At the end of the year, I like to give the games I cover a report card based on Richard Bartle’s taxonomy. For those who aren’t familiar with what that is, check out this Massively Overthinking where we took the test ourselves — Bartle himself might have even commented on it. I used the test based on his work as a base because it is designed to help game developers make better games. It focuses on why players play online games. I have taken a basic American grade-school grading system (A, B, C, D, F) to represent how I think each player type would score SWTOR.
I don’t believe socializer would give the highest marks to Star Wars: The Old Republic because the chat rooms and direct communications have yet to be fixed, and of course, the roleplayers haven’t seen chat bubbles yet (and probably never will). The game has made great strides, however, in becoming more social and encouraging rather than forcing people to group up. I see three major contributors to the social side of SWTOR: level-syncing, instant-travel heroics, and the tactical flashpoint finder.
Many people dislike level-syncing, and I can sort of understand why, though I completely disagree with it. The good that level-syncing does to bring people together far outweighs the desire to cut through foes like a lawnmower. Although it’s not much of a challenge, there is a bit more thinking involved in doing things like heroics on a planet or helping a friend with a quest. Level-syncing is a part of what allows group members to receive full XP despite there being a level difference and despite there being a group at all: XP used to be split between group members, but now you can help your friend at any level, and you might even get something out of it yourself.
Instant-travel heroics and new tactical flashpoints based on order flashpoints really serve the same purpose: They allow players to easily come together for group content. Although you can solo most heroics now, bringing a friend along makes the instances go by that much faster. And heroics are probably the most lucrative in-game content, especially when you consider credits per minute. Look for a guide on that coming soon!
In the simplest of terms, the achiever sees a bar and wants to cap it, sees a number and wants to make it bigger, or finds a hole and wants to fill it. Achievers love competition with other players, but most of the time, it’s all about the player versus him or herself. Achievers also love great rewards. Last year, I gave the achiever score an A-, but this year I’m going to have to raise the score just a bit to a solid A.
I don’t think SWTOR is doing anything innovative or revolutionary when it comes to achievements. The fact that they exist at all gives the game decent marks in this category. Achievers looking for something to do simply have to take a moment to meander through the achievement list and pick one. But on top of that there are hidden achievements, something that all achievement-hunters are looking for. Plus, some of the revealed achievements are difficult, and like a good achievement, these come with great rewards that you can show off to people who haven’t completed the achievement yet. I’m not an achievement-hunter, but even I am wearing my The-One-and-Only title with pride.
The developers swear that they haven’t given up on PvP and other aspects that appeal to the killer-type player, but it sure looks as if they aren’t even trying anymore. I don’t expect SWTOR to suddenly become a PvPer’s game, but I’m not sure the developers even understand what motivates the killer player.
You might think that killers just want to grief and cause other players trouble, but that’s not exactly the case. Many are in it for the competition. They want to pit themselves against other players and know where they stand in comparison to other killers. I talked at length to a player who liked to stand on the steps of Korriban and duel other players. Not only did he want to test his gear against others, but he also liked to see whether he could overcome a gear deficit.
In my mind, the duellers on the steps of Korriban are the only players who have any real beef with the level-sync addition to the game. Of course, these guys could find a new location that allows them to be a true level 65, but part of the killer profile is wanting other people to see what they are doing. The level 65 areas don’t have nearly the same amount of traffic as Korriban.
As much as I think that it’s great that Sorcerers and Sages are viable in PvP again and the meta for the classes was mixed up a bit, it doesn’t help matters when you see the same two classes dominate the leaderboards (let alone the actual warzones) over the last couple of seasons, not to mention that one of those advanced classes dominated well before that.
The only thing that is keeping me from failing SWTOR in the killer category outright is that there was at least an attempt to make the classes more balanced this year. The developers brought the healing classes a little bit closer to even, but of course there’s always one that outshines the others. And I call it just an “attempt” because it appears that one of the three has slipped back down again into the don’t-bring-to-a-warzone category.
Explorers are all about the joy of discovery, and it’s also another category of players that BioWare doesn’t quite seem to understand. However, the developers have at least attempted to make an effort to cater to them. They also made a great change to datacron retrieval so that it’s easier for explorers to track. And they tried to give out quests specifically for explorers.
The datacrons are now tracked in your legacy tab. This means that you have to gather a datacron only once per server or just once per account if you do a server transfer. Prior to 4.0, you had to track datacron gathering through the codex entries that are earned when you click on the cubes, which was a pain.
Area quest givers can be hidden, now. Since discovery is a large part of why an explorer plays the game, keeping certain quests hidden on the minimap is helpful. But since no new quests were added to the old game, this applies only to new content. And if you’ve played the new content, you’ll notice that it’s the most corridor-like content produced by the game so far — very anti-explorer.
This discussion doesn’t end with my grade card; it continues in the comments below. What are your thoughts about how each player-type would grade the game’s performance this year? I’m SEKA player, perhaps one of you is a AEKS and would see the scores differently. I’d like to read your thoughts. And I’ll see you next week.