Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic can’t seem to reclaim its footing

Several years back, maybe in the vicinity of 2015, I would have had no qualms putting SWTOR in the top five of MMOs, both in population and overall quality/content offerings. The base game was simply huge with eight class stories. Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan were two really meaty expansions, and on top of that the game added space combat and housing.

But then we got into the Eternal Throne expansions, and after the initial boost of excitement, there was a sharp fall in enthusiasm and engagement. For the first time, there was a lot of content but not quite the quality and engagement. Fast-forward a couple of years past that, and the game saw its smallest “expansion” to date (Onslaught), which players zipped through faster than a Guild Wars 2 DLC drop.

There was so much riding on last week’s Legacy of the Sith expansion — especially after a multi-month delay — and instead of returning the game to form, it immediately disappointed pretty much everyone. The content was just as skimpy as Onslaught, and on top of that, the game’s UI got a loathed rework and classes were monkeyed with in unhelpful ways. BioWare got *pummeled* on the release, and you could sense many people holding back a bit even so because they knew that BioWare’s SWTOR team is understaffed and lacking the resources to pull off another big expansion.

It’s honestly sad, and this is coming from someone who genuinely likes the game — and liked it when I played it last month. It’s never fun watching a property that you enjoyed decline into irrelevance, but this is exactly what I fear is happening to SWTOR. If Legacy of the Sith is the absolute best that BioWare can put out these days — for its much-ballyhooed 10th anniversary, no less — then what real future does this game have?

SWTOR was always a really expensive game to create new story content for (Secret World hears your pain), but after 10 years, I would’ve hoped BioWare would have found a faster and more economical way to deliver more narrative and planets without a two-year wait… and disappointment at the end of it.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Unleashing an Onslaught

With Ossus done, there’s a very brief interlude before Onslaught begins. I imagine that this was a “gotta give them some story to tide them over” stuff during a pre-expansion lull a few years back, because it’s the very definition of fluff. Both Republic and Empire are getting worked up to butt heads once more, and my Agent really couldn’t care less about either side. Unfortunately, there’s no “factional apathy” option.

One personally interesting fact about SWTOR is it may be the only MMO where I still have and play a character I made on launch day. I made Yeti here back in December 2011, and she’s stuck it out with me ever since. Reading back through my old posts from 2011 sparked warm memories of just how pumped I was for this MMO at the time and how much fun I had playing it.

It’s even more warm and fuzzy for me to know that a decade later, I’m back and having a great time once more.

I spent a session cleaning up some overlooked datacrons on Belsavis. There was this one that is apparently called the “Indiana Jones jump” because it has a similar near-invisible bridge that was featured in The Last Crusade (although this one was holographic or somesuch).

And that officially brought me to the start of the Onslaught expansion! Weirdly enough, whenever I get closer to the end of the current content in an MMO I slow down because I get worried I’ll run out of it too quickly. Of course, Legacy of the Sith is just a couple of weeks away, so this is a silly concern at that.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Home sweet home again

Having accumulated several different housing items over the past month, I figured it was time to actually go put them somewhere. I have a few abodes in the game, although my Operative was designated to a Dromund Kaas apartment suite. It actually may be your basic apartment, but I love it more than some of the other houses thanks to the layout and the rain outside the windows.

But what made me bark a laugh was rediscovering that I had set up this apartment years and years ago… and forgotten it. It was already half-decorated with various decor. I figured that if I was going to drop a subscription in the future to go back down to premium, I best use my credits now — so I unlocked all of the rest of the rooms for use. I also cozied up my bedroom and sat back to enjoy the feel of it.

I also decided that every so often, I was going to dedicate a gaming session to doing some datacron hunting. Since datacrons are unlocked across an entire account, it’s of lasting benefit. So my first was was to wrap up three datacrons I needed on Alderaan, including one that took me on a weird sky tram down to a small island.

I also blasted through Ossus rather quickly. Like, very, very quickly. I thought that this would be a planet with multiple quests, but no, there was just my main storyline and that was it. It was a little nondescript save for some neat futuristic farms.

I’ve also been getting a laugh at how hard BioWare’s writers are hitting the reset button after the Eternal Throne adventures. Like, none of that matters afterward. It really doesn’t. Zakuul gets shoved back into the darkest corners of the closet and forgotten about. The Republic and Empire are back at each other’s throats. Even Darth Malgus shows up again, reminding me that I got his statue in the collector’s edition a decade ago. Missed ya, Big and Ugly! Let me take this opportunity to insult you to your face every chance I get.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: You won’t leave Copero alive!

It’s kind of very relieving to have a character in SWTOR that’s past the Eternal Throne expansions, because this marks the point where BioWare realized that its “let’s turn this MMORPG into a single-player game” experiment didn’t really pay off over the long haul. But as a commenter noted, Iokath — and its trio of associated flashpoints — kind of has a foot in one era and one in another and feels scattered for it.

Oh, it has terrific setpieces, don’t get me wrong. I loved the train flashpoint. Always like MMOs that do at least one dungeon on a train (lookin’ at you, Secret World and World of Warcraft).

And it was a whole bunch of eye candy. I’ve read numerous comments about how dated the earlier planets look in comparison to the later ones. I haven’t really felt that way, but I’ve heard that BioWare is working on bringing the older zones up to par at some point.

My oldest son absolutely loves to sit with me when I play SWTOR, and we have a lot of conversations and observations about what’s happening during these adventures. The Copero flashpoint proved to be unintentionally funny to the two of us. Oh, it’s gorgeous and a lot of fun to go through, but every other mob kept shouting “You won’t leave Copero alive!” That kind of made me think that maybe there’s a lot of corpse exporting going on.

Soon enough, Iokath was over and it was time to put boots on the ground in Ossus. A normal planet! And one that I can approach without all of this Eternal Alliance nonsense. So glad that the writers cast that off, blew up everything, and let us move past it.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Iokath is completely tasteless, odorless, and among the more deadly planets known to mankind

After consulting with my SWTOR guild and a common sense calendar, I came to the conclusion that it maaaaayyy not be the best time to get into a new character. This is for two reasons: I would like to try the mix-and-match creator that comes with the combat styles, and if I’m ever to see the actual new expansion, it might be prudent to invest in the one character I already have at level 70.

So after a year, I returned to my good ol’ Operative Yeti. She was pretty much ready to go right out of the gate, having just finished the Eternal Throne expansions. So to Iokath I go! I mean, I have no delusions of catching up in a month and a half, nor no real desire to speed through brand-new content to me, but it’d be kind of cool to see it in 2022.

One other change that I made was subbing up. It’s been a long, long time since I last did, but since my account didn’t have Onslaught unlocked, I was due to hit both a content and level wall without at least a month subscription. And I figure that in addition to securing the content, I’ll be pocketing some much-needed cartel coins for new character unlocks (assuming that I’ll go back down to preferred).

Iokath so far is… fine. It’s this mechanized planet where a superweapon wiped out all of the biologicals and left a bunch of droids behind. I think SCORPIO is running the show, too. Anyway, the whole place has a bit of a sterile factory feel to it, and after fighting a billion sky troopers in the Eternal Throne chapters, I’m not super-excited to be wading through even more droids.

At least it’s a good proving ground to get back into my combat rotation. I’ve found that some changes have happened to my skills since I last played, which has thrown me off. I’m not triggering tactical advantages as much as I used to, and that limits my abilities. So I think a respec is in order at some point.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: Returning in style

I feel like I have Star Wars on the brain lately. It’s nothing to do with the newer Disney stuff, I can assure you; it’s more just being away from that IP for a while and kind of missing it. And speaking of being away for a while… I also feel those heavy World of Warcraft twinges now and then. It’s been a good while since I’ve been back in Azeroth and there’s something about how WoW’s combat and characters feel I currently wasn’t getting.

Both of these ended up subconsciously and then consciously prodding me in the direction of another MMO, one I haven’t played seriously since almost a year ago. I flirted with a new character back in October, but it didn’t stick due to time reasons. However, this month I dove back into SWTOR and found a perfect solution for what I’m craving.

I splurged to buy a race that I thought looked nifty — the Nautolan — and made a new Gunslinger for some fun adventures in a galaxy far, far away.  I really dig her look, and went with a generally nice if snarky attitude for her interactions.

It’s been a whole lot of fun slipping right back into this game, especially after I found a guild that was just right for me. Chatty, active, not too big, not too small. My first night with this crew and we were planet-hopping to do world bosses. It was a whole lot of fun and fulfilled some of my social gaming needs I’ve been lacking as of late.

A few days before I found the guild, I found Santa Claus. This guy was recruiting some “little helpers” to assist him in forming a one-person guild. I got paid 5 million credits for just standing around for five minutes, which wasn’t too bad at all. And that way I could use a million right off the bat to unlock HK-55 from my legacy panel to use as a companion.

I’ve had a good time playing a screenshot tourist, too. I love the colorful worlds of SWTOR and keep pausing to soak in the details before leaping back into the fray.

With the new expansion on the horizon, I have hopes that I might grow some roots with this game and character and actually stick around to make it through all of the content. That would be an amazing journey in 2022, that’s for sure.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR’s expansion got delayed — and that’s a very good thing

SWTOR hit us with breaking news last week when BioWare abruptly announced that it was going to delay Legacy of the Sith for a full two months. So instead of the expansion coming out on the game’s 10th anniversary this month, it is now scheduled to come out on February 15th, 2022.

The sheer fact that this happened a WEEK before it was supposed to go live raises all of the eyebrows in the world. BioWare didn’t give much of an explanation why other than it needed more time and more testing. There could be a lot of bigger changes being done in response to tester feedback, who knows. Or BioWare just realized how bad it would be to push out an expansion in the wake of FFXIV’s Endwalker and decided that a delay was a lesser evil that might pay off in more success if put out when the MMO landscape calms down a bit.

In any case, my take on it is that this is a good move overall. Endwalker makes this month too crowded already, and when you tack on the busy and distracting holiday season, it widens the avenue for failure. Giving it breathing room, polishing it up, and spend a bit more time talking about it and promoting it.

I suppose if I was in the game at the level cap or had taken a lot of time off to play this expansion this month, I’d be pretty cheesed, but the “when” of the expansion doesn’t impact me. I’m not going to be able to play it until and unless I get a character high enough. The only thing this impacts for me is the expected swell of SWTOR-related excitement that an expansion usually brings.

SWTOR is an MMO I can see returning to, especially now that I have these World of Warcraft cold turkey shakes that hit every now and then. I’m also feeling a slight uptick in my fondness for Star Wars as a franchise these days, so I could easily see myself jumping back in, whether it be on my new Smuggler or my old Agent (or maybe something different).

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR: The new adventures of Paya Perki

Right now during the fall, I need new MMOs to play like I need additional holes in my oversized head. It’s been a long time since I’ve juggled more than two games at a time, and now I’m somewhere around five. Which is stupid, I know, but it’s hard to resist that call when you’ve got the hots for a game. I’ve learned a long time ago that it’s fine to give in to those bursts of interest and see where they lead — sometimes they peter out quickly, sometimes they persist and grow into something great.

So I did, for whatever reason, jump back into Star Wars: The Old Republic lately with a brand-new Scoundrel called Paya Perki. I realize that I have a WoW-sized hole in my MMO life, and this is one of my tried-and-true WoW clones that fits that tab-targeting spot.

So with the mindset that this might be a completely disposable character that there’s no way I’ll be able to get her to the new expansion by the time it comes out, I cast off all inhibitions and simply… played. And it was good. Very good.

There’s that period of time when you return to an old favorite MMORPG that you engage in a whole lot of nostalgic reminiscing. A lot of “oh yeah, remember when you used to be totally sucked into this?” Because that’s what was going through my mind in SWTOR as I piloted my sarcastic Scoundrel along through the main storyline. For a good period of time there, SWTOR was my main jam. I loved it for the story and the setting and the limited ability to roleplay within the developer-created boundaries of the plot.

It’s good to see that this is all still there. Not as good to see some of the more annoying F2P restrictions are still lingering about, but hey, whatever, I’m not going to cry about it. I can run around for 20 levels instead of paying for an earlier speeder bike unlock, thank you.

This definitely fits in the area of “comfort gaming” for me, because it’s not overly difficult or frustrating to engage with, nor is it that demanding on my time. If I want to pick it up for an hour here or there, great, it’ll be waiting. I guess I’m keeping my interest in low gear to see the reception to the new expansion and how much of a resurgence SWTOR receives from it. There’s always the option to kick into high gear in the new year!

Posted in Fallout, No Man's Sky, Project Gorgon, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Villagers and Heroes

Six MMOs that want my attention in 2021

Boy do I feel like I’m in a weird place with MMO gaming right now. Call it a summer malaise or what have you, but it’s that mixture of guilt, restlessness, and a hunger for fresh blogging material that keeps turning my mind to MMOs I’m not playing — but kind of feel that I should. Or might. Perhaps. Maybe at some point later this year.

The delay of New World really threw my summer plans into disarray. Now I’ve got over a month before gearing up for that, so I have some extra time that I could be using elsewhere. Not that LOTRO or FFXIV doesn’t offer enough content to fill those hours, but… restlessness. Freshness. I don’t like getting too stale.

In any case, here are six MMOs that I’ve been contemplating as titles that I want to get to sooner or later:

No Man’s Sky

The recent fifth anniversary thrust this title back in front of my eyes. It always seems like a game that I should like and stick with more than I have in the past, and so it’s always on the docket for another go. I think this might actually be a really fun blog series if I wanted to do a journal run of it.

Fallout 76

It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious F76 play, and this is a good contender for bite-sized explorative play. I’ve never hit level 50 on a character, and I would like to see how the level scaling works from the start. I’m still kind of holding out for a guild and chat system, but that’s not on the immediate horizon, so my feelings are more lukewarm than “MUST PLAY NOW.”

Star Trek Online

My daughter and I have been watching through some Star Trek: The Next Generation — she’s kind of interested in Trek, so I’m low-key encouraging it — and it’s certainly having the result of making me want to head back into the MMO… at some point. Probably in about six episodes, if my track record is a witness.

Project Gorgon

Label this one under a big, all-caps “GUILT,” because boy do I feel guilty that I’m not actually playing this. Allegedly, I’m waiting for a bonafide launch, but that’s just an excuse. The truth is that I know I’m going to have to learn a whole bunch of new systems and figure out what to do, and that takes mental energy I’m not super-willing to expend. Right now. But I should.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

New expansion will come with new hype. But the appeal for me, right now, would be that SWTOR is a good MMO substitute for when I’m craving WoW again. I’m not quite at that point — LOTRO is probably helping, here — but it’s quite possible that I’ll be blasting my way through this during the holiday season.

Guild Wars 2

Another case of “new expansion news brings actual hope that this game has a future instead of stagnation.” I genuinely hope it does. I don’t really care for GW2’s story, but I love so much about this game and want to see it pull out of this nose-dive it’s been in the past few years. Considering that I’m reinstalling it as I’m typing this, there’s a better-than-average chance I’ll be puttering around doing map completion before too long.

Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

SWTOR comes alive for its 10th anniversary

Here’s an MMO I didn’t expect would be making waves this year — Star Wars: The Old Republic. In fact, I didn’t even clock that 2021 was the game’s 10th anniversary until BioWare said something about it.

Boy, 2011 seems so, SO long ago, doesn’t it? I was so hyped up for SWTOR that I couldn’t wait for that December launch, and that initial year was a blast. I’ve enjoyed coming back to it here and there ever since, to varying degrees of interest.

But I may have to make some time to come back this year, and by the sound of it, many other MMO players are planning to as well. This is thanks to the announcement of an actual new expansion, Legacy of the Sith, which is slated for later this year. I would say on the actual anniversary of the launch day, but that’s just me.

From the sound of it, this sounds like a decent-if-not-revolutionary expansion that’s probably the best that BioWare can do with reduced staff and budget. New storyline, more Darth Malgus stuff, and the one feature that has everyone buzzing, combat styles.

If you haven’t noticed, SWTOR has never added a new class in its entire decade run so far. Probably never will, because a new class would — for this game — require a whole new class storyline and voice work and tons of other assets that BioWare does not have the spare money to make. Perhaps the studio could do something like WoW’s “heroic classes” and have a new one start out at a higher level to jump over the regular class storyline leveling, but still… that’s a lot of new assets.

So instead of a new class, BioWare’s doing the next best thing which is to allow players to mix-and-match classes with class storylines. This is done within boundaries, mind you. All “tech” (non-Force users) classes can pair up an advanced class with a different’s class storyline, and the same for all Force classes. So you can experience the Bounty Hunter’s storyline using a Smuggler’s playstyle, or a Jedi Knight’s storyline with a Sith Warrior.

It’s actually a clever idea that will help to inject some interest in rolling up alts and giving established players a new way to experience the game. I don’t know if there are any combinations that have me buzzing, personally, but I’m sure it’s going to help SWTOR get some people back and stay relevant in this important anniversary year.