My husband is super-hyped that the early access for Star Wars: The Old Republic is right around the corner. We got to play a bit of beta and it was definitely fun. I had to remind myself a lot that we didn’t get any characters past level 15 so the frame of reference was comparatively quite small.
I will not talk about story lines because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but after the break will be my impressions of what is working and what isn’t.
I’m hoping that as the game matures some of the currently annoying parts will find new iterations or fixes in a fairly timely manner. For example, there are apparently no plans to allow for UI customization. Certain portions of the UI will have to have some customization added to the default if this is the case, because they are just annoying (where’s they auto-repair EA?).
SWTOR has been touted for it’s voice acting and cut scenes, but I felt like the polish (considering we were less than one month from release, i.e. 2 weeks or less from going gold) on the cut scenes was definitely sub par. The patch notes said that they had been cleaned up, which led to some worry about the quality of the product after seeing the “cleaned up” version. At times there would be action with no sound, other times, voices with no lip movement. The player characters are rendered beautifully in the cut scene (and the graphics engine really is quite well done) but the details are missing. Little to no facial expression and stiff movements all take away from the experience and in some ways interrupt if not completely destroy immersion.
As a plus size woman, I also found it annoying that the husky man body type looks like a husky man, while the husky woman body type just meant disproportionally large T & A. What initially seemed to be a really diverse array of options for character appearance also became disappointing after creating several different races and realizing the hairstyles, scars, and makeup are often the same choices for two or more different races. There also seemed to be some discrepancy between the look of the character on the character creation screen versus their appearance in the cut-scenes. The lighting in game was often such that the character looked darker or lighter (distractingly so) when compared to the creation screen.
All of that said, the combat was fairly compelling. The only exception is when you run out of resource and a caster has to run into melee range and start hitting a mob. This is even more frustrating when you are the healer. One button spam is expected at the early healing levels, but having no recourse when out of mana/energy/force, etc. is frustrating. This is one of the lessons that I had hoped by now other companies had learned from World of Warcraft. The introductory experience should be the hook, frustrations can come later.
I can understand why they need to have equivalent classes on each side, that was a lesson they did learn. The problem lies in each of those sides having a significantly different animation style for similar spells. I LOVED being able to pull up chunks of dirt and fling them about, and was ridiculously disappointed that there was no equivalent on the opposite faction. I could just go with the faction who had the best (in my opinion) animations and more compatible world view to my own, but that would put me on the opposite faction of my husband and best friend.
The other thing I was really surprised they didn’t learn from WoW was the placement of questgivers. There were times when I was certain I was missing quests simply because I took the wrong door out of a building. When I went back to see what I was missing, I didn’t necessarily find anything. This became a problem when my husband and I were playing in different starting areas and ended up waiting for the other one to finish the multitude of starting area quests and getting to the main “city” at level 12 while the other was struggling to find groups for level 8 quests that they picked up at level 4 and barely making level 10 before they left the start zone. I don’t want to see quests that are so far beyond my level range that I can’t complete them. I do want to see questgivers clumped together in such a way that I cannot miss seeing one by simply taking the west door instead of the east door, or hearthing instead of running out of the instance.
The dungeon that we ran was quite fun and the grouping experience of the cut scenes was at times hilarious! Those things I hope they continue to iterate on because they are so enjoyable. I’m interested in at least seeing where they take this. I’ll have some gaming time over the holidays which I will also be splitting with WoW.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic opens up pre-loading for early players [Updated] (massively.joystiq.com)