Thursday, November 10, 2011

A little over a month to go

With just a little over one month to go until the head start begins for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I find myself getting a little excited for the game.  It’s not that I think the game is going to be the greatest thing since the last greatest thing, but rather that I haven’t really gotten to experience that “new game smell” in quite some time.  I was excited for Rift, but that was nearly a year ago.  I also knew exactly what I was getting into, having been in the beta for a while, and had quite reasonable expectations for the game on release.  I’d call my overall experience with Rift “pleasantly satisfied”.  I did end up playing World of Tanks, but there was no excitement, no build up there.  The game wasn’t even on my radar until I downloaded it and tried it out.  There haven’t really been any other big games for me in 2011 so far, MMO or otherwise, most of the games I’m looking forward to won’t be out until 2012 (at the earliest).

WoW . . in . . spaaaaace!
So SWTOR is the first game in a while to get me feeling excited for its release--pent up energy that builds in the belly and radiates out, causing feet to tap and fingers to type.  Release already!  Despite that, my expectations for SWTOR are really quite low.  I’ve read the preview reports, I’ve watched the videos, I know there’s nothing game changing here.  I pretty much expect WoW in space with Voiceovers and Companions.  You know what though?  That’s ok.  Rift has proven to me that tried and true mechanics with some new additions, different content, and tweaks here and there can still make for an enjoyable game.  I’m not quite so jaded that an MMO with hotbars and classes and quest based adventuring is a turn off for me.  In fact, I’m getting old and fossilized enough now that those familiar things are comforting.  What I am jaded with though, are fantasy MMOs.  Sick. To. Death.  EVE and Star Trek Online are the only things out there that come close to scratching my Sci-fi itch, and they just don’t quite do it.  EVE in many ways is awesome, and I love to look at the game, but in the end it’s not really that much fun to play.  STO has some nice features too, but the game is just too flawed to play for long.  I notice it’s going free-to-play a couple of weeks after SWTOR releases, perhaps to conveniently snap up disgruntled SWTOR players (and there will be disgruntled SWTOR players, lots and lots of them).

One of the things I’m enjoying about SWTOR’s impending release is that I actually know very little about the game.  Sure, I know the basic features (companions, etc.), I know the setting from the KOTOR games, and I know the names and general purpose of each class . . . but that’s about it.  I’m not in the beta, so the first time I start up the game during the head start will be the first time I ever see it.  That has an appeal to it of its own, and I’m actually grateful I didn’t get into the beta.  If I got an invite to one of the remaining weekend events I doubt I’d have the willpower to refrain from playing, but I’d seriously consider trying to abstain.  The internet makes it hard enough to approach a game fresh as it is, betas completely ruin the “first day experience”.  It’s funny; I still remember my first day in Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and the City of Heroes beta (but not the first day of release) as a time of excitement and exploration.  I can barely remember WAR (which I followed religiously before release) or many details from my years in WoW (which I referenced the internet for constantly).  Going in with a clean slate will be nice.  You don’t form detailed memories when your brain is already convinced it knows what to expect.

I’m excited for SWTOR because it’s got lasers and spaceships and jetpacks and multiple planets just as much for the fact that it’s Star Wars, one of the beloved IPs of my childhood (and today).  I’m trying not to focus on the Star Wars aspect too much, as the last time I let my love of an IP cloud my judgment I bought the collector’s edition of Warhammer Online.  Ouch.  No collector’s edition this time, but I did sign up for a pre-order.  I fully intend to bully my friends into trying it too, if they won’t do so willingly.  You’ve been warned guys.  Just pre-order now, save yourself the trouble.  Star Wars may be fantasy in space, but dammit, it’s got robots, and shiny high tech gadgets, and space travel.  It’ll do.

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