E3! Do you like video games? I sure do and I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with the amount of content coming at me from every direction. Through with this bombardment of information there is one game I crave information for more than any other. Star Wars: The Old Republic. Over the past couple of days I’ve noticed TOR catching a fair amount of negative press and I’m not sure why.
When Rift was released I wrote something about how small changes in the MMO genre are perceived as huge changes to the people who regularly play MMOs. This is because real innovation in MMOs rarely happens. Sometimes it’s years or a decade before we really see something different. To me this negative press with TOR seems to have the opposite problem. Things that have never been done in MMOs before are being overlooked. Bioware has repeatedly stated that this is a fully voiced MMO and I really think this has the potential to make everything before completely redundant. No one will want to read paragraphs of text when taking on quests any more. They will want to get the emotion and entertainment that comes with the cut scenes. Voice acting is now a fundamental part of most video games (*cough* Zelda *cough*) and once that leap has been made in MMOs I think it’s going to be really hard to go back.
Now with the full VO comes the story telling aspect. As it stands storytelling in MMOs is nonexistent and remember it's Bioware doing this, one of the best story tellers out there. This is something that can truly mask the grind. Something no MMO has ever been able to do. What if your reason to continue playing was not based on “I have to get to the level” but that you just want to see what happens next. Then you have something like Knights of the Old Republic but in a fully online world with hundreds of other players. Now depending on how you play games this could turn you off and that’s fine. I understand why people wouldn’t want TOR but would rather have KOTOR 3 but personally I’m a MMO kinda guy.
The last thing and really the point I keep hearing again and again is that TOR feels like WoW with a Star Wars skin. Having played about 20 mins of TOR I can see their point but the depth of combat in MMOs is never known till late game. I also think this more of problem people have with MMOs than TOR itself. Let’s take Call of Duty. If you were to apply that same argument you would have a problem with Battlefield and every other first person shooter on the market. The way TOR plays is because it’s a MMO, it’s how the genre plays not the game. Yes there have been some MMOs that differ from the right click/hotbar setup but not many.
I feel I must say that this is all based on TOR coming out and being good. I’m as worried as I am excited. Maybe this negative press will ultimately be correct and TOR will be just another MMO that isn’t WoW but in a genre where you really need to invest yourself for many hours to get just a flavour of what’s ahead of you I feel these criticisms don’t realise how little has changed since World of Warcraft took over MMOs.
This is the most comprehensive video of The Old Republic I've seen to come out of E3: