My SWTOR Post-Mortem

I cancelled my SWTOR subscription yesterday, although I still have 45 days of playtime left. I felt bad doing it, to be honest. I like Bioware, I like Star Wars, I like “the fourth pillar” of story. Somehow, though, at the end of the day it all came together into something I’m not interested in playing, or at least not interested enough to pay $15 a month to play.

The SWTOR folks clearly did not set out to design a hardcore MMO, which is neat. However, I feel they then fell short on including “softcore”, fluffy things. It’s fine to not have serious PvP, or hardcore raiding, or reputation grinding, or sprawling achievements, but you need to fill that space with other things. You shouldn’t just create a nifty multiplayer RPG and then bolt on a weak version of WoW’s end game.

Let me stress now that even though I am not continuing with SWTOR, I know a fair number of folks are still playing and enjoying it. However, here are a few things that I think would have improved my SWTOR experience:

More Costume Choices: The modular gear was a really cool idea! However, there just wasn’t enough variety in costume gear for my tastes. Jedi gear was always really brown and bathrobe-y, for example. I want crazy alien outfits and parkas and weird sci-fi hats for all classes.

More Race Choices: Under the new Legendary system players can mix up races and factions, creating Chiss Jedi and the like. This was definitely a step in the right direction, but the race selection in general is pretty underwhelming. Human, human with robot parts, blue human, bald human, etc. I totally understand that (I think) it’s a whole lot easier to make armor fit properly if every character is a similar shape, but it felt a little drab. Why can’t I be a mon calamari or a nautolan?

More Mount Choices: Are you sensing a trend yet? The variety of speeders were cool, but again when you have a universe of weird machines and crazy animals, being limited to speeders seemed somewhat staid.

Ship Decorations: This one probably isn’t very surprising considering my housing manifesto yesterday, but I want to decorate my ship. I think the fact that I have a ship is a step in the right direction, but it feels pretty generic. Let me earn flourishes in quests or as part of the Legacy system, and display them on my ship. (A guild ship would of course be amazing, but that seems like a lot to ask for short of an expansion.)

More Involved Crafting: Using your companions to craft is pretty neat and I liked the lengthy completion times for high level items, but even with companions it’s still the standard boring crafting design of picking an item from a list and queueing up several iterations.

Fewer Bugs: The end-game activites were pretty buggy for the first few months of the game. This was also mostly fixed in 1.2, but it was a little too late for me. I was never able to finish the Directive 7 dungeon despite multiple attempts because one of the later bosses was bugged. When learning Soa the Infernal, the final boss in the first raid instance, we wiped due to bugs as often as we did due to strategy errors. New games are new, but it got a little tiresome.

This all being said, there’s certainly a market out there for SWTOR, and it’s a market that has generally been neglected in modern MMO design where levelling is considered a chore that should be finished as soon as possible. I think SWTOR has a great initial levelling experience, and is definitely worth $15-30 for a month or two of that.

For me, though, as someone who usually focuses on one character the game just didn’t have enough obvious fluff to keep me happy. In my experience, once I hit the level cap I found Bioware’s combination of RPG and MMO made each element weaker instead of stronger.

Author: Jessica Cook

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10 Comments

  1. I’ve cancelled, as well. The leveling process was really exciting, and I was really hoping for a great endgame, but I didn’t realize the very jarring shift from involved linear narrative to grindy endgame raiding would be so…jarring. In my character’s story I killed the Big Bad who’d been on my case since Chapter 1 once. And then they were dead. I mean, there was endless “oh no they’re getting away!” that went on up until that Chapter 3 finale, but when I killed the bastard, bastard was dead, dead, dead.

    What narrative reasoning can there be for killing the same entity over and over again? I mean, you start to have to get into the convoluted reasoning that hardcore RPers have to use to justify game mechanics, like the bad guy’s soul leaving the body when you kill them and it manifests in another body so you have to kill them again, and again, and again, or having a cult of followers who resurrect you after you die, or other tiresome examples (cloning in Fallen Earth notwithstanding). But beyond whatever -we- would come up with, the game itself offered no reason to do it, and I didn’t personally find a reason to do it.

    So I didn’t. But it means Bioware’s out their 15 bucks until they come up with some more story.

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  2. Yeah, I cancelled my subscription a few months ago. Cleared out Soa, cleared out the other instances. I just ran out of stuff to do. All of the choices felt limitinng like PvP and dailies.

    As you stated, the lack of selection in mounts and appearances didn’t help either. I stated during my initial thoughts when playing the game, I really felt Bioware could have benefited from more development time. Much of it was definitely rushed, imo.
    Matticus´s last post: Introducing the Conquest Gaming League (Pet battles!)

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  3. I cancelled, as well, though I still have about 60 days left.

    SW:TOR never seemed to reach critical mass. For all of the interest and excitement involved with leveling, the end game seems to fall flat.

    I can ignore a lot of MMO gaming faults; but not boredom.

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  4. I will chime in and say I cancelled last month as well, though I still have a three month sub running out, I don’t plan on logging back in. Not because it isn’t a good game, but because there stopped being a reason for me to get to the end of the game.

    In regards to the story, I played Sith Warrior mainly, and Trooper secondary, and at both times I found the plot not nearly enough to keep me going. Then all I had was WoW-like gameplay with lasers, but not nearly as much stuff as WoW. So, now I’m playing WoW again.

    I’ll echo Idie here: Boredom I really can’t stand by.

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  5. What it boils down to is that is seems like SWTOR is built more for alt-ers than for endgame folks, which is why it’s so perfect for me. I’ve never played an MMO with a leveling story system like SWTOR has, so with the fragmented focus I can give to games now it’s a treat.

    I think without the leveling story I’d probably be bored out of my skull too; I don’t play my Operative much unless I feel like healing something or playing Huttball, but my primary focus is on the seven other class stories I’m not done with yet.

    Possibly when I finish Act 3 on one of everything I’ll be done with the game too; the cases where the story is drastically different between light and dark sides are rare, I think.

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  6. I concur with all of you, unsurprisingly! What comes up repeatedly here is story, story, story. More story!

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  7. I just cancelled yesterday but have 30 days or so left on my sub as well. I still have a small handful of friends left playing the game but it is unlikely I will log in for anything more than a hello possibly during downtime of WoW or Diablo.

    I had a couple of really big problems with the game. The group I play with is very experienced at end game raiding and that’s what we focus on all be it on a what I would term a casual level (2 evenings a week for a few hours each). We completed all the end game raids fairly quick, hard modes as well. The only thing that slowed us down even a little were the bugs on SOA and even so we still had him after a few evenings of attempts. So the lack of a seriously difficult challenge and very limited quantity of content at end game was one problem. My other problem relating to endgame stems from the UI and I guess design of the game. Because of random procs, stacking buffs/debuffs, I spent entirely too much time watching the bottom of my screen and not watching the action in the middle. While leveling you obviously didn’t have to be too concerned with all that but at endgame it was required to play at the highest level possible.

    Lastly like others I’m mostly a one toon guy, even in WoW I never had more than one max level toon in the first 5 years I played. I did finally get a DK to max and start tanking a little midway through the current expansion. SWToR is best enjoyed by people that like alts and also Story. I loved the story but only made to around level 20-30 on 2 alts before I finally gave up. The story wasn’t enough my biggest enjoyment in MMO’s comes from hanging with my guildies in vent and doing endgame activity. Once that was dead, it was only a matter of time before I would give it up. Patch 1.2 probably had the potential to save our guild but too many of us were done and gone before it came out. Which really points to the game just being rushed out at the end which I can certainly understand but I think it’s going to be really difficult for BW to get people to come back like we do over and over for WoW.

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  8. I quit SWTOR too. After reading this blog I spent a bit of time last night thinking about why I quit, since I had really enjoyed the game when I first started. What it seemed to boil down to is that it was a pain in the ass to play the game; it was inconvenient to get places, and not easy to team up for group content. There was a lot of content that I skipped. I did a few 2 man heroics, one four-man heroic and exactly 2 flash points. Then I hit 50 and bitched because there wasn’t any end-game content and quit.

    While I was leveling and playing the story I’d get to a new planet, see the heroics and FPs and decide to come back to them after I picked up some new skills and gear from the planet. But, even though I was in a fairly active guild and had friends that played too, there was seldom anyone I knew on the same planet with me. Since I’m not that great a player to begin with, I hate doing new content with PUGs. So, to get a buddy to play with me I’d have to send out a call knowing that anyone who decided to play would have to 1. ride the speeder to a taxi stand 2. take a taxi to the shuttle 3. take a shuttle to the air lock 4. take the air lock to the ship 5. take the ship to my planet 6. take the taxi to me. That’s a pain in the ass just to play with me. Why would anyone want to do that? Plus, if they were lower level they’d have hell getting through the content, and if they were higher level they’d get nothing for it – no exp and any gear that they received they’d have already outleveled. So, I’d never put out the call.

    After I had already hit level 50 with my Consular I used one of my buddy trial keys and convinced one of my Guild Wars buds that I had frequently teamed with to play with me, and we started new characters together. But, I didn’t get to play as often as he did and he soon out-leveled me. I had played a trooper to mid-level and when he’d get to new planet I’d sometimes go and play the 2 man heroics with him, but I killed his challenge. I could mow through the enemies or stand and take their damage after he’d died until I finally took them down. Unless 2 players are exactly the same place, same level, same gear, the content isn’t good for one or the other of them.

    So, playing with teammates was a pain in the ass.

    Builds – I loved playing with builds in Guild Wars and I came up with several that were unique, progressive and effective. But on SWTOR to change a build you’d have to do the whole travel thing, get to Fleet, go to builds NPC, get ALL points refunded (seriously, can’t you just leave the build like it is and let me move a few points? I’ll pay the same.) create the new build, travel BACK to battle point, try out new build, decide to tweak a couple more points, travel to Fleet, go to… And the prices would increase each time. And the run through the airlock would get longer and longer…

    Yeah, experimenting with builds was a pain in the ass.

    After 1.2 released they came out with the Taris Rakghoul Plague and it got a lot of people to the same place, at the same time, all getting rewards, all playing where they wanted to play, and damn! That was fun! I played some of those quests several times, plus they were adding quests each day – I loved it. Then they quit and cancelled that quest line. The game went back to being a pain in the ass to play. So, I unsubbed.

    I believe I’d still be playing if it wasn’t so inconvenient.

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    • Lovely comment, Draebek! Thanks for posting.

      I often say that I miss “inconvenience” in modern MMOs, but I think you’re absolutely right — SWTOR was TOO inconvenient in many ways. I’m going to have to think about this now, but I do believe you just inspired a post. :)

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  9. Agree very much with this post. I was thinking about this myself only yesterday as I hovered over the cancel button. A random pug invite actually had me enjoying the game as much as when I started, but I still think I’m not likely to last much past the cap. Same issue as Rift, there’s not enough to do beyond killing NPCs or other players’ characters…

    It’s such a rich setting, and KOTOR had more breadth to it than this. Why isn’t slicing a crafting profession with mini-games to take control of enemy outpost security or control droids. Why don’t we have social skills to develop like persuade, intimidate etc? Yes there are dialogue options occasionally but they could have been fleshed out into so much more.

    Since my Jedi Consular can levitate his enemies, why can’t he do the same for himself to avoid a fall???? ;-)

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  1. A Second Look at Inconvenience in Themepark MMOs - [...] response to My SWTOR Post-Mortem from a few weeks ago, commenter Draebek cleverly summed up her reasons for quitting: …

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