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.