Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's 2016 Report Card

It's that time of year again where we reflect on the year gone by and consider Star Wars: The Old Republic as a whole. Pretty much since the game launched five years ago, I've calculated my judgment for the game not as a single score but as a group of scores based on the taxonomy created by Dr. Richard Bartle that focuses on player motivation and how to appeal to them.

I'm not going to pretend that this is the perfect way to judge the game because it would leave out important things like the cash shop and the single-player elements like storytelling. However, it does look at the motivations of gamers and analyzes their general gaming style. Bartle divides gamer motivations into socializers, achievers, killers, and explorers. Of course, player specific motivations will encompass a spectrum of these four. But just as with most psychological categorization, gamers will lean heavy in one or two areas and less so in the others. If you're interested in where you lean, there is a test you can take to find out. (The original GamerDNA test is gone.) However, it will be completely obvious where you lean as soon as you read my individual descriptions.


Socializer: C

Last year, I gave the game a B+ because of additions like level-syncing and instant-travel heroics as a huge positive for the socialization of the game. I believe that for a short period in 2016, the game was more social. For several months, it was really easy to find a group of people to do things with on a social level. However, that all changed once heroics became less lucrative and tired. Because the content wasn't new, players needed different motivation to actively participate in Heroics and other existing content. Although the level-syncing allowed people to group together, that alone wasn't motivation to do it. Once my article about earning 1 million credits in an hour was no longer valid, the player's reason to keep doing that content as a group disappeared as well.

There are still many social activities, and the group-finder for Uprisings and other group activity actually works well. BioWare added more group activity with the expansion and a new PvP map earlier this year, so it doesn't completely fail at the social merits. However, its change of focus to single-player content for most of the year doesn't improve its marks significantly. And don't even get me started on its significant lack of guild-help tools.


Achiever: B

Achievers really have it made in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The whole legacy panel seems to be made for you. Even the galactic trade network appears to be made for your particular playstyle: find a bar and fill it; find a number and make it bigger. The developers probably had you in mind when they made the level-cap for Galactic Command 300. All the new content added with the Knights of the Fallen Empire chapters seemed to have a great deal of focus on the achiever type. Not only did the content have a lot of bars to fill, but it also had hidden bars for the achiever to look for.

The biggest disappointment for achievers had to be the Dark-vs.-Light event earlier this year. I find myself wanting to fill many, many bars and make lots of numbers bigger, but I couldn't bring myself to do Dark vs. Light. I did enough to get the companion, but anything beyond that just wasn't worth it. The level of grind exceeded the fun limit. It tested the limit of SWTOR fandom and appears to have actually driven many people from the game.

Killer: C+

I don't know if it's just my server, but PvP seems to be on the upswing. More and more people are doing it, and queues appear to be popping a lot faster. Players whom I would not normally associate with PvP seem to be jumping in, and I'm not quite sure how to read that. Does that mean that PvP is becoming more accessible? Maybe, but there hasn't really been a change in how people get involved in PvP. The only thing I can think of that has really changed is the Galactic Command system. In 5.0, it's no longer required that you wear a specific set of gear for PvP vs. PvE. Therefore, we have all become equal, so to speak.

Being a Killer is not just PvP; it's competition. And the only way that competition works is if there is a level playing field. Perhaps the Galactic Command system put players on a level field again. Maybe that is a big secret behind the increased activity.

Unfortunately, I cannot grade the whole year on the performance of the last month. Although Galactic Command boosted my score quite a bit, I'm not quite ready to give SWTOR high marks in the Killer category because the rest of the year has been devoid of real improvements.


Explorer: C-

I'm sorry, Explorers, but BioWare just doesn't know how to appeal to you. I know expansive maps, hidden points of interest, and going places you probably shouldn't ever go are your forte. Unfortunately, as SWTOR ages, less and less time has been spent giving your playstyle the gems that it likes to see.

The datacron boom was great when the game launched. The added datacrons from this year were great, but they were just a small addition. They didn't really improve the exploration factor of the game at all. In my recent livestream with Vulkk and Passionately Casual, we talked about the new planets of Nathema and Iokath. Although we had differing opinions on the beauty of the worlds, we all agreed that they just weren't big enough. There was nothing to explore.

Full disclosure: I'm a SEKA player according to the new Bartle test, and my view is from that perspective. I'm very interested in seeing what other player types would have to say about the game this year. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Where do you think SWTOR ranks now? When you give your answers, let me also know where you land in the Bartle spectrum.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!



As someone who enjoys the "achievement" aspects of the game, I have to say just putting a "bar" in front of me isn't enough. Filling that bar has to be (for the most part) fun. Of course, fun is subjective.

For me, it has to be either challenging or rare. I'll hold my hand up to getting fishing achievements in WoW, which could be considered a major grind - but it was an aspect of the game that appealed to me personally and I considered the achievement "rare" overall. But the difference to me is that the fishing achievements were an option, the only rewards were bragging rights (and possibly a better fishing rod). I didn't feel I "needed" to do it and there were a lot of other optional time-sink achievements I could have sunk my time into if fishing wasn't my thing.

Likewise, the achievement system within SWTOR has never interested me, because for the most part, those achievements are trivial to the point of tediousness. "You logged in: have an achievement" would only be an "achievement" is logging in was difficult. Any achievement that 60+% of the active player base can get in my opinion isn't an achievement - it's business as usual. It would be like everyone at the Olympics who didn't get a gold or silver medals, automatically getting a bronze. It trivialises the effort.

I'm also outside of the US in a country that would use an "A-F" grading system, where C would be average. Of course, this is the gaming industry where 8/10 is the new "average". However, the idea that SWTOR is offering an above average achiever experience just feels wrong to me, since it assumes that achiever expectations are as low as SWTOR's shallow offerings.

I do agree with others that the upturn in PvP has nothing at all to do with PvP getting better and an awful lot to do with it rewarding CXP at a differing rate than grinding mobs on Tatooine.
I say this as someone who who hates PvP and still did just enough to get my M1-4X. I am under no illusions that the majority of us doing PvP at that time were doing nothing to improve the PvP experience for anyone who actually liked PvP.

Overall my SWTOR ranking for 2016 : D / C- / E.
(sorry, but everything that might have interested an explorer in 2016 was already in the game in 2012.) I'll offer up a sacrificial "E" because there are a couple new corridors to explorer.. erm, I mean planets.


re PvP " I’m not quite sure how to read that. "

PvP gives a lot of CXP. There is your answer.


I got majorly turned off on the new expansion.   Glad to hear some people are enjoying it.


Is explosive diarrhea considered a letter grade?


AEKS: All those seem pretty reasonable. I would give SWTOR a B/B- overall.


Pretty much been an EKSA since the test came out. The exact percentages vary a little every few years but overall no major changes. Being an Explorer, Killer primarily with a secondary characteristics of Socializer and Achiever, I'll say that I've been entirely unhappy with SWTOR from the beginning and it's only gotten worse as time has gone on. I'd rate SWTOR a D at best. :(  


CXP is really the only reason PvP in on the up tick. Even if you lose the amount you get is pretty good. The only thing that is faster is Uprisings. You do need a good group though.


I'm ESAK and my entire experience with SWTOR from beginning to end happened this year. I'm going to give it an overall grade of C to balance out the high grade for the base game with the low grade for the developers and everything they've done since the base game.

Along with an excessive amount of bugs and lack of even a little bit of challenge, what drove me from f2p to sub to "preferred" (haha) to uninstall was the devs creating an environment where playing without a sub is pointless, while at the same time providing nothing of value to me for subbing.


I think your score is generous considering the current state of things. While it is a new system, the command system comes off as a joke to a large portion of the playbase and many are completely uninterested in participating in it. I've also always thought the game was extremely lacking in social functionally and systems. PVP has never grown beyond warzones and it was original suppose to take place primarily on planets. The engine was never able to live up to that promise and so it was and continues to be ignored. 

At the end of the day I think the game gets a small pass because ""Its Star Wars!" and if not for that fact all of the scores and opinions I see on it would likely drop a grade or two. 


People do a lot of PVP because its the most effective way of farming cxp, even GSF rose from the dead.

I'm an E, Iokath and Nathema are instances not planets, i can go to Darvannis or even Mannaan whenever i want to, i can only go to those "planets" if i rerun a chapter.

Also i would downgrade it for achievers because of DvL, if you are after tokens and you're not in a big guild that wants to go after the bosses, then DvL will make you want to log out and go do something else because you need to gain command levels when your alignment is winning.

They kind of screwed up the leveling process because of how they implemented DvL, if you're not a "kill them all", kind of person,  it's pretty hard to get DS Jaesa unless you grind your ass out.

DvL gear doesn't have a lvl requirement but it has a alignment requirement, so if you want to use it on a new char, good luck grinding up to light 5, 

Also there's something wrong with boundaries, companions and mobs keep going under the ground, and when that happens to high hp mobs you're better off restarting the chapter because chapters work like FP, once you agro a mob you can't do anything until it's dead, they NEVER lose agro, you can't target the mob because of LOS and the comp barely does any damage in Healer stance and you can't change the stance because you're in combat.

Overall i'd say you're a very generous teacher.


AEKS reporting in.

I think I usually end up disagreeing with the report cards a bit, but honestly I'm totally in-line with this one. SWTOR has had a pretty "average" year overall. I'd be fine dropping the Achiever grade down a bit, as I feel that they've really not done anything for the "hardcore" folks, but I doubt there are many left by now so it makes sense for them not to bother with it.

And oh yeah, datacrons. One day I'll get around to finishing picking all those up.


Fun A

Your mileage may vary.