What would you change about… SWTOR?
For our next “What Would You Change About…” article we are heading to a galaxy far, far away to check out the never-ending battle between Sith and Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The sci-fi MMORPG has a few years under its belt now and after seeing initial problems with players balking at their subscription-based mode vs the actual content available at launch, the game switched to a free to play “buy what you like” model (with subscriptions still available), which returned the game to profit and put it back in good standing.
However, even with this recovery we’re going to check out the business model and other things as we determine what still think needs to change to improve the game. By the way, you might wanna take a look at our F2PMeter on SWTOR.
Said that, what can be changed to make SWTOR a better game?
The F2P Accounts
Gives a bad first impression: Whilst undeniably the free to play model has been profitable in reality were not so sure that the heavily restricted F2P accounts necessarily turn players into subscribers (which is the ultimate aim for EA). Where many games offer a similar “try before you buy” set up it feels like the route that EA have gone is to tease players with what might be (which is fine) but making the game unbearable to play so that subbing is the only way to play the game without you wanted to bang your head against your keyboard. The heavy XP gain restrictions combined with no mounts and huge planets to travel make grinding such a chore that whilst the “class story content” is freely accessible to F2P players, reaching a point in the game where getting enough XP to level and advance the story is painful. If they didn’t restrict so many basic features for F2P accounts we’re sure more people will be willing to become subscribers before throwing in the towel in frustration.
Terrible, terrible lag: For many players, myself included, SWTOR has always been a little on laggy side and my early days in Alderaan Warzone were simply unplayable even on my pretty steady PC rig. Many players over time have attributed this to SWTORs game engine which has many shortcomings on performance and is a huge resource hog. Since the 3.0 patch lag and ability delay has reached breaking point for many players and those classes that require timed attacks and combo building have become unplayable. As the complaints continue to mount on the official forums and EA scramble to rectify the situation, this doesn’t seem to be an issue that is going away any time soon.
No one for miles: The whole point of MMORPG is to meet and interact with other players and whilst SWTOR delivers big-time on huge explorable areas, including major cities and sprawling planets, many of these feel completely barren. Players are already divided among servers, planets and then even further with the instanced based areas (creating mirrors of the same area when there is a “high” population of players in the same zone). It’s quite possible to go through big city areas such as Dromund Kaas and the place feel empty and even traveling across mid-level planets such as Quesh and Voss without seeing another player for a long time. EA need to massively increase the population cap for instances so that players can actually play together instead of having to group up and instance switch; if they can’t then once more this looks back to the bad engine performance that can’t handle more than a few players being in the same area.
New Class Storylines
Class stories end: Since the initial release there has been no advancement on the player storylines, one of the big pulls of SWTOR, and after four years most early players have no doubt run through the storyline for each class. It’d be nice if the developers spent some time to further expand the class storylines instead of pumping out more generic quests and expansions so that players can find out what happens next for their characters.
End Game Content
Casual player purgatory: When many casual players reach the endgame the amount of content available to them greatly diminishes and requires other players to help them experience it, both in the groups required to take on difficult “dungeons” or helping them acquire the gear needed to become competitive in these areas. For the casual player most content is untouchable due to their equipment or because of the high level of communication and strategy needed in many of these areas that pickup groups (PUGs) really just don’t work as you always get “that guy”. Some more endgame solo-based content for casual players definitely wouldn’t go amiss.
No available addons: Whether it’s a modified mini map, macro scripts, extra toolbars or companion addons many MMORPGs have fully supported the use of player made add-on programs, World of Warcraft and even games as early as the original release of Ultima Online had plenty of community made mods that players could run. Given that in many ways SWTOR plays very similarly to WoW it’s a bold choice to not offer the same level of add-on customisation that there primary competitor does and instead greatly restrict the community.
In need of an update: The site is in real need of an overhaul as much of their game information (Holonet) has fallen to the wayside and their news updates are more like a trickle of information as opposed to actual updates. Some of their older features such as the Galactic History, which was a much anticipated Friday Feature back in pre-release, ends abruptly in the middle of the history timeline. Most of the Flashpoints and Operations are missing from the website (pretty much anything from above level 50 when the cap was raised and new content added has not been updated on the website). Given that the website is the first place most new players will check out the game you would think that they would spend a little time making sure it’s updated so that players know what to expect as opposed to the primary focus being on selling the new expansion and, usually, what’s currently on sale with the premium Cartel Coins.
So that’s what we’d change with Star Wars: The Old Republic, but more importantly what do you believe should be changed? What do you think could/should be added to improve the game? What would you add to your own personal wish list? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
By: David Puig