Planetary Album

November 29, 2011

Ever since the NDA was lifted for the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta, my guildies in the Republic Mercy Corps/Imperial Mercenary Corps have been trying to pool together our media and share them with each other. There was a wealth of screenies to go through, mostly because a few of my fellow RMCers have been in testing for almost a year! Some of the gorgeous images I saw gave me the inspiration for this post.

It’s so hard to really say which planet in SWTOR is my favorite. They all appeal to me for different reasons — I love the colors of Nar Shaddaa, I love the beauty of Ilum, I love the history of Taris, I like how BioWare has captured the atmosphere of Tatooine, etc. etc. etc. Thanks to my friend Maric for allowing me to use some of his screenshots here.

Edit: Mild spoilers about the planets, but no spoilers regarding any of the stories.


A Republic character’s first destination after they finish their respective starter planet. The first time I saw Coruscant, I was stunned. After years of playing mostly fantasy MMOs, it’s a nice change of pace to see the hustle and bustle of a sci-fi city.

Funny story: A lot of people I’ve talked to have admitted to “pulling an Anakin” on Coruscant, immediately or soon after they arrive. That is, jumping over a railing to free fall off the side to see what happens. Yeah, I confess, I tried it too. Sadly, no, you don’t get to land safely in the cabin of a hover car.

Dromund Kaas

The Empire city. It’s a little odd coming right off from reading the new SWTOR book Revan and reading about how this planet was shrouded in mystery and far off into the unknown regions of space. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t actually as creepy as everything made it sound. See the lush wilderness and pretty waterfalls!


Such a treat to land on Taris, to have all the memories from playing Knights of the Old Republic come rushing back…even though it looks nothing like it did before Malak’s orbital bombardment. I liked how there were plenty of opportunities for players to relive the planet’s history, though it feels like you spend forever here, if you’re Republic. Sith get to come here later, and get their own “instance” of the planet.

Nar Shaddaa

Nar Shaddaa has gone through many changes, and with each beta build it seemed to come back seedier and tackier. Huge gold statue of a Hutt in the middle of the Promenade, anyone? There are drunken NPCs playing in the yellow water of the fountain around it, for God’s sake. And all the holo-dancers (though, you would think people would prefer the real thing)!

Nar is still pretty cool though. The first planet where the Republic and Empire get to go head-to-head in the neutral areas, the RMC spent much effort cleaning up the Promenade of Imperial griefers/gankers during that one time almost everyone’s PvP toggle was stuck on permanent flag.


Let’s just put it this way: for me, the sight of the two suns on the horizon was enough to trigger a nerdgasm.

For a desert wasteland, there’s actually quite a lot to see and do on Tatooine. You get a wide stretch of open space for the first time, the Dune Sea being the perfect venue to hold our RMC/IMC Friday Night Fights and naked dance parties on the slow-floating balloon.

Funny story: many players make the pilgrimage out to the north Dune Sea to see the great Sarlacc. Maric and I encountered a level 16 who made it all the way out there, dodging elite mobs 10 levels above him just to hurl himself into the pit and sacrificing himself to his Sarlacc gods. After we rezzed him, the whacko went off in search of a Rancor. Good luck, crazy dude.


Everywhere you turn is another postcard moment on Alderaan, that is when some disgusting bug alien thing isn’t constantly stepping into your frame and ruining your picture. Oh, and you get to ride thranta between the taxi points. So sad, to know that this planet will be blown to smithereens in another few thousand years. Enjoy these alien-free shots:


Empire characters get to come here right after they leave Dromund Kaas, but Republic folks come here much later, and we get our own “instance” of the planet.


Probably the smallest zone in the game, and you breeze through it in about a day even at this higher level. Can’t say I was too upset about that — though some parts of Quesh can be pretty, when you think about how it’s all the poisonous gases in the atmosphere, that’s pretty nasty. That, and I was itching to get to Hoth, so I was even more relieved when I found out there wasn’t a bonus quest series.


I was dying to get to this planet, and I don’t know why. Maybe because I really wanted to see a wild tauntaun with my own eyes. Hoth is like Tatooine in that it’s huge with wide open spaces, except everything is covered in ice and snow. You get to do some really fun quests on this planet, even enter into some fragile alliances with the other faction, albeit grudgingly.

Funny story: everything’s so blue, I discovered that trying to find quest items or lore objects that are on the ground with the blue sheen on them is a nightmare on this planet!


There’s something very Trollshaws (if you play Lord of the Rings Online) or Azshara (if you play World of Warcraft) about this planet. It’s SWTOR’s own autumnal zone with the fall theme and fiery foliage. And the creatures on this planet tend to be vibrant shades of blue or violet, setting off the contrast. Very pretty. And the first time I met a Voss (the native humanoid species), it was wild.


Or the “moldy ball of cheese” planet as I like to call it, as that’s what it looks like from space. Not exactly an ice planet, Belsavis has got little pockets of jungle nestled amongst its glacial cliffs. There’s something very “Lost World” about this place, with all its strange plant life and creatures.

It’s also a prison planet, which makes it a pain in the ass to navigate unless you follow the roads, because everywhere you go is another huge wall or fence. Not to mention the transportation technology they use here. A very “beam me up, Scotty!” type of thing.


The future birthplace of Han Solo was not what I expected at all. It’s pretty much a bombed-out craphole in SWTOR, but at least the trams are still working great! That is, when they weren’t bugging out and leaving me dead on the tracks, it’s like a fun rollercoaster ride through the city. Not much of a view though, sadly.


I ditched Corellia and came here as soon as I reached level 50, and came to enjoy the ice-locked twilit landscape. The mobs seemed to hit harder here, and were more difficult to kill. I also stumbled upon a whole area to the west which was devoid of any hostiles or NPCs, and figured this might be a future zone for PvP.

It might have been a whole lot of nothing — at least when I went there — but I think out of all the planets in SWTOR, Ilum is the most beautiful.


  1. Great overview. Exellent use of screenshots to accompany your thoughts. I love Hoth! 🙂

    • Err…excellent. … 😉

    • Thanks again for letting me use some of your shots! The ones you had with the actual characters in them look so badass…

  2. Nice tour. And Ilum is gorgeous, can’t wait to go there.

    • You can go there at anytime as soon as you have your ship, really. Just bring a bodyguard 😉

  3. Wow. Those are some excellent screenshots. And people complain that the game looks dated. Fie on them!

    • Agreed. I know it’s SWTOR’s very stylized and for some it can be an acquired taste. But from what I’ve seen, game looks gorgeous.

  4. Excellent tour. I always enjoy seeing the landscapes laid out for all to see. Personally, Alderaan was the one that wowed me most, followed closely by Nar Shaddaa. Alderaan really did look like Switzerland to me (winter wonderland), and as for the “Smuggler’s Moon”, I just like city lights, and Nar Shaddaa has that in abundance.

    • You know, when I was writing up this post I almost did write something about Alderaan looking like a vacation spot in Switzerland, with its snowy peaks and lakes. Guess that line got lost somewhere in editing 😛

  5. No spoiler alert ?

    Nice write up regardless…thankyou.

    • I didn’t think there were any spoilers, nothing at all crucial to any storylines anyway. Plus, a not so secret secret is that anyone can go to these planets to check them out whenever they wish, as long as they have a ship and the ability to dodge high level bad guys 😀

  6. Very nice tour of the galaxy, and Ilum sure looks pretty.
    I’m still feeling weird about a planet called Voss</a, but it kind of makes sense since Voss is only an hour away from Hoth by train.

    • LOL that’s neat 😀 And yeah back in the early days when I first did searches on Voss, a lot of stuff on Norway came up.

  7. A very well done and complete tour! =)

  8. You know, I didn’t expect this game to grab me in the way that it did. But the sparse amount of time I was able to devote to the beta showed me a very fun game with a lot of potential indeed. I had a real blast with my Imperial Agent, and despite my initial misgivings, found the environmental design so be excellent, and the ambient, musical, and background sound effects very immersive.

    I am not fond of the run/walk/jump animations. It looks very unnatural for the characters’ spine to be ramrod straight regardless of energy or direction put into their movements. Contrasting sharply with this is the combat animations, which are excellent… it’s like the characters were animated by two different teams. Idle poses are also a little weird. I have been likening the poses to action figures suspended by an invisible hand… just not natural in the least.

    However that said I do plan on purchasing and playing the game, likely in January, or, if they bring the cost down a little for the regular digital download, perhaps sooner. $60 right out the gate for a sub game still feels a little steep for me.

    • Yes, the music and ambient sounds add so much to the game. It’s been improved over time too, so I still get amazed by it ever now and then.

      And I can see what you mean by the run/walk/jump animations. The first time I played, I noticed they looked a little awkward, but that was like in June and I think I may have gotten used to it…plus I think it depends on the species too. The first time I played a human trooper, it just looked totally weird and unnatural! But oddly enough, nothing struck me odd about my Twi’lek.

      I see prices on the game box dropping in time. The way it is with me and MMOs though, 50-60 bucks isn’t really so bad mainly because of the free month. I look at my past history and see that I pay the same for single player games and play many for just a week or two before I’m done. So I guess I figure with all MMOs I buy at least I should get my $ worth out of the first 30 days.

  9. It would be kind of cool on Taris to run across some old holovid showing the city as it was before it was bombed. I still remember the horror of that scene from KOTOR quite vividly. I managed to fly to Taris, but didn’t get to see much of it before the beta servers went offline.

    Oh, and add my husband to the list of people who pulled an Anakin, LOL. He said he didn’t get to fall very far, so I didn’t try it myself. 🙂
    I did think it would have been cool to merge with some of the air traffic lanes, but I know that would have been a technical nightmare to do. I loved getting my ship and seeing Coruscant glowing in my viewscreen from orbit.

    • There might not be old vids of Taris, but some of the quests you get to do sort of bring back the emotions you speak of. Definitely brings you back to the horror of the destruction of Taris in KOTOR.

  10. As always, you take fantastic screen captures. The scenery is beautiful, but it takes a masterful eye to frame it so well.

    I laughed a little when “it feels like you spend forever here, if you’re Republic” about Taris, I chuckled a little. That’s exactly how I felt in the first Knights of the Old Republic — I guess this really is shaping up to be a KOTOR game!

    I’m a little sad to see no Dantooine. I know it’s absurd, but that peaceful, grassy planet was my favorite locale, I think — I’m glad I got to revisit it in the second game.

    (Also: this is AyAitch — I decided to get a new moniker and a new blog. New beginnings, all that jazz.)

    • Welcome back to the land of the blogging, AyAitch!

      And yeah, Dantooine would have been amazing, I would love to see how BioWare would handle it for their MMO. A future expansion perhaps!

  11. […] Image source: MMOgamerchick.wordpress.com […]

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