Usually, it’s pretty easy to get started playing a new MMO. These days you don’t even have to head out to a bricks and mortar store. Just find the game’s digital store page, hit download, create an account and you’re on your way.
Some games, such as World of Warcraft and RuneScape have alternative versions of the game available, but it’s pretty clear which is suitable for each kind of player. That’s not the case for Star Wars Galaxies though. There are now over a dozen different rogue servers hosting versions of the game, each with its own rulesets, content, and gameplay systems.
Whether you’re looking to try the game for the first time, or a returning player, finding the server that’s right for you can make getting started a difficult proposition. Suffice it to say, there’s a Star Wars Galaxies server for every kind of MMO gamer, and this guide is here to help you figure out which ones you should try out for yourself.
Pre-CU vs CU vs NGE
Before we get to it, there’s one essential difference between many of the servers, and it makes a massive difference to how the game plays. During its eight-year lifespan, there were two major overhauls which changed SWG’s fundamental gameplay mechanics. These updates were known as the CU and the NGE. Each version has its fans (and haters), so it’s important to find the one which best suits the kind of MMO you enjoy.
The period of the game which spanned from launch in 2003 until May 2005 is commonly known as the pre-CU era. This was the era you’ll have likely heard people waxing lyrical about down the years, as it is so different to most modern MMOs. The pre-CU was a true sandbox experience, with an emphasis on player customisation, interactivity, and economy. There were few quests, with players instead encouraged to cooperate with the rest of the community to enact their own Star Wars fantasies.
The CU was the shortest period in SWG’s lifespan and is something of a middle ground between the two versions of the game which existed on either side of it. It retains many of the sandbox elements of the pre-CU, but it has faster-paced combat and a more traditional levelling system.
The NGE changed the game from a sandbox to a more modern themepark style MMO. The number of professions was trimmed considerably, and quests became the main way to level your character. Combat was fast and dynamic, and crucially you could play as a Jedi right from the start. NGE servers also allow you to play the game’s Jump to Lightspeed expansion, letting you build and fly your very own spaceship.
With that in mind, even if you sound like the kind of person suited to the recommendations I’ve made below, you may find that you simply don’t get on with one version of the game. If that is the case, then try an alternative suggestion which is based on another version of the game.
The First Timer: Legends (NGE)
If Star Wars Galaxies had never shut down, then it’s entirely possible that it may today resemble the SWG Legends server. They’ve continued on a similar trajectory as the development team who were working on the game in its final years, adding new quests, balancing and diversifying professions, and fostering the community through in-game events.
In recent years they released a full-fledged expansion, The City in the Skies, which takes players to Bespin, and they’ve also created an entirely new profession with their ranching and farming system.
Most importantly for new players, they’ve made a huge number of optimisations both to how the game runs and to how it plays. This not only makes it one of the most stable servers but also one which is the friendliest to players who are used to the kind of quality of life features typically found in modern MMOs.
Alternative suggestion: An Empire in Flames (pre-CU), has rebalanced many systems in the game, removing some of its more impenetrable aspects without oversimplifying them.
The Historian: SWGEmu (Pre-CU)
If you want to take yourself back in time to 2004 to experience SWG in the form which is commonly hailed as the game’s golden era, then SWGEmu is the perfect server for you. Faithfully recreating the game in the image of its final patch before the CU, SWGEmu is for better or worse, a relic of gaming’s past.
The secrets may all be revealed, the combat may be an unbalanced flop around, and the gameplay may be as alien as the residents of the Mos Eisley cantina, but it sure is great that this time capsule exists. The Finalizer server is the latest, and final, testing server before the ‘launch’ server (tentatively known as Suncrusher) launches alongside SWGEmu’s upcoming 1.0 patch. From there on out the team has intimated that they will develop new content, although a server hosting the game in its final, untouched, pre-CU state will remain.
The Alternative: Restoration (CU)
Is this the server that will bring balance to the Force? Primarily recreating the combat of the CU but borrowing a little bit from every era of the game, Restoration found itself a gap in a crowded market when it launched in 2022.
They’ve got big plans for the future and want to present a modern vision of the game. With a unique philosophy on the core aspects of the game, Restoration isn’t afraid to push boundaries in its quest to bring SWG to new audiences.
Alternative suggestion: Infinity (pre-CU) isn’t a server you’ll hear mentioned often in general conversation, mainly because they have no social media presence. That hasn’t stopped the server from quietly adding loads of new content and features over the past few years, including most recently a themepark based on The Mandalorian TV show.
The Cool Kid: An Empire in Flames (Pre-CU)
Barely a month goes by that the Empire in Flames team doesn’t release or tease something that doesn’t blow me away. Whether it’s adding cool new immersive features like holocomms, yet another player species option or planet, or new weapons like miniguns, flame thrower gauntlets, or inquisitor-style spinning lightsabers, An Empire in Flames epitomises the phrase “I didn’t know I need it until I saw it”.
Alternative suggestion: When it comes to just offering a sheer abundance of new things to do, SWG Legends really can’t be beaten. Every aspect of the game has been built upon in some way, with every kind of player catered for.
The Indie Gamer: Sunrunner II (Pre-CU)
No matter what version of SWG you played, it might be said that the concept of the game was more beloved than the often rather janky end product. Raph Koster and his team envisioned a game with ambitions that never quite aligned with the mass-market blockbuster that LucasArts and SOE wanted. So things were rushed, systems were cut, and ultimately the game was repackaged to try and capture a completely different kind of player.
Sunrunner II’s mantra is to hold tight to what worked in pre-CU SWG and to keep adding more. More player customisation, more planets, and a commitment to group-centric content. This is the version of Star Wars Galaxies that might have existed if profits didn’t matter.
The Roleplayer: Dark Rebellion (D20)
It’s perhaps surprising, given fans’ love of the franchise, that there wasn’t a dedicated SWG roleplaying server until last year. Dark Rebellion isn’t your average SWG server though. While it’s based on the pre-CU code, the combat mechanics, game systems, and even the world design have all been completely overhauled so that the game plays like a tabletop D20 campaign.
Alternative suggestion: If you want a more traditional Star Wars Galaxies roleplaying experience then Empire in Flames is a great option, with heaps of amazing improvements that help build immersion. No other server has as many ways of letting you customise your character, and you can even play a fully functioning game of pazaak.
The Endgamer: Beyond (NGE)
If you like the challenge of tough endgame content and regular PvP, Beyond has you covered every night of the week. Friday night is always fight night on Beyond, but events running on other nights of the week might have the community challenging their exclusive 16-person Tusken Army: Hardmode heroic or taking on one of their legendary world bosses.
Alternative suggestion: Similarly, the long-running Sentinel’s Republic (pre-CU) server has been holding regular community events for years now. These events are story driven, with the community having to come together to solve a mystery, take down an invasion force, or even figure their way out of an escape house.
The QA Tester: Project SWG (CU/NGE)
Whereas the existing NGE servers operate from a leaked version of the SWG source code, Project SWG is attempting to rebuild the game from the ground up, just as the SWGEmu team have done for the pre-CU version of the game.
As well as an NGE emulator, they’re also working on an emulator for the CU. If you’re the kind of player who enjoys testing and breaking early access games, then the Project SWG server could use your help as they continue to regularly implement new features.
The Villager: Awakening, myswg, New Beginnings, Reckoning, Resurgence, Rogue One, Tarkin’s Revenge
Star Wars Galaxies isn’t just a live service game. It’s a virtual world. A place to make friends, hang out, and immerse yourself. A huge community and constant changes aren’t necessary, and if you’re the kind of person who just wants to find somewhere new to hang your hat then there are a handful of rogue servers out there that are just as worthy of your attention as any of those mentioned above.
Oh, and if you happen to speak French there’s also the Aurora server.
Don’t be afraid to give them a go as they’re more than happy to welcome a new face and help you take your first steps in the galaxy.