as I was approaching level 40 and did the Quesh planetary storyline to bolster my experience gains a little. (Plus you can't go down on Quesh without picking up the starter mission to this chain, and I hate abandoning quests.) Around this level I also noticed that my gear was starting to seriously fall behind and that it had a very noticeable effect. I managed to catch up a little by spending some planetary commendations, but it was never quite enough. After a while I started to find gold mobs hard to kill, and later even silvers. I think the only thing that kept me afloat was my 700+ presence stat, which loses some of its potency by the higher levels but still provides a significant advantage compared to a character that doesn't have that additional companion power to fall back on.
The final boss fight of my class story was a real endurance test considering how underpowered my character was, which wasn't helped by the fact that Khem Val, my companion of choice, insisted on running into the circles of Bad that the boss kept placing on the floor throughout. In the end it was easier to just put Khem on passive every so often and kite the boss around the room on my own.
Money and crew skills were also an issue. I managed to stay on top of my artifice since I had materials stocked up on my other characters that I could fall back on, but I think that if I hadn't had that stockpile saved up, it would have been a pain to gather enough materials while levelling so quickly. It was also costly. While it helped that skill training was free, training crafting schematics was a considerable drain on my finances. I thought I was doing okay, hovering between 100k und 200k credits for the longest time - until I hit 400 artifice, went to train all the new schematics and suddenly found myself completely broke before I had even learned everything. I couldn't even afford to fly to the next planet to continue questing there. That was rather awkward.
Gameplay was engaging enough, as I specced my little Sorc into the lightning tree, dps being something that I had never seriously tried on either my Sage or my other Sorc. I used to joke that Sorcerers were boring, with all their abilities being lightning, lightning and yet more lightning, but there was actually something pretty satisfying about being able to get several quick zaps off in a row.
I also had time to really pay attention to the story and found myself wondering whether I was going to feel differently about it the second time around. (You may or may not recall that the inquisitor story wasn't one of my favourites.) The answer is pretty much no. If anything, the highs were a little less impressive the second time around since the surprise effect was gone, while all the times my character was cringing in pain and falling over were all the more noticeable. As I still don't have the guts to make a character go full-on dark side, my floundering around on neutral ground didn't seem to result in any noticeable differences in the story either - until the end, where my almost perfectly grey Sith was given a different honourary name by the Dark Council than my light side inquisitor, which I thought was neat.
Continuing to Makeb was pretty funny. If at all possible, the XP gains there seemed even more insane than the class story ones had been (even if they are supposed to be based on the same multiplier). The GSI support satellite system was a godsend and underlined just how undergeared my character was, considering that her health more than doubled every time I clicked on that shiny console. Suddenly things died at a speed and with an ease that was much closer to what I was used to, and it was nice. Relogging outside of a base and suddenly losing the buff in the middle of enemy territory was scary though.
I also enjoyed visiting Makeb again, somewhat to my own surprise. Immediately after 2.0 I kind of overdosed on it, with too many of characters having gone there in too short a period of time, but returning to it after a bit of a break, I enjoyed the story again, as well as just looking at the environment with its wacky beasts and strange flowers. (Balloon plants?) The moment I hit 55, my motivation to keep questing took its usual nosedive though.
Overall it was a pleasant enough experience and nice change of pace, though I do think there are definite disadvantages to levelling a character this way, aside from things like the financial issues I already mentioned. Spending all your time in class story phases feels lonely as you rarely encounter other players, and personally I felt that limiting myself to the class story resulted in me getting less of a "feel" for the character than usual. All those light and dark side decisions you get to make in the side stories really help with shaping a character's personality.