The Old Republic and WoW …

Josh over at Twenty Sided Tale played a brief demo (about 15 minutes) of Star Wars: The Old Republic and wasn’t impressed:

Basically, in his short play it seemed to him like it was the same as World of Warcraft in terms of combat and classes, and that in order for it to succeed in its lofty goals it had to be different.

Well, I played a demo of the original WoW for longer than that (free trial) and I didn’t see how WoW, when it started, was all that much more innovative than anything else at the time.  I was coming from Dark Age of Camelot and City of Heroes, and found my initial play of WoW underwhelming.  Both CoH and DAoC actually had more diverse classes and powers than WoW did, in my opinion.  I tried an Undead Warlock first, played it for an hour or so, and then got bored and tried a Dwarf Paladin, but it all felt the same.  In CoH, each archetype played significantly differently, and even inside the same archetype powersets could make a huge difference.  Each Realm in DAoC felt different enough to make it interesting.   That was missing, at least for me, in WoW.

As for combat … it didn’t stand out.  There are, essentially, MMO conventions that most games will follow in some way.  Part of that is how fighting works; WoW used a slight variation of what went on at the time, and it sounds like TOR is doing the same.  And that rigid class structure with racial restrictions is an RPG convention, so it’s hard to say that TOR is copying WoW to do that.  Any game that actually has races has that sort of restriction, and it seems to add to a game, in general.  If any of the KotOR games had had races, they would have had these restrictions and we would have loved the games even more.

I’m not going to comment on whether or not TOR will be a WoW-killer, at least in part because I admit that no one — not even Blizzard — has any idea what made WoW into the behemoth it is.  I do think that unseating it is made even harder by the sort of attitude that Josh is displaying here: comparing it to WoW and saying “Well, it’s just the same as it; we need innovation.”  Well, games have innovated, too, and that didn’t work for them either.  But if you go in trying to determine if the game is as good as WoW, an awful lot of the time you’ll convince yourself that it isn’t, or it’ll disappoint you.

I, fortunately, don’t have that problem.  I didn’t like WoW that much.  I liked the demo I played of Lord of the Rings Online a lot better, probably at least in part because the theme was interesting and played well into it.  I’d much rather play CoH or even DAoC than WoW.  Thus, I can treat TOR like its own game, and judge it on its own merits.

So, what would TOR have to be to get me to play it, and keep subscribed to it (as long as I do subscribe to a game)?  The big thing is: let me feel like I’m playing in the Star Wars universe.  Ultimately, I’d like TOR to use simple, standard combat mechanics … and subordinate it all to theme.  To, heck, even have limited combat abilities like KotOR had … but ramp up the display to make it look cool.  Use dramatic and cool music to highlight it all.  Yeah, maybe I’m asking for style over substance, but that’s what I want from TOR: a decent game that makes me feel like whatever class I am, as part of the Old Republic.

If they pull that off, I’ll play it.  And I’m gonna bet I won’t be alone.

If they pull that off, maybe they’ll pull enough people from various places to make their 1-2 million subscribers.

They almost certainly won’t if they try to do what Josh says they should, which is make a new game violating RPG and MMO conventions just to feel different.  Unless they managed to do that and what I suggest.  But do you know how hard that is?

Even WoW, as far as I can tell, didn’t manage it …

One Response to “The Old Republic and WoW …”

  1. davenycity Says:

    great blog thank you

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