Galactic Starfighter Early Access

Today was the early launch of SWTOR's Galactic Starfighter "expansion". I have to confess that I nearly forgot about it. I explained before that I'm not a big fan of space combat, no matter whether it's on rails or not. Fortunately the game was kind enough to remind me of what was happening by changing its loading screen.

Upon checking my mailbox, it felt like someone at Bioware had read my recent post about mailbox spam and decided to mess with me some more by handing out no less than two titles and four (!) full sets of orange gear to all of my characters in celebration of the expansion launch. I thought about simply chucking them since I'm not particularly keen on the fighter pilot look but... it's four free sets of adaptive gear! Even if I'm not too keen on the look, you never know when a spare orange belt or pair of bracers will come in handy... (Yes, I'm a bit of a hoarder.)

Despite of my scepticism about the whole concept, I was keen on having a look at the new gameplay anyway. I dutifully read through all the tutorial text, seeing how I'm the kind of person who always reads the manual (and I hadn't read up on any expansion details beforehand). It all looked very slick and like there's actually quite a bit of depth to it, with the system giving you plenty of options to tweak both your fighter's appearance and abilities to match your chosen playstyle. I was very pleased to see that there was also an actual playable tutorial that allows you to at least get used to the controls before jumping into actual player vs. player combat. I'd already had horror visions of me dragging my team down while I was still trying to figure out how to steer.

An ugly but useful crew member.

I had previously wondered whether Galactic Starfighter was going to be anything like Star Trek Online's space combat, which is relatively slow and sluggish. The answer is no. SWTOR's starfighters are extremely responsive to even small mouse movements, which makes the gameplay very, very twitchy.

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on what kind of gamer you are. For me it's a bad thing. I don't do shooters. I've tried, I'm bad at them and I don't particularly enjoy them. Maybe I could get better after hours and hours of practice (though probably not by very much), but why should I bother if it's no fun?

I played three matches. My team won two of them, but no thanks to anything I did. I watched my guildies jump into their first couple of games and immediately the achievements started rolling in. Me? I didn't get any achievements, I didn't get any medals, I didn't get any kills. I hardly even managed to do any damage. I'm bad enough at this shooter stuff, more so in three dimensions, that I spent most of my time flying in and then getting picked off by people I couldn't even see. While I tried to clumsily get a lock on them, they just danced around my tail and killed me. Over and over again.

Erm, which way is up again?

I think it's safe to say that this expansion is definitely not for me. I'm actually a little sad because it all looks very cool, but it's just totally different from any kind of gameplay that I enjoy. I'm sure that a lot of people will enjoy it (shooters are a popular genre after all) and I hope that this will have a positive effect on the game. But if part of the reason you play MMOs is that they aren't massively twitchy, as it is for me, then unfortunately this expansion adds nothing for you.


  1. Omg. Four sets of gear. I am suddenly excited. I have been looking for an outfit for my powertech.

    1. They are all recolours of existing pilot sets I think (maybe with some minor tweaks), if that's your cup of tea...

  2. I'm in the same boat as you. I have enough trouble with the on-rails space missions that were already in the game. I don't think I'll be bothering with this, at all. Ah well.

    1. It's a real shame because it looks very nice and I can imagine people getting into some great dogfights once everyone knows what they're doing with all the controls and customisations. I just can't play that kind of game. :(

    2. It appears to practically be a whole different game just kind of grafted on. I imagine it would be a lot of fun to _watch_ (at least for people like me who like to watch people play those sorts of games), but it's way out of my skill set. Also out of my interest set - it looks more geared to the people who made spreadsheets in WoW to figure out exactly what rotation of skills was just perfect and stuff. Not my cup of tea.


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