Most MMO's that follow the blueprint for quests developed in WOW all share one key concept. Get every quest you can and do them all at once. Often, Quest objectives are in the same area and you will knock out two or more at the same time in the same place.
If you're an MMO pro, this isn't the guide you are looking for. Move along.
For players that are new to the system, it can get confusing until you get used to it. If you are really new to MMO's and games in general (Like some of my friends) it can slow you down. Below I outline an alternate method to for SWTOR. Bear in mind, this method is only viable until ~level 8.
past that you will start to fall behind the curve and could end up under-leveled. If you try to do it past level 12 you're really going to be in trouble.
But, if you stick to this for the first 8 levels, in as little as two hours of play time you'll have your first companion and all your crew skills It will give you a tiny head start in the land of crafting. This is not designed to be the “pro-guide” nor am I saying you are “doing it wrong” if you don’t follow my words to the letter.
Also, by “Two Hours” I mean the time spent actively gaining experience, and progressing the main story. There is a lot to explore and if you just rush through what I have outlined below you could miss it.
Before we actually get started, a note on aesthetics.
Unlike any MMO I’ve played before (WoW, WAR, EVE, Everquest, FFXI) you spend a lot of time looking at your character's face, and not the back of their head from fifteen feet up. And by face I mean up close, while he or she is talking. So much time that you begin to see flaws in the face you picked to represent yourself in game.
Whether or not appearance matters to you, it would behoove you, as you make your character, to take the time to design a character you like looking at. This step isn’t going to gain you any XP, but it will save you from staring at a mug you “randomized” to get into game quickly. Playing a Trooper or Bounty Hunter? Doesn’t matter. In most story line cinematics your helmet is removed.
Again, this is all up to you but the last thing you want is to realize at level 32 is that you loathe the way you look.
A quick guide to the fleet and back, all before level 10
The goal of this guide is to quickly get your first companion unlocked and get your crafting skills going. To this end we want to focus on these two things. Once you have these under your belt, you should have a better understanding for how the quests go, plus an NPC at your side if you need the help early. Now the standard method of get every quest you see becomes easier to cope with.
After your first cinematic, you will notice you have one quest in your log. For now, lets keep it that way. For now, ignore all those other triangles that promise excitement and adventure. You'll come back to them, I promise! As you focus on the story, you should unlock your companion at around level 5.
This does depend on what class you choose. The Jedi Knight gets his droid pretty quick. The Sith Warrior also gets Vette pretty early. The Trooper class doesn't pick up a side kick until just before they lift off planet. Regardless of what you play, the missions are quick and before you know it you'll be level 7 and on your way to the "The Fleet."
When you get to the Fleet station for your faction, open your map and look for the Crew Skill Venders. When you find them, all you have to do is right click on them and you'll learn the skill they teach. But don't stop at three! Talk to each and every one of them.
Even if they are crew skills you don’t intend on getting! Each time you talk to one it’s 875XP. In almost every case I got level 8 just talking to these guys.
Once you have chatted up every crew skill vendor, take the time to sort out which you want. If you don't want a crew skill, there is an "Unlearn" button in the Crew Skills page. Once you are sorted out on Crew Skills, head back to your starting planet
and grab all those quests you passed up. At level 8 you are still in the prime range for what the quests were designed for, and you'll have a companion at your side!
You can send your companion on missions to advance your crew skills, or keep them with you if you run into a tough quest. Now that you're more familiar with the quests, having several queued up won't be as overwhelming and you'll quickly move through them.
The main story line quests are what unlock your companions and your ship. So if you're around level 15 and you haven't got a set of keys to a new ride in your pocket, look for you main story and focus it down until you do.
It may be tempting, at level 12, to push on and try to get the ship early but this is a time to “complete your training” before you rush off to be a hero. Show up to that party at level 11 or 12 and expect to end up missing a hand, hanging upside down from a floating city, and praying for someone to come save your ass.
You don't really need
your ship until you are past level 20 but it's fun to have. With that in mind, keep focused on getting all your quests. Being ahead on levels is much better than being behind.
This was re-written because, when I looked at it after the first page of comments showed up I see that I didn't make things very clear. I hope that this clears up the confusion and concerns brought up. And please keep in mind this is only a suggestion.
I’ll see you online, and may the Force be with you!