Regardless if you’ve had previous experiences with MMORPG’s, there are plenty of differences between all of the games in this category, and so is the case of Star Wars: The Old Republic. As a new player in SWTOR the richness of information can be overvhelming, at least at the beginning.
This guide is aiming to provide basic knowledge about SWTOR with an emphasis on its exclusive features so you’ll get to fully enjoy your in-game experience without missing any of them. It may also prove useful to people that are still undecided about playing the game as it’s a comprehensive overview of what SWTOR has to offer.
Class and faction selection
Before choosing your character you will first have to choose your faction. You can either play for the Galactic Republic
or for the Sith Empire
. Each faction has 4 playable classes and all of them have mirrors in the opposite camp - for example the Jedi Knight’s (Republic) mirror is the Sith Warrior (Empire) and both have the same skills and abilities only with different names. As a result, everyone has the same choices in terms of character role and abilities regardless of the faction.
Class selection in SWTOR works pretty much like in most other MMOs: you will have to take into consideration which role you want to play: dps, healer or tank and if you want it to be melee or ranged.
To specialize even further, at level 10 you will be presented with two Advanced Classes
(ACs) to choose from. The ACs of a class are two entirely different and currently ireversible paths you can take with your character that offer unique play styles and combat roles. You can check out ACs and other useful info in our class guides
or in-game during Character Creation.
When you complete the class quests on your starting planet you will be given a quest that sends you to the Fleet Station of your faction. Here, the quest will guide you into speaking with a NPC located next to your class trainer where you will be able to choose your Advanced Class.
SWTORs interface is straightforward and easy to get used to. The main menu is at the top and from there you will be able to access and customize a wide variety of aspects.
In this window you will be able to see your character’s current stats, gear and alignment/social/valor points. For a better understanding of what character stats mean and how they function in SWTOR check our related guide
All of the items you obtain are automatically stored in your inventory. The inventory is organized into three tabs: Inventory
– where “regular items” such as equipment, crafting materials and healing packs are stored; Mission Items
– here you can find the items that are given to you so you can finish a mission (these automatically dissapear when you complete it); Currency
– in this tab you will find all the commendations that you have earned throughout the game. With these you can purchase armor, weapons, item modifications and other useful items.
The Abilities Panel displays all of your character’s aptitudes and it is divided into three separate tabs: General
, Advanced Class
. The General tab lists non-combat related abilities; under the Class category you will find your class combat abilities while in the Advanced Class are listed only the ones specific to your AC. Last but not least, the Vehicles section contains all your speeders (otherwise known as mounts), your primary means of transport in SWTOR.
The primary purpose of the Mission Log is to display all of your active missions along with their status and related information while in the Party tab you can see all of the party members active missions. The Codex is a compendium of all the notable places and people you come across while playing the game. It lists Persons of Note, Species, Planets and many other categories, including Achievements and Titles. In the Lockouts tab you will be able to view your saved progress in Operations (only for level 50 characters).
Starting with level 10, when you choose your Advanced Class you will receive one skill point each time you gain a new level. Every AC has 3 different skill trees to specialize in (each one with its own combat role and play style). In the Skill Tree window you will be able to see what each skill has to offer as well as invest your skill points.
The Social Window is divided into four categories: the Friends
tab (its purpose being obvious); the Who
tab where you can view and search online players by user-defined criteria and also mark yourself as “looking for a group”; the Ignore
tab where you can see the list of players you chose to ignore if any; the Guild
tab displaying the online members of your guild.
From here you can see info about the online guild members (if you are in a guild of course). The Social Window and the Guild menu are basically the same only the first will open by default on the Friends tab and the other one opens on the Guild tab.
In SWTOR each class has its own, unique story and you will be able to progress through it by performing your class quests. As you do so, you will recruit companions, special NPCs that can accompany you while doing missions or perform crew skills. In the Crew Management window you will be able to see all of your current companions and crew skills as well as send them on missions or command them to craft items.
Accessing this menu will enable you to logout, quit the game or access its Preferences. The Preferences comprises all the options and settings available to customize the game. This menu is divided into two tabs: one for the game settings and another one for key bindings.
Customer Service Help Request
This is the go-to menu when you experience in-game problems such as bugs or any time something confusing happens and you need some answers. It’s recommended you first have a quick look at the FAQ and submit a ticket only if you don’t find your problem listed there.
The Preferences menu is rather extensive but there are a couple of tweaks that are popular and known to make your in-game experience smoother:
- Auto-loot on right click.
- Enable area loot.
- In the Quickbars
category you can display, lock and unlock various action bars from where you can access your abilities. Which ones you will use depends entirely on your preferences.
- In the Conversation
category you can choose to enable Subtitles and Conversation alignment gain.
- In the Tooltip
category you can display item tooltips. This will show you stats, item modifications and the differences between your currently equipped item and the one your holding your mouse above. I suggest enabling all of the tooltip options since these will help you choose with ease the best items for you and your companions.
- Hide head slot.
- Show Sith corruption.
- Show Legacy bar.
- [Alt+Z] – hide/show the UI.
- [Ctrl+U] – load/unload the UI – very helpful in situations such as UI freezing.
- [Ctrl+Shift+F] – show/hide FPS counter.
- [Numlock] – toggle Autorun.
- [Space] – skip in-game cut-scenes.
- [Escape] – reset current conversation.
In SWTOR quests are more than the typical “kill this get that” assignment. Each of them will have a story enabling you to participate in conversations and choose one of the tree available answers. The class missions will be your main story line. These are unique for each class and divided into three chapters. By completing class quests and progressing through the story you will recruit companions, gain access to your starship, Advanced Class and the next planet so skipping them is not an option.
Zone and Companion Missions
On each planet there are a large number of side quests available. These are optional, but very useful since doing your class missions is not enough to get you to max level. Some of them will automatically provide bonus quests, additional objectives to gain extra rewards. Most of the zone quests can be completed by a single player but there are a few that require 2,3 or 4 players called Heroic missions.
When reaching certain levels of affection with companions some of them may want to speak with you. This is possible only on your ship and sometimes even inside a cantina. Sometimes from conversations with companions you will be granted a mission related to their story. These missions are also optional but completing them will yield a good amount of experience and bonus affection points with your companion most of the times.
Space Combat missions are bonus quests that you can do as soon as you receive your class ship. Daily space missions can be aquired by accessing the small quest indicator near your galaxy map. The rewards for these dailies consist of experience, credits and space commendations (which you can use to buy starship upgrades, equipment and other items).
Space Combat missions are basically rail-shooters where your ship is on a predetermined path and you can only move and shoot within your screen. The beam cannon (basic shooting) is mapped to the left mouse button while missiles can be launched by pressing the right button. There are also several add-ons to your ship, which you'll gain at higher levels, such as an EMP Generator, Proton Torpedoes and Electronic Warfare Pod which grant you additional abilities that can make your space missions more easy. Your starship also has a shield that protects your ship and regenerates automatically while you’re not shooting.
The missions can be classified into three types: the first one is the escort mission where you have to accompany a target and make sure it survives until the end of the mission; the second one will require you to destroy certain elements of a space station (missiles will be very useful in this case); last but not least, the third type of mission will consist of various targets to destroy (such as mines, bombers and enemy ships) but your main goal will be surviving since you’ll be under heavy fire throughout the entire mission.
During all Space Combat missions you will have the opportunity to unlock bonus objectives. These are optional and you’ll still be able to complete the mission without them. On the other hand, dying or not finishing your main objectives will always result in mission failure.
In SWTOR the main leveling zones translate into planets
. As soon as you finish your class quests on your starting planet you will receive a quest that sends you to your faction’s Fleet Station and from there you will travel to the respective Capital Planet ( Coruscant for the Republic and Dromund Kaas for the Empire).
After you complete your class quests on the Capital Planet you will gain access to your ship which you will further use for interplanetary travel.
As mentioned before, companions are non-player characters that can assist you in your missions and crew skills. Sometime between level 6 and 8 you will aquire your first companion while following your class quest.
By the time you reach level 50 you will have a total of 5 companions plus the ship droid that comes with the starship. However, you can only use 5 companions for crafting and crew skills missions at the same time. For an in-depth coverage on the role of companions take a look at our related guide
The decisions you take during conversations will oftenly result in an increase/decrease of your companion’s affection. The affection can also be raised by giving your companion special items called gifts. If you want to lear more on how to fully take advantage of gifts check out our companion gifts guide
Crew skills and Economy
In SWTOR, player professions – the foundation of in-game economy – are known as crew skills. These divide into three categories: gathering skills
, crafting skills
and mission skills
. Every character can learn three crew skills in any combination limited by a single rule: you can only have one crafting skill per char. They can be learned on the fleet of your faction from trainers as soon as you leave your starting planet. Since gathering and mission skills were designed to support crafting skills with the required materials, there are various combinations that will increase your productivity and credit gains. This crew skill dependencies map
contains all important succesful crew skill combos in a visual and readable manner.
You can gather materials from nodes yourself or your companion will do it if he is with you. You can also send your companions on gathering missions which will cost a number of credits, proportionally increasing with your level of course. On the other hand, crafting can only be performed by companions and they can have up to 5 items in the crafting queue. The same goes for mission skills…..which come only under the form of missions and can only be done by your companions. Our crew skills beginner’s guide
offers detailed explanations on how the crew skills system works.
All of the materials and items that you harvest, craft or receive as rewards from missions can be sold at the Galaxy Trade Network
(GTN). This is basically an auction house, where all players from the same faction can buy and sell items and GTN terminals can be found at Republic and Imperial fleets in the Galaxy Trade Market
The money in SWTOR translates into credits. You’ll be earning and spending them with every item you buy or sell, as mission rewards, by travelling with your spaceship or with taxis, sending companions on missions and many other ways. Additionally, all the planets have commendations
(e.g. Hutta commendations) that can be used to purchase equipment (with the same level range as the planet’s) from commendation vendors at your faction fleet or on the planet itself. Planet commendations are gained as quest rewards or dropped by mobs. Also, there are other types of commendations that can be aquired by completing PvP/PvE, Space Combat, daily missions and others.
Flashpoints and Operations
Flashpoints and Operations are the definition of SWTOR’s raid and group PvE content usually found in MMOs. Flashpoints require groups of 4 players while Operations are meant for 8 or 16 player groups and vary in difficulty. Both of them are story-driven, meaning players will also participate in conversations besides completing boss fights and other objectives.
All flashpoints and operations are repeatable on a daily or weekly basis and some of them come as objectives for completing weekly and daily missions. When you complete either one of these, your progress will be saved and you won’t be able to repeat it until it resets. While Operations are destined for level 50 players, Flashpoints will become available from approximately level 7 throughout the entire leveling process (the full list of Flashpoints is included in our leveling star chart
). Currently Karraga’s Palace
and Eternity Vault
are the two operations available with more to be added in future game updates.
Player vs Player combat comes under many forms in SWTOR: if you’re on a PvP server you may encounter players of the opposite faction on any planet past your third; Outlaw’s Den is a free-for-all PvP area located on Tatooine where all players can fight eachoter regardless of their faction; Ilum is a planet designed for end-game open world PvP; last but not least there are Warzones, SWTOR’s team-oriented PvP content.
There are three different Warzones: Hutball
, Alderaan Civil War
all with unique objectives and strategies. You can join Warzones starting with level 10 by queuing from the lower-right button of the mini-map. Warzone completion rewards consist of Valor points (required to access certain PvP gear tiers), credits, Warzone commendations ( with which you can purchase PvP gear) and experience (for players below level 50). Have a look at our Warzones guide
, Valor guide
and PvP gear guide
for more info and useful tactics and tips.
Datacrons and Matrix Cubes
Datacrons are cubes spread across all over the galaxy that provide a permanent stat boost to your character or give you a Matrix Shard.
With three Matrix Shards you can assemble a Matrix Cube
which you can equip into one of your Relic slots for an additional stat boost. More information about datacrons and their locations can be found in the related guide
The transport system in SWTOR is very friendly and it makes traveling as easy as it can get. Besides the old regular walking, transport is basically divided into three categories: interplanetary, between different planet areas and personal.
Planetary transport is formed by a web of interconnected local speeders also known as taxis, and for a small fee you can use them to move between any two linked transport points. They can be seen on the map as a pair of arrows, and the droids through which you can access them have the same sign above their heads.
Quick Travel is an ability given to all characters that allows you to teleport between any bind point you disovered on the planet you are currently located on, with the sole mention that it has a 30 minute cooldown. Bind points look like small terminals, discoverable by right-click and are always located near transport points or Cantinas.
Your starship has many purposes: it’s the place where all your companions reside, you can engage in Space Combat missions, access the holoterminal for class mission conversations and last but not least to travel between planets. Each faction has three starships but even if they are different in appearance, their functionality is the same.
From your ship you can access the galaxy map, and from there, choose the planet you wish to go on. There are no restrictions to interplanetary travel, only that you'll have to pay a small fee to cover the fuel cost.
Speeders are your personal mounts that you can use for local travel in almost all areas. They offer increased speed compared to the basic walking and first become available at level 25.
Upgraded versions of speeders can be purchased at level 40 and then at 50 - in our vehicle requirements guide
you can find detailed info on level requirements and costs. You might also want to check out our speeders compendium
to view a comprehensive list of max level speeders.
Alignment and Social Points
While completing missions you will engage in conversations and have the opportunity to choose between 3 different answers. Your choices sometimes will yield Dark or Light points and alter your alignment. The alignment system is an exclusive feature in SWTOR and it can grant you access to special items as well as change your physical in-game appearance. For an in-depth coverage on how alignment works please read our related guide
Social points work similar to Alignment but you can only get them while grouped with other players. When you are in a group and start conversations with NPCs you can receive social points by winning conversation rolls. As your social level increases you will have the opportunity to purchase social items such as equipment and mounts usually sold by Social vendors.