View from the newcomer: what I want in Star Wars The Old Republic

I’m really pleased to introduce Phillip, who’s going to play a key role at TOROZ as a senior writer. As a veteran gamer who wasn’t born when the first Star Wars film was released, he’ll bring a different perspective to 2010’s biggest MMO launch. He’s also new to SWTOR, which provides some insights that may be obvious to the more dedicated but very useful at a wider level.

swtor-aug09 After spending an extensive amount of time in my youth playing text based MUD’s and MUSH’s, then followed by time spent playing World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and a brief dabble in EVE, I can say that I’m looking forward to the arrival of SWTOR. There are, however, a few things I’d really like to see when I finally embark on my virtual journey in a galaxy far, far away.

It comes as no surprise that a lot of functionality provided by WoW is a good starting point when you begin making comparisons or discussing features and functionality you’d like to see in an MMO, Blizzard have pretty much set the benchmark to which other MMOs are measured. In all fairness though, WoW is starting to look a little dated and there are only so many more raid instances one can bear before the time spent playing begins to become repetitive.

SWTOR, from what has been revealed, is aiming to make a story driven game it’s unique selling point in the market. From a gamers point of view I’m really looking forward to this style of play, but I do hope that it doesn’t follow the lines of endless fetch-and-gather, kill this and return that style quests of most MMOs and actually offers real, engrossing and immersive gameplay storylines. I’m very curious to see how this can be achieved in an MMO environment while involving a mulitude of players. If anyone can pull off a story based game it’ll be Bioware and they have the track record to back it up – I’m really looking forward to what they have to offer.

Secure trading and trust in the economy is another big factor in a successful MMO in my opinion. In this arena, EVE is incomparable. On the flip-side, its economy and learning to maneuver within it to make a profit, can be a steep learning curve for the average gamer. A lot of EVE gamers believe this complexity is a good thing, and I’m not one to disagree, however this can create a barrier to entry and isn’t very conducive to casual gaming. SWTOR should appeal to all age groups so it’s a fine line for the game designers to travel, the StarWars story is one that has been appreciated by all people and of all ages and it is imperative that the game is kept accessible to all.

Guild, factions, clans, groups etc, are another factor that will surely be included in the SWTOR. It’s obvious that the two main rival parties will be the Republic and the Sith Empire and similarities can be drawn to WoW‘s Horde and Alliance. The other thing I’m curious about is “guild” type groupings. One thing I do find limiting with other MMOs is the fact that you can’t belong to several at one time. I can understand in some cases why having only one faction may be necessary, but it’s genuinely limiting for those players that want to create a character with a varied and colourful background. Some sort of reputation based scheme may work, and I’m not saying it should be as simplistic as WoW‘s reputation system, which applies to NPC’s relation to a players character. I’m thinking that being able to have affiliations with multiple factions may be an interesting concept. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Republic and Sith Empire players will be segregated in the fashion you see on WoW. I would think being able to play some kind of double agent could be another very interesting form of gameplay.

There’s also a lot of speculation at the moment surrounding the final class/race sets that will appear in the StarWars MMO. There will be much secrecy surrounding the final line-up and I’m guessing that BioWare and LucasArts will want to keep some information close to their chest as a final surprise for the public release.