Sunday, January 22, 2012

SWTOR Endgame: What's there and what I'd like to see

I quit playing World of Warcraft twice. The reason I quit both times were similar: it became boring. 

I started playing WoW about a year before the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Between work and class, it took months to reach 70. After that, I hit somewhat of a brick wall. I didn’t like PVP (at the time) and the raiding group I was in was horrible. It wasn’t a question of skill. It was more or a problem with getting started. We’d schedule the time for eight and wouldn’t start until 10. Someone wouldn’t show (which happens), someone needed to do something “real quick” or half the group would go AFK at random intervals.
When we did get started, we could usually take down the enemies within a reasonable amount of time. The downside was that once the fight ended; there was yet another round of waiting. I’d talk to people who would clear Kara in a matter of hours while it took us two nights. 

I tried raiding with other groups, but ran into similar problems. Half of us would wait 30 minutes for everyone else to show up, someone would leave without warning halfway through a fight or everything would implode. There’s no guarantee that a raid group is good. Sometimes a person’s off night costs the raid. There were very few times that I had a successful raid. 

Wrath of the Lich King came out; I leveled up to 80 through the dismal Northrend and again found myself with nothing to do. Only this time, there was no expansion on the way. Between planning a wedding, finishing up my last semester of college and a general lack of stuff do, I quit. 

The second time I played WoW, I only PVP’d. I helped with lower level raids for guild achievements but that was it on that front. I quit month later because TOR’s release date was approaching and I didn’t have anything to do. Rolling more characters to drag through the same quests I didn’t care about wasn’t appealing.

I don’t dislike raiding. When the raids went well or we were actually doing something, it was enjoyable. I had no desire to do it when I returned to WoW and don’t care to in The Old Republic.  I suppose that’s one of the reasons that endgame content isn’t nearly as a big deal to me as it is to others.

There is no doubt how vital good endgame content is. Without, there’s nothing for players to do once they reach max level. The content should pose a challenge. Because I prefer PVP, I’d like to see a 50s only warzone or something like that. Ilum poses all types of problems. Two days ago, Executive Producer-Live Services Jeff Hickman announced that players who took advantage of a bug on Ilum in the Jan. 18 patch would be punished in some way. Players were camping at the enemy bases after taking the various control points on the planet and killing to earn valor.

 Now, I completely understand why this would be frustrating. It makes it difficult to complete the dailies. Players who knowingly took advantage of the bug to increase their value levels rapidly were wrong. It’s fair to take back some of the valor those players earned unfairly. Neither party is free of blame. The players chose to take advantage of it and BioWare didn’t catch the bug in testing. Exploiting bugs happens in MMOs. It happens in console games. Thankfully, it didn’t take BioWare long to deal with the problem. 

This issue brings Ilum to question. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s a PVP world. I want to know what’s going on with it because that’s the type of play I prefer. I don’t know what they should do with the world to make it better. Maybe placing most of the dailies in non-PVP zones would work, and then leaving a few in the open area. That way, players could at least complete some of their dailies.

It reminds me of Tol Barad. Your faction had to win control to complete a group of dailies. You could do the ones on the other side no matter who had control. Winning Tol Barad, at least on my server, was a pain. It wasn’t a good system. 

I don’t know what a good PVP scenario would be for only 50s. I’m not a game developer. There needs to be something done, whether it’s fixing the problems on Ilum or bringing in a new 50-only warzone to give the max level PVP players something else to do.

At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to compare TOR to WoW. WoW has had years to perfect the game. There was a two-year gap between the times I played and I noticed countless improvements. New games have bugs. They don’t have as much content as ones that have been out for years. Players coming from games with lots of content and things to do, like WoW, may feel bored by the lack of options.

One of my favorite additives to WoW was the achievement system. Players could earn titles, mounts and other rewards by completing the objectives. The list is so long that it gives players plenty to do with their time once hitting max level. TOR is only a month out from the launch date. Players now are at the ground floor. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.
I don’t feel like I can predict if the game will succeed or fail. That it’s Star Wars will keep it going for a while. With the story and voiceovers, it takes longer to reach max level than other games. There’s enough to do 1-49. For casual gamers, they could play the game for a couple of months, working on characters until the endgame content matters. Some worlds you play for all classes, but those quests are broken up by the unique class story quests. In addition, you can pick different Light/Dark alignments to mix it up. 

The hardcore gamers suffer. While they aren’t the main portion of the market, they’re still part of the customer base. 

The most important thing BioWare can do right now to ensure the survival of the game is focus on activities for players to do at max level, be it a new warzone, releasing a harder raid or adding in some sort of fun system like WoW’s achievements. Or something else.

The main thing for people debating on playing the game should keep in mind is that it is fun. It’s an enjoyable game to play. There is enough content to do at the moment, what with leveling up the various classes.

It’s not perfect (no game is), but give it a little room to improve just as if every other MMO needs to do. The short attention span lifestyle hurts all games. Players want more and more at faster rates than the developers can do. At some point, consumers need to give some—and the companies should give back.

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