Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Star Wars: The Old Republic

So yesterday, I finally remembered to sign up for the public testing of this upcoming game. And boy, am I excited at what Bioware has in store for us.

Truth be told, ever since I saw the results for Age of Conan, Warhammer and Lord of the Rings, I've come to realize that my expectations on upcoming MMORPGs are always low. World of Warcraft enjoys a particular success, maybe because it occupied the same kind of "niche" that all these other games aim for, be it the type of game environment, the type of lore or simply the game mechanics.

These MMORPGs also suffered from severe lack of polish, meaning that they were shipped out before they were actually ready. If anything, it came to prove that software houses cannot maintain their nasty habit of releasing unfinished content and patch it later on, a trend that has been going on for several years now and greatly affected some of my single player experiences throughout the years. With MMORPGs, you get ONE chance to get the main content right. Smaller bugs are one thing. Leaving bugged main mechanics is the same as shooting yourself in the nuts and go swimming in lemonade.

In my opinion, these factors (and also other ones) contributed to the premature downfall of what could have been some very decent gaming experiences, particularly for those who had special connections to the lore involved. And now, we have The Old Republic almost knocking on our doors, begging for a chance. And why do I think that this game will succeed?

Mainly, because of Bioware. This company has some pretty heavy history of successful games, namely (from what I've actually played) Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect. Bioware knows how to tell a story. And, furthermore, Bioware knows how the make appealing game mechanics.

Of course, this is all speculation based on past successes... so why don't I ask the million dollar question that seems to spark the debate anytime a new MMORPG comes out: is it a WoW killer?

Simply put: no frikkin' way.

The Old Republic will call out to any Star Wars fan out there, that is pretty much a certain thing (assuming Bioware won't screw up). And I'll also assume that a decent chunk of WoW's playerbase might migrate and never look back (Heck, I might be one of them). But, for most people, it might be something that they will try out, but since people are naturally lazy and like to maintain their status quo, an actual shift will be quite hard.

But that's the beauty of it. Personally, I don't want SW:TOR to be a WoW killer. WoW, right now, is a victim of it's own success: the recent expansion brought in a more "casual-friendly" environment and the game is a watered-down version of what it used to be (less elitistic, which is good, but also waaaay easier, which is bad), probably to accommodate for the "will" of 11 million accounts. I don't want this to happen with Star Wars. I didn't want it to happen with WoW.

So, in conclusion: I believe that Bioware is going to provide us with an extremely decent gaming experience. I also believe (more of hope, actually) that it will not enjoy the degree of success that WoW has, so that it can avoid downgrading gaming experience to ease up on the "kids" that will eventually play it. Hopefully, it will gather a more mature audience and be the best Star Wars experience so far... and we need that, after a whole history of bad games coming out from LucasArts.

I'll see ya around! ;)

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