Hyperspace Beacon: Why I’m taking a break from Star Wars: The Old Republic

    
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I’ve been considering writing this for awhile now, but I’ve not been sure how to broach the subject. I’ve not been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. That’s not to say that I haven’t been logging in or that I’ve not been paying attention to the community and the development of the game. But when I do log in, it’s to roleplay with my guild or GM one of the campaigns my guild has cooked up. I’ve not run operations, I’ve barely run Uprisings, and I’ve been done with PvP for over a year now. Usually, the developers have some event or story content that would bring me back or keep me sucked in, but not this time.

I know it doesn’t mean that I will never be back to SWTOR; it just means that the gameplay itself — in its current state — is no longer interesting to me. It also doesn’t mean that I will not log into the game. In fact, I will probably log in regularly because my roleplay guild is extremely active and healthy. And although I could probably unsub and play the just fine, I think that I will stay subscribed because the subscription isn’t expensive, and I do like the perks. But I’m certainly not going to support the overzealous cash shop.

I’ve been covering this game for about six years, so it’s probably important that I discuss the details behind my stepping away for a bit and what’s been the final nail in the coffin.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I used to PvP on a daily basis. I don’t think I’ve claimed to be great at PvP, but I’ve always known what I was doing for the most part. However, I will admit that at times I believed my limited skill to be worth more than it was, and I would mouth off about how other players are really bad. It’s possible that they were really bad, but in reality, I was not much better. Unfortunately, I was not the only one who would mouth off about other players or this class being overpowered or this other thing being broken. The whole PvP community on my server and the other servers that I visited seemed to be obsessed with how broken their class was (regardless of which class), how broken that map was (regardless of the map), or how broken their team was (regardless of the team). Few would put the blame where it belonged: squarely on the complainers’ shoulders. But I didn’t have the energy to gather the few truly positive PvPers around me.

Because of the community surrounding PvP, I stepped away. I couldn’t take the same conversation being repeated day after day. Perhaps these people really enjoyed complaining. Maybe it was fun for them, but it wasn’t fun to me.

Non-repeatable stories

I was content for awhile playing through operations and the occasional story content after I’d given up on PvP and that community. I know that many people didn’t like the monthly chapters because they seemed to be light on substance and really dragged the story out. I get that, but I was part of the minority that actually liked the monthly story chapters. But those are a thing of the past, so I don’t have anything to look forward to there.

Perhaps I could repeat the content through the Galactic Command interface. I tried. I am a huge altaholic, and I tried to run different characters through the content. I did get a character or three through Knights of the Fallen Empire, but only one has made it completely through Knights of the Eternal Throne. I’m not entirely sure why. The chapters in Eternal Throne were much more dynamic and consequential than Fallen Empire.

In fact, having completed some of the early chapters of Eternal Throne a couple of times, I know that the story differences are highly varied, but I can’t put my finger on why I can’t finish the story. Perhaps I just don’t care about Valkorion and his broken family.

Galactic Command

I have been more than vocal about my dislike for the Galactic Command system, the current basket that BioWare has placed all its eggs in. I can appreciate the consolidation of several design systems, but the clear grind-driven nature of the system makes me not want to do anything in it.

As I’ve said in the past, I enjoy Uprisings, and I believe that the more I’ve played them, the more I like them. But the thing that keeps getting in my way is the fact that I might spend just as much time on an Uprising as I did on a Flashpoint in the past, but the gear returns don’t even come close to matching the effort. I know things will likely change with Update 5.2 launches, and I will give the Galactic Command system another try then. For now, I am leaving it behind.

But the last straw for me came when I saw this tweet:

This confused me. So the developers are supposed to be fixing Galactic Command system by adjusting how we get gear, but at the same time, they are raising the cap making the systems that much more of a grind. Really?

Of course, I know about the increasing the CXP, but it’s like offering me a band-aid after the studio’s intentionally stabbed me.

There are still good things

I don’t want to take a complete dump on SWTOR. It’s a good game, and many people, especially Achievers, enjoy the game. There are a lot of bars to fill up, rewards to gain, and obstacles to overcome. PvP is still solid, and I still think there is a decent balance in the classes all around. PvE is good, too, it’s one of the few games where you can play the class that you like and still do well in high-level content. Uprisings and the other repeatable PvE content is more than challenging enough; it’s really the best it’s been in a long time.

I will still be around roleplay and GMing my D6-based events in SWTOR because it’s Star Wars and the setting makes for a great venue to run events, but I’m not actually playing the dev-built part of the game right now. Are my reasons justified? If you’ve left too in one way or another, what would bring you back to the game? What am I missing? What should I be trying that I’m not. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and perhaps I will see you when Update 5.2 launches.

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!
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Bruno Pereira

I played since 2.0, and at 2 months ago i’ve done a similar decision – stop playing.
This patch did not add anything that satisfies me, besides that,
Bioware removed everything that attached to this mmo.

menofhorror
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menofhorror

Ah god, I have such love-hate relationship with this game at this point. I love the base class stories but I really dislike KOFTE and KOTET for so many reasons that it would be quite the long list.

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Pedge Jameson

How can you RP when everyone has matching identical companions (don’t give me that clone shit) and matching stories with no real choices repercussions? And another MMO that breaks immersion with holiday garbage. Tauntaun reindeer. OK. :/ Nothing personal.

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Estranged

My issue is the launcher. I know there is a work around, but I shouldn’t have to perform the shortcut.

Reorganizing data after every small patch is ridiculous.

9 mins after the small patch is downloaded and I’m on 27% progress for reorganization.

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Pedge Jameson
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Estranged

Yes. Just concerns me something could go wrong. Plus, I shouldn’t have to do it.

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Afro Thunder

Larry, I’m curious to know, since I assume you have a fair amount of friend referrals (I used your link to show support of your work here) have you noticed any change in sub status in your referred friends? Not interested in how many, or what your CC intake is, just to what degree (if any) you are seeing changes?

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wayshuba

I think within a year there will be further articles on SWTOR – probably discussing how the MMO with one of the greatest IPs died.

This game has been plagued with developer arrogance since the get go. They have received solid feedback from long-standing MMO players and have always chose to ignore it – thinking they were so much smarter or better than their own customers. Hubris and arrogance at it’s finest.

Galactic Command follows the same pattern and, not only is it killing what is left of the game, EA and BW are getting massive brand damage in general in the process. This is not only causing a sub loss to SWTOR (and hence revenue, which must be pretty bad considering the weekly sales with 30% price increases from last time the items were available) but it will cause many customers to swear off BW developed and EA branded products for good.

I am not sure if the BWA team puts way too much on the Star Wars brand equity. But there is a lot of competition out there and of all the major MMOs, SWTOR gets the bare minimum of effort for the sub dollar. Just do a comparison of what SWTOR has put out in the last year compared to say FFXIV or ESO and you can see just how bad it is. Look at what is announced for those two titles and SWTOR for 2017 and you can see just how pathetic the value you get for your money in SWTOR is.

The point being, Galactic Command is going to kill the game. Quite a few have left (including my entire guild for ESO) since 5.0 dropped. Many more have had it with the new 100 levels and additional tier of gear (for no game purpose at all) which is just rubbing salt in the wound.

Here is an interesting follow up article I would love to see done on MassivelyOP. Find me one other business case (except for Enron), of a company treating their paying customers with such disdain. The current leaders at BWA are literally shitting all over their paying customers and completely ignoring the massive negativeity and sub losses being caused by their arrogance.

My prediction – SWTOR will not survive the end of 2017.

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Estranged

Enron? Did you just say that?

LOL

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Pedge Jameson

Plainview Oil?

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Estranged

Yes. I drink it all up.

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Pedge Jameson

I just picture that scene where DDL was actually drunk off his ass and eating badly overcooked steak and pork chops. What a scene. Talk about method acting.

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Estranged

There are none better than DDL. Yes.

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Emperor Caligula

What he said.

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KryptonianGL

I am a huge Star Wars nut. About the only IP that is even in the same realm as Star Wars for me is DC Comics (if you couldn’t already tell by my username and avatar). Dungeons and Dragons: Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms are up there as well, but I digress.

Anyhoot, I stopped playing SWTOR back when the Dark and Light patch came out as I was pissed that BioWare would force me to level characters all over again in order to qualify for something they were offering. I’ve been a subscriber/loyal patron for just about the whole time since launch! I just felt shit on.

And, that wasn’t the first time I felt disdain for BioWare as they had rampant cheating going in in the game after launch, while they seemingly turned a blind eye and denied it vehemently.

In addition, I’ve always had my other gripes with the game, including design choices, monetization and game engine — especially the combat system which is one of the clunkiest in any MMO I’ve experienced. The Dark and Light patch was just the final straw for me that pushed me over the edge.

It pains me that the game that features the IP I love so dearly is such a phenomenal mess! It takes a lot to drive me away from something Star Wars, but BioWare seems to have the patent on that! They can’t seem to get out of their own way and look like a bunch of monkeys ****ing a football at every turn!

The game seems to be plummeting faster than a meteor toward earth. I’m glad I left when I did, but feel horrible for Star Wars fans out there (like me) that don’t have a decent Star Wars MMO to get lost in.

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Fenryr Grey

Does this game even get updates? With updates I don’t mean in game cash-shop updates. Those with a bit more meat to it? Haven’t played since the release of the first 3-4 chapters of the previous expansion. The update page on swtor.com somehow stopped with 3.2 so I’m assuming beside those (in my opinion totally shitty) chapters of season 1 and 2 there is nothing much to do for a non pvp player. Or am I missing something?

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Greaterdivinity

Really? Update page is still showing everything for me, here’s the notes for the latest proper content patch http://www.swtor.com/patchnotes/12317/game-update-5.1-defend-throne

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Fenryr Grey

Thx, I was referring to http://www.swtor.com/gameupdates

I just redownloaded it and played it for a few min… Combat-animations feel a bit clunky compared to the new animations in WoW… What a spoiled brat I’ve become even in my “advanced” age.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I love the Star Wars IP. Currently I play in just about every X-Wing Miniatures Game tournament that comes up in my area. I’ve played SWG and I’ve played SWTOR and for my entertainment preference I like my SW in a more sandboxy package. I’m one of those players that doesn’t need to be guided as far as what to do. If the game’s mechanics and features give me options, like SWG, and more importantly highly detailed non-combat options, then I can entertain myself for years.

When it’s essentially “ride the rails” and have character dialogue spat at me…gets old fast.

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mysecretid

I recently left Star Wars: The Old Republic behind for a while as well.

Like you, I don’t hate it, but I just lost all impetus to log in when there isn’t new story material available.

For me, the problem remains that there aren’t enough interesting choices of things to do in SWTOR, during the off-content times.

Every MMORPG has some form of repeatable content to help players fill their playtime when new content isn’t happening, but the games I gravitate toward typically have a varied bunch of things I can choose between to occupy my time.

With SWTOR, I always feel like there isn’t enough of interest to do: I can try two different types of PvP (space and ground), but I don’t like PvP any more; I can repeat-grind the on-rails space game (which gets dull quickly), or I can grind various forms of group content for Galactic Command stuff. Flashpoints, Uprisings … all variations on the same idea.

… and none of this makes me want to log in, though.

SWTOR could still be lots of fun, and like you, I expect I’ll go back to check it out again at some point — but they’ve got to make the off-content options more interesting to me — or, at least, more diverse, to keep me coming back.

My opinions, anyway,

Cheers,