Review by greywolf00

Reviewed: 01/12/12

A swing and a miss

I have been a long time fan of Bioware. For the most part they've done a solid job with RPGs so when they announced they would be working on an MMO years ago I was very excited. Now that it's finally been released I find myself rather disappointed with the end product. I've dabbled in other MMOs, including several years in WoW, but I ultimately have walked away from them all permanently. I was hoping this would give me something to do at least until Diablo 3 came out if not moving into a spot WoW held at one point as my primary time sink, I was sorely disappointed.

The idea of a story driven MMO is unique and refreshing. It's an awesome breath of fresh air after trudging through the bland areas in WoW. The biggest flaw though is glaringly apparent once you reach level 50, there's really nothing to do. The story ends, and it boils down to the awful PvP / Raid grinding I grew to so despise in WoW. BioWare's strategy for this game is clear, every class has a unique story and with the Legacy System, which is completely pointless at the moment as there are no rewards for it right now, so you're expected to run alts. That's all fine except that the class story only makes up maybe 20% of the questing, and there's maybe 2 sections of dialogue difference between the light and dark side choices, I have 2 50s on the Empire side, 1 evil 1 good. When you roll an alt you're still investing a majority of your leveling time doing the exact same quests you've already done. If you were an altoholic in WoW this game is great for you, if you aren't this game probably won't change your habits. The stories aren't bad but they won't be winning any awards either.

PvP in most MMOs is not entertaining and SWTOR is no exception. There's 3 Warzones, ie BGs, and they use the basic stuff you see in WoW but are much less interesting. There's Huttball - generic capture the flag, Voidstar - defend / switch try to go further faster, and Civil War - Control 2 of 3 nodes to win. What really makes it terrible is Bioware is so insistent in being "different" from WoW that you can only PvP with people that play on your server. Several problems stem from this. First, in order to prevent long ques everyone, level 10 - 50, PvP together. Trust me, you're not taking a farmed 50 on 3 v 1 in most cases if you're all below the cap, let alone 1 v 1. BioWare is addressing this issue by moving 50s into their own bracket but problems will still remain because a 49 has a huge advantage over a level 10 even after the stat boost, it's supposed to even the playing field but there's still a gap. Second, most players play Empire toons. If you happen to be on a server that's very heavy with Empire be prepared to play a lot of Huttball, it's the only zone where you can battle people of your own faction. When you see game after game after game after game of Huttball you will grow to despise it. Third, I hate to say it but outside of Huttball none of the Warzones compare to their WoW counterparts, AB and SotA. They are very basic, make no use of height, very few things to hide behind, no vehicles or turrets. Considering that one of the class, Smuggler / Imperial Agent, was designed with the usage of cover in mind it rather baffling that they have so few objects to utilize in these Warzones.

The LFG system is a complete failure. I know people will point out that WoW's LFG tool is new and while I will readily grant that I would argue it was also one of the best improvements ever added. In SWTOR you can flag yourself as LFG in the social panel and hope someone messages you about doing a Flash Point. The other choice is sitting on your factions space station and spamming chat for a group and hoping you can get a group of interested players to go. Not a problem at low levels, currently a massive problem at 50. There is no global LFG channel so the only people that can see it are people on the planet / station with you. You can access the LFG panel but in a a round about way. For example: I'm level 50 on the Imperial Space Station and I want to run some heroics but there's not enough interested people there. I can bring up the social panel and type in the name of other planets to bring up a list of people there to see if there's any 50s either flagged as LFG or randomly message them. This is insanely tedious when you're talking about a dozen planets, and that still doesn't cover players on their ships. Currently BioWare seems to firmly be against implementing an improved LFG system for fear that it "destroys the community feeling MMOs depend on." I don't agree with the logic here at all. I couldn't care less about building a dialogue / bond with none guild members. FPs are nothing more than a temporary stepping stone for gearing for raid content. Further, the way the classes are separated by certain zones only being accessible to certain classes and only at certain parts in their story doesn't really foster a community feeling. Outside of 4 man heroics almost all quests are doable by yourself. If you can stealth you can do most 2 man heroics. If you can tank and your companion can heal, or vice versa, you can probably do most 2 man heroics. The rewards from the 4 mans are so pitiful they aren't even worth wasting your time with unless you specifically want to see the story in the zone, and I haven't found any of them to be so compelling as to justify them as worth doing.

The lack of dual specs also further expresses the normal issue of a massive lack of healers and tanks. It's something they are going to address but considering how buggy the game is there's no telling how long before this is implemented. I've heard tons of unofficial talk about the improvements planned but nothing officially out of BioWare. In fact this is a pet peeve of mine, there's almost no information at all coming out of BioWare from what I've seen. Just as there is no information when you submit bug reports / questions. All you get is an automated "we've received your report" response with no follow up information later. Addons are supposed to be coming, no idea when. The unresponsive combat resulting from ability delay is going to be addressed, no idea when. BioWare has done a miserable job communicating with players and it's not a big deal until you get a game breaking bug. Once that happens you will be boiling red with rage that you cannot get a hold of customer service, by in game means, or email, or phone. Fortunately, I haven't suffered this issue but I see it posted on the forums daily and I sympathize with the people who spent their hard earned money on this game to be ignored by the company.

Overall if you're just looking for a break from WoW this might be worth checking out for a bit. It's a change of pace and the story is refreshing in comparison. If you're an altoholic or enjoy a decent single player RPG story, so few of them these days it seems, might be worth checking out. If you're looking for something different and new in the MMO genre, this isn't it. This game is nothing more than an okay story with a monthly subscription fee. Max level boils down to the same drag of raid / PvP grinding that ruined WoW for many. The entire idea of a story driven MMO goes completely out the window at 50. Either roll more alts or enter the on again off again subscription phase where you come back to see new content and move on after it's done.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Star Wars: The Old Republic (US, 12/20/11)

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