SWTOR: Retro isn’t always the way to go

chap1

Like many current SWTOR players, I was taken aback at the abrupt change in the conversation window that happens with Knights of the Fallen Empire’s chapter 9. Up until that point, SWTOR uses BioWare’s tried-and-true conversation wheel (with its three patented choices!). Then, starting in chapter 9, a good chunk of conversations utilize a much older BioWare design — one that goes all the way back to the original Knights of the Old Republic.

Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but I side with those who say that it’s a budget-saving move on behalf of the studio. As these new chat sessions don’t feature any actual voiced dialogue by your character (just who you’re talking to), I’m sure it saved BioWare money and time to lug in all 16 of the voice actors for additional recordings.

But it doesn’t work. BioWare claimed that this makes for more detailed conversations with additional choices, but… who cares? It’s changing one of the key systems of a story-based MMO in midstream with no convincing in-game explanation for it. No one was clamoring for it. It doesn’t add to the experience. And it’s distracting enough that it’s making gamers like me take time to complain about it.

It’s not a deal-breaker, of course, and at least the main storyline still has a lot of cinematic interactions with the traditional conversation wheel. I continue to be impressed by how much the game’s involving multiple companions during cutscenes — last night, the Gravestone’s engineer even had a funny interchange with HK-51, which I would never have expected BioWare to program (considering not everyone got this HK).

chap2

I am pretty excited about how the game’s opening up during this chapter to send me around the galaxy to round up an alliance of influential folk for this campaign. It’s nothing new to the studio, of course; BioWare’s been doing this sort of thing in Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition, and I guess figured that why not go to the well again? I love the studio, but it does like to repeat its own techniques and story beats a little too often.

At least it gives me a lot to do with the promise of interesting interchanges. I would have been really disappointed if the story had just abruptly ended here and made me wait until 2016 for the next part. As it stands, I’ll have my hands full for the next couple of months on this character alone — and I haven’t even gotten my Smuggler into the new expansion yet!

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5 thoughts on “SWTOR: Retro isn’t always the way to go

  1. Jaedia November 4, 2015 / 11:07 am

    Wow, that sounds kind of jarring.

  2. Trippin Ninja November 4, 2015 / 2:57 pm

    I was also taken aback when this popped up in chapter 9 but then I thought about the alternatives and agreed this is probably the best method for Bioware to go with if they can’t afford to fully voice it all. Alternatives from the past were either a console to click with missions or the generic npc voice overs that just play in the background as the typical quest box pops up. In my opinion the old school Kotor style they use now is at least slightly more immersive than its alternatives seen in past expansions.

  3. dwhisper November 4, 2015 / 7:29 pm

    Agreed… this was straight-up turd polishing to development / cost shortcuts, trying to sell it. If it was a one-off, I may go with it… but after all of the production values leading up to it, it simply doesn’t feel right.

  4. ZombiePirate November 5, 2015 / 4:22 am

    This conversation thing only happens for Alliance contacts though. Not saying it’s right or wrong, but it only happens in Alliance. None of the other parts of the game use it, just the dealings you have with the main contacts in your base and then companions that you unlock thereafter.

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