SWTOR: How Will You Tackle Light Side/Dark Side?

December 12, 2011

If you will not turn to the Dark Side...then perhaps she will.

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?


  1. I’l be going all darkside.. Imperial Agent Sniper as main character. I really enjoyed killing npcs in the beta. The guild im in will be rolling darkside on EU PVP Niman

    • Nice! I went all dark side on my imperial characters too.

      • I decided to go predominantly light on my IA, but sarcastic. I won’t let it stop me from making a dark side choice here and there.

  2. I’m going to try Dark Side on my main (Sith Inquisitor) – I’m just not sure how dark she’s actually going to be. I roleplay my characters as well, but I always end up feeling a bit crappy about being a real baddie. I suppose I can always back off a bit if I really dislike going that dark.

    My Trooper in beta was definitely Light Side, but she thought for herself and wouldn’t compromise her moral beliefs. Both she and the Inquisitor were a lot of fun to play.

    • BioWare does have a way of making you feel crappy for making dark side decisions…I always felt so guilty afterward, and more than once the dialogue has made me balk at a dark side choice even when I wanted to make it. Chalk it up to their amazing writers!

      • Embrace it, 4 teh evulz!

  3. My trooper does the right thing and to hell with orders. For a while there, General Garza was General Asshole because of what she tried to make me do.

    My Jedi Knight though, he adhered to the Jedi Code and the tenets of the order. At this particular time in the Star Wars mythos, anything having to do with relationships is… well… they’re not ready for that kind of leap… I’ll see when it happens, but that one sidequest on Tython really upset me. I wish there was a middle road option there but the order just wasn’t ready for a social restructuring.

    I’m looking forward to SWTOR but I’m also fearing the end of Star Wars Galaxies. It’s a mixed bag this week and I’m all over the place emotionally.

    • Yeah, General Garza was definitely General Asshole for me as well. It was tough! Sometimes I wanted to be the good soldier and follow orders, other times I wanted to help the refugees and citizens. I felt I was being “good” by doing what was best for the Republic, but ended up getting a ton of dark side points for it anyway, just because of the way the Trooper players. It’s a very interesting class indeed.

      • I had never considered playing a Trooper, but now I might!

        All of this talk about following orders vs. loyalty to your men vs. doing the right thing reminds me positively of one of the best arcs in the Star Wars comics, dealing with the Republic’s loss in the Battle of Jabiim. Needless to say, the ending of the arc makes it clear why choosing your fighting force over evacuating the civilian population earns you Dark Side points.

  4. I was only a “weekend warrior” beta tester so I couldn’t get too deep into the LS/DS choices, but I agree that sometimes Bioware has a strange concept of what qualifies as one or the other. I’m with you in that I’ll be making the choices that suit my character, not strict adherence to LS or DS choices, at least as far as my main character is concerned. I have a very specific concept of who and what that character will be, and the most fun thing for me will be staying true to that concept, not “farming” LS/DS.

    That said, I may explore the extremes a bit more with my alts… and I will have a veritable army of alts eventually. 🙂

    • Yeah, most of the choices were very obvious, but there were some that made me scratch my head afterward and ask, how the hell does that work?! LOL…

      Once I start playing, I’ll have a very specific concept of my character as well, so I’m with you. Since some of the LS/DS designations will be kinda whacky anyway, I’m not going to let that worry me and just play the way I think my character will respond to the situations 🙂

  5. Oddly enough, I have an overwhelming urge to actually come up with an RP background for my primary Sage, and either stick with that as a guide, or to expand on it based on choices made in the game. Maybe even an ongoing story as things progress.

    Come to think of it, I think I got that idea because of your previous STO posts so…thanks! XD

    • That’s how I’m going to do it — while the story for your class is scripted, there’s still a lot of room to play around and come up with an RP background. I did it with some of my characters in beta and I plan on doing it for my characters at launch too. It’s very interesting too, how my concept for my characters also evolve as the story moves along!

      • That is as it should be. You may think you know your characters but you’ll discover things about them as the story throws you curve balls. As your characters mature, you’ll develop a better idea of their identity. I look forward to seeing little backstories pop up on everyone’s blogs.

  6. I played darkside and lightside in the beta, but i wasn’t taking either character seriously. Actually it was kind of up in the air sometimes due to the companions, I honestly was trying to guess what they wanted more often than the LS/DS stuff.

    So there is a bit of a wrench there.

    • Yeah, I have a feeling my companions are going to be a pain in the ass regardless and give me grief no matter what I choose 😛 In my experience, some have been similarly aligned to me, but they are still impossible to please every time. Thank goodness for gift giving and bribery!

      • What is the incentive for gaining your companions’ affection? Do they fight better?

  7. I love how the trooper was forced to choose between following orders or refusing to. My hubby and I played troopers together so we were each able to pick one option and see how it played out. Was very interesting.

    I found when I just roleplayed decisions, except for playing a Jedi class, I turned out kind of grey.

    • Yeah, it chafed at me a little when I realized more often than not, doing the right thing in the name of the Republic and being loyal to my orders gave me dark side points…it didn’t sit right with me. But after a while, I resolved to just do what I thought my character would feel is right, and stopped caring whether I gained LS/DS mastery or not. Things became very interesting after that!

  8. I’m such a push over. I just can’t play evil. I have tried in previous story driven RPGs, and in the end I always wimp out and give up. Even games like Fallout 3, I was unable to make the hard choices needed to get some of those wicked achievements.

    So it will be all light for me. A shining beacon of virtue, forever messing up flashpoints for my darksided guild mates!

    • Playing evil is hard…in this last phase, I pushed myself to do strictly dark side, and I have to say it didn’t feel very good to force myself…and that’s not even factoring in the way BioWare makes you feel so horrible and guilty about it! There were moments where I literally cringed in my seat as I made the dark side decision, just waiting for the storm to follow 😛

  9. For me it is simple:
    1- my jedi will be jedi-like;
    2- my sith will shock Vette…
    3- my smuggler will flirt with all ladies…

    • 1. Same here
      2. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed shocking Vette…a lot. It’s sick, I know, but I couldn’t help myself 😛
      3. NICE! That was my smuggler’s rule — doesn’t matter who or what it is I’m flirting with, I choose the flirt option every time it comes up 😛

  10. Question? Does “Romance = Darkside” apply to the non-Force classes as well? I can understand the Force users (not that it would matter to the Darkside Sith anyway) but for the Smugglers and Agents, etc., it doesn’t make as much sense, lore wise. Of course, it would make the meta-game fair.

    • Never got any alignment points for romances period on my Trooper or Imperial Agent or Smuggler (gawd, if my Smuggler had gotten dark side points every time for flirting, I would have been doomed!) I stayed away from the Jedi during beta, but from what I’ve heard the dark side points for romancing only applies to them.

  11. as long as there isn’t an benefits from being one extreme or the other that isn’t overpowered, then ill probably roleplay what i’d do which is usually with a cruel tendency

  12. In my heart of hearts from what i’ve seen, choices make me feel like they’re more so tailored to what you want to pull out of the mixed bag.

    I watched a playthrough for the IA and to me they have the most intriguing story, the double agency, who do you trust? Who do you care for, who do you act like a complete prick with, or who do you give your loyalty, or is it all about you being the ULTIMATE Spymaster?

    The choices and depth of it all leads me to 3 things i have to do before i even get ANY BIT serious about end game or pvp.

    1. My first characters will be strictly based upon my own ideals and what i feel is appropriate for my character and how i want the story to go along.

    2. Pure Dark side Imperials *So i feel better about those cold, heartless decisions, it’s my JOB to be an evil bastard! And Pure Light side Republic.

    3. Alternate characters will reverse the flow.

    Overall, i want to play a true Gopher of an Agent who is power hungry for the almighty Spy Master of all intell, and choices and such.

    A TRUE Dirtbag Smuggler who doesn’t care for anyone but himself and his credits……..and maybe his wookiee.

    A Jedi who thinks like a borderline Sith. A Sith warrior who uses the passion of a sith, but the cunning and patience of a Jedi. And an Inquisitor who thinks like an Imperial Agent, but acts on his own vile behalf.

    Consular’s and Bounty Hunter? I’m not sure how i’ll deal with Consular business, i can’t bring myself to be an evil consular, I MEAN AT ALL! Bounty hunting, that’ll probably be my favorite class story to play, they come off the most neutral of the bunch where my decisions are the most gratifying.

  13. I think I mentioned it either on my blog or in response to one of your earlier ones but each character will have a code, the choices will be made by that code, LS/DS be damned. That’s how I played in the 2 beta weekends and loved how my toons gained depth from the experience. I’m seriously considering turning off the LS/DS reveal on mouse over just to keep myself from cheating.

    From the start I’m planning on a Gunslinger and a Vanguard. In an odd twist I’m actually going to make a male Gunslinger (my wife will be shocked) while the Vanguard will be the more normal (for me) female.

    My Gunslinger’s code is going to be strong on personal honor. He won’t be nearly as inflexible as my BH was in beta, but he will need a strong reason to go against his word.

    Meanwhile my Vanguard’s code will be much like my IA’s code, what is the best for the Republic? Which may not always be following orders. 😉

  14. With each of my characters I plan to pick out a personalty and stick with it, light side or dark side be damned. The one sort of exception is that evil dickhead characters might act to appease their companions if they prove sufficiently valuable allies. “Of course I care about your opinions! How could you ever think otherwise? I really had no intention of setting those puppies and orphans on fire, this is all a misunderstanding.”

  15. First off — I absolutely love that so many people comment on your posts, and that you respond so readily! It makes for a great read.

    It sounds like the Trooper has something of the same dilemma as a Jedi knight — which is to say, both are suppose to remain detached and do what is “right” according to the letter of their governing civil systems (the Force, their commanding officer). But that runs into conflict with individual morality…

    Anyways, this sounds awesome. But, like you and many have pointed out, BioWare often has a strange sense of morality.

  16. My darkside points on my Consular only came from the romance sidequest on Tython but then I only made it to 13 on her.

    I found that playing my Sith warrior as Trueblood Sith was much easier than I usually find playing evil but then as a friend pointed out, the Darkside is generally more about Might does make Right than just “evil”. Allowed for much more consistency rather than just doing evil for evil’s sake.

    I’m definitely going to turn off the LS/DS indicator; that’s more information than I want when I’m making decisions.

  17. […] Sage Sulka Jackeen. I think it’s due to the focus on story in the game, and also thanks to a post from MMOGC about playing towards the Light Side or the Dark Side which got me thinking about how those kinds […]

  18. Depends.

    During my brief stint on Beta I was reading and listening to everything, eating up text with a voracious appetite as always.

    Well, the LS/DS choices….. many were pretty bland, a fair amount of the ‘LS’ choices didn’t seemed often to disregard potential consequences and an overall lack of foresight. …and a good chunk of the DS choices were just pants-on-head stupid. This also had to do with the character I chose. An Imperial Agent on an espionage mission isn’t going to run around blowing shit up willy nilly. It’s stupid. So I’d regrettably end up choosing the equally idiotic but far less noisy LS alternative. I was saddened that there wasn’t a fun ‘deceit’ option for me, which would have made more sense than blowing things up and spilling guts, for the spy-like class that is IA.

    I sent B/W /mountains/ of feedback concerning this.

    I also talked about the run cycle animation, and need for interactive furniture (how many of the movies have you seen with characters lounging around on something? All of them right? We need to be able to sit on something!!! People of Tattoine, Lend Me Your Rears!)which was driving me bonkers…

    But mostly I reported about the LS/DS dialog.

  19. There are several ways to change the alignment points:
    Gaining Points in Conversations
    As the primary means of altering your alignment in The Old Republic

  20. I have rolled characters on both light and dark side, although my Jedi Councillor is probably my favorite class. But they ALL have such cool story lines. I can’t decide on one person long enough to level anything past 20. LOL. But I am having a blast!

  21. Have so far generated a Consular Shadow Which I have decided to keep strictly LS. Going to have a Gunslinger which I am going to take DS just for the fun of it.

    After reviewing this forum however, I have decided that my Smuggler Sawbones which I was going to take Firmly LS, might be a bit more ambiguous, but with a LS trend as a) its a healer and b) I generally prefer the LS choices, but lets not get carried away with them…

  22. What I really loved about TOR’s system of light and dark points is that, equipment restrictions aside, I can’t see any other obvious penalties for refusing to stick zealously to the Light or the Dark. In Mass Effect 2, you had to pick your side and stick with it fairly consistently, or else you wouldn’t have persuade options; I feel much more free to follow my own moral compass or RP my character when I know that either choice is equally valid in the eyes of the game.

    My Commando has been mostly LS, honorable soldier, duty to the Republic, but when a Sith war criminal is begging for mercy, sometimes, well. Can’t help it if they resist arrest, right?

  23. So i read somewhere that smugglers have to go Lightside in order to get romantic stuff done. The thing is that i wanna try to roll a dark side smuggler but there isnt any point in that if my smuggler cant flirt with other people. Does anyone know if this rumor is true or not and could they help me before i get seriously into my smuggler character 🙂

  24. The best thing that I’ve done with this is keep a fifty cent piece by me at all times. I let fate decide but I’m trying to be a bad guy in a good world with one of my characters. Will my story change if I am a dark Jedi Knight?

  25. […] Over on her blog, MMOGamerChick asks the related question about how to tackle these light/dark choic…. It is a very good question with an interesting discussion. I know there are some who will argue that the choices presented are “typical Bioware” choices and are either save the puppy or kick it. Bovvered? Coz I ain’t! Just having these choices in the game at this point is a step above nearly every other MMO I’ve played. At this point I don’t know how I’ll play characters at all (apart from the obvious, very nasty, Dark Side Inquisitor and the very Light Side slightly hippyish Consular). I have an idea that my Jedi Knight will be all light and Jedi-like on Tython, while at the Jedi Temple, but once off that planet and out in the real world, the choices might become harder to make and temptation too great. Perhaps he’ll be a little like Quinlan Vos in the Clone Wars comics. […]

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