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Gamescom - A Massive Disappointment

By Michael Bitton on August 24, 2011 | Columns | Comments

Gamescom - A Massive Disappointment

BioWare dropped the (Hutt)ball with Gamescom. Honestly, there is no other way to see it. I know I’ve teased you guys a number of times for being upset with what was (or wasn’t) shown at the latest convention (SDCC was solid), but as I noted in last week’s Gamescom speculation column, Gamescom and PAX Prime were really key for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

GamesCom and PAX Prime are the last two major fan shows of the year. Sure, New York Comic Con is coming up, but that show is still ramping up in significance games-wise, and GDC Online is generally more developer focused. Unless BioWare is planning to pull a major rabbit out of its hat at PAX this weekend, I really feel like they missed a key opportunity here.

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We learned practically nothing of note at Gamescom. The two major points were the unveiling of “Huttball,” the second Warzone to be featured in the game (and this Warzone has shaped up to be quite controversial thus far), and a live demo of some of the previously announced Eternity Vault Operation (raid) content. The latter is certainly appreciated, and expected, but as they say, "Where’s the beef?" Gamescom is the biggest gaming event of the year in Europe, and really only second to E3 overall. I feel like this sort of information could have easily been dropped on us in a Friday Update.

I don’t want to create a Guild Wars 2 vs. Star Wars: The Old Republic debate, but look at how ArenaNet is handling these shows. We’re seeing more of that game than TOR, and TOR is actually coming out this year. We don’t even know for sure when Guild Wars 2 is coming out, and they haven’t even begun beta sign ups, yet gamers have already seen and tried out the game’s character creation, all of the announced races, have played low, mid, and high level content, participated in PvP matches, and even taken part in large scale PvE dynamic events. Doesn’t anyone see anything wrong with this picture? I know I do. Again, this isn’t about what game is better; it’s about how their respective developers are handling the release of information to the public.

To be fair, BioWare doesn’t get an F grade or anything here (lots of information has come out this year on the whole), but they really have to pick up the pace if the game is actually coming out soon. There are quite a few key things that haven’t been shown or sampled yet.

Why isn’t space combat on the show floor for all to play? How about character creation? What’s the deal with the Legacy system? What are BioWare’s plans for World PvP? I know Gabe Amantagelo touched on that last bit at the show, offering up that we can expect objectives in the designated PvP sections of the game world, but that’s a subject deserving of a major unveiling. That is, of course, unless BioWare doesn’t have major plans for World PvP at all, which would be highly disappointing. There are a few months left in the year, and The Old Republic is allegedly releasing in one of them, so the choo-choo train of information should be passing through a bunch of stations by now, yet it feels like we are still a year out from launch based on the trickle of information and variety (or lack thereof) of hands-on opportunities for gamers.

 If you haven’t been keeping up with this column and you’re about to type out a rant about how we do nothing but crap on The Old Republic at MMORPG.com, or how we’re biased towards Guild Wars 2: don’t. I have 2 Collector’s Editions for The Old Republic pre-ordered; I’m clearly excited to get into the game, but that’s not going to stop me from calling a spade a spade.

With that out of the way, what are your thoughts on this year’s Gamescom? Are you similarly disappointed? Or am I wrong this time around? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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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