As a professional game writer, I play through a lot of games, including Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have my personal opinions about a whole list of games and I even went so far as to recently go down memory lane and replay a laundry list full of MMOs to see how they compared to SWTOR and figure out the top five reasons that SWTOR is one of the best MMOs out there.
This is the part where it’s hard to say that SWTOR is the #1 in this category, because there are a few MMOs out there that have just as superb graphics, like TERA. However, there are very few games out there that look as gorgeous as SWTOR and will look that same way many years from now. Every time I log into the game world and then switch to another game, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with the graphics regression.
One of the really neat things about SWTOR is how fluid combat animations are. This is something that a lot of games just don’t focus on. You have this epic feeling as you storm into combat, flying through the air, knocking everyone back, and all of it working together fluidly. There are some complaints that the sacrifice to have the graphics affects gameplay, but I’m sure that’ll be sorted out as the game continues to age.
I absolutely fanatically dislike being stuck into a single role in a game without the option, nay, the ability to even contemplate doing something else. I also do not like options so overwhelming that each skill is merely a duplicate, with a minor change in statistics and animation, and packaged into an ever growing number of available skills that act as a primary selling point. I like that sweet point where you have the choice to be whatever you want in a way that is easy to understand.
Each class in SWTOR automatically gets two roles, DPS, tanking, or healing. Most base classes have all three open to them whenever it comes time to pick an advanced class. This means that no matter what, your class is viable and doesn’t have to sit around all day waiting for that one rare DPS slot to open in a group. Even better, the play style between one talent build and another isn’t drastically different.
This doesn’t mean that much now, of course, as the dungeon / flashpoint / group / whatever finder isn’t out yet, but being a pure DPS class can be a severe punishment in the modern gaming world. Reusing TERA, there is only one tanking class and it guarentees an instant queue while DPS have to sit and play scrabble. WoW has also dealt with its fair share of problems, as Rogues, Mages, Warlocks, and Hunters have to deal with long queues without the option of having an off-spec to tank or heal.
Having a sidekick with you on your journey is an impressive feat and one I highly approve of. BioWare found that sweetspot, between helpful but not a replacement for an actual Human companion. Companions are neither powerful enough to solo content for you, but weak enough to be more of a hassle than a help, making them one of the best parts of the game for me.
Some may find the system detrimental to the social aspects of the game, since it pushes away grouping in the favor of having a companion by your side, but I see it more of the companions from Diablo 2/Diablo 3 and less of an actual pet. Sure, they absorb damage, provide healing, or deal alright damage, but is that enough to say that they’re the bane of the social gameplay? I think not.
Don’t forget the ability to sell loot while in the field. That’s something every MMO needs.
SWTOR’s story is one of the most immersive and compelling stories in an MMO that I’ve ever seen and the first actual storyline that’s made me read almost all of the text, from start to finish. In addition, SWTOR is the first MMO for me that’s had rock solid cutscenes and voice acting for every line of text. This makes the game much more enjoyable than if it had faceless NPCs handing out quests for little to no reason.
Guild Wars 2 will be launching with similar features, including voice acting, cutscenes, and a personal storyline. If I were to list my top five reasons that I love GW2, this same statement would reappear, although GW2 would be second, not first (although that doesn’t change how awesome it is to have these features in an MMO).
The very last reason that I love SWTOR so much is the patches. So far we’ve gotten two rock solid patches that contain massive quality of life updates, tons of new content, and issues that the community has brought up fixed. In patch 1.3, we’re going to be looking at not only server transfers, but the much requested group finder and a lot more quality of life updates to make the game more comfortable to play.
That kind of support is why SWTOR is a great game to me. I’m sure there are still a lot of vocal people who upset because of server population (rightfully so) or don’t see eye to eye with me about the patches, but you have to admit that we’re getting a lot of content for free and BioWare is acknowledging problems instead of ignoring them. That to me is respectable.
Anyway, that’s my top five reasons that I think SWTOR is a great game. I’m sure there is a lot of differing opinions out there as to why the game is awesome, so don’t be afraid to share your comments in our comments section below.