Star Wars: The Old Republic is a frustrating game. At its core, it uses the same basic tenets and concepts that many other MMORPG’s use – holy trinity grouping, mailboxes, taxi points, a combat system that at times amounts to “stand next to each other and trade blows,” etc. BioWare has stated in the past that they didn’t set out to revolutionize the MMORPG genre, but at times, while playing, I got the feeling that the game was a boiler-plate MMO with a fresh coat of paint on it.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play the game for several months, I’d like to look back and reflect on what parts of SWTOR turned me off and kept me from playing.
Note: As with all of our editorials, they are the opinion of the writer themselves, not the entire staff here at Darth Hater. Keep that in mind and be respectful in the comments section.
World Quest Arcs
The story on each planet is the same for every character that passes through. This creates a frustrating experience for alt characters, as a majority of quests that any given character will encounter on a planet will be one of these shared world arcs. Disabling the defense turret on the other side of the hill was fresh and exciting the first time, but doing it for the third time on my alt was boring.
Uninteresting Combat & Skill System
There are too many buttons, most of them deal direct damage, and many of the skills you can pick from are percentage increases to damage, healing or defense, or they make a skill useful rather than marginal. Looking back, considering a Razer Naga or similar gaming mouse mandatory for playing the game is a ridiculous notion. However, I don’t think I could have played the game and enjoyed it at all without one. I would have been contorting my hand in unusual ways to hit button combos and activate many of my enormous cache of abilities. Either that, or I may have had to become a clicker – perish the thought. The combat itself felt like “standard MMO” combat – d20-based, a little asynchronous, and vanilla. I’ve had my fill of games that feature melee combatants that hack at each other in close range for a minute until one falls over. My blows should alter my enemy! If I thrust with my saber, my enemy should not continue firing/swinging at me, unfazed. Threat of impalement should be a real threat, as should dismemberment and serious injury.
“Many vs. One” Operations Boss Fights
Four Jedi, two Smugglers and two Troopers all teaming up to fight a big droid doesn’t feel Star Wars-y. Most of the “big” battles in the Star Wars universe, in my opinion, should be many vs. many, several vs. several, or uneven in favor of the enemy, not the heroes. Encounters like the Infernal Council in Eternity Vault got it right; ones like Annihilation Droid XRR-3, Soa and Karagga didn’t. It’s ok to pit several players against a particularly dangerous beast every once in a while, but if we’re supposed to be vaunted heroes, Jedi Masters, and beings of immense power and skill. I think that 8-16 of those individuals against one droid or beast, no matter how immense in size, should feel unfair. I would have liked to see more boss fights that pit the operations group against many enemies rather than only a few. The many vs. one boss fight issue also wasn’t helped by…
I swing my Jedi’s lightsaber at an enemy, he loses a fraction of his health. I know the game needs to be balanced, but a saber should be severing limbs. Not everyone wears cortosis armor or has Force-augmented ability to dodge attacks! I don’t care if Kephess has a personal shield generator – with several experienced Jedi hacking at him with energy swords and a few crack shots unloading a flurry of energy bolts into him, he shouldn’t be standing for more than about 10 seconds. The combat is too slow, long, and drawn out.
Long Loading & Travel Times
Going from planet to planet is painful. I don’t have a solid state drive, so any time I got onto my ship, off of my ship, onto an orbital station, landed on a planet, changed characters, or even alt-tabbed, I had to wait a protracted amount of time for my computer to catch up. It wouldn’t be so bad if the load times were a few seconds, but some of them are upwards of 30 seconds. It adds up. Additionally, the ship – orbital station – planet – combo made jumping into the action on a planet tough, as it took a while to get to the battle front, especially with two loading screens to work through to get there.
The Illusion of Choice
Despite being given two to three options for every dialogue tree, conversations and stories are all fairly linear. Sure, some of my light/dark decisions in Act I & II of my personal story may impact some of the people I see in Act III, but in the short term, the story doesn’t change much. (SPOILER ALERT for Jedi Knight story) If I decide to spare, execute, or intimidate Bengel Morr in the Jedi Knight prologue, the Council still sends me to Taris. (END SPOILER ALERT) There’s no differentiation in the paths I can take to get to the end. Sure, I understand why BioWare did it this way – it’s nearly impossible to keep the story threads straight as is, introducing additional branching and complexity to the class story arcs would have driven the writing team to madness. Still, it was disappointing that no matter how I played Act I, Act II would be fundamentally the same.
Expertise as a PVP Stat
I hate having to keep multiple sets of gear around for different modes of play. I can accept needing different gear for tanking and DPSing in a trinity-based combat system. I dislike, however, having to collect a full set of gear to advance in PVE, but being unable to use it in a Warzone if I want to dabble in PVP. It’s difficult for me to express why this bothers me so much, but it’s always irked me that player-originated damage is treated differently than NPC-originated damage. Damage is damage is damage – the damage type should matter (physical, energy, elemental, Force…), but the source should not, in my opinion. The true source of this problem is the stat gap between tiers of gear in a gear-dependent system, but I don’t know how else to address this problem without giving up the “gear grind” that’s supposed to keep players plugging away at the “end-game” content – without the carrot of a significant bump in stats and player potency, there isn’t a ton of incentive to keep repeating operations once I’ve seen the story. There are other games that have come up with a solution for this, but they put more emphasis on timing and active dodging in combat, which would be a big shift in the way combat is handled in SWTOR. Suffice to say, there’s a problem here, I didn’t like this as a solution in other games, and I still don’t like it in SWTOR.
Where do you stand? Let us know in the comments section below.