The first ten levels of SWTOR are pretty straightforward. Take all the quests and do as many of them as are convenient (you can skip the group quest). Everything is linear, simply get to level ten and get off the newbie planet.
At this point, things become a bit more complex. Firstly, you have to make a choice about what advanced class to take. You can’t change your mind, so best to have known what you wanted to do at level 1. The warriors can’t heal and the healers can’t tank but both get a DPS option and for the most part the DPS classes can do a bit of either tanking or healing.
You’ll have your first companion by now. That will be your only combat companion for about 20 levels, so tune your abilities towards their functionality. Bear in mind that NPC healers don’t use power: their heals are on cool downs so they are not good emergency healers. You need to plan your fights well if you’re relying on an NPC healer.
If you can afford it (or if you can borrow from higher level friends), then buy lots of cheap 200 credit gifts for your companion. Try to get 12,000 credits and boost the affection to 4,000 but in any case, do aim to get them to 2,000 affection at a cost of about 4,000 cr. It is more important to do this than to develop a crafting skill because it enhances the value of all subsequent companion faction gain. The rank 2 gifts are three times more expensive but give only twice as much faction (and that only after they are at 2,000 affection). You get the next companion at about level 30 when 12,000 credits is not a big deal.
The starting companions and their preferred gifts are as follows:
|Khem Val||cultural artefacts|
|Mako||technology and underworld goods|
|Aric||weapon or military|
|T7-01||technology or republic memorabilia|
|Corso||weapon or military gear|
I have not tested all of these. Where there are options, check that you’re getting about +96 affection.
You will also now be able to pick a crafting class. Even if you know exactly what you want, click on all the trainers and reject their skill: you get exp for each one you click on. Biochem and cybertech are useful to everyone as they make general use items. Synthweave and artifice are of use to the force wielders and armortech and armstech are of use to the non-force users. You will want to match up your craft skill to your gathering skills and that isn’t always obvious:
|Craft Skill||Gathering Skill|
|Biochem||bioanlysis and diplomacy|
|Cybertech||underworld trade and scavenging|
|Synthweave||archaeology and underworld trade|
|Artificing||archaeology and treasure hunting|
|Armortech||scavenging and underworld trading|
|Armstech||scavenging and investigation|
The best general purpose skill is biochem as it gives you access to the stimulants and med packs while you level. Without levelling this skill you probably won’t be able to afford stimulants which are equivalent to an extra piece of equipment and you’ll probably use cheaper sub standard heal packs. There are lots of animals to cut up on the early planets but it gets tougher later on to find the raw materials. You’ll probably find that your crafting costs you money unless you’re very good with the Marketplace. It is optional but as you can get some nice advantages from it, you may as well.
If you aren’t interested in crafting then take slicing (which doesn’t support any particular craft but gets good cash) and a gathering profession to sell on the parts.
Another thing that happens at level 10 is that you can now do PvP. Warzones normalise your stats to Level 50 so you won’t suck too badly (though getting run speed makes it much better). You should get your daily warzone quest and join a warzone. Unless you really hate PvP it’s worth doing because each battle is decent experience and decent cash (even if you lose) and if you win, you complete the daily quest for a load of exp and cash.
By doing the daily PvP as often as is convenient (i.e. whenever you’re in the capitol), you should find that you level quite quickly through the first world. Complete your class quest there to come away with the ship. At level 14 or 15 you learn a sprint skill, this makes getting about the world much easier. You’ll also get PvP tokens which you can use to buy orange, upgradable items for yourself and your companions.
In each world you visit, your main objective should be to complete the class quest. Often this will take you to quest nodes that are worth lots of exp but the main gains in character terms are from the class quests: some great quest rewards and extra companions. Your first target is to get the ship from the first set of planetary quests.
Once you have a ship, you can start to do another fast levelling trick: the daily space quests. The first few are fairly easy and the fights don’t take long. Be proactive in killing threats to your escort target. The level 20 quests are not too hard but remember to check the marketplace for ship modifications. Also, spend any space flight bonus you get. In particular, at 30 space flight tokens you can buy a device that lets you shunt power to shields or blasters. This makes the space combat a lot more interesting.
Once you have shields, the game play changes a bit. Now you need to stop blasting in order to recharge the shields. The shunt adds to this as when you’ve got no targets (or if you’re only using missiles) you stop blasting and click on shield regeneration. The rest of the time just click on the blasters button because shields don’t regenerate when you’re blasting anyway, so it doesn’t matter if they are regenerating slower. At about level 28 you open up a very hard (and not worth the effort) escort space quest and by about level 30 the other quests have greened out but it is good exp till then.
If you have a few friends, the flashpoints are a good source of social points and nice equipment. The daily flashpoint quest makes it well worth doing even if your group isn’t the most efficient (and a good group will get fast exp as well). If you find yourself questing with others in heroic areas and the like, then it is important to all to try to join one conversation. You get one social point per person involved in the conversation for every response, unless you ‘win the roll’ in which case you get twice that. The social vendor has some very nice upgradable items, so if you’re interested in how you and your companions look, you will probably want to get social rank. You can then spend credits or ‘commendations’ on level-appropriate modifications so that your equipment not only looks how you want it to but also has the statistics that you’d like it to have.
If you aren’t doing flashpoints and PvP and space quests then you will probably find that the ‘bonus series’ quests on each planet are worth doing – these have some great rewards and decent exp but there is quite a bit of effort involved in them.
Always log out in a location that is giving you rested exp. You gain it pretty quickly and it won’t get used up by doing space missions or PvP.
Between star battles and PvP, you should not only find that you level quickly but that you are have plenty of credits. This is important because at level 25 you need to have 48,000 cr on hand to buy a speeder and the skill to use it plus another 7,000 or so for your other (less important) level 25 skills. At this stage, you will have a lot of skill points and will be getting some fairly complex options with regards to how you specialise. This is the kind of detail that changes from time to time but this has gone beyond the remit of a starter article.