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swtor: subscriber vs. preferred
written by: admin

Date Written: 6/13/13 Last Updated: 5/10/15

Characterlevelstatuslocationquestphysical rewardsexperience pointslegacy experiencecredits
Zen55subscriberSection XBio–Reform1 classic commendation, 1 basic commendation, 1 prisoner ID tags015217175
Sol50subscriberIlummobs: Ravenous Lisknone55778NA
Sol50preferredIlummobs: Ravenous Lisknone22339NA
Lalya54subscriberSection XBio–Reform1 classic commendation, 1 basic commendation, 1 prisoner ID tags14,62515257175
Lalya54preferredSection XBio–Reform1 classic commendation, 1 basic commendation, 1 prisoner ID tags11,70015257175
Lalya54subscriberSection XThe Dread Guard1 classic commendation, 1 basic commendation, 1 prisoner ID tags14,62515259,330

Notes on Legacy experience: Legacy experience gained is the same from one legacy level to the next.  The amount of legacy experience needed to complete each legacy level increases at higher levels.  Legacy experience gained does vary by character level (52 vs 34).  Boosts do not apply to legacy experience gains.  Double experience weekends do apply to legacy experience rewards.  Being a subscriber does give increased experience to mob kills only, not quests.  The max legacy level is 50.  I am at 35 as of this writing.

Quick Travel: 24 min after patch 2.3.2 10 min
Emergency Fleet Pass: 6 hours after patch 2.3.2 no delay
mail slots: 8

Quick Travel: 1 hour 54 min after patch 2.3.2 30 min
Emergency Fleet Pass: absent after patch 2.3.2 3 hours
mail slots: 1

384 diplomacy skill before purple mission quest.  Surprisingly, I only went up one point.  
270 Section X reputation points.  That would be 180 reputation points normally.


Purpose:  joystiq has been doing an experiment to examine the playability of free to play as someone who is already familiar with being a subscriber.  I have tried free to play and preferred status and was not a fan of either.  I want to re–examine the free to play model again, but with nearly all of the unlocks.

  • all 10 additional character slots
  • all of the inventory slots
  • all cargo bays
  • all of the cosmetic customizations available for the species
  • cathar species
  • a few emotes for fun
  • the digital upgrade package
  • rocket boost
  • personal starship priority transport
  • Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion
  • two quickslot
  • Legacy titles
  • Artifact items
  • hide head slot
  • event equipment authorization
  • crew skill slot
  • display character titles
  • companion customization
  • unify colors
  • access to Section X
  • the ability to use the cargo bay at all.

Unachieved unlocks before going preferred status include:

  • reduced travel time to personal ship
  • various species unlocks
  • other Legacy character perks that I was not interested in such as increased warzone experience

I wanted to earn the reduced time to my personal ship and the species unlocks through leveling instead of credits or cartel coins.

Myth: After being a subscriber for over a year the free to play model (preferred status if you'd rather) is an unacceptable alternative.

Methodology: Whenever possible the unlocks were account wide and all applicable character perks were unlocked as well.  My character has been given high quality boosts and gear.  Everything was either crafted or purchased with credits as opposed to cartel coins that are purchased with cash.  This is to offset some of the decreases in experience point rewards that will occur when I go to preferred.  Some of these decreases will not fully take effect until level 10.  I will try to report on the playability of the character/game periodically.

The character I created is a Sith Warrior who is level 1.  I will level him after my subscription expires.  

First Impressions and Prologue

It is June 15, 2013 Saturday 8:44 pm and I am now starting my preferred status swtor account.

The first thing I have discovered is that I have 16 character slots available globally down from 22.  Apparently I have to activate the characters I want to play with 16 characters available per server.  For the rate at which I go through characters 16 per server is more than enough.  I have utilized all of my unlocks.  As a preferred status player I did not need to unlock my cargo bay, so I may try to sell this unlock.

The rate of experience gained from mobs and quests is set at 80%.  Rested xp available only to the subscriber gives double xp, but only for mobs.  While playing Lalya, a level 54 gunslinger, I was surprised to discover that I had three revival probes available to me as opposed to none.

Respecializing now has a credit cost.  I am not sure what the progression rate is for the cost to respecializing or if it resets each week as I suspect it does, but the initial cost is 0.  Vendor prices appear to be 25% higher (basic medpac is now 125 credits as opposed to 100 credits), but commendation costs are still the same.  This is the same differential to the experience gains between subscriber and preferred.  My credit limit is set at 350,000 with anything above that placed into escrow, but I was relieved to see that the escrow account is viewable in the currency tab of my inventory.

I am now going to start playing my level 1 Sith Warrior who has all of the unlocks, was given some nice gear for leveling and 30% experience boosts for class and exploration attained via legacy character perks.  If I did my math correctly the experience gained from exploration and class quests should be at 104% the rate of a subscriber as opposed to 80% as a preferred or free to play player.  Even with these perks I should eventually be a little under leveled compared to my subscriber status.  For the typical non subscribed player the experience gains (not counting mob kills) should be identical to subscribers if using the 25% xp boost for all sources.

I am normally highly against experience boosts in any format including rested xp, but for this experiment the goal is to imitate the leveling experience of a subscribed player as closely as possible and without too much effort and no cash involved.

The xp for the first sith warrior class quest is 1093 experience points before the 30% legacy character perk is applied and 1418 experience points after.  With the xp boost of 30% it should be 1420.9, but this is an extremely insignificant discrepancy.  The boost applies to the class quests only and not to any side quests.  Using a boost along with the Legacy character class mission experience boost of 30% is not 55%, but rather mission * 1.30 * 1.25 which is actually better.  The actual experience reward was 1775 after both boosts were applied.  Once applied the boost cannot be removed, but it can be replaced once the cooldown expires.  The cooldown appears to always be 1 hour.

I suspect that the rate of leveling will not be noticeable until after level 10.  Normally my characters are around level 9 or 10 by the time I finish the introduction portion of my character's story.

I am surprised to see that I have the sprint ability at level 1.  I tried creating another character and apparently the sprint ability is available at level 1.  After asking others in the game it is available at level 15 for free to play users and level 1 if you are preferred.  I would have been ok with either.  The Who button in the top left corner of the screen still works.  I did not think it would.

Dromund Kaas

I have just finished the prologue for my sith warrior and overall it was quite enjoyable.  When I reached level 10 I got a message stating that my experience points gained would be reduced.  Considering my calculations were based on level 50 and above characters it is safe to assume that my experience rewards below level 10 were the same as for subscribers.

I have purchased speeder pilot training for my warrior now that I am past level 10.  I am beginning to think that it may have been a good idea to get the legacy character experience perks for flashpoints.  I can see flashpoints being a potential way to keep my character adequately leveled.  I am also receiving the occasional xp boost reward that is applied to all experience gains after completing certain quests.  I have started receiving a message that I am not receiving all of my quest rewards since I am not a subscriber.  Only in the flashpoints have I had a non credit case item grayed out.  I do not often see quest rewards grayed out.

After looking at my level 55 consular I was a little saddened to find I only have 3 companions that I can send on missions instead of 5.  I don't recall any option to unlock this restriction either.  I can easily live without having 5 simultaneous companions out on missions.  I discovered I am only able to craft 1 item at a time, which could prove a bit frustrating as I enjoy crafting.  Reverse engineering for a more powerful item is at 10% as opposed to 20% now.

I was a bit nervous about seeing what would happen if I tried to run 4 flashpoints after my weekly allotment of 3 flashpoints was used up as this is a big source of income for me.  I discovered that after the third flashpoint is completed the final boss loot is removed.  This does not apply to anything else or even any of the other bosses in the flashpoint.  This is quite good news.  I should lose little to no income from doing flashpoints if I do more than 3 flashpoints per week.  I finished this flashpoint at about 12:25pm 6/17/13.  I also want to see how fast the flashpoints reset.

I notice that class quest boosts are extremely inexpensive at 500 credits each, so I have been stocking up.  General xp boosts to all sources do not apply to legacy experience points.  The increase does appear to be about 25% or slightly higher.

I have just reached level 15.  Things have been going quite well so far.  I have decided to become a sith juggernaut instead of the marauder.  I figured I would always be against playing as a tank, but after reading more about it and after having played swtor for a while now I believe that a tank can solo just as easily as a dps (damage per second) character.  I feel like I have hit a nice groove for leveling.  I'll try to post again after I have gained a few more levels.  So far the leveling experience is great.  The only restriction that would cause me to consider subscribing again is to remove the restrictions on crafting.  Nearly every other restriction applied to non subscribers are not important to me.

I have just finished the prologue (6/20/13).  I did find that portion of the warrior storyline quite engaging and am very much looking forward to my adventures on Balmora.  I made it to level 16 as I was turning in the several quests I had completed, so I find I am right at the correct level for chapter 1.  

Chapter 1: Balmora

Balmora is 4 levels long.  I am looking forward to the chapter 1 storyline.  I plan to use the class experience consumable continually, but use only the bonus xp to all sources consumable as needed.

I just tested the escrow aspect of the game to see how that worked.  Once you go above the 350,000 credit limit the extra credits are placed into an escrow account.  You can only access this with cartel coins or resubscribing.  If you go below the 350,000 credit limit you still will not be able to access the credits that were placed into escrow.  The escrow is only accessible by the character that placed it into escrow, so there are separate escrow accounts for each character that goes over the 350,000 credit limit.

Nar Shaddaa

When I started Balmora I was a level below where I should be optimally and 2 or 3 levels below where I would be as a subscriber, but the leveling process worked out comfortably and I only used the occasional xp boost.  The boosts that I use are much cheaper than medpacs right now and cost very little.

I am now on Nar Shaddaa and still enjoying myself.  After discovering how escrow works I think that I may be spending credits more frequently than before.  Time will tell.

I tried the space missions at level 21.  I did not get any credits for doing the missions, but after doing the 3 allotted space missions for the week I gained the following experience:

  1. 8% of level with quest
  2. 4% of level without quest
  3. 7% of level with quest

The space missions were level 22 (20?) and were a lot of fun.  The space ship equipment was reasonably priced for my level 21 space ship.  I think that doing space missions are a good way to jump a few levels.  I even bought two weekly space missions from the gtn for about 150,000 credits each.

Conclusion: At level 25 I did resubscribe to take advantage of some of the subscriber perks like early access to certain content and crafting perks.

As a preferred status player I am limited to 16 characters per sever as opposed to 16 total characters with a hard limit of 350 characters, which is certainly good news.

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