When BioWare said they were making a Star Wars based MMORPG we all heard two questions being spoken. One, will the world play and pay monthly for a game that isn’t filling a void in our industry? And two, are Star Wars fans so in love with the franchise that they will buy anything with the name attached?
In short; yes to both, but I’ll oblige and go further into detail.
It’s an obvious (and smart) business decision to try to take a slice of pie from Blizzard and bank on the ridiculous success of World of Warcraft. What was in question was the fact that BioWare expected to not only bring new players into the MMORPG world but they wanted to snake some fans away from WoW. It’s tough to think that any person would put down a game that they are enjoying, to play another game that is very similar. To me, it’s freshness. I know a lot of people who have played WoW for many years (almost a decade even) and in my opinion, that’s got to become a bitter taste after a while.
BioWare has a very solid reputation with the Star Wars universe. Their Knights of the Old Republic is still touted as one of the greatest RPG’s of all time. So to expand their created portion of the lore isn’t as farfetched, even if that means making hundreds of hours of unique story and content (and then multiply that by every unique class story). It took a lot of work on their part and countless man hours, but what became of Star Wars: The Old Republic is a beautiful thing.
To answer the second question posed by BioWare, of course Star Wars fans love the franchise. If you take one of the greatest movie sagas ever made and mate it with one of the greatest RPG developers of all time there is a very small chance that the resulting product will be below the expected level of awesomeness. As a Star Wars fan, it’s been a bewildering recent history for the franchise with the fan-boy criticism of episodes I-III and that was followed up by the completely flat Force Unleashed video games. Unlike other fans, people who love Star Wars will always put up with the ups and downs of the brand. The patience of the Wars collective has paid off big time.
My Opinion So Far:
If you told me 5+ years ago that BioWare was going to take a deep seeded charge at WoW’s stake in gaming, I would have scoffed and probably lost a little respect for BioWare. Nearly two years ago, when we finally started seeing what The Old Republic had to offer, I had to pull my head out of my ass. The land of MMORPG’s has been solely dominated by a single entity for so long that it seemed radical and a tad idiotic to even attempt any sort of hostile take-over.
The one thing I must give BioWare huge kudos for is that they didn’t try to re-invent a game that was already successful. They took the biggest pieces of WoW and skinned them to resemble Star Wars. SWTOR isn’t a stand-alone amazing piece of development history; it’s a better version of something that already existed. I’m not trying to take anything away from the artists and developers, because they made an amazingly detailed galaxy and absolutely beautiful environments, but their general player access is practically identical to WoW. That is the brilliant part.
Have you ever picked up a game that you were really excited to play and you just feel disconnected because the controls are off, or the gameplay just isn’t right? Well, SWTOR will never do that to you. Anyone who has ever played WoW (and let’s be honest, that’s most of us) will start-up SWTOR and feel right at home. The reason why you should play SWTOR over any other MMO is that it is STAR WARS! To have everything I love from WoW thrown into the Star Wars lore is an absolute blessing.
The Old Republic does so many things right. From the intricate class designs/story, the flawless environment creations, to the awesome character races with the perfect amount of customization. I played just enough of WoW when it was still “the cool thing to do” that I had zero hurdles when it came to picking up on all the combat available within every class type. I was sucked right in from the get go. With no learning curve, the only thing I had to wrap my head around where in the Star Wars universe did the game take place. According to BioWare, the game takes place a few hundred years after Knights of the Old Republic but a few thousand years before Episode I. There is even a few familiar names sewn into the story line.
All in all, I am so happy with every aspect of the game thus far. I’ve probably spent 50 or so hours now trying out the different classes and learning the ins and outs of their story and role in the game. It’s a beautifully designed universe with such a tribute to people who love Star Wars and everything it stands for. Please play it.