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I'm fairly pragmatic, and with dialog choices after dialog choices, it's fairly tempting to just be fairly neutral towards it all (I guess that makes me...a role-player, oh no!). If I do this in The Old Republic, am I going to be handicapped by not having access to either of the presumed bonuses earned by taking one side or another?

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Currently, characters who do not focus extensively on either light or dark will be disadvantaged due to not being able to equip a second relic. It's not known how soon this will be fixed.

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This has not been true for quite some time. –  Matthew Read Sep 24 '12 at 17:03
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So far the only things that I have seen that is affected by your Light/Dark rating are requirements on certain pieces of armor and weapons.

Some character dialog (ie. from your companion) is also driven/derived from your light/dark choices when questing with the companion.

Aside from that, your alignment should have no major impact on your game play.

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I think it's not really about Light/Dark with companions. It's about what they like or not, and that's not as simple as that. –  svick Dec 19 '11 at 0:16
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Not directly, but their "like it or not" factor is derived from your conversation choices, which also drive your light/dark choices. –  Sorean Dec 19 '11 at 0:18
    
@Sorean True, but that's not how they decide. Khem Val, the companion of Tulak Hord (the original Emperor) gave me a -20 at one point for choosing the Dark Side option. –  user2974 Dec 20 '11 at 0:43
    
As to underscore Light/Dark being disjoint from your companion liking you, the tutorial on the affection score explicitly states that. –  Nick T Dec 20 '11 at 4:13
    
@Powerlord I never said that dark/light choices affect the companions in the same way, I just said that it is driven by your choices. –  Sorean Dec 20 '11 at 4:34
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There are certain items that can only be used by players above certain Dark or Light levels. The lowest level items I've seen are various Lightsabers.

In contrast to that, there are certain items that can't be used if you have over a certain light/dark level. The lowest level example of these are the various Lightsaber Color crystals. Blue and Green lightsaber crystals can't be used by anyone with Dark 1 or higher. Red and Yellow lightsaber crystals can't be used by anyone with Light 1 or higher.

So yes, there are certain benefits for remaining neutral. As a reminder, you need to have a difference between your two scores of 1000 to become Light 1 and -1000 to become Dark 1.

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The color of an item isn't really a handicap issue –  Nick T Jan 15 '12 at 21:48
    
This has been changed, crystal color isn't strictly limited to faction anymore. –  Matthew Read May 16 '12 at 16:17
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Yes, you won't be able to use items whose requirement is something like “Dark I” (or “Light I”). But I think it's only a small handicap. (Items with alignment requirement are quite rare, but you can also buy them in special dark/light shops.)

It's possible that the alignment will affect the story in some way, but I don't think I encountered anything like that yet.

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I read a rumor that people who stay neutral will receive certain rewards for that path. I couldn't tell you where I read it, but I'm pretty sure it was a quote from a developer QA session. Also, I have no idea what those rewards are.

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Neutral rewards are coming soon* –  Corey D Dec 21 '11 at 20:37
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