When Belghast asked me a couple weeks ago if I was going to try Star Wars: The Old Republic, I said no. I couldn’t get into Mass Effect at all, and I’m not a Sci-Fi fan in the least. I’m more a fantasy game fan. Dragons, Elves, Dwarves, that’s where my heart lies. I also said I didn’t want another MMO. Because I was sure WoW was enough.
Then I got into this past weekend beta. My first try was a Jedi Consular. She was enough to show me I might be wrong. Then, for some reason, I logged out and created a Smuggler. That’s when they had me. That’s when the Black Magic that is Bioware grabbed me, held on with a death grip that would make Darth Vader quiver, and sucked me right in. Me! Someone who hasn’t watched a Star Wars movie since the 80’s. Someone that barely remembers more than Darth Vader bad, Republic good, Vader is Luke’s Father and Hans Solo was awesome.
Now, I’m not going to detail the techie aspects. But I’m going to tell you what I loved.
Bioware’s typical dialog choices are here. My character is fully voiced, delivers her lines beautifully. As a smuggler, she is witty, sarcastic, downright snarky sometimes, and sensitive when needed. Each dialog option let’s you form your character’s personality. It also effects your companions opinion about you. want to be a smartass with a heart of gold, great! Want to be a greedy bastard just in it for the profits, no problem! Want to tell this guy you wouldn’t help him if pigs flew, you can do that too. It’s not just take the quest, turn it in. There are actual choices here. They also can change your Light Side/Dark Side meter. And this is where Bioware once again shines. If you are unhappy with a dialog choice you made, and the conversation hasn’t ended yet? Simply hit escape and start it over!
Who’s The Good Guy?
I played Republic for the beta. Being used to Alliance good, Horde bad from WoW this was where Bioware hit me again. Sometimes, the “Light Choice” is the more “bad” choice. That’s right, there are questionable morals in The Republic. And by taking the “Light” choice, you are actually making the not so moral decision. And I love that. They made sure The Republic isn’t straight up “good”. They in fact have a lot of Gray area here. Much like Dragon Age, where the Grey Wardens are the hero, but not always by making the “good” choices.
And romance. I only got to meet one companion in the beta. But I fell for him right away. I fell for other people’s companions too, they are really well done. So far, at least. And of course, romance exists! Which I’ve come to expect from Bioware. I know, I know, most people don’t think it’s necessary. But I think it’s important in an RPG. It adds to the RP factor. It lends realism as well, because let’s face it, who is going to have a group of 5 people living and working together without something growing from it?
The Bioware codex! I love the codexes in Dragon Age. Because there is a lot of lore, a lot of people, and things you need to remember. But it’s also not feasable to think it’s possible to remember all of it. With ToR, you have the Codex, people, places, things, professions, etc get put here as you discover them, and you can look back later if you need information. It provides information on your companions as well, which is really helpful, telling you a bit of their backstory, and what gifts they like.
I’m In Love
From start to finish I thoroughly loved playing the beta. My class quest chain sucked me into the story. And made me feel like a real part of the world, not just a visitor. Bioware, as usual, makes you feel like the Best Badass Hero on the Planet from the very start. As it should be. The graphics were amazing, the sound effects were like being in the movies. And the Character Creation blew my mind. The UI was pretty intuitive if you’ve played WoW and Dragon Age you know just where to look for most things.
I have 2 weeks left of school. Then another 2 weeks before the game launches. So, I guess I’ll just have to kick back, relax, and wait. Because there’s no way I’m not buying.
I don’t think TOR will be the WoW Killer people believe. It’s really great, but Star Wars and Sci Fi are a completely different animal than the Azeroth universe they’ve created. But, if Bioware is successful with this, and there is no earthly reason they won’t be, it starts a precedent. If based on the success, they opt for a fantasy based MMORPG, then, I think Blizzard will have serious competition. I know it would probably pull me away.