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WoW with Lightsabers

November 20, 2011

As the subtitle of this blog suggests, I have staked my gaming hopes for next year on the upcoming MMO from Bioware. I am not uncritically enthusiastic about it, especially given my experiences in last week’s beta, but I also believe firmly that with MMOs, what you get out of one depends greatly on what you’re prepared to put in. A game whose systems you are willing to learn, where you have or make friends, whose success you are rooting for at least a little is more likely to be rewarding than one where you sit back, fold your arms, and stare with a jaundiced eye, demanding to be enchanted. To this end, I believe Bioware has a powerful tool at its disposal in the form of TOR’s setting and deftly told story to get the player invested, with enough momentum to learn and come to enjoy its mechanics.

The blogosphere tends to roll its eyes at this and demand ever new heights of sublime MMO experience. Our delicate palates call for sandbox options, revolutionary combat systems, dynamically responsive worlds! Against this backdrop, TOR is derided, not wholly without reason, as being WoW with lightsabers. Thing is, to be perfectly honest, I am not convinced we want as much innovation as we claim we do. For many WoW players the pinnacle of that game was the Burning Crusade expansion. For other reasons, many people look back fondly on Ultima Online and even Everquest. CCP is on a ‘back to basics’ kick with EVE, to healthy subscriber acclaim. While aspects of TOR’s beta were wobbly, there is a certain solidity to its core – using your character’s abilities to the fullest, killing bad guys, collecting loot. Questing is kept interesting not by flashy gimmickry, but by the quality of the storytelling. More on that later.

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Categories: Beta, Other MMOs