Is this really an MMO anymore?

#1 Edited by themangalist (1735 posts) -

Just watched all the SWTOR videos on this site. I've never in my life played an MMO for more than an hour, I find them incredibly boring, but for the first time I am genuinely interested in this. But for reasons that it intrigues me as a single player game.

The 8 "origin" stories sound pretty cool, and it plays like KOTOR. But it seems to me Bioware made 8 KOTORs and put them into a package that you need to pay a monthly fee to get access to. So basically the longer you spend trying to finish the game, the more money EA sucks from your pockets. Which is smart really.

Part of why I enjoy reading about MMOs is how they are the illusions of persistent worlds. The EVE Online heists, the killings of the Sleeper in EverQuest all sound like amazing world-changing events that the player gets to make a mark on. But why I stick to my Skyrims is because I know I can never be able to invest the time to become as impactful as the top players in MMOs, and having the world revolve around me alone in single-player RPGs feels good enough, immersion-wise. I ain't need no BladeMaster89 to be with me when I bring down the almighty Alduin.

MMO conventions like respawning dungeon bosses break immersion, and SWTOR seem to try to tell a cohesive story building the world around the player. Yet at the same time, if every sith player has the same master, doesn't that break immersion too? And do all players get the same set of companions? It's a problem I believe instancing can't entirely solve.

The half persistent half on-rails boggles my mind whenever I try to make sense of SWTOR. At the end of the day of course, I'd still rather play 8 KOTORs. For those who are playing SWTOR, is it really like what i think SWTOR is? Are there moments you think breaks conventions of both MMOs and single-player RPGs? Do you think role-playing servers are even possible for this game?

#2 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

I think you nailed it on the head when you said it's basically 8 "mini" KoTOR stories within a big ball of MMOMEH.

The Old Republic severely lacks atmosphere and constantly breaks immersion for the sake of the player's convenience and/or server's performance.

It should be 60 bucks for the game and you get 1 character slot. No monthly fee but extra character slots are 30 dollars each.

As it is right now it's just EA milking sheeple while they artifically inflate their Origin numbers.

#3 Posted by Buscemi (1106 posts) -

I've also gotten the feeling that this is less of an MMO than other MMOs. Just playing, it feels like KoTOR with a ME wheel. Not that that is a bad thing, and who knows how it's going to be at higher levels. But right now I'm not interested in paying a montly fee for a game where I spend so much time alone.

#4 Posted by Patman99 (1583 posts) -

I have found through playing the game that SWTOR is an MMO shell with the "single-player" quality story. I think it is totally viable to play the game from start to finish without ever having to team up with other people. Moreover, you could probably just play the story missions if you grinded or did the space missions to compensate. With that being said, it is an MMO and if you do not like the traditional MMO trappings, then you will not like SWTOR as a game. Also the space combat is not all bad for what it is and is good for breaking up the game mechanics once in awhile. The reason why I may like space combat is because it has a lot of potential to evolve into something pretty cool.

SWTOR is a heavily instanced MMO, so rarely will you see grand world changing events but I think that is expected in a game has a persistent online world. The story aspects affect your own character and his perception of the world but will not intersect with another player's experience (This is an assumption as I am only lvl 26). I think it would be cool if the story points from the other character classes could be integrated into my story just to give the veil of a constantly changing world. At the end of it all, SWTOR, if supported by both developers and a community, can grow into something that any Star Wars fan would absolutely love.

As it stands, a fan of an MMO who is also into the Star Wars universe (like me!) should like this game a lot. People who want the next edition of KOTOR, maybe this game isnt for you unless you like MMO gameplay. Being a fan of MMO mechanics is a huge perquisite for enjoying this game as it is a Star Wars MMO.

#5 Posted by 71Ranchero (2765 posts) -

I think its enough of an MMO to not really need any further classification. Yes allot of it is instanced but when you are questing you will indeed run into random player characters and thats all it really takes. Its not like GW how you never saw anyone that wasnt in your party unless you were in a chat hub(town).

#6 Edited by Jeust (10643 posts) -

Although it has some immersion breaking features, like mobs having to respawn to complete a given quest or everyone hanging around with the same npc companions, most of it blends well because... the lack of detail most of our real relationships entail. We are hardly interested in the boss (master) that a fellow companion (player) has, or in any specifics normally, so those details that are default to each origin become obscure, as no one is interested in. This also happens because these master npcs aren't normally very memorable being there only for story porpuses and to give you plot quests.

I'm liking the game very much and I think it is a mix between mmo and rpg that works for the most part.

Online
#7 Posted by Dunchad (494 posts) -

It's definitely an MMO, though you can play it as a singleplayer game. But I would say it's the best MMO I've seen as far as maintaining immersion - pretty much all the quests (not including fetch/kill quests) are set in their own instances, so when you kill a named character - to you, he stays dead because you won't be able to access that same instance ever again. You won't see that character alive after you've killed him.

The stuff that you do outside of instances is very similar to other MMOs - you blow something up, it breaks/disappears and then appears back a while later so the next player can do the same thing. But so far, that has been limited to the *Kill X number of dudes."/"Free X number of dudes"/"Blow up X number of Xs" quests and anything with a actual story/named characters has had it's own instance. Any changes that you cause, are specific to your story and you only see them in the story quests - no change happens in the world at large. That kind of thing is pretty much impossible to pull off anyway, in an MMO. The kind of events you referenced there - like waking Kerafyrm was once per server kind of thing and very few people got to experience that. Having content like that, that only the top ~72 people get to experience per server is not a very good idea. WoW became more instanced with the recent expansions, which to date has the best instancing an MMO can offer, but even that is not nearly enough when compared to the experience singleplayer games can deliver.

The things you mention there, like having same masters/companions. Well, the fact that the other Sith you see running around have the same master - that is never made apparent. You'll never see them talking to your master. And while their companion might look the same as yours (if they're using the same appearance from the 4 you have to choose), you'll always see those characters as "X's companion" while your companion has a name. So they've done the best they could as far as that is concerned. As for the dungeons - true, it is immersion breaking if you do a Flashpoint more than once. But at that point, it's your own choice and the only reason to do that would be to help a friend or to farm loot (later on, I guess) - which means you're looking for an MMO experience and not an immersive singleplayer story.

Hmm, my mind started to wander somewhere there. Anyway, my 2 credits on this is that SWTOR is both an MMO and a singleplayer game - it's up to you to choose which you want to play. Or do it like me and play a mix of the two.

#8 Posted by mosdl (3228 posts) -

Mob respawning is really the main annoyance I have run into.

As for changing the world, even most regular RPGs don't handle that well.

#9 Posted by strembones (15 posts) -

I am someone who plays every damn MMO that comes out. I love them and and craving to get that feeling back that WoW gave me early in the Vanilla days.

For whatever reason Star Wars just hasn't sucked me into buying it yet. I played a bit of the beta and I can't put my finger on it but it just felt old to me.

I really think MMO's need to evolve. This game is the same as all the others in my opinion. WOW RIFT Warhammer etc

#10 Posted by demontium (4709 posts) -

When you put it like that, it makes me not want to buy the game haha.

#11 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1329 posts) -

Yes, this is a prime example of an MMO. I don't see how it plays like Kotor at all, the story stuff is bioware ish, but the combat pretty much screams MMO.

#12 Posted by Dagbiker (6976 posts) -

If you believe hard enough anything can be an MMO.

#13 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7616 posts) -

The biggest problem for me is that there's no option to play the single player content alone without having to pay the subscription.

Seems like it would be an obvious addition, considering the amount of people who were only interested in playing it alone. I'll bet it's something they add once the numbers start to drop though.

#14 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

Nah, it's a first person speeder simulator.

#15 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

I love questing in SW:TOR. The main class story is great and many regular quest chains are outstanding too. Just tonight I did an awesome one about an artifact hunt on Tatooine. It was absolutely epic and memorable.

You will have to learn about MMO mechanics though. The better you understand how MMOs work, the easier you'll get into the game and be able to enjoy it, as if it were KotOR 3-9.

#16 Posted by Village_Guy (2575 posts) -

I don't know really, I can't decide whether I want to call it an MMO or not, most of the time it certainly doesn't feel like an MMO. I feel like it is around as much an MMO as Guild Wars was, so not really...

#17 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@Village_Guy said:

I don't know really, I can't decide whether I want to call it an MMO or not, most of the time it certainly doesn't feel like an MMO. I feel like it is around as much an MMO as Guild Wars was, so not really...

You doing heroic quests? Haven't had as much social interaction with randoms in WoW since Burning Crusade. Some of them are quite good too. Like a 10 minutes snack dungeon runs with some story telling and decision making. And they double as repeatable daily quests. Ingenious really.

Questing-wise - SW:TOR's one third oldschool group-reliant MMO, one third new school MMO and one third KotOR 3-9. An intoxicating cocktail, if you like all of the ingredients like I do.

#18 Posted by Kiro_LeMark (65 posts) -

Here's my beef with all this.

MMOs break immersion because you have a ton of people lined up to kill the same epic guy you're supposed to be killing.

MMOs that make it so you're the only one that sees any of that stuff are immersion breaking because you still 'know' other people have a similar storyline.

Everyone that plays a single player game is playing the same storyline as you.

What?

#19 Posted by Bwast (1342 posts) -

@Buzzkill said:

As it is right now it's just EA milking sheeple while they artifically inflate their Origin numbers.

Must be nice to have a mind of your own. If you'll excuse me, I have a sacrifice to make at my shrine to EA. It's my fucking money, let me spend it how I want. Don't fucking sling mud at me for not spending it how you want to.

#20 Posted by JasonR86 (9705 posts) -

Does it really matter?

#21 Posted by scarace360 (4828 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

Does it really matter?

yes.

I don't pay 15$ a month for a single player game.

#22 Posted by project343 (2825 posts) -

@themangalist: I've had some of the best MMO grouping fun I've ever had in the genre with this game. I consider it more 'an online, persistent, cooperative Bioware game.' And to immersion-breaking comments, I'll say that the MMORPG genre might as well be strictly devoted to breaking immersion. Every single quest for every single character makes zero canonical sense. I mean, all 65 of the players in this zone saved this man's cat from a monster? That makes no sense. Even the role-playing genre is a genre that typically focuses on presenting a persistent world with a persistent player character, but the end result is rather immersion breaking; the idea of throwing numbers all over your character ("I have a base 45 earth DPS with a stacking dot fire enchantment") is illusion-shattering math that might as well be a standard gameplay experience in the average role-playing experience.

But I see where you would make these assumptions. Bioware games don't fit well within the MMORPG context. But this is where the brilliance of design steps in. You're roaming around the world, grabbing fully voice acted quests, enjoying pieces of story, killing shit, and leveling up. Nothing about that is out of the MMO territory. But then you have these set-piece memorable Bioware moments behind those green instancing gates, and the whole thing fits together. It's almost like you'll see a green door, and say: this is where my singleplayer Bioware dungeon starts--shocking moments, ahoy! But the way this mindset switches (at least for me), it just feels seamless. When you engage in dialogue, your MMO brain turns off, and your Bioware brain turns on. Even with group dialogue, no part of that experience feels like it makes for a horrible contrast. It, rather, feels like what a cooperative Mass Effect game would be like.

What you end up with, with SWTOR, is a Bioware game that leaves you with a persistent character that you can show off to friends (your avatar within a virtual world being a critical factor in the genre), a well-established world to socialize in, and a compelling story that leaves you right at the end-game content door--be that PVP or PVE.

I don't know. I fucking adore this game--every part of it. But I love Bioware so dearly, I love Star Wars so much, I'm far from tired of the MMORPG genre, and KOTOR is probably my favourite game of all time. So colour my opinion as irrelevant.

#23 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

So how much of this is group based? Someone old me a lot of the stuff can be soloed. 
 
What happens when you come to the end of your classes story? Is there end game raids? Are there instances like WoW? It is it set up like Guild wars? 

#24 Posted by themangalist (1735 posts) -

@Dunchad: Thanks for explaining to me how the game works. Sounds pretty good, but i still find the "I just blew up the building you level 2 noobs are in... world's pretty fucking weird" not great. I understand rarely any one could be part of a world changing moment in MMOs, but when that happens it's mind-blowing. Imagine in your story the Sith were completely annihilated because the jedi guild teamed up to kill your level 9999 OP npc Sith Lord. That sounds awesome.

I understand MMOs create the illusion of a persistent world through instancing, but when Bioware tries to make it so tailored to the player it almost seemed too obvious everyone around you could be exactly the same as you are. I think SWTOR brought it to new extremes by emphasizing the personal stories written for the player. Back then it was either a mindless grind or a self-imagined lore behind your guild.

The only true "persistent world" I've seen was probably EVE Online. Very very impressive reading about it. I remember Age of Conan sounded similar to that? That guilds have the freedom to build cities and fight wars? I wonder how that game turned out.

From a non-MMO player like me my dreams are still to play a MMO that would feature a world players crafted for themselves, not by the developer. Heck, if I were to play MMOs I'd probably join a role-playing server. But I feel like SWTOR leaves no room for imagination for the role-players.

@SirPsychoSexy: Well KOTOR was always a light MMORPG at least to me. So having the KOTOR game mechanics basically means being a single-player MMO, kind of.

@Dagbiker: True. MMO is hard to define because it technically isn't a genre. But it certainly does have its conventions.

@project343: Glad to hear you're enjoying the game. It is unavoidable that MMOs have to break immersion somewhat. DemonSlayer41 being my battle companion is ridiculous. But I just felt like Bioware set up a single player game, and added PvP/Co-op into the package. Those MMO parts feel so sectioned out from the single-player content, when that stand on its own fairly well. Maybe your brain could switch states, but imagining every time i exit the High Hrothgar temple in Skyrim and see 20 MasterCheif7s hanging out in the blizzard seems all the more ridiculous than MMOs are already.

#25 Posted by project343 (2825 posts) -

@themangalist: I actually think the four separate classes per faction and customizability of companions actually leads to a world that does work fairly seamlessly. Each companion has customizable armor (unless their some sort of crazy beast monster), and has customization 'kits' that completely overhaul their look. Moving forward, each class coincidentally has to venture to the same sectors of a planet for their own reasons, but their objectives are typically so different that it feels natural. I'll give you an example, there's a private military facility on Dromund Kaas that all classes need to visit. The agent needs to find a particular man, interrogate him, then head down to the lower sections of this facility and assassinate someone; the Inquisitor, however, needs to steal a specific piece of technology that will allow him/her to disable a mostly-cyborg rival Sith Lord. You end up going in completely separate directions, and it doesn't feel like: oh hay, he's just as important as me; rather, it brings up the question 'I wonder what sort of adventure he's on right now...'.

Couple more specific responses:

- Instanced events (like blowing up a facility) never affect the outside world in a way that seems immersion-breaking. Typically you'll destroy an entirely instanced lower part of a facility, deep under ground.

- I believe all NPC quest givers cannot be killed (and are considered friendly to both factions).

- EVE is far from the 'only persistent online world.' In the MMORPG genre, there are two major design subgenres: themepark and sandbox. Themeparks are basically questing-on-rails with tons of cinematic polish and zero player involvement, sandboxes are like EVE Online, Star Wars Galaxies (mostly pre-NGE), or Fallen Earth--they're open as fuck, have no sense of direction, and lead to all sorts of bizarre "oh, this is a player-created city, weird..." moments. SWTOR is, obviously, a themepark MMO and should not be compared to a sandbox so directly--they are completely separate genres with completely separate design philosophies.

#26 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

@scarace360 said:

@JasonR86 said:

Does it really matter?

yes.

I don't pay 15$ a month for a single player game.

Ditto. They should have gone with the Guild Wars pricing model.

#27 Posted by Funkydupe (3318 posts) -

It feels like a singleplayer game with the multiplayer as supplement to that experience. It works out fine as you control the dynamic between the two based on your own preference.

I've already spent more hours in TOR than I have in most singleplayer games I've bought, so out of the box, money well spent.

#28 Posted by DefaultProphet (459 posts) -

Does anyone really level in groups to begin with? The only time I'd group up in WoW was if I was with a friend, it was an elite quest, or an instance(Flashpoint). That's.....exactly what I'm doing in SWTOR but the elite quests are dailies. So...I'm not really seeing the issue

#29 Posted by Nadril (528 posts) -

The heavily instanced nature is what sold me off of this game (not that I was very interested in it to begin with). 
 
Certainly MMO's need to go in a new direction rather than just making a "new WoW"... but making them more instanced isn't it. It kind of kills the point of the game being an MMORPG if you're hardly interacting with people outside of instances.  
 
 
@DefaultProphet said:

Does anyone really level in groups to begin with? The only time I'd group up in WoW was if I was with a friend, it was an elite quest, or an instance(Flashpoint). That's.....exactly what I'm doing in SWTOR but the elite quests are dailies. So...I'm not really seeing the issue

For me that's a silly way to put it. Yeah, I solo a majority of content when I play MMOs. However it doesn't mean I just want to play a single player game or heavily instanced game. I want to see other players in the world and I want to be able to have that chance to PvP with them (as I always play PvP games or PvP servers).  
 
And anyways I feel that there are better ways to go about it. I think WoW did a fine job with it's quests in Cataclysm, what with giving each zone its own sort of mini-story line. It still had a feeling that it was an entire world and not just a bunch of instances tied together loosely.  They also found a way to deal with "world changing" events in that game which I thought was really cool. For as much as I dislike the rest of WoW they did a good job there. 
 
But really I think the way to go forward is to do it like guild wars 2. Make a persistent world with the ability to change what is happening around you. You can easily come up with story conceits for a lot of the "events" that they are doing in that game, from what I've seen, that make it totally plausible to have events continue on. 
#30 Posted by DefaultProphet (459 posts) -

@Nadril said:

The heavily instanced nature is what sold me off of this game (not that I was very interested in it to begin with).

Certainly MMO's need to go in a new direction rather than just making a "new WoW"... but making them more instanced isn't it. It kind of kills the point of the game being an MMORPG if you're hardly interacting with people outside of instances.


@DefaultProphet said:

Does anyone really level in groups to begin with? The only time I'd group up in WoW was if I was with a friend, it was an elite quest, or an instance(Flashpoint). That's.....exactly what I'm doing in SWTOR but the elite quests are dailies. So...I'm not really seeing the issue

For me that's a silly way to put it. Yeah, I solo a majority of content when I play MMOs. However it doesn't mean I just want to play a single player game or heavily instanced game. I want to see other players in the world and I want to be able to have that chance to PvP with them (as I always play PvP games or PvP servers). And anyways I feel that there are better ways to go about it. I think WoW did a fine job with it's quests in Cataclysm, what with giving each zone its own sort of mini-story line. It still had a feeling that it was an entire world and not just a bunch of instances tied together loosely. They also found a way to deal with "world changing" events in that game which I thought was really cool. For as much as I dislike the rest of WoW they did a good job there. But really I think the way to go forward is to do it like guild wars 2. Make a persistent world with the ability to change what is happening around you. You can easily come up with story conceits for a lot of the "events" that they are doing in that game, from what I've seen, that make it totally plausible to have events continue on.

You do see people though, the only places you don't see other players are very specific areas within the world that usually aren't much more than a room in an area. It's not like it's a new instance every 10 feet or something. The whole planet instances but it's like 150 people per which is enough to see some people where you are but not have just a gob of people are jumping around waiting for something to respawn to the point where you're waiting for regular enemies to respawn.

#31 Posted by allworkandlowpay (874 posts) -

I was rolling around with a group taking on mobs of enemies and completing quests. Seems like an MMO to me.

Also, spent a few hours just Roleplaying on Korriban with a bunch of players.

It's an MMO, with a lot of instances, and a focus on your own storyline. I don't see how this is any less of an MMO.

#32 Edited by bunnymud (717 posts) -

I've had to stand behind one person to use a quest object oh...lets see.....2 times at the most. Even then, I had to wait 15 seconds. The horror....

And Jeff is complaining about waiting to use quest objects AND the lack of people? /boggle

#33 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

Its a single player game where you can see other players playing at the same time as you.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.