Where to begin with a first impressions of Star Wars: The Old Republic? There is a lot riding on it for Bioware, a developer synonymous with in depth RPGs and branching storylines. But combine their experience with the Star Wars licence and an MMOG and that is surely a recipe for success. Right?
Not quite. There were a couple of things that struck me first about SWTOR at the Eurogamer Expo. The first was that the booth was surprisingly small, with Alienware laptops setup in two circles just in front of the over 18’s area. Queues were predictably long and so the demo time was quite limited (around fifteen minutes).
Thankfully, my press pass gave me the luxury of gaining access straight to the demo so I managed to play the game a good few times over the course of the weekend. Disappointingly, the character creator wasn’t available (though I suspect this was more to do with ensuring players didn’t waste valuable time) and so a predefined list of ready made characters was there for you to choose from. Like everyone else, I’m a huge fan of lightsabers but ranged combat is always something I’ve preferred in MMOGs, so I chose Sith Bounty Hunter.
I was pleasantly surprised with the games graphics. I don’t consider they have as much character as World of Warcrafts or are as beautiful as Guild Wars 2’s, and I’d even go as far as to stay it falls far short of WildStar, but, it does suit the clinical feel of Star Wars and more particularly Clone Wars. Lighting was significantly lacking and animations were often stilted, but the starting area seemed well designed, if a little devoid of any feeling.
The opening cutscene, rendered in game, is a great way of introducing your character and the cast and reminded me very much of Guild Wars 1 in how gameplay and predefined cutscenes push the storyline along. In terms of voice over work and scripting, much has been said about Biowares mythical budget into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and if it is one area that they excel and where the money has obviously been spent, it is definitely in the voice acting. Characters aren’t only convincing, but are flawless in delivery and whilst the script may never be Oscar worthy, it is pitched at exactly the right level; not too long and completely entertaining. If there is one thing that lets these cutscenes down it is yet again in the animations, where characters express themselves clumsily or awkwardly which tends to shatter the illusion somewhat.
After the cutscene ended, I decided to head out into the game world to explore and jump into combat. Unfortunately, this is where my excitement began to crumble. Undoubtedly the similarities between SWTOR and World of Warcraft are glaring. For anyone to tell you otherwise has no eyes. Down to the smallest of details Bioware have shamelessly replicated all that World of Warcraft has to offer (whilst pinching a few bits from other games). The user interface is the most prominent similarity and is identical to World of Warcrafts in almost every way but is a distractingly grotesque colour, in an awful neon blue. That isn’t to say it isn’t functional, because it is, but having played Guild Wars 2 for an hour before, I realised how uninspiring and clumsy it was.
Having left the confines of the starter zone, I actually encountered three huge bugs to the horror of the booth staff. The first was becoming stuck on a tree and instantly dying (I brushed passed it). The second was being killed by an invisible enemy without the ability to respawn and the third was the game crashing entirely for no apparent reason, resorting in me having to restart back at the beginning. Perhaps I was just unfortunate, and it is difficult to tell what build of the game the demo was, but it doesn’t instil confidence in a smooth launch.
These bugs aside, the game plays exactly the same as World of Warcraft or Rift or any number of replicas that have launched in the last five years. Combat against NPC’s is a case of targeting the enemy and hitting one of your skills to await the global cool down or skill specific cool down. Though this is fine, combat is incredibly slow and does not in any way encapsulate what Star Wars is all about. The inability to dodge incoming attacks or attack swiftly just demonstrates how stale the genre has become as a result of copying the World of Warcraft blueprint. Encounters were dull and monotonous as I stood stationary watching my auto attack roll by (I use this term as a reference to the generic skill 1 you repeatedly use), knowing that to move was entirely pointless as it had no impact on your ability to avoid damage.
What was even more frustrating was how Bioware have failed to learn and address fundamental lessons from World of Warcraft. Having replicated the game in so many ways, it is inevitable that by doing so they have pulled with them some of the same serious flaws Blizzards game contains.
The first of my major concerns is the fact that although classes have a minor heal skill (Recharge & Reload in the bounty hunters case) you have to remain stationary to use them. Many will be used to this from similar games (ala World of Warcraft), but it completely ruins the flow of the game. To kill an enemy and watch my health recharge agonisingly slowly or to remain entirely stationary whilst my heal animation plays out was incredibly frustrating and entirely unnecessary. Increasing the rate at which you heal out of combat, and implementing a single heal skill that could be used whilst moving, for all classes, would completely remove any need to stop players in their tracks. Some might argue that is what the healer classes are for (to help you along quickly) true, but the ‘holy trinity’ and reliance on others as a heal crutch or damage sponge should have died a long time ago.
My second concern was skill progression and the purchasing of skills. It has never been a good idea for players to purchase skills. Even in World of Warcraft it was a terrible idea and in SWTOR, years and years on, Bioware should have known better. To be unable to buy a new skill because you don’t have enough money, in some circumstances having returned all the way back to town, is yet another way of creating a time sink for the player. Would it be so difficult of Bioware to make it so when players reach a certain level they automatically unlock said skill, that them becomes available for use immediately?
Thirdly, quests are boring. Entirely boring. I don’t know about the rest of the MMOG community, but I am sick of kill and collect quests and unfortunately, SWTOR is full of them. Some are hidden a little better than others, but fundamentally are all the same regardless of how Bioware have sexed them up. Sadly, I wasn’t fortunate enough to experience a ‘Flashpoint’ so cannot comment as to how these pan out, though I don’t have high hopes.
There are other concerns; the lack of pace in combat due to it being dictated by global cooldowns, the complete lack of necessity to be mobile whilst taking part in combat as well as the lack of movement from enemies or the ability to dodge incoming projectiles and attacks. Sadly, these are all due to the fact that Bioware have copied a formulae that was popular (and still popular) five years ago. When Bioware began to create SWTOR it was undoubtedly at a time when World of Warcraft was at its height and when there are hundreds of millions of dollars being earned by your competitors, there is no wonder they sought to replicate. And so, in that respect, I can understand why Bioware stayed so close to the World of Warcraft blueprint; for fear of alienating an entire player base.
What I cannot forgive, is the fact they have failed to recognise the fundamental flaws in the design (and wider genre) and have ploughed on with a game that plays more like a mod than an independent product. Shoe-horning class archtypes into Star Wars is agonisingly dumb whilst using a combat system the same as World of Warcrafts is even worse. Star Wars combat needs to be involving, fast, frantic and to make the user feel powerful, instead SWTORs is devoid of any emotion and feels pitiful. Drawing influence from Age of Conan’s combat system (a far from perfect game) would have been far more rewarding and in keeping with Star Wars than the lifeless uninspired skill system they’ve implemented. Who wouldn’t want the ability to swing their lightsaber in multiple directions to make contact and cut down, multiple targets at once?
As I’ve said previously, it isn’t all bad (well, mostly it is). The cutscenes and acting are great and the world looks fantastic, but yet again the product is kneecapped by World of Warcraft’s influence, where character progression through a carrot on stick approach is going to define the game and where zones are just a tool to see you progress from one level to the next, rather than to be explored or enjoyed.
Having played Guild Wars 2 before SWTOR, I wish it had been the other way around and I sense then I would have had a better word to say for the game. As someone who has grown tired of World of Warcraft and its archaic gameplay, SWTOR is not for me, as it is so irrefutably close in design to World of Warcraft that it feels years old already. For those that love World of Warcraft still, you will absolutely find a home here, that is unquestionable. For people seeking innovation, originality, fluid combat and a game structure that removes questing and the level grind, you really need head to the door marked ‘Guild Wars 2‘.
I wish Bioware well, but they deserve little praise for what they’ve achieved. Blizzard did all the hard work, after all.
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Solid impressions, Lewis.
While I don’t play MMO’s, I was quietly cheering from the sidelines, hoping that this game would be something special and different. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case…
Sadly the impression I have gotten of TOR so far is similar. I have read to many first impression and preview pieces on TOR that say pretty much the same thing, albeit in a more diplomatic tone.
I worry that Bioware have drunk too deeply from the WoW well, which would be a pity for the MMO genre at large. Voice work is all well and good, but the gameplay needs to feel “Star Wars-y” as well.
Can’t say I expected this to be any different, a lot of work by I’m sure a lot of good people has been put into SWTOR but it simply fails to amaze me or inspire my childish urge to be a Jedi. The bit about SWTOR feeling years old already hit the nail on the head for me, that’s how I’ve felt since the first time I saw gameplay. Great impression, Lewis.
I’m in the beta and this review is spot on. What happens when you play SWTOR is, you really get into your storyline and you want to just push through the story… other NPCs or actual players be damned. The problem is you HAVE to also play the other quests, the kill X rats quests. Add to that the uninspired and downright boring gameplay and you find yourself not wanting to even finish your storyline because there are too many un-fun and tedious barriers to the part of the game that really shines.
This game should NOT have a subscription… its only really fun aspect is the story and that should have been in a KOTOR 3 not an MMO.
To turn around one of your key points, Lewis, I think a significant chunk of the 11 million, or however many are left playing WoW, may indeed not be ready or looking for an evolution of the genre. Many no doubt are, but TOR could take on a huge number of current WoW subscribers still.
This will probably happen despite lukewarm press, if it is so. But if it were truly to fail outright … could you imagine the fallout? This is might be modern gaming’s most massive project yet undertaken.
Will the masses share your enthusiasm for GW2’s (r)evolution or will they cling to familiarity in WoW and TOR?
Tune in sometime soon… same Tap time, same Tap channel.
I forget where I read it… RPS commentator maybe, that TOR would have been stale 2 years ago. Now in the age of GW2 and tons of free niche MMOs and free WoW-like MMOs (LOTRO)… it’s going to be a tough sale I think for sustainability.
I think they’ll do fine for the first 3 mos. Then unless magic happens the bottom is going to fall out, IMHO.
It’s rather sad that they only allowed fifteen minutes for the demo. How much are you able to tell of baldur’s gate or other story driven games from the first fifteen minutes. I completely agree that they should not have copied WoW though I suppose that does lead to greater “accessibility”.
It will be interesting to hear the first hand reports coming from beta testers when the NDA drops, as they will have hopefully had many hours with the game to find it’s best faces and flaws.
Personally I’m still hoping that someday there will be a Star Wars MMO that combines Jedi Knight 2 ground combat, with x-wing space flight and SWG crafting (ahh swtor why couldn’t you do that).
Maybe you should try out faster paced action MMOs like Dragon Nest or Tera Online. I think their take on combat is the direction Bioware should have taken.
I don’t think I would have played TOR even if it were good, I just can’t bring myself to place any more shiney shillings into George’s deep deep pockets.
It is a shame, however, as the SW universe is so rich and vibrant and this game just sounds so terribly dull.
I personally have no gripe with wow style of combat even tho I was never interested in swtor and am also very much looking forward to gw2. I agree that it doesn’t feel star warsy, but many people will be fine with it I feel.
What I would like to see is how much have they improved on wow, if at all in other areas. World pvp for instance. Since they are wow-like, that I feel is the biggest measure of success for them. Have they done better wow, beyond story? If the answer is no, then that could/should be their downfall.
I love how people always try to say how games steal ideas from WoW. Considering WoW stole its ideas from various other games.
More accurate to say they stole ideas from EQ or Warhammer, considering that’s where WoW got most of its ideas from.
Of course, the thing is, TOR is quite unique.
For one, there’s no auto-attack. Combat is all on the player. You have to use your attacks to the best of your ability.
True, you can’t move around a lot during combat, but that’s because this is an MMO, not an action game.
Trying to turn an MMO into Dynasty Warriors isn’t a good move.
And if you actually play the game for more than 5 minutes, you’d notice that there are a lot of little niceties added in. Like how lightsaber users will block and deflect blaster shots. How characters will duck and weave to dodge attacks (instead of getting a generic “miss” message).
And a few of the classes do get rather mobile in combat. Scoundrels for example can use cover in battle, and if the enemy gets up close, they have a handy crotch kick to stun the enemy and let them get some distance.
There are several abilities for closing the gap or building one.
And yes, they use the holy trinity of classes. Why? Because it works. You have classes with DPS, heal, tank or mixed focus. Because honestly, there’s not much else you can do, unless you want to make a useless class.
Sorry that you’re so hung up on WoW. But you have to realize that they DID NOT invent everything to do with MMO’s. Just because they’re the big name right now (and slowly shrinking) doesn’t mean every MMO that comes out is copying them. They didn’t create the genre, they didn’t innovate it, they stole and borrowed, and just tossed many of the good elements they saw in other MMO’s into their own.
But while your article shows a lack of skill as a reviewer, you do make a good ad for Guild Wars.
Hi Lord Blade,
Thank you for the comment.
Having played MMOGs for a very long time, I’m fully aware of the genres lineage and where each game has drawn its influences. Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot were very much some of the first games that began to push the genre to true commercialism, achieving subscription numbers into the hundreds of thousands. But, to suggest is it more accurate to say SWTOR stole ideas from EQ or Warhammer is a complete falsehood.
World of Warcraft is the worlds leading MMOG with subscription numbers in excess of 13 million users. Down to the smallest of details SWTOR has drawn a direct influence (and in most circumstances copied) WoWs blueprint, to deny it is like saying the sky is red.
Contrary to what you may believe, there is an auto attack though the use of the term isn’t technically accurate. Your default skill (1) remains your bread and butter, and whilst the game won’t physically use it for you Bioware have simply made it so you have to keep pressing it anyway. My skill rotation went something like this: 1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,3,2,1,1,1,1. Irrespective of how they have dressed this up, it remains a rigid feature of the combat to use your standard attack that has no cooldown, hence why it is referred to as an autoattack.
Secondly, why are you defining an MMOG as an action game? Does an MMOGs very nature, by your mentality, suggest it has to have boring combat to be accepted? Perhaps you could shed light on why a genre which provides an abundance of fabulous skills and combat opportunity shouldn’t be action packed?
In relation to these “niceties” I’m very worried that you consider these note worthy. MMOGs have had dodge and block animations for years (see WoW, DAoC, Rift) and SWTOR is no exception.
Further, what you suggesting is mobility actually isn’t. This is player targeted movement that isn’t defined by your skill, but instead by the game. Were you to be able to avoid such stuns by rolling out the way, or use of strafing then I might be interested but considering all SWTORs enemies face you constantly (and thus auto target you) nuances of this nature simply do not apply.
Finally, whilst the holy trinity has been utilised for many years I would seriously suggest that you invest a greater amount of time into the genre to understand the restrictions and limitations this enforces. I may in this instance sound like a broken record, but ArenaNet have not only done away with the holy trinity entirely, but have conquered the Achilles heal of the entire genre by removing it. I’ll leave you to seek out information on it, as well as gain an understanding on why the holy trinity is an archaic game mechanic.
Finally, WoW isn’t just big “right now” it has been big for over 6 years. Every commercial MMOG that has launched since has copied its blueprint and yet have still failed to tap into their success. Whilst Blizzard may have drawn influences from other games in the genre prior to WoW’s launch (this is unquestionable) they built upon this and implemented key innovations that have defined the genre ever since.
Perhaps you would like to let me know some of SWTORs key innovations to the genre, that havn’t been done before?
Oh and this isn’t a review. If it was, it would have been much worse. (for Bioware that is).
Welcome to all the new commenters!
@Lord Blade – one of the key points you make is that WoW did in fact steal from its predecessors. In fact, I’ve always said that’s the secret to WoW’s success: that Blizzard sat down, carefully analyzed the metrics for a successful MMO, fixed what was broken, and retained what appeared to work. It’s natural evolution, like many games going to first person after the success of Wolf3D and Doom.
Thing is, though, in stealing (well, let’s say learning lessons from) its predecessors, WoW also improved on and innovated the MMO. In Lewis’s experience with SWTOR, it sounds more like Bioware captured what had worked but is depending on the power of the Star Wars license to draw and retain crowds.
The MMO market is interesting because it’s unpredictable. Paid industry analysts (including myself) did not peg World of Warcraft to dominate this generation. My money was on Everquest 2, based simply on the success of its predecessor and SOE’s experience in MMO engineering. Shows what I know (they still paid me, at least).
Will SWTOR dominate the next MMO release cycle? Will it be Guild Wars 2? Or will we be surprised by some unexpected candidate? Lewis’s experience with these two games suggest at least that GW2 is more advanced, more innovative, and possibly more fun to play; though everyone’s tastes are different. Only the market will tell.
I also agree with shongaqu’s remark – fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to evaluate a story-driven MMRPG. It’d have been nice for Bioware to give press pass holders a longer sit-down with the game.
In the interim, we can hope for a KOTOR 3… maybe the planets will align and Obsidian will write it while Bioware does the technology and gameplay.
Can I just add that I played the game for around an hour across two days. The demo might have been 15 minutes, but I kept going back for repeat tries.
I’m not sure that’s the point, to be fair. The fact that World of Warcraft feels like something else doesn’t have any relevance to the fact that SWTOR feels like World of Warcraft. As the current market leader with some 12 million + subscribers and as the game with which TOR is most likely to compete, I think the comparison to WoW is fair and logical irrespective of where WoW got its ideas from..
Another point, and one I think Lewis captured well in his impressions, is that emulating World of Warcraft may have been a recipe for success three years ago, but likely isn’t any more. Using another play format as an example, many of us probably remember the “Starcraft clones” that flew off the shelves during the heyday of RTS – games that were pretty much just that, clones of Starcraft. But eventually players got sick of the same thing and RTS had to innovate or die.
I hope Bioware does well with this because I’d love to see something good happen to the ravaged Star Wars property, but it sounds like the flash might exceed the substance here.
Lew, what’s the difference between GW2’s ‘dynamic events’ and SWTOR ‘Flashpoints’? And what does GW2 have in place of kill and collect quests?
Dynamic events refer to any event that occurs in a persistent area as a result of players interacting with and exploring the world. They are called “dynamic” because there are multiple outcomes that also result in new events, creating a cascade effect. Once an event has triggered, it will develop whether or not a player attends it. Because of this, there is no real concept of failure or success – the result of any event will simply cause a change in the surrounding area. For example, if monsters are successful in raiding an area, they may become strong enough to occupy a fort, which could then be taken by players.
A Flashpoint is a instanced adventure for cooperative group-play. They are not simple ‘dungeons’ to battle through, though, as they also include various paths, decision points, and cinematics. They are repeatable and will offer some of the best gear in play.
Flashpoint missions are typically divided into a series of connected events, including conversations, boss battles, and other objectives. Each objective develops in both action and story, such as with enemy movement, changes in the environment, etc. This story aspect is designed to help players further develop their characters.
In many ways Flashpoints are the same as Guild Wars 2’s instances (and visa versa), which are also cooperative dungeons to fight through, coupled with storylines and cutscenes.
The key to dynamic events is that they aren’t instanced, are out in the open world and completely remove questing.
In replace of kill and collect quests? Well fundamentally there aren’t quests. You don’t physically talk to an NPC to be handed a quest to kill 10 rabbits or skin 5 boar. You simply go out into the game world and take part in dynamic events that might see you putting out fires in a burning village, rescuing some Moa birds that have been captured, feeding some cows, or fending off centaurs attacking a keep.
It’s the presentation, structure and delivery of dynamic events that makes it so vastly different.
Nice one, cheers. So every NPC in the world of GW2 is happy as pie and requires nothing whatsoever from the various adventurers waltzing through their provinces? There’s no straight forward questing whatsoever just walking around and bumping into these dynamic events?
You know an irony? Single-player narrative games are struggling to offer more dynamic events and fewer structured flashpoints, while MMOs, in some ways, are attempting to use flashpoints to help guide narrative arcs outside of emergent dynamics. How weird.
Well, no Gregg. One Dynamic Event saw me come across an orchard that had been overrun by huge spiders. So, I just decided to clear the orchard and when I did, apples fell from the trees (some spiders and eggs were in the branches). After picking up the apples I found the orchard owner and handed them to her, which she made a pie with as a thank you. Which was a nice 🙂
Any of my desire for SWTOR just flew out the window, oh well, there’s still GW2 🙂
Yes, I found myself nodding in agreement all along this post. I haven’t played it, but having just watched others play it at PAX I got mostly the same impressions.
@Gregg B: In some ways, there are some NPC’s in the world that “want things from you”, but those things are part of the dynamic events going on in the area and won’t necessarily always be there. In fact you never really need to even talk to said NPCs, but you can if you want to be pointed in the right direction. And example is that there might be a farmer out in the world. That farmer has some crops and some livestock. Now, if you go up to his farm at one time, there might be nothing to do; everything is going well for him. If you go back the next day, or even an hour later, you may find that some human bandits have moved in and are burning down his crops and killing his livestock. The bandits physically moved in there and now his farm is actually in distress; it isn’t just that he has a ! over his head *telling* you that his farm is in danger while the thieves are just sitting around outside the fence. No, the thieves are actively attacking the farm. You can choose to help him, and in that case it will likely be that you in fact kill the bandits until they are all dead or they retreat. Functionally this is similar to a “Kill X Rats Quest” once it gets to that point, except for the fact that if you simply choose to not help… his farm can be burned down and the bandits can move on to terrorize other farms. Indeed, if left alone, these bandits may start spreading out to the whole zone. Further, as more people show up to help, the challenge scales up and you have group goals that are larger and more difficult if you want to succeed.
Now take this idea and multiply it across the entire world, all the time. There are a huge number of these events ranging in scale from a few bandits to an undead pirate ship raising from below the waters and sieging a town to a giant dragon terrorizing an entire zone. Success or failure in some events can trigger or affect other events both directly and indirectly. So, basically to answer your question, you help NPCs that are truly in trouble, not just guys that tell everyone that passes by that those stationary wolves over there are killing the livestock livestock, which they are not actually doing and never will actually succeed at. These are dynamic events, and there are no traditional quests. There is an instanced personal story as well, and some of that has some more rigid directives like quests, but those are a separate part of the world. Hope that clears some things up.
[…] that first impression has been given, it’s much harder for us to change it. So when I read Tap Repeately‘s first impression of Star Wars: The Old Republic based off some game-time from last months […]
Ugh. I haven’t been much of an MMO player since Guild Wars 1, and nowadays it’s more a question of time and money than anything. That, and the fact that the majority of the genre (exceptions being Guild Wars and Star Trek Online, amongst others) recycle the same basic mechanics in some remixed form or another.
I didn’t really plan on picking up SWTOR even if it was the greatest revolution in MMOs since ever, but with what I’m hearing here and elsewhere, it really just makes me bitter all over again that BioWare didn’t just make Knights of the Old Republic 3. Don’t even get me started on that.
Fact: WoW, wether you like it or not is no1 in subscriptions. There were tons of WoW “killers” in the last few years, but until now they all failed.
As a AoC player I would like to have a combat like AoC but you can bet that it would sent away lots of players. I believe that the majority of the playerbase still prefers the WoW like combat type.
As for the trinity, until now, I have never seen the need to replace it. IMO it works and its fine. I really look forward to see if in GW2 it isn’t just going to be replaced for something similar. Or will 5 necros be able to make some dungeon run all by themselves?
About questing, come on, you can cover it better or worse, but you got to kill mobs and collect stuff and all the usual. The npc comes to me or the farmers… same old just in a different suit.
As for GW2 I want to try it, but to be honest I am not that confident that it will deliver all it is promising, at least the way it is being promised.
In Rift I have seen dynamic events that happen to become very boring really fast. How many dozens of different dynamic events will GW2 have? Because after playing this events a couple of times they start to be annoying and boring instead of funny.
To be honest with you, what level were you playing? The rotation you describe is like below level 10 (ie basic intro). Once you get the advance class, you almost never want to use your basic attack. How long was your playtime (10 minutes)? I got a chance to play in the tester weekend and enjoyed the game quite bit.
Sad but accurate first impressions…
[…] made the comment that this might be the worst thing you can say about an MMO. If that’s true, is this the second worse? What I cannot forgive, is the fact they have failed to recognise the fundamental flaws in the […]
Of course all MMOs will include killing mobs, protecting NPS’s and collecting drops. And unless it is a completely sandbox game, there will be objectives to do those things. The devil is in the presentation. “Quest hubs giving the same content to all” or “wandering around and see stuff happen that you may or may not take part in and see different stuff”
At release GW2 will have in excess of 1500 unique dynamic events. Unlike in Rift, they completely replace the normal quests. I.e., as you progress through the content, you would not encounter the same event many times. Or think of it in quest terms. Even if all quests in an MMO was repeatable, you would still not do the same ones over and over again (unless for fun), because there would be brand new quests in the next hub.
Great article, Lewis! Not much more to say on it, but I agree that the news in this preview is mostly just disappointing. I would have loved for SWTOR to mark an evolution in the genre, but I’m afraid whether it fails or succeeds, the producers will manage to take all the wrong lessons from it.
A couple replies to a comment, then:
“….I really look forward to see if in GW2 [the holy trinity] isn’t just going to be replaced for something similar. Or will 5 necros be able to make some dungeon run all by themselves?”
Yes, 5 necromancers should be capable of doing a dungeon, based on what ANet has told us. They would be missing some tools (i.e. projectile reflection and barriers), but could likely make up for it with pure ruggedness. The trick in GW2 is that these 5 necromancers would all change their play to fill different roles at different times. One would “tank” the mobs for a while by drawing aggro and dropping massive snares/stuns/fears while kiting, and the others would apply damage. All of them would probably share in managing buffs and debuffs, and tossing around some low-throughput heal over time effects. If the “tank” become overwhelmed another player would switch weapons and step into that role…
“About questing, come on, you can cover it better or worse, but you got to kill mobs and collect stuff and all the usual. The npc comes to me or the farmers… same old just in a different suit.”
As others have said, the devil is really in the details and the presentation here. ANet could fail, and dynamic events could wind up being just as repetitive and stale as RIFT’s invasions are. But they have the potential to be much better tools for social play, and the play experience should be much more organic and less arbitrary. (“But I just killed 10 spiders to get over here to you, now you want me to kill 10 more? Those don’t count? You ingrate!”) Also there seem to be a lot of ways to impact the events in an objective-oriented manner rather than just slaying mobs – I.e. repairing gun turrets, collecting supplies, etc.
For anyone who wants to see GW2’s take on “questing” at its best, I recommend Total Biscuit’s video of the Charr starting area. I think it shows a good balance of both the great potential and the realistic limitations of the system:
He also has some great PvP and high-level PvE videos that are worth checking out.
Sounds like TOR has fallen into a familiar hole.
Why was WoW such an enormous success? Because the designers ruthlessly analyzed the games that were then king of the hill (largely, EverQuest), took from them the parts that everyone liked, and changed or abandoned the parts that many people did not like.
The result was a high fantasy MMO without the frustration and punishment, and of course history has shown it to not only be the most successful MMO ever, but arguably the most successful video game ever.
Time and time again, we’re seeing developers trying to replicate that success, but without the critical thinking necessary to only take the good parts of WoW, whilst changing or abandoning the parts that now do not look so fresh. Indeed, in some cases, we see developers slavishly imitating features from WoW 1.0 that Blizzard realized years ago were a bad idea: e.g. Rift and its overly powerful macro system that allows you to reduce a combat rotation to a single button.
[…] any more. Otherwise you’re just going to get WoW in Space. Well, it looks as if I was right. This is one hell of a first impression of the game from a game journalist. In it he sums up with the view that the only elements of worth […]
You were only allowed 15 minutes, though as press I managed around an hour over the Saturday and Sunday. Sadly in this time I wasn’t able to play a flashpoint (no one was to my knowledge) and yes it was the starter experience.
But, as far as starter experiences go it was incredibly muted.
Finally, I must stress that this is an “Impressions” not a review!
@Brise Bonbons thank for your answer. You say:
“The trick in GW2 is that these 5 necromancers would all change their play to fill different roles at different times. One would “tank” the mobs for a while by drawing aggro and dropping massive snares/stuns/fears while kiting, and the others would apply damage. All of them would probably share in managing buffs and debuffs, and tossing around some low-throughput heal over time effects. If the “tank” become overwhelmed another player would switch weapons and step into that role…”
So… we will have a tank… And everybody has heals to throw… sorry but at a first look I find it awful.
However I will try it and I was positively surprised to know that there are over 1500 events, so it will take a long while to start having cycles.
I think you’ve misinterpreted Brise Bonbons a little. He uses the word “tank” as a clear reference that people can easily relate to.
He is correct that 5 Necromancers could easily undertake a dungeon without a problem.
I think a simpler way of looking at Guild Wars 2 is imagining all classes are hybrids with the ability to adapt their role to suit a scenario. Like a Druid in World of Warcraft they can choose to be a pure spell caster, damage dealer (cat form) or tank (bear form). Guild Wars 2 functions similarly but less rigidly. All classes have the ability to heal themselves, there is no player targeting (you can’t target your allies) and you can adapt your skills to suit. A key to this change is also how ArenaNet have designed enemies and bosses.
Unlike traditional MMOGs that are primarily tank and spank as healers stand at the back, GW2’s combat is much more fluid, action packed and less restrictive. There isn’t anything of that nature in the game and so the entire removal of the holy trinity works really well.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the nightmare of not being able to do something in an MMOG because you can’t find a healer or a tank- in GW2 you’ll never encounter that.
While I admire the desire for GW2, the snippets released have yet to convince me that they will succeed in their desired goal of pure dynamic content, without rules or set behavior. Eventually you will hit a wall and I don’t think that Arenanet has the money, skill or ability to set that wall back far enough. GW1 was touted as the next best thing for MMO’s, too. It was released to fanfare and parades, etc. It was also the most boring game I played in a long time.
While I am not certain that GW2 will be the same, I have no real faith that somehow Arenanet changed over night. With Bioware, I know that I will receive a quality product, made by disciplined people who have the knowledge and resources that they need. You say that SWTOR is nothing but a WoW clone. Fine, but WoW was fun for a long time and I am certain that Bioware will make it the best damn WoW clone that you can get for $100 million. I look forward to the opportunity to experience it for myself.
I think an important aspect that you seem to forget is that it’s not enough to make a new kind of movie, or car, or FPS, RTS, or MMO. You have to make the best there is. Does that necessarily mean that you put some extra wheels on the car, or try and develop shooters that require a complete different set of mechanics to be successful? No. Look at Brink. It’s crap.
What you need is to make a quality experience that players will enjoy.
Put up a link for your impression of GW2. I expected this much from TOR but hearing how you played GW2 before TOR and describing the combat like the way you have, the reality really dawns on me.
@Silas: Not to derail the discussion or anything but both my brother (Lewis) and I actually love Brink. Seriously, check the sidebar for our reviews. 😉
I think there are some similarities between Brink and Guild Wars 2. They’re forward thinking multiplayer games which make an effort to be enjoyable as single player experiences but they also encourage player experimentation and to a certain extent individuality through flexible class types and customisation. They’re both bold attempts at unsettling the status quo. Brink obviously (and unfortunately) failed to catch on but I’ve no doubt that GW2 will win the hearts of many including those tired with the current MMO landscape or those who, like me, were never really interested in the first place.
One thing to consider, Silas, is that the very best there is often doesn’t perform well. There are a lot of games (Psychonauts, Shadow of the Colossus, Bulletstorm, etc etc etc) that were absolutely excellent executions of game-making, but performed poorly.
Now, I don’t disagree that the game has to be good. Players may ignore critics but they will turn on a game that sucks (unless it’s Halo).
What interests me about this debate is the enormously different approaches ArenaNet and Bioware are taking to developing a new MMO. I’m eager to see how each plays out.
I should probably mention two things: 1. I make more than enough money to splurge on games so I will probably end up playing both. 2. I am not against innovation. I am against poor games.
Take for instance Portal against, say, Hydrophobia. The former was a spark of genius and developed using existing mechanics. Does Valve deserve credit for it? Maybe in that they produced the engine that created it, but it was the team behind portal that added not just a cool game mechanic, but the story, atmosphere and other features. Are they any less innovative because they merely added their own design on top of Valve’s? I dont think most people would argue that.
Not too long ago, Hydrophobia was being touted as the next example of innovation. The water mechanics were awesome. When they finally released this year, it was to the disappointment of many people who could see that the game lacked everything but the water mechanic. People no longer view the water physics as innovation but as a gimmick. I bought the game off of steam on sale just to try the water mechanic for myself. They were on to something, but the execution was poor.
My point is that small adaptions and changes can be far more successful than big, drastic innovations, even when the small change is nothing more than retooling a tried and true game design with one or two new features. I wouldn’t be able to give you a count, but I imagine there are far more failed games that tried gamble and reinvent the wheel (especially in MMOs) while forgetting about other core design features, than there are games who set out with a realistic expectation of what they want to accomplish and how to polish their product to the quality that will satisfy the consumers.
I doubt BioWare would fall back on the excuse of it being “unfinished [and] obviously buggy.” If all you have to bring to a demonstration is an unfinished, buggy product, why demonstrate at all?
You might see that from a small developer who could use the press, but from one of the most loaded industry giants? No. If you’re BioWare on your way to the Eurogamer Expo, you bring your A game.
So, from what i read, it seems that we agree on nothing, having tested both, i personally felt guild wars 2 was a fail. I hated the lack of structure that destroying the trinity has done, and, guild wars is still collect and kill, the fact that you don’t have to turn it in doesn’t mean anything, if anything it made it feel more like a grind to me.
With 1500 dynamic events, assuming 2 events completed per hour, and 4 hours played per day, you’re looking at 187.5 “days” of play time. Toss in maybe another 80 hours of instances and you’re at 210 maybe a bit more. So about 5/8ths of a year, give or take. And that assumes the rather leisurely 2 events per hour. People are going to hit the repetition limit pretty damn quick, especially if some of those dynamic events are things like special vendors.
Please keep things civil, constructive and factual. Tap is not affiliated to any companies, nor “paid up”. If you’ve nothing of value to add, please refrain from commenting. I don’t want to clean up any more comments. It’s not a habit we have here at Tap and it isn’t one we intend to start.
Trying to change people’s definition of ‘good’ is pretty pointless, and a lot are attempting that here. Instead of bashing on a system just explain why you don’t like it, or why you do and leave it at that.
It’s like the argument of the movie Avatar being revolutionary or just a high budget clone of other movies. People will believe what they want based off what they like, that won’t change.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually try TOR at Eurogamer but from what I saw, I would have to say that I agree with you – it just looked really dull. After all the talk of how it was going to be the next revolutionary thing, it just looked like WoW. And as someone that doesn’t play WoW, that’s pretty bad.
I wish MMO devs would move away from all this questing and focus more on creating large scale events that affect everyone at the same time. So what if someone misses something as a result – they should have bought the game sooner. Collecting 15 Bantha fodder or whatever will be just as dull in TOR as it would be any other MMO where collect quests are rife.
In short, great article, mate!
A couple of things to have in mind to make things fair and honest:
– it is public from months (years?) that SW would follow a similar combat system to the one used in WoW, so I can’t understand all the surprise with it…
– it is said in the impressions or comments that combat was about pressing 1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-3… well I saw the 2 GW2 vids posted there and I saw 1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1… so lets be honest here, it’s a first lvls problem…
– I was not impressed with GW2 vids; don’t like the chosen aesthetics (my problem, I know), from the race looks to the animations and effects; at a certain point I was waiting for the “insert coin” message in the middle of the screen. I also see the end of the trinity and the guild system in GW2 as step backs in terms of gameplay; being innovative to me doesn’t necessary means better.
I will try both but at this point I am a lot more interested about SWTOR. It’s all a matter of what one likes the most.
@Martin Watts I don’t remember any official report, release or whatever saying that SW was going to be revolutionary… The problem is that you convinced yourself or by reading from wrong sources that it would be.
The innovation in SW is around the RPG and storyline. And from what I have coming from a couple of friends that are in beta, that part is pretty well done. The kill 15 this are side quests that are given to you in orther to get some bonus XP and gear.
In the end, if you are looking for something that goes in a different path, your game will be GW2. But don’t be disapointed about a thing that was never promised.
Just got on the idea that combat system from Guild Wars 2 would suit SWtOR thematicly much better than copying WoW.
Active dodgeing system, dependancy on control in fights, no dedicated healers and tanks. This is much more suitable for star Wars universe than what they have right now.
I love WoW, I played it for 5 years, but if I ever want to go back, I’ll go to WoW not to SF copy-cat.
@Astalnar you and many more seem to judge or evaluate a mmo only for the combat system. If it is the only thing that matters probably you are playing the wrong kind of game. If not, at least don’t say that TOR is a WOW clone, because it is not.
Where do you get off reviewing a starting zone of a beta game and say it is terrible. Did you see WoW back when it first launched and in beta? It was terrible, boring, and lackluster.
You can’t play the starting zone of a game and come away impressed. It won’t happen, unless your completely biased. Which by the sounds of it, you are to GW. Every game is boring in the starting zones. You didn’t have companions, or even a fraction of the abilities in the game.
Name one MMO you played in the starting zone alone that blew you away. And yea yea, you went out into the other parts of the world for a bit. So what? You still are playing low level content.
This is not an impressions piece on swtor, this is a biased publicity seeking troll.
Have no fear though, I come armed with a lot of troll feed as well as “factual” information that the author claim to value.
I have money to throw around, I will be buying both GW2 and swtor. Am I equally excited about them? No. Will that stop me from giving both the games a fair evaluation by playing them both? Hell, no. Power to an open mind!
So let’s make some counterpoints.
WoW low level game play: 1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-2
Swtor low level game play: 1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-3-1
GW 2 low level game play: 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1
Omg, such wow clones! And what boring slow paced fighting!!oneone!
Anyone basing a game, their combat, the pace of combat or future gameplay on low level combat is nothing short of an idiot. The first levels are there, as someone who ACTUALLY has MMOG experience of note and a brain, to slowly introduce a player to a new gaming experience.
What swtor (and gw 2) have are systems and a familiiarity to WoW which makes a transition easier than for example going from farmville to Tribes 2. The early levels exist to let the player immersee and learn about a new world and slowly make his avatar more proficient and more skilled. Throwing 30 skills (or in GW 2’s case 5) at a level 1 wouldn’t make sense.
Factual side note: WoW does not have 13 million subscribers, don’t believe everything some random author on a small fap fap site writes.
WoW graphics: A stylized cartoony style that don’t appeal to me at all. But it was a choice made to allow for a broader audience to play the game. No one can fauly Blizzard for their business sense.
swtor graphics: Like WoW they chose a stylized cartoony style that don’t appeal to me. Well, most of the time. It works the least well on characters but the environments, holy hell they are beautiful. I suppose this could mean a broader audience could play swtor as well, performance wise.
gw 2 graphics: A more modern and detailed graphics style, much more to my liking. But just like WoW and swtor could be met by lower specs, gw 2 will not be able to do the same without lowering settings considerably, and this game does not look good on lower settings.
WoW voice acting: Almost non-existant, the ones that do exist in cutscenes and such though are top notch.
swtor voice acting: It is EVERYWHERE. Holy hell, everyone speaks and the quality is astounding. It is so well done and done by great actors. And the dialogues are so deep. The dialogue is interconnected between stories, giving different perspectives and propagande when the facts doesn’t fit the side presenting the facts. It is truly inspiring.
gw 2 voice acting: Holy hell, it is bad. At first it looks impressive. Gw 2 does something really well, the concept art department. It is used for cinematics and story telling. But as soon as anyone opens their mouth you notice how truly terrible it is. As if the voice acting in itself wasn’t totally scraping the bottom of the barrel, it breaks established lore half of the time. People act and speak in ways contradicting their history and nature. It is gravely immersion breaking. Very sad. I do hope it is all placeholder and will be redone.
Let’s end with grinding and questing.
WoWs questing has set a sort of standard for how quests work, but many have grown tired of the collect x of Y, kill z of W. All given to you by quest giver A and to report to quest giver B.
swtor questing sets a new standard, you have story driven questing all the way, during these quests you get the OPTION to do complementary questing like killing x sand people to ensure the safety of the nearby village. The story driven quests are all having quest giver A, fully voice acted and delivered in a cinematic way – very immersive. The complementary quests become available without any such interaction and is similarly not handed in. But like mentioned, optional. You don’t have to do any of them. You can completely focus on the story questing if you like. That the author completely missed this made me facepalm myself with my keyboard.
gw 2 questing is the same as wow pretty much. They have takene a page out of swtors book and have voice acting (poorly done such) to get directions. Then you enter areas where “something” is happening and you clearvoyantly know exactly what to do. You enter a forge where enemies are attacking and you KNOW somehow that the right thing to do is collect hammers and pliers and return them to a rack. You KNOW that killing x of Y will be helpful. Basically the questing is closer to WoW in GW than swtor is. But the parts that it lends from swtors questing is the parts that are done well, and those parts are very few. :/
I get disappointed in authors who make half assed articles about games, hiding behind “impressions”. The GW 2 bias is obvious, so now you have a swtor bias counter point to read.
I see huge flaws in gw2 and I see erroneous facts in the authors posts. The holy trinity is not done away in gw 2, it is just done so everybody is a support role so people can solo and not depend on others. Even the devs themselves quickly backpedaled on the whole “no trinity” and instead named it a “soft trinity”. It is no revolution, not by any means. But I will still play it, because it will for sure be an ok mmo.
Stay classy, stay factual.
Thanks for your comments. If we are being precise, WoW actually has 11.1 million active subscribers as of June this year. But, considering this thread has already turned toxic I won’t respond to your comments with something that will surely result in more back and forth bickering.
Comments are closed.
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