SW:TORs Biggest Flaw
I’ve been playing SW:TOR since Tuesday and, whilst I have been enjoying it quite a lot, a number of big game design flaws have cropped up already, most of which I think will start to grate on people pretty quickly. The biggest flaw, in my book anyway, is the now very apparent terrible distribution of classes amongst the playerbase. Simply put, everyone is playing the same darn class (Advanced or otherwise)… and I don’t just mean by a small percentage either, I’m talking about by a frickin’ massive degree. I think for every one Vanguard I’ve encountered, I’ve seen about 20 Commandos and I’m not even sure the Smuggler class exists.
Of course it’s always going to be case in class driven RPGs that some are more popular than others but BioWare has unfortunately compounded the issue by making an irrevocably large boo boo: they linked weapon selection to Advanced Classes. I mean, who would want to wield a single lightsaber when they could use two or a double bladed one? Who wants one pistol when you can have two? And who the heck wants to use a piddly little rifle that goes ‘pew pew’ when you can truck around a gigantic auto Assault Cannon? Someone didn’t think this through.
Not only is this causing a huge divide between classes, it also means that every player ultimately looks and acts exactly the same with very few options for variety. I’m a Commando and I use Assault Cannons, end off. Couldn’t BioWare at least have tried something a little more interesting and perhaps linked weapon selection to skill trees or something? I know I’m being childish here but I must confess I’m bitterly disappointed that I either have to sacrifice the option of tanking with my Trooper or spend the rest of my days resigned to using a crappy little pea shooter, suffering weapon envy time I see one of the billions of Commandos run past (sure Freud, eat your heart out…).
Another couple of SW:TORs flaws also make matters worse. The archaic and frustrating archetype Advanced Class system means that now I’ve picked a Commando and not only realised that he is about as unique as black hair in Asia but the Assault Cannon isn’t even all that much fun, I have absolutely no way of respeccing to a Vanguard. Indeed my only option is re-roll my character and spend five or six hours replaying through the same content again just to see if I like the other Advanced Class any better. I won’t even mention my irritation at the mirrored class system (i.e. Bounty Hunter = Trooper) which kills my individual sense of identity and the replay value of the game even more.
And whilst I’m moaning, I may as well reiterate my issues with the skill tree system (BioWare could’ve done a lot worse than just scrapping the current talent system completely and making Advanced Classes the skill trees instead) and mention how the concept of a ‘fourth story pillar’ is a bit of a sham. Is it just me or has that basically translated into ‘kill 10 rats’ quests surrounded by five minutes of voice acted cut scenes?
But I don’t want to be completely negative. The ability to select from different answers in conversations, even if they really have no impact of meaning whatsoever, is very fun and unique in the MMO world. Likewise the whole Dark Side/Light Side mission options are very enjoyable plus the general maturity of the content is refreshing (it’s nice that you see a lot of moral ambiguity in the Republic story lines, for instance). Also, being able to make your character a huge fatso is a massive plus in my eyes.
At the end of the day I’m having fun with SW:TOR but I can see it becoming frustrating sooner rather than later. The whole game could basically be described as Mass Effect combined with a MMO from 2007. The story element is nice but I’m not convinced that it’s really what players are looking for in MMORPGs and I can’t help but feel that the developers made a lot of game design concessions just to make it possible. Personally I believe in substance over style and I’d much rather have had well through out class progression, talents, a better variety of races and classes, and a much wider selection of starting areas than full voice acting and cutscenes which, I might add, is something Age of Conan kicked off back in 2008. Originality in your face, BioWare.