KPants' "State of the Game" Review
So, quite recently I received an email from Bioware asking my opinion of the game and how they’re doing so far…and so I got bored one night, and provided them as much detail as I could to tell them just those things. Of course, being me, I had to add a little extra in there as well. At any rate, I described everything to them verbatim to what’s below in a list-like format, so enjoy the read and please do describe your own thoughts in the comments section![img]/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif[/img][img]/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif[/img][img]/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif[/img]
- The story in this game is fantastic; I’ve played a Smuggler to about 28, a Sith Warrior to 24, and my Agent has been maxed for some time now. Obviously, the Agent’s story has been the greatest to me thus far and he also holds the reign as my favorite voice actor (closely followed by the Jedi Knight, though I haven’t played that class to extensively at all).
- The PvP mechanics are fairly well done and balanced, considering the amount of time this game has been out. There isn’t an instance in PvP where I’ve felt it was the games fault I died or lost a match (outside of the few bugs causing screen tearing or ability lag, which don’t involve PvP mechanics or balancing).
- The designs of each world (from an artistic standpoint) are very deliberate and well thought out. On the side of world design regarding quest progression and general directions in which you’re guided towards, things are better than in most games out there. While I often found myself going back and forth on a few planets, and felt that there weren’t enough flight points on planets such as Voss or Quesh, I didn’t find that annoyance to hold too large a degradation on my enjoyment overall.
- Bioware’s consistent patching is nice, and it’s great that they attempt to fix as much as they can as well as they can, as OFTEN as they can. This could prove annoying to someone without patience or understanding, but I see this as Bioware’s first real online experience, let alone an MMO experience, so I don’t hold the constant patches against Bioware, but in their favor.
- Decision making. Each decision I’ve had to make on my characters (for the most part) has always held me torn. Obviously, some instances were a bit more difficult to decide than others. A prime example is the ending of the Agent’s first story arc, in which you decide to side with Jadus or leave him to be dealt with by the authority. Being dark side, I wanted nothing more than to join with him and see where that took me…but knowing how many people would hate me and that things probably wouldn’t go so well with the entire Sith Counsel on their way…I had to pick the neutral option. I had never felt so torn, and I approve of such things.
- There are some new boss mechanics I can appreciate throughout the flashpoints. I chose to walk into each flashpoint unprepared and not knowing how to do the fights, and more than a few took a wipe to figure out. By the time I made it to the level 50 flashpoints, however, I could catch the general method that was being used for the bosses, and could quickly decide on the fly what would likely work to beat the bosses before having to deal with a wipe. Essentially, the learning curb implemented while leveling was well done, and taught the player just what they needed to know for future, more difficult flashpoints.
- Though I haven’t done too much as far as Operations, I feel that they’re fairly well put together. Each boss I’ve beaten has proven fairly challenging, and the mechanics are all diverse and varied enough that everyone has to be on their game to properly defeat the boss.
- Essentially, everything I’ve experienced in this game (bugs aside) has been well polished, and has proven to provide a great experience all the way to 50. I can’t say there was one moment during my leveling process that I was bored, and even for a time after 50, I found myself greatly enthralled in the game. But that’s what leads me to the negative things…
- While the story in this game is fantastic, that creates a hole in the games’ experience once you hit 50. After I’ve completed all of the flashpoints and the planet story-lines, I find myself standing around the fleet more often than anything, space barring through all the dailies, heroic flashpoint dialogue, etc. The forth pillar of this game is story, and it’s a strong pillar…but unfortunately, it’s the pillar that makes this game so great. Being that, it’s the primary pillar holding the game aloft, and once it’s gone…things start to wobble, and interest starts to wane.
- The rewards at end game are/were too easy to achieve. In PvP, while this is being balanced out in a soon-to-come patch, you could easily get all of your champion gear fairly fast and fill the unattained slots with centurion without much issue. This isn’t actually that bad, but since it takes an EXTREME amount of time to reach Battlemaster (without having exploited the Ilum change), you find yourself playing for a long, long time without any real reward or benefit from PvP aside from minor valor gains. In PvE, I can’t be to descriptive on the reward to effort ratio…but I have found the mods I attained from daily missions and the gear granted from hard modes was fairly easy to get.
- That leads me to the guild systems. Right now, there’s literally no incentive to be in one guild over another aside from their activity and whether you have friends in that guild. I’ve chosen the friends aspect over any other for where my guild is, and I’m currently in a guild with all my real-life friends…however, that amounts to four active 50s. We’ve been attempting to find another guild that could use our combination (two healers, a DPS, and a tank), but due to most PvE guilds being activity based (Operations, etc), they don’t really require our services as they already have those roles filled. This leaves my group with nothing to do but PvP, or attempt to PuG an operation (which we’ve done, and it didn’t go very well). In the end, I think guilds need a reason to be big, or a reason to be joined. I.E. – a guild leveling system that provides benefits to all players within, so that no matter how small or big…that guild could still eventually reach a decent amount of perks that would cause players to wish to join.
- Speaking on activities: There isn’t enough to do at 50. There’s operations, or PvP grind. Operations can be done once a week, which is great, and there are hard modes that can be done in between. The PvE side is just dandy. However, with no purpose to PvP aside from playing what essentially adds up to a mini-game, I feel it’s almost pointless at times. If you don’t go in with a pre-made, you’re likely to get smashed. On top of that, there’s no tracking system to say “Hey, I’ve killed this many people, and died this many times throughout all of my warzone history.” Or “I’ve scored the ball in Huttball this many times”/”I’ve captured the node in Alderaan this many times!” You’re simply doing it just to do it, and eventually hit battlemaster. After you hit battlemaster, there’s literally nothing that PvP can offer you except a mount at 65 which is cool…but not enough. The game needs more variety in this area; the rated warzones need to be released soon. We need an arena-like system. Arenas can really screw over balancing if not done properly, but that only shows where the real issues within the balance really are.
- While on the topic, Warzones desperately need a penalty to leaving before the game is finished. I’ve thought of a couple of ideas that would disincentivize such activities, some likely more effective than others: 1) Create a 20 minute debuff on the player that leaves that reduces valor gains by 10%, stacking up to 10 times. While this one may be more complicated to do, it would cause there to be little point in PvPing for most people, and they would want to stick to even a losing game to make sure they gain the valor they’re grinding for. However, for people looking purely for the daily/weekly, this means little. 2) As World of Warcraft has long ago implemented, mark each player that leaves a Warzone early with a 15+ minute debuff that makes them no longer able to PvP for that period of time. This would both cause players that are daily grinding and valor grinding to have a more difficult time deciding if it’s worth leaving, and would at least keep the game moderately fair. An example of why this is needed was unfortunately provided to me the other night. I joined a game against a premade with a group of randoms, and right after the first ball score, everyone just up and left except myself and one other person. Everyone that joined after that left immediately. The other person sat in a corner, stealthed, and waited for the game to end while I was forced to do the same, or give the other team undeserved valor.
- Ilum. While the original state of this area was obviously easy to farm and complete the daily/weekly with efficient ease, it was also reasonably balanced considering the imbalance of factions on most servers. Before the “fix”, I was able to actually accomplish completion of the daily and weekly in the time given to me, and I even got to do some PvP on the planet. Now, after the fix, I find myself having to spend three days (with about three to four hours of effort each) just to do the daily, and haven’t even finished the weekly since. A daily shouldn’t take as long as it should take to complete a weekly. While I don’t mind the idea of turning it into a more PvP oriented focus, and making it harder to farm…I feel the daily/weekly should be drastically reduced (perhaps to 10 instead of 30, and 50 instead of 150), and the armaments be available not only in the central assault, but also in the north and south. If I have to try and fight 17 other bored imperials (as an imperial) to get the sparse few nodes that pop up, I don’t feel this is at all better than the previous system that was in place.
- While I’ve mentioned a few above, I have a couple to add that aren’t exactly hitting a good or bad point in the game. I believe I heard talk from one of the people involved at Bioware involving “events”. I’m unsure of what the intention is behind this, and I actually brought up this question at the last Fansite Summit to James Ohlen. The suggestion is this: TOR needs an event system similar to what WoW has done a couple times throughout its’ history. While I’m sure you hate having suggestions directly taken from WoW, it’s just the best way to describe things as it’s been done before. During their introduction to the Lich King expansion, they created a moderately large-scale invasion that hit the major cities and a few outer-rim areas where undead hordes would attack, and create a timed event every few hours, or in the case of the outer-rim areas, there would be set places where encampments of the undead would be, and you could form groups to kill them for quests and drops. While they haven’t done this type of thing often (the only other instance I can remember is their elemental invasion), it provided a fun new thing for higher leveled people and lowbies to go out and enjoy. I think adding either a weekly or biweekly event like this (one that could even be repeated) that affected either the main stations of both factions, or a random planet would be a fantastic idea. The imperial fleet gets attacked by the republic, and whomever is there must work together to defend it…perhaps some space battles would be involved. The same thing would happen to the republic; perhaps create a PvP opportunity where each faction could participate in this raid (that may happen every few hours).
- Regarding Ilum; I’ve made a similar suggestion on TOROcast, but I feel I should go ahead and reiterate it. The original suggestion was to turn Ilum into a sort of Warzone, but one that could only be queued for every hour or hour and a half with perhaps two instances of it (Ilum 1, Ilum 2) so that more than just 24 people could do this, assuming more than 24 players of both sides opt to participate. The winning objective would be to hold and control all five nodes (Central, North, South, and the two bases) for X amount of time (as long as seems fitting after testing), and after the game is won, that faction controls Ilum until the next round. During this time, all players inside the warzone area would be teleported back to their respective Ilum bases, but outside of this time players could still go in to achieve their dailies (and since Ilum was changed from the capturing objectives, the consistent control factor wouldn’t be a large issue). In addition, whether or not this is how you choose to make Ilum…once you enter that zone and are granted the control quests, I feel it’s necessary to put everyone into an Op group. Then form a second after that one’s full automatically. This just seems rudimentary, and necessary.
- I know your UI is being fixed up in the next big patch, and I look forward to that…but the game is in dire need of a combat log and some form of damage/healing meters. While it creates a sense of elitism, I’ve found them to also create competition, as well as self improvement. If I see I’m DPSing and not pulling the same numbers that a Sorc is as an Operative, I’ll gander closer at my spec and rotation, and see what I could do to improve myself so I could better match or surpass the other player’s ability. Everyone’s asking for this, and while it’s not necessary in comparison to all the other fixes and suggestions, it’s definitely what people want.
- I’ve talked to multiple people who feel that the social and the darkside/lightside point systems need to be fixed for endgame players…I’ve done Black Talon Hard Mode more than my fair share of times, saw the social point and darkside point indicators more than enough times, and have gotten nothing out of it every time (though a recent patch caused me to occasionally get 2-4 social points from the whole run). This was the final straw for one of my friends that caused her to quit, and it’s a constant nagging at my heels whenever I play. I’d like to buy cooler social things, but never will be able to due to playing the game mostly solo while leveling.
- On the note of social gear: There needs to be a set of each that’s also medium/heavy in armor type. It makes little sense that an Imperial trooper armor is technically light armor. While some of these wouldn’t make sense as heavy (The Slave outfit for one), it’d still be nice for the more controversial types (Imp Trooper, Pilot, Sand People, etc) to have more than just a light armor version. It seems a bit unfair that Inquisitors and Sages can run around looking as dumb as they’d like, but all the other classes are left with a huge penalty for wearing such gear.
That’s really all I have to provide for how I feel on the state of the game, and where I’d like it to go. I’m glad to see more and more content is being produced to provide more story to the players, but there are just some simple fixes that can be made to the current game that would satisfy so many people! Satisfy them more than an hours’ worth of content would. I understand this “state of the game” review is a bit lengthy…but I feel being thorough is the best way that I can possibly attempt to assist in making the game better and more captivating. To be quite honest, I used to play 12-25+ hours a week…and now, less than two months after release, I’m maybe playing every other day for an hour or two, if that. The same could be said for the majority of my friends. I hope my input was helpful, and pray some of my suggestions come to be reality. Thank you for asking my opinions, and may the game prosper well in the near future!