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Freedom!

By Michael Bitton on November 23, 2011 | Columns | Comments

Freedom!

It’s been only a week since we last spoke, but oh how things have changed! Last week, I called for the drop of the NDA, and thankfully BioWare acquiesced. I kid, I kid. Now, I didn’t know they were going to do it last week, so if you think I was being cheeky with the column, well, you’re wrong!

In any case, I’ve been around for the opening of the NDA floodgates in the past, but the deluge of information and media since last Friday has been a real head spinner. Reading all the impressions, both good and bad, on our forums and elsewhere has been illuminating to say the least. Whenever a game is hyped up, it doesn’t matter what is said by the press or even fans who have tried the game at shows, no one can tell how people are going to react once just about everyone has gotten their hands on it (or has seen and read about it at length). Expectations for Star Wars: The Old Republic have been astronomically high to boot. 

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I was actually surprised by the strong positive reaction I’ve seen from many gamers, not because the game is bad or anything, but again, expectations have been just that high.  It’s also surprising how fast the game has basically been blown out. If you’re looking for it, you can find videos of raid fights, open world PvP, story spoilers, datacron locations, and heck, some sites even have functional databases up with up-to-date talent calculator tools. I expected all this stuff to roll out over the run up to launch, but it all coming out as fast as it did was truly impressive.

Me? I’m not going to blow out everything I have to say on the game in this week’s column. However, I do want to touch on some of my favorite and most hated aspects of the game just to give you guys a preview of what I’d like to talk about over the coming weeks.

Loved:

This is probably obvious, but the story! Yeah, yeah, I know you’re tired of hearing about this, and I can already imagine some of you reading this shaking your heads that my favorite aspect of an MMO is the story. I should just play a singleplayer game, right? No. The story in Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t just in the cutscenes that pepper your quests; it is everywhere. From the PvP, the space combat, the game world, to the codex, BioWare added their signature touch to just about everything in the game and it really shows. It helps create a believable Star Wars experience, and that is really important in a game like this.

The fourth pillar of story has been a real hit for me, and I think it will be (and seemingly already has been) a hit for many of you. There’s a stronger attachment to your character when you feel invested in the world you’re in and the path your character is taking. This shouldn’t be unique to singleplayer games. So much focus has been on the MMO part of MMORPG when speculating over Star Wars: The Old Republic, but really what’s been missing in this genre is the RPG. My character is more than just a collection of stats on a character sheet, and that really enhances the gameplay as well.

Hated:

Again, if you’ve been reading my column for the past year, this one should come as no surprise either. Space combat! While there is story here too, the entire experience just feels largely detached from the rest of the game, only tangentially connected via ship upgrade itemization. Don’t get me wrong. It’s actually fun, in a minigame sort of way, but there isn’t anything MMO about it. It honestly sticks out like a sore thumb to me. I’m hopeful the community is vocal enough about wanting more from space post-launch and BioWare acts on said feedback. Would-be pilots unite! Make your voices heard!

You can be sure you’ll be hearing lots from me (and the rest of the staff) on the game as we get closer to launch. Normally, I’d end this column with a question for you, but this time I’d like to ask if you all have questions for me.

So, if you’d like my take on a particular aspect or feature of the game, drop your question in the comments below and I’ll be glad to field what I can. 

We’d also love to hear what your most loved/hated features of the game are. This goes for you who have actually played as well as those who have reactions based on what they’ve read or seen.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.
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