I’ve been mulling over writing this article for a little while now, but Update 1.2: Legacy has pretty much forced my hand. I’ve long been perplexed by the art direction of endgame armor in MMOs; it just frankly looks ridiculous. You can probably take a random sample of MMOs released in the last couple of years and most of them tend to play out the same way. While leveling up, you’ll either find yourself wearing mundane armor or armor that is at least visually appealing, but not mind-blowingly awesome. That’s because they save the good stuff for the endgame, right? Or do they?
I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar by now with World of Warcraft’s increasingly gaudy armor sets, for example. I’ve just never really understood what the impetus is to try to outdo preceding tiers of gear in terms of extravagance, but the trend seems to have caught on with many of the games that followed. Star Wars: The Old Republic is no different in this regard. Sure, you’ll run into some goofy stuff while leveling up, but putting together something decent for your class isn’t terribly hard on the way to 50. Once you get there though? All bets are off. If you’re a Sith Inquisitor, expect high end raid gear to come with shoulder plates fit for hosting an array of exotic birds or making a smooth landing on a runway.
In Update 1.2: Legacy, BioWare is again introducing some ridiculous looking endgame gear, though to be fair, it’s not all bad. Unfortunately, I still found myself just as perplexed by the some of the designs found in this latest lineup as I was when I first saw the launch set. Who are the people that actually like this stuff? I can’t say I’ve ever met any of you, but I know you exist or BioWare (and other MMO developers) wouldn’t be creating many of these ridiculous getups. Keep in mind, I really do enjoy what BioWare did with the art style of Star Wars: The Old Republic overall. To me, it’s a gorgeous game, even if it doesn’t push the technical envelope. But the armor style takes a nosedive once you get to the endgame; it’s like the artists on every MMO simply lose their minds and try to come up with the craziest stuff to put you in. Heck, I’m excited for Diablo 3’s ‘Inferno’ difficulty, but it’s more for the challenge than the ridiculous armor touted as exclusive to the mode.
Do you really want to be the character on the right?
I like to call this phenomenon the ‘endgame fashion show.’ Think about it! Take just about any popular clothing designer and what you (or other people) wear that is made by them, and then look at the stuff they put on their models on the runway. A lot of it just looks like designers trying to one up each other with the craziest stuff they can imagine. You don’t see people wearing this stuff out and about unless you run into Lady Gaga with any sort of frequency.
This is in part why you’ve seen me push hard for an appearance tab in past SW:TOR columns. I’m sure the artists working on MMOs are perfectly capable of creating awesome looking armor (as they often do pre-endgame), but for whatever reason it simply all falls apart at the endgame and I’d rather be given the freedom to look how I want as a result. Of course, I’d also love to be proud, rather than ashamed of, the shiny new raid gear I picked up, but at least in 1.2 I can just grumble a bit and then rip the mods out.
Agree? Disagree? Got a clue for me as to why endgame armor tends to look as ridiculous as it does? Share your thoughts in the comments below!