Star Wars: The Old Republic has been around for a little while now, and there has been a lot of updates, along with the free-to-play conversion. We've recently went back in and started leveling new characters with only preferred account status, which only allows a few additional functions (bank, chat, etc.). In doing so, I've come up with some interesting tips on surviving the additional XP grind, in addition, leveling the absolutely fastest through the content.
This survival guide goes over many of the hindrances that being free-to-play brings to the leveling process, and ways to cope with the restrictions. Obviously, there is no way to cope with chat restrictions and a lack of bank, so before I say anything else I'd highly suggest buying at least $4.99 in cartel coins or purchasing a starter kit just to get through the game easier.
Surviving the Free-to-Play XP Restrictions
Subscribers level faster - there is a lot of research and wonky language involved in the way the bonuses are written, but it's simple. You get near to the same amount of XP as you did at launch starting at level 20 as a free-to-play character, while subscribers get around 25% additional XP. Up until level 20, everyone levels the same, so you'll get through content nearly as fast. However - there is a catch, many quests do grant XP bonuses (the cartel coin premium ones) that will accelerate your XP earns while you're grinding away at questing.
Honestly, the XP isn't the biggest hindrance at all when you're leveling as a F2P. You still get sprint, you'll get your mount at a reasonable level (level 25 vs. 15 for subscribers), and if you do all of the quests, the bonus missions, and the heroics you shouldn't have much trouble at all with just XP. Smart use of your XP boosts and playing at any time during an accelerated XP event is going to boost your level even higher.
Surviving the Free-to-Play Rested XP Restrictions
You get no rested XP. Oh well. No way around it, you can use the cartel market boosts or just live with it. It's really actually kind of liberating, because you can just logoff and not worry about your XP.
Surviving the Free-to-Play Quick Travel / Fleet Pass Restrictions
This one is probably going to be much more annoying. Subscribers get a 25 minute cooldown on quick travel, which is roughly the amount of time it takes to complete a series of quests and need to travel back. F2P players have to wait 45 minutes between use, which is pretty much forever in the world of travel. One way to get around this is to get used to using taxis. Surprisingly enough, I've found that taxis aren't that bad at getting around with. They're very quick to use.
One "lifehack" you can use, or more of a "deathhack" is to just pull a bunch of enemies and die. Most med centers have a taxi point right beside them, or at at least probably closer than where you're at (especially if you're deep in some story mode dungeon). You'll pay a credit price for repairs, but I don't think it'll be that steep. For the fleet pass, you're just going to have to use the relays to get back up to the fleet. At 18 hours anyway you look at it, it's really more or less a hail mary anyway to get to the fleet before you log off for the day. You get it at level 10 too, so it's not that big of a deal F2P vs. subscriber
Surviving the other Free-to-Play Restrictions
Beyond travel and XP, there isn't much more that's going to get in your way while leveling. The only thing you've got to contend with it is bank and bag slots, but you can just keep selling everything as you get it. True F2P (non-preferred) is going to be horror town with your inventory space, without being able to use the bank, is going to be a bummer. So if you play past level 20 or 30, I'd probably buy something from the store at the very least to get around the restriction. Most everything else, honestly won't get in your way. I got to level 30 easily, without really having to grind much, just doing all of the quests, bonus missions, etc. and didn't honestly really notice anything else getting in my way.
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