Rejecting the endgame

As with many of you, I suspect, the fun of MMOs for me is the journey and not the destination.  I’ve never, ever been a fan of the so-called “endgame”, with its repetition, small and sparse increases in character power, and its dissimilarity with the game that came before it.  There gets to be a point where you have everything  you need to be successful outside of raids (which are are vicious catch-22 loop of “you need more gear to raid more raids to get more gear”), and so I’m usually content investing my interest elsewhere.

This is particularly true in my current state as a gamer who operates in with a reduced time budget and has to make decisions between going all-out in one MMO versus casually in many, investing a ton of effort into maxing out a character for the heck of it or being satisfied that she can hold her own against solo content at the level cap, and Skittles versus Starburst.  (Skittles is the correct answer, by the way.)

Thus, hitting level 50 in SWTOR last night didn’t present a career crisis that I’ve gone through with other endgame characters in the past.  I’m fully aware of what SWTOR’s endgame is right now and have little desire to participate in it apart from the occasional flashpoint with guildies.  Instead, I’m going to wrap up my Agent’s adventures in her storyline, finish up with her companions’ stories, and move on to a second character.

I want to say that I’ve shown remarkable restraint sticking with just one character all the way through the game up to this point.  The alt itch is so strong that it’s almost irresistible, and I’m giddy at the prospect of trying a different class, storyline, and faction (next up is a Jedi Counsular, believe it or not).

I’m not especially down on SWTOR for its lackluster endgame because I was never under the impression that BioWare had somehow cracked the code to make story-based content infinitely repeatable and enjoyable at the max level.  Two months after launch and I’ve definitely still in the camp of “this is a great game, tremendously fun, needs work, it’s not perfect but it is one of the best storytelling MMOs I’ve ever seen.”

We’re waiting to see what BioWare has in store for more solo content come next month, and I am curious if they’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve of players devouring this hard-to-create content.  Probably not, but considering that I still have seven classes to go and with a current rate of two months-to-endgame, the studio has a year or so to crack that before I’ve tapped this well dry.  Looking at this year’s release schedule, I suspect that I’ll have a few detours in my future anyway, and having a couple untouched classes to eventually come back to in SWTOR seems like a smart idea.

As for the Agent, I do want to say that it turned out to be everything I hoped for and more — the story in particular has so many intriguing twists and turns that it would make a slam-bang Star Wars flick if wishes could make it happen.  Going healing spec was interesting but not horrible, as it allowed me to get through some incredibly difficult fights, but having the ability to stealth as an Operative is just bliss.  I don’t know how non-stealth classes do it, since sometimes you don’t want to fight every two feet toward your objective — you just want to get there.  Plus, it’s a fun mini-game trying to figure out how to creep by everyone without triggering their alarm, using your stealth abilities to help out with it.

Big thanks to my guild, the Imperial Mercenary Corps, for being a delightful and steady bunch of gamers who were always around for runs and chats.

14 thoughts on “Rejecting the endgame

  1. rowan February 17, 2012 / 12:32 pm

    I only see one thing wrong with this post: It’s gotta be STARBURST, baby!!

    I agreethat end-game in general is not where the fun is, and SWTOR in particular. Keeping with the story-based theme, would we enjoy the summer rerun season at all if every week the exact same episode aired for that show? Welcome to Raiding!

    I’ll level my alts, thank you. Though all urgency to finish my Assassin’s story died with end end of the first chapter, and achieving Legacy status. I will get there eventually, but being evil all the time is exhausting.

  2. RyanRMC February 17, 2012 / 12:35 pm

    While I joke with you in chat, I respect your decision to avoid the boring grind of dailies and farming currency for gear. It’s certainly made the game less fun for me, as I bridge the gap between level 50 gear, and appropriate gear to start running the operations.

    That being said, there are some fun flashpoints and heroics still at 50! Make sure you get a group for the 2 part Ilum flashpoint. Ill run through it with you some weekend if you are interested.

  3. Telwyn February 17, 2012 / 12:53 pm

    Spooky, I was just writing a post about endgame and this pops into my Google Reader! I’m done with traditional PVE endgame as well. SWTOR certainly rewards you for playing multiple runs through so I’ll do just that.

    Actually the only endgame I’m interested in seeing is how the politics system in Tera works out. I won’t buy the game on its current merits (action combat, cutesy graphics) but want to see how the European community develops post launch and whether the politics endgame actually works in reality.

  4. Tommith February 17, 2012 / 1:30 pm

    Prepare to have your mind blown syp. Starbusts makes an ice cream that you can put skittles on! BOOM problem solved.

  5. Asmiroth February 17, 2012 / 3:11 pm

    I’d be curious as to the social benefits you had on the travels. I found that TOR was essentially a single player experience with guild-chat. That single player experience is amazing, granted and my alts are a pile of fun. I just wonder why pay 15$ a month for a single player game?

    Buying the game expecting KOTOR3 was about 95% correct. I’m happy with that purchase.

  6. Spidubic February 17, 2012 / 3:32 pm

    I had high hopes SWTOR would last me a long time but sadly it failed. Or I failed. Hit 25 on my Jedi Sentinel and grew bored. Created a Trooper alt and found after level 10 pretty much everything was a repeat outside the character storyline. I met the same NPCs who offered the same quests my Sentinel had done. Ugh! Jumped over to the Empire side but by that time SWTOR had lost the magic.

  7. Yeebo February 17, 2012 / 10:41 pm

    I have yet to hit 50 on my main, but I’m not planning to hang around in the end game very long when I do. I want to try the end game options out a bit, but my plans are essentially exactly the same as yours. See companion storylines, proceed to alt.

  8. Leyxa February 18, 2012 / 8:42 am

    Well. I just got level 50 on my agent last night as well, although I played as a sniper. My first character — a Jedi Shadow — has been level 50 for about a month. How do you deal without stealth? It’s surprising how many packs of mobs you can skirt around on a speeder. But otherwise, you just blast your way through everything.

    I can say that I mostly enjoyed the consular’s storyline. There were a few spots that were a bit rough, but things came to a pretty explosive finale. The consular may have the best of the inevitable betrayals as well (I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there is an inevitable betrayal in a Star Wars storyline).

  9. Syp February 18, 2012 / 10:06 am

    @Asmiroth – Well, like with any MMO, your social experience depends on how much you’re willing to group or not to. I was, and ran probably 20 or so flashpoints and teamed up numerous times for hard missions. Plus, I genuinely enjoy seeing people in the world around me (and have helped any strugglers out that I saw), so I’d say that it felt just like every other MMO to me. I think the whole “SWTOR is a single-player game” is a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who approached it as such.

    I’d like to ask what social features SWTOR should have that other titles, like World of Warcraft, already do? Is it grossly lacking in some area?

  10. Varakkys February 18, 2012 / 11:33 am

    The correct *question* of course is Skittles versus Opal Fruits

  11. Asmiroth February 18, 2012 / 1:14 pm

    @Syp
    Rift allows me to get right next to a guild mate in 1 button press. The world has next to no loading zones. I have a guild bank. With less zones, I have more people available to play with in any zone and travelling through the zone is much faster than in TOR. Some heroic missions took longer to get to than to actually complete. Rift events are designed to be gotten to in a flash.
    WoW is a bit different now that it’s older and Cataclysm is a super-solo game due to the massive phasing. WOTLK however did some good things having only a few zones, many flightpoints and LFG tools.

    TOR has too many zones with too few people. It’s like every zone is the old Barrens from WoW, huge and a pain to traverse to find other players. I saw too many zones with less than 15 player in it. I remember being on Voss and a guildmate needed help on Dromund Kass for their class quest. It took nearly 20 minutes to get to them and then the help lasted about 30 seconds. Heck, I was 35 I was on Hoth but my level 33 friend was on Alderaan, 15 minutes away. Until he finished his class quest, he couldn’t move to my planet. In a way, it’s too much like the phasing in WoW. Flashpoints worked though, in guilds. It was the only way for me to get into them, no one on the planet ever wanted to.

  12. selly February 21, 2012 / 3:12 pm

    I’m going to have to disagree that skittles are better than starburst. For shame!

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying Star Wars – it always kind of bums me out, what with all the negativity people have concerning it. I’m just a big baby when it comes to that stuff. As for the end game deal, I’m gonna definitely agree with you on that. I totally wasn’t disappointed because I didn’t expect them to put in anything different than what WoW does. Maybe I have a terrible imagination, but I really can’t think of what they COULD do differently.

    Not that I played this game for end game. I did that charade in WoW, and I’m done with it (for the time being). I’m here to play with friends and experience storyline! And I’ve yet to see an MMO that does storyline like this game does.

    You say in your post that Star Wars is one of the best games that does this. I’m curious, because I’ve only played around 5 or so mmos, but… what other games even come close to the storyline in this one? MMORPG, of course – I play plenty of single player games with great storylines!

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