This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Will we see more 'Companions' in MMOs?" by Elikal. In the thread, Elikal notes that many MMOs establish trends with their standout features and he ponders if companions, such as those found in Star Wars: The Old Republic, will become more commonplace going forward:
MMOs often cause new trends, like the "?" for Quest givers from WOW or the Public Quests from WAR. Other trends vanish entirely, like Entertainers from SWG or 3 factions from DAoC.
So I wonder, when TOR brings in the Companions, will that become a new trend?
The companion is different from a mere pet in many ways. A pet class is built around a pet. Like the WOW hunter, where the pet keeps the aggro. A Companion is someting altogether different, since every TOR character will be able to stand alone, but the Companion makes questing easier and in some group quests instead of 4 players you can use 2 players and 2 companions.
You see, one of the biggest issues of MMOs these days is: people solo too much. The result: many quests are solo quests, people are alone, and the developers can't add too many group demanding quests, because people will complain about that. A solution would be the companion, because then you can add group quests again, people CAN group meanigful, but also die hard soloists have a chance.
Of course it also adds the element of *personal* story, which may or may not become another new trend to MMOs, in contrast to the generic "fetch X of Y" quests.
Finally, it also sort of disperses the feeling of aloneness, some MMO gamers these days complain, myself included. Companions have been a much loved part in single player RPGs, from the earliest speaking companions, Iolo, Shamino & Dupre in Ultima to DA's Morrgian and Alister or Bastila and HK-47 In KOTOR.
Let's find out what the community thinks! Read on!
empyros hopes that companions will not become commonplace:
I sincerely hope that this will not be the case.
Companions, no matter how well done, are ultimately NPCs. MMOs are typically played for long periods of time - years in some cases. The "magic" of an NPC wears off in such a time span. Not only will companions eventually feel fake and thus detract from the immersion of the world, but companion upkeep by the devs will be an expensive endeavour.
A companion just cannot recreate the fun a player can have with new friends. And really, that's what MMOs are about aren't they? Meeting new people in a new world and exploring it and sicovering it together?
The reason why MMOs are "lonely" these days is because of how they're made - with emphasis solely on end game and gear. If the devs gave a reason for the community to be interactive with each other and tight knit, there wouldn't be all the angst regarding lonely solo players.
And even if there is angst, as I stated -- nothing can replicate a human friend.
Especially in MMOs. I *loved* Alistair in DA:O... but to have him stand by my side dumbly as an NPC saying the same things over and over again for over three months would get so damn old.
Mithandolir doesn't really mind if companions are in most MMOs as long as there is a solid selection of MMOs that don't feature them:
As long as there remains a few mmorpgs without companions, then I am happy and don't care where the rest of the industry moves towards. I can't stand the concept of companions in mmorpgs, unless they are extremely superficial and are there strictly as hirelings or henchmen to aid on a tough quest or something... and have no storylines associated with them, no artifical emotions or romances, etc...
But I realize that I am in the minority on this, and therefore voted "yes". I do believe the industry is moving in this direction and will likely continue to. I think it's a great thing for those who enjoy that sort of thing, and am happy to see the industry broaden to accompany all types of gamers.
I just hope there are at least a few studios out there who will leave out the companions... leave out the voice acting and the cutscenes, etc... because there are still a handful of us old timers out here who would much rather play a game the old fashion way, with other like minded people.
To each, his own.
Vlad_Tepes likes companions, and hopes they appear in more games:
I hope so. And I hope they are more a part of my toon's story like SWTOR is doing, and not just npc's following me. Don't get me wrong, I prefer to group with friends, guildmates, etc. But I play at very odd hours when said friends are not online. So yes, given the option, I'd rather have companions to travel with than some player that just wants to blow through the content in a week to show how hardcore or elite he/she is. I do group with strangers, and enjoy it sometimes, but more often than not I end up with some impatient, rude, player that cares only about himself and his next shinny drop.
So bring on the companions, and give them depth, because a lot of the mmo community has none.
I'm fairly indifferent on the existence of companions, however, what I don't want to see is the approach BioWare is taking as far as how they factor into the player's power envelope when it comes to combat. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, your companion is 40% of your damage output. That means if you dismiss him and just want to run around on your own, you'll be taking a 40% damage hit and the content is obviously tuned for this, so you'll have a hard time playing truly solo. If I'm playing a Smuggler, I don't mind running around with my Chewbacca-like Wookiee companion all the time. But if im playing a Sith Warrior, why do I need Vette around to take care of business?
Basically, I'd like to see companions stick around in the genre, but I don't want them to be as powerful if it means I can't really do stuff on my own without them.