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19 November 2011 2 Comments

And the Quarterback – uh, NDA – is Toast!

That’s what I get for checking my guild forums one last time before going to bed: I see the news that the SWTOR NDA has finally been lifted. Well, I can’t go to bed without making a post and sharing some thoughts, can I?

Over the next few days I’ll be making a series of posts full of crunchy info – guides to gear, crafting, and so on. However, please bear in mind that they’re drawn directly from my experiences with the SWTOR beta, and I know that Bioware have continued to tweak and adjust some parts of the game systems since then (such as mods crafting being reverted back to a more complex system, which is great).

So let me, based on my four days of beta play, kick off the series of Post-NDA Posts with my feelings about SWTOR:

It’s great.

The caveats: It’s not revolutionary. It’s an iteration on a successful genre, with some features that add a lot to their areas of gameplay and some features that frankly could use a lot more polish – and some features that are just plain missing. It is, fundamentally, “WoW in space” – or, arguably, “EQ in space” or “RIFT in space” or whatever. It’s a quest-based, class-based themepark MMO. If you are completely bored with that style of game, SWTOR probably does not vary enough from the template to keep you interested.

But personally, that’s enough for me. The gameplay of every class I tried was fun and engaging. The graphics are lovely, but not so taxing as to be unplayable for people whose computers are a generation or four behind. The combat is solid and the animations are great. The setting is huge, the stories are good, the instances are interesting, the system is transparent and comfortable.

And above everything, the characters are great: a lot of the time, I honestly felt like I was playing a BioWare single player game, just with a lot of company. The fully-voiced, fully-animated NPC interactions are as immersive as people say, but what there’s less talk about is the incredible choice. For the first time, I can actually choose different outcomes when I’m completing a quest – for every quest, pretty much. This is the key thing that I’ve never seen in an MMO before, and this is what’s going to keep me interested.

There are plenty of people for whom SWTOR won’t live up to the hype – because, as various people (like Dee) have said, everyone wants different things out of SWTOR, and it’s only going to meet a subset of those needs. But that’s okay: that’s why there’s different games, and no one game can (or should) be all things to all people.

But for me, SWTOR is good enough. It won’t be my perfect MMORPG, but nothing will, and SWTOR is going to be a hell of a lot of fun for a long time. That’s all I can ask for, and I can’t wait for December 15.

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