In honor of Star Wars week (and rumors that EA is working on another Star Wars game), let’s talk Star Wars MMOs.
Star Wars Galaxies is much beloved around these parts, and I think most of us would agree that Star Wars: The Old Republic has matured into a worthy and popular MMORPG as well. Let’s take a moment to salute the passing of Clone Wars Adventures while we’re at it.
But the last Star Wars MMO launched in 2011. Is it time for a new MMO that is Star Warsy and iconic? What time period would you pick? What would the ground rules be? Tell me all about the third (well, fourth) Star Wars MMO of your dreams for this edition of Massively Overthinking.
Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I’m probably one of the few on staff who didn’t actually play Star Wars Galaxies; I just remember EVE’s subscriptions jumping after the NGE and people telling me I missed out on a fantastic sandbox MMO. I wasn’t really interested in SWTOR either as I’d heard it would be a themepark, but gave it a playtest at Eurogamer Expo 2011. I was left with the distinct impression that it was trying too hard to conform with the same old World of Warcraft gameplay model even when it didn’t match the setting, and as a result the game lost immersion. I recall people raging at me in the comments of that article for giving negative impressions after only a short demo, but many launch players ended up saying the same things, so I clearly wasn’t the only one with those impressions.
Despite any problems it has, SWTOR was a definite financial success, and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one big online Star Wars game on the way right now. The Star Wars fanbase is massive and still contains millions who wouldn’t count themselves as MMO fans, making it one of the few IPs out there that can bring in hordes of fresh faces to the genre. A new MMO or other big online game could also obviously latch onto the marketing buzz for the new films, which are set to continue for years to come and are off to a great start. I’d love to see something really immersive that makes you feel like you’re part of the Star Wars universe, maybe not necessarily an MMO but certainly a space sim with online capabilities.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’d really like to see more multiplayer Star Wars games period. A Star Wars MMOARPG a la Marvel Heroes? Yes please. I mean, sure I’d really just like sandboxes in space, Star Wars Galaxies II, but I’m trying to be realistic here. And I’d really love to see something set in the movie time period (the Dark Times and Rebellion Era being my favorites). I’m not such a big fan of the KOTOR period myself. (Please don’t throw things at me. I read all the comics as a kid, but KOTOR still feels like a fanfic setting compared to the real thing.)
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): You… you’re asking me about a Star Wars MMO? Really? Honestly, my first pick for a Star Wars MMO would be one that we already have: Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s a solid use of the IP, a solid approach to translating the IP into an MMO, and while I disagree with some of the design choices made subsequently I don’t feel as if my choices would come down to anything more useful than “SWTOR, but instead of X there’s Y.” Which isn’t very interesting, all things considered. But then, I’m the wrong person to ask about this anyhow. Now, an actual Transformers MMO that makes it to release, we can talk about that one. (Set it in the same starting position as the last batch of IDW comics post-Chaos, it’s be brilliant. Someone make some calls.)
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I would imagine that any new Star Wars MMO made would have a lot more in common with Battlefront than Galaxies. Think more action, jump-in, jump-out of vehicles and fighting across a planetary and intergalactic scale. Other than the ability to transition between vehicles and atmospheres, that’s not the kind of game that would attract me, however.
Depending how the new movie goes, I think it’d be quite interesting to see a game set in the intervening years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. There are still two factions, although the bad guys have been neutered a bit and the good guys bolstered somewhat to put them on near-equal footing. I’d love a game that deeply integrated space combat with the ground game, but past that, take some of the best of Galaxies (more choices, builds, housing) and TOR (better stories, moral dilemmas, cinematics) and then give us a game that’s highly accessible to a wide range of Star Wars fans. Also, you gotta let me play the weirder races. Nuts to the human and human-ish characters.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): This isn’t a cop-out of an answer: I honestly just would want SWG back in its skill-tree-goodness and Jump to Light Speed form. Yes, add in the great thing that came after the NGE like the storytelling system and atmospheric flight, but I want the universe back where people are unique combinations of skills, Jedi are rare and must hide, and the roleplay community was strong and vibrant. And yes, I really want my guard kittens back! I’d also give smugglers better smuggling. SWG gave me a life inside that universe of the movies. I could sit and listen (and dance) to the music in the Mos Eisly cantina, visit the retreat on Naboo, watch the Tatooine suns set, and engage the hyperdrive! What more could I have asked for? Any other Star Wars MMOs that come out will forever be held up to SWG and judged, and I know they will just be lacking. My lack of faith may be disturbing, but I really just don’t want to play anything else.
Patreon Donor Archebius: No, I don’t think we need another Star Wars MMO at the moment. As much as Disney seems to be making a genuine effort to continue the magic of the original trilogy (and we’ll find out how successful they were here in a few short hours), I don’t really trust their gaming credentials. Especially not with this genre. But if, despite my objections, someone over there decides to create one, and realizes that they would be lost without me at the helm… well, I might have a few ideas.
- The Setting: Somewhere between the OT and the new movies. Doesn’t have to be very specific. Some of the usual locations, to be sure, but with a focus on the fringes.
- The Players: Just people. Fringers, explorers, mercenaries, pilots, scum. People who can and will experience both victories and setbacks as they make their life in the galaxy. No heroes, not unless they choose to be.
- The Rules: A guided sandbox. So much of the allure of Star Wars rests on the depth that you see throughout the movies. There are so many races and professions and locations and technologies, and it’s absolutely essential that players realize after a couple hours of playing that they can see all of it. Do they want to be an explorer? They can go find new planets, chart new routes, seek new goods to sell. Exploring not going so well? Spice smuggling is easy to get into… and hard to get out of. And it will keep them flying for a little while longer.
Ultimately, you’d have to combine SWG’s do-anything design with the storytelling of SWTOR. As awesome as SWG was, I think that the universe lends itself to slightly more structured gameplay. On the other hand, I find SWTOR’s constant quests and indispensable hero thing to get pretty old by the end of the starter area. I’m not saying that I know where the balance between the two is, but Disney, for a couple million dollars, I promise to do some research.
Your turn — no spoilers, please! (And thanks, Flatline!)