Star Wars: The Old Republic – In like a lion, out like a deflating balloon
It’s been out almost six months and SWTOR has seemed to have exploded and deflated, but I still love it. Initially I had a blast leveling up to 50 with my Bounty Hunter, but have since found myself playing it less and less. That particular character that is, not the game. Up until the recent patch 1.2 the end game content was fun, but not exactly challenging by any means. The difference between normal, hard and nightmare modes, consists of merely bosses with more life that hit harder, not the expected mechanic changes. I found myself disheartened by falling into the same MMO patterns of repeating daily quests and blowing through the operations and flashpoints.
More and more people started abandoning the game, making it increasingly difficult to group up with other folks. Weeks would go by and upon logging in, I would literally be the only person in my guild playing the game. On the less popular Republic side, there were many times where there was less than a dozen people in the main Republic hub. I believe the reason for the decline was the delay in the game updates that were put off month after month. This decline in population has lead Bioware to start implementing free server transfers for folks who are fed up with not having anyone to group up with.
Patch 1.2, The Legacy Update, brought with it a new Flashpoint (Lost Island), a new Operation (Denova) and a new battleground (Novare Coast), all of which I have had difficulty experiencing due to a severe lack of players to group up with. People say that a queue system like WoW’s dungeon finder is bad for the social aspect of the game, but I feel that it is not only inevitable that it will come to SWTOR , but necessary to keep people interested in playing.
Don’t get me wrong though, SWTOR is still an amazing game and I have hope for it. I get a lot of satisfaction of going through each of the class storylines, on both faction sides. I still love that questing is more than just reading some text, but an interactive conversation with varying outcomes based on your choices. The Legacy update was designed to make this even MORE fun, but a lot of the benefits introduced in the legacy system are ridiculously expensive to purchase in game, and don’t have a huge impact.
It is unfortunate that this drop in population has come so close to the launch of Diablo 3, which I know will suck away even more SWTOR players. It’s clear that Bioware has big plans for the future of SWTOR, and I’m excited to see them, but who knows how long it will be before the game really hits its peak. Hardcore MMO players may be abandoning it, but I don’t think I ever will. The main reason being, that it’s a beautifully built, engaging and fun STAR WARS game. You can play WoW, Tera, Rift, or any of the billion other MMOs out there, but only one MMO will let you wield a lightsaber, freeze people in carbonite or hang out with a Wookie on your starship.