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In this latest …

November 30, 2011

In this latest beta weekend, I played primarily an Imperial Agent, instead of my Guardian. It was mostly at the wise insistence of my best friend and beta travelling companion, who cautioned against knight burnout and herself took up the twin pistols of the Bounty Hunter. In any case, it was a good opportunity to check out the other side of the game, both in the Imperial sense and in the gun-class sense.

Despite my continued preference for the Guardian, I found myself having a good deal more fun than the last go-round, which was a little puzzling. Then I read the initial impressions over at Spinksville, and it finally occurred to me that the social aspect made the difference.

Back when SynCaine threw a well-aimed snark dart at SW:TOR to the effect that Skyrim is the better single-player RPG, it rang true to me. Making sure that it’s a real MMO and not everyone’s simultaneous KOTOR 3 would be a significant challenge for Bioware.

At the moment, however, I am not so sure. Spinks remarks on her enjoyment of group play (not least trying the same kind of BH/IA duo as I’ve done) and makes particular reference to the entertaining tension between lightsiders and darksiders in flashpoints. This was the case throughout my play session this weekend and not just in flashpoints but also in questing. In short, it’s more fun to quest with someone else because they affect your story, and it’s sometimes an interesting fit. Ethical choice after ethical choice, it’s like doing a really long personality quiz together, with lots of guns and grenades.

I played my agent as an immaculate professional, choosing light side and dark side options according to what would best serve Imperial interests, maintain operational security (i.e. mostly killing loose ends who might end up talking about what I’ve done) and remain an efficient course of action. My friend’s bounty hunter was more complex: extremely tough-minded, self-interested but capable of mercy where it didn’t cost her any credits. She had no qualms about killing Imperials where my character might have stayed his hand out of some sentiment for the uniform, and so on. It was all quite engaging, and anticipating each other’s choices (and in some instances hoping to win the convo roll to put a wrench in the works) became a fun aspect of questing, more than making up for the fact that a capable duo trivialised the difficulty in most cases.

 I conclude with relief that the RPG elements that we thought would be insulating and single-playerish may yet serve to foster group play. Moral choices gain additional meaning with an audience or an antagonist. At least until everyone’s completely jaded and it’s “kill the orphan plz i only have 10min”.



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