Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 10:09 PM by Guest
With World of Warcraft slowly losing its subscribers, a number of games are now available to effectively fill in the void. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a familiar experience for those players with a brand new storytelling scheme and experience that will be sure to bring plenty of people out of WoW and into the MMORPG genre.
The production team spared no expense to take even the basic fetch quest and turn it into something memorable and interesting. Over the course of the beta, Alliance smugglers and troopers experienced the planet of Ord Mantell, filled with a war-torn state of affairs. While making some minor comments on economic struggle and its effects, the quests mostly kept me thinking about the world inside Star Wars, not outside. Quests are more than simple text adventures – In quests, not only do you get reasonable dialogue, but you also get the opportunity to role-play your character and help them make decisions that impact them. By making decisions (well-defined by the game in case you’re a thorough gamer and terrified you’ll make the wrong decision), you can increase your attunement to the light side or dark side, which gives you access to special items and color effects on your lightsabers and blasters. You can even gain points of attunement towards people you party with in groups and certain NPCs, which change conversations and provide perks as well.
The game is especially friendly to solo play, and does well to resolve the issue of leveling as a full time healer or tank and not feeling left behind. Every major role has options for either tanking or healing, allowing you to diversify your experience. You’re never completely left without DPS options, resulting in being a more versatile character more ready for party situations. Additionally, over the course of your adventures in The Old Republic, you will meet different people who will serve as your companions in game. Companions are designed to complement your skills and help those who want to heal or tank do so while still effectively questing and grinding mobs. They also are a great way to fill that last slot in smaller party content – if you’re missing a role you would like to see in the party, simply summon the right companion and continue on your way.
Player versus Environment (PvE) multiplayer has a few slowdowns, but is also fairly enjoyable overall. In the first party instance in the Republic experience, up to four players find themselves fighting a Sith attack. The instance itself has multiple segments to it, providing at least an hour of time between story and combat. While altogether fulfilling and interesting, this is a situation where telling the story through voice may create some opponents. For every role-playing segment in the instance, each player must simultaneously talk with the same NPC, and respond to every piece of the conversation with their personal choice. One player is randomly selected to use their decision, and the other members of the party are left to wonder if their decision would make a difference. Some choices in conversation are less drastic, but others can be life-or-death choices that change the experience of the entire instance. Having key decisions randomly rolled on like loot will be sure to cause disagreements, especially when those decisions affect reputation, attunement to the light and dark side, and gains should someone be using a companion in the group to round out the experience. Stories continue to tell themselves well, however, and the bosses in the party instances have reasonable difficulty – even at level, they can prove an exciting challenge to the group. I look incredibly forward to seeing end game PvE content in SWTOR unfold – It will undoubtedly create for some challenging fights, but I’m not certain they will stand up to the standard of other games quite yet.
PvP players will undoubtedly be thrilled with the gameplay available. The beta of SWTOR released with three different games available for battlefield play. Civil War plays as a three-point zone defense game, the Voidstar is an assault/defense, and Huttball is a Capture the Flag variant. While all standard games for PvP play, the battle system caters incredibly well to strategic play. In beta experience, attacking and beating an opponent takes time. An average one-on-one fight can easily last 20 to 30 seconds, giving you plenty of time to make smart decisions about your opponent. Stuns and slows are already commonplace, but are used more to help gain the small advantage to beat your opponent than give you an instant win, only to lose two seconds later to someone who had a free cool-down available. Focus firing and defending against assaults become far more reasonable in pickup groups, and I found most of my time throughout the beta queued for PvP while continuing to progress the main story. PVP is also readily accessible for the player who hasn’t completely leveled as well – Character stats are normalized, so aside from the disadvantage of a lack of talents and different utility skills, a player starting has the same footing as a player at max level. The differences are small and meaningful, and PvP in lower levels will be a great way to enjoy fast-paced action and gain experience. Will it be a main role in experience maximization? No, but it will provide a healthy alternative to PvE that won’t make you feel guilty for enjoying before max level.
The Old Republic is a game that any MMO fan should watch out for as the December release approaches. With a solid storyline and amazing solo play in PvE, and an enticing and action-packed PvP experience, SWTOR has something that any MMO fan can enjoy. Will it be the game to leave WoW for? As end-game content becomes available and word comes out to the public, even the hardcore raiders may find it a hard time to avoid trying the new game.
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