Bioware's Finest Hour?
When Bioware released Star Wars: The Old Republic on December 21st, 2011; I knew it to be a mistake. I spent countless hours pleading the community to listen to reason. The game wasn't ready, and well when it shipped my suspicions proved to be correct. See, I had a feeling that the game simply wasn't ready for prime-time and I was proved correct.
Bioware's Finest Hour?
Unfortunately, SWTOR did not live up to expectations for many fans. The game released shortly before the end of the year and there was a pantheon of bugs, glitches, and game crashing errors. Firstly, let's examine the release day issues and later we will see what has changed.
Bugs and Glitches
The game released with many bugs. Some were very memorable and I must admit I played through this over a year ago before returning to render my final verdict. As a Sith Warrior I played through the entire shell game and encountered several bugs/glitches that were frustrating. Firstly, on a quest that dealt with the Cult of Revan on Drummond Kas; the quest didn't display Revan's mask correctly. This was later fixed so that the player actually picked something up and placed it on their face. Additionally, a quest on Tython/Jedi Temple had a miniture Satele Shan. Imagine, you played for hours as a young Jedi Knight/Consular and when you met the Grand Master of the order it was a midget barely taller than a pinky finger.
Game glitches like these were common, but overtime they were fixed.
Game Crashing Errors
Personally, I never experienced a game crashing error, but I know that they were widely reported on. However, since I personally never had an issue with this I will let it go, just know that the release day did have massive lag and it did cause many people to disconnect from the game. It was frustrating trying to play on a DSL connection.
Old From the Get-Go
A Stale, Mindless, Money Grab
Harsh, I know, but Star Wars: The Old Republic was and has always been a stale, mindless, money grab. Bioware never tried to be innovative with SWTOR. The company sold out lock stock and smoking barrel before the game was ever released and while it was in it's infancy. This was unfortunate, because many were hoping the game would fulfill the end of Revan's story and it did, but not in the way many hoped.
You know what made World of Warcraft so great? See my article: http://www.infobarrel.com/World_of_Warcraft. It allowed the player's to choose their own destiny. You would think that Star Wars: The Old Republic, a franchise built upon destiny would allow you to explore your options and build a destiny for your character. You would be wrong. One of the biggest problems with the game, even to this day, is that the path is chosen for you. You have to follow the path that is placed in front of you by Bioware. There is no room to travel to different destinations. For example, Planet A is level 0-10, Planet B is level 10-15, Planet C is 15-20 and so on. When you are leveling you have to go to the planet that is your level range.
Naturally this means that everyone is stuck in the same cookie cutter grind. Well, to some extent. There are two factions and in the beginning they start on different planets so you don't actually start seeing world PVP until around level 20, but yes there is problems instituting world PVP anyway due to the fact of segregated areas and leveling spheres. Truth be told, it is even hard to meet people of your own faction in these areas let alone opposing ones.
I may have my issues with EVE Online, but let me tell you that game knows how to customize. See my article on that here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Why_you_should_not_play_EVE
EVE allows you to build your own ships and there are options to purchase dozens if not hundreds of customizable ships. In Star Wars: The Old Republic you are stuck from the beginning with your ship. Each class has a ship that they are given and that is it. There is no compromise. You can not be a Bounty Hunter that flies in a Jedi Starship. If you are a Bounty Hunter you get the Bounty Hunter ship (pictuerd above). You can customize the mods and weapons on the ship, but that is it. You can not change the apperance or layout of it. This was dissapointing, but only one of the reasons why the game feels so stale.
I believe that character customization is one area that the game is good at. The game does allow you to make your character look unique, but up until a few months ago you couldn't alter the apperance at all. This was a feature that I was excited about and I am glad that Bioware added "Barber Shops" to the game. It was unfortunate however, that you had to pay real world money to change your hairstyle.
Don't get me wrong the review up until this point has been negative, but that doesn't mean that the game is all bad. There are good aspects to SWTOR and areas where the designers did innovate. The problem is that the places they innovated in did nothing to make the game replayable.
Class stories are great and one of the features that I was most excited about when I heard about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Essentially, each class get's a story to play through. This allows you to experience the game differently as a Jedi Knight or Smuggler and vise versa for the Sith Empire. The unfortunate part about class stories is that they do not change. If you play a Jedi Knight twice the story is going to be the same. The only way you can make it different is by light and dark side choices.
This means that you can play through the same mission twice, but you can choose to end it differently depending on if you are light side or dark side. This is great, but what if you play through the same story three times? You are eventually going to reach a point where it is the same. Additionally, there are two types of quests in SWTOR: World and Class. Class quests can change based on light and dark side choices, but generic world quests do not change and usually do not have light or dark side choices attached to them. Oh, did I mention that 90% of the quests are world quests. This means that each player on the world (of the same faction) is going to share 90% of the quests which can only be completed one way (for the most part). So, if you play a Jedi Knight your class story will be different from the other faction's classes, but the world quests are going to be the same for all Republic characters. This makes the game stale.
I won't spend too much time on this section other than that the voice overs were awesome. It was cool having everything in the game voiced, but once you do the same world quest ten times you are going to be space barring through it. Ultimately this feature was a flop.
The Next Chapter
Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Cartel Market
The future of Star Wars: The Old Republic is a grim one. Rise of the Hutt Cartel was supposed to add new stories, a new world, and new features (level cap to 55), but it did not help. The designers simplifed stories to two. One story for all Sith characters and one story for all Republic characters. In effect, they cut out the best feature in Star Wars: The Old Republic. With class stories gone, by will to play the game died. It did not help that Bioware began pushing the Cartel Market with every update or patch.
Since Star Wars: The Old Republic went free to play there has been a cash shop called the Cartel Market. It allows players to spend real world money on in-game goods. This has led to an inflated economy and a decreased playerbase. In the future, Bioware will begin to roll out more and more Cartel Market updates where you have to buy the features to be on par with other players. Their last update introduced the barber shop where you had to pay for hair style changes and a new race where again you had to pay for it.
Class Stories (1-50)
Voice Overs (first time playing through them)
Interesting Plots (first time playing through them)
Cool Cinematics (First featured in this article)
Future without Class Stories (Rise of the Hutt Cartel)
Bugs at Launch (Mostly fixed now)
No ship customization
Heading towards pay to win
I will continue to check Star Wars: The Old Republic out for time to time, but I will be doing it for free. The benefit to this is you don't have to pay for a subscription and it is possible that one day Bioware will get their gear in order. I would continue to watch this game from afar with the hopes that it will be fixed and become the game that I wanted it to be.
Total Score: 5/10