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Teala's Wickedly Cool MMORPG.com Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Why is Skyrim such a success and considered the best MMORPG that is not an MMORPG?

Posted by Teala Sunday November 27 2011 at 5:02PM
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OK, I've been playing this game addictively(as much as I can without totally giving up on real life - lol) and after spending the time exploring and what not in this game it hit me like a ton of bricks.   This is the virtual "open" game world games like Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings Online, and Dark Age of Camelot should have been:   The world is gritty.  It is pretty much open.  It is dynamic.  It is beautiful.  It is terrifying.   It is all these things and more.  

Skyrim is just one portion of a bigger landmass.  Just one country of a larger world.  If this game had been released as a game based on the world of Conan the Barbarian and the developers said, this is Cimmeria  I would be like "yes...yes it is".    If this had been "Midgard" from Dark Age of Camelot, I would say "yes...yes it is."  If they had said this is the weastern part of Middle Earth that includes the lands Arnor, Dunnland, Rohan and Eriador, I would say "yes...yes it is."  

Why?  Because Skyrim is how these worlds from these other games we've played should have looked and played.   As I have said I have been playing this game a lot(over 100+ hrs into it) and I cannot believe how little I have done toward the main stories and quest and yet I feel as though I have done more in this game than any MMORPG I have ever played.   In fact the area in and around Whiterun has more going for it than anything I found in most MMORPG's I have played and it isn't loaded with wall to wall MOB's that you aggro just running through the woods like you do in a game like Rift or Dark Age of Camelot or Age of Conan.   

Not going to give away any spoilers to Skyrim, but let me tell you of an experience I had in this game that blew me away.   Now as I said, I have played over 100+ hrs in this game on three different characters so far and I cannot believe the amount of "playing" I have gotten out of this game in such a small area(I'm talking around the town of Skyrim and Riverwood).  Anyway...I was playing one of my characters and I happened to be out hunting for leather bearing animals to do some leather crafting.  I had been through this area near Riverwood before, hugging the foot of the mountains along the tree line.   As my character climbed over a knoll and was about to run down a mountain draw I noticed a little path.   I was like, where did that come from?  I had not seen it before...then again...I could have missed it.  It would have been very easy to miss because it is not well traveled.  

So I follwed it as it curved it's way through the trees and bushes.  It lead up the draw into the mountains.   I soon found myself at what looked like the entrance to an abandoned mine(it is hard to see unless you are standing at a weird angle, as if it were hidden that way on purpose by whomever started it).   So in I go(of course).

As I crept in I noticed the torches were lit.   So someone was actively using it.   Turns out the were - some NPC had set up mining operations in it and didn't want the locals to know so he would have to pay taxes and he could manipulate the local market with the ore his people were ming from it.  I learned this by listening to the conversation between the leader and one of his forman.   So very cool.    As I continued to explore this mine I heard this one guy asking another if he had checked to see if the guard they posted at the hidden entrance was still on duty.   The one guy said he didn't know, but would check.   Then the other guy walked to a guy sleeping on a fur bed roll near the fire and told him to wake up that he would have the next watch.  

Yes...that is how deep this game is...this stuff does happen - in game!  I was caught up just watching these guys from the shadows as they worked the mine.  One guy was making tools on the forge and another guy came up and asked when he would have the tool done.  The one guy replied it'll get done when it gets done...making tools take time.   LOL!

A mine in Skyrim - NPC's actual work the mine!

So what does this have to do with Conan, Camelot, or Middle Earth?

Everything!  It is called "immersion".   It is the "immersion" into a games world that makes an RPG what it is...not just the hacking and slashing, that is just a part of it, but the world itself is what allows a player to imagine that they are in this world and that they are enteracting with it in a believable way.    Skyrim does this.   There is no reason that MMORPG's cannot do this as well.  

I've said it so many times on my blog and I cannot emphasize this enough, the reason newer games are crashing and burning is they have lost touch with what role-players are looking for - we're looking for virtual open worlds, with open character development aka - a role-playing game.   Stop holding our hands at every stinking turn!  That is not what role-playing is about.  I am so sick of these games taking away more and more, and then they have the nerve to call their games virtual worlds, and role-playing games.  Even Blizzard's game WoW has a "world"...look at games since then...they get smaller, they become linear, and it's like you are forced to ride the train through the park and it never stops to let you explore.  

As I said , Skyrim is not as huge as far as game worlds go...but you wouldn't know that.   It seems massive - but it isn't, not really.   How is it that a game like this can do something all the MMORPG's I have ever played failed to do and in a smaller area?!  

I'll tell you.   The game gives me freedom, it gives me a virtual world.   The game designers are not taking my character, forcing her to wear a leash, guiding her - I am the one with the leash and I am free to choose how I wish to play her.    MMORPG's do not do that - accept EVE, but even EVE cannot touch Skyrim.  EVE designers insist that it's all about Spaceships.  Fine...keep your spaceships.   I prefer to play an RPG where I play a "character" I can relate to, not a hunk of brainless, cold metal.  ;p

That leads me to this whole notion that so many people constantly toss around that game play that we see in Skyrim does not translate well into an MMORPG.   Not as it is it wouldn't, but the basic game play would!  Give me freedom.  Give me the virtual world for me to interact with and allow me to develop my character as I see fit.  Stop holding our hands at every step throughout the game.   I am smart enough to figure out things - let me do it!  

As I play this game Skyrim I cannot help but think, again and again, this is the game Age of Conan should have been.   This game is more Conan-esq, than all of Age of Conan Online combined!  How sad is that?  This game Skyrim is more magical than Lord of the Rings and that is really sad, because Lord of the Rings is one of the reasons we play these games.  How sad is that?  

Seriously...how can this game that fits on one DVD be better than any MMORPG that comes on two and three DVD's? Because it is the "RPG" without the MMO.   To many of these games have dropped the RP portion of the the acronym and are just MMOG's.  Well I am not looking for an MMO, or an MMOG, I am looking for an MMORPG.  Get it...RPG...role-playing game.  A role-playing game in a persistant game world! Not a themepark, hold your hand, game on rails.  

Bethesda got it right and people are playing the proverbial "hell" out of this game.

Skyrim sold over 3.5 million copies in it's first 48's after its release and is virtually sold out in almost every game store you go into.  The publisher is busting their arse to get more copies out and digital downloads are still going strong.   Almost every gaming site you go to, you see one word blazened on them or in their forums, "Skyrim".   Why?  Simple.  Skyrim did almost everything right.   It's like Bethesda digitized a great  Dungeon Master from our pen-and-paper days and put him in our computers, and this DM has built us a virtual world for us to adventure in.   Bethesda did what other games designers fail to do and gave us role-players a role-playing game - imagine that.

This is not your ma and pa's RPG - this is SKYRIM!!!

Posted by Teala Wednesday November 23 2011 at 1:17PM
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First thing I would like to say is to Bethesda, the creators of this game, "Can I please, please, please have my life back?"  No really...can I have it back?   Not since Asheron's Call have I been without so much sleep.  I even forget to eat.  My friends think I have forgotten them.   Was going to go see a movie Friday and canceled(gave a lame excuse) just so I could play Skyrim!  We did go to the movie(Saturday), but when I got home I couldn't wait to start playing again.   I was planning on enjoying a nice evening at home, cuddled in front of the home theater screen and watch the Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor(love the old black and whites)...but nooooooo...Tamriel and the lands of Skyrim were beckoning me.  "Come play Kristi...come play...there is adventure here.  You know you want to...you can't resist.   Come Kristi...come play."

I have played my share of CRPG's, but nothing even touches the mind-blowing, epicness that is Skyrim.  Is it perfect, far from it, but what Bethesda has done is nothing short of extraordinary.  It truly is a masterpiece compared to other CRPG’s I have ever played.   With that said, I will not only be commenting on the awesome parts of  this game, but the bad as well...uh-hum...the UI.

So where to start?  I like the opening of the game and how it plays out like a movie.  I do not like that it opens like a movie and forces you to start in a given spot.   LOL!  Yeah I know, weird huh, but for me, I think it should have been optional to start out as we see fit.   That to me would have been better than forcing us to “have” to start out in one given spot.   Skyrim is a huge open world, with so much to do(exploring, crafting, hunting and more!), other than just the main story line, that it just seems sorta short sighted on the part of Bethesda not to just allow us to create a character and plop them down into the world as we see fit.  This game screams openness and sandbox game play.  It should have the option to start out as such.  Just my opinion - take it for what it is worth.   Not that the opening was bad or anything, it’s just that once you’ve played through the cinematic once Bethesda should have put in the option to skip it if you like.



Graphics in this game are truly beautiful, stunning, and awe inspiring.  From the snow capped peaks, to the green forest, everything about the world of Skyrim is just jaw dropping, eye candy.   The only thing I have a gripe with is that the water in this game still has no shoreline foam or water lapping at the shore.   Water seems to just abruptly merge with land or whatever.  Think this needs some work.   Speaking of water..one thing they got right is the rivers have current and waterfalls are works of art in themselves - just beautiful to look at.  Cool thing about currents in water - it really does work.   Next time you kill a bandit, toss them in a river and watch the current of the river carry them away.   Very cool..in a morbid sorta way.

Speaking of graphics, OK maybe I have a couple of gripes, the only other gripe I have is that I do not think they used enough poly’s for rocks - there are still some rocks that have the typical graphic straight edges.  Wish they could have found a way to minimize this.  Don’t get me wrong, from a distance the mountains and rocks are like looking at the French Alps or Swiss Alps...just gorgeous, but close up - needs a little work.

Animations for the most part are really well done, especially the critical hits your character might make in melee combat that go all cinematic Matrix - very epic.   The rag-doll deaths add a lot of depth and immersion and that is key to what makes a game like Skyrim so awesome is immersion.   It is really good at immersing the player into the world.   I do think the dragons are epic, but their flight and jerkiness of motion needs a little more polish.  I saw some weird animations they did while flying that broke the immersion, but all in all - I was staggered the first time I saw and fought a dragon(and at night no less).   Never in any game did I ever feel as though I was participating in something so very epic - fighting a dragon!  Not just any dragon...but a Skyrim dragon that actually looked and behaved like the dragons we read about from tales of old.   I love the way the dragons look and their dynamic behavior is unsurpassed.   Just brilliantly done.   This only makes Skyrim unique, even moreso, for no other game I have ever played had a MOB behave as the dragons do in Skyrim.  These things have some incredibly scripted AI’s.  Dragon’s sleep in this game!  How cool is that?!  Do not think climbing down a hole or into a tower will save you from a dragon either.  Their necks are long and I once had a dragon stick his head into the opening of a rock structure I was in and let loose with a blast of his dragon breath.   Needless to say my character, with nowhere to run, was BBQ’d but good.   



I’ll make my list later to cover some things that should have been animated and are not...this game in my opinion falls short in what it could have been.  It’s still awesome - so don’t get upset, it just could have been better.   Before I go any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear, as anyone that knows or reads my blog, I will always be open and say whether or not something could be better - because if the developers put it in game and only half-arsed it(and this is my opinion mind you) they could have put in the extra time to do it better or right.   OK we’re clear on this right?  Good.

Game play in Skyrim is to say the least, dynamic, open, and a serious breath of proverbial fresh air.   Though the previous Elder Scrolls games had this same feel, they still did not capture(in my opinion) the seemingly, seamless way in which you can easily get lost, turned around, and way off course on your way to your goal.   So many times in this game have I been on my way to do something specific only to find myself deep in the ground crawling through a dungeon, my mind having completely forgotten that I was to go to Riften to meet with some guy, because I was so enthralled in what I as doing that I was totally immersed in the moment.    Skyrim is like that...and no other game I have ever played, ever, ever, has me literally going - “Oooo..shiney”...with every other step.   In my 50+ hours of playing so far never once have I finished a quest I picked up from an NPC before I find myself sidetracked, treking up a mountain pass, or traveling through a wooded forest, off doing something other than what I sat out to do.   Sometimes I just get caught up collecting herbs for alchemy, or hunting deer, or just following a path because it looked like a cool place to explore.   Sure even past Elder Scroll games did this, but Skyrim does it better - Bethesda really hit this game out of the park when it comes to the sheer playability of their world.   It is big, it is full of wonder and adventure the likes of which rival in the biggest of games - even MMORPG’s!  In fact if there is one thing MMORPG’s could learn from Skyrim, your world does not have to be littered from wall to wall with MOB’s just standing around to be slaughter.  Make them dynamic, make them roam, make them an active part of the world - it makes the gaming experience deeper, more enjoyable and far more challenging.    

Take for instance some of the more hostile creatures one might encounter in this game, a sabre cat.   You’ll never find a dozen sabre cats roaming in an area the size of a football field waiting for some player to come along to whack them with a stick.  No, these cats have territories they roam in.  They hunt.   They sleep.  They will attack you from the bushes.  Had one do just that.  Scared the bejeezes out of me.  Scared my roomie as well.  Hehehe...she was like, are you OK, because I screamed so loudly.  It was at night in game and my character was walking along this mountain road when suddenly from the bushes my character was ambushed by this sabre cat.   It is game play like that that makes Skyrim so very awesome.



Speaking of dungeon crawling...thank you Bethesda for bring back this part of gaming - in a big way!  You continue to excel at making dungeon crawling fun and have us begging for more!  Thank you for the traps, thank you for the puzzles, thank you for doing what others fail to do.   Now give us more!

NPC’s in this game have lives.  They eat, they sleep, they work.   They talk amongst themselves.  They also help bring Skyrim to life.  Oblivion was like this and it really helped make the game world seem more immersive.

Immersion...immersion, immersion...when you can immerse a player into a virtual world the way Skyrim does, that is an awesome thing.   It has been said that Skyrim’s game play and world would not port well into an MMORPG setting...oh, and don’t tell me this kind of game play will not work in an MMORPG - this is exactly what the MMORPG genre needs, open worlds, dynamic worlds, dynamic MOB’s, none of this stagnate BS the plagues these games these days.   

When people say Skyrim is the best MMORPG that is not an MMORPG, there is a reason for that - because the MMORPG designers have lost their way.   They forgot what RPG stands for and the forgot that MMORPG’s are built on worlds - not sterile, stagnate, chat rooms with quest hubs.   Sure it would take a little tweaking here and there, but a world like Skyrim would be possible in an MMORPG.   Skyrim as is would not work at all as an MMORPG, but a co-op version would be awesome.  As for an MMORPG...it really just needs some things changed here and there in order for a game like this to work as an MMORPG.   Games like this use to exist, one was called Asheron’s Call the other was Dark Age of Camelot.  Though Dark Age of Camelot is still guilty of having the stagnate MOB’s waiting to be whacked on - it was a far cry better and immersive world than those games that came after it.

Enough of that.  I have repeatedly said this time and time again.  Give us an open world, let us customize our character and develop our characters as we see fit, and let us play the way we want, and people will play the bejeezes out of your game - Skyrim is proving my point loud and clear - nuff said.

One thing that is clear though, this game was made for the console gaming systems, and the PC port seems to have been an after thought.  You can tell this right away from the way the game handles PC movement and the UI.   The UI for the PC is atrocious.   Is it workable? yes.  Can a PC game get use to it? Yes, but that is no excuse for the lack of PC UI and control system we PC gamers have to deal with.  The least they could have done was give us totally mappable keys - for everything.   They didn’t.   Sorry Bethesda, but you really messed up here.   I hope you put out a patch that fixes this mess, sooner, rather than later, because as it stands right now the one really bad thing that hurts this game in the end is a crappy UI for PC gamers.  Bethesda gets an F in PC UI for this game.

Saving a game with multiple characters is a nightmare...really it is.   It is bad enough that the UI is borked, but there is absolutely no excuse for how Bethesda just slapped the save game system on this game without any forethought whatsoever.   There should be a way to save games by naming them oursleves, plus, we should be able to save games under different characters without them getting all mixed up with other character saves.   Absolutely no excuse for this at all.   Bethesda gets an F here as well.   

There is another aspect of this game that is beginning to get on my nerves and that is the fast pace at which we level and obtain gold.   Doesn’t matter what you do, you gain EXP.   Gold can be found in the oddest of areas - why does a sabre cat have gold on it?   I can see that in a short period of time my character will be a rich, demi-god.   There should be away to adjust the speed at which we level and there should have been a way to adjust the amount of coinage is rewarded in game.   My character it seems has all ready gathered over 40k in gold!  That is insane.   

Here is what I wish they had done.  You no the difficulty settings for the game.  It should make the game more challenging across the board.   That means less EXP rewarded, less gold found, prices in shops would be adjusted so that it requires a player to actually have to be challenged to get gold in order to buy the more expensive items.   Crafting would also become more challenging.   

Going to have to say that after spending some time in this game , and don't take what I am about to say as being a bad thing because the game is awesome as is, but OMG Bethesda missed a "golden" opportunity.    We have crafting, enchanting, alchemy and what not...Bethesda could have made this part of the game much deeper and more challenging.   How you may ask?

Simple.    Not all Blue Mountain Flowers are the same.   Blue Mountain Flowers from high pastures is better than the ones from say lower elevations.   Also, coaxing the main ingredient from the Blue mountain flower should be a required process.  For instance, should you boil the flower in water or maybe some other medium?  Once you have figured this out then you can refine  it to get the best quality ingredient to make a good potion from it.   Same goes for any of the ingredients in the game.   How do you ground deer antler for powder and what should I use, a granite mortar and pestle or a marble mortar and pestle?  



What about crafting leather?  There should be a chance that when you kill a leather bearing animal that depending on how you killed it - the leather might be too damaged to make use of.   On top of that, what leather type makes the best light leather?  Deer hide, wolf pelt, fox?  What makes the best leather straps?  In other words Bethesda should have taken crafting further in this game then they did.   From my experience they took the easy route and just like most games - there is not thinking involved required...just do this x number of times and you'll get better.   That is all good and well, but there should be more to it by adding in these little variables of quality and types...this would go a long way into making crafting, alchemy and enchanting that much better.

As it is now...it's OK - but oh how I wish they had really taken the time to make it better and more challenging.   Wheew...is this a log winded or what?  I know it is a lot to take in, but a game like Skyrim deserves this kind of attention.

Back on topic, what I am getting at is, this game...once you get to a certain point becomes too easy - even on Master setting difficulty.   That should not be the case.   Dragons, of all creatures in the game should be a real pain in the arse to kill, but even I am finding that the higher in level I go the easier it is to deal with them.  Dragons should never be easy to kill - period - end of story.   I’ll back up that argument by saying, when a creature such as a dragon becomes to easy to kill it loses it fright factor.  They no longer scare the crap out of you, they more or less become a nuisance.   Dragons, bears, trolls, giants, sabre cats, mammoths and other certain MOB’s should never be easy to kill.   They should be killable, but when a character is getting to the point where they are able to three and two shot such creatures and they are barely half-way through the game - something is wrong.   I do not want to be a demi-god in the game.   I want a challenge.   In this I can all ready see it being a problem.   I really wish Bethesda would make difficulty settings actually mean difficult and not just meaning that things are harder to kill, but make the whole game more challenging, from combat, to crafting, to leveling, our characters should have to eat, sleep and weapons and armor should degrade over time and abuse and need repaired.  Oh and wait, the one thing I forgot.  They need to have autosave...but not like it is in game.   It should be like this.

As the game is now, you can auto-save, have the game save at different times and moments(like when you travel or enter a new location) .  In hard mode the game would save, in one file, like any MMORPG does - or like Mount and Blade.  No starting over.  What happens, happens and that is that.   You can add re-spawning to the game.  Just add spawn points, spawning stones(like Asheron’s Call) if you like and when you character dies, they re-spawn at the nearest spawn point - sans gear.   Yep, that means you are nekkid.   Now as a player you have a choice.  Either make a B-line back to where you perished to reclaim your stuffs(unless a bandit attacked you and took some things) or you can run back to town and re-gear up to go find your old body and get back what you may have lost.   That - that is challenge.  That can make death sting.   Imagine getting jumped by a group of bandits.  They kill you.  You re-spawn a few miles away.  In the meantime, the bandits have looked through your belongings and taken the items they feel are of value to them.   Upon returning to your rotting corpse, you have a choice, do you go after he bandits that took your stuff or right it off and scrounge up some new stuff?   That is how this game should be - in my opinion...and that is what a difficulty setting at *Master* should be like.      

Since I am on the topic of combat and challenge, this game almost...almost gets it right.   If Bethesda really wanted one aspect of this game to shine, it would have been combat.   Though I am satisfied with how the games combat works I can’t help but feel that they didn’t take it far enough.   I really wish the designers had spent time playing a game like Mount and Blade.   If they really wanted to have a dynamic combat system in this game, Mount and Blades melee and combat from horse back is extremely hard to beat and would have made Skyrim’s combat perfect.  It is not all that different from what the designers have in game all ready, it’s just deeper and adds some different weapon fighting styles that Skyrim doesn’t have - spears and pole-arms anyone?  What about throwing axes?  Throwing knives?  How about archery from horse back?  What about using a spear or lance from horse back?  Now that would be cool...very cool.  

Shields in Skyrim work, but they still do not function like shields should.   Skyrim could use, again, Mount and Blades version of how a shield should function.

I have so much more I could discuss about this great game, the good and the bad, but OMG it would fill pages and pages.   I do not think anyone really wants to hear me ramble on more and more about the game.  So at the end I'll add my wish list for people to see what I would like added to the game.   What it is is an awesome RPG, with some flaws, but there is one thing for absolute certainty -  this is not your ma and pa's RPG - this is SKYRIM!!!

 

I give Skyrim a solid 8 out of 10.   :)

Kristi's Skyrim Wish List
Adding my wish list to this entry.   I can only wish some modders read what I have written and mod Skyrim to play similar to how I described and the things on my wish list...that would make me one happy gamer!

1)  Please Bethesda put out a co-op/multiplayer expansion!

2) Add all the lands of the world in expansions Bethesda - I'd pay for those expansions in a heart beat!  Don't care if it takes up a 500GB I'd by a new HD just to add them!

3) Give us the ability to feed, groom and tie up our horse to a post.  Also be able to lead it while walking by holding the reins in the hand.   Immersion purposes, and give our horse a buff to speed - a well groomed, fed horse is a happy horse - so he can travel faster!

4) The ability to make a camp out in the wilderness.

5) I'd like some quest like being a caravan guard.

6) Wish to be able to set up a shop and hire an NPC  to run it!

7) Make dragons harder to kill.  They need to scale better.

8) We need our characters to get hungry - why bother with cooking if we never really need to eat what we make.  A characters stamina and health should be effected when they forget to eat and sleep for that matter.

9) Allow for us to catch and tame pets.   How cool would it be to have a beastmaster skills in this game.   The ability to have animals as companions.   Imagine being able to have a hawk or an owl as a companion for your magic-user.  Maybe a wolf as companion to your ranger type character.   :)

10) Add tracks to when our characters walk in the snow or mud.   They will dissappear over time...but that is one thing I think should have been in the game from launch.

11) Add tracking to the game.  

12) Add climbing.  Thieves, assassins, and ranger type players should be able to make use of different means to climb cliffs and structures.

13) Add combat from horse back.

14) Add the ability to talk to NPC's from horse back.

15) If my character kills an NPC out in the middle of nowhere and nobody saw me do it...than I am the only one that knows I did it.  Stop having the guards in towns know what I did and they were miles away!

16) Give us the ability to upgrade from the house to a keep or maybe a tower and then be able to hire henchmen to guard it.

17) Cloaks with hoods - we need them.   ^_^

18) Have weather effect our characters travel speed, health, stamina and combat.

19) Let our characters wear more than one ring.

20) Add better ballistics physics to archery.

21)  Add fortune telling to the game.  By visiting a fortune teller you'd get a simple buff or debuff depending on the news one might receive.  Can do it once a day.  ^_^

22) Add mini games.  Like in a tavern - darts, daggers at 20 paces.  Archery contest.   Arena's!  Let players compete for a purse in arena style combat - like in Mount and Blade.

23) There needs to be a skill tree regarding traps.  With perks like find traps.  Disarm traps.  Set traps.   Be able to set up different more elaborate traps.   I see those bear traps and would love to take a couple of them and lay them out then coax an enemy to chase me.  :)

24) Need emotes!  Especially if this game eventually goes co-op!

25) A better way to control and place items in our home!  If you are going to let us have homes the least they could done was make it easier to move and place things in it!

There is my wish list for now.  Bethesda can add these things via expansions.   I'd gladly pay for expansions that added more depth, immersion to this game - even if those expansion cost as much as the initial game.    :)

 

Star Wars:TOR - My Impressions

Posted by Teala Friday November 18 2011 at 3:00PM
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This will be the 2nd and last entry I ever make on this game.   Now that they have dropped the NDA...who cares really...most people know all there is to know about the game all ready.  But if you have been living under a rock for he last couple of years this is all you need to know about Star Wars: ToR.

After being in beta I can say that I will not be playing this MMOG.   It is not an RPG, just an MMOG.   Let me clearify what I mean when I say this.   In the game of SW:ToR they have classes, like Bounty Hunter, Smuggler and so on.   Well if this is an RPG where in the skills tree are there actually any skills related to what that class is named after and how can one play a Smuggler if there is no out of story ability to, you know, - "actually smuggle" something - anything!  Where is the smooth talking skill(scoundrel), where is the haggling skill, where is the skill to modifiy your ship, where is the skill to "S M U G G L E"?  You'd think that if this was a role-playing game that you'd be able to actually do stuff related to the "role" you are playing.   Not in SW:ToR.  So no..this is not a RPG.  It is a 3D arcade game.  Think space invaders, but advanced version.   You have different choices of which ship(combat class in SW:ToR) you'll use to "blast" an invader - in the end that is all you'll do is blast an invader because that is all your ship is capable of doing, just differently than the other guys ship next to you...his ship uses laser beams and yours uses a projectile.   In fact in all the classes of this game there are no skills(in skill trees) that have anything "not" to do with combat.   Welcome to space invaders SW:ToR style!

Sorry Bioware gets an F in RPG.

It is, despite what certain zealots might say, is just a "WoW clone" - yes a WoW clone, but instead of elves, orcs and whatnot we get Jedi, droids and wookies.   Just like WoW, you'll end up with a cookie-cutter character that looks and plays like the one standing next to you.   I couldn't even connect with my character no matter how hard I tried because in the end she was no different from the other Jedi Consular standing next to her.   I guess I shouldn't have expected this game to be different from all the other thempark based games - I was hoping we might see the end of that with this game - we're not - so better to be forewarned.  You have been warned.

Yes the game does have it's own little things that differ from WoW, like the "story driven" quest, the crafting is definitely different in that you have others do it for you, but under neath - it is all themepark.   Do not go into this game with the idea that it has any kind of sandbox game play - it does not - it is all themepark.  From start to end.  Quest hubs, lead you by the hand(even in combat with the cheesy cover skill - (oh look hide here!)

Even combat is boring as watching glass flow.   MOBs are stagnate objects that have no AI whatsoever.   It is the quintessential whack-a-mole game.  Combat animations are decent and the sounds are very Star Warsy - iconic, but due to the nature of the game you'll be whacking away at things(I guess lightsabers are not the ultimate close quarter weapon we saw in the movies - how any thing could survive the onslaught of multiple saber strikes boggles the mind), and you will, it gets old really fast.   It is still the same old tab target and mash away.  :)  "Nothing new here - move along."  

I can say that the story driven quest were intersting the first time through, but after that I can see them getting vapidly aggravating.  And despite the so called, make a choice story driven quest, it's all still linear and inconsequential.  Like most MMO's of this nature your character is forced to go exactly where and when the developers tell you to take your character.   You have no choice because if you don't you can't proceed to other areas.  You are locked into a certain path and there is no way to deviate from it.  Typical themepark game play mechanics.  

Another thing that really BBQ's my chicken is the same-old, same-old gear driven centristic game play, with the end game being made up of raids and PvP instanced battlegrounds.   If that floats your boat to do the same things we did in Aion, Warhammer, Rift, and WoW - knock yourself out.  

Worlds are more stagnate than WoW.   No weather, no night, and day cycles, no critters running about.  The world just seems so dead.   NPC's stand with no way to enteract with them.  Most NPC's stand around and do nothing - might as well be cardboard cut-outs.   When it comes to immersion this game lacks it in a huge way.   At least in other games the developers made an effort to make their worlds come to life, that is not the case in SW:TOR.   It's as if you are walking through a picture or painting, but just like in the picture you cannot enteract with the world.   There is so little atmosphere, no sounds of birds chirping, or conversations, and when attacking NPC's they don't yell out or make a noise - they just stand there and shoot their blaster or use whatever weapon they have.  Even creatures you fight are like this.   Everything just seems so- dead.. 

Game is just - so been there and done that I actually ended up giving away my first beta key, and then somehow I ended up with a second one, and gave that one away as well.   By the time I got my Jedi Consular into her teens I was ready so disliking the game I could'nt even log on to continue beta testing.   So I called up a gaming friend and gave them my key.   I wish I could like this game, I mean it is Star Wars - right....right...well for me that was not enough and I'll be saving my money.  I can't even get excited about this game it is so mind numbingly boring.

Unless Bioware ramps up and pushes some new content that alliviates this feeling, I suspect many gamers will burn out on the game within it's first month and not renew.   There has to be a hook...something...anything to catch a player.  From what I can tell this game has nothing that will hook a player beyond the initial story.   When I game has only one mini-game(space mini-game) and no side game mechanics, like fishing, cooking, other mini-games(pazaak anyone) - you know typical themepark game play stuff to keep people playing beyond the story, or to break up the constant grinding of kill x and fed-x quest - well, the game is just not going to do all that well.  

At least in other MMO's there was more to do beyond raiding, and PvP'ing but I guess Bioware didn't get that memo.

I really don't know what to say, the game is what it is - a themepark game and if you wish to play a decent, well made, whack-a-mole thempark - then this is the game for you!   Enjoy!

I give the game a 5.0 out of 10.

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