I really hate to be critical about a game that I have played for a long time and that I know the developers spent a lot, and I do mean a lot, of time creating and producing. For that reason I wanted to make sure I explored the positive aspects of the latest SWTOR expansion before I began with some of the negative aspects of this latest release. If you did not catch yesterday’s blog post I would suggest checking it out.
The first thing I would like to talk about is the funneling down of the game into a single storyline. I am sure this was done to save on development time and effort, but I really think it was the wrong strategic decision for the game. One of the beautiful things about MMO’s is that you can sort of follow your own patch through leveling and on to greatness. One of the biggest flaws SWTOR has always had was that the leveling process is very linear. In other MMO’s, if I don’t like the quests in one area, I have the option to go to another area to do my leveling and get story from. In Knights of the fallen Empire, there are no such options. It’s the one story or no story at all. Sure a person can level by way of Flashpoints, Operations, PVP etc, but that doesn’t develop the character in a lasting meaningful way for the player in the way that questing and story progression does. I have played through the story to Chapter 9. I watched all the cut scenes and they were well done. However, I have no desire to sit through them again. For my second character I skipped through most of them. I am reminded of a child who got that toy that really looked cool on TV, but after a few minutes the child gets bored, puts it down, and goes on to something else. Bioware’s “all in” investment in story is in my opinion a big mistake. If they wanted to make Knights of the Old Republic II, they should have made it with a different game.
The second concern I have with the game is the open world scaling of the game. Characters now are scaled downwards on every planet that they go to. As a player in the game, I spent hours leveling characters to max level so that I could be epic on every world that I visit. Now I am just some schmo who shows up at a planet that aggros everything in sight, gets knocked off my speeder, and has to hack through waves of trash mobs in order to get anything done. If gathering crafting materials and Datacrons wasn’t enough of a hassle with all of the platforming nonsense, now we have an endless planet of trash mobs to deal with too. Exactly why did I bother to get to max level again? In one pass Bioware has made leveling in the game and game levels meaningless. The work that players put in is right out the window. Now that being said, I want to clarify that I am referring to open world scaling. I do think that optional scaling has a place in Heroics, Flashpoints, and Operations. However, that should be a choice left up to the player not Bioware.
A third concern that I have is the ridiculous number of trash mobs that a players has to cut through in order to progress through the chapters. Basically it felt like the chapters went like this
- Cut scene
- About 20-30 groups of trash mobs
- Mini Boss
- Cut scene
- 30-30 more groups of trash mobs
- Another Mini Boss
- Cut scene
- Another 40-50 groups of trash mobs
- Cut scene
- Rinse and repeat
As a player I would much rather have fewer trash mob fights and more meaningful interactions with NPC’s in the game. In the real world every person you encounter is not going to fight you to the death just because they see you. So if I could have my way, I would go with fewer, smarter trash mobs and more meaningful encounters with NPC’s.
Fourth, I have to say after two weeks into it and running it numerous times, I am over Star Fortresses already. Bioware’s decision to go “all in” in story led to the sacrifice of new operations, flashpoints, and battlegrounds. All of these things are the very things that keep long term players around. I am deeply concerned about top tier players losing interest as other new games come out. The Star Fortresses are nice, but it I am bored with them already.
Finally, I do not like that Bioware has shifted the focus of the game to a single player game from a multiplayer game. One of the reasons why players play MMO’s and stick around in MMO’s is the social aspect of the game. As a player, I want to do stuff with my friends and Exo Imperium Guildies. That includes leveling, questing, flashpoints, and operations. I am hopeful Bioware will reverse the current trend and get back to more group and team activities.