07 December 2011

Great Expectations

Ok a quick bit of business before I get to today's topic.  If you'd like to subscribe to my Twitter feed, follow me @Xintia12.  As I said before this whole production is a work in progress at this juncture so for the moment I will mostly be using Twitter to make short comments on things that aren't worth a whole blog post, or to link to important articles and events as they come up.  I may do more with it in the future, but we'll see how things go for the time being.

So starting next week, I will be joining the masses for the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Odds are if you are reading this blog, this game is not news to you, and more than likely you already have an opinion about it.  You probably either pre-ordered ages ago (as I did) or have sworn it off as the latest "WoW clone" not worth your time or effort.  This post is not intended to try and change anybody's mind about the game.  But since it is the primary game I will be talking about for at least the next four months, the best place to start would be to talk about some of my expectations for the game as we prepare for launch.

First off, I'll be blunt.  I have no problem with the WoW comparisons.  I liked WoW, I enjoyed playing it for a long time... until Wrath and Cataclysm completely destroyed it.  So I have no problem with the "WoW with lightsabers" criticism that many people are quick to fling at SW:TOR.  Even if it were true, which I don't think it is, I would still play the game.  So what am I hoping to get out of it?  It's really pretty simple.  I want to play a game that is fun, engaging, and worth the time I choose to invest in it.

Often times reading MMO blogs, forums, fansites, etc. you could be forgiven for forgetting that we are talking about GAMES and that they are supposed to be FUN.  This seems to be a unique problem to the MMO genre.  We get so wrapped up in things like "endgame" and "min/maxing" that we forget that at the end of the day... we're supposed to be having fun.  And yes, endgame is fun and tweaking your character to its maximum potential is fun.  I don't question that, in fact I love theorycrafting myself.  But it can become a case of missing the forest because you're focused on the trees.  You start to lose the big picture.  So that's the thing I want from SW:TOR.  I want it to be fun.

Fun from my point of view means three things.  I love instances/dungeons.  I love crafting.  And I love community.  I am an absolute fanatic for dungeons.  Small group content is probably the single most important aspect of an MMO to me.  If your game has good and challenging dungeons, I am more than likely going to like your game.  On this count, SW:TOR has impressed me so far.  I played the low level instance for both the Empire and Republic during one of the beta tests and loved them both.  I thought The Esseles was slightly superior, but Black Talon was lots of fun as well.  If the other instances are as good, I will be happy with SW:TOR for a long time.

I'm also a bit of a crafting nut.  I enjoy collecting patterns, creating my own gear, and doing my little part to add to the economy of a game.  That said, I am also impressed with SW:TOR's crafting system.  I like the idea that your companions can do it while you are questing or doing other things.  I like that they can be sent to gather materials.  And I like that you can obtain better versions of items by crafting them and breaking them down.  I also like their take on modding items.  If you want to spend the time and effort, you can make a favorite item about as good as the best available gear.  For some people, that effort will be worth it, for others it won't.  But the option will be there, and I love options.

The last thing that really makes a game for me is the community, and I mean that both in the general sense of the whole game/server, and the specific sense in terms of guilds and groups.  This is where WoW really started to fall flat for me in the end.  The community just fell apart.  No one talked, no one cared.  Every other player was just treated like an NPC, just a means to an end.  I won't get into the specifics of why I think that happened in this post, but I hope for better from SW:TOR.  And this is the one thing that is difficult to predict.  While the mood in the beta weekends was pleasant and the groups I was a part of were fun, there is no way to know what the community will be like at launch.  I will hope for the best.

So those are my expectations of the game going in... what are yours?  Or will you be skipping this adventure in a galaxy far, far away?

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