Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Where does the hate come from?

If you're into PC gaming, and especially if you are into this genre, you probably have already heard of one of the most ambitious projects in the history of MMOs: Star Wars: The Old Republic, also known as simply "SWTOR".

Bioware's latest -and largest- baby is the spiritual successor of their critically acclaimed Star Wars game, Knights of The Old Republic (aka KoTOR). Many KoTOR fans out there got their hopes high when they heard about this project for the first time about three years ago, yet many of them were greatly disappointed during the past few years by the way the game was shaping up, and some even went as far as claiming that they will not even consider trying it once released.

Now, we all know how gaming forums are, and I'm not here to discuss the validity of such claims, but rather, I want to analyze with a little more depth the core issues with this game and with its development.

SWTOR will let you choose how to handle most quests,
leading to different outcomes.
Remember, everything has consequences...
First of all, a summary, in case you are haven't been following this game as closely as I have. SWTOR is a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) which will let you choose between a total of 8 different classes, 4 for each faction (The Republic and The Empire) that somehow represent the main archetypes of the movies. The Republic's Smuggler has a "Han Solo" feel to it, The Empire's Sith Warrior is more like "Darth Vader", and so forth. Early on in the game, each class splits into two Advanced Classes (ACs), each with its own playstyle and unique talent trees, allowing a great amount of flexibility when compared to other games of the same genre.

Now, we all know what Bioware is famous for. The quality of their storytelling is exceptional, and apparently SWTOR will be no less: every single NPC will be fully voiced by professional voice actors and every class will have a main storyline with different outcomes, depending on our decisions. Wait, that's not it! Every class will also be given 5 unique companions during the course of the main storyline, with their own, unique stories, and sometimes they will even be romanceable.
One of the many "mounts" that will allow you to move
around much more quickly than on foot.

There is much more to it, but this gives you a rough sketch of what SWTOR's strongest point -or pillar, as they call it- is: story. Sounds perfect, right? Why then, for how much this game has already been praised to no end, there is an almost equal amount of criticism?

  1. Many MMO players who are into the Star Wars universe come from another, much older MMORPG called Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). SWG used to be a great sandbox experience before an update streamlined its content to make it more similar to their greatest threat, World of Warcraft (WoW). SWG lost a great portion of its subscribers and it has been slowly dying since then, and it is going to close completely this December. SWG players hoped for a new, modern sandbox experience to bring back the "Good old times", but SWTOR turned out being a heavily theme-parked game due to the massive amount of story, and some just can't get over it. 
  2. Some players coming from KoTOR are not familiar with MMORPGS and simply wanted another single-player game, with modern graphics and features.
  3. An even larger amount of players comes from WoW, and is looking for an innovator of the genre as they are tired of the usual MMORPG mold. 

Of course, there are people who simply do not like the game for different, unique reasons, but most of them belong to one of these categories. Let me tell you then, what SWTOR is NOT and what it actually IS.

Blizz will be one of the 5 companions for the
Bounty Hunter class, and is already one of the
community's favorites. 

  • A revolutionary MMORPG which will turn the genre upside down.
  • A sandbox game which gives you an almost unlimited amount of freedom.
  • A game to be played alone, unless you are happy with enjoying only a portion of it.
  • A product with extreme graphics comparable to the latest single player games. Bioware wants the game to be accessible for a wide range of computers. 
  • An MMORPG with a deep, fully voiced plot.
  • A polished product that tries to bring together all the best ideas from other MMORPGs while leaving out the downright bad ones, all with an unique Bioware touch to it.
So, this is my take on SWTOR and its criticism. It's not a game everyone will like, and I'm not sure it will dethrone WoW, but I'm damn sure excited about it and have preordered my CE already. In-depth info about the game can be found at www.swtor.com, and my profile is at http://www.swtor.com/community/member.php?u=619865. The game will be released just a few days before Christmas so you're still in time to subscribe to beta and snatch a pre-order if you are interested!

Thank you for reading! Comments are always appreciated. 

Game on!


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