We have waited patiently, and although it still hasn’t been given an official release date, BioWare’s Star Wars The Old Republic will be gracing our PC’s sometime between July and December of this year. While I have seen my own friends who had been skeptical or unsure about the ambitious new MMO since it was first announced turn into drooling fan boys, many of us can’t help but wonder if we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. It is true that Bioware seems to be hitting all of the right points MMO’s seem to be striving for these days, with an impressive list of features such as group PvP, space combat missions, crafting and endgame raids. But will it be our new digital home away from home?
I was lucky enough to play the game at PAX East, but it is hard to truly get to know an MMORPG in a single one hour play session. I really can’t claim to have an honest opinion of an MMO unless I have played it for several weeks or more, because while some games (Aion is a good example) can make a great first impression, it takes time to find out just how much a game truly has to offer. Lasting appeal is probably one of the biggest concerns for MMO fans, because most people aren’t interested in spending countless hours leveling a newbie character only to find out that there is nothing waiting for them at the top of the ladder. Considering all that we have heard and know about SW:TOR, it seems safe to say that the game won’t be falling short on content, but there have been even larger misconceptions in the past.
In spite of all that we know, questions still remain. This week I would like to present some of these questions to you for discussion. Hell, the game isn’t out yet so all we can do is talk about it, am I right? These are questions and concerns that I have heard voiced time and time again whenever the subject of The Old Republic springs into my conversations with fellow gamers and fans. Some are less obvious than others, yet they are all still a constant topic of debate.
1.)Will it be too much like World of Warcraft? We have seen games such as Rift try to make carbon copy clones of Blizzard’s top dog MMO, but is this really what people want to see? Will SW:TOR be nothing more than Warcraft with voice acting and lightsabers? God I hope not…
2.)Will it be too focused on single player? This is a question that has been hovering about for some time now, ever since people started hearing about class based quest lines that can carry you up to max level on your own. Also, the fact that you can bring a companion along with you for quests and leveling is another cause for concern. It is true that BioWare is trying to assure us that this won’t be a concern as they show group elements like instances and PvP, but the question still remains ever present. After all, don’t people play MMO’s to game with friends and other people? Perhaps not everyone, but I’d say it’s at least a healthy majority.
3.)Will the graphics and animations meet the harsh standards of PC gamers? Many PC gamers are looking to find a next generation MMO that will keep them and their digital command center’s happy for years to come. Will Old Republic measure up? While the graphics style of The Old Republic has grown on me over the years, I still come across countless complaints and criticisms. MMORPG’s have never been the top dogs of graphics for obvious reasons, and many fans consider them to be a minor concern, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely obsolete. While I doubt graphics will hold this game back on their own, it is still something that many fans can’t help but wonder about.
4.)Will Star Wars fans feel at home in The Old Republic? Many people (obviously not the fanboys posting their endless praise on the forums of the Old Republic website) feel that having the game set 3,500 years before the rise of Darth Vader is taking things a little to far away from the story and movies that we have come to love. Indeed, it seems strange that light speed, lightsabers, auto blasters would remain practically unchanged over such a long course of time. I suppose you could argue that technology would eventually run into a wall once it hit light speed, but the truth of the matter is that it wouldn’t be Star Wars without lightsabers and blasters. Even placing this issue aside, I wonder if a fan of Empire Strikes Back who has never played an MMO before in his/her life would enjoy leveling a character in The Old Republic?