Star Wars: The Old Republic launched today, and the role-playing game is heating up fast. Any fan of the Star Wars movies and video games should definitely check this game out, but those who have yet to dig into the game can benefit from some tips about what know and what to do when the game begins.

Below, here are seven tips for Star Wars: The Old Republic players to know as they get started.

What to prepare for on levels 10, 14 and 25, what the different character classes are, whether you can ditch your companion and pick up a ship... just scroll through the list to find out how to make your first time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic as much fun, and as little hassle, as possible.

1. You can get around slow servers.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massive multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in a classic universe, boasting new characters and storylines and an improved setup form the earlier beta version.

So, basically, servers are going to be full for a long time.

If you want to wait in line, you can slog through up to 40 minutes of trying to get back into your character's story. Or you can meet with your friends at another server and make do with the characters and the stories you find there, and wait until the Star Wars fever has died down a bit.

Also, be sure to keep track of time. Star Wars: The Old Republic comes with 30 days of game play. After that first month players need to sign up for monthly service at $14.99 per month, $41.97 for three months, or $77.94 for 6-months.

2. If you don't want a companion, you can opt out.

Over the course of Star Wars: The Old Republic, users are going to meet characters that end up becoming their companion, someone who helps in battles or operates as a healer. These characters pop up at different levels for different people and operate based on players' storylines.

Not all the characters you'll meet will qualify as companions, but some players won't want to have a companion at all. After all, one of the best parts of an MMORPG is being able to make a team of actual players, whether they're you're friends or players you meet online.

The solution? You can send them on endless crafting missions to keep them away... or you can just dismiss them outright. Don't feel bad: they're computer-generated.

3. It's a (slightly different) galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, like many of the video games that came before it, is set several thousand years before Luke, Leia and Han, much less Anakin, Obi Wan and Palpatine. It's also, however, set several hundreds years after the video game Knights of the Old Republic.

Familiar characters are nowhere to be found, yet the influence of characters from earlier games are an integral part of the storyline. The game's writers and actors have even created eight primary story arcs inspired by the iconic characters in the movies, as BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka tells USA Today, meaning Star Wars fans also get a feel for characters that come thousands of years later.

What does this mean for gamers? Essentially, those playing the beta game will be experiencing the Star Wars universe, but without feeling like you'd be better off just watching the movies or playing an older game.

4. About those classes...

There are several main classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic, which give you a basic character, a story line and a mission. Each of those classes also has several specializations, certain story arcs and abilities you get at a later level.

Leader writer Daniel Erikson has given a breakdown of the two basic sides (Galactic Republic and Sith Empire) and the four classes in each. Below, his recaps:

Galatic Republic:

  • Trooper: You get to do this fantastic sort of Band of Brothers storyline.
  •  Jedi Knight: Similar to the path followed by Luke Skywalker.
  •  Jedi Consular: Think characters like Qui-Gon or Obi Wan, trying to take the diplomatic route
  •  The Smuggler: You are always getting into trouble and everything explodes in your face.

Sith Empire:

  • Sith Warrior: Sort of a Sith aristocracy, similar to Darth Vader's storyline.
  • Sith Inquisitor: Think characters like Emperor Palapatine, the evil vazier.
  • Bounty Hunter: One guy with a gun, with lots of Bobba Fett and a healthy dose of Old Western.
  • Imperial Agent: Half KGB and half Jack Bauer... a little bit more of a mature story and a little bit more complicated.

Experiment with each class before you get into specializations, since you can't go back after you've locked into your character.

5. Remember: The choices you make are permanent.

This even applies to the conversations you have with other Star Wars characters. As you go along, you'll be given options that add light or dark side points to your character, and those tallies can't be undone.

This is a usual part of MMORPG games, but it can come as a shock to those used to relying on avoiding the save button when they want to mess around. If you think it'd be fun to have your character flirt with the dark side, just remember that it's a path you won't be able to turn back from.

6. If you haven't gotten a ship yet, don't worry. 

Like companions, players don't get ships depending on what level they've reached. Instead, they turn up depending on what storyline you've chosen and how much you stick to it.

If you pick a lucky storyline and focus on that mission first, you'll get a ship faster. But if you want to experience the game as it goes along, stay patient: almost all characters get their ships by Level 20.

7. What to Know About Levels 10, 14 and 25

Level 10 is when your character gets to pick an advanced specialization, like Operative (rogue agent) or Sniper (hunter). Once you've picked your specialization, you'll be able to spend the points you gain at each level to make your character more specific, but you won't (once again) be able to reverse your decision.

One annoying thing to note: you need to make sure you don't leave your first planet before you reach the tenth level. Rafe Tlsch over at Widescreen Warrior explains why: If you've already left for your second planet when you reach Level 10, you'll have to backtrack to the first part of your Star Wars fleet in order to find the quest-giver who will give you your specialization choices.

Stupid? Yes, but at this point it's better just to take your time on the first planet so you're all set to choose a specialization at Level 10.

But if you find Level 10's restrictions annoying, you'll forgive Star Wars: The Old Republic at Level 14.

After all the hassle involved in finding your quest-giver and choosing a specialization, Level 14 players suddenly get Sprint, the ability to increase your speed when you're not in combat. It makes it easier to get from place to place and will make your game experience less of a hassle.

Then you get to Level 25. You can train for Speeder Proficiency if you want, but you'll need 40,000 credits to do it, and the speeder itself costs players even more. If you want to get this ability, you'll need to start saving back at Level 15 or so, or at least avoid buying up anything too extravagant.