Yet another SWTOR Beta Impression

I know I have been absent for a while. RL slowing down will hopefully allow me to get back in the swing of things.

It seems everyone else is giving their thoughts on SW:TOR now that the NDA has been dropped. Many of the impressions I have read I find that I disagree with and it has lead me to write my own take.
Almost all of the beta impressions seem to has been from a certain small subset of gamers in the MMO space. We have played a large number games of the genre for the past decade. Most shout their unending love for sandbox gaming yet all of those games are a true niche market including EVE.
I will say Keen & Grav have one of the more thoughtful posts on their impressions but most others I feel has a fair amount of “I hate it therefore I must be one of the cool kids” Much like WOW popular commentary.
I personally find theme park MMO games are more interesting to me. It’s why I read books not write them. I enjoy the story presented to me and don’t tend to critique based on how my writing would be oh-so better than xxx. There are games that let the playerbase create content. Most of that content is utter crap.
Here are some  of the points that are overlooked in almost all the write-ups I have seen.

You actually have multiple ways to complete quests.
Granted they are mostly morality plays but set that aside. It’s an MMO that give you multiple ways to complete quests. That is rare enough to stand own it’s own.

You have NPC companions with personality.
I grew attached to my banner carrier on my LOTRO captain but Bioware have really taken it to a new level. I think most reviews have given this feature the short shift because they have experienced Bioware NPCs in previous single player games. Your quest actions effect how your companions think of you. Yes it has been done in single player RPGs  but In MMOs nothing comes close to the feature they have given us. Guild Wars companions are laughable in comparison and no one else has even had a feature worth being discussed in the same sentence. That they are you crafters totally negate the dreadful crafting alts common in some many other games.
I found them compelling, interesting, and I wanted to hear their story. In short I was able to invest in them. The fact you can give them meaningful tasks while you are offline is just icing on an already tasty cake.

You get a good story.
It has been written about extensively that LOTRO book quests are arguably the best narrative quest line that  the genre has to offer with perhaps the WOW dread knight arc being its only competition . The character story quest narrative in SW:TOR for each class I would argue is as good or better than what LOTRO or WOW brings to the space. That is story x8 (one per class)
It is true that  there are fetch quests and kill x of this and that as well but many of those are optional quests that automatically come attached as bonus items to more compelling content. It is not normally core quest content. The ones I experienced also tended to expand on the interplay between the various factions within each group. Such as the Sith pure blood or the byplay of the non force wielding elements in each faction.

The setting feels like Star Wars.
The locations fit the source material in ways Galaxies never seemed to. It just feels right. Star Wars has always had single type fauna on each planet so no reason to complain on that point. Period. The space content is the movie experience, give me the action bits and keep the long space voyages for those non-fun other space games thank you.
Having ships as your housing makes perfect sense. They now allow other people to enter your ship to transport from location to location. Once they give us some expanded customization and personalization options they will be complete. Something to add in the future but not a necessity. Guild support so far has been over the top allowing people to pre-register guild names and help their members to get on the same servers seems to be well implemented.  Futre guild spaces most likely will either be a space station or instanced hanger bases I would guess. Again not sure what else we really need there.

The crafting system is varied and deep.
Multiple companions means multiple crafting options on a single character. This system gives all the variation crafters seem to live for and takes out most of the more unpleasant components of the current offerings by offloading the construction and gathering piece off the hero (you). Basiccally any equippable items looks to be craftable, I dont know really how much more we could ask for other than perhaps ship customization items but that still is much more of a desire more than a need.

Final Thoughts

The character classes do mirror each other in the roles each fills within each faction. It seems this should help with the balancing for PVP. I also have the hope with the light side/ dark side mechanics that we may see in the future a way to switch between Sith and Jedi with classes that copy  each others roles so well. It is notable that all the classes seem usable. The many complaints about respecs and how that will all shake out most likely is a mote point. I see no reason why they would not implement some form of respec. There just isn’t a good reason not to. They may not make it easy but in my opinion that may be a good idea.
The race choices are not as varied as many people would like but again if feels like Star Wars. Humans and aliens I would call near-humans make up the vast majority of the Stars Wars galactic population especially in positions of authority. By adding the more exotic species as NPC race characters they are able to add the variation without having to record all the multiple language quest audio tracks that would be needed for the non basic speaking aliens such as wookies, ithorians, etc. bottom line; it fits. I would like a cosmetic item system at some point to help the variation of how your avater looks but again a desired enhancement but certainly not a need out of the gate.

From the comments above you can tell like like the game. Some of it may be I did not have unrealistic expectations that it would somehow remake the MMO genre into some gaming Nirvana.

Cutting to the heart: I like Bioware story telling and I like MMOs and this is the blending of the two with enough added wrinkles that will make it compelling for me and I dare say for for millions of other gamers as well.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Be On the Show! Email Us
Podcast RSS
Blog RSS
Current Poll

How often do you play MMOs?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Blog Categories
Fave Blogs