Unless you have been living in a very remote galaxy for the last 10+ years, you certainly have heard about BioWare and their next flagship: SWTOR.
As a SW fan I have been enjoying most SW video game up to Kotor I & II and also, you can guess the very controversial SWG. Of which I still have the collector’s edition displayed on my desk, 3 feets away from me. Yes I have a huge desk! It helps to organize all geek stuff we can gather through decades of hardcore gaming.
As TOR details are being slowly, chirurgically delivered by BioWare buzz machine we, are starting to be able to draw a more accurate picture of this expected MMO
Without denying it shall be a well polished game, and certainly a FUN experience, there’s something that’s been tickling me regularly about this game, the last strike being the “announcement” of a space on rails or tunnel shooter:
=> The overwhelming usage of restrictions.
Without having yet the chance to try out the game it seems, from an external view, that as BioWare loves to say so “choices will matter”. But to what extend do we really have a choice?
Among many other:
- You would choose either your specie or your class
- LightSaber types are class restricted
- Species are factions and even more class restricted
- Space ship chassis are imposed depending on your class
- Companion races aren’t selectable nor you will be able to customize their physical body
- You choose either your story line type or your combat game play (class)
- Your class will decide how you will look
- You will either choose your look or the gear stats
- You are “required” to use companions for PUGS and PvP
One can argue all this is normal for a theme park MMO, however I tend to disagree. While we can see restrictions on some MMO it seems SWTOR is the apogee of it.
Once upon a time MMOs, while not perfect, were virtual world in which players could venture around a nicely laid out world and that was mostly it.
The idea to make everyone feel a hero through very delimited storylines and perfectly smoothen out experiences, sets everything on rails. The player isn’t anymore in control of his character at all.
Sometimes it makes me wonder if some designers think they know better than the players themselves what’s fun for them. Didn’t we already see the results of such mindset in other games?
Now instead of obliging players to live with restrictions, wouldn’t it be more fun for everyone to deliver a fully fledged world, theme parks quests too (so none can say I’m a sandbox lover ;) ), but let players enjoy all this great content the way they want to?
For example I ask this very question where’s the fun in restricting players to combine class A with race D? Or why obliging all Class Z players to wear skirts? In virtual worlds, and so MMO, we can find almost limitless reasons to explain why an almost naked warrior using a stone knife can efficiently tank against a 100 feet tall dragon. So why obliging tanks to wear heavy armours either?
I’d say it’s time to get back to the roots and have the devs giving the players tools to enhance their imagination, not restrict it.