Getting Companions

November 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Posted in mmorpg, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 14 Comments
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The companions which have an available bio.

Some people don’t like Bioware games. I don’t get it. My guess is the mechanics of the game keeping them from enjoying the usually magnificent story.

Me, I’ve been playing video games for a long damn time. I’ve been exposed to the bare bones of gaming so when I come across a game with a few flaws, I don’t necessarily let it instantly ruin it for me.

Apparently companions are one mechanic a lot of people could do without.

Many don’t appreciate the henchmen or heroes in Guild Wars for example. They think it allows people to play without others. And while it does destroy the PUG community, I can’t say I miss having to group with idiots, trolls, incompetents and malcontents.

I’ve always thought of it as a tool to allow you to play with friends without having to diplomatically decide who will play what class or what role. No one wants to play monk? No problem.

Which brings us to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s companions.

Companions don’t play the same role they do in Guild Wars. They are a huge story element. You quest for them, you get to know them, you romance them, they do your chores, take out the trash and are customizable.

On a mechanics level I think they’re actually more akin to pets. I think they effectively make every class in SWTOR a pet class, which is actually kind of interesting.

I had experience with two companions. Khem Val and Kaliyo.

Khem Val is essentially a tank as demonstrated in the video. My inquisitors pet. I found that because I was playing a Sith, even though I had some ranged attacks I often closed with people early on. That meant that instead of being shielding by my tank I was often right beside him. Kind of annoying. I definitely should have changed tactics but it was my first play-through and I had no idea what I was doing. His personality left something to be desired. Even when I was being evil it was not good enough for this guy. You have to be seriously rotten to impress him. Also I’m not really the type to enjoy a companion who walks around in a loincloth although I’m sure that can be changed later. Because I didn’t like him, I never looked into it.

Kaliyo was a doll. My agent’s pet. I liked her voice, her personality, her look. It was a little more difficult pinning down just where she draws the line with regard to authority and the light/dark side of things but I handled it. She often took the brunt of attacks though I believe we were both focused on range.

Interesting that I’m describing them in terms that might be different than any other game where you’d have something like this, no?

This is the first promotional video from SWTOR in a while that really caught my attention.

In SWTOR companions are more than an impediment to grouping. They’re a pet, a friend, a helpful tool. Yes they sometimes take up a group slot. For better or worse.

No, not at all. I don’t get why people feel they impede the sense of being in an MMO. Then again I don’t get why some people feel the blasters should kill with one shot, and that’s effing ridiculous, so maybe I should just resign myself to not getting why people won’t get over their own baggage and just enjoy the game.



  1. I support the ability to have NPC as allies, like you described the general player often at times cannot be as reliable and thanks for comparing them to GW henchmen, genius example it never occurred to me before.

    • Not only are real people less reliable, 50% of the time they’re just plain a horrible experience.

  2. My guess is the mechanics of the game keeping them from enjoying the usually magnificent story.

    For me, it’s actually the other way around: the stories don’t interest me enough to get past the things that frustrate and thwart me. Same difference in the end, though; you either “get it” or you don’t.

    I would have loved to be able to bond with companions. That was one of the features that peaked my interest in SW:TOR all along.

    • Again, I don’t get it. Stories are a great part of gaming. I don’t even want to hear some argument that bioware stories aren’t good, because frankly that’s ridiculous.

      • I don’t even want to hear some argument that bioware stories aren’t good, because frankly that’s ridiculous.

        I agree, and I’m not making that argument (…is someone else?). However, I would argue that one’s enjoyment of stories are subjective, and I just wasn’t pulled in to the Bioware stories I have tried thus far. I just…. wasn’t, and this from someone who loves story in MMOs. I – and speaking only for me – felt railroaded into doing things I didn’t want to do for people I didn’t care about. That was just my experience. So, I don’t “get” why people really loved these characters or cared about their plight. As I said in my post about SW:TOR (and this is why I only posted once about that game, and will stop commenting about it right after this comment), something about the storytelling just didn’t work on me. /shrug

        I know people who don’t like the Wheel of Time! Some people juggle geese!

  3. A good story sucks me in; a great example was the DK starting area/story i was riveted, disturded, at the end betrayed then triumphant. Unfortunately the rest of the game…not so much For too long we’ve had to endure the “WoW template” in so many games so I’m glad there is this variety of opinion on the current crop. For me it means the genre is getting healthier with more choices for different player types and helps nourish innovation. I’m glad to see heavy story/cinematic games like SWTOR or sandbox/playground games like Skrym even if I’m only interested in parts of the game’s stories or mechanics.

    To each their own, but may there be many from which to choose.

    • I agree, I think swtor is changing the mmo genre more than most people realize even if some of the basic mechanics are very much like wow.

  4. You mention sandbox or story games, to me it doesn’t make much difference in where the story is; it’s the story itself rather than it’s delivery that makes or breaks it. I guess that’s really why you have to be careful with your story; it’ll make or break your game irrelevant of the games actual delivery and is yet another cause for you to split your audience. I don’t believe that a good story is good to everyone; thus massive book stores with massive numbers of books; just not a top 10 list. I’d never lower myself to what my wife absolutely loves and she’s not the remotely bit interested in what I think every child of this generation should read (though we both like the fantasy genre).
    I suspect GW2 is going to take a middle path, present a story if you want it but it’s not going to hold up the action to beat you with it – like (for me) both Skrym and SWTOR do. Sure Skrym has a lovely story and all, but the fact that I am either doing it or playing “sandbox” annoys me; and SWTOR doesn’t present a story I am “with” so I am sort of stuffed.
    As with any story, suspension of disbelief and how much you’re willing to “suspend” is often closely linked with ones enjoyment (otherwise termed “getting it” I suppose). Some people don’t like superman because flying is just a plain stupid thing to be doing its impossible! Me I don’t care – in this instance. I enjoy it. Each to their own. GW2 travels its own path between awesome story and a story everyone can get into; let’s hope it treads wide and wonderful.
    I almost think GW2 is doomed for me as in my own mind, I hate Char, and would rather end their race than have to work with them – thus my problem with suspending my disbelief at their current story but I’ll wait and see. I’ve always been surprised that they went down this path; I know a lot players want to play it, but why would anyone who’s been playing GW for 6 years really want to be that dam evil do they? I thinks it’s just the cows from WOW that want to… [don’t bother replying cow people – my suspension of disbelief will immediately disavow your reply]

    • I don’t understand the charr hate, it’s weird that you let it effect you that much,

  5. My experience with the companions:
    1- Qyzen – this one is hard to make happy because I am trying be a peacefull shadow jedi consular, but I think that problably are others companions harder to get happy;
    2- T7 – it will be happy fast, you just need be the brave and good jedi knight that protect the weak;
    3- Vette… oh well, poor Vette… I discovered she is a fast way to get dark force points and to make me the more darkest evil possible… poor Vette…

    • I haven’t even heard of this qyzen companion, can’t wait to try as many out as I can though, learning their ins and outs will be fun.

      • Qyzen is a jedi consular companion, basically is a tank. It is a very good option if the player spec for healer, just send Qyzen fattack the mobs and heal it. The problem is how to make him happy.

        And I am sorry to inform I was doing no effort to make Vette happy. I was doing Vette a lot unhappy, sadly, but… hey… I get a lot of dark side points.

        I too can note that I used the monday’s beta time for advance my jedi knight enough for get the second companion. She is too easy to make happy, just go the “brave and good jedi knight that wants to protect the weak” mode, but not try flirt with her.

  6. I love SWTOR companions, mostly because BioWare has made them more than just glorified combat pets. Yes, they help in crafting and when you can’t find a group a companion can sometimes suffice (though of course, another player is always more effective). But definitely the story is what takes the cake. I’m sure players can go many ways with their companion…I know friends who immediately tried to get into Vette’s pants while I stuck to my guns and kept the shock collar on her until well into the mid 20s, and I wasn’t ever going to take it off if I could help it!

    It’s a little frustrating when your companion doesn’t jive with you in terms of alignment though, my darkside trooper has had to bribe her “good” companion with gifts to make up for all the negative affection points!

    • That would be the only drawback to companions as I see them. If you don’t jive with them you’ll have to wait for another one and until then you’re either stuck or bored with that aspect of the game.

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