You've finally made it. After jumping through whatever the necessary tutorial hoops were for your chosen character class, your star warrior in Star Wars: The Old Republic has finally picked up a spaceship of his or her very own. The galaxy is now yours for the taking, with the only limitations being your relative ability level and funds to pay for the admittedly tiny cost of rocket fuel. In short, welcome to your mid-game. Sooooo... now what?
In my previous Star Wars: The Old Republic guide, I offered beginner tips on getting started in BioWare's massively multiplayer take on the Star Wars universe. I'm back again today to help some of you MMO newcomers figure out how to best spend your time and make use of your resources once the opening tutorial hours are done. By now you've gotten a handle on the basic game mechanics and rules, but a much larger canvas opens up for you to paint your adventure on once your first spaceship finally zooms off into the stars.
Link Up With Your Fleet
You actually get access to your chosen faction's fleet location before the tutorials are even finished, but the Imperial/Republic Fleet will be everyone's first stop after receiving a ship. It's here that you'll select your advanced class specialization and get your first taste of some of the still-unseen game elements, like the Galactic Trade Market and Crew Skills. You'll come back here frequently, as your faction's fleet is a central access point for The Old Republic's group-oriented Flashpoint missions.
Flashpoints are like larger versions of the Heroic-class missions you'll often pick up on the worlds you visit. They're typically characterized by a greater focus on story and tough bosses designed for parties of four to take on. The rewards for completing these are greater too, but we'll get to that in a little while.
Both the Imperial and Republic Fleets are broken up between a central, circular space station and a couple of secondary capital ships. The central station is where you'll find the bulk of the service-oriented activities you'll generally want to visit your fleet for. Vendors of all types, including those who will exchange your planet-specific Commendations for more valuable items, as well as trainers for all classes and crew skills, a bank for accessing your storage bays and more.
While it's great to see all of those vendors gathered into one place, you'll want to avoid spending credits with any of them. Save your cash instead and use it in the Galactic Trade Market. You'll typically get better gear from here than you ever would from a vendor, and at more reasonable prices.
You'll want to check in frequently to see what's available, since the Market is supported entirely by fellow players putting inventory items up for sale. Be patient. If something seems ridiculously expensive, it probably is. More often than not, however, you'll find good deals. This is a great place especially to pick up more powerful weapons at a reasonable price early on in your adventures.
Help Shape The Economy
I mentioned Crew Skills already, but more explanation is needed. These are your crafting professions, broken into three categories: Crafting, Gathering and Mission skills. The latter two are geared toward finding the materials you'll need to put together Crafting items, which can then be used for yourself/your companions or sold on the Galactic Trade Market. Most of what you'll be creating early on you'll just want to sell at the nearest vendor; it's only in the late-game, after you've leveled up your chosen professions, that you're making the big-money items.
With one notable exception, leveling up your professions works in a way specific to the category each one lives in. Your Crafting professions will improve as you create new and increasingly complex items. It's color-coded; items listed in grey won't improve your skill at all, while green, yellow and orange ones will. As your Crafting profession skill rises, you'll want to head back to the Fleet's trainer to pick up more schematics. Higher-level schematics can also be purchased from the Galactic Trade Market.
Gathering depends instead on wandering around in the game and accessing resources "nodes" specific to your profession, anything from crystal formations to discarded tech just waiting to be scavenged. All of this stuff is then used to make things with your Crafting profession. You can also send crew members out to gather materials from the Crew Window (mapped to the 'N' key by default), though you'll be unable to summon dispatched crew members to your side until the task is completed.
The Mission professions also help you obtain some of the harder-to-find Crafting materials, but they work a little differently. Unlike Gathering, which offers greater rewards for mining nodes, the ONLY way to obtain Mission crafting materials is to send your crew off on tasks from the Crew Window.
You can only select one profession for each of the categories, though you can change them up whenever you like by dropping the unwanted profession (via the Crew Window) and choosing a new one at your faction Fleet, though you’ll lose any progress in the dropped profession if you should choose to pick it up again later. You'll want to devote time during your mid-game play to bulking up your skills in these three professions, by gathering materials and then putting them together into usable items.
It's best to always -- ALWAYS -- have at least one crew member out on either a Mission or Gathering task. The number of companions you can send out at any one time depends on your character's level. If you're playing a lot of co-op or space missions, feel free to leave yourself with zero companions. If you're soloing though, be sure to keep one around. Also be sure to send any available companions off on tasks before you sign off.
I mentioned above that there's a notable exception within the crafting professions: Slicing. While it's technically a Gathering skill, the resource nodes that you'll be "mining" only bring you credits. Slicing yields the most rewards when treated as a combination Gathering/Mission skill. You'll want to always be looking for nodes to slice out in the worlds you'll visit, but you stand to earn some great rewards for sending companions off on Slicing missions as well.
Crew missions always cost a little money, but one of the main rewards you receive for Slicing tasks is more credits. BioWare recently applied a patch to The Old Republic which nerfed the amount of credits you could make from Slicing missions, but generally speaking you'll still come out ahead if you stick to the most lucrative credits-earning tasks. Slicing is also necessary for nabbing some of the higher-level crew skill missions and rare schematics.
The important thing to remember with crafting: you won't get everything you need from your chosen skills in terms of crafting resources. That's where the Galactic Trade Market comes in. You might not realize this if you're new to MMOs, but this is the backbone of the game's virtual economy. The best gear to be had can be found in the GTM, and that's because people are making it. You can participate as well, and earn tons of credits for your labors, but you'll need to buy those materials that you can't otherwise obtain.
Those are really more late-game concerns, however. Your principal focus in the mid-game should be on developing your Crew Skills in any way that you can. The very act of doing this will be all the training you need to make the killer merchandise later on, once you're leveled up.
Power-leveling With Repeated Missions
You'll visit the planets of The Old Republic in a specific order that is based on your chosen faction's story progression. Sure, you can head to Hoth as soon as you get your ship at around level 15. You can also die horribly beneath the furry fist of a wampa because Hoth is meant for players who are much further along in their games, as the planet's description notes.
To see all that the galaxy has to offer, you'll want to work your way up to level 50. This is entirely possible to do just by following the script that takes you to each new planet and completing their various main quest missions and assorted sidequests. There are ways to speed things up, however.
The Old Republic offers any number of missions that can be repeated on a daily basis. On planet these are typically your Heroic missions, which are next to impossible to complete at their "recommended level" without 2-4 human players. Flashpoints work in the same way, only they're largely just accessible from your faction's Fleet, and occasionally from planet-based Flashpoint shuttles.
Solo players looking to power-level are left completely out in the cold of space, quite literally. Space combat missions offer big XP rewards. There's no limit on how many times you can play through these engagements in a given day, but you won't get much out of them that way.
Each day, activate the mission marker on the bridge of your ship to take on space combat mission... errrr... missions. You'll be tasked with completing one or more space combat encounters in exchange for a sizable XP reward. These recycle daily, just like Flashpoints, so be sure to keep on top of it.
Another important thing to note if your new to the way MMOS work: there's a limit on the number of missions you can have queued up. Definitely get into the habit of clearing up old missions and abandoning any that you're too overpowered for in the quest log ('L' by default). Any uncleared mission that you abandon can be picked up again from the original mission-giver.
For more on Star Wars: The Old Republic, check out our comprehensive collection of Old Republic guides and tutorials.