I’ve been back in SWTOR for a bit, trying out the new content. Well, new since I left 2 months after launch. The context for the extra 5 levels (cap of 55 now) is interesting.
See, most themepark expansions add quests in zones to get you to the max level. WoW gives you so many quests and linear content that you only ever need to complete half of it to reach the cap. The rest is just wasted. RIFT had an interesting tactic where there was just enough content, if you took on the grinding quests at the same time. The amount of time SPENT leveling is also very inconsistent. Either they rush you to the end or it takes forever. I personally prefer a more or less linear path in the levels past the tutorial. GW2 tried this and it worked. Well for others, not so much myself.
The thing about GW2 is that there is little to no character progress. From level 4 to level 50, you have essentially the same skills and press the same buttons. If the process wasn’t linear, I think I would have gone crazy. The content you go through is always challenging, since it’s nearly always scaled to your level. I personally have a massive dislike for the challenge in GW2 due to game mechanics (hard to actually see who’s attacking and threat range is massive). I do like that death is common enough to be a threat. I just don’t like the reasons that I’m dying. Like it’s out of my control. So that game is on the backburner for a while.
SWTOR is different. Death happens a lot, not so much as GW2 but if you’re pushing the game, you’re going to die. The new content – Makeb and Oricon – both have exceptionally challenging battles. The Imprisoned One has a regenerative heal and a fair chunk of skills you need to interrupt. At level (53) I could not take him down, using every skill I had. I wasn’t super geared, but more than adequate for the normal content. The last guy on Makeb, no spoilers, killed me a dozen times before I figured the “dance” of the fight. It was thrilling to finish it. Now 55, on Oricon there is a guy called Commander Zoaron. He is easily the most difficult fight I have seen in the game. There are 2 skills that must be interrupted, 1 that you need to move out of range, another you need to break out of. Each hit is like a bus. 10 tried in, multiple strategies, no luck. Back at the fleet now, filling in some gear spots for another attempt. Finally down, but just so.
WoW, as contrast, I think my Monk died twice from 1-90 in combat, and that was poor planning on my part. Zero challenge anywhere, rarely a need to use anything more than 2-3 skills. A druid I started is just stomping through everything. It’s like I’m a god from the start til the end. How does anyone understand how the game plays at max level going through this?
In SWTOR’s case, I feel like the challenge is specific to an encounter. Figure out the puzzle, feel great, move on. In GW2, I feel like the entire game is this weird structure of puzzle/punishment. There’s no real way to solve it since it’s so generic. I really love challenge, especially one that you feel you can overcome and look back upon. It makes the game a heck of a lot more rewarding.