The Daily Grind: What should SWTOR do to pull out of its funk?

Is it just me, or does Star Wars: The Old Republic seem to be in a serious funk this year? I mean, the game has had updates and all, but there has been little to really stir up a lot of excitement among the existing community or to draw fans back to the MMO. Server merges, no expansion, fears over a stealth shutdown, and the same cruddy business model seem to be the order of the day.

Even our own Larry has called for SWTOR to put an end to the current storyline and move on.

Whether or not you feel that SWTOR is in a funk, what do you think BioWare should do to improve the game’s quality, content, and prospects in 2018? What could it be doing to really fan the flames of player passion and get this title noticed once more?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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106 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What should SWTOR do to pull out of its funk?"

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Toy Clown

SWTOR doesn’t give players any creative freedom. The entire game is on rails, so to speak. Even decorating a house is a lesson in frustration due to the ‘rail’ system. The entire game is set up like eye candy, and you can tell lots of development time went into the art, but you can’t access those areas but once per character. NPCs take up too much ‘real estate’, and there’s just really nothing to do unless you don’t mind grinding out dailies or achievements end-game. They also don’t put a lot of focus on character customization. The choices are limited and most of the clothing coming out seems like reskins of something already out.

If they allowed more creative freedom with their game, I think that would open it up to players wanting to step back into Star Wars again. As it stands, most of us joke around that Star Citizen is more Star Wars than SWTOR ever was.

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Alex Malone

I played through beta testing and the first year of live, quitting once they announced details of the first expansion. I’m a huge star wars fan so really wanted it to be good, but it just sucked. I stuck it out for a year only due to guild and the IP – I was also praying that their disastrous launch and extreme financial issues would cause them to improve the game, rather than scale everything back.

So, what it would take to get me back:

1) Class revamp. SW:TOR had the worst class design I’ve ever seen. Aesthetics were fine, but the actual skills were so shallow. Virtually no class interdependence, hardly any emergency skills, hardly any long cooldowns and no resource management required. It just meant every single class played the same – develop a shallow (but complex) rotation, then use your few situational abilities when things get tough. Boring. Mind-numbingly boring. The only time it got interesting was in PvP due to CC skills.

2) Itemisation revamp. I can’t say what it’s like now, but for the first year itemisation was horrible. The stat gaps were just huge between tiers, so much so that player skill counted for very little. The stat gaps also trivialised 99% of the content so the only fun combat was the top tier of raiding or pvp. Even PvP was crazy imbalanced. My Jedi shadow could kill a freshie in 3 hits…..how is that fun for anyone? There was also no fun to itemisation – every tier of gear had the same bonuses, you we just getting bigger numbers. Meant we all played exactly the same, no opportunity to customise your playstyle.

3) Replace the game engine. Unless they’ve done something since I quit, it was a piece of shit. Remember that the guys who built DAoC (Mythic) also built SW:TOR. All through development they were touting the fact that PvP was going to have an equal focus to PvE. We were gonna get epic world pvp as well as battlegrounds. But then you release a massively multiplayer game that can’t handle more than about 30 people on screen?!?! Is it any wonder that 3 months after launch the game was on target to make a loss?

That said, I know none of that will ever happen. Firstly, they have no money – SW:TOR missed all its financial targets and was already set to make a loss 3 months after launch. It is why the game has barely had anything done to it over the years, just shitty solo storylines. Secondly, they don’t have the talent. Bioware just isn’t suited to making MMOs, nothing they have ever done has suggested that they even get the potential of the genre, let alone have the capability to get there.

Finally, I have long since accepted I’m not their target market. They fooled me with their pre-launch hype about excellent PvP and PvE but its clear all they’re capable of is single player storylines. I don’t like stories in my games, they’re never any good and I always disliked the storylines in SW:TOR, I found them really generic and poorly executed.

With EA tying up the licence for years to come, I have basically resigned myself to never playing a good star wars game again.

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Peregrine Falcon

Exactly what Dug From The Earth said down below. He wrote pretty much exactly what I would have written.

My only regret is that I could only ‘thumbs up’ his post once.

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nobleeinherjar

Even if I give my suggestion for what SWTOR should do, I question if the devs even can do what ever needs to be done.

I don’t even think my suggestion could work unless you burn it down, FFXIV 1.0-style. There is so much intrinsically wrong with SWTOR (in my eyes) that I just don’t see it being fixed.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

I think Disney should end their relationship with EA like they did with Gazillion. After that Disney should try to buy Bioware from EA and if they do purchase Bioware. Then Disney should make Bioware the new LucasArts. With that said I don’t think Bioware is the problem, it’s EA and without EA. I think Bioware would return to their golden age. I serious think all the problems with TOR is EA pulling strings. Most of the launch game was started before EA bought Bioware and it is the best part of TOR. Post-level 50 was the start of the downfall of TOR. With the exception of Shadow of Revan, I did enjoy Shadow of Revans. Not as much as the 1-50 class stories and main planetary stories though, but SoR was better than Rise of the Hutt Cartel, Kights of the Fallen Empire, Knights of the Eternal Throne, and the current “traitor” story arc. Without EA I think TOR would be a much different game and it would be a much better game.

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Daniel Fenwick

Unfortunately, BW does not exist anymore. It is just a brand name associated with a department within EA. EA uses it for marketing purposes and that’s it.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

I know, but a name can be sold. Look at Atari. The current Atari isn’t the original Atari. A long time ago in 2008 a company called Infogrames bought the Atari name & logo and changed their name from Infograms to Atari. So Disney could buy the Bioware name and logo as well, if they first ended their relationship with EA first. Then Disney could try to reassemble Bioware with the right people from the golden age of Bioware. Of course this all what if and not current reality. But if EA continues to screw up with Star Wars, they will lose the license. Just like Gazillion lost the Marvel license. Only difference will be that EA won’t go out of business like Gazillion did.

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Armsman

But what does that do as Infogames (who now has the Atari name) still doesn’t put out quality games and is still dodging creditors. I could care less about the name of a company, because it’s the actual Gameplay that will interest (or not interest) me in the end. EA has bought and gutted a LOT of former good game development companies going all the way back to Origin.

“Bioware” as it was is dead and gone. It’s now just another name EA holds. I’d rather Disney find another developer who has a good track record and hire talent themselves and create something good. I could care less what the company calls itself; and I’m sick and tired of shoddy developers buying a Company name (because it has a good past reputation) and then running said Rep into the group (like EA did with companies like Origin and Bioware once they acquired them.)

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Oleg Chebeneev

I always considered SWToR a bad MMORPG. It has meh cartoonish graphics, terrible UI, ugly character models, wooden animations, clunky boring combat, on the rails quests gameplay. I have hard time finding a single thing that I like about it.
So my answer is simple: fully revamp absolutely everything. Well, maybe except Agent’s storyline. Nerds say its good

Xijit
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Xijit

Pretty sure that the only thing keeping EA from shutting it down, is that keeping it running is part of the SW contract with Disney.

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Tia Nadiezja

Decide what it is.

I’d rather it be The Mostly Single-Player Story Game, as it was during KotFE/KotET. I like that stuff – I primarily play MMOs to have long-term stories that I can keep playing the same character through. Others would rather it be a game about multiplayer content and raiding. That’s okay too. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s okay.

It is obvious to me at this point that Bioware can’t serve both masters. Being Bioware, I think their strength is with the single-player-ish story content, but they can’t serve both masters. The game needs to decide which game it is going to be.

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starbuck1771

They should put SWTOR in maintenance mode and create a KOTOR game that is more along the lines of SWG. The biggest problem with SWTOR is they spent too much of their funding on voice acting and cut scenes and not enough on actual content. They keep going down that path Not to mention the cartel pack/loot box issue currently going on does them no favors.

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zeko_rena

I am not even going to start, I would be here typing for hours…

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NeoWolf

Remember what it was that made Bioware great and much loved and instead of trying to force grouping and pvp down those peoples throats focus again, instead on the content those people loved and bought the game for.

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RJB

I would say Bioware is like one failed game from being one of those companies EA just dissolves

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Mikey's Bored

I disagree, ME:A was still a significant commercial success, they haven’t really had a “failed” game in a way that would get them dissolved. They would have to have a game that is a commercial flop, possibly even both a commercial and critical flop, and they would probably have to repeat it once or twice for that to even be a consideration. Dragon Age: Inquisition was met with both overwhelming critical, and commercial success, as were their games prior to that. ME:A was the first where it was a critical disappointment, but even then, it was mixed, it wasn’t dragged by everyone, and then as I said before, it was a huge commercial success, regardless.

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NeoWolf

Commercial success matters to EA and its stockholders. But it means squat if they cannot repeat it, which in light of how disappointed the people who bought Inquisition and ME:Andromeda is very much something they may struggle to do. Fans of Dragon Age are going to be VERY wary about buying the next Dragon Age game.. and well Mass Effect fans..they aren’t getting another game because of the ME:A development blunder.

That isn’t even touching on SWTOR’s development and business model blunders that have alienated SO many many people.

So although you are correct in one respect you are very much not seeing the larger picture. The blame doesn’t lie with Bioware of course but with EA..but that won’t stop them from being the ones to suffer for the blunders.

If Bioware do not refocus back to what they are good at and loved for soon..they may not get another chance. Whether EA allow that to happen or not remains to be seen.. Maybe short term commercial success is enough for EA..maybe longterm returns are less important and you are correct? only time will tell.

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GamingSF

Biggest problem for me is the long-standing problems with small-group play regarding story content – if I can’t play through missions with a couple of friends we’ll go play another MMO that does this better. Since Revan there’s been to much enforced solo content. It’s even more of a sin than forced grouping in my mind – especially because SWTOR had one of the best systems for group storytelling with the standard Bioware conversation system.

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camelotcrusade

^ This, bigly. Our love affair with SWTOR was because we could experience it together, not separately in the same (virtual or real) room.

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Dug From The Earth

My list probably doesnt match anyone elses, and some may even fight tooth and nail to ever keep some of these “changes” from happening… but here are a few of the things that would pull me back in:

1. Update the graphics engine. Its fine if they want to keep the themed look they have going, but the engine has been, and still is, utter crap.

2. Drastically reduce the number of skills per class. I HATE needing 3+ full hotbars for all my abilities. I have a razer naga and a orbweaver, and i still often feel overwhelmed by the number of keys and fingers I need to play many classes.

3. Addons. At this point in the game, they would help a lot. Id really love an addon like WeakAuras in this game, since there are SOOOO dam many cooldown abilities. Most of my time is spent looking at my hotbars watching when skills come off cooldown, rather than at the game action. If not addons, then the devs need to add these addition features and options to the UI.

4. The ability to respect from an advanced class, to another advanced class. More than once, the advanced class I picked, ended up being one that I didnt really enjoy. The only option being to reroll a new character, which isnt exactly fun in a game where leveling up is 99% static story driven. I know the devs thing that this is keeping people subbing longer, by making them have to level a new character.. but in my case, it made me finally unsub.

5. Revamp the games F2P aspects. The core game should be 100% free without any lockouts or limitations to how many times you can do things. The store should be 100% cosmetic only. Period.

6. Make all store purchases be account wide, 100% of the time. This BS about needing to pay even MORE currency to unlock something ive gotten on another character, is infuriating.

7. Reduce the end game grind. Grind can exist, but for some reason the devs of this game have made things even more grindy than it needs to be. This isnt 2003. If the game is fun, people will still play it. You dont have to artificially create a system that attempts to keep people in the game anymore.

8. The talent choices for most classes, are rather uninspiring and boring. The intresting ones are the ones everyone takes, leaving a good 50% of the talents to be completely worthless, which actually removes any element of real choice. Having to choose between an apple, and a rotting, stinking, steak will almost always end up with everyone picking the apple.

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rafael12104

Nah. Your list is a good one.

But, number 1 on your list? The item that I think most if not all of us with agree with? It will never happen. EA won’t fund it. EA is not like Square. They don’t give shit.

Now, what might happen is that a new engine could be proffered under the guise of SWTOR2 or something like that. A new MMORPG.

The reason, I believe EA has kept SWTOR going, aside from the money they made, is because SWTOR dovetails nicely to their new “games as a service model.”

And that might open the door ever so slightly to another SWTOR IF Disney is willing.

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rogbarz

Shutting down a star wars game at the moment or even 2 – 3 years ago would have been a terrible marketing mistake. They cannot afford to damage the star wars license especially after the bf2 problems.

Let us be fair Star wars under EA has not been going well.
If I had the star wars IP and tons of money:
– make a new star wars RTS together with the folks that work on total war.
– A open world RPG story based game
– Battlefront game as competitive shooter
– Destiny kind of star wars game
– finally an open world, sandbox MMO.

While not the biggest innovation, it can’t get worse then what we got so far :P
IP’s should not be owned by 1 company, Disney should allow multiple devs to work on games of course approving of what they want.

For me EA has destroyed two of my favorite games (SWTOR AND WARHAMMER)
Both games = lots of potential

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

If it wasnt so damned expensive, I wish they would continue with the individual class stories. Thats the biggest draw for me for SWTOR, I enjoy leveling alts up until the point the story is unified into generic galaxy saver.

Aside from that they need to loosen up a little on group content limitations. I understand the need to make money but limiting flashpoints and raids for free to play players hurts everyone.

If they wanted more people to pay and subscribe, I think the best way is to let subbers open a lockbox for free, at least once per day or something to that effect. I think more people would sub.

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Sally Bowls

The disconnect for me was around GC. I liked the rhetoric re story and play-as-you-like. Yet, alas, they had enough “experienced” devs who “knew” that you needed raids to give out the most CXP and need renewed focus, if not content delivery, on raids. So IMO, the Command Crates would have worked better if they had been bolder in walking away from the traditional MMO paradigms.

I don’t have a clear idea of the brand. It’s not really an Asian grinder, not a raid-or-die game (due to content release, not desire), and somewhat lacking in the SWOTR 1.0/KOTOR story/solo play.

I hope they do something. Pivoting back to “story first” would be my preference. But at this point, I am not sure there are any obvious, guaranteed wins.

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Ricardo B.

SWTOR shutting down and EA losing the Star Wars license would be the best news ever.

Even Cryptic could do a better job, as seen with Star Trek Online.

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Daniel Fenwick

IMO, there is little that can be done as things currently stand. The game is in a death spiral and if it isn’t too late to save it, it’s very close.

Bringing the game back would require a few things:

1) RETCON out KOTFE and KOTET entirely.
2) Replace the entire decision making team that approved KOTFE and KOTET.
3) Replace the entire senior design team that created KOTFE and KOTET.
4) Start releasing content at a rate that is far beyond the current SWTOR team. (See ESO’s release cadence.)
5) To achieve 4, EA will have to put a great deal of money into SWTOR.

I don’t see any of the above happening. IMO, the game will last just as long as EA wants to say they have a SW MMO. At whatever time EA no longer cares to be able to say that, the game will shut down with minimal notice (look for them to stop selling 180 day subs, that will likely be the sign.)

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Sally Bowls

C’mon this is MOP. Instead of “look for them to stop selling 180-day subs,” might I recommend “look for when EA starts selling year subs” as the signal it is shutting down soon.

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Bryan Gregory

I recently decided to give the game a try. While I enjoyed it a little more than I was expecting, I have to say the combat is pretty horrid. Most abilities are very basic, click to do damage, and your abilities don’t intertwine at all (no combos or extra effects or anything like that).

I see in the comments people talking about the storyline after the class storylines. I didn’t make it that far, but that’s 100% the way I expected it to be afterwards – everyone being on the same story. That’s not surprising at all, you can’t really expect them to keep up with 8 different voice acted storylines. If I recall, wasn’t SWTOR the highest budget MMO made to date? I wonder if they’ve even made half of that back yet. It would be foolish to spend that much money, sorta bomb, and then continue the game as if they still have that kind of money to spend on it.

I enjoyed SWTOR as a single player game (I really enjoyed my class storyline), but as an MMO I’m not really sold on it yet.

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Mikey's Bored

Reading what people are saying has been interesting to me, when BioWare opted to go the current route, people were giving it high praise, it was successful, it brought people back to the game with a lot of enthusiasm. It’s a BioWare game, and it is Star Wars, so story and narrative are extremely important, and without it you don’t have a game that’s particularly noteworthy in any real way.

This is also a game that from the very beginning, promised to be story-centric and that’s what a lot of players signed on for. I think ultimately there are different groups of people who want different games, this is the only Star Wars MMO, so those who want something more SWG-esque, or something else are unhappy. People who are BioWare fans, and want a Star Wars story are happy with the direction for the most part (when it comes to how they delivered the current expansion originally, specifically).

That being said, now that they have been delivering the story, which are generally about an hour or less in length per update, through impersonal flashpoints, it has indeed become unsatisfactory and feels very drawn out. I would much prefer they do what they did with the expansion launch, and deliver quality story content in large chunks and work to resolve them within a couple updates post-expansion at the latest. Then I would like them to focus on developing new content for the game while they’re in between expansions, instead of what they are doing now. The game desperately needs a new fully realized planet, and perhaps they could get more creative with planets to make them feel more alive and vibrant, taking a cue from other modern games and looking at what it is they do, like Guild Wars 2 just as an example. Supposedly SWTOR makes a lot of money, but I don’t know how large their development team really is, and I don’t know if EA or BioWare HQ are willing to really allocate the necessary resources for them to do more with the game on a grander scale. Sometimes I hope they are planning on a sequel, where they can really take their time and go all in on making a better game altogether.

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Daniel Fenwick

I would say that you are incorrect. KOTFE did not bring people back and get them to to stay. The story was so-so and moved your character from the center of the story to a position as a supporting part. The story no longer feels like SW at all. Might be a good SciFi story on it’s own, but it did not belong in a SW game. The direction they took left the game with no new endgame content, which repeated the mistakes made at launch with similar results. The game is now down to 2 NA servers. Neither is a mega server. The game died at launch, was brought back by F2P and KOTFE killed it again. EA made some terrible mistakes with 4.0 and compounded them with GC in 5.0. They have done a lot of talking about fixing it, but in general they haven’t done anything but gilded a turd. I’m not sure the game will last long enough for a 6.0

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Mikey's Bored

The numbers from EA’s financial/investor information after the launch would beg to differ with what you are saying, sorry. It did bring people back, and they made a lot of money from it at the time. What they’re doing as of right now is absolutely inadequate, GC also did a lot to murder the game, but that doesn’t change the fact that the focus at the beginning of it all was successful, but they didn’t come through post-launch of the expansion and have lost a lot of players, again.

I’m not going to debate about the story itself, that’s all subjective and depends on who you ask. I agree with your point on how they have done a lot of talk about fixing it and done very little to do so, to date.

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Daniel Fenwick

No, it was not successful. And note, I didn’t say it didn’t bring people back, I said, “KOTFE did not bring people back and get them to to stay.” If they don’t stay, it isn’t successful. Within 60 days the population had started to fall back off and within 6 months you’d never have known anyone had come back at all. Further, it drove away a good chunk of the upper end raiding community and the game’s theory crafters which is also not a sign of success. KOTET just finished the job. It’s really sad, IMO. SW should be a license to print money and EA has totally screwed it up (and not just with SWTOR.) (And note, I say EA. BW does not exist. IT’s just a brand name that is associated with a department within EA.)

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Paul Hurtado

Stop splitting the community between subscribers, premium and free-to-play by making content like instances and PvP free for everyone with no limits. Just that alone would bring a metric ton of players back to the game… Been saying that since they went “F2P”.

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Bryan Correll

Don’t promise that your choices will have consequences when you know damn well they won’t.

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rafael12104

Whew! It’s early and in this thread’s life and I can’t remember a comment section that had so much verbiage on the topic. All good too, IMO. The reactions here are good to see.

The short story is that I loved SWTOR. It was simple and straightforward. You played through a bit of content, solo or grouped, and you got your reward. You had distinct classes with their own, pretty damn great, stories and a larger narrative that was intriguing and kept the friction between the light and the dark alive.

And then, BW lost the thread. They convinced themselves the game was not what they, Bioware, would offer. LOL! I’m serious. That is what they said. WTF? It is their MMORPG and they were at the wheel!

They changed story delivery, and a few other things. But the wheels came off with Command XP. That simplicity I was talking about suddenly had an insane RNG barrier delivered via lootbox! It’s comical now given EAs penchant for the damn things.

So, the first thing, and I mean the very FIRST thing, they have to do is scrap CXP in it’s entirety. Reward solo and group player content directly. Make the rewards worth the effort for both again.

The rest? Take a gander down below. Take the advice from the walls of text. SWTOR had passionate supporters. Players who feel strongly about the game and loved it. But like me, they were driven away by stupidity.

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Witches

They need to change their design philosophy.

When you have a game known for its’ story you don’t stop adding story to concentrate on something others do better, in higher quantities and faster than you can.

Instead of going for grandiose story that never delivers just do smaller scale stuff, if you can’t do a proper planet in one go, keep adding modules to it until it becomes a full planet, Makeb is just a bunch of smaller zones tied together, but it feels less claustrophobic than the recent stuff.

There are million of lines of dialog in the game, i could make a fully voiced companion with decent story, just using assets already in game.

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sevrl bats

yknow I’ve been playing a little swtor again recently, and while I enjoyed it a lil, there are a few real…and probably insurmountable…problems. in loose order from hardest-to-fix to possible-to-fix:

1) years on it’s clearer than ever that the “epic stories” of the class campaigns were extremely thin. even cosmetic consequences for decisions are basically absent. the plots veer from point to point. if you’re super excited about Star Wars, it can hold together for a little while, but if the single-player RPG renaissance continues (Pillars 2!), even people who never played the meaning-heavy densely-written narrative RPGs of the 90s are going to get more and more disappointed with these shallow world tours.

2. the KOTFE/KOTET plot seems to be dragging on forever, promising resolution repeatedly and never achieving anything like it. it’s an endless escalation of embarrassment, the hideous one-two punch of constant reassurances that your character is the coolest person in the universe and that the galaxy is at threat because of ~yet another superweapon.~ first it was destroying planets? now it’s destroying civilizations!!! Star Wars needs to get over its Death Star fetish.

3. dungeon design seems to still mostly be “hurl infinite indistinguishable trash packs at the team then have some bosses that are sorta okay.” this is pretty weak. I haven’t really played on the harder difficulties since launch, though, so maybe it’d be better if I were challenging myself more.

4. the core class design/buttonpushing-level gameplay is sssorta solid, but it’s still never broken away from its identity as a Warcraft clone, nor has it kept up with Warcraft’s innovations. I’d prefer pick-one-of-three talents to the shallow utilities specs get, and I basically can’t tell my specs apart–even tank vs the two DPS specs I’ve got don’t play THAT differently. meanwhile,

5. quality of life is wretched–where’s Warcraft-style transmog, where you keep something forever once you collect it? when I switch from Spec A to Spec B and back, why can’t my abilities from A revert to where they were in the first place on my bars? do you really, really still need to take away my additional actionbars if I play free for a bit?

so yeah. I think SWTOR has a content problem, and I don’t know how they can fix it. I bet they sit in their offices every day gloomily wondering why they insisted on voicing every protagonist. probably the smart thing to do would be to take away your protagonist’s voice and make content going forward focused on you and your companions, not on ~yet another galactic threat~. instead of having the player character guide the plot to a great extent, let them guide their relationships with their NPC buddies. it’s probably easier to branch a companion than it is to try to branch an entire gameworld, especially if you only have to record voicework for half the conversation.

but that’s really just off the top of my head. I dunno what they could do to make the content engaging, really. it’s just blaaand.

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overbyte

Agree with most of this except that transmog is better than wardrobe.

Transmog is the biggest ball ache of any wardrobe system. The idea that I could get my style just way I like it, go questing and *still* end up looking like a clown until I go back to town and reset my styles again. And don’t get me started on the lack of hide options for cloak and helmet.

I do like the idea that once something is bound to you it becomes a selectable style permanently tho.

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Paragon Lost

Let Disney allow a better mmo game developer take the license and run with it. Bioware has been found lacking overall at mmo game development. They need to stick with single player game development.

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

I wish Bioware would go back to single player games. I still play kotor 1 and 2 even tho the interface is clunky at times with its pseudo-DND mechanics.

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Paragon Lost

Agreed, they did that sort of game quite well and I did enjoy what they designed back then. For mmorpg game development and design, I have been far from happy. :/

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Fenryr Grey

and even there they have been putting out less then average RPG’s. Everything EA touches dies. Disney should have taken notes.

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Danny Smith

I dont think the current dev team can pull off the story content like the original release did. You can’t supply that and you have a wrath of the lich king clone with a star wars skin of paint and a LOT of lockboxes. If theres a way to bring new audiences in that the force awakens already didn’t its no easy answer.

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Schmidt.Capela

Last time I looked, systems-wise TOR was closer to BC than to WotLK.

Which is one of the reasons I didn’t care much for it as a MMO; when I got past the story, TOR felt like a step backward compared with WoW.

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mistressbrazen

I think @mysecretid below has it right. Get back to what works for the IP which is the character story. While I detest EA and the ridiculous barriers for non-subscribers, I don’t think that alone dictates that the game should be ended or the license terminated. I also disagree about the graphics. Can we get to the point where we agree not all games have to have graphics simulating real life? If you needed to choose between life like graphics and more story content, would we really vote for life like graphics? I never thought the graphics were horrible and they aren’t offensively cartoonish. I do think EA refuses to put sufficient support behind the game, and no doubt the lack of resources contributes to the decline in the game. Nonetheless, now that I have returned to the game, I think people should be careful of calling for the game to come to an end. There are still people who play it, even if they aren’t the numbers that played in the beginning. Do we really need to loose yet another theme park MMO? Everything can’t be battleground and survival. The MMO player base is far more diverse than that. If EA wants to, it could probably save SWTOR. The question is whether they want to.

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McGuffn

People really hate the new storyline? Weren’t people praising it as Bioware’s return to form after making an MMO/group content expansion the last go around?

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

The main problem imho is that they promised there would be consequences. Frankly, aside from the option to kill a companion or two, there was absolutely no consequence at all as far at the story is concerned. Granted, it would be hard to realize galactic level changes that accounts for individual game choices, which is the reason I wish they storylines they are using are less galactic spanning and more personal stories like the pre50 content.

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justiceburrito

I tried coming back this year. I enjoyed the class storylines. But the game just feels so… dated. Combat mechanics are among the worst of still-running MMOs. As is the questing system. I don’t think they’ll be able to draw new people in given how clunky it plays. And without new people I doubt there’s much of a future. Well… unless the game is being supported by whales in which case they’ll continue to create content and systems designed to milk them.

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Sray

Wall of text incoming.

As I said in Larry’s column on the story last week, the story line needs a soft reset back to the pre-Knights status quo: no Eternal Empire; limited number of companions; Empire versus Republic; sci-fi stories with fantastical elements (ie. The Force) that work for all classes, not fantasy stories in a sci-fi skin that make no sense for half the classes.

But that’s just the story: obviously the game and business model need work too.

From the business perspective, it seems fairly simple to me: open up the endgame for free players. I get that it’s not a real free to play game, but the point of allowing free players in a game is to have fodder for your paying players: however, SWTOR’s model drives way too many players away with what they’re restricting access to. So instead of restricting access, give free players access to the endgame, but give them grind. You don’t have to be tricky about it: state upfront that free players have to grind 3 or 4 times as much of everything as subscribers do; but you don’t cut them off from anything is the key. Make the clear advantage of being a subscriber time to do other things: while free players are working their butts off just to keep up with the ground game gear situation, subs have time decorate their houses, play starfighter, other non-combat/social activities that SWTOR desperately needs… I’m not going to touch on lootboxes: there’s not enough time to get lost down that rabbit hole.

For the game play, there’s many issues.

First, they’ve got to tell raiders that this isn’t the Star Wars game they’re looking for. This year they’ve sucked up tremendous resources to roll out one medium sized raid that has come at the cost significant new content for solo and small group PVE players, and for PVPers. Even if the population of SWTOR is evenly split between all three player types, raiders still come out as a minority that require huge resources to keep them supplied with new content, while with solo/small group players and PVPers you can make more content for them, and faster, with fewer resources. That’s a no-brainer to me.

Second, the galactic command system still needs a lot of work. The idea of a post-max level leveling system that opens the gear progression up to everyone is awesome, but the implementation is still more “raid or get out”. Take a queue from Destiny 2 in this regard: pummel the players with so much gear it feels like you’re trying to get rid of it; and it won’t matter if most of it is useless if you can break it down for stuff that may or may not be useful. I know that the system has been changed to incorporate some of that, but it’s still way too grindy and slow. Seriously, frequency is the enemy of RNG: if you want to make the galactic command system bearable, make people complain that they’re getting too much stuff, not too little.

Finally, the leveling and solo game needs a serious re-balancing. They sell tokens that allow players to jump right to the endgame, which means they can reexamine the leveling game and de-trivialize it. Yes, the companion characters are mostly OP, but they’re that way so that a bunch of combat that was originally designed for groups didn’t have to be redesigned: well, it’s time to go back and redesign some of that stuff so that companions can get nerfed back to reasonable power levels. We’re in a time where there’s a lot of debate raging over the difficulty of video games; but when the difficulty is absolutely trivialized, no one is happy.

I’ve obviously thought about this a lot. SWTOR has meant a lot to me in the past, and I hate seeing it in its current state. I’d like to see it turn things around, but it doesn’t look to me like there’s any real resources being put into the game, and I personally think that the new lead producer is just a guy who’s telling us what we want to hear while running through a plan that he has no actual power to change. I could go on, but I think I’ve abused your eyes for long enough.

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rafael12104

IMO, it is tragic what happened to the game. It had proven the haters wrong. It survived against the odds and thrived! And then Bioware needed to make changes? It boggles the mind.

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Castagere Shaikura

The only thing that would save it is getting rid f EA and that crappy business model. Nothing else would help that game. I wonder how Larry feels about that business model now. I recall him saying on a video once that it was the best f2p model in the market.

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

Getting rid of EA wont save the game, they will shutter it. They would sooner close down Bioware than let them get their independence so they can keep all of the IPs Bioware has.

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Utakata

Getting rid of its “cruddy business model” would probably be a good start.

As for the game’s future…there’s always hope and good timing. As is, “even Democrats can win Senate seats in Alabama” hope and good timing. Just saying. :)

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TheDonDude

Pray that WoW’s Battle For Azeroth flops?

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Knox Harrington

What Bioware Austin should do and what they can do are two entirely different things. Most suggestions everyone seems to have are things that Bioware probably would have done if they could. Take class stories for example. We all wanted the base game’s class stories to be extended into the future, but then the game flopped hard because Bioware was inexperienced at managing an MMO so the player base vacated the game in droves which led to them going F2P within a year of the game’s release.

To make matters worse, they implemented arguably the worst F2P model in the West, completely squandering any turn-around potential the initial announcement had. They’ve had to sacrifice actual content for lockboxes because it’s the only guaranteed way to milk the whales who seem more content with playing Star Wars Barbie Dolls instead of an MMO. This has caught up with them and servers had to be merged, so they added instance filters for PvE and PvP, but failed to add one for RP, which ironically enough the RP servers were among the most active, populated, and their main source of cash shop revenue.

The only thing consistent about Bioware is that over the course of the last six years, they’ve manged to take misstep after misstep. Incompetence and ineptitude have grown out of what was once inexperience. Their lack of development resources has and will remain a problem, but what they do have to work with they manage to muck it up even further. They’ve painted themselves in a corner with the last two expansions and it doesn’t seem like they have mapped out an exit strategy, let alone a path forward. I think we all know what they should do, but the real question is at this point what can they do? Not much from the looks of it.

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Melissa McDonald

Oh I don’t know. Having to rename all 5 of my characters after merge from Ebon Hawk (where I was also once merged and forced to rename) has the effect of cold water being thrown on a person.

At this point my opinion is that the 3 major IPs (Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings) all have extremely aging and clunky games by 2017 standards. They are great games, and because of that, they continue to chug away. But they’re all old games with old game engines, that’s just a fact.

Of those, only Star Wars really has the fresh material, inertia, and money-backing from Disney to make a brand new AAA-class MMO from scratch.

Star Trek could probably summon up the inertia given that they have a new TV series, and Tarantino is planning an “R” rated franchise movie.

With Amazon making a Lord of the Rings television show, and demonstrating some commitment or desire to make games (like hiring Smedley) it’s not impossible that they would desire a new title for their new show.

But I think Star Wars is the logical choice to dive in and start over. Star Trek is the least significant of these 3 in revenues (I believe) and a new Rings game would be an extreme undertaking if it wanted to equal the sheer size and detail of LOTRO.

Edit: If I worked for Standing Stone games, I would be camping at Amazon’s door hoping for a buyout.

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overbyte

Sto is fun imo and making decent money on console.

A wow style simplification of the combat systems would help immensely and maybe open up the consoles as a new revenue stream.

They will have to sort out the lack of respect for ftp players too otherwise it will die on the vine on console

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

No thanks, SSG just got their independence. I’d rather have old graphics and systems but the freedom to do what they will. Amazon or any big ticket corporation will just suck their soul. Not everything has to be top notch graphics or systems. Heck I still enjoy the old NW games over the current crap over at cryptic.

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Targeter

Unfortunately, what can you do when every character is the Emperor/Empress? They’ve made the mistake that many MMOs do, making your character the most powerful person evvvaaarrrr. Well, I’m the most powerful, but what about Darth Kittens over there jumping around on the Fleet? When we’re all the most powerful, the story loses a lot of its punch and identity. The Agent 1-50 story was riveting because even though it had galaxy-spanning implications, it was still just a story about an Agent doing his/her duty (or their interpretation of it). And yes, every Agent experienced the same story, but because it was based on class, the decisions felt weightier (even if they really had no impact on the game whe n you made them).
When every class can share the same story, and you move away from what made that class (and its storyline) special, then you lose a ton of the flavor that 1-50 SWTOR had.

I dunno what the guys and gals at Bioware can do … maybe just go full-fledged SWTOR 2 and call it a day? Build it right the second time with a better engine? I personally liked the graphics, but I like the stylized approach. Work more actual choice into the game? Or maybe just make KOTOR 3 like we all want :D

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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SWTOR LIMPSABER.jpg
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starbuck1771

Leave it to Schlag to bring in Herbert the Pervert from Family Guy : Blue Harvest :P

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George

In my opinion, you can’t. Just let it die and be reborn into something better… Not done by EA preferably…

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

But it wont be the old republic, since Bioware/EA has that specific IP owned. And frankly, a current age Star Wars game would be too limited by canon. Thats the problem SWG had, people wanted jedi, but having so many jedi especially after the NGE change screwed the game totally imho.

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starbuck1771

Actually they were required to go by canon but they even violated it. Proof is the amount of sith which should have been limited by the rule of two.

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starbuck1771

Uh actually Luke started training new Jedi in the EU plus there were Jedi hidden that may have not been found. We just expect that they may have been wiped out but Obi-wan and yoda’s survival of the purge prove that not all the Jedi were killed by order 66. BTW why would canon have anything to do with the issue when Lucas himself always violated it? Remember Han shot first?

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overbyte

Swg was great with the tiny number of Jedi before the nge though.

I remember seeing one for the first time and being totally overawed. I still have the screen grabs.

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Jeff Mauney

Roll the companion system back to what it used to be. That’s the only way I’ll ever come back.

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Armsbend

The odds of Bioware making it to 2019 are dismal.

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Targeter

LOL ok. I think they’ll be fine.

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Schmidt.Capela

It’s an EA studio. EA has killed over a dozen of those. It even guts studios that are still making successful games, like what it did to Maxis, which makes the still successful Sims series.

Bioware itself is already just a shallow husk of what it was back when it was acquired by EA; there’s a noticeable difference between what was already in development back when Bioware was autonomous and what was made after the EA purchase, and that difference only grew with time.

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starbuck1771

Don’t forget Westwood

Richard de Leon III
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Richard de Leon III

If Anthem crashes and burns on release I think bioware’s days are numbered. And frankly if Anthem follows the lockbox system that Destiny 2 and others have, it’ll be a disaster. The only hope Bioware has imho is a ground breaking SRPG. At this point that’s all I’ll ever buy from EA, a good single player game with no MTX aside from expansion dlc.

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Jeffery Witman

Unless they can shut down and bring back SWG, I think they’re going to continue on the downward trajectory. I tried to play the Bounty Hunter story when it first went F2P, but couldn’t even get through that because the missions were so boring, skills were meh, and the setting didn’t really feel like Star Wars. Then it gets to be a story on rails turning each planet into nothing more than a couple hundred yards of respawning mobs and a few vendors.

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RJB

Have the IP taken from EA shut down the game remake it into a new Sw game not held down by EAs greedy tyranny

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starbuck1771

Not likely to happen for a few more years when their contract with Disney is complete. Unless Disney finds a reason to extend it. You gotta remember that greedy mouse wants your cheddar.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

Funk? I think that’s severely underestimating the situation.

It is patently clear that EA is uninterested in giving the game an appropriate level of funding. Not are they woefully understaffed they very often miss the mark by a wide margin.

Case in point is the current texture screw-up. Sure they attempted an improvement but somehow that change shifted the color palette on several different things including cash shop items that were bought because of their specific color.

This is just one of many issues that should never have made it past the responsible developer’s unit testing much less QA. Their production is just plain shoddy.

The KotFE/ET stories were a disaster. While not bad they just didn’t fit. They took away all of our companion NPC’s without a clear plan on how to return them all. I could go on but I think Larry did a much better job.

Personally they need a “Dallas Option” where Satelle wakes up and tells Jace she had the weirdest vision…

They need to split how PvP and PvE skills work.

Galactic Command has to go.

Gamble Boxes need to go.

On second thought instead of Dallas, they need to pull an Alderaan and release SW:TOR2

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rafael12104

You might be right about EA’s hand in this and if so, the game is done. Sorry to say. Unless Disney steps in and says otherwise.

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IronSalamander8 .

I don’t think it can to be honest. I let my sub lapse for the final time just before the mergers and I still have the massive collector’s edition box sitting near my computer desk along with my key fob with my security code (which still physically worked but the codes started failing this time last year so I disassociated it with my account) and have played on and off, mostly on, since closed beta. I’ve seen how the game has grown worse over the years and is now a shell of its former self.

When the level cap was 55 I had 7 characters I ran through the HM weekly every week; that’s 21 HMs every week on top of raiding twice a week, and RPing my Chiss Darth on top of that! That’s how much I used to play. My guild left in 2013 while hitting HM TfB and S&V and I was essentially left on my own. I still had many non-guilded friends I RPed and ran stuff with but when my main who is a tank Sith Juggernaut went from insta-FP queue pops to waiting up to 10 minutes due to lack of population and my full friends list activity dwindled to less than 5 people online at any time made it clear the game was in serious trouble and it’s never recovered.

I only got 4 characters to 60, 2 to 65, and none to 70. The Zakuul nonsense was dreadful at best and I felt like an observer to their annoying “All in Emperor Valkorian’s family” soap opera/comedy. The tired battles of sky troopers over and along with such limited new enjoyable content meant I was only RPing at the end and that had died off as well. Even with the mergers the 5 remaining servers are in sad shape and the cartel market is the only lifeline this thing has left.

It seems weird to me that considering the massive popularity of the SW IP that the game is doing so badly but as many have pointed out the SW IP is probably the only reason the servers haven’t grown dark already. So many old bugs never fixed, so many ‘omissions’ with almost every patch (they miss stuff in the patch notes so often that I can’t believe these are all sincere errors), the blatant attention to the market over actual in game stuff to do (and as an RPer I like having outfit options, but this is insane), and the fact that even die hard SW fans have left mean that the game is going to hit the sunset sooner than later.

I’m not a huge SW fan although I do enjoy it, especially the old movies which I saw in the theater as a kid (yeah I’m on the older side!), but this can’t help a game with this many problems. FF14 pulled off a reboot but I can’t see EA even contemplating this especially after the BF2 loot box debacle.

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Jack Pipsam

Restoring the US West Coast server wouldn’t go amiss.

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Schmidt.Capela

From my point of view, the only way to salvage it is to split the game in twain: a traditional, offline single-player RPG for the story, and as its counterpart a MMO that doesn’t compromise gameplay for the story.

I absolutely love the kind of stories crafted by Bioware — but I don’t think they fit, at all, in a MMO; most of the little features that make exploring a Bioware-crafted story so enjoyable for me, like being able to reload saves in order to explore multiple choices, are simply not possible in a MMO. With the limitations that the MMO format place on the storytelling, I sincerely find it more enjoyable to watch a Let’s Play video than to actually play through the story myself (yeah, I tried).

At the same time the MMO aspect of the game, given its setting, has a lot of potential but is held back by the needs of the storytelling. EA/Bioware managed to marry two kinds of games in such a way that they bring the worst in each other.

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mysecretid

My opinions only, of course:

* the Zakuulan storyline must end, and quickly. It’s dragged on for far too long. Put Senya on the Zakuulan throne and let us head home.

* Make the stories about my characters and their choices again. I am not Lana Beniko’s errand boy; nor Theron Shan’s; nor Senya Tirall’s.

* Use cutscenes to highlight interesting, cinematic moments, or resonant character moments. Please stop using them merely to yabber plot exposition at us.

* I want my original companions returned to me as soon as possible. Give me a choice of who to keep from the “second wave” of companions, if possible, and let the rest go back from whence they came.

* Stories are not simply about Republic versus Empire; the war is a dramatic backdrop for the storytelling, not the actual story. Giving me missions to “Go kill all these people! For the Republic/Empire!!!” is not a mission, it’s a time-sink.

* I’m not a gear-centric power gamer by any stretch, but the Command XP system doesn’t work. It gives me random things of little use, and parts from random gear sets which never seem to complete. Simply, the rewards aren’t rewarding. It needs to be improved.

* Shorter, simpler mission content dropped more frequently, beats long, tortuous mission content dropped once or twice a year,

* I need more to do when I log in — replaying Flashpoints and Operations for the Nth time is dull. Repetitive content is dull, but since repetitive content is unavoidable in MMORPGs (i.e. devs can never make content faster than players can play it), the idea is to have enough different kinds of repetitive content available, that players can choose what best suits their mood during new-content droughts.

* I have all these great characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and almost nothing fun to do with them whenever I log in. This needs to change.

*

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rafael12104

It seems obvious, right? *shakes head*

I was my favorite game for almost 5 years. And now, it isn’t even on the list.

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Sorenthaz

Well, if EA would either give up or Disney would pull exclusive rights away from them to Star Wars games, maybe we could see a much better Star Wars MMO.

SWTOR is pretty much outdated at this point. The cartoony graphics don’t age well, the game has been on a shoestring budget with a skeleton team for awhile now, and it’s pretty obvious that the game’s just being wrung dry of whatever $$$ they can still get out of people.

TOR somehow managed to still have a decent run even with its failure to be the smash WoW-like hit that EA was wanting. But at this point it’s pretty easy to tell that it’s going down a path similar to WAR, where it’s steadily being drained until its last breath. The fact that we haven’t had any news about an expansion is pretty telling considering they used to toss these out every year.

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Alex Js.

They can’t do anything anymore with current game, it’s essentially dead (and been that way for long time). Only thing they should do by now is to immediately and permanently take the current game offline and (if they still have the rights to Star Wars universe) start working right away on new Star Wars MMORPG, with modern engine (something other than the horrible “Hero Engine”) and complete overhaul of PvE/PvP systems and all other aspects of the game. EA has plenty of $$$ for that, plus they can use this opportunity to improve their current shitty reputation by announcing this new game and promising that “there would be no lootbox system of any kind”.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

I agree that the path forward is a replacement MMO. I disagree that this one should be shut down. Put it into maintenance mode, sure but there are people that will still play.

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Rees Racer

Despite the glowing reviews The Last Jedi is receiving, I don’t think the film will do much to rejuvenate the game. I put a lot of time into it over the years, but have not had it installed in all of 2017.

As much as I respected (and still do) the Old Republic single-player games from the last decade, I never felt like placing this MMO in a timeline 4k years before the very first Star Wars movie was a great idea. If BioWare could somehow shoehorn a way to make the game more compatible and “present-day”, if you know what I mean…then that might help.

Otherwise, I think the game needs to be scrapped, and a brand new proper MMO needs to take over. This would be one that allows players to take roles in either faction, and incorporate some of the ideas from Galaxies, but not all…as it needs to be streamlined a bit for today’s attention-deficit crowds.

The other option would be a minor deviation from, but increase in scope of Battlefront 2, to a model like the one used in Warframe. A great deal could be done here, but with larger community places to get together for content, and some open-world options for all. Some large-scale factional space PvP would be great…X-Wings and TIE fighters competing for systems and resources etc.

I could go on and on…but SWTOR is dead to me now…and I’m actually sad to admit that.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

I think using the Old Republic timeline is brilliant. After Order 66 Jedi become extremely rare and being known as one painted a huge target on your head.

Regardless of the exact setting period it really does need to be one where players can play as a force sensitive. Maybe what’s happening is that there’s an MMO in the works that explores the Star Wars universe after this trilogy resolves itself.

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Targeter

Could not agree more; the Old Republic era is a perfect place to put games so that they have the same Star Wars feel, but you can really branch out and do some stuff that’s very unexpected.

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thirtymil

I’ve found the ‘Star Wars feel’ to be quite sparse in SWTOR. Okay, yes, they’ve got lightsabers. But they’ve also got this goth/BDSM vibe going on with the Sith that’s disparate from the films and some of those shoulderpads are, erm, very un-Star-Warsy. I won’t even go into the rakghouls, which in my opinion don’t fit in Star Wars at all.

Part of the reason I stopped playing was I didn’t feel very Star Warsy in it. The bigger part of the reason was, of course, EA.

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Targeter

The rakghouls were a part of the original KOTOR, made back in 2003. It remains one of (if not THE) finest RPGs I’ve ever played. It had an awesome Star Wars feel that was familiar yet wildly different; that’s what SWTOR is beholden to (KOTOR), not the films. So for my money, SWTOR does a pretty good job of emulating that KOTOR feel.

But hey, you mileage may vary and your opinion is no less valid than my own, friend! And if you get a chance to play KOTOR, please do. It’s spectacular on Xbox One.

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thirtymil

Yes, you’re right – it matches the KOTOR feel. I’ve played a bit of KOTOR 1 but never got on with it. I think my issue is that KOTOR doesn’t feel like Star Wars to me either – but then neither does a lot of the extended universe. But as you say – our mileage may vary and no-one’s opinion is less valid :)

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Schmidt.Capela

Rakghouls were also confirmed in other media, and thus were canon back when they were introduced in SWTOR, or as canon as something that didn’t appear in the main movies could be.

Though, of course, that was before Disney decided to throw 95%+ of Star Wars canon in the trash compactor, so I’m not sure they are still canon.

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2Ton Gamer

The stories were good, but not enough to make one stick around long term like many MMO’s do. I think because they spent so much time making the story as the “4th Pillar” that the game designed around that has made it flawed and beyond reinvention.

What kept me around after I was done running through the themepark content? Warzones. I thoroughly enjoyed their take on them, but I stopped playing the game because I could not see paying $15 per month just to play WZ’s. Now if they had a WZ monthly sub or that unlock for the month in the store was only like say $5, I’d probably pop back in just for those. I have often said that Huttball alone was a genius minigame and a few of the other WZ’s were not badly designed either and a ton of fun. I wish there was a game of just those where you could compete, I would probably still be playing.

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Cosmic Cleric

The stories were good, but not enough to make one stick around long term like many MMO’s do. I think because they spent so much time making the story as the “4th Pillar” that the game designed around that has made it flawed and beyond reinvention.

I’m actually of the exact opposite opinion. The single player storylines made SWTOR a unique MMO, and an early success, with lots of stickiness.

IMHO, the flaws were company introduced later on, when the game wasn’t making WoW type amounts of money.

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