Very few games have come out in the past year that are so divisive as Star Wars: The Old Republic. I went from loving it to hating it to liking it. Its not that it is a bad game. Its just the game didn’t know what it wanted its identity to be when it was first released. The game started out as friendly to players that haven’t really played an MMO before. It wasn’t difficult and eased players into the mechanics of an online massive RPG.
Then came the difficulty spikes and balance issues. When an enemy kills you without breaking a sweat, and there is little to no reason why the enemy should, players tend to get mad. Sure, some of it has to do with knowing how to use the right skills. After about my 12th time fighting the same enemy, I jumped on The Old Republic forums to see how other people were fairing. I found some helpful techniques and jumped back in the game. I got further, and the boss was down to sliver of health and then…
I still died. In the end it was by pure luck that I finally defeated the boss, and pure luck does not equal fun.
Another problem with The Old Republic is that not all Star Wars gamers really like MMO’s. Many of them just want another single player Knights of the Old Republic game (the series that spawned The Old Republic). They don’t want Star Wars World of Warcraft. Sadly, at the end of the day, that is what The Old Republic is. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table besides a Star Wars sheen which wasn’t even necessarily that polished at launch. A few months into launch, NPC’s eyes would disappear, textures would black out, and there were still a slew of a companion glitches. This is what led me to cancel my subscription.
After several patches later and an offer for some free play time, I logged back in. I found a lot of the glitches were fixed including some of the balance issues. However, looking at the counts on the servers, it was clear that the damage was already done. People were tired of cheap deaths caused by glitches. Bioware tried to fix the issue of the drastically lowered gamer population by shutting down servers. It was just a case of image management and trying to get more players together. It worked for a time, however even as I’m logging in now, the numbers are still dwindling. It is clear that if Bioware doesn’t add something soon to the game, they may have to shut down completely.
This is in fact really sad. This game has been in development for an extremely long amount of time. It isn’t a bad game, either. Its just not very innovative. One of the more interesting aspects of the game is the Legacy system, but by the time most players would unlock that they would probably have lost interest because of the old balance problems. The Legacy system allows players to build a “family tree”. They can create a nemesis, make brothers on opposing sides, in a sense it makes you feel like you are creating your own Star Wars saga. So, when you create another character and start playing, it feels like your two characters are connected. Right now that connection is arbitrary and just comes in the forms of perks. If Bioware wanted to capitalize on the Legacy system, they would have future class quests intersect with one another.
There are a lot of things Bioware can implement to try and save The Old Republic. In world events would be a great addition. Legacy system where character quests actually cross paths would be great. Space missions that are more than just generic, “Shoot this and don’t die,” missions. It would also be nice if they could spend a little more time balancing companions too. It is frustrating when certain companions become near useless at certain points in the game.
All this being said, it could be too late for The Old Republic. Only time will tell, though, and hopefully the game going Free to Play up to level 50 will help entice some players back into the galaxy far, far away.