So part of the catalyst for pulling Battle Priestess back out of storage has been Star Wars: The Old Republic. It seems like the entire MMO gaming population has either been playing it or has some intense negative opinions on it. I’ve been playing it for the past (free) month, and – just canceled my subscription. I mentioned this on Twitter, but explaining my thoughts on SWTOR is going to take more than 140 characters.
The funny thing is that that my playing SWTOR to begin with was a bit of a fluke. My husband (the Star Wars fan in the family) started playing the game in beta. A few times I rolled a character on his beta account… and to be honest, it didn’t really grab me. Not that I thought it was a terrible game or disliked it in any way, it’s just that I’m not a huge sci-fi or Star Wars fan. So I continued happily plugging away in my world of sandbox and fantasy games, ignored the SWTOR hype, and all was well.
Until my husband bought me a copy during Early Access. Sweet guy, that.
So, I played. We joined the same server, faction, and guild as the Twitter-folk (you know who you are!) I know, and found myself enjoying it in spite of myself. I will say that avoiding the hype and the craziness leading up to the launch was definitely the way to go. I had no expectations or preconceived ideas going into the game and ended up having a really good time because of that. Everything was new and shiny, not something that I had already been playing or hearing about for months.
The game runs as smooth as butter on my machine, and I had no problems with lag or poor performance, except for the period of time during the holidays that I was playing on my five year-old laptop. The graphics were excellent, not in an ultra-realistic sort of way, but in the way that they give each zone and area a real sense of place. Nar Shaddaa was my favorite zone hands-down, as a guildmate had mentioned, it has a bit of a space-Tokyo vibe to it.
The unique Bioware storytelling is what SWTOR is banking it’s millions of development dollars on, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Let me let you in on a secret: SWTOR is my very first Bioware game. I’ve never played a single-player RPG, mostly because I like the social aspect in my games; I want to have people around to share in the glorious victories and the agony of defeat. I wasn’t at all disappointed with what I experienced, and I think future MMOs should learn from what Bioware has done as far as creating a compelling, exciting, gotta-keep-going-so-I-can-see-what-happens story. I stayed up way too late on quite a few nights trying to get to a stopping point that never came.
Another win: Companions. More than just your typical MMO class pet, these were a fantastic addition to the game. As a female smuggler, I (quickly) fell into (virtual) love
and maybe a small IRL crush with Corso Riggs, the smuggler’s first companion. Seriously, whomever wrote Corso’s story knows their stuff. I grew up in the south and married a southern boy, and they pegged the whole sweet chivalrous farmboy with a southern accent thing quite well. From what I’ve seen, feelings on Corso seem to be split among gender lines – guys tend to find him annoying, girls tend to find him lust-worthy. It speaks to the skill of the Bioware writers that the companions have such personality – and that players are so passionate about which companions they love and which ones they hate.
So far, so good, right? My issue with SWTOR really comes down to this: once I get my smuggler to 50… then what? I’m not a raider or a PvPer, and while I’d be interested in running alts to see the class storylines, since there aren’t multiple zones per level range, I’d be doing exactly the same quests each time, except for the class quests. So that greatly reduces the replayability and leaves me with little to do once I hit 50. I don’t expect Bioware to release a game with every known MMO feature at launch – that’s crazy talk. But every player needs a carrot, be it raiding, PvPing, alting, or sandbox/fun features. My playstyle isn’t necessarily the most popular, so I don’t expect them to add those more off-the-wall, creative features before additional raids – and that’s okay. Those features usually come later, if at all, so I think I’d like to step back and see which way Bioware is going to develop SWTOR: as a strict themepark MMO (which is what most of us have played for years) or as a MMO that caters to many different playstyles.
And honestly, I’d totally be up for re-subbing a few months down the road to see how things have changed. I do want to one day finish my smuggler’s story and make sure that they make plenty of little Corsos to run around her ship.