Dec 22 2011

To SWTOR or Not to SWTOR?

Published by at 12:00 pm under Editorials,Video Games

(click to enlarge)

I’ve never played an MMO.

And there’s a reason for that.

What I have played are games like MMOs, or close to MMOs. Diablo comes to mind most prominently, with a game like Skyrim being a sort of offline variant of the genre.

I understand what they are, and more specifically why I need to avoid playing them.

I have a very addictive personality when it comes to video games. There’s no such thing as “leisurely play with me.” I buy a game, and in most cases, will beat it within a day or three. Sometimes, when a game is both A) good and B) long, I’ll lose an entire week or two, as I’ll play hardcore for hours and hours a day. Skyrim cost me the better part of a month.

Armor that only cost me a hundred hours of my life!

The reason I don’t have a problem with this is that for all these types of games, there is an end. There is only so much you can do, and when you’re done, you pretty much just walk away and don’t look back. Not so with MMOs, they NEVER end, and the quest to reach insanely high levels and get the best gear known to man is a neverending journey. There is no way to “win.”

I found this to be the case with Diablo 2, and once I caught on, I literally had to uninstall the game to keep me from playing. I could always level another character, I could always spend another two months of my life trying to find the perfect bits of code that would make me kill the same enemies a tiny bit faster the ten thousandth time I’d faced them.

This is the reason I’ve forever avoided full-on MMOs, as they require even MORE commitment than these titles. To get the “most” out of the game, you have to join a guild which is an actual time commitment you actually have to block out time in your day for. Add in all the endless grinding and looting, and it’s a soul sucking experience. MMO addiction has been equated to drug use, and has actually lead to more than a few deaths.

This looks so dated to me, I don’t even have the slightest desire to try it.

But while I might have been able to brush off the laughable cartoons of World of Warcraft, as that was a universe that didn’t really interest me from the start, such is not the case today. Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in one of my favorite places of all time where the Jedi and Sith dual for supremacy and my little nerd heart beats faster just thinking about it.

I now have a decision to make about whether this is my first leap into a genre I’ve been avoiding for so long. It’s a tough call that I haven’t decided yet in my own  mind, which is part of the reason I wrote this post, to get it in the open and see what I think at the end.

The pros are obvious. This is Star Wars, and more importantly, this is Bioware. No one knows how to craft a good story like them, and I’m sure what they have in store is more interesting than anything that’s come out of George Lucas’ head in the last twenty years.

Is that a Hydralisk?

I could be a Jedi master, a Sith ravager, a vicious bounty hunter, a Han Solo/Mal Reynolds type space smuggler. It sounds like  an amazing world, and as I’m familiar with questing and grinding and have found it fairly rewarding in past games, I could probably adapt with little learning curve. Also, I now have a computer that can actually run a game such as this.

The cons? There are many. First is that this game not only requires a $60 up front payment, but also is $15 a month for as long as I decide to play it. It really THAT good where it’s worth that much of an investment? Most other MMOs are going free to play, but SWOTR doesn’t have that ability due to its massive budget and the fact that it’s trying to compete with the also costly World of Warcraft.

Secondly, World of Warcraft is another reason early users are warning people away. They say it’s more or less the same game in a new skin, and I hate, hate, hate awkward turn-based combat in games like this, which from what I’ve seen, is exactly what I should expect.

If only I could fire these babies in real time.

Also, it looks sort of…weird. The graphics are exceptionally cartoony, and I was hoping for a more realistic look at the Star Wars universe. Furthermore, the gear and armor and outfits you get for your characters all look a bit…goofy. They’re heavily overdesigned, and I have a hunch my character, probably lightside who can’t get away with all black, will look like a douche for a long while until I get some seriously high level gear.

These reasons, in addition to the massive time commitment games like these require, makes me learn toward passing unless I start hearing that it’s the greatest game to ever gift the genre. A World of Warcraft rehash doesn’t sound terribly interesting, and with turn based combat I loathe , I’m not sure this is for me, even if it is Star Wars.

What do you think?

 





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22 responses so far

  • Dzuksi

    Play SW:KOTOR 1 & 2. If you don’t like it then you should not try this MMO.

    Even battles in KOTOR games are simmilar to those of MMO (quasi-based). But i love KOTOR because of it’s story, characters, and settings. This MMO is direct sequel.

    So if you don’t like KOTOR, be advised that it’s 100x times more of that in SW:TOR.

    Simple, riley.

    Myself, i am not an MMO player. Mainly because i don’t like to depend on other people, most of them who i even don’t know… If i am going to earn something great i am gonna do it my way

  • ash

    I’m having a blast with the game. The story is fantastic and each quest is given to you with an interactive cut scene similar to Mass Effect. You’re options during the conversation influence your light or dark side (which both the Republic and Sith Empire have), along with aspects of the story, as well as influencing your companion, which has it’s own set of benefits. As you progress down the light or dark path, it changes the way you look and opens up options to get weapons and armor with dark side or light side requirements. That means as a light side jedi, you’re more likely to be wearing lighter colors than a dark side jedi and your light saber will be blue or green as opposed to red, though there are a few more colors both light and dark can use. There really is a good amount to this game with more to come and worth the 60$, I feel. You also get the first month free. As far as being a wow re-skin, I played for 4 years and I don’t feel that’s the case at all, so if that helps you decide, cool. Also, There is no turn based game play here, I’m not sure where you saw that.

  • ash

    Oh yeah, and there is a main story line for each class, but since I’m mid 20’s I’m not sure if it has an actual ending or not.

  • Theobroma

    But KOTOR and KOTOR 2 were my favorite video games, ever. Seriously, it wasn’t just about being a Jedi…it explored the nature of the Force itself. I get tingly just thinking about it.

    That said, I too have an addictive personality, and I’ve avoided MMOs for that reason. But since this is, for all purposes, lKOTOR 3, I plan on starting in three months from now, to avoid server queues.

    My husband will be standing by, ready to pull the plug if I miss a day of work or an hour of sleep.

  • CriticalBill

    I would suggest staying away. I also have an addictive personality when it comes to games and I’ve spent a large amount of time in WoW and most recently Rift.

    WoW, never had that hard of a hold of me since I didn’t start playing years later. My game time only lasted roughly 9 months since I was destined to get to lvl cap but never ran any end game content. People were to far intrenched into the game world simply breaking the wall was too much for me to handle, but it’s not all about end game stuff. In a MMO when you find something you like, that will be your downfall. Mine in WoW was making money, and every time spent in the end was just to rise my gold count.

    Rift, I started playing from the beginning, and was much easier and much more rewarding to play then WoW was. It was the first time I was able to join a guild, and lvl to end game content. And that’s where the other problem of MMOs come in. End game content (as a gamer) is fun and addicting. Taking down huge bosses as a team is always a good time but all the other things that go with it absolutely sucks. The time sinks, the raid times that are established by your guild, etc. etc….it brings out the worst in people and MMOs. This is a small guild also, what if you join a huge guild…have to wait on the sidelines for your turn to run end game content and its still not a 100% you’ll get an item you can use.

    TOR, looks to be too much of the same. You’ll still need the basic set up called the “holy trinity” to group up with in order to run dungeons requiring you to find a “Healer, Tank, and some DPS” classes just to go in. And if its anything like Rift, Healers and Tanks were hard to come by since they fill the two roles that determine if your group lives or dies. DPS are a dime a dozen, and it’s still turn based combat.

    Next is the story of it all, and like you said its a SW game made by Bioware, and that’s damn near enough to ALMOST make me want to play it but as an MMO will we ever see an “end” to the story? Since an MMO never ends, how would the story ever come to a close? Would that mean playing and paying for patches and new content until they finally shut the servers down?

    My honest opinion, I would suggest waiting for Guild Wars 2. It looks great, seems it can be played solo or in a group. It’s also trying to set up a good story. Isn’t turn based since there’s no auto attack, and weapons equipped changes abilities. Seems like the developers are trying to change up what as become the norm with not needing classes in order to progress, since you can help heal others, actively dodge damage, or pick up a shield and block. Most importantly it will be free to play so you can play at your own pace.

  • =DocDoom1=

    Paul, my man, I am right with you on the addiction front. I can’t even bring myself to play Skyrim because I know how I’ll get. The only MMO I played before was City of Heroes when it launched, so I’m not the most experienced…

    However, my Star Wars addiction outweighed everything (I can be a Imperial Chiss Sniper? Sign me up!) so I’ve been playing SWTOR for a couple days now, and it’s pretty fun. It’s a very cinematic MMO, and everything “ash” said is pretty spot on. Story lines and dialogue are pretty cool additions to the MMO formula. You do get companions in the game that help the soloing experience, so that is a plus. I thought the same about the graphics from screen shots, but once in game, it’s actually pretty awesome (I’ve only been to Nal Hutta and Dromund Kaas, but Kaas is so purdy).

    But here’s what really sold me:

    I did my first “raid” type mission, which was to intercept a vessel and capture or kill an Imperial defector. I dont want to spoil the whole thing, but it’s all story driven and filled with actual “moments”, not just “mindless fighting and click the glowy thing”. Eventually, I fought a Mon Cal war veteran mid-boss (fully voice acted) and then the big boss, which was a Jedi dispatched to stop my team. Trust me, it’s very cool.

  • Davebot

    I have to say that I can’t recommend this game enough.

    Any pay-to-play MMO is an investment and this is the first MMO experience I feel I can get behind. I’ll typically dump well over $15 per month on games and I’m finding more and more that over 80% are garbage shovelware games. I can count on one hand the number of solid game experience I have in a year and I can typically tell what’s worth playing and what’s not well before a launch. I’m finding that I’d much rather pay $15 per month for a game I enjoy as opposed to over $120 for two games that are not worth the time or are finished in under 8 hours.

    With that said, the reason this game has impressed me is it’s ability to feel like a fully fleshed out single player game with other people just happening to be there. The combat definitely does not have that WoW turn based feel and each quest makes me feel like I’m doing something important. It’s way more interesting to climb a cliff to stop snipers that you’re witnessing (in game) pick off civilians below rather than the other MMO traditions of “collect x number of flowers for me to make a potion you’ll never get to use”.

    Obviously everyone will have their own take on the game and I feel the game art is much more stylized realism than ‘cartoon’ but my experience so far with the game has been nothing but fulfilling. Which is a hell of a lot more than I’ve gotten from the MMO genre in the past decade.

  • Frankincense

    I second CriticalBill’s suggestion about checking out Guild Wars 2. It’s combat system can best be described as a hybrid between traditional MMOs and action games.

    Your character has his own personal story that is different from everyone else, and the choices you make during affect how it turns out. The personal story plays similar to questing in other games, but it isnt expected to be the only way you’ll advance.

    The normal questing has been replaced with dynamic events. You don’t have to walk up to an NPC and read a bunch of dialogue to find out what to do. Village under attack? Jump in and help defend it. If you win, good for you, now go find the enemies base and route them. You fail to save the village? Now its burnt down and even more baddies are roaming the area, so escort some construction workers to rebuild the village. Dynamic event continue to evolve and branch off depending on how the players in the area handle them. They also appear to be highly varied, and they scale based on the number of players participating.

    Here, just go to guildwars2.com and check it out for yourself.

  • CPLane

    I’d stay away. Is this game to be great, possibly some of the most fun you’ve ever had playing a video game? Yeah, probably.

    It’s really hard for me to stay away knowing how much fun I’d have. But I know I won’t be able to control myself. I can’t play these games casually, because quite frankly, you can’t experience the game fully playing casually. Some people can have fun playing an hour or two, enjoying what they can. But it seems to me you’re more like me, and won’t be satisfied with just that.

    If you do have the time for the game, I’d say go for it. If you’re having a blast playing, who cares if this is what you spend massive chunks of your time on. But if you don’t feel you can take on a 2nd job right now (which is what it will essentially be, time wise, if you become fully invested), don’t even try it out.

  • http://thesepeoplearecrazy.us Tyler

    How about you try it.

    I’d rather get an article about what you like or don’t like about the game instead of getting an article about what you maybe don’t like about a game you thought about playing that one time.

  • Cartle

    Actually, MMO’s are the MOST cost effective method of gaming, and this is coming from someone who generally hates spending money.

    If you pay 50 bucks for the game and get at least 50 hours of playtime (i’m currently over 3 days of playtime) you’re already at 1 dollar an hour for entertainment. If you play 15 hours a month, you’re getting that same rate for entertainment (1 dollar an hour) You cant find that kind of value in almost anything you do.

    Compare this to the majority of games that give you 6-12 hours of gameplay for 60 bucks and its a no brainer.

  • Carson

    I’d say play it man. Or at least give it 30 days. I’m a HUGE Star Trek fan. Was born and raised on it. I really didn’t have a chance. When Star Trek Online came out I thought it was going to be the greatest thing since Deep Space Nine. I bought the super expensive $80 gift set and even took time off of work to play it when I got it. I played my 30 free days and quit. It just couldn’t hold me. The same ol thing over and over again. It actually drove me nuts. It was so frustraiting thinking that it could’ve been better. Oh well right, lesson learned. I’m also a Star Wars fan. Not a big one, but I’ve played the 2 previous Knights of the Old Republic games. I’ve been playing SWTOR for a week or two now and I’ll tell you right off the bat it’s a lot more fun than othe MMO’s because of the story. Each character has a scripted (mostly) story to follow. I’m currently hunting down members of my squad that betrayed me and tried to kill me. I can honestly say I want to keep playing to see how this story ends. To see if another starts afterwords if it just keeps going. They’ve got me for 30 days, that’s for sure, but we’ll see where it goes from there.

  • Diablo

    Without trying to sound like a “know it all” Dr Phil style asshole, if you are modifying your behavior due to concerns about potential mental health issues, even if you think it is minor, I would recommend talking with someone qualified about your concerns.

    In my own situation, I have fought a long term fight with OCD. I don’t have it severe, but I have enough of the habits that it can send me off the deep end if I don’t manage it. Out of the five male members of my immediate family, I am the only one that has NOT been at one point in time, placed in protective custody because of OCD, and I truly believe what helped me over my father and brothers is that I didn’t ignore the signs and just try to self medicate with alcohol and drug abuse.

    Obviously I am not qualified to really give you any advice at all. I am no expert with mental health. But I will say that about five or six years ago I recognized that my mind didn’t work the same as everyone else (outside my family of course) and I got help and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not glad I did.

    Just two cents from a nutbag.

  • Rbourn

    I would say give it some time and see how it is received before playing. Really, this kind of game shouldn’t exert such a hold on anybody. It is, after all, only a game and if you think it’s going to take so much of your time then you shouldn’t play.

    I looked into TOR when the adverts were trailed and my jaw dropped at the visuals in the trailer movies. But I watched a walkthrough of an early level and my interest waned rapidly. It’s not a turn-based system, but it just looked like such a grinder of a game that story or no I didn’t like the look of the gameplay. The classes seemed lifted almost directly from KOTOR with fighty one, wizardy one and balanced one and then random non-jedi.

    Many gripes I had with previous games continue, such as the lightsabers not working like lightsabers; ie cutting things on contact. Also, the level I saw was killing a variety of animals in a forest, and what jedi does that?

    From the comments above it seems they have tried to make individual storylines for characters, but I really think Star Wars would benefit from more of a Skyrim style open world approach rather than massively expensive monthly subscription MMO. I personally wouldn’t pay the equivalent of $15 a month for a game as I usually spend £0 a month regularly on games as I don’t have the money.

    Imagine a game where they create, say, Tatooine as a unified open world where every character is a rounded NPC that you can talk to. Say you play a character that is a generic, latently force sensitive being that could learn the ways of the force from hidden NPCs if you chose. Wouldn’t that be a better idea?

    For the record I never play MMO games. I’ve only just started playing Space Marine online, though the players on there are 95% polite nice people.

  • Beorach

    You’ve done well to avoid the MMO to date. I think it’s best to keep that up assuming you treasure variety in gaming. I’m still playing WoW and rarely play anything else. It’s not that I’m not interested in other games but I only can regularly find my friends playing WoW. I’ve also heard some discouraging things about TOR. It’s nice to hear you don’t have to do your own profession stuff all the time (given the game’s use of retainers) but it sounds like the time saved is more than used up in the cutscenes. I guess that involves making dialog selections and validating the budget for voice acting we all heard about…but adding time to an MMO is never a good thing. I had expected dialog options to be somewhat streamlined, too, such that you could just keep clicking “1” or something to skip the details and get your “paragon points.”

  • Beorach

    p.s. – I understand we all may love the details once (and I really liked KOTOR though not enough to play KOTOR 2 as it didn’t seem to be an improvement) but it sounds like alternate classes have almost the exact same cutscenes sometimes in TOR. p.p.s. – I think it’s wrong to think of an MMO as expensive. It’s a cheap hobby. How much do you spend in one night out with friends? That $15 covers a month.

  • wevs

    Look Paulie, I like you, and I get you’re following the “personal anecdotes make interesting articles” part of every 2 week journalism course, but going into a full blown explanation about how weak willed you are and referencing your Diablo addiction every chance you get has it’s flaws.

    1. You sound lame:
    Everyone has had their stint with game addiction, but they don’t beat themselves up about it like you do. Normal people just aknowledge the fact that they were weak, take note of that and try to better themselves and just generally shrug it off.

    2. You’re contradicting your whole life style.
    You write about video games, meaning that to be competitive you need to obsessively play a LOT of titles. Well that implies that you spend massive amounts of time playing anyway. You will agree with me that some of the games you have played are hit and some miss, correct? Well why not just concentrate on playing a game you enjoy? (Diablo, for instance) You may say it’s a waste of time, but in the words of John Lennon “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time”. Despite that being a rather corny quote, I do believe it to be true.

    3. You’re a grown fucking man, face your “problem”. Chances are you won’t even like the game so much, so stop being a pussy.

  • Petrino

    one thing, and one thing only saved me from getting this game.
    ORIGIN.

  • Eughe

    If you are a starwars fan, you’ll like it.
    If you dont care for pvp, you might like it.
    If you never played an MMO before, you -may- like it.
    If youve played other MMOs (or even MMO like games) you’d find this game drivel and unintuitive.

    Its biggest selling point is light sabers and it being star wars, and once you get past that…

    I wouldnt waste a perfectly good addiction on this game.
    Save it for GW2.

    Or crack

  • swtor:Max

    First I respect everyones opinions im not swayed by them. If youre reading this to get an opinion on SWTOR, then id say take the leap. I tried WOW for awhile and i did enjoy the enviroment but im not PVP or an Arena oriented player, plus walking around a “world” with folks lightyears ahead of your level is…kinda depressing. NOT SO in SWTOR you have worlds that are leveled based and very reachable in hours of level/questing play rather than the days or weeks or sometimes months it takes in WOW. The enviroment is an obvious seller and im sure there a thousands of pics avalible… but i find the community actually friendly because we all know why we are there, to try to enjoy a movie that many of us grew up with and have good thoughts and happy memories associated with. It is nice to know i wont see some luke skywalker figure walking around or someone level 50 with the tag of darth vader. i enjoy playing a bounty hunter. Is it addictive, id say fun enjoyable cost effective way of getting that “me time” that in a busy world we look for. I cant say im an mmo fan but Star Wars is something that has been in my life since i was a kid and even tough i work and pay my bills and do my day to day, there is a place that i can go to that puts me with other like minded folks. i bought skyrim, played wow…but this is mmo is something different to me. Its a meaningful experience.

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    @petrino – No Origin install required to play the game. The installer will give you the option to set up Origin, but it is completely optional and I have been playing with no problems without Origin on my system.

    Paul. I know you love yourself some Mass Effect. I love me some Mass Effect too. You seam to have a pretty good understanding of what the combat entails, and if that turns you off…well then perhaps this isn’t the game for you. However, the best way to think about this world, is to imagine what if while guiding Sheppard around the Citadel, the other people you saw moving around were being controlled by real people. The game is very single player focused, and I imagine you could get a good bit of mileage out of the game never interacting with another player controlled character. However, when you want to you always have that option. In the week or so that I have been playing the biggest complaint toward Bioware that I have is that I wish this game was set in the ME universe. Perhaps that is Bioware’s next project. If it is not. It damn well should be.

  • grendel

    READ THE EULA! Seriously, before deciding if you’re going to play, read the EULA. http://blogs.detroitnews.com/geekwatch/2011/12/19/swtor-eula-to-gamers-no-privacy-for-you/

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