Hands On: Star Wars: The Old Republic

By John Walker on April 28th, 2011 at 5:00 pm.

I was the blue one.

I had the chance to sit down to play The Old Republic for a couple of days. News about the PvP side of things will be with you in just over a week, but below are my impressions of a big chunk of time with the Imperial Agent’s PvE. There’s also some brand new screens, that you can click on for larger versions. How does the game balance RPG and MMO? Is this really KotORs 3, 4 and 5? I have some thoughts to share.

The Old Republic is a game existing in conflict. Certainly there’s the overarching story of Sith vs. Republic, Dark vs Light. There’s also the slightly more meta battle between a clear desire to offer a single player RPG and the efforts to be a multiplayer MMO.

Previously described by BioWare as Knights Of The Old Republic 3, 4 and 5 in one game, there’s no question of TOR’s origins. This is unquestionably in the KotOR universe, and while it doesn’t obviously pick up any narrative from the previous single player games, so much will be familiar to anyone who’s experienced BioWare’s take on the Star Wars universe.

But there’s also no doubt it’s an MMO. With a huge range of classes to choose from, on two opposite sides of the ongoing conflict (and as everyone has already heard, either side will have a completely distinct game with no shared missions whatsoever – it’s essentially two MMOs in one), and a world in which you can see everyone else running around, it’s also clearly not KotOR 3.

At the most recent event demonstrating the game I spent two days playing as an Imperial Agent. This is a Sith character, focusing on stealth, subterfuge and sabotage. And perhaps what most surprised me was that this isn’t just what defines my skill tree. It changed how I play the game.

For instance, my character’s opening story was about trying to get information from a local Hutt. But in order to do this I was going to have to go undercover. Of course this meant a mission where I had to steal the clothes of those I was imitating. But what I wasn’t expecting was my character’s voice to change.

It’s odd enough that player’s characters have voices at all. For a game on this scale, the volume of dialogue is astonishing. While they use some tricks with the alien races, who gabble in a limited number of subtitled lines of nonsense, those speaking English speak a lot. My Imperial Agent (let’s call her Impy, since the pre-chosen name was a mess of consonants and apostrophes) had a stern English accent, barking her thoughts dismissively at those deigning to speak to her. But once she went under-cover she adopted an American twang.

It’s that sort of thing – aesthetics, certainly – that make you realise TOR is something different. Especially as this is the first MMO I’ve experienced where you can be a real dick to people.

“Does this sob story have a point?” I asked a lady who was begging me for help in the street. As with KotOR, you can opt out of helping people, or even screw them over, should you choose to. Decisions will win you Dark or Light points, which will define your character, whichever side of the conflict you’re fighting on. I decided as a Sith Imperial Agent, Dark was the only direction to go in.

And this level of story exceeds anything I’ve seen in an MMO. There’s currently nothing else that comes close, with perhaps only The Secret World as a rival for such a narrative-focused approach. Simply the fact that my character pretended to be someone else – Blade, she went by – for such a protracted period, was novel to the point of gripping me. And within that, as I lied and tricked the various residents of this Hutta enclave, I was able to betray at my leisure. I could come out of that situation – a good day’s worth of play – having decided whose side I was really on.

The other thing to note here is that I was playing alone. And there was little impetus to team up with anyone. The story, in fact, encouraged me to be soloing this. This happens to be exactly how I want to play MMOs, so I was delighted. But those who are all about guilds and the like will have to get through some significant sections before they’ll get their way. That’s not to say that you can’t team up, because you absolutely can. Certain areas will be blocked off to someone who’s not the same class as you, and some quests are specific to you, but it’s more the lack of narrative sense that put me off wanting a buddy.

In fact, at the point where you really do need someone else to help you battle through, the game gives you an NPC companion. Luckily for me, one who delighted in my making the cruelest choices.

And then there’s the other side of this conflict. It is an MMO. In some ways this really enhances the feel of a single player approach. I’m doing my own thing, playing on my own, but there’s other real people in the world doing their thing too. If I wanted to, I could ask them for help. As it is, I quite like that they’re there, making the world feel more realistic and lived in.

But of course there come points where you need to be grouped together. Known as Flashpoints, what are essentially enormous dungeons are best played in teams. But they don’t betray the story focus, either. While there’s an enormous amount of fighting to do, you’ll also find yourself in a lot of chats. So how do those work?

It’s the rather elegant solution of rolling for responses. The usual options are there – friendly, ambivalent, cruel, greedy – and everyone playing can choose their preference, and then the game rolls. Certain (as yet unrevealed) aspects of characters can gain influence in these rolls, but basically it’s luck who gets to speak first. And this can have some major impacts.

I continued roleplaying as cruelly as possible, and so when given the choice to release a prisoner we’d interrogated, I opted for needlessly murdering him. My dice won. The choices the others made appeared, and they had all picked letting him live. Tee hee.

But the MMO’s influence doesn’t seem to be all positive. In fact, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that The Old Republic is an RPG frustrated by its online state.

In KotOR, when I’m sent to an ancient temple at the crux of a long series of missions, recovering some vital ancient artifact, I inevitably have to battle my way to the centre. Reaching my goal, I collect my prize, and victoriously make my way to the exit.

In TOR, when I’m sent to an ancient temple at the crux of a long series of missions, recovering some vital ancient artifact, I inevitably have to battle my way to the centre. Reaching my goal, I collect my prize, and then have to kill all the same creatures I fought on the way in. Huh?

The joy is that there’s a long series of missions. That a task does not feel like the latest on a shopping list, but rather a culmination of hours of play. The misery is realising that I’m a fly on the game’s windscreen, my actions immediately wiped away.

Pleasingly, while there are “kill 10 of these” quests, they’re almost hidden. I’m sent to visit someone or other in the next town, but on the way a quest may get subtly added that if I kill ten of something I’ll get a reward. But they’re the thing I’ll encounter on my way there, and the quests seemed to ding as a natural consequence of playing, rather than something I laboriously sought. And because I was really making my way to speak to a man who had a clue for my larger quest, the lack of artifice made me far more comfortable with the extra challenge.

Edit: BioWare have let us know that the demo only showed a fraction of the skills available. And by level 35 the Imperial Agent has over 30 non-passive abilities. So I was quite, quite wrong to criticise the lack there! Sorry about that.

The Imperial Agent was interesting in their use of cover. Only Tabula Rasa has really tried this before, and TOR certainly does a far better job. Holding down Shift revealed all the available cover spots, of which there are always very many, and hitting my cover button Impy would dive and roll into safety. And when in cover I had access to all of my attacks. Out of cover I was far more vulnerable, meaning my class made a genuine difference to how I approached combat. Melee was a last resort, leaving me far better suited to ‘sniping’ from cover.

The range of crafting/skill options is mystifyingly detailed. Reaching a major city, I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary number of choices. Each character can learn three skills, of which only one can be crafting. So perhaps you’ll pick Underworld Trading, Diplomacy and Archaeology? Or Sith Warrior, Bioanalysis, and Cybertech? How about Inquisitor, Skinning and Synth Weaving? I swear I’m not making these up.

I think the crucial thing I took away from two days with the game was that I wanted to carry on. That seems pretty essential. And that’s despite playing in the most hideously hot, sweaty, stinking room packed with fifty equally hideous, hot, sweaty, stinking games journalists. Tough conditions, but not enough to put me off. It frustrates me that I can’t keep playing, and I’m pretty certain that’s the key to both a good story-led RPG and monthly subbed MMO.

Next week we’ll have a preview of the game’s PvP content.

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161 Comments »

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  1. unangbangkay says:

    I doubt that there are, but are there options for a “lifetime” subscription? This feels like the kind of game I’ll play, then put down for a long time, coming back only when there’s new content to burn through, like a single-player game with the promise of an endless amount of DLC.

    • VelociraptorBill says:

      We’ll probably learn about subscription options closer to release. We don’t even know when it’s coming out!

    • djbriandamage says:

      In my experience the only MMOs that offer lifetime subscriptions are the ones who are either uncertain of their longevity or need an upfront infusion of cash. I doubt either applies here.

    • sneetch says:

      In that case you’re probably as well off subscribing for a month here and there.

      In my experience the lifetime subs cost about as much as subscribing for 18 months to two years or even more depending on subscription length.

      LOTRO and DDO were both over £150 on top of the cost of the game, IIRC and both are now free 2 play (which must sting a bit).

    • RakeShark says:

      I agree somewhat with djb, most MMOs that offer up the lifetime subscription are looking to take your cash more than provide you bang for your buck. Buying a $100-200 lifetime sub with a maybe $65 pre-order collector’s edition is a huge investment up front, and there’s a chance you may hate the game within the first month. Those lifetime subs are usually only available before the game’s released, and once those 2-3 months pass by, people will have made their opinions known on whether or not this game is worth the $20 a month alone.

      It would be a good sign if the lifetime sub is offered well after the game is released. That usually means there are enough people talking well of the game for them to keep taking bucket loads of newcomer’s money. However, WoW doesn’t offer lifetime subs, and plenty of people sing its praises. So there’s the flip side of no lifetime subscription means they’re confident enough that this game will take your money for years, and you’ll love forking that cash over.

      In short, if you REALLY want the most out of a MMO, get the collector’s edition. Play for 2-3 months on a regular or discount sub, and decide if the game’s worth playing further. If you need to take a break from it or lose a fair amount of interest in it, you won’t feel cheated out of paying more than you wanted. The collector’s edition means you get the cool toys whenever you play, but the lifetime sub just means one massive payment for who knows how long.

    • paterah says:

      I’m a bit confused here, as sneetch said if you only want to go through new content releases then you would be better off with subbing every 2-3 months rather than a lifetime sub.

    • pilot13 says:

      I suspect he is speculating somewhat.

  2. VelociraptorBill says:

    Does Bioware know KOTOR 2 already exists?

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    So perhaps you’ll pick Underworld Trading, Diplomacy and Archaeology? Or Sith Warrior, Bioanalysis, and Cybertech? How about Inquisitor, Skinning and Synth Weaving?

    That list of skills is the most interesting information I’ve heard about the game in a long time. “Underworld Trading” gives me the tiniest bit of hope that playing a smuggler might involve something more than just doing a bunch of pre-written smuggly quests.

  4. Wilson says:

    Hmm, sounds interesting. Will be looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.

  5. Tei says:

    Does this sob story have a point?” I asked a lady who was begging me for help in the street. As with KotOR, you can opt out of helping people, or even screw them over, should you choose to. Decisions will win you Dark or Light points, which will define your character, whichever side of the conflict you’re fighting on. I decided as a Sith Imperial Agent, Dark was the only direction to go in.

    You did WHAT?, now go back to the game, search this NPC, and help her everything she need. Kill 10 rats in the basement. Disable the slave ring on the backstreet. FedEx a crate of drugs to a moribund planet / orphanage. And do it NOW.

    And wash your hands before dinner. :-/

  6. woodsey says:

    Its refreshing to see something positive about the game. I mean, most of the previews I’ve seen are, but you look at the comments section of those and, well, fffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu-

    Everyone seems to be a bit disillusioned with BioWare at the minute though, so perhaps its just the back-end of that.

    • Commisar says:

      I know, just because DA2 wasn’t Dragon Age Origins 2, eveyone (on PC at least) hates Bioware

    • woodsey says:

      To be fair, it had a number of issues (some surprising ones too given how long BioWare have been in business), but it is odd how 1 average game suddenly seems to destroy everyone’s opinion of you.

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      Rinox says:

      Also, ‘seeing something positive’…almost everything negatively we heard was just speculation from internet people. Not that I’m not guilty of doing that once in a while, obviously. :-) But I’m just saying that we haven’t really seen much input from people who actually played the game.

    • Burning Man says:

      Considering that ALL of DA2’s previews were overwhelmingly positive, I really don’t know what to make of game journalists/previews/Bioware games. Don’t remember reading RPS’ preview of it, so I’m not judging them, but practically every major site I know covered it and said it was awesome/better than the first.

      Yeah right.

    • edit says:

      “To be fair, it had a number of issues (some surprising ones too given how long BioWare have been in business), but it is odd how 1 average game suddenly seems to destroy everyone’s opinion of you.”

      The thing that has changed the way I view Bioware is not the quality of a game, but the intention behind various choices they’ve made. The way they’ve handled DLC and their increasing focus on it, for instance. Most of what I heard about DA2 suggested to me that their direction and vision for the future no longer necessarily aligns with what I would like to see, so I find myself demoted from “I’m a passionate fan who will buy everything they make” to “I’ll keep an eye out for their future releases but may or may not play them depending on numerous factors”.

    • Wulf says:

      Uh. No. I’m negative about it because I’m not a fan of WoW and much of the game footage looks exactly like a WoW reskin. It was the playable alpha footage that made me cringe the most, similar to what ArenaNet did with the public demo of Guild Wars 2. That revealed a lot to me about TOR, and I saw button bars, three of them. I also saw bars, lots of them. And I saw many, many buttons.

      I just don’t want to get into a game like that ever again. It’s going to be for some people, but never for me.
      What I want is Guild Wars 2. In GW2 you can’t even target allies because that’s not how it works, heals are area of effect stuff, there’s no holy trinity, you watch the field instead of bars on your screen, and everything feels more dynamic and fluid. That is what I want.

      Edit #1: Here’s an example.

      Watch this trailer (skip ahead to the combat), I don’t want that.
      Watch this trailer (skip ahead to the combat), I want that.

    • malkav11 says:

      Two. Two average games, diverging in all the wrong ways from their predecessors, to which Dragon Age 2 also added the sins of being buggy and having a terribly written third act. (The other one, of course, being Mass Effect 2.) That’s enough of a trend to make me increasingly skeptical of Bioware’s current direction. That said, TOR is a total wild card for me. I loved KOTOR, and half the time TOR sounds like several KOTORs wrapped into one, with multiplayer bits in. The other half of the time, I worry that that uneasy balance between singleplayer RPG and MMO cannot possibly end well.

    • Bret says:

      Uh, average?

      ME2?

      Main plot was very not good, especially by Bioware standards, but if you can put that aside (not hard. It’s not exactly a big part of the game) you have an improvement on its predecessor in almost every way.

      Like, massively great. Did you miss the big RPS list of best games plopping ME2 right down there?

    • malkav11 says:

      Mass Effect 2 was noticeably -less- than its predecessor in almost every way, and while it did improve a few things, they are not enough better to compensate for all the things it gets wrong. That so many people seem to think it was the best RPG of 2010 makes me very sad. (Though, to be fair, I didn’t dig Mass Effect -1- as much as some people seemed to.)

    • Burning Man says:

      The only issue I had with ME2 was its’ story. It was a great game, with fun combat, but it had no effin point to it. At all. Considering that the only reason I loved it’s predecessor was it’s gobsmackingly fantabulous story, it’s a dealbreaker for me. I tried to like ME2 and failed. And I consider it too far removed from the very concept of an RPG to be called anything near, “Best RPG/Game Of The Year”.

      I find it very sad that Gamespot nominated ME2 for a GOTY and put Fallout: NV in it’s list of ‘Worst Games’ of the year.

    • gwathdring says:

      Huh. I had a similar reaction to ME2’s story: that it wasn’t great, and the third act was miserable. But I had a similar reaction to ME1’s story as well. Granted, I had this reaction longer after finishing ME1 than ME2 (negative time for ME2–such thoughts cropped up right in the middle of gameplay), so in my experience the degradation was in story presentation rather than story quality. The way the gameplay elements and decisions lined up with the story being told, and the way the locations (Ilos was really interesting to me) matched with the narrative pacing at any given time impressed me. ME1’s story was not particularly interesting to me … but the presentation of the story was. Which is what matters in a video game, to me. A video game doesn’t need to deliver the same type of story that meets the same quality criteria to be of equal quality to stories in film and literature. This is not to say game stories can afford to be bad—but they can afford to crumple into a bad story when separated from gameplay. That’s fine by me. One of the troubles, I suppose, is that most of the story in ME2 felt separated from gameplay in my playthrough, let alone in analysis. The characters were just as interesting to me, the setting just as interesting, the dialog of similar quality (take that as you will). But it wasn’t as well connected to the gameplay.

      I felt some of the side quests captured this feeling more than the rest of the game … perhaps because there were almost no missions that felt like “main plot” missions to me as there were in ME1. The crucial squad collection missions felt like side-quests to me–even the ones that I enjoyed, that I felt told an effective and interesting story with the gameplay and dialog, felt like a side show rather than a main course. This left almost nothing of value to the main plot outside of cutscenes–the intro, the final assault, and … I think two short missions. ME1 had Eden Prime, Feros, Noveria, Virmire, Illos–all fairly sizeable chunks of gameplay and plot advancement tied together. Now, of course squad collection missions and loyalty missions could dwarf that content wise, but I personally felt them to be disconnected from the “main story.”

      I also think that there’s another way to look at the Bioware sequels. Rather than seeing two games that changed wildly from their predecessors and made tons of mistakes, I like to look at the games differently. I haven’t played DA2, but it sounds like a similar case to ME2 for a lot of the people talking about the decline of Bioware games. My high school orchestra director wasn’t ever really annoyed at use for making mistakes: he got flustered when we made the same mistake repeatedly. You could make him happy by being sharp, then flat, then sharp, then flat; of course, if it didn’t get closer over the course of this process, there was still a problem. I appreciate that Bioware took a lot of the criticisms of DA:O and ME1 and turned them upside down: they streamlined combat, made combat progression more directly noticeable on the field, got rid of the vehicle so many people hated (I miss the my Mako, though …), brought back some of the old favorite characters in a few interesting ways (I was rather fond of encounters with Archangel and Wrex in ME2) …

      What bothers me a lot more aren’t the things they changed and, in the minds of some fans, over-corrected in response to criticism. I’m more bothered by the issues that date back to older Bioware games such as the shoehorned romances that almost always treat sex as the ultimate goal or the binary “moral choice” system that Mass Effect at least pushed out of the Good/Evil territory without really fixing. Those are the sorts of mistakes that really cause me to question future developments of a company. Overall, I think I like both games equally. There’s a sense of life in both games, in the characters and cutscenes. But ME1 did a better job carrying that life over into gameplay; which sounds odd, seeing as the gameplay was clunky and such in ME1. But the empty planets I surveyed, and the reasons and the environments I visited (while both are samey within an environment, there was a fair aesthetic switch between environments that wasn’t as present in ME2) gave a sense of scale, time, and pacing. ME2, however, had slicker more satisfying combat despite the combat scenarios themselves feeling very similar in practice and there being more combat in ME2 allowing the repetitive enemy AI to overstay it’s welcome more. ME2 also had more little moments of humor and portrayed a greater sense of functional and physical size in urban and interior environments (much as ME1 did for exterior environments and the story/galaxy at large). ME2 also didn’t spam me with guns and lootable items to sort through. I’m undecided, but I loved both games for different reasons.

  7. heartlessgamer says:

    Sorry to disappointment, but the smuggler is a buffing/healing class :/

    • woodsey says:

      No, the Smuggler can be a buffing/healing class if you take it that way. As it stands, so can 6 of the 8 classes (Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior being the other 2).

      You don’t have to play them that way.

    • RakeShark says:

      Hey, you, with the mystical supernatural powers, magic up some damn healing while I kick this guy in the nads and then shoot him in the head. Damn tool thinks he’s a space samurai with that laserpole, and all he’s doing is getting shot and whining about how tough it is to be him.

      Edit: Additionally, I’d like to find where this idea that Han Solo and people like him are healers/buffers started, and set it on fire.

    • Jolly Teaparty says:

      But the smuggler will end up that way if he turns out to be even slightly better at it. It seems like every MMO tries to give classes the ability to fill all roles to an extent; it’s really the players that end up pigeon-holing them. Then due to player demand the classes end up being tuned to fit better into the pigeon-holes, which becomes a vicious cycle.

      First: “My class can’t heal/dps/tank as well as [insert slightly more specialised classes here], make us better at [single role I think the class is meant to do] so we can be useful”

      Then: “That hybrid class can heal/dps/tank as well as my specialised class, but they can do everything else too! Make us better or make their other abilities worse to balance it out!”

      I think it’s just an inevitability with MMOs.

  8. Easydog says:

    This is the first thing I’ve read that actually makes me want to play the game.

    • Highstorm says:

      Agreed, though I wish John had gone into more detail about the combat. That’s what’s worried me most about the previews I’ve seen thus far. Animations look stuttered and having two men with laser guns (or indeed, laser swords) standing still, 20 feet apart, shooting mindlessly at each other looks very, very bland and boring. Perhaps the PvP article will touch on that more.

  9. djbriandamage says:

    I’m very skeptical of Bioware’s ability to make a decent MMO. WoW may be Blizzard’s MMO but they had ample experience with multiplayer strategy and complex balancing. All Bioware’s done are single-player and co-op games that can afford to be one-sided and imbalanced. I’d have been thrilled with a KOTOR 3 that carried on where the previous games left off but I suspect Bioware is going for the grand cash grab.

    I really hope I’m wrong. I’ll give it a try but not without my doubts.

    • Commisar says:

      I know, its not like Jade empire, Mass Effect 1&2, Baldurs Gate 1&2 and Dragon Age origins were any good right? And its not like Lucasarts it helping out ALOT in making sure that this is the greatest Star Wars MMO to date. How could Bioware possibly make a decent MMO?

    • Outsider says:

      So you cite a bunch or singleplayer or singleplayer oriented games to prove that they can make a massively multiplayer online game? That’s like saying there’s no reason to believe a plumber isn’t also capable of completely rewiring your house.

      I think skepticism is a perfectly reasonable stance for someone to take here, especially given what we’ve all been shown so far is incredibly lackluster.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      @Commisar: I’m wondering why you bothered to list all of Bioware’s single player RPG’s to show they could make a good MMO? Single player is irrelevant. And Lucasarts… they’ve been pretty bad for years now.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Commisar, I think those are all great reasons why a single player KOTOR 3 RPG would be outstanding, but Bioware is trying something they’ve never done before. An MMO not only requires balance between players and NPCs, but between co-operative and PVP players as well. It has to account for real people doing unpredictable things in real time. To put it simply, Bioware excels at making games that you can pause while Blizzard has a long history of refining realtime competitive multiplayer arenas.
      –edit–
      P.s., KOTOR is my favourite RPG series ever – even better than the source material – so I’m protective of my baby!

    • Eolirin says:

      I would be more inclined to say that made *any* sense if the team involved in WoW had a stronger relationship to the individuals responsible for balancing the battle.net games (a number of them left for ArenaNet before WoW was that far in development) or if the Bioware team responsible for TOR had any relationship to their previous games. Bioware’s Austin branch is handling development; completely different set of people, many of which are former members of various MMO developers. Their lead combat designer is an ex-Origin developer who was also involved in Meridian 59, just as an example.

      You really have to look at the individuals and teams involved, not just the company that hired them.

    • Kadayi says:

      You people need to get past this idea that games companies are some how fixed rigid singular minded entities living in ivory towers in the clouds, but are in fact organisations made up of hundreds of individuals and are constantly evolving, adapting and bringing in talent & experience appropriate to the task. Hell, ToR is being developed by Bioware Austin Vs Bioware Edmonton (who do all the ME, DA stuff) for a start. Notions of carry through are kind of ridiculous tbh.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Really? You don’t think my comment makes any sense at all? With asterisks, even?
      And we have to let go of our idea that companies are rigid – even this company that has made nothing but single player RPGs for 15 years?
      Come on now, my good chaps. I’m not looking into my crystal ball and telling you the game’s going to fail. I’m just saying the proof will be in the pudding.

    • Outsider says:

      Getting lectured about how flexible these companies are when they’ve done nothing but make the same types of games for so long is really strange.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Outsider

      How many MMOs had Blizzard made before they made WoW?

  10. Grape Flavor says:

    The dialogue thing sounds frustrating. A dice roll? Really? Why not just have the choice itself be random if you’re just going to let some random jerkass you grouped with make story choices for you.

    I would have LOVED a real KOTOR 3 but the MMO aspect really drags it down. It might turn out to be fun, but I just can’t see me paying endless monthly fees for this.

    GW2 is still my top upcoming MMO. I don’t really give a shit about the GW lore compared to the KOTOR setting, but the innovative gameplay, combined with the fact that I actually get to own the game instead of just renting it indefinitely, seals the deal.

    • gwathdring says:

      I think it’s an elegant solution to multiplayer options in a story mode. One option would be to always let a designated team leader decide what happens, but that would be just as annoying for some of the players, and there’s always the chance that some party member in the actual party would take charge and just shoot the bastard or forcefully tell everyone we have to let him go. It also simulates the group of characters deciding what happens next without allowing characters with a high Persuasion or whatever the in game equivalent is to be guaranteed their way in every decision–but also hopefully making it so that a high level character with lots of points in -insert relevant attribute here- can get their way most of the time as a senior member of a group made up of significantly lower level characters, simulating deference to the most experienced member. The key here is simulation: it avoids the issue of having to be working through your choices over chat.

      But I suppose maybe having a designated party leader choose what happens might please more people. I like their idea, whether or not it works in practice.

    • alexmasterson says:

      “A dice roll? Really? Why not just have the choice itself be random”

      Wh…but… ah, never mind.

    • Tei says:

      Random because MMO players don’t like test based on personal skill. These things are hard to play while you are stoned, drunk and playing with one hand while with the other hand you are smoking and atending your childrens. Random because any other metric, like damage dealed,.. would habe ben screwed in favor some class.

    • mjig says:

      I guess it’s the best way to do it, but it does worry me a bit.

      In a room full of adults, the situation described above where he made a different choice than the rest of the group worked out fine. In an actual MMO situation, I sort of feel like that if someone make a decision the rest of the group doesn’t like he’ll end up kicked out.

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      Rinox says:

      @ Mjig
      Yeah, but by then the ‘damage’ is done (what with no saving in MMORPG’s and all), so kicking will always come late. This amuses me, to see a jedi squeaky clean group being pulled into dark side decisions. Sure, it opens some window for griefing but I’m sure in general it’ll be fairly clear who’s a dark side maniac and who a goody-two-shoes. And I suppose the most important choices will be made in individual dialogue, creating a potentially powerful effect. No reloads!

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I agree it’s pretty awful, but I don’t see any other good solution. This is just one reason why I always thought this game would have a hard time working as a MMO if it’s heavily story driven.

    • gwathdring says:

      “Random because MMO players don’t like test based on personal skill. These things are hard to play while you are stoned, drunk and playing with one hand while with the other hand you are smoking and atending your childrens. Random because any other metric, like damage dealed,.. would habe ben screwed in favor some class.”

      Your comment would make more sense if this weren’t about conversation decisions. In-game conversations don’t usually require “personal skill.” Well … there’s always Oblivion but that was a horrid system. Also, as you yourself pointed out, most skill related metrics are much more dependent on level and class in an MMO. This isn’t an action RPG or a fighting game. But, more importantly, it’s an extremely arbitrary metric for conversations. “You killed more enemies than I did today, so I’ll let you decide what to ask of our prisoner” isn’t terribly authentic or sensible.

    • Chris D says:

      Is this as bad as it sounds? I mean, my first thought was “How hard could it be to implement some kind of voting mechanism?” My second thought was “Probably not very hard at all actually.” In fact it ought to be so simple I don’t believe the devs didn’t think about it, they must have thought about it and decided against it.

      So, some baseless speculation: We’re thinking of big, branching decisions being taken out of our hands – not good. But what if it’s more a case of lots of little decisions instead, gradually shaping the course of your adventure? Have enough of them and it evens out to effectively a vote anyway, but you get more of a chance to have an individual voice rather than the minority permanently being over-ruled.

      It might be nothing like that and maybe all the fears will turn out to be true, but maybe not, and maybe it’s a little early to be crying doom and gloom just yet.

    • gwathdring says:

      @Chris D

      That’s more the impression I’m getting. From the article, it sounds like the game actively encourages you to solo your way through the most crucial and personal bits of the storyline, for one thing. Either way, while straight up voting would be a nice idea, I like that a less popular action can still happen. It creates a really interesting dynamic—I have not idea if it works out in game, but I love the idea. As I said, it simulates discussion between characters without requiring it of players (the vote was to keep him alive, but so and so had a great point about such and such, so then a few more people agreed he should die ….), and it allows members of the group to occasionally go rogue on their party members. Greifing potential aside, I see that as a good thing. Requiring complex discussion and cooperation about the story between strangers isn’t quite fair … but having a straight vote just isn’t as interesting. I think it’s a nice middle ground, on paper. And the odds are that the majority wins each decision.

      Hopefully, your interpretation pans out. I think the system you describe would be lovely.

    • Torgen says:

      If nothing else, it *might* reduce the number of instances where you have Sith and Jedi in the same party, or Rebel soldiers and Stormtroopers (or whatever pre-Empire stormtroopers are called.)

    • Tacroy says:

      Good grief, you guys are all looking at it wrong.

      Some of you seem to think that the group sat down to have a rational discussion about “what to do with this prisoner we just released and interviewed”, talked about it for a good ten, fifteen minutes with most of the group saying “let’s let him go” but Impy remaining adamant that for various operational security reasons they should kill him right now, until eventually she convinced them all that the best thing to do was kill the prisoner and then duly shot the man in the head.

      No, that’s not what happened. They unlocked the door, questioned the prisoner, then someone said “Now what do we do with this guy?” – and Impy shot him in the face before anyone could open their mouths to say “let him go”.

      Not all questions are resolved through rational discourse or voting; quite frequently, the person who, ah, executes their solution first wins.

    • gwathdring says:

      I agree. That was part of what I said, too. I think it works both ways though. Because sometimes someone who disagrees with the rest of the group gets to just cut everyone off and say something, or just shoot something. But not always. Maybe someone holds him/her back, maybe they just don’t want to piss off the people with them … again, it allows things to happen that might occur if the party was given time to actually discuss things, without the time or inconvenience of having to actually do so in character. But it also allows for things to happen that would only happen if character were allowed to interject and take action, without allowing for assertive players to dominate in practice.

    • arccos says:

      To me, the dialog system sounds so, so disappointing. Its an MMO. If 2 of the members of the party want to kill the dude, and 2 want to save them, that’s a pretty big conflict. And that would be the PERFECT time to engage in conflict between players. It could be combat, it could be something else. Maybe if the party decides to fight over a decision it comes to blows and the losers have to leave the dungeon.

      But then I guess you have to figure out what to do about people just trying to group based on what decisions they want to make beforehand or griefers trying to kill off everyone just for kicks to stop them from completing the dungeon.

      So I guess I changed my mind. MMOs just seem like a bad way to do a branching story, period.

    • bill says:

      But in this case the chance of killing him was much lower than the chance of letting him go. So if everyone votes the same then that choice is guaranteed, and if the majority agree then that choice is much more likely. Even one lone griefer wouldn’t be able to cause trouble that often if he was constantly out-voted.

      Plus it allows for more use of player skills – they could increase the chance of your roll coming up, etc..

  11. Hunam says:

    I think subbing for a story led game is the wrong way to go. I’d much rather they just do a Guild Wars where every year they release basically a massive expansion.

    • gwathdring says:

      When I first heard some of the plans for this game way-back, I thought it seemed like the perfect game design to learn from the success Guild Wars has had with their business model. Not knowing how the numbers stack up, I would think it’s a damn good business model, too. It picks up some of the same demographic that Free-To-Play-With-Micro-Payments does over a traditional business model, but gets that money more upfront, which means quicker turnaround of that larger consumer base into an expansion pack that brings in more money. It’s also a business model that breeds an enormous amount of customer good-will.

      Unfortunately means less flexibility to update the game with new content for current players as the expansions are a key part of the budget that would otherwise come from subscriptions and thus money not poured into expansions is less excusable since it’s not essential to maintaining cash flow. Not knowing Bioware’s plans for the future of the came and how much content it’s going to ship with, this might be part of the problem. Or maybe it ships with enough content to extend beyond the scope of the current boxed-game price point. Which is a significant consideration since even an MMO with similar content of Dragon Age Origins also has money spent on server infrastructure and so forth.

      Are the numbers a lot more skewed than my intuition suggests? Is the expansion-based MMO model really so much weaker that it doens’t make sense for anyone to try it? Or is this another example of games sticking to what the industry knows best? While I play lots of games, between work and school I’m a casual-esque gamer until summer starts up, and even then I can’t play as often as I did in high school. On a subscription-based model, it would take me quite a while to get the same amount of gameplay hours out of an MMO as I can get out of Dragon Age or The Witcher or Mass Effect. Box-game price, while not cheap, is far more accessible because there’s not time commitment. Even if I got excited and was willing to pay $100 to an MMO for 10 mo. worth of content, I would never get 10 mo. worth of content finished in 10 mo. and thus would be wasting my money even in a game I thought was worth the price. And I can easily get a years worth of gaming out of less than $100 worth of games, even without bargain prices, as long as I look beyond AAA titles and focus on games that I can play over-and-over, like RTS games and open world games. I always have a game to play, and I don’t spend anywhere near the $10 a month the average MMO would cost me.

      But I got real excited about Guildwars, and my friends and I got a lot of mileage out of it. I feel like I got my $50 out of that game before I stopped playing, but I took it slow and casual. And every now and then I can jump back in for a week or two, and I still find it fun. Crucially, I feel like I own the game because of that. I realize the servers will get shut down eventually, but I’ve had the option to play for long enough that I’m ok with that–I still feel like I own it. And that’s important to my satisfaction as a customer, that level of choice I get from being able to pop-in whenever I like and not feel like I’m wasting money by playing other games that aren’t charging me by the month.

  12. Juiceman says:

    I’ve played WoW for 5 years and this is the first MMO that I would be willing to give a go.

  13. gwathdring says:

    The lack of character advancement sounds like a big problem. It’s fantastic that the story seems to clip along and be cohesive, but evolution in gameplay is one of the only things that keeps me playing an MMO. I personally need that consistent change in gameplay choices and aspects to maintain long term interest in a game–even in much shorter games (5 to even 20 hours keeping me well under MMO timescales), I need a sense of evolution and development. I could always start a new character or play a level again if I want the same experience. It’s the surprises and tactical decisions that pull me into a longer experience.

    • mwoody says:

      Since you pick 3 professions and only 1 is crafting, I’m wondering if that choice takes the place of what class advancement does in other games.

    • alice says:

      To me it sounds like a benefit. One of the reasons I cannot get into MMOs is that when I play RPGs I want to just pick my skills and abilities willy-nilly, not worrying that I am not following the spec that all Druids or Warriors or Rogues need to have to be the most effective at high level play. So for TOR to have fewer options makes it more appealing.

    • gwathdring says:

      I never really worry about optimizing in an RPG.

  14. Noxdomimi says:

    The no new attack till 46 is probably because of the advanced class that kick in at level 10 I think, so all the attacks would be focused on whether you want to kill from close or far away and wouldn’t appear until you make a choice, otherwise that menu would be confusing. At least, that’s my guess!

  15. Xercies says:

    Hmm still seems like its a bit to focused on single player for my tastes, what’s the point of playing an MMO if your going to single player it? And also what’s the point of paying monthly for it?

    • kyrieee says:

      This is how I feel as well. All these solo MMOs are wasted opportunities, I want developers to explore MMOs that focus on player interaction. Take some lessons from EVE.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      There’s so much potential for the MMO genre, it’s insane how much money/time/effort has been focused on this one little niche epitomized by WoW, which does almost nothing to exploit the whole “massively multiplayer” / “persistent world” aspect that defines the genre.

      I really can’t find one good reason why TOR is an MMO. Well, it’s a good anti-piracy measure, I suppose.

      Imagine, if you will, a game like EVE without the PvP. Where you have trade routes, mining, production, research, exploration, the rest of it – but everybody is ultimately working together against some evil invading alien horde, controlled by AI and the GMs. And they need to work together and employ some kind of collective strategy, or they’ll be overrun.

      Something even vaguely like that would get me playing MMOs again in a heartbeat.

    • unangbangkay says:

      That’s why I like having a lifetime option, because once I do that I never have to worry about paying for the game ever again (microtransactions notwithstanding), and can treat it like a single-player game that I can go back to forever, with fresh content every single time, with a robust multiplayer option for when I’m bored.

      If you pay lifetime (or use some other method than a recurring subscription), you never have to worry about “justifying” your purchase or wasting money.

      Also at this point I consider EVE practically in a different genre from every other game out there, so I tend not to factor it into what I want out of the typical MMO.

    • Jumwa says:

      That’s an amazing idea, TillEulenspiegel.

      I’d play it, for sure.

    • RakeShark says:

      @unangbangkay

      However, the downside to a lifetime subscription is a large up-front payment for a product solely on faith that it will be worth the investment. You can say that a lot of things you buy are based on faith, but a lifetime sub for a MMO is a much larger investment than anything else out there in the medium.

      That and the stigma that most lifetime subs have been attached to moderately disappointing games (ie the new Cryptic).

    • Perjoss says:

      my dream mmo game is similar in a way i guess, if you can imagine a world like that of GTA IV except it would feel bigger as you only can travel on foot (and maybe via sewers). The main idea is a dark and quite scary open world zombie (or vampires) survival horror where normal humans team up to stay alive vs AI. Yes very much like a L4D game but with mmo gameplay mechanics instead.

      There is even room for trade skills in the form of repairing stuff you find lying around and creating new items from scratch a bit like in dead rising 2. I also really liked the idea of psychotic people as bosses. Something as simple as a shotgun would be quite rare (making you really appreciate them).

      Whole thing would be like a tug of war or capture and hold type affair. Typical day might go like this… log on and start asking in chat which areas are most affected today or in which area of the city are your particular skills needed most (stuff like healing, crafting, fighting etc).

      I think the most important thing would be overall human control of the enemies like the AI director but with game masters really hand tweaking encounters on the fly. If the game masters noticed many people gathering for something (more people = more noise so it makes sense that more enemies would come) they could tailor a specific area on the fly to be more of less difficult.

      would be very important that the game not be a combat-fest, developers could think of interesting ways for people to keep enemies at bay rather than just guns or other offensive weapons. Combat would still have its place, but primarily survival is the key, not slaughtering enemies.

      I’m going to shut up now.

    • unangbangkay says:

      @RakeShark

      That’s true. A Lifetime sub is basically buying on faith, but really, if any company has earned a measure of that from people who like playing single-player RPGs (recent missteps notwithstanding), it’s Bioware.

      Granted I don’t know who exactly who at Bioware will be behind this game, but if it gets the same touch I will probably be pretty satisfied.

  16. Zenicetus says:

    “In TOR, when I’m sent to an ancient temple at the crux of a long series of missions, recovering some vital ancient artifact, I inevitably have to battle my way to the centre. Reaching my goal, I collect my prize, and then have to kill all the same creatures I fought on the way in. Huh?”

    Dungeons aren’t instanced, like they are in WoW? I wonder how that’s gonna work. It doesn’t sound that much fun to have to fight your way through respawns to leave the area, or for that matter to meet another team fighting their way in. Maybe you missed an exit door after beating the final boss or something?

    As a recovering WoW addict I have no interest in playing this, but it’s interesting to see how these various developers try to tweak the MMO formula.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Sounds like he’s talking about a regular quest, not a dungeon, there.

    • Zenicetus says:

      You could be right. It isn’t clear from this Hands-On article whether any portions of the game are set up as a private/group instance, or it’s just an open world free-for-all.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    I’d rather have a MMO that is set in the Star Wars Legacy era. You can’t have everything, I guess.

    • Wednesday says:

      Oh god really?! Nineties style space-pirate-skywalker?

      Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  18. razgon says:

    What’s this about SECRET WORLD!?! You wrote “There’s currently nothing else that comes close, with perhaps only The Secret World as a rival for such a narrative-focused ”

    HOW DO YOU KNOW!?

    While I’m very interested in SW-TOR, I’m also extremely interested in hidden world so spill the beans!

  19. Mana_Garmr says:

    “Does this sob story have a point?” I asked a lady who was begging me for help in the street. As with KotOR, you can opt out of helping people, or even screw them over, should you choose to. Decisions will win you Dark or Light points, which will define your character, whichever side of the conflict you’re fighting on.

    So if I’m playing a jedi I can still be a dick to people and get dark-side points? What does that lead to in the end? Will I slowly be moved toward the dark-side missions until I find myself working for the other side, or is it purely a cosmetic thing and my position on the DS/LS scale will be locked in place by my class chioce?

    • Betamax says:

      Rumour has it that it will affect your personal quest somewhat significantly, although no-one knows the details yet. In terms of the ‘main plot’ you are fixed to one side of the Galactic Conflict. A Jedi who taps into the Dark Side a bit is a Dark Jedi, not a Sith, with the latter being a whole different culture and whatnot in this game. A Dark Jedi meanwhile still wants a Republic victory, but at any cost and often using brute force or whatever.

      I think they said early on that they considered faction switching ala SWG but it became too difficult to implement given the heavy story based nature of TOR (the factions having completely different quest structures for instance). A shame, but hopefully it does pay off in giving each class and faction a unique and well told story.

  20. Tei says:

    I like to compare this two images and think about it.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/11/apr/tor/tor4.jpg
    http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/f/fgordon1.jpg

    Is like we have run full circle from 1950’s idea of a superhero.

    • RakeShark says:

      If that were true, then we’d be circling back to the original premise of Star Wars: the serial adventure.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I’ve always considered Star Wars pulp. Evil scientist with death ray wants to blow up world!

    • Grygus says:

      To be fair, now the girl gets her own gun and isn’t hiding behind the man. That’s progress!

  21. Firesaber says:

    You know, TBH, im kinda liking that this is very solo play centric. Ill be honest, after years of playing WOW having to rely on other people becomes really tiring. Not to mention these days you get NOTHING in WOW if you aren’t raiding or in a huge Guild..that is raiding.
    This game allows you to group up with some friends if you want, but can progress on your own too.
    I hate that everyone cries about it not being multiplayer enough. it is. its just optional for once instead of a requirement to progress in anything.

    • Grygus says:

      It does seem strange to me that people scream for multiplayer in absolutely everything, but then when you play with people online they’re so often actively destructive of the experience.

    • Betamax says:

      Exactly this. I find there are already two main camps of complainers about this game, those that want more of a multiplayer focus than they are seeing so far (amusing given how pvp is only really being touched on now but eh), and those that desperately want it to be KotOR 3 but with other players running about. The latter is more or less the camp I fall in, and I also think it is the one that will ultimately be disappointed. This is never going to be KotOR 3.

      My hope is however, that it becomes something that (in some respects) is even better. This article is definitely one of the more promising reports on the game I have read in that regard. I mean, we’ve had so many MMORPGs that put the MMO part before the RPG part at this point that would it kill people to enjoy this game as an RPG first and MMO second? Kinda like NWN1 almost (although that wasn’t a true MMO it had multiplayer, something a lot of folks seem to forget).

      LotRO is the closest we have gotten to something that puts solo play and story particularly high up on the priority list prior to TOR really, and while it does a good job of it everything I have heard about TOR (and GW2 for that matter) suggests it could take it to the next level and give us players who enjoy being able to complete an MMO solo while enjoying the multiplayer bits with friends something different.

  22. bleeters says:

    How does the game handle multiple people in the same space, out of interest? I’ve long been frustrated by encountering other players around the game world in WoW, due to the inevitable way it simply makes going about your business that much more difficult, or distorts any feeling of immersion.

    To go with your example: when working undercover in the Hutta enclave, did you – or were likely to in the live version – run past half a dozen others doing the same thing? That’s my biggest concern right now.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    This sounds like it may be a perfect RPG to play with my friends. Not a MMORPG necessarily, but a co-op RPG. Which is probably how the game should be viewed. Either way, can’t wait.

    • Betamax says:

      Yup if they get the co-op RPG bit right then it’ll be a hit I would have thought, it’s an idea that has been proven fairly popular in the past and has few examples present in the market. Whether it’ll be a big enough hit to warrant the expendature is another matter, I hope so though or it could spell dire things for BioWare down the road.

      The more I think about it, the more I hope they don’t pander to the raid crowd. I’m sure there will be some, but surely there is room for ONE MMO that specialises in smaller group play aimed at a different group primarily? With raids and such being less numerous but quite special/spectacular when reached?

      I just get a real NWN vibe from the Flashpoints, and the ‘BioWare-ness’ in general seems intact. For that reason alone I can’t see it being overly WoW-like beyond some aspects of combat.

  24. Red_Avatar says:

    That preview actually made me close to forgetting about this game. I mean, even if you have a good story, making the combat repetitive isn’t going to cut it. It’s like the equivalent of a generic jRPG – if you want people to keep playing an MMO, you have to make them feel like they’re progressing, being rewarded. Give them the ability to use more skills, let them own progressively cooler stuff, let them get more involved with the game (like smuggling, crafting, etc.), etc. This is why Ultima Online is still the best MMO ever made (if you ignore the later expansion packs).

  25. Ian says:

    First thing I’ve seen about the game in months that didn’t put me off it even more.

  26. pakoito says:

    Just here to remind everyone that the game is going to be a pay2win free game.

    Griefing is going to be massive!

    • Rii says:

      What?

    • PiiSmith says:

      If it really would be F2P, I would just got through the story like and never mind that there is an MMO of any kind. I believe that it’s paid and even more atrocious, will have a monthly fee.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, I could overlook its issues if it was free to play, much like I do with Champions Online currently. But they’re charging a box price and a subscription, and really… I just don’t see for what.

  27. Vinraith says:

    Reaching my goal, I collect my prize, and then have to kill all the same creatures I fought on the way in. Huh?

    This is one of those things I simply can’t stomach about MMO’s. It’s so artificial, so annoying, and so anti-immersive. One of the great things about GW1’s instancing is that this kind of crap didn’t happen. With GW2 abandoning at least some of GW1’s instancing, however I fear it may crop up there…

    • gwathdring says:

      That’s really the only thing I’ve read about GW2 that I’m nervous about. Which is a shame because it’s a fairly large portion of the game, and it has some great ideas and implementations wound up with it. I’m confident it’s going to be handled quite well; I’m more worried I won’t enjoy that type of gameplay even at it’s best. But instancing has it’s own quirks, and I’m in love with so many of the ideas floating around GW2. Free trial here I come.

    • jonfitt says:

      It’s a symptom of the inherent problem with a massively multiplayer roleplaying game for people who want their own adventure. Essentially you are all off to Disney World and all going on the same rides. There can be no real change or new experience aside from minor differences.

      When the ride ends, the falling boulders reset and the animatronic pirates go back to the beginning of the song. That’s an instanced dungeon.
      A non-instanced dungeon is the same ride, but you’re free to move at your own pace and the song repeats every minute.

      You have 10,000 people all out to save the princess.

      Now at least with a SP RPG you have your own copy of Disney World full of actors with the express purpose of making your stay awesome. It’s not a unique experience, but you don’t have other people to accommodate.

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith

      This is subverted by the fact that you can teleport at any time. And it’s looking like teleporting to the nearest waypoint or a city will be free, but if you teleport to a waypoint out in the boonies, then it’s going to cost you, and the further you teleport, the more it’ll cost, but they’ve said it’ll always be a nominal fee.

      So here’s the thing: You won’t have to fight your way in, and collect your reward, only to fight your way out, because you fight your way in, collect your reward, then teleport the hell out of there.

      Also, a lot of the point of dynamic events is to have goal-oriented combat in a structured way. So you won’t be wandering the land fighting through creatures to get to a specific mob, you’ll be engaging in a little mini story from start to finish in the area you’re in. When you’re done, there’ll be no resistance to just walking out of there anyway.

      A lot of the FUD about GW2 is just that – FUD.

      This is one thing that bugs me about gamers, whether it’s hype or fear, they rarely ever actually listen to the facts, and the facts have been evidenced by the demo. They’re hardly going to remove features from the demo that people are counting on having, are they? That’d be moronic.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      I’m glad to hear this won’t be a problem. I’m a little confused by your explanation of the teleportation mechanic, do you mean to say it’ll be possible to teleport into the middle of combat zones?

      And I don’t know what an “FUD” is, am I falling behind on the lingo?

      Edit: There’s a demo? I had no idea, I’ll have to have a look at that.

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith
      Yes, you can teleport right into the combat if you’ve visited that waypoint before. They’ll have waypoints near every dynamic event or point of interest, they said that they’ve been liberal with waypoints rather than conservative. So you can just teleport in and out of combat in a flash. Though it’d cost you to teleport into combat because you’re teleporting out into the boonies, but teleporting out of combat won’t cost.

      And FUD is ‘Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.’ Basically it means that people are being afraid of things without fact-finding. And the demo already has shown us the facts. It’s demonstrated waypoints in use, even.

      Basically, in the demo we saw them pull up the map, click on a waypoint, and *poof*, instant teleport!

    • Kaira- says:

      @Vinraith
      I believe he refers to Fear, uncertainty and doubt.
      A quick quote from wikipedia:

      Fear, uncertainty and doubt, frequently abbreviated as FUD, is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations,[1][2] politics and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative and dubious/false information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival.

      Edit:// Too slow. :(

    • Wulf says:

      Sorry about that Kaira. I can type like the wind when I want to. But yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense out there about Guild Wars 2, because apparently people think it’s going to turn into a long grind through endless mobs, with mounts and what have you, all the trappings of usual MMORPGs, but they’ve already shown us that that won’t be the case. The demo is there, and anyone can go and watch footage of it, this is the game as it is right now, and it’s not that far from release.

      I suppose I’m just a bit fed up lately of people going with what they think they now rather than the actual facts that have been released. Either negatively or positively. You can’t go from the demo. If it’s not shown in the demo then I won’t bother mentioning it, but everything I talk about (bar the lack of a subscription) has been detailed.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kaira

      I appreciate the clarification, and am all the more bemused by the veiled accusations implied by them.

      @Wulf

      Let’s be crystal clear about something here, if I’m asking about something I’m asking about something. The notion that voicing a concern is actually a covert attempt to somehow sow negative publicity about the game is… well actually kind of hilarious now that I think about it a bit more. The internet really is a silly, silly place sometimes.

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith
      I apologise then. I’m a very passionate person as I’ve mentioned many times. I was wrong here and I’m sorry for that. It’s just that I’ve been dealing with Guild Wars 2 assumptions until it’s turned my brain into white noise, and the initial post just looked like more of that. But I misunderstood you. I am trying not to do that, but… like you said, the Internet can be a silly place. I’ve been hanging around forums and watching people making wild assumptions, and in my utter folly, I saw assumptions here, too, which was an assumption of my own.

      I’ll go sit in the corner, now. :p

      (In my defence, with all the negativity I’ve been exposed to lately in regards to Guild Wars 2 (not here), Portal 2 (here), and Spore (here), I’m a bit burned out on defending the things I love and snappier than I should be.)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      Don’t worry about it. I was irrate for a moment there, then thought a bit about what I was getting irrate about and had a good chuckle. It’s useful to occasionally be reminded of the inherent absurdity of this entire medium, and I think we’ve both got our heads on a bit straighter now, so no harm done.

      For the record, I was an avid GW1 player, it’s one of my most played and most-loved titles of all time. I’m not a fan of MMO’s, at all, so the fusion of a franchise I’ve greatly enjoyed with a format I’ve never enjoyed has given rise to a fair bit of concern. I am going out of my way not to judge or make assumptions before the fact, but my own trepidation has had the peculiar side effect of demotivating me regarding GW2 news. I wasn’t aware of the video you’ve referred to here, and really should go look into it before talking about the game further.

    • jonfitt says:

      Wait, what, teleport? When was that a Star Wars thing?

    • gwathdring says:

      “This is one of those things I simply can’t stomach about MMO’s. It’s so artificial, so annoying, and so anti-immersive. One of the great things about GW1′s instancing is that this kind of crap didn’t happen. With GW2 abandoning at least some of GW1′s instancing, however I fear it may crop up there…”

      @Wulf
      I was responding more to this part than the quote in Vinraith’s post. I don’t play MMOs very often because they feel extremely artificial. Sometimes, they’re really fun anyway, as with City of Heroes (but I cannot commit to a monthly fee, so it only lasted 14 days) and Guild Wars 1. I think the Guild Wars 2 approach of having public, dynamic events is a great way to make it feel like the various adventurers and travelers in the area team up to help fight off whatever is causing danger. The temporary, dynamic nature of the events as described by the team sound like an excellent middle ground between the artificial nature of making every player the chosen one in simultaneous, identical, but separate instances and the artificial nature of re-spawning enemies everyone runs around killing for the loot drops.
      But there’s still a potential for artifice. I realize this is part of the nature of MMOs. It’s not as though GW2 is the only MMO that makes me consider this problem–they all do. It’s one of the reasons I don’t even try most MMOs. Whether or not I end up playing the game, I’m very excited about it and while I haven’t read every bit of information that’s come out, I don’t think I’m voicing “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” let alone as a result of negative propaganda and false information. I, like you, am a fan of the development team.
      I simply feel that there are immersive advantages to both instanced and free-roaming adventures in an MMO–one of the most prominent benefits of instancing being the ability to deliver a more personal-seeming adventure whether or not it is a play-by-play copy of everyone-else’s. I think it takes away from world-level immersion but adds to adventure level immersion. The extent to which this turns out to be true of my actual experience with MMOs, specifically Guild Wars 2, remains to be seen.

  28. PiiSmith says:

    Anyone remembers the god awful videos they have shown so far? Just the odd animations alone made me cringe. Not to mention something about the graphics in this preview seems strange.

  29. Rii says:

    I’m conflicted on posting this here, because I really dislike the way that discussions about TOR tend to turn into adverts for Guild Wars 2 as if at the direction of a particularly insidious marketing operation, but nonetheless it is the truth: if Guild Wars 2 weren’t on its way and looking as awesome as it does, TOR would look moderately interesting. But it is, and it doesn’t.

    I think my issues with TOR go back all the way to the art style. Apparently it’s ‘stylised’. What I’d call it is bland.

    • Wulf says:

      I can’t help but talk about GW2 either, but for me it’s the combat, which just doesn’t work for me at all. Guild Wars 2 feels alive, whereas TOR feels like I’m watching a simulation of something.

      It’s… well, when you have something better, it’s hard not to make comparisons, that’s human nature. If you have the choice between a good car and a great car, and the great car is actually cheaper, then obviously you’re going to spend time figuring out why the good car costs more for seeming to provide less. (And by this I mean that Guild Wars 2 has no subscription, whereas The Old Republic does.)

      You begin to wonder what they’re charging for, and you try to justify the charge, but the more you try to justify it, the more reasons you find against it. So you end up just going with the great car instead.

    • Legionary says:

      On the art direction thing, I too think it’s bland. I think stylised can work fine. To me it looks more as though Bioware have chosen to use simpler models and shapes 1) to work on the broadest possible market of PCs, 2) because it’s similar to World of Warcraft’s cartoony style and they assume that it’s what people want.

      It’s not that I necessarily want hi-fi next generation graphics (though, FYI developers, if you want to make a splash in the MMO market try designing a game which looks as though it’s current, rather than about five years old); stylised art is fine with me. I love stylised art direction! Whatever you might think of the Sin City film, it beautiful to look at — and in game terms, just to show that stylised art can be lo-fi and still look good, TF2 was before the introduction of any old community model, a really nice looking but still graphically simple game.

      Get it together developers, no more Warcraft+1 art.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It looks bland to me too, so you’re not alone.
      Keeping the graphics stripped-down for the sake of frame rate across multiple platforms is fine, if you do it with style. The first few hours I played WoW (which turned into a 2-year obsession), I had trouble relating to the low-poly cartoonish graphics, But then it grew on me, and I finally realized that it was just the unique look of that game world.

      This just looks like Barbie and Ken dolls in space. I know that’s harsh, and it’s probably because I’m not a Star Wars fan and won’t be playing this. But couldn’t they have done something that looks a little more interesting? Less generic humanoid models? Even Mas Effect, which leans heavily on generic-looking humans, has a more distinctive look for the character models than this.

    • Wulf says:

      What gets me with art direction this bad is that they say it’s for older computers, but that’s nonsense, and I’m calling nonsense because when Guild Wars 1 was released, I could run it on higher settings with more anti-aliasing than I could World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 1 still looks better than The Old Republic. That’s 1, now, not 2. The original Guild Wars. Prophecies, even. There’s just no excuse for a game looking that bad, and again, I’m not talking about graphics card-based tomfoolery here, but actual art direction.

      Some games are so beautiful that they’re like walking around in a painting. I mean, Uru from ’03 looks better than The Old Republic! I just can’t play a game where they haven’t even bothered to hire some artists. It looks like a bargain bin game because of the lack of art direction, as have a few Blizzard games to me, and this is something that I really wish we’d stop being such damn fanboys for and making excuses about. If Guild Wars 1 or Uru are better than your game in 2011, then you can’t say it’s to allow it to run on older computers, and there is just no excuse.

      Anyone who doesn’t buy it… just go watch some videos. I’m a very visual person, and The Old Republic is incredibly ugly to me. Painfully so. If it was free to play and done by a smaller studio then I could overlook that… but this is Bioware, and they’re charging a box price and a subscription. Does someone care to tell me what I’m paying for, here? Can we stop making excuses, now?

    • Rii says:

      @Legionary

      “2) because it’s similar to World of Warcraft’s cartoony style and they assume that it’s what people want.”

      Thing is, I LIKE WoW’s art style, I think it’s one of its strongest assets. But I don’t like this. I dunno, I lack the lexicon for this sort of thing.

  30. Jumwa says:

    But the real question my partner wants answered is: can you be a Dark Side Twi’lek?

  31. jonfitt says:

    Is there anyway for those who just want KoToR 3,4 & 5 to just buy the game and play it at our leisure?
    Or do we have to rent the game?

    I am bitter today. Stupid MMOs put me in a bad mood.

    • Wulf says:

      MMORPGs aren’t the problem. See: Guild Wars 2. Greed is the problem. It’s whatever a company thinks they can milk you for, and EA, like Blizzard did, sees an opportunity for some gratuitous milking. It’s the exceptional choice to do the fair thing and not have a subscription, to actually make it so that you can buy and play a game as you want, but the common thing to do is to be greedy and to price gouge. Unfortunately too many companies know how to do this.

      But again, this isn’t related to MMORPGs but simple greed. These greedy companies would put a rental on single player games if they thought they could really get away with it, and we all know that. That’s one of the reasons why I’m excited about Guild Wars 2. Because it’s an MMORPG that shows that subscriptions aren’t necessary.

    • jonfitt says:

      That’s true. I did play Guild Wars and was happy with the concept of buying the additional content in episodes or whatever you’d call them.

    • Wulf says:

      I’ll just say this before I continue – normally I wouldn’t be so trusting of ArenaNet, but with what they’ve shown us in their demo, they’re actually coming through on everything they said. And they haven’t been dishonest about a thing, they’ve actually been pretty up front about certain elements even if old GW1 fans won’t like them. (Such as the addition of potions.) I imagine that their candor is a nightmare for NCsoft’s PR people.

      But yeah, they’re going to do be doing expansions (like Eye of the North) and mission packs like we saw on the store. So instead of paying for three months subscription and possibly not seeing any content updates at all (I’m suspecting that this will happen to TOR), you’ll have a product and a cost, and you’ll know that what you pay for will give you content. And ArenaNet have worked hard to build up a reputation for giving us good bang for the buck as far as content is concerned. They’ve never disappointed us in that regard. Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, Eye of the North, and the mission packs were all well worth the money. No price gouging there.

      And they’ve already said that the amount of content in Guild Wars 2 will have to compete with games out there that have expansions, and they’re prepared for that, they’ve really packed the content on for the main package. They’re not even going to separate any of that off into DLC content, either. That’s just how they are. That’s why I trust them. They’ve always been that way, like you said with Guild Wars 1, they did the same thing there. I have no reason to trust that they won’t do the same thing with 2. If they betray my trust then that’s my own fault, but really, I think I have more than enough grounds to trust ArenaNet on.

  32. adamiani says:

    We get it. You’re excited about Guild Wars 2.

    • Gassalasca says:

      God, I just hope Wulf won’t be disappointed by GW2 when it finally comes out.

      It would be the greatest tragic story of RPS to date.

    • Wulf says:

      I wasn’t disappointed by Guild Wars 1.

      And really, I just sing its praises because it’s not trying to rape my wallet. If TOR looked as fun as GW2 does and didn’t charge a subscription, I’d be all for it. Even if it didn’t look as fun and didn’t charge a subscription, then I’d definitely consider it an option. But… it does. What the hell are they charging a subscription for? I don’t know. Don’t expect me to praise them for it.

  33. lumenadducere says:

    I don’t get why so many people approach this as an either/or option (referring to GW2 and TOR). GW2 has no subscription fee, TOR most likely will. Why not bounce back and forth between the two? Play one until you run out of things to do, cancel the sub if it’s TOR, and hop into the other. Re-activate the sub when you jump back into TOR, play for a month or two, then cancel again.

    To me the problem isn’t TOR or GW2, but TOR or The Secret World. With GW2 being subscription-free it’s going to be really easy to keep it along with whatever sub-based MMO I choose, but picking that subscription MMO is going to be a doozy…especially with TSW doing so much that goes against the established MMO conventions.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Play and enjoy TWO of the same type of game? You speak pure, raw madness.

      MMO players love to divide themselves into tribes and proclaim their tribe superior. It gives them a sense of “Better Than You”. It’s no different than OS wars, or sports team wars, or soft drink wars.

      Personally I’ve held subscriptions to both Champions and City of Heroes at the same time. I’ve held subs to Everquest 2 and Rift and played Guild Wars on off-days. And quite likely I will end up playing both TOR and GW2, particularly since GW2 is -free- and thus frees up subscription fee money I don’t have to pay on it.

      I have no conclusion, I just get tired of people shutting themselves off from interesting gaming experiences because “lol looks like WOW” or “THIS ISN’T GW2 BRING IT BACK WHEN IT’S IDENTICAL TO WHAT I IMAGINE GW2 IS LIKE”.

    • John P says:

      I think the problem is that most people don’t have time to play multiple MMOGs because of the huge amount of time you need to invest if you want to experience all the content. (You can of course just potter around casually, but seeing everything might take hundreds of hours). So for most people it does come down to a choice between them — and that encourages loyalty, almost like defending your sports team.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      That’s true. I don’t play to see everything, but a completionist would have… issues, trying to balance work and multiple MMOs plus everything else they’re doing.
      It’s mostly the fierce tribal loyalty that bothers me.

    • Wulf says:

      Of course, there’s the answer that some of us don’t feel that the game substantiates a subscription, an entirely reasonable and logical answer, so we don’t care to pay a subscription for a game that doesn’t substantiate it, when other games are on offer which offer the same (or more) without that.

      Still, don’t let logic or reason get in your way when slamming people, right? We’re all just mad tribes with loads of money to waste on things that aren’t worth their asking price. (I passed the point a while back where I just decided that after the MMORPGs I’ve played, none of them have been worth a monthly subscription, not one of them. Ever.)

      For those interested in logic and reason, there’s your answer. I can buy Guild Wars 2, play it, and love the hell out of it without a subscription hanging over my head. I’d be looking at The Old Republic far more kindly if it didn’t look much worse than Guild Wars 2 whilst actually charging a subscription. I mean, what are they charging me for versus Guild Wars 2?

      I don’t know. Do you? Do you? /picard

      (The point here is that I’m calling projection. It’s often the people who’re citing tribal are the most tribal themselves. I see a lot of tribal anger in DeepSleeper, there. Whereas my answer is reasonable and logical. Do you want to tell me that not wanting to pay for a subscription is illogical or unreasonable? Really?)

      (I mean, honestly. To me it doesn’t look that fun and I’m going to be charged monthly for it. I don’t like that. Oh, boo hoo… seriously. It’s ridiculous. I’m sounding more reasonable than the supporters, here. And that much should be obvious. Of course, I’m not entitled to my opinion at all, nor am I allowed to not like their approach to TOR. Nor am I permitted to think that they should’ve just done Knights of the Old Republic III. No sir. I have to agree with the opinions of the many, or I’m ‘tribal’. Oh how very xenophobic that sounds.)

  34. moondog548 says:

    I just… find Bioware’s approach to this whole MMO thing quixotic. They seem to be saying “we’re gonna take the same old wow/eq gameplay that’s been done to death but make our game sooo much better with the STORY! yeah!”

    Okay well since you admit to sacrificing the good gameplay aspects of regular single player RPGs, how are you going to improve the story over the run of the mill MMOs?

    “With a focus on plot! and dialogue! and cutscenes! All that awesome stuff that single player RPGs have that MMOs don’t!”

    Well ok but don’t you realize that all of that stuff is sacrificed in MMOs for a *reason*? It’ll be exponentially more labor intensive than a single player game if you want to make any of the players choices from their character and class builds to each individual plot choice you’re touting actually meaningful?

    “LALALALALA! AWESOME!”

    okayyyyyyy good luck then!

    • Zenicetus says:

      From what I’ve seen so far, the project could be summed up as, “Star Wars has lots of fans, and if we don’t screw it up completely, then this will make lots of money!” Safe bets all around.

    • Wulf says:

      Pretty much. And they’re charging a monthly subscription for it.

      If I’m tribal, then the majority are brainless sheep. That sort of nonsense goes both ways.

  35. bill says:

    Bioware games “bad side” dialog options are always so weird though.

    Everything is very black and white, so the dark side options are always either really bitchy or ridiculously overblown.
    Yet, because they have to continue the story and not just have everyone tell you to sod off at the beginning when you act like a dick, the NPCs responses are always ridiculous. Hurt and offended, yet they’ll continue to help you.

    I just played through Jade Empire, and while it was fun being a bad guy at the beginning, it got repetitive when every bad response was basically just “I’ll kill them all!” or “You’re an idiot!”. Why did any of my party stay with me???

    It’d be nice to have a bit more subtlety (i know games don’t do that well) to the dialogue options… small insinuations or subtle trickery and lies, rather than being a moustache twirling villain.

    • JackShandy says:

      A game that let me play as a GladOS-style evildoer would receive all of my money.

      (That is, $6.34.)

    • Wulf says:

      I agree 100% with that and I’ve always thought that Obsidian had so much more of a grasp on this in ways that Bioware never could.

      Example: http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Hard_Luck_Blues

      @JackShandy

      I agree, and I’ve said as much a bunch of times, especially if the character had as much overall depth as GLaDOS.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      YES. Obsidian is WAY better at writing in every respect than Bioware.

      I think they don’t get nearly enough credit for it. KOTOR 2, aside from being horrendously unfinished, was a patently superior experience to the original, due in large part to the deep, subtle writing that handled the subject with far more maturity than any Bioware game ever has.

      Sigh. I wish they contracted them to do the writing…

  36. nmute says:

    great writeup Mr Walker!

    while id love to have had the KotOR era continue as a series of singleplayers, one thing that irked me about kotor 1 and 2 is that, well, they ENDED damnit!

    honestly, this is exactly the type of thing my partner and i have been looking for. a place to make guys and play through one of our favorite space opera settings in full story mode – something sorely lacking in BW titles.

    very much looking forward to this.

  37. BloodPukeSalvation says:

    so sad there was never an EVE for the star wars franchise. when i started EVE the only thing running through my mind is how stupid lucas arts and any copywrite/license holders of the star wars properties haven’t even tried to make a massive player driven space game. nearly all the elements are there from the various ship types to the various systems and their native races.

    i understand its learning curve would also probably be massive like EVE’s but if theres one group of individuals that wouldn’t mind it would be the uber star wars fans, and there’s a shit ton of them.

  38. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    sounds interesting

  39. Wulf says:

    Just to clarify, my stance is this:

    – If this were by a smaller studio, a lot of the mistakes would be forgivable. But it’s Bioware.
    – If this were free to play, I could overlook some of the mistakes at least. But it’s got a subscription.
    – If this were an unknown, I’d forgive it for looking terrible and having no art direction. But it’s Star Wars.
    – If this were ’08 or earlier, I’d forgive it for trying to copy WoW. But it’s 2011 now.
    – If the point is single-player storylines, why not just make Knights of the Old Republic III?
    – If this game wasn’t subscription-based, I’d buy that it wasn’t full of grind to keep people playing longer.

    I feel like this is a cheap cash-in where they’re just going to milk people for as much money as they can before everyone else realises what I have – that this is going to be a grindy version of Knights of the Old Republic, where you’ll be paying for months to see your way to the end.

    I use Guild Wars 2 as an exemplar, not as an either-or, but to show how it’s done right. Anyone can talk bullshit about tribal viewpoints, but this much should be obvious – no one except the MMORPG hardcore really enjoys grind, and I’m not of the MMORPG hardcore, are you? The only people who’ll be playing this after the first month are the MMORPG hardcore. If you want a game that’s casual, then you have to remove grind, to remove grind, you have to remove the subscription.

    Essentially we’re being charged for a padded, elongated Knights of the Old Republic III where sometimes you’ll be playing with other players. Again, I’m not doing an either-or, I’m judging it by its own damn pitfalls and saying how it could’ve been done right. If Bioware are going to design a bloody single player game, then why not just do Knights of the Old Republic III? I call shenanigans! TOR is just an excuse to charge a monthly subscription. It’s all about the money, more than it ever was.

    I don’t think that’s excusable or a good thing. ArenaNet are setting an example of how you do things right by not having a subscription, and actually spending money on things like art direction, and doing something that doesn’t look like a cheap cash-in. And despite Guild Wars 1 (and 2) looking better than TOR, neither of them have a subscription.

    It’s the same old con.

    And we’re okay with it.

    People can call my viewpoint tribal or whatever they like, but frankly, if people are going to fall for this same old con then I’m going to call them mindless sheep. Seriously. The old subscription scam isn’t one that we should be buying into anymore. You might play for five months, paying $15/£10 a month, that’s £50, and what did you get out of that £50? You play five months in Guild Wars 2, you pay £0, so whatever you get out of that is a bonus.

    There’s reasonable pricing and then there’s price-gouging. It’d be like putting a subscription on Spore or Darkspore, because you’re probably going to have as much interaction with other people in them as you will in TOR. It’d be like putting a subscription on Guild Wars 1.

    My point is is that this game looks nowhere near as good as it would need to be to justify a subscription.

    And yet we’re all praising it for that.

    Sometimes I despair at gamers, because we’re saying that milking us is okay, and that turning single-player games into subscription affairs is okay. It’s really not. TOR is not a good thing. I’ll stand by that no matter what anyone else thinks.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m going to write a little more on this.

      With an MMORPG with a subscription, in 5 months you’ve played about 10% of the content you would in a normal single-player game, we all know this is true. This is because you have to grind X amount to reach Y content, which isn’t true of single player games. It’d be like having to repeat a test chamber 800 times in Portal 2 before moving onto the next one. With Portal 2 you get more bang for your buck just due to the lack of grinding.

      If you think about it, this’ll also be true of Guild Wars 2, since there’s no need for them to include grinding. And they’ve already spoken numerous times about their strong anti-grind policy. But Bioware is essentially going to take Knights of the Old Republic III, pad it out, add parts that you have to replay over and over and over, then slap an MMORPG genre tag on it, a subscription, and call it done. And that’s better than them just making Knights of the Old Republic III, is it?

      This is the reason I can’t be excited about this game, it looks like a cheap cash-in because the art style is cheap and nasty, and it sounds like one because there’s a subscription. In five months of TOR you won’t have experienced 10% of the content you did in completing Portal 2 in one day. And this is why MMORPGs with grind are bad, and I don’t like that we keep buying into this con, I really don’t. It’ll take everyone a few months of TOR to actually catch up with me on this, I think, and that’s terribly disappointing.

      I have no trouble turning a game into an MMORPG, but the moment you attach a subscription to it it becomes something evil, and TOR doesn’t look any less of a cash-in than any other MMORPG that has a subscription. One month after TOR, my opinion will be far more prevalent. But until then I have to just stick it out. :p

    • DeepSleeper says:

      god whatever just stop talking PLEASE JUST STOP TALKING

    • Andy`` says:

      Wulf, you’re only person here (except me now) that’s used the word grind, and you’ve used it 12 times, after John spent alot of time talking about how the game looks like more than that. Furthermore, you’re making alot of assumptions about the game based on the faults of the genre in general, and complain about your own tastes not being fulfilled (that’s what it seems like anyway) while others might feel differently about this game.

      I have many problems with the MMO space too (some of them similar to yours) but please cut out the FUD and grandstanding? It doesn’t help anything, just buries any useful/interesting discussion under the banner of intense whining.

      That aside, I’m happy that MMOs (notably this and Secret World) are starting to care about story a bit more, and singleplayer/small group content. It’s something I’ve been wanting from MMOs for a while, mainly since I play on a with-friends-or-alone basis (I find public grouping in MMOs too cold and heartless, funnily enough). So while I’m cautious of this game, I’m looking forward to it, especially if it really does turn out to be the next few KOTOR games wrapped up into a form I can play with friends, and facilitating a world with other people running about.

      I mean Bioware RPGs are great, but they do feel a bit silly sometimes, with everyone standing still at predetermined points for all eternity and not changing or interacting with each other at all outside of heavily scripted events. (they don’t feel completely lifeless though, they handle that well enough)

  40. Ryuuga says:

    Wulf, not to be a sourpush here, but like ~1/3 of the text in the comments thread is from you. There isn’t a little “tl;dr” warning light going off somewhere?

    edit: bit of a reply fail there, yep..

    • Gassalasca says:

      Usually when a person appears to have enough spare time and will to write so many longish posts someone in the audience will suggest they start a blog.
      Wulf has something like this occurred to you? (sorry if you’ve already discussed this at some previous occasion)

    • Wozzle says:

      Seriously. Get your own live journal.

    • MD says:

      I often disagree with Wulf’s opinions, and I sometimes disagree with the way he expresses them. But what the heck guys, please drop the whole “tl;dr” nonsense.

      It’s really really super-easy not to read a comment, or even never to read comments by a particular person. Having done that, it’s also very easy not to make a snarky comment about it. If you find someone long-winded, that’s fine, but nobody cares. Don’t try to discourage people from expressing themselves just because you’re personally not interested.

      Wulf actually makes a massive contribution to RPS, in my opinion, and I would hate to see him discouraged from sharing his thoughts because of the constant niggling whenever someone dares to write a lot of words in a comment thread.

      (This isn’t directed solely at you guys, or solely regarding Wulf. This was just one specific example of something that recurs pretty frequently, and it bothers me, because I think there’s a perilously small distance between gratuitous “tl;dr” posts and a comments-thread culture that tears down anyone who bothers to be sincere or thoughtful, leaving us in a wasteland of snark and one-liners.)

    • Serenegoose says:

      @MD: Agreed, in every way. (Well, save that I usually do agree with Wulf’s comments.)

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, I’m not going to be put off. If anything my resolve is bolstered by it, because I know it just comes down to ‘haters gonna hate’ and that I have unpopular opinions. But just because someone has unpopular opinions, it doesn’t mean that they should be voiced. I got over people being pissed at me over my opinions long ago. I do try to present them in the nicest way I can, but sometimes you just have to be blunt, because honesty has its own virtues.

      One of the reasons I’m like this is that there are likely a lot of people out there who support my point of views, but tend to be quiet about it because they’re unpopular and they go against the vast majority, so if one person speaks up, then a lot might. One example of this is Spore and Darkspore, if you look around the Internet then there’s a lot of love for both games, really, a lot. Even Darkspore on Metacritic has had a Portal 2-like ‘Vote 10!’ resurgence because of this.

      Now one unpopular opinion was that people were just slamming it because it was strange and alien, because as a game it was no different a version of Diablo Lite than Torchlight was, and I loved the hell out of Torchlight, too. Sometimes gamers do have problems with being flummoxed by strange things, apparently this is the reason why Little Big Adventure was renamed to Twinsen’s Odyssey in some places. :p So I’ve been voicing my opinion in regards to that that it’s actually a good game, the mechanics of a party made it even more fun than Torchlight for me, not to mention customising my beasties.

      But that’s one unpopular opinion, I know I have many, and no matter how I present them, nice or not, shorthand or long-windedly, there are always going to be haters who’ll hate, and people who’ll spam TL;DR in an attempt to discourage others from speaking their mind against the popular view. But like I said, that only makes my resolve stronger. :P If the majority were less xenophobic, less brand loyal, and more willing to look at the facts of something rather than their own opinions, then I’d have a lot less to say. Same with TOR. It’s a hell of a lot of hype and very little attention to the facts. People think that TOR won’t have a shitload of deep roads-like grinding to justify the subscription? Yeah, good luck with that. Just like every other subscription-based game didn’t require gri–oh wait.

    • Ryuuga says:

      I wasn’t saying so much a “don’t comment” as a “try to get the point across with fewer words”. But yes, I do make use of the option not to read some comments. Very much so.. ;)

      (Looking at the case in point, I actually agree with most of what Wulf says, if not all.. I may be somewhat off on the details, since I have yet to read quite all that he’s written)

  41. Wozzle says:

    Very, very much excited for this game. Still, I’m worried about it at thr 6-8 month mark. It looks like it’s going to be a fantastic RPG, but I haven’t really seen enough to see how it’s going to keep people onboard paying a monthly fee.

  42. wab1981 says:

    Having read this and the preview in PC Gamer it sounds like we’re gonna get 8 kotor single player games in one bundle which sounds perfect. 30 quid for the first then cancel subscription, then pay another 10-15 quid for another full length kotor game, its not like 30 days isn’t long enough to complete a 40 hour campaign.

    Looking foward to this and sorry in advance, i’m sure your all lovely people but who needs real life people when I goin to have well scripted bioware companions to amuse me and help out in the large scale battles?

    • Wulf says:

      This is one viewpoint I can’t understand. How can you possibly think that they’ve developed 8 games the length of Knights of the Old Republic in the sort time they’ve been working on TOR? Look how long it took them to put together Mass Effect 2, and that was a relatively short game. (It was a good game, I liked it, but it was also a short game. I’m not saying it’s bad for that reason either, though.)

      What you need to consider is that you’re thinking there’ll be eight games worth of meaningful content and choices in there, but there won’t be. Eight games worth of voice acting does not eight games worth of content make. What I can see is a hell of a lot of padding between sections, repetitive, grindy combat that we’ll have to do, which will mean missions that take ten times longer than they should due to padding, and then we’ll get to sit through long-winded cutscenes where we have to wait for someone to stop monologuing before we’ll get the chance to make a choice.

      Everything they’ve showed us thus far backs me up on this point. Go and track down some of the trailers and you’ll see that the game is terrible about monologuing. It isn’t like Fallout: New Vegas where it’ll go a few lines and then you get a choice, but often you’ll be sitting around on your thumbs waiting for people to stop talking. And, to me, that doesn’t equal game content. That equals an audiobook, and probably not the best audiobook ever written, either.

      I just think that people are seriously deluding themselves with how much game there’ll be in TOR versus how much grind. I’m middle-ground about Bioware, I don’t love or hate them, they’ve done stuff that I’ve enjoyed and stuff that I’ve disliked, but consider these two things:

      (I really wish I could use bullet points right now.)

      * Bioware are old hands at grind. They did it a lot in Dragon Age: Origins. The deep roads were actually what convinced me to outright stop playing Origins. Now Mass Effect 2 was a sans grind game by comparison (except for the effing resource gathering) and I appreciate that, but Bioware do know how to pad. They know how to pad with repetitive combat and mind-numbing minigames. There’s evidence of this, I don’t need to be accused of fabricating anything because anyone who’s played a Bioware game knows I’m telling the truth about this. (Mass Effect 2 even would’ve been better without that hateful minigame.)

      * Name a subscription-based game (that doesn’t have a free to play component) that’s without grind. Go on. This isn’t picking on Bioware, this is just me knowing about MMORPGs. Dungeons & Dragons Online? That had shedloads of it, where people pointed out how hilarious it was that it took you so long to gain one level in DDO versus tabletop, or how about Lord of the Rings Online? Stop picking on Turbine? Sure, I was just avoiding the big B and their World of Warcraft, how about Everquest II? Warhammer? Age of Conan? Aion? Do you see where I’m going with this?

      Now, if Bioware had said that they were developing Knights of the Old Republic III-V/VI then I would’ve been delighted, but what they’ve instead done is cannibalised the next two or three Knights games and filled them up with deep roads-like and minigame nonsense. There is just too much evidence to support this to ignore. It’s the same old con that every MMORPG with a subscription has used since the dawn of time. And I actually feel sorry for those who trust in Bioware to not do the same.

      If it didn’t have a subscription, my opinion would be a lot different, but that it does have a subscription tells me everything. I was actually mildly interested in TOR (in everything but art style, I always hated that) before they revealed it had a subscription.

  43. symple19 says:

    Wulf is owning this thread. I completely agree with pretty much everything he’s said. People, please, stop spending your money with Bioware, or they will continue to put out subpar games that are nothing less than a money grab

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  45. Bongs says:

    seo service
    can i just try out this game? i want to play it, huge fan of SW, but im not really up to pay $15/month, unless they go with the route Free to Play like many have lately and yes i will be playing it that way, since i can buy what i need when i need it. Instead of a link where I can read the entire review, just place the entire review here…