This post is part of the 12 Days of Geekmas. Check out the concept here, and let NerdyAlerty’s blog feed your eyeballs as well!
Talk about a softball topic. For this day of Geekmas I have to somehow find nice things to say about Star Wars. This definitely is not going to be hard for me, despite how perceptibly angry fans of the IP can get.
So…lots of wonderful things to say about Star Wars. I should just maybe bang home a few paragraphs and call it a day. This being a (mostly) MMO blog, however, I’m going to limit myself specifically to Star Wars: The Old Republic…because there are some sticking points for me with that game, but like with almost every MMO I encounter, I can still find wonderful things to say about it.
I started SWTOR off at launch from the moment of Early Access and lived through its dodgy wobbly release. When I was playing the game at a friend’s house who was invited to the beta earlier, I was hotly anticipating this matter–this MMO was being looked at by many eyes for a long while, and the IP means huge crowds of people. So, I weathered the typical MMO launch doldrums by virtue of two facts: I knew it would pass, and I had friends who were also playing.
Also, the game was damn lovely as I played through. Okay, three facts.
As time wore on, though, a lot of people were becoming incredibly disenfranchised by the game. Some through fault of their own perception–they were mad that it wasn’t SWG 2.0. Others, though, had some more valid criticisms. The focus on a long, epic and fully-voiced storyline meant that the MMO part was too typical. Especially when you were essentially playing a sequel to Knights of the Old Republic in terms of its presentation…and making a story where your choices made impact to your character but not the larger world made you feel like the time spent on an MMO was wasted.
Thing is, though, I really REALLY liked the storyline as I was playing. I started life as a Bounty Hunter in TOR, and to this day it’s the only story that I’ve played through to completion, and it felt excellent. Even if nothing I did made any waves in the greater world, it was an awesome narrative ride. It was Star Wars from the view of someone who wasn’t a Jedi or a Sith, which isn’t something I personally experienced before.
Ultimately, I dropped off of the game’s radar because of pure mechanics, as well as my own derp. I rolled a tanky Hunter, and nothing about it felt tanky to me at all. Combat was a rote, annoying mess of trading interrupts between myself and whatever boss creature I was facing in between a typical hotbar rotation. The pool of friends playing dried up almost instantaneously. And I also rode the last ten levels to cap in a single, day-long binge that actually made me feel ill and I didn’t wanna see my Hunter’s stupid face anymore.
A few months after that, the game made its free-to-play transition, which of course arrived with all the fanfare of a brontosaurus taking a shit. To this day it still is one of the worst monetization installments in MMO history, and as usual the MMO community at large were chanting for TOR to fail, because free-to-play is the signal of an MMO in its death throes.
Jilted Star Wars fans AND jilted MMO fans. Wretched hive of scum and villainy, indeed.
Despite an utterly clownshoes payment install, the game has persevered its trials, even releasing a pair of (by all accounts) excellent expansions. The most recent seems to hearken back to the formula which made me love the game in the first place–an epic storyline starring your character. Sure, the impact is probably not going to be widespread again, but once more I can’t bring myself to complain if the ride is fun. And from what I’ve read, the ride is damn fun.
In spite of the way I felt about TOR upon my departure, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d taken a couple of peeks now and again. To this day, the launcher still sits on my desktop awaiting my details and to update itself. Whatever I feel about the game’s combat, I have to say that the whole experience of the narrative hits those Star Wars notes. The soud design, the music, the level of hammy drama set in a completely bonkers universe….it is escapism at one of its finest. You feel like the lead role in a wonderful movie.
Honestly, I could never want more than that from any Star Wars game. To be lost in its fantasy. TOR, without peer, does that to me. And now as I write this, I’m probably going to update my install files. I’m likely going to remember why I let it collect dust…but maybe this time…maybe this time it will feel different.