Star Wars

More info from the beta.

Last weekend was the last massive stress test for beta.  There were about 50 servers, filled to the brim.  Many disconnects, corrupt characters, failed connections.  Exactly what a beta is supposed to find but still concerning at this point in the game.  A high level server was supposed to be launched on the 16th, it finally did on the 25th with no notice.  90% of the people can’t access it.  The game is getting another big patch today, what I expect to be the final one since early access starts in 2 weeks.

I’ll put more thoughts up later but for now a quick rundown of the various systems.

Crafting

A tad more complicated than what we see in other games due to the ability to deconstruct items and learn better version.  You have collection skills and mission skills which also collect items but for the rarer recipes.  And one crafting skill per player.  As simple as the system is, it’s inherently broken in that none of the items are currently upgrades to anyone playing the game up until the mid 30s and then stop being useful at final levels.  One particular skill, Slicing, allows you to pull cash out of boxes in the wild – with zero other use.  It’s essentially an ATM skill – so a requirement if you want to be rich.

Combat

If not for the fact that they send 3-4 enemies against you at once, this would be the same as any other game.  The downside to this is that there are only 2 types of enemies throughout the entire game – humanoids and droids.  They look the same at level 1 as they do at level 50, so it’s insanely boring after you’ve killed a few thousand (by level 15, easily).   The feel is the same as all other games, click a button, watch something happen, click another button.  Also, there is a fair amount of skill bloat, where by level 30 you’ll have 2 bars (at least) full of abilities.  That’s crazy.

Class Balance

Melee classes are insanely gimped.  Since there are always 3 enemies to fight, you need to move between them while the ranged folk just stand there.  Really bad for melee tanks.  So out of 8 possible advanced classes, 3 are an a huge disadvantage. Since TOR is keeping the holy trinity (tank, healer, dps) and keeping group sizes at 4, there is a massive lack of healers in the game.  Theoretically, there should be enough but healers don’t level as fast as tanks, let alone DPS, so good luck finding one.  Classes that fill roles are fairly well balanced between themselves but time will tell which are better, especially in longer lasting fights where Force users are at a disadvantage.

Story

This part is well done.  There are a lot of options, though rarely do they have any impact other than light or dark side points.  Still, it’s fun to see what your actions have as consequences.  Light/Dark side only impact appearance, which is unfortunate.  From 1-20 you’ll have a lot of fun with your class quests.  Past that point, those quests are rare as heck.  If you play another character on the same faction, expect to replay a good 95% of the content and story.

Companions

At first they were horribly broken, now it’s only a little broken.  Tanks no longer have armor so lose their value in the 30s and healers pick up the pace.  Having to equip no only yourself but your companion means that you can’t easily swap companions – they will be heavily undergeared.  It’s a very odd thought. You can give them gifts to get small quests but all of them that I’ve see so far as just clicking text boxes.

Interface

Looks and feels Star Wars.  Clean too.  You can’t modify anything, which is VERY odd and some of the basic UI items such as macros, assists, target of target and mouseovers do not exist.  This currently makes healing about 10x as hard as it should be since DPS can’t help the tank and you need to manually click people to heal – so no moving while healing.   No looking for group feature or dual spec either – the latter of which is again making finding healers a pain.

Overall

If you’ve played a themepark MMO before (WoW, Rift, LOTRO, DDO, EQ, etc..) and are happy with what’s there, stay there.  If the story is old, then moving over could work.  If you dislike the mechanics of your themepark, you will be even more disappointed here.  If you’re looking for depth or polish, come back in 6 months.  Many of the systems that have been refined in the past have been reverted to horrible states or are simply broken.  With next to no developer input on the forums, it doesn’t help.

If you’re somewhat casual or new to the MMO sphere, then there’s stuff to see here and you should have fun for a while.

 

The game will sell piles of boxes and have a subscriber drop of 50% or more after 6 months.  I do expect it to be profitable but nowhere near what EA and BioWare are hoping for.