Yep, I’m still here. Busy with my job and busy playing games (on my free days, at least). For the time being, it seems that I’ve pretty much paused playing MMORPGs. Raise your hand if you’re doing the same. ;) (Well, until SWTOR comes out at least, I guess).
I did have a look at Fallen Earth, Forsaken World and Lotro (of course). However, I’m trying to see more of Oblivion and Dragon Age Origins. I have yet to finish one single player RPG. *sigh* I gave up on Divinity II when it became too boring and grindy (I’m at the fortresses or whatever they’re called). Could be that I’m missing something and that I could clear those areas and do the quests fast but I’ve no idea where to go for that and I didn’t want to read too many spoilers (although just giving up on the game seems to be even sillier ^^).
Anyway, I’m happy with my lizard lady in Oblivion (although the portals are starting to get on my nerves) and I’ve just started playing a female dwarf in Dragon Age. Cute little girl. Very interesting story so far.
This leads me to today’s topic, Star Wars: The Old Republic. I played it during the last weekend’s stress test beta. Good news first, though I guess you’ve either experienced it yourself or seen it in another blog: The servers were extremely stable. I once had a queue with a wait time of maybe 5 minutes. Apart from that, everything was flawless. I didn’t experience any bugs at all, had only a little lag on a few ocassions (three times, I had lag during a fight with NPCs and two times when I wanted to loot something). So the technical aspect seems fine.
I started with a Sith Warrior but was pretty disappointed. I didn’t care about the story at all and thus, logged off again. I returned shortly after and created a trooper. The character customization disappointed me even though I already knew how limited it was. All in all, the graphics surprised me. I never really liked them when I saw screenshots (I didn’t dislike them either. I just didn’t think they’re great). It was a nice to look at world!
The trooper’s story was more to my taste. It was nothing epic, nothing spectacular. But it was interesting and caught my attention. It drew me into the world and that’s what I was hoping. In fact, it worked a lot better on me than I would have thought. ;) I liked what I’d heard about the questing but it really does a lot to make it more lively and realistic. My character finally has a voice! She could agree or disagree, be friendly or snarky, etc. This is the next step if you’re asking me. No longer can I either accept a quest or cancel it. I have some choice. One example (no details to keep it as spoiler-free as possible): There were three humans who might one day become a threat. Or not. We didn’t know. I was ordered to kill them just in case. My character could do as she was told or refuse to do it. She talked to the humans and they came to an agreement. She didn’t kill them. Of course, she was in trouble with the quest giver. ;) But she still got her experience points!
Now, does this choice matter in the grand scheme of things? Unlikely. Though I haven’t played all through the story and who knows if this decision will one day bite my character in her behind. ;) But I doubt that any of her choices will matter in the game world. It’s just a nice flavour and a whole lot better than just accepting or refusing quests.
The voice overs were very well done. But I have to say that as much as I like them, I also dislike them. The glares I sent off to bookahnerk whenever he dared speaking with me while I was in a cut scene! ;) I have no idea how to repeat a certain scene if I get distracted and didn’t hear part of what the NPCs said. That’s the good thing about text: It’s patient. It stays there until you’ve read it. If words are spoken, they go by and are gone. And then more words come in and more… ;) I also wonder how people will play the game who are used to speaking with their guildies on Teamspeak/Vent, etc. all the time…
I was also annoyed with the amount of other players in the game. They broke my immersion quite regularly. ;) An example: Something had been transported into a building (again, I’m trying to be vague here on purpose) and I was to find it and bring it back, so we could have a look at it and see what it is. I went to the place (everything is marked on the map – that seems to have become the standard in MMOs, I guess?) and then was a good little girl standing in the queue waiting for her turn to pick up the item just as all the others also did. The alternative was equally annoying, though: Lots of greenish walls that you could go through and you’d end up in your personal instance (good thing: No loading screen! Otherwise, similar to Guild Wars with its instanced areas). If you’re alone, you’re on your own. If you’re in a group, the group members will be able to join you in the instance. Story-wise, it’s great to have this space only for yourself. It’s just a whole lot better to be told to kill bigboss-A38 on your own without having to wait for its respawn and once it’s dead, it stays dead (and once your quest is done, you can’t go into that particular instance anymore either). It does break the illusion of having an open world, though. All in all, I found myself in tube-like surroundings too often. Especially Coruscant disappointed there. On the other hand, who knows what it’s like later on. I just remembered being on Tattoine in Star Wars Galaxies and getting lost in the open world. SWTOR is not like that. At least, not in the beginning.
All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed my time in the game (I reached level 11 with the trooper, level 4 or 5 with a jedi consular and level 3 with a sith warrior) and I’d love to see and hear more about the trooper’s story. However, I don’t think that it’s worth a monthly fee for me. If it was a single player RPG, I’d seriously consider getting it. But buying the game and then paying a monthly fee just to enjoy a single player story? No thanks. I’m also now sure about the replayability. Only part of what I did was the class story. The other quests (who were in most cases rather lackluster and standard – kill 10 rats etc.) are the same for every character running through the area (in the trooper’s case, this would be the trooper and the smuggler who share a starting planet. Later on, it’ll probably be all classes from the same side?).