SWTOR Free Weekend Trials Start Thursday

By Jim Rossignol on March 14th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Not the younglings!
EA send word that their game of multi-player laser-swords will soon be featuring free weekends, the page for which is here. It reports that the first free weekend is “Thursday, March 15 at 12:01AM CT through Monday, March 19 at 2:00AM CT.” There are some more details just here, most notable restrictions on chat options to stop you being a big old gold spammer, restrictions to “Origin World, Capital World, the Fleet, all Warzones, and in their first Flashpoint”, and a level cap of 15. Should still be enough to give you a good free taste of the thing, of course.

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74 Comments »

  1. CaspianRoach says:

    Can’t wait till it goes free to play or till they remove the initial box cost. It’s much too expensive for another WoW clone for me atm.

    • djbriandamage says:

      This was my feeling, but only because I, er, “invested” in the 1-year WoW subscription deal. I just can’t justify paying again for a very VERY similar game to WoW. Certainly not with Guild Wars 2, a game designed to be your second MMO, on the horizon.

      • arrjayjee says:

        Guild Wars 2 has no monthly cost, you just pay the box price and that’s it. Same deal as Guild Wars 1. Paid expansions will be released later with new classes, races and areas, but they will not be necessary. There will also be a real-money item shop to offset costs, but items are said to be limited to cosmetic items and low-level booster gear, no actual pay-to-win content.

        • Torgen says:

          I think these features are why he described it as “designed to be your second MMO.”

          • djbriandamage says:

            Yes, that’s what I meant. I probably should have been more clear.

    • Baktosh says:

      Good news. Based on the “Will I need to sign up for a subscription to try the Weekend Pass Free Trial?” section of the FAQ, you can just buy a prepaid time code and attach it to your account to make it the “full game”. So, no up front box cost.

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        AmateurScience says:

        That’s real kick in the teeth to anyone who actually bought the box if so.

        Ouch.

        Edit: Especially if you just bought it. That can’t be right can it?

        Edit Edit: This is what it says:

        ‘Will I need to sign up for a subscription to try the Weekend Pass Free Trial?

        No, you do not need to enter any payment details or redeem a Game Time Code in order to play the Weekend Pass Free Trial. At any time during the Weekend Pass Free Trial you may sign up for a subscription or enter a Game Time Code to enjoy the full game. Unused Weekend Pass Free Trial time will expire after obtaining a subscription or redeeming a Game Time Code.’

        Which, as Baktosh says, sounds very much like they’re waiving the box cost. So soon after release, for me that’s a staggering ‘up yours’ to early adopters.

        • theleif says:

          That’s like saying sales are a kick in the teeth for anyone that bought a game at full price. I just bought SWOTOR a week ago, and I have no problem with this.

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            AmateurScience says:

            There’s a bit of a difference between a discount and free. Especially when the initial cost was £45 and the product only came out 3 months ago. Most sales only knock off a percentage and even then usually occur a long time after release.

            Whilst you may be ok with this, I know I’m not.

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            jezcentral says:

            No problem for me either. I paid for it just as I expected to, and if someone else appears on my server to join a flashpoint with me all the better. I don’t care if they got the box at a better price than me. EDIT: And a little bit of research shows Bioware aren’t doing this, so no issues from anyone, ever, at all.

        • Milky1985 says:

          Erm yeah, i had a read and it is looking like that, unless you can only buy a game time code once you have the game or something.Little annoying,cause its basically soundingl like i could have found out that i didn’t like the game that much for a lot less money if i had just waited a month :P

          • Kdansky says:

            And that is news how? People preorder and get disappointed (every single game ever), and buy on release day and get disappointed (Homefront).

            Don’t be outraged at getting scammed when you know you are getting scammed. “Pre-order” is just a synonym to “scam”.

          • Milky1985 says:

            Wow, overeaction much? Someone seems to be a little angry :P

            Yeah its not news that it happened (the smiley added after the sentence tends to be an indication of a bit of jollity and jokeyness), but i’m a commenter not a news writer so thats to be expected. Yes i’m not stupid enough to think that you never get disappointed, there have been lots of games that disappoint me ( dead island….. :/ ), just as there are lots of games that have been a lot better than i expected!

            Oh and where do pre-orders come into this? Bit confused as to how that relates to what i said! I never mentioned pre-order. In fact if you look at my post I say i could have waited a month, implying that i got it about a month ago, being after release!

        • sneetch says:

          Hmmm… it’s badly worded but I suspect you still need a Product Registration Code from a boxed or digital copy before you can add a card as the very first entry in the Weekend Pass Free Trial section of the FAQ is this:

          How can I purchase the game?
          You can visit buy.swtor.com and select your preferred edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Or simply visit your local games retailer. For a list of retailers visit buy.swtor.com.

          • marach says:

            The add GTC box is greyed out on my friend trial account which says the exact same thing so no you can’t just add a GTC

    • Mordsung says:

      I don’t see it going F2P with 1.7 million subs and no sign of massive decline. I unsubbed myself due to fundamental flaws in the PvP gear system that are, as I see it, irreparable but the game’s not going F2P anytime soon having such a phenomenal start.

  2. Emohawk says:

    Does it not seem a bit too soon to be offering free weekends/invite a friend schemes? I can’t help thinking the subscriptions aren’t as high as they were hoping and that this is a desperate attempt to lure people in. Perhaps that’s just the doom-monger in me..

    • malkav11 says:

      Absolutely not. Every MMO should offer them straight out of the gate. If you’re going to ask $50 plus a monthly fee (or in TOR’s case, -$60- plus a monthly fee) it is imperative that you allow the prospective player a chance to see if that investment is worthwhile.

      • Johnny Lizard says:

        Given that they basically let you download the thing for free to play the trial, the traditionalist in me wonders what you’re paying that $60 for.

        • sneetch says:

          I would have thought that was obvious. You’re paying it so they can recoup the R&D cost.

          They know that everyone won’t stick around after the initial month so the subscription would have to be a lot higher if they didn’t charge the initial fee, that would mean that fewer people would be willing to pay to play it and so it becomes increasingly unlikely that the game would break even.

          • Johnny Lizard says:

            Oh, it’s perfectly obvious that they need to make a profit on their investment, and it’s not an uncommon business model to let you download the software first then charge a license fee to actually use it. It’s just that to the untrained eye, letting you download it first makes it look slightly worse value for money, even though it’s actually a better deal for the customer, if you get my meaning.

          • sneetch says:

            Oh I see what you mean, yes, the idea that “I already have the client why should I have to pay for it?” I can see how that might appear unfair or even misleading to a customer who expected to be able to just pay the subscription.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Considering the huge exodus that usually occurs in an MMO’s 2nd and 3rd months I think this is a very well-educated move by Bioware. I hope it brings in many current players’ friends and makes SWTOR a more fearsome contender to WoW who could use some competition.

      The real danger is in setting a precedent. If too many MMOs waive the box fee after 2-3 months they may have a problem convincing people to buy it for full price at launch. Something tells me the era of mandatory subscription MMOs is coming to an end, though. Long live F2P!

      • Avish says:

        People still but SP games for full price on day one, even though, it’s quite obvious, you’ll be able to buy it at 50% (at least) discount, a couple of months later (some times less than that).
        I don’t think it should be any different for MMOs. The hype and the urge to play the game ASAP, is the same.

        • djbriandamage says:

          That’s a good point and now that I think about it I’d bet you’re absolutely right. A $60 box makes for a good wintersday present and having a sale soon after is a good way to bring in the owners’ friends.

  3. finegrind says:

    I really wish it had been more than a WoW clone. I don’t think it’s bad exactly, but if I wanted WoW gameplay I’d just play WoW.

  4. ain says:

    Near, far, wherever you are
    I believe that the heart does go on

  5. Nallen says:

    I got so bored of this at about level 30. I honestly don’t think the combat has changed at all for the last 15 levels and the story seemed to slow right down too. It also plays like a single player game, despite me being in a guild. You don’t need a guild to do anything so it doesn’t bring anything to the experience beyond another chat channel. Also no HQ? eh? Asheron’s Call had that sorted about a decade ago.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I got so bored of this at about level 30 – I will second that

    • Reefpirate says:

      Level 50 combat gets pretty interesting in my opinion, if you’re doing PvP that is. I like their systems, but there’s just not a whole lot to do at the end game in my opinion. You’re right about guilds, there’s not much point in them yet. I’m hoping the 1.2 update will change that a bit, otherwise I’ll just retire from MMOs again until Planetside 2 comes out :(

    • Phantoon says:

      Yeah, it sounded a lot like the game was front ended with content and quickly petered out after that.

  6. elnalter says:

    All that she wants is another pizza,

    with pepperoni

  7. Lobotomist says:

    My advice go play DC Universe Online , much better game with better voice overs , better combat , more fun – and its F2P

    Sadly unappreciated.

    As for SWTOR , wait for F2P , its coming soon

    • djbriandamage says:

      I find myself unable to complete the following sentence:

      DC Universe Online has better voiceovers than _________.

      • NathanH says:

        SpellForce? It’s hard to be worse…

      • Lobotomist says:

        I guess its all mater of taste. But DCOU has all original talents voicing DC cartoons – like Mark Hamill

        • djbriandamage says:

          Now that you mention it there are a few pretty good actors (Hamill’s Joker is fantastic as always) but the vast majority of what you hear are “Take that!” and “Ow my brains!”. Not to mention the overlong VOs that pop up aaaaaall over the place, often playing simultaneously and overlapping indiscernibly, spouting the most useless drivel imaginable with no way to shut it up. My wife and I played this together (for dozens of hours – fun game) and between our two pairs of speakers we’d sometimes have 6 NPCs (or 6 recordings of the same NPC) yammering at once.

  8. Hakkesshu says:

    Smart of them to put all the good stuff up front. I feel bad for the people who will subscribe expecting that same level of quality in the rest of the game.

  9. RogB says:

    “Access to the Weekend Pass Free Trial is limited – Come back beginning Thursday, March 15 at 12:01AM CT to download the game and to be one of the first to start your Weekend Pass Free Trial!”

    uh-oh, not even letting people download the client early? thats going to hammer the servers all at once..

    • sneetch says:

      That seems rather dumb. How big is the free trial client?

      • Milky1985 says:

        Going by the way the game seems to work and how lazy they seem to be with programming some of the pc things, i’m going to guess its going to be the full download, so basically a lot.

        Anyone with a average connection will be able to play for 2 hours on sunday when it finishes downloading and installing :p

      • djbriandamage says:

        It’s about 19.5GB installed. As I recall the download isn’t significantly compressed so you can expect to download that whole shebang.

    • Wintermood says:

      You can download the client at http://www.swtor.com/ but this is only the launcher. After downloading and installing you would have to have an account (which I do not know if it can be created before thursday) to proceed to the patching process.

      The game is around 20 GB. Since it _is_ the game you are playing (it does not matter if free or paid) and there is the high possibilty you buy a Gamecard afterwards to play a little longer (no Game Box cost) you have to download the whole game. It would be awkward to play a 5 GB Trial game and then when converting be confonted with a 20 GB download. At least I would _not_ like that.

      Me and my girlfriend play this game since release and we are both not bored or whatever with it. We have a lot of fun and we are certainly not the only ones. Last time I looked on the server selection during Primetime there were most servers standard and some heavy load. 3 or 4, maybe less, were on light load. European.

      Take these F2P cryers and the like with a grain of salt I say. :)

      Edit:
      Have a look at: http://www.swtor.com/media/trailers/coming-game-update-1.2

      I guess this is the reason why there are coming free weekends.

      • Kdansky says:

        Lots of new games are able to stream the content. Totally new, such as Guild Wars, or WoW.

        Streaming texture data on demand isn’t actually all that hard to do, seeing how it’s just bitmaps, and the engine could easily substitute a place-holder if necessary. Texture data is easily the biggest part of any modern game, because it’s hard to compress, and you need a lot of it. See: Megatextures.

        • djbriandamage says:

          Don’t forget that this game is a full talkie so you’d have to stream all the voiceover data as well. That’d be a lot of streaming which would really slow down group play as people wait for you to appear.

          I like how Age of Conan tackled this – they allow you to specify in the launcher whether you want to download content for levels 1-20, 20-40, 40-60, and 60-80. If you only had one character you could play the whole game with only 1/4 of the content installed at any one time.

          • Kdansky says:

            In case you didn’t know, there are modern codecs such as mp3 (or even better variants) which will allow you to compress a good minute of talky-talky into less than a single megabyte. I can download a 1080p HD video in blue-ray quality faster than I can watch it, and sound is just a few percent of that.

            No, the talky bits don’t matter at all. Just download it in the background while you are in the same area.

  10. Milky1985 says:

    I’ve already cancelled by subscription to this game. I think its really really boring, at the start I thought it was ace that there was a decent single player game in the mmo world. But the problem is that there it seems to be a really really sparsely populated (even on a medium/high pop server) mmo game, theres just no-one around.

    And in terms of the single player because its an mmo game there can be no real branching, i already know that that no matter what i say (except in certain instanced areas, but even them still have to follow the same basic path) things are going to be the same, I can complete htem ission one of both ways and nothing will change because its cardboard scenery. If it was a proper single player game then the world would change. Best example early on dark side is meeting abunch of people related to previous games, you can betray them or stay with them, but both choices end with you not going back.

    Hell the class stories come up with contrived reasons to send you to the exact same places as the other classes missions, no matter what class you are you will go to place a b and c in one area.

    unfortantly its the worst of both worlds in my opinion. Too sparsly populated to be an mmo, and to mmo like to be a good SP game.

    Apparently the raiding is interesting if you can get the players, but i just really can’t play it enough to get to 50, the first 10 levels are each class are fun however as you fiddle about with new ways of doing things.

    • djbriandamage says:

      This was exactly my problem with the game. I loved the significant choices you got to make in the KOTOR series, but SWTOR seemed like a series of illusions of choice.

      “What do you think about that, smart guy?”

      1. I like it very much! Let’s play legos!
      2. I will break you!
      3. What smells like cheese?

      “I see. So as I was saying…”

      • sneetch says:

        Oh that’s completely unrealistic! Everyone knows Bioware conversations really go like this:

        “What do you think about that, smart guy?”

        1. I like it very much! Let’s play legos!
        “Impudent whelp! It’s LEGO! Not legos! So as I was saying…”
        2. I will break you!
        “No! I will break you! So as I was saying…”
        3. What smells like cheese?
        “You do! So as I was saying…”

        The next sentence or half a sentence seems to be all that your comment affects (some times you can even go back and see the other conversation options). The “illusion” of conversation in Bioware games always seems a bit flimsy to me.

  11. Turbobutts says:

    Stage three: Barter.

  12. Kdansky says:

    Meanwhile, I started playing EVE.

  13. Morcane says:

    We simply have enough of this shit. Every MMORPG is exactly the same. A chatbox with pretty graphics.

    Journey for example solves multiplayer a lot more elegantly…you and another play along without a fucking chat channel or screaming on a Vent channel. Demons Souls has invasions. It’s smaller scale, but TONS OF FUN. Yea it’s not massively multiplayer, but you know..massively always ends up in whine fests over scaling, bad performance and other crap.

    SWTOR gameplay? Well, go fetch 10 guns, then go to your ship, watch a loading screen, walk across an insanely large hallway to another airlock, watch a loading screen, fly to another planet, exit ship, watch a loading screen, walk across an insanely large hallway to your destination, watch a speech bubble + loading screen. And you do it ALL ALONE most of the time.

    YAWN. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.

    • Commander Gun says:

      You sound a little bit mad sir, played too many mmorpgs lately?

    • sneetch says:

      I sense much anger in you. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to posting comments on the internet. Posting comments on the internet lead to a ludicrous notion that it matters what we post on the internet. A ludicrous notion that it matters what we post on the internet leads to a need to correct people on the internet.

      And that’s just silly.

  14. Strutter says:

    No box costs… , I paid 55 euros for an ingame title.

    :(

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      AmateurScience says:

      Seems that way. Harsh.

    • sneetch says:

      I believe you still need to add the full product to your account before you can play the full game and you can only do that by buying it.

    • marach says:

      You can’t just add a GTC already tried it on a friend trial code which seems to be following the same rules (hell they even mentioned a discount being available to those using friend codes I never got offered one -.-)

  15. sephiroth says:

    well this does sound like they need players to start paying them some money cause they are not making what they need or maybe just want.

    If they made it single player and not online with the KO at the front of the TOR and a 3 at the end I would of bought this but they didnt and then asked for a huge amount of money so I’m slightly tempted with a free weekend but not this weekend unfortunatly.

    on the up side it should only be a couple more months till its free to play then I wont have to give EA any money and I like not giving money to EA. They should of just sold it to me with the above title and taken £30 maybe even £35 and been happy that my sort of EA boycott got another exception oh well.

  16. Mordsung says:

    This game’s PvP was really good pre-50, but like most games it drops the ball hard in endgame PvP.

    Having a unique statistic that increases or decreases player damage in PvP is a very, very bad mechanic and shifts the focus of the game from getting more skilled to becoming more geared.

    I had high hopes for this game and loved 10 to 49 PvP, but 50 is such a huge disappointment.

  17. Brun says:

    One of my biggest complaints with the game is that there just isn’t a whole lot to do at max level. Your options are basically:

    1) Operations (Raids)
    2) Flashpoints (Dungeons)
    3) PvP
    4) Dailies

    #2 is irrelevant if you have done any of #1 since even the Normal (Easy) Mode raid gear is better than anything you can obtain in Flashpoints.

    PvP is a horrible mess, with some grave class imbalances and getting constantly steamrolled by premades. It wouldn’t be so bad if Ilum worked properly since that can actually be interesting.

    Dailies get boring or irrelevant after the first few weeks of doing them. That’s self-explanatory.

    Now the question I have to ask myself is, why does it feel like there’s nothing to do in SWTOR when WoW had the same or even fewer endgame options when it released? Think about it. When it first came out, your only real options at level 60 in WoW were Raids and Dungeons. There was no organized PvP system (you could go kill people if you were on a PvP server, but there were no statistics or rewards for doing so), and no dailies.

    So how is it that SWTOR, which launched with MORE options for endgame activities, can feel so boring at max level? The answer, I think, is a pacing issue. The pace of character progression is woefully ill-suited to the amount of endgame content they have available. In WoW, not only did it take much longer to level to the cap, but it took much longer to gear up for raiding. That meant you had to be doing a lot more Dungeons. In SWTOR you can enter Normal Mode ops as a fresh 50 with almost no Flashpoint gear. The raid progression in WoW was much slower as well. It was taking guilds months to clear raids. There are plenty of reasons that the raid progression in SWTOR is faster (the biggest being that WoW has made people better at beating WoW-style encounters than they were in 2004). Unfortunately SWTOR’s raid progression happens so quick – the reward differences between Normal, Heroic, and Nightmare modes are so slight – that there is little incentive to do the raids outside of sheer boredom.

    PvP has the opposite pacing problem. WoW’s PvP system, when it was introduced, was designed as a very grindy system that rewarded people who invested the most time in playing the PvP game. The system was revised several times, but throughout its lifetime it had always been a viable and enjoyable activity for non-hardcore PvPers, or primarily PvE players, to participate in (it was a great Post-Raid activity). This is not the case in SWTOR as the reward system present in that game demands a much more significant time investment. Combine that with the fact that playing PvP is for most people a pretty miserable experience and PvP becomes an unattractive option for most people.

    In summary, what it really looks like is that BioWare took a snapshot of WoW from 2006 and built their game to that model. Then they took some of the features and adjustments that WoW added in its subsequent expansions and tacked those onto the game. Sadly that mixture doesn’t work that well.

    I still have hope for the game, but the 1.2 update that’s coming in April will be a make or break moment for SWTOR. I think that a lot of the subscribers are only sticking around to see if the update will fix the game’s most glaring problems.

  18. Miltrivd says:

    Space wizards from the future-past? What is this madness?!

  19. darkcoder says:

    One thing to consider. Can people actually download the client before the weekend. Not everyone has a 12 Mbit connection, so it gonna take some time to download the client, which will affect the amount of time people will be able to play.

    I also don’t care where, how, or how cheap new people get to the game. Some servers looks rather empty so we need more meat (pvp).

    • djbriandamage says:

      No, for some awful reason Bioware forces you to log in before you can download or patch your game. If you don’t have an active account you cannot get the game into a state of readiness.

  20. ColonelClaw says:

    I had a very different reason from most people why I didn’t take up the sub on this game, and I was wondering whether it’s just me, whether I’m actually losing the plot, or if anyone else thinks along the same lines.
    The reason I stopped playing after the month was up had nothing to do with gameplay, story, cut-scenes, quality of engine or anything like that, but was quite simple – I found the art direction to be horrendous.
    As someone who can unfortunately admit to be old enough to have grown up with the original 3 films, I was thoroughly looking forward to getting drawn in to that original Star Wars universe. The style and art direction of the three films was incredibly distinct – burnt warm hazy deserts, dark moody and contrasty space stations, blown out icy planets, a very specific use of bloom and glow etc etc. The ship and technology design was also extremely distinctive and had it’s own clear style and language depending on the faction. The use of colour and harmonics was also extremely distinct.
    At no point when playing SWTOR did I ever feel I was inhabiting the same universe, I never once felt like I was adventuring in the world of those films, and that was completely down to the art direction and character modelling. Even the sound and music felt like it had no connection, which is just plain dumb when you consider how iconic the scores are to those films.
    I found a lot to like in SWTOR, I found it extremely polished, very responsive, well fleshed out and eminently playable, but for me it never felt like Star Wars.

    So, have I seen it totally wrong or does anyone else think along these lines?

    • deke913 says:

      JarJar was more star wars than Swtor. Hell, Paris Hilton is more star wars than swtor.
      I was giggling like a schoolgirl when I got the beta invite for swtor, but then I played it.
      They tried to go for the cartoony look because of WoW (and the animated star wars series)and the longevity of that kind of art style, which imo was huge mistake. Cooldowns and skill delay on top of the fact I could never find anyone occupying the world I was on only made it worse. How can you have that much lore content already set up for you and use only humanoids! (add an eyepatch or earpiece and voila! you are a cyborg) Sad, sad, sad.

    • Brun says:

      I agree completely about the art direction, environment, and character design. The environments in SWTOR never stunned me like those in WoW or even Age of Conan did. They all seemed quite bland despite the higher poly static meshes and the higher resolution textures. I still can’t quite put my finger on why that is. One reason is because the colors palette used in this game looks like an oil painting that’s been watered down. It’s like they put a screen over the game that color corrects to greyish-beige. That and nothing feels sharp – none of the colors really pop, all of the models seem blurred at the edges.

      But the biggest issue is that the environment lacks what I call “epic sense of place.” Basically this boils down to places that should be awesome and epic are not awesome and epic. Epic sense of place is something that WoW really nailed, and I never realized it until I started playing more MMOs. Walking into places like Stormwind or Ironforge or Hellfire Peninsula really struck you as amazing not only because of their historic places in the game’s lore but also because they were designed with the scale and presented with the flair that suits such a place. Some of the design tricks and optical illusions that the zone designers at Blizzard used to pull this off are quite brilliant.

      Contrast that with SWTOR which almost never captures that feeling, even on incredibly important planets like Tatooine, Hoth, or Corellia. In fact, the only time that I felt that epic sense of place was in the Dune Sea on Tatooine – one of the most basic and dull environments imaginable (an empty desert)! Simply because it was highly consistent with its presentation in the movies.

      The character design was little better – the models may be higher-poly but the animations are garbage. My Bounty Hunter looks like a robot.

  21. Stromko says:

    Was halfway through the process of signing up, when I saw that this requires agreeing to Origin’s onerous terms of service. Deal breaker.