Star Wars: The Old Republic and how I love and hate it

Yesterday, the “Star Wars Celebration” event started in Anaheim. It wasn’t even on my radar, and then someone posted a link to the new Star Wars Episode VII teaser trailer. All it took was three words…

“Chewie, we’re home.”

… yeah, I’m trying to fight off the surging hype and hope for this movie, but while I think J.J. has botched his attempts in the Star Trek universe, what he showed there makes me think he’s actually perfect for Star Wars, and so… squeeeee… ahem. Excuse me.

This seems like too much of a coincidence(Edit: Not a coincidence, @SWTOR tweeted this is to honor the celebration), but SWTOR also announced a week of double XP from the 16th to 22nd. With The Force Awakens hype strong in my mind, I thought this might be a good time to go back and finish off one of those many characters I started in SWTOR but never finished.

Let me tell you about my history with SWTOR first. This was one of the games I was lucky enough to get into relatively early in the beta process, and I got to participate in many of the closed beta weekends and events. It was a universe I really cared about, the game did a lot of things right, and I made sure to provide as much feedback, answer as many surveys, and be as active on the beta forums as I could. There were many heated discussions, and while the beta community didn’t agree on everything, I think that at launch what I’d seen of the game was pretty good.

What happened next was incredibly easy to predict. People blew through the leveling content. This shouldn’t be a surprise, it was a BioWare RPG, the story was one of the better ones available in an MMO. Also, the game just felt awesome to play. To this day, SWTOR conveys the best sense of being a force user of nearly any game I’ve played (with KOTOR probably being the only real competitor – huge surprise). But after getting to the cap, the “elder” game was laid bare before us, and boy was it… bare. No problem, go level another character, check out more of that amazing story! Except that 50-70% of the story was a rehash for every character on the same faction. I managed one Republic alt, there was still nothing new on the end game horizon, so I puttered around occasionally for the next few months, and finally stopped playing.

I don’t think anybody was surprised when the free-to-play conversion happened. However, I’m not sure anyone was ready for how bad that conversion was going to be, and so I can finally get to my points rather than giving you a history lesson. There are a lot of F2P games sitting on my system which I will gladly revisit every once in a while, but SWTOR is not one of them. The game is so oppressive if you haven’t subscribed, I’m not entirely sure how anyone plays it as F2P. I mean, XP restrictions are one thing, but limiting the number of action bars you can have in your UI if you’re not a sub is pure EA evil at work. The F2P conversion has been discussed to death, and it happened a long time ago, and I’m not so bitter that this is why I’m writing today – but it’s always a factor to consider when talking about SWTOR.

I launched SWTOR, looking forward to hopping onto my Sith Marauder and continuing her story, and was greeted by a large pink screen. Okay, that’s interesting, try again – same result. To the Google machine! Well, it seems like this is a known issue that people sometimes have, and has even been acknowledged by BioWare as something they’re looking into. Great, there must be a fix! Well… not really. It might be related to dual screens, it might be related to refresh rate… try not to alt-tab or click anything while the game launches and just hope. Okay, fair enough, these are things you have to deal with when new problems creep up, right? Except that the threads I was reading on the issue were from 2012!

Once I got into the game, I briefly re-acquainted myself with the controls and tried to get the feel of the game. Hmm, my mouse sensitivity is way too high, I’m doing 360s with barely a flick of the mouse, better turn that down – oh, it’s already at 0. To the Google machine! Yup, it’s another one that people have had forever, and the fix is manually editing a config file, trying to find the right sensitivity for your mouse, and requires a full restart of the game every time you make a modification.

So here’s why I felt like I needed to write about this and vent a little. SWTOR was released in December 2011, the game is almost three and a half years old, and yet there are problems which exist in the game that should have been ironed out in beta, never mind this long after release. This is what really frustrates me about this game, it had the potential to be so good, it can be so good, and yet…

I paid for a sub because the F2P restrictions irk me to no end, so I’m going to force myself to play and maybe finish leveling my Marauder. Let’s see if I feel the need to write another post about this while that’s happening.