Probably one of the most unique features about Star Wars: The Old Republic is the alignment system — your ability to earn Light Side points or Dark Side points. You can choose to be a paragon of virtue or a master of evil, or neither if you choose to remain “grey”.
During the game test, I played around with my characters’ alignments in every which way, from straight out grinding LS/DS points to trying to remain perfectly neutral.
In retrospect, I don’t really know if that sat well with me. Any time I tried to force myself into a mold, I found myself removed from the game’s story as well as my character. And not only did it take the immersion out of it, we all know BioWare’s idea of what constitutes as LS/DS can be a little whacky as well. Not all the time…but definitely sometimes (as a general rule, if you want Light Side points, side with the orphans! Even if the alternative is the cataclysmic destruction of the entire planet, think of the children!)
I also tried playing “as myself”, i.e. using my own personal moral compass to guide my decisions, but in the end I think my most enjoyable experience resulted from simply roleplaying my character and just letting the LS/DS points fall where they may.
This way certainly made playing my characters more interesting. The Trooper especially was a challenge, since I was constantly thrown into situations where I’m torn between following my heart or following orders. I didn’t think I was going to have so much fun playing the class, but I found myself asking the question “What kind of soldier do I want to be?” all the time, factoring in things like my duties to the Republic, my obligations to my commanding officer, and the well-being of my fellow Troopers. If nothing else, it added a new dynamic to my gameplay, and I don’t think I’ve ever analyzed any of my other MMO characters to this degree or felt a stronger connection to the toon I’m playing.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to tackle LS/DS, though admittedly there’s very little motivational as of now to go neutral, whereas mastering the Light Side or Dark Side can be beneficial if you want unique alignment items. But since I don’t care about the gear, I think I’m just going to let my character and who she is guide me at launch, regardless.
My plan: On the Republic side, I’ll be playing a Jedi Knight — if I roleplay your typical Jedi, the obvious thing to do will be probably to go Light Side (except when romances are involved, I’ll gladly eat the Dark Side points for that!) But on the Empire side, I’ll be playing a Bounty Hunter, who’s going to be her own woman making her own rules. So who knows with that one?