By jakob187 1 Comments
I had zero interest in playing The Old Republic.
When the game was announced, I found it to be an odd way to go, but the things that my friends and I were coming up with as possibilities of what the game could offer got us incredibly excited. However, there's a lot of times when "the internet happens" and you just don't want it to. It feels almost like it has this painstakingly accurate way of shitting on your hopes and making you break down with a facepalm followed by a "why". That's what led me to not caring about The Old Republic - the negativity of those on the internet.
As a gamer and a person, I end up having these moments pop up right when certain games launch. For those who remember, I spewed nothing but venom and hatred for Fallout 3 before its release because of what seemed like blasphemy to what the previous games had been. However, upon release, my curiosity got the best of me and led me to be lined up at a local Wal-Mart to pick up a copy. Even then, I was told that all they had were the Lunchbox Editions. I threw down $80 for a game that I had just been talking non-stop shit about for the better part of a year. It was an instance where I was so relieved to find that the game was great.
Meanwhile, there are those times when those purchases just don't live up to anything, not even the slightest shred of hope...like Divinity II.
My friend asked if we were going to install The Old Republic on the computers at work, and I told him how Origin was a shit setup but we'd definitely look into it. He told me it didn't use Origin.
REALLY? Alright, you have me a little more intrigued.
After installing it...which was INCREDIBLY FUCKING EASY, I decided "eh, let's check it out for a little bit".
30 minutes later, I needed to buy the game. The Star Wars geekdom in me was tickled just right. Even though I only reached level 3 in the game, it showed me what I needed to see to commit: The Old Republic is a game where the money and production value that went into making it has proven to be a massive labor of love.
There are so many things that impress the hell out of me with The Old Republic. One of the worst parts of most MMOs is that the solo questing is always nothing more than a boring ass grind where you barely read any of the lore or story being given to you. With The Old Republic, BioWare puts that front and center. There have been many times that I've questioned whether this should've been a single player game out of the gate, as the focus on the story is great. All the voice acting is good, and the level of immersion I've already experienced with this world is deeper than anything I've seen before in an MMO.
There are also the smart choices in the little things, from how they handle crafting to the target marker icons used in marking different mobs. There are a fuckload of world bosses, plenty of instances, lots of heroic quests (some of which can be both lengthy and challenging), a real feeling of a WORLD that feels ALIVE and BREATHING.
Is it the most open world? No. Things do sometimes feel rather sectioned off and instanced, almost linear in design. However, I see it as being no different than something like the world of Dark Souls or even the world of Dragon Age: Origins. Both had good worlds while also still having a bit of a mapped-out, more linear approach. It's how you handle the context and the general aesthetic of that world, what tone it sets. The Old Republic handles all of that well.
The quests are smartly designed, as most of the times, quests have a bonus objective (almost not unlike Dungeons & Dragons Online) of "kill this many guys". The quests themselves, however, are generally the "get so many of these things" or "hey, go do this to that many things" types of setups. However, each of those things seems pretty well-reasoned when you are talking to the NPC that offers that quest. In previous MMOs, that stuff was just a grind. In here, that grind is masked behind a REASON to do that shit. I know why I poisoned the water supply at the Rebel Camps on Balmorra. I couldn't tell you why the fuck I ever had to poison anything in World of Warcraft.
That's where The Old Republic succeeds and many other MMOs...in my eyes now...fail - BioWare has found a way to engage the player into the world and the story that is unfolding, not just shove it aside as a grind to get paid.
All of this is nothing more than to say "thank you, BioWare...and I'm sorry for doubting you". Whether you care for MMOs or not, The Old Republic feels like a love letter to Star Wars fans while also feeling like the improvements that were needed in the world of MMOs. Many of those improvements are not necessarily new, but they are compiled together.