Rant: The Old Republic
I already know what you're thinking, "not another TOR article", believe me when I say I can't take it anymore either. Let's face it, TOR is slated to be the next big thing on the MMO scene so you're going to be subjected to every derp's opinion on it. I've sat and watched quiety reading and digesting everything TOR related the last few weeks, so here is one more derp sounding off.
If you read the title of this, you probably realized on your way in here that the "TLDR" version of what is beyond this point can be summed up by a simple "I don't like TOR". If the foam is starting to accumulate around your mouth at the thought of someone not liking your new precious, save yourself the torches and pitchforks to run me out of town, I'll go wait in exile happily with the rest of the people who just can't take the insanity anymore because I know in the end most people will figure out what the sane among us already know. If you like where this is going and ready to ride this storm out with me, come gather around the fire friend. If you can't handle it, just click your bookmark in the browser to your favorite TOR fan site.
The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how fickle the MMO community is, and how astonishingly short memories are when it comes to watching what happens to every MMO hype train that passes through this station with all the fanfaire. The Old Republic is the poster child of why I haven't been able to bring myself to seriously commit to an MMO for the last 2 years. Am I the only one sitting here completely dumbfounded by the fact that people don't realize that the TOR train looks almost identical to the last dozen that came through here? This is MMO insanity. We are literally doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
I know it's Bioware. I enjoyed Dragon Age and Mass Effect as much as the next guy. I know it's Star Wars, or at least it is supposed to be. I know they spent more on this game than any other MMO ever made to date. But when you remove your emotional attachments from the IP, the company making it, and all the other bullshit, it is the same game that has come through here time and time again that has ended with massive burnout in the 60-90 day mark.
What really baffles me is how hard they doubled down financially to make what is a glorified Star Wars mod of an MMO that walks exactly in the footsteps of the previous games, footsteps that lead right over a cliff. Reports are they spent well over $100 Million, and I'm just scratching my head trying to figure out where all the money went.
So we got the same generic UI as the previous MMOs, actually worse in some ways because it lacks some of the customization functionality of the others. We have a weaker character creation and customization than we saw in some of the previous games. We have the same generic facerolling combat system ported over. We have the same quest content designed for lowest common denominator that involves our hero / sith lord collecting animal hides. We also somehow managed to turn the prospect of PvP on an intergallactic scale and reduce it down to Hutt Ball. So by looking at this we can clearly conclude that they didn't spend the bulk of their cash on the actual gameplay, because every other MMO debacle has done all this for a lot less money.
What is supposed to set this game apart? Is it the story? The story that pretty much puts you in the same place regardless of the choices you make? I sure as hell hope for their sake that they weren't counting on the voice acting to keep people paying month after month. What is it about the story that justifies them collecting a monthly fee? Skyrim offers everything TOR does in terms of voice acting and story, and at the same time gives you an massive open world, real quests that don't make you feel like a UPS driver trapped in a galaxy far away, and no monthly fee to boot!
How much of their massive budget did they spend reskinning Star Fox and putting into this game just for the sake of saying there is space combat? The only thing missing is having Peppy's face popping up on the screen telling me to do a barrell roll. They managed to get the most open environment known to mankind, outter space, and even turn that into a linear on the rails theme park ride akin to space mountain.
I just can't help but think that TOR might be the greatest wasted opportunity the MMO genre has seen in years. You literally had one of the greatest IPs ever created, one with so much lore that it is nearly impossible to consume it all. You had the biggest budget an MMO has ever seen to make this glorious IP into a reality, and you squandered it by making a dumbed down reskin of every failed MMO before it, and you did it on the hopes that your fate would somehow be different than theirs. It's not even a theme park vs sandbox arguement. I can understand the appeal of a theme park game, and I don't mind one every now and then. It's the fact that Star Wars deserves better than this, and the fact that they took the low road in all the areas that count the most that actually keep people playing. To me, this type of dumbed down gameplay does not justify a monthly fee. If you removed Star Wars from this game and it had to stand purely based on the merits of gameplay, this would be an intergallactic failure and be seen for the mediocrity that it truly is.
Don't get me wrong, if you enjoy TOR and maybe you are new to the MMO genre and find it fresh, I don't think any less of you. But as someone who has been around the block a while and seen a lot, I'll be the asshole and say I hope TOR ends up just as bad as all the games that came before it that did the exact same thing. The madness needs to stop with this genre and with the amount of money at stake here in TOR, a failed TOR will send a resounding message to future bottom-peddling developers that going down this road is not worth the investment. Unfortunately for the rest of us going into exile to watch this one from the sidelines, it probably won't be the case.
Co-Leader of Inquisition