Now that the cat is completely out of the bag on BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic, we figured it's high time we laid down the ups and downs of the biggest game this holiday season has to offer. Today we'll focus on five things we really found engaging and refreshing about SWTOR, but rest assured that next week we will do the exact opposite and talk about a few things that are less than stellar about the game. Bear in mind that all of these little bullet points are just what we find excellent and also that SWTOR is still in beta and subject to change in the month leading up to launch.
5.) The Look
This has been up for debate now since BioWare first unveiled the game several years ago. But we all agree that the quasi-Clone Wars look of the characters and world are a damn sight better than if BioWare had tried to make the game look like the live action movies. It's still quite clearly a Star Wars game. It nails the look and feel of the universe completely, even if it does lean in the more cartoony direction artistically. Don't let that fool you though... This is definitely still a dark and seriously toned Star Wars experience. Which brings us to our next item.
4.) The Light & Dark Side
The sorts of choices you make in SWTOR are not the normal things you do in MMOs. Usually, you get about as much choice as "do I do this quest or do I skip it?" Sure you can skip quests in SWTOR, that's not what I mean. But what's incredible about the quests in BioWare's first MMO is that as in their other RPGs, your choices affect the characters around you, now they perceive you, and how your story goes. Oh, and we'll get to that whole fourth pillar thing soon.
They may just seem like dungeons at first glance, but they're really the finest example of multiplayer storytelling in SWTOR. There are some FPs that are less story driven than others, but when playing something as early in the game as The Esseles, you'll be hard-pressed not to feel like you're playing the video game equivalent of a Star Wars round of D&D. You will argue and talk about the choices you make during conversations, and you will play through them more than once to see the different outcomes. Simply put: they're fun as hell with friends and strangers alike.
2.) The Companions
Yes, it is weird that everyone runs around with the weird clones of companions. There is no denying that. Yes, it's also weird that they effectively make every class a pet class. But you don't have to use them (just be prepared for harder fights) and they really add so much more to the story of the game that you won't want to be without your favorite. I could be argued that real relationships in MMOs are better, but as far as playing a role, the companions just add that much more to your building a character in SWTOR.
1.) The Story is in Everything
BioWare really wasn't kidding when they said they were taking what they know and applying it to the MMO formula. For most of the game, SWTOR plays like every MMO we've played in the past few years. It doesn't change the way we play in these theme parks. What it does, is make NPCs more than quest givers and item sellers. It makes your story through the game more than just a blurb of text in a UI. It ties you to characters from start to finish and makes you care about the world around you and not just what level or what gear you have. Of all things SWTOR does, this will be its main contribution to the industry. Count on it.