|Well scripted story lines|
|Broken game mechanics|
Well, it has been a few months since my last article. I chomped at the bit waiting for my SWTOR early access to begin. Once it did, I dove right into my character creation and off I went on my adventure around the galaxy. Now, a few months and a few level 50's later, I am facing the hard truths of what I can only define as a failure to communicate, and a failure to innovate.
The development team for the game does not seem to be grasping the idea that "we the players" are the important ones here. There have been some major issues in the game that still remain unaddressed to this point. These issues should have been solved early on, however they have been set aside for some reason. One major issue currently is with Soa, the final boss in Eternity Vault. When entering stage 3 (final stage) of the fight, you must make your way down a collapsed series of floor sections the the bottom of the combat area. However, the floor will periodically not collapse, leaving you helpless to continue the fight, or worse yet, when you jump to the final platform, it disappears and you fall to your death. The mechanics of the fight, at least from the boss perspective, are scripted and happen at certain trigger points. There shouldn't be any reason why this cannot be repaired within a reasonable length of time. You know, perhaps two months ago.
So broken game mechanics continue to haunt SWTOR, however that is not the only issue that we seem to be facing in the game's infancy. Another issue I see with the game is the lack of attention to what the past has taught us. As an MMO player for over 15 years, there are certain things that I have come to expect that I don't want to change. One of these things is party size. I am sure I am not alone in the opinion that a 4 man, 8 man, and 16 man party size is really not the way to go here. My previous article addressed the complaint by many that this game is simply a WoW clone. I took the stance that a game does not have to reinvent the wheel to be successful and satisfying. I still stand by my words, but if you are going to take ideas from a previous game, take the ones that work. A five man party size is what should have happened here. I hear all too often the complain that the four man group does not allow for flexibility and many guild members are left sitting on the sidelines because they are not the class needed to fill the group. Sames goes for the 8 man party.
While we are on the subject of things people would like to see, we can't avoid talking about what developers have told us is coming, and what we have asked for that is not. I was almost thrown out of my seat when an attendee of the guild summit asked, "Will commando healers be getting a battle rez." and the reply was "No, and don't ask again."
That sort of reply raises concerns over developer direction in this game. Is feedback being taken? If so, from whom? Judging by upcoming changes, I would gamble that it is not. For example: You will soon only be able to consume one med pack per fight. The developers reasoning behing this was that it was a needed change in order to achieve a more acceptable balance. I thought the balance was I spend credits to get them, therefore I can use them. Update 1.2 boasts a great deal of new content, but what about the existing content that doesn't function properly? You can't cover up issues with content by adding more, hoping that everyone is going to forget.
Bioware is one of the 3 Big B's of gaming (Blizzard and Bethesda being the other two) and the gaming community expects great things to come from a company that has built such an outstanding reputation. SWTOR is Bioware's first title of this kind, but with a 300 million dollar budget and one of the best talent pools in the industry, I would have expected more. It seems that the development team is being run by frustrated weathermen. Here's to hoping 1.2 is a big step in the right direction, but I can only hold my breath for so long guys.