Review: Star Wars: The Old Republic Explorer’s Guide

January 6, 2012 at 8:22 am | Posted in Art, Reviews, Star Wars Books, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Video Games | 1 Comment

Star Wars: The Old Republic is taking the gaming market by storm. For online gamers, this is a time of hardcore, zombified gaming where everything else ceases to exist. Food? Sleep? Overrated. It’s game time!

However, not all Star Wars fans plan on getting into the game. Yet SWTOR is a major event plugging up a gap in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and as a dedicated Star Wars reader, I can’t help but want to learn as much as I can about the story and lore revolving around the upcoming game.

Hiding amongst the Star Wars books in Random House’s catalog is an entry for the Star Wars: The Old Republic Explorer’s Guide. It’s a Prima Official Game Guide so one would expect the typical guide elements: a walkthrough, tips on beating game bosses, and item lists. However, this book isn’t typical. First off it’s listed as a “beautifully bound, hardcover.” It also lists “comprehensive atlases for all planets” and “tons of exclusive concept art.” I couldn’t help but wonder if elements like that would make such a game guide useful to non-gamers. Would a general Star Wars Expanded Universe fan find the atlases useful?

Luckily, I got a copy of the book and had a chance to pour over it. The guide is broken down into four main sections: how to-s, classes, planets, and concept art. The ‘How To’ section is pretty brief and just gives an overview of how the rest of the guide is broken down. It focuses primarily on how to read and understand the many maps included in the book. The classes section provides a nice, brief overview of what to expect in each class. It’s useful for helping a player decide what class to play because it includes each classes’ weakness and strengths.  Plus there are some good tips on how to play as each class: what attacks to use, what companions to pick, leveling advice, etc. Each class gets about a page and a half of attention.

The planets and maps take up the bulk of the book. There are seventeen planets included: Alderaan, Balmora, Belsavis, Corellia, Coruscant, Dromund Kaas, Hoth, Hutta, Ilum, Korriban, Nar Shaddaa, Ord Mantell, Quesh, Taris, Tatooine, Tython, and Voss. Each planet is pictured with a galaxy map showing its location. Unfortunately, the same galaxy map is used throughout, so there is not a whole lot of new atlas style art. The planet chapters also include surface images (via in game models) that show prominent locations. There is a brief history, terrain descriptions, and a rundown on points of interest.

Along with the planet details, there are a series of maps which could prove very useful to gamers. The maps show the locations of enemy groups, mission locations, holocrons, and everything else you could want to find in the game. From a non-gamer perspective, the world map is the most useful. The world map shows the locations of points of interest and includes names of regional areas. All of the maps are rendered in a blue, holographic style that makes it tough to make out the geography and topography, but make it easier to quickly identify the color coded objects that identify enemies, holocrons, etc.

The concept art section falls at the end of the book. While the art is really neat, it feels tacked on. From a gamer’s perspective, it doesn’t add anything to the guide. The art itself is beautiful, but being crammed on the pages with more than one image per page, it takes away from it. These pieces are more deserving to their own full book showcasing them on a larger scale. Here they simply tip the viewer off of what’s out there, promising a larger picture somewhere online or in The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic. It would have been nice if the art pieces were captioned, so readers would know what they are looking at (which would also help in searching for larger versions of the images).

As a game guide, the book’s focus is primarily maps. Roughly eighty percent of the book is devoted to maps showing the locations of points of interest, enemies, trainers, missions, and the like. If you don’t find yourself in need of maps, then the guide really doesn’t offer a whole lot. Unlike most strategy guides, there aren’t any enemy or monster profiles, only a brief focus on combat tips with very little consideration to in-game factions, and not a lot of bonus art and visuals. For non-gamers seeking to cover every last drop of Expanded Universe lore, this is a safe book to skip since you won’t be missing out on much. That said, if you do find yourself lost in the game or wishing you knew were things were located, then the Explorer’s Guide would be a godsend because just about everything you can think of has a map with its location.

The Star Wars The Old Republic Explorer’s Guide is available wherever games are sold. Visit Prima Games online at

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. Nice Guide! thanks for sharing! SWTOR rocks!

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