Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
A totally subjective opinion on SWTOR

Today Star Wars: The Old Republic launches. My character is level 20 after a week of low-intensity playing, in which I had a lot of fun. If you haven't bought the game yet, I can heartily recommend SWTOR for its excellent story-telling, polish, and leveling game.

I do not, however, have much faith in the endgame. The strength of SWTOR is clearly the way the stories are told, the cut-scenes, the voice-acting, the decisions you can make in conversations. All of this is content which is great once, but quickly diminishes in fun when being repeated. And I haven't seen anything to suggest that the endgame in SWTOR isn't like the endgame in every other MMORPG, which means playing through the same content over and over. And seeing how I already met characters in their level 40's before the game even released, I'm afraid reaching the level cap will be all too early.

As far as I can see you can play through SWTOR at least twice and get a completely different story, once on each side. If you don't mind partial repetition of quests and zones, you can play through the game 4 times, covering all 4 starting zones and all 4 base classes. That is good entertainment for some months, depending on your speed. But if you are looking for a game that keeps you entertained for many years, I am not so sure SWTOR can provide this.
I find posts like this amusing.

What other MMOs are fun for many years sans the social aspects of the game (PvP included)? Don't get me wrong, I'll be playing it like KotOR 3 as well. But any discussion of longevity in an MMO without taking into account that guilds/friends are what make endgame play fun/tolerable is a bit silly.
> All of this is content which is
> great once but quickly diminishes
> in fun when being repeated.

That's not entirely true, not for everyone. If you think about WoW, millions of players are more than happy to level multiple characters, repeating the same stuff over and over and over (if they want to level up to 85).

I'm intrigued by SWTOR but no way I get involved in a 50€ purchase + monthly fee. Not again, sorry. I'll try it the day they will release a free trial.
Got to agree that it needs a good plan for end game, and will they follow the sped of RIFT updates to keep some new stuff rolling along, or will it be at WoW speed in which case they need to have mad e money fast as there'll be a big tail off of subscriptions again.

Huge server queue's today anyway, so does look like initial sales will be good ;)
I think with any MMORPG the first trick is to get the leveling, crafting, questing, discovering, travelling, etc right with TOR seems to have done and then focus on endgame. So they may well do the endgame dungeons (endlessly repeatable grinds) later on.
... Hmm... Should they maybe... raise the level cap and double it: IE: Instead of a cap at 99 (or whatever) a cap at 198???
Always looking for the positive, eh?

I actually skipped "flashpoints" in the beta weekends because I was sure they were just like dungeons in every other game. I decided to do them for the gear this time and was pleasantly surprised with how they worked cut scenes and an actual story into these "dungeons". I am actually a bit more intrigued by how the end game might be done because of this.
I think we'll see a Tortage Effect again - that the rest of the game after a beautifully crafted and voice-acted immersive story telling part can't live up to it. Bathos.

Obviously SWTOR's Tortage is much bigger than AoC's was, but it's still essentially a Tortage.
just out of curiousity Tobold (because I seem to recall a similar conclusino about LOTRO from you, some years ago now), how do you account for WoW holding your attention for so long?

i most certainly don't mean that question to be in any way accusatory; I genuinely am curious: what explanations do you give for why WoW (and before that, EQ2, if my memory serves me correctly) held your interest for so long, but so many similar games can't?

and a separate question, possibly easier to answer: do you think that SW:TOR has enough 'Star Wars' about it to hold the attention of SW fans (in the way that LOTRO did for so long, for this LoTR fan at least) long after the MMO gamers have left to get their fix on The Next Big Thing?
I think you're spot on about the game right now being all about the levelling. However, if we go back to the early days of WoW the end game was pretty void as well and it was in the months after Launch that content was pushed lived to satisfy those players that hit the cap.

Hopefully Bioware/EA has the same plan here, polish the levelling game and then stress about max level content.

And anybody who is already level 40 is playing wrong. I've already played with some players in the early Flashpoints that got upset when one of our groupmates wanted to watch the cutscenes because it was his first time through.
I can't quarrel with a subjective opinion, but a quick note on those level 40s in early access: if I understand correctly, there is a warzone xp loophole that may not be intended. BW are looking into it.
Would you recommend the game to someone who wants to play for a few weeks and then move on?
Let's be honest here, it's yet another time filler until the next WoW arrives and there are already plenty of those around, several of them far better than BioWare's offering. SWTOR offers nothing new, I'm giving it 12 months max until it fades away.
Would you recommend the game to someone who wants to play for a few weeks and then move on?

Yes, totally! Perfect game for that!
The game just released and you worry about endgame? Flashpoints I managed to try are very well compared to wow and are way better cause they provide more challenge. The game is a vanilla/TBC wow and I can analyse it more if you like but I think is not needed.

Also tell me 1 MMO that the end game isn't about repeatable content for gear progress..Ok swtor is not innovative, except on voice acting and leveling.

Also as you said the game as it is and its leveling will last some months and then bioware can add more content..the combat system is more than enjoyable, the leveling speed is very good and also leveling provide you with lots of challenging mobs and quests...

this game is very fun and it has a bright future, it will not fall like others for sure...I expect to keep 3-5 million players at least
So what does everyone plan to do after a month of SWTOR? I mean WOW released 4.3 and nothing new will come till 5.0 (Panda) either this summer or more likely next fall.

Do you grind 4.3 over and over? Or do you stick around on SWTOR and check out the end game there? I mean even if its a grind it is still a new grind.
I don't get what everyone wants from Endgame. The current model seems like the only way raids can work. The MMO design is on that you advance you character by upgrading items. These items are drops from bosses. These items are also random and not everyone can have an item every time. That means you have to run the dungeons/raids/flashpoints/PvP over and over until you have the best in each slot. Hopefully this takes an equal amount of time until the next content patch/expansion.
I also understand the need for outside content; quests, achievements, mini-games, etc. And for the most part the MMO companies have them. Can they add more content to keep things going all the time. Probably. Can they do it cost effective enough. That is to be seen. So the other option is releasing expansions sooner. I personally don't want to fork out $40-$60 every year just to not be "bored". I have no problem level another toon and getting it maxed out in gear while waiting for the next expansion.
The longevity of any MMO depends largely on a) the social networks you build up and b) the attachment you feel to your character(s).
Gameplay is much more incidental.

That said, I agree that BioWare/EA seem to have gone out of their way to come up with gameplay that would tend to be difficult to revisit often. I haven't actually played, though, so any comments I make are based on hearsay. For all I know I might fall in love with my character on day one and never want to play anyone else ever again.
I found it telling that when asked about SWTOR's endgame, the Bioware leads generally suggested rolling an alt as the best course to get more out of the game.

I'm having a blast atm, and certainly suffer altitis...but a good guild abd challenging endgame content are what keep me playing the same mmorpg month after month.

Oh, and ply SWTOR if you haven't :)
Lie on this couch and tell me, when did you first decide you needed to play a game that would last for years?
I dont remember when was the last time I had so much fun in an instance that I lost a track of time. I'm not sure if WoW ever gave it to me, without outside help of fun people you may have ran into.

I ran a flashpoint today, my very first one. i was so captivated, I had so much fun with the story and the set up that I didn't even realize that it took as as long as an average Cata dungeon used to. and i used to grumble about the length of Cata dungeons. I realize now that it was becasue they simply weren't fun, just kill endless groups of mobs with occasional boss in between.

stories and their implementation in TOR is super fun to me. and I've yet to run into people who are not enjoying them right alongside with me.

but then again, I'm playing on RP server...

btw, I've been playing for almost a week now, and today, I pretty much spent the whole day in game. I'm half way through lvl 15. the only other character that I touched, is lvl 4. I've yet to skip a single side quest. I'm having too much fun with them. I died multiple times because I got so engrossed in what I was doing that I didn't even pay attention to what level mobs were. (granted, I also started on my professions, but considering that it consists of me sending my companion to do things, while I quest elsewhere? that didn't take up too much extra time)

as long as you actually enjoy the game and all it has to offer - there's plenty to do just with your journey to max level. and a friend told me that there's an entire planet dedicated to solo end game content, so far.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. this game is not for an average WoW player. it has certain gameplay similarities, but at the core - its not a WoW clone. it has different focus. Eve online is successful in its own right. becasue it sticks to their core audience and doesn't try to appeal to average WoW player demographic. I really hope that bioware does the same.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again. this game is not for an average WoW player. it has certain gameplay similarities, but at the core - its not a WoW clone. it has different focus."

Kill 10 Droids? Everything about it screams WoW clone; anybody that has ever played WoW will be instantly familiar with almost all aspects of the game.
Tobold, each class have a diferent story. I know it because I played a consular, a knight and a smugler. Knight is at 30+ and completed chapter 1. Consular I played at beta to 10+ and smugler is now 10+. Take note that these ones are Republic and each one have a diferent story.

Be warned that at least as knight the end of chapter 1 was epic. I am using the word "epic" because I think it is the only word that can define it. As Bioware is knew for make good stories, IMHO all other classes will have an epic end to chapter 1. And problably chapter 2 too will be epic.

My guess is that there 8 diferent stories that are possible at this game.

SPOILER (don't read after this if you don't want know a spoiler)

The smugler get to Coruscant looking for teh bandit that steal teh smugler's ship. The knight get to Coruscant because the Jedi Council feels a menace is coming. The consular is looking for knowledge about something I will not spoil you... and from what I saw, they have tottally diferent class stories.

I often think that the way to design an MMO is to design the endgame first and put the most effort into that part of the game, because that's where most of your players will spend most of their time.
What Tobolds said. Although I might add that its true if you play same side twice there is a lot of repeating content there is more than enough content to skip large chunks of it without falling behind in levels

IN fact if do ALL content you will outlevel your zones. So to make subsequent play-troughs less repetitive you can concentrate only on class quests and skip some side ones ,saving them for another playtrough

And story is great. Single player quality.
@ Dave. when you bring it down to the level of "kill 10 druids" guess what. its KOTOR clone. and RIFt clone. and EQ clone.. and Mass Effect clone.. and Dragon age clone and diablo clone and torchlight clone.. and I can go one.. and on.. and on.

you are focusing on the very basic game play element that is common to majority of RPG's on the market for more then a decade now - solo or otherwise. its like saying that every private detective book is a clone of Sherlock Holmes, because it has private detective, often with a side kick, solving mysteries that people hire them to solve.
I am a long term WoW player and I'm now looking at SWTOR, give the folks at Bioware a chance regarding the end game.

Think back to when WoW was released could this review have been identical to the launch version of WoW? I think it could and the end game is what keeps me there.
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