Tobold's Blog
Monday, December 19, 2011
SWTOR space combat

My character in Star Wars: The Old Republic is now level 20, and is flying around in his own spaceship. The first function of this is to get from one zone to another, which each zone being a "planet". The big advantage of having planets as zones and spaceships as transport is that all zones are equidistant from all other zones. EA Bioware can add planets without worry on where to fit them on the map. And while the planets are big enough to make walking from one end to the other feel long, at least you don't have to walk through several zones to get to your destination.

The second function of the spaceship is a space combat game, a Star Fox like rail shooter. You can move left, right, up, and down on your screen, but where you move does not influence the path your spaceship takes. Instead that path is predetermined, "on rails", and you just move to avoid obstacles. You also click on things to shoot them. There are various missions available, where you earn xp and "fleet commendations" by flying through such a level on rails and fulfil objectives like shooting down certain enemies or escorting an NPC ship.

I managed the first three space combat missions, but am not doing too well on the higher level ones. I have level 1 upgrades, but better ones would probably be better for somebody like me who isn't very good at twitch games.

And there is the rub: Space combat is a completely separate game inside the game, which has very little to do with the rest of the MMORPG, and requires very different skills. There are some links between the games, like the space combat giving you xp, or your character level determining what spaceship upgrades you can buy. But you could just as well just ignore the space combat part if you don't like it. It feels very much like a separate game, something else to do if you happen to be bored. Nice enough, but not really a revolution to the genre.
What happens if you need to get from planet A to planet B. Can you just ignore the space combat or are you forced to endure it?

I remember that there were a couple of space combat missions like that in KOTOR. They were pretty trivial for any one who played shooter games but a number of rpg lovers couldn't get past the space missions sparking an active trade in save games.
Space combat is completely optional. You EITHER fly to a space combat location OR to another planet, never both at the same time.
I know you don't see it as revolutionary, but to me the idea that space combat is there for those who want it and is easy enough to skip for those who don't want it is a solid addition to the game. I hate when a game requires you to perform actions with an entirely different skillset in order to progress on the rest of the game. I look at the Star Wars concept falling more into the, "If it's fun, do it. If it's not, do something else," category, unlike say PVP and dance-dungeons in WoW, which you are required to do in order to access certain areas of the game, get certain materials and recipes for crafting, or to get the best equipment.

(I do realize you don't need the dungeon gear for anything but raid/dungeon. For me, it was more about the fact that recipes and materials were sometimes only found in those locations.)

I also love the idea that flying from planet to planet is just a straight shot. I despised losing 10-20 minutes of playtime in an evening of WoW because I had to fly from here to there by flying a foolishly long route that showed off the world.
I think there is the ability to do group space combat but I haven't gotten to that stage yet. I was somewhat disappointed, I mean, rail combat? So 1990s. Not asking for EvE, but at least they could have gotten up to Wing Commander level. Or even the cheesy Star Trek MMO graphics show that a server could do this.
@AL the question is what could make it into 1.00 for a game that took many years. I am not at all sure space combat would have been worth dropping something else for.
I really didnt hold out any hope for the space combat at all, but I totally love it now. The missions are dalies and can be treated as such - things you do for a small break, cash or rewards for unique items. You can use the tokens for unique ship upgrades or a pilot flight suit (no combat stats) for the looks. Do enough of the missions and you unlock new titles for your character. It's a mini game, a distraction, like doing digsites in WoW.
Raffle's is dead on. It's Archaeology right now. I'm completely happy with that. And enjoy the revenue (since I don't have Slicing, I'm kinda broke).

I hope it's the start of something bigger, but it's an enjoyable enough 20 minutes of daily content for me... for now.
I thoroughly enjoyed space combat in STO. Being able to move here and there, without being on "rails" was a nice addition to the game. I am not so sure if i will like the SWTOR space combat, if it's been dumbed down for those who can't understand that its them who are flying upside down, not me. I am however glad to see that it's not true and devastating PvP, such as in EVE. Though that's definitely one game I still need to try one of these days... but reading about 0.0 has made me a bit scared to try it.
Space combat isn't as great as it could be, but once you get into the lvl 30+ missions it becomes more entertaining and difficult. It helps if you know a cybertech that can get the schematics for the good ship upgrades to help. Also if you are able to take out intercepting capital ships on some of those missions you get ultra bonus quests that give you very nice rewards when completed.
The one thing, the MAIN thing, I hate about the SWTOR space combat, it is not a real space combat game. Your ship is on a set flight path and will go where the mission flys you. You are more of a gunner than a pilot. Meh.
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