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Star Wars: The Old Republic – What’s In Store?

June 9, 2012

Present at this year’s E3 press conference, and not to be overlooked, was of course Star Wars: The Old Republic. Released 20th of December 2011, the highly anticipated MMORPG attracted a vast number of players, giving the game a flying start, but after a few months, the players slowly started to disappear again.

The developers behind the game, BioWare, LucasArts and Electronic Arts, have since worked hard trying to keep what players remain and to get the rest and more back into the fold with frequent patches, adding of new and innovative game content such as the extended Legacy system and free trials to be available every weekend.

As a previous SWTOR-player myself, I have caught myself starting to get half-tempted to rejoin the game. The developers are throwing us more than a bone in their desperation, and it seems like they are working towards making the game feel less “vanilla” by adding for instance a Group Finder, as we know it from World of Warcraft, in soon to be released patch 1.3.

Many players, myself included, have been annoyed with exactly the lack of “luxury” that we know from an old and experienced dog as WoW, which not only makes it easy to find and form effective groups, but also has a highly developed guild system, where you work together towards levelling your guild and earn rewards. The sense of community has somewhat been lacking in SWTOR so far, making one wonder what the point is in switching from an old MMO where beginner mistakes are long gone, to an MMO, where basic things as forming groups and levelling professions seem to be more tedious.

Something else that seems to have been bothering many players is the lack of music. Music seems to randomly start and stop, and it has in several cases not worked as intended – for instance, when engaging a boss, players have experienced that the boss music doesn’t start until halfway into the fight. And running around questing or grinding in otherwise very beautiful scenarios, has proved to be a bit of a bore in complete silence, if you, like me, enjoy listening to the music of the game to get into the mood and spirit of it and feel a sense of belonging, as great game soundtracks often can help with. To me, the music of Stormwind city in World of Warcraft is the sound of home. That’s what I would like to experience in SWTOR.

Of course, SWTOR has benefits that WoW doesn’t, such as voiced NPCs and characters, companions and your very own starship, and it is not completely fair to compare the two games, as WoW has been in the game for years, and SWTOR is an almost complete newcomer. But many players of SWTOR seem to come from other MMOs, and the fact is, that MMOs are not really a new genre any more, and by now basic things should be implemented from the start and work – even in a new game.

If, however, it happens, and it seems to be happening, that SWTOR succeeds in correcting and adding content to fit the demands of experienced MMO-players that otherwise won’t stick around, then it might actually stand a chance at competing against an MMOs such as WoW. After all, and as said before, SWTOR has already implemented unique and interesting features such as the Legacy system, and the game in general is just very well-made and thought through with great love for the little details and an ability to stay true to and even develop the amazing universe of Star Wars. You feel exactly as badass as Han Solo playing the smuggler character, you can style your female character’s hair exactly like princess Leia’s, and you can force choke whoever you like as a Sith. Let’s just get those basic things fixed.

At E3, SWTOR lifted the veil a little further for what lies in store for the game in the future. See and judge for yourself, if this game has the potential to flourish into a grand MMO able to give a game as WoW some competition, or if BioWare, LucasArts and EA are just grasping at straws in their desperation towards attracting more players:

 

Image Link: Jedi Consulars: Uploads

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jens Ottosen permalink
    June 10, 2012 12:43 pm

    I so much agree – good and precise article, thanks. Also to be added against SWTOR is the poor and boring ‘dungeons’ (flash points), the over all discount feeling of the game and the blurred and hard to see vendor graphics – and not to forget the almost catastrophic AH. Oh boy, I don’t hope for Bioware and Co. that they have throwed it all away with a too early release – they should have waited and get the basic stuff done properly. But still I would like to see it work, because the storytelling in the game is quite good, thumbs up for that … on the other hand, I myself played a SITH assassin and in my opinion even the combat system is quite stiff, clumsy, and slow with a very long global cool down on the abilities, probably just to make time for the character animations, but sacrificing the feeling off speed and real combat. How can that be fixed? Maybe there is just too many minor bad design and game mechanics decisions in the game for a real safe … I hope not as the mmorpg world needs competition and real alternatives to WOW. But as for now SWTOR is not very close to be a real contender.

  2. June 10, 2012 1:06 pm

    I definately agree! I think what also bothered a lot of people was levelling through the level 30ies where almost all characters continuously died, especially characters without proper AoE damage, as mobs seem to -always- come in groups of at least three, unless they are elites. If you hadn’t obtained a healing companion at this point, the game proved to be very difficult to enjoy. This uneven feeling of some characters having more benefits than others from earlier stages was not great.

    In general, you can say that the game lacks balance. An AH of course needs time to settle before there is balance in the player-created economy, but the prices of vendor items and profession schemes were far over the top and made levelling a crafting profession near impossible in the beginning.

    Basic small things were/are also missing. For instance it would have been easy to implement tabards or other decorations to wear in order to signal belonging to a particular guild and thus getting a better feeling of belonging to a community. But in general, SWTOR lacks places where people can come together. The Fleets are quite alright, but more places wouldn’t hurt.

    Sacrificing speed for visual effects is also something that has bothered me when engaging in combat. However, I for the most part played a Jedi Knight, and I have to say that they are really fast and very satisfying to play. Like a mix between a very fast rogue and a tough warrior. Unfortunately though, the Jedi doesn’t get a healing companion before very late in the game, making survivability bad, as said before.

    Another things that is also annoying in the game is the great distances you have to often run (especially as a low level character). They seem to have implemented more features to help this, such as getting a speeder earlier on and so on, but balance is still not complete.

    I hope SWTOR will fix these things, because however satisfying and impressive the storylines, voices and Star Wars-related details are, the survivability of an MMO is dependent on a good gameplay, balance, also in the economy, features that signal community, game music, strong flashpoints and operations and kickass fighting styles, enough to suit different player’s needs.

    All of above, SWTOR seems to be lacking so far. I hope they will implement it. Especially since I am otherwise very impressed by the stories and the graphics.

  3. June 10, 2012 1:12 pm

    Oh yes, another thing is also that the mobs you fight seem to always be humanoids standing in the same positions. This might be because that is usually how it is in Star Wars, but it -does- make the fighting tedious in the long run. Spread out the mobs more, making them different sized groups, let some be alone for players without much AoE, and make them differ more, so we also fight beasts etc.

    But as a last thing, so it’s not all completely bad: I found space combat really enjoyable. It is a quick, easy and fun way to gain experience, and it is nice to have that, so you are not solely dependent on questing, dungeoning or PvPing. More options is always good.

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  1. Has SWToR Tanked? Is that even a balanced question? | TyphoonAndrew's – Eye of the Storm

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