Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SWTOR: Feeling a little hopeful

Most of the blogger responses to Star Wars: The Old Republic's presence at last week's SDCC seems to be positive, and a lot of the things mentioned are making me more hopeful that the game will be good.  I still don't think it's going to be a great MMO, and it's still not the sci-fi game I'm hoping someone, somewhere, will make, but I'm more comfortable in my belief that it will be a solid single-player RPG that also has the ability to group up for harder content.

Some of the recent items that sound interesting to me:

  • Every class gets unique quests from level 1 to max, there are no quests shared between classes.  While this clearly makes doing quests in groups rather stupid, it does make for fantastic replayability.  I wish their single player games had this too.
  • There will be an entire planet dedicated to solo endgame activities.  Again, not a group friendly feature, but one I'm glad to hear about.  It's going to largely be a solo game while leveling, so a switcheroo to group only endgame would be painful (I'm looking at you every MMO currently on the market).  I think I'd just replay that game rather than grind out some endgame, but it's nice to know the option is there.
  • More vehicles (mounts) than just the repulsor segway.  This was sort of a given, but it's still good to see it's been done.
  • The combat is looking a little better -- it still has some rough edges, but it's looking less like "I stand here and shoot you in the face, you stand there and shoot me in the face, repeat until one of us is dead". Granted, this is a promotional video, so some liberties may have been taken.

  • Advanced classes at level 10.  I seem to recall they were originally slated for level 20, though that might have been my imagination.  Level 10 is better.  Personally I think they'd be best off just having 8 classes per side at character creation and be done with it.  EQ2 tried something similar at release, and ended up just making them all classes selectable at level 1 in the end.
  • Customizable companions.  While you still can't change the name, gender, or race of your companions, you can change their hair and skin color and control what equipment they're wearing.  Even though you might be in a group with people using the same companion, chances are they won't look the same.
  • Adjustable companion AI.  They are rumored to be working on customizable AI like that used in Dragon Age.  If they pull it off, companions would instantly become the best MMO pets ever.
  • Branching quests in Flashpoints (dungeons).  Instanced dungeons are great things.   Running them with a group of friends is one of the high points of MMOs.  Running them over and over, doing exactly the same thing every time is one of the low points.  Bioware is supposedly implementing branching quests in their dungeons, such that decisions you make change your objectives and opponents throughout the flashpoint.  If this works as advertised, it will be a very good thing.  Yes, your average PUG is likely to insist on whatever choices yield the fastest and/or easiest run, but when running with a coordinated guild or group of friends this expands the options of what you're doing.
Those are the things I can think of off the top of my head.  I'm still not bouncing up and down in gleeful anticipation like I have for some games in the past, but I feel confident SWTOR will be a game worth playing, and that's a pretty big step up.

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