Players have plenty of freedom when leveling in The Old Republic. Solo levelers can mix quests with PvP and space battles, while more group-minded players can focus on Flashpoints and the numerous heroic quests provided on each planet.
If you so chose, you can even level with one partner exclusively. Pairs of friends and couples have been taking this approach ever since MMORPGs came into existence. It’s fun, efficient and creates the opportunity to tackle content that is inaccessible to the solo player, without forcing a player to work on finding a group.
Playing with someone you like will always be fun, but you can really make the most of the experience with a little planning ahead of time. Look below the jump for tips on leveling with a partner.
Choose Your Roles
For the most part, you and your partner have a lot of latitude when deciding what roles you would like to take during the leveling process, with a couple of exceptions. If you both want to tank or you both want to heal – well, you certainly have survivability covered, but be prepared for fights to last a very long time.
Beyond that though, you have a lot of leeway, especially when you add companions into the mix. The group makeup you are shooting for is one tank, one healer and two damage-dealers. Excluding tank-tank and healer-healer choices, the four remaining pairings are:
- Tank and Healer
- Tank and Damage
- Healer and Damage
- Both Damage
Once you’ve decided who will be taking which role, you get to move on to the fun part: choosing your class.
Choose Your Classes
Some class pairings will work well because you start on the same planet or because you your companion crew skills are very synergistic. Other pairings will offer you the optimum group makeup as early as possible via companions you receive on your starting planet.
You should consider avoiding pairings composed of the same base class for two reasons. First, base classes use the same primary stats, so you may end up competing for gear in the early levels. Second, and more important in terms of fun and immersion, you will share a class story. This means that for every step of the storyline quest you’ll be forced to choose between splitting up — which is not ideal considering these can be some of the most challenging quests in the game — or doing each quest twice in a row.
If you know which roles you want to play but are still deciding on classes, below are a few recommendations for pairings that work well together. They are just for the undecided, though. Any pair will be fun when you’re playing alongside someone you like, so if you know for a fact that you want to heal as a Jedi Sage and your partner is completely attached to Jedi Shadow tanking, or if you envision a pair of Commandos Mortar Volleying their way across the countryside, then do it!
A Sith Juggernaut tank and Sorcerer healer make an excellent pair. The Juggernaut’s first companion is the only damage-specific companion available for Imperials until Tatooine. Choosing crew skills is easier, because you’ll both get above-average benefit from Synthweaving and Artifice without ever competing for gear.
Jedi Guardian and Jedi Sage is a great pairing here. Your tank will pick up a melee damage companion on Coruscant, and although it will still be a while before you have the optimum group, any healer or tank companion can provide workable damage with a little time activating and deactivating skills. Like the Juggernaut/Sorcerer paring, you both benefit from the same crew skills, but since you have different primary stats and armor types, competing for gear isn't an issue.
If you’re more concerned with an optimum group makeup early on, Guardian and Commando is your best bet here. You’ll both begin on different starter worlds, but by the time you leave Coruscant you’ll have one tank, one healer, one ranged DPS and one melee DPS.
For the earliest optimal group makeup, consider a Powertech paired with a Sith Warrior. The Powertech’s first companion is a healer, while the Sith Warrior leaves Korriban with an efficient ranged damage-dealer. This gives your damage-focused player the option of choosing either the Marauder advanced class for sweet double-light-saber combat, or going with a Juggernaut in a DPS spec. The latter choice leaves open the option to spec into the tank tree later on.
If starting on the same planet and sharing some useful crew skills suits your pair more, you can start your journey on Korriban with a Juggernaut and and damage-specced Sorcerer or Assassin. If Hutta and pew-pew is more your speed, pair a Powertech tank with a Sniper for damage.
Looking to fill the healer and second dps roles as quickly as possible? Unfortunately, that takes Smuggler off the table, but it does make a great argument for pairing a Guardian with a damage-specced Commando or Vanguard. Your tank will will pick up a DPS companion shortly after you meet up on Coruscant, and by the time you leave Taris your Trooper will have added a healer to your party.
A Sith Sorcerer for healing pairs quite well with a damage-specced Marauder or Juggernaut. You hit the ground running on Korriban, and by the time you’re ready to move on together to Dromund Kaas, you have one tanking and one damage-dealing companion. Just like with the similar recommendation for a tank/healer duo, the right crew skills go twice as far. Plus, you’re a pair of Sith kicking butt and taking names from one corner of the galaxy to the other, and that’s just cool.
A healing Scoundrel with a damage-specced Vanguard or Commando lets you start together on Ord Mantell and leave with one tanking and one damage-dealing companion. Stop by the fleet to pick up Armstech and Armormech on your way to Coruscant, and it will be smooth sailing throughout the rest of your leveling journey.
Imperial, Both Damage
Both flavors of Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent can choose damage specs, and your IA will bring the tank while your BH’s first companion supplies the heals. When you take crew skills into account, you can see how this is a very solid pairing all around.
If crew skills and starting on the same planet are less important, the Bounty Hunter also pairs well with a either of the Sith Inquisitor advanced classes, since the SI starts out with a tanking companion, as well.
Republic, Both Damage
The earliest healing companion available on the Republic faction belongs to the Trooper, and you’ll pick her up on Taris. Pair your damage-specced Commando or Vanguard with a Scoundrel on Ord Mantell, and you’ll have a tank from the time you leave your starting planet. This pairing also lets you get some extra benefit from crew skills.
If one of your pair has Jedi leanings, consider having that player meet up with a Trooper on Coruscant. All companions are tanks on Tython, so the options for the Jedi half of your group are wide open.
Choose Your Crew Skills
With companions in the mix, you can’t really go wrong when selecting crew skills. Throughout your leveling journey you will be obtaining companions who use just about every stat in the game. This is not true for every class, of course, but it’s a good bet.
However, if you’re looking to choose crafting skills that will benefit your entire party, you can’t go wrong by pairing Cybertech and Artifice. If each partner chooses one of these skills and the accompanying gathering and mission skills, you will have mods, armorings, enhancements, color crystals and ear pieces taken care of for the entire leveling journey, freeing up commendations for nice-looking Orange gear, weapons and other upgrades.
Otherwise, if you decide on a pair of Force users, you can consider Synthweaving. If both of your characters use ranged weapons, Armormech and Armstech are useful choices. Regardless, as with all of the other aspects of choosing your pairing, do what you will find most fun.
You can avoid disagreements later if you and your partner both agree on certain aspects of leveling before you create your pairing. Discuss beforehand how much time you want to spend in PvP, running Flashpoints or on your own doing space battles. Also, things like space battles provide a huge helping of solo experience — if you’re not careful, you might find your characters’ levels gradually creeping apart.
Even more important, talk about your LS versus DS preferences. The game, of course, will roll for you when the big choices happen, but SWTOR storylines can be quite immersive. While it’s not necessary that both players take the same stance on every issue, a Jedi dedicated to the light could find it off-putting to spend time with a dark side Scoundrel who goes about merrily shooting people in the face.
After that, talk about how you feel about questing. Do you want to finish each planet’s complete storyline, or would you rather reach the maximum level for a planet and make a beeline for your remaining class quests so you can move on? Where do bonus quests fit in? Of course, how you approach questing will change from planet-to-planet (some people really want to skip Taris!), but it’s still helpful to agree on the general philosophy.
Now grab your partner and get out there! It’s time to save — or conquer — the galaxy.