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Iíve finally figured out what frustrates me about SWTOR. (It isn't that story driven)

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Story and Lore
Iíve finally figured out what frustrates me about SWTOR. (It isn't that story driven)

dalekjs's Avatar


dalekjs
05.31.2012 , 09:26 AM | #1
Note: This is a long post, with a tl'dr at the end, but I'd recommend you actually read it.


Well, three things, which Iíll explain in parts.

Yes, I know that there are other problems in the game, like pvp, insane lag due to horrid engine, dead servers, but those are all known and discussed, so I wonít be talking about them here.


1. It isnít a story driven MMO. Not at all. It is merely an average MMO with voice acting thrown on top of it.

Bioware has produced some of the best stories in video game history. KOTOR, Jade Empire, Dragon Age, Mass Effect (1 and 2) were all unique because the plot of the games drove the player towards the end. They were character driven stories, where you controlled a character whom you shape into who you want him/her to be, and see him grow. Your actions in game had a profound effect on the game world, and you felt a sense of accomplishment whenever you did something. Every action had a consequence, and that resulted directly in creating a living breathing world.

With SWTOR, the development team decided to keep the focus on a character driven story, but this came at the cost of making it feel like a solo game with people running around in it. Whatís worse is that, despite being a character driven game, your character, even at the end of it, is incredibly plain and uninteresting. This is because there isnít any breathing room in the story. Itís all incredibly linear. Youíre always some slave turned sith apprentice, and youíre always some down on his luck guy that got his ship stolen.

Your character is also plain because the story you play has no influence at all on the overall. So youíre now done with the class story and youíre on the dark council? Good for you! That has no bearing whatsoever on anything, ever. It doesnít feel like youíve accomplished anything, because as soon as you leave your instanced story and step into the fleet, youíre going to see many many others exactly like you. All the class stories have almost no bearing or even any relation the main plot going around in the game, which is the cold war between the Republic and the Empire.

Well, you may argue that this is to be expected, and they canít accommodate that many different choices in the class story, so theyíre bound to have it similar to everyone, which is completely true. What should have been done, however, is to make the game plot driven. The game should have been focused on a central plot centered around the cold war, and the class quests should have been a bonus, coming of age side plot.

This makes sense, because in all of the stories, you start off down on your luck and evolve into a massive powerhouse ďI can rule the universe so **** youĒ type. While cool, they are really detached from the main plot and themes of the universe at large. The game should have revolved around, you know, what was actually going on in the universe at large.

Making the plot revolve around the universe at large also presents better opportunities for roleplaying and cooperative play. It makes more sense for the story to push players into a goal of beating the crap out of the opposing faction than it is to play the warrior storyline for the billionth time.

This happens sometimes, but nowhere near enough. Take for example, Tatooine. The main quest in the planet is a treasure hunt, and it is wonderful. Here is a prime example of the story pushing you forward! What is this mysterious power? Where can I find it? How do I stop it? What does it do? Can I salvage it? That Darth guy sure is nice! It presents an interesting outlook on the universe, and can really bring players together.

The problem is that, when there is a worldwide plot instead of the single player class quest, itís marred by bad design choices. The game just doesnít want you to explore. Ever. I was incredibly frustrated whenever I get a warning when I go too far and start losing health. Why would you do this? This just separates the game into distinct zones, and there is nothing at all interesting in them except that there are random quests here. Thereís nothing to take in. All that is available are quests separated by an insanely long walk that would be suicide without a speeder.

Taris is another example. While the central plot of that planet isnít as interesting as tat in my opinion, the plot still drives it. In the empire side, you have this Sith chick who annoys the living crap out of you, and she really pushes you to doing quests. Iíd do the insanely long bonus quests just to spite her.

Again, the planet has some horrible design choices. Iím looking directly at you, bonus quest in a heroic area with a wondering champion and a world boss.


Now youíre wondering, all the examples Iíve given have story and plot, so the game is plot driven! Your examples donít connect with the title! Well, the problem is, these are few and far in between. The game is filled, filled with grind quests. Most of the game is grind quests. The only difference is that these quests, unlike WoW, are voiced. This does NOT make the game plot driven. If the quests in the game are all basic ďgo kill 10 rodentsĒ, then they are not plot driven. You can add all the voice acting in the world and it wonít make these quests relevant to any meaningful plot.

If people want to claim that these quests are plot driven, then by the very same argument, WoW is a plot driven game. Pretty much every single quest in WoW that involves grind also gives you a backstory to motivate you. It isnít voiced, but the meaning and intention is the exact same. There is NO difference between reading about killing 10 rats for the goodwill of the Horde and killing 10 republics because the guy you were talking to hates them. None whatsoever.

All BioWare managed to do is make basic quests like these infinitely more expensive to produce, and there are a LOT of them. They should have made each planet, like Tat, have their own plot that is in direct relation to the story of the world at large, and all questing should be related to this. If youíre going to argue that this takes a long time and is hard to implement, well yes it is. But thatís their job. This is what it takes to make questing plot driven. Having a guy tell you with VO to do the exact same quest that every game gives you does not make a story driven game.

I think of the quests in Guild Wars 2 and think that this is what should have been in SWTOR.


The main story of the entire universe, sadly, is told through irregular disconnected flashpoints. After playing the Black Talon and the Esseles, I thought that BioWare hit a homerun! PLOT! These dungeons were all story driven and incredibly interesting and different. They encouraged interaction, had meaningful decisions, and flat out rocked. I hated the Twilled ambassador in the esseles, and thatís okay. Thatís fantastic, actually, because sheís an incredibly well written character. She made me feel something. She made me think she was an insane stupid idiot jerkface, and that is perfect. She made me feel connected to the game, made me feel like I was a part of something.

Even the bosses were cool. The stupid jerkface told you about this big tough guy Mandalorian, and your thoughts are, ďOh cool! This guy sounds tough. Iíd better be careful where I go.Ē Youíre given some backstory and info into a boss, and I thought that was very cool.

Unfortunately, the design is abandoned IMMEDIATELY afterwords. Each flashpoint after has nothing interesting whatsoever. The story driven style is completely abandoned, and the only thing you get in its place is a quick chat with Malgus or New Bastilla. Thatís it. Oh, and the insanely cliche light/dark choice that you make that has no bearing whatsoever. Itís literrally only just there because BW remembered halfway that these were an important part of forming your character, except that meaningless choices like these have no impact.

The problem is that these have the most connection the world at large. These give you the most insight into whatís happening in the game world. The most that you can get into the universe is a quick chat with Malgus and Bastila before your mission.

This makes me feel that the whole design of the game is broken on a fundamental level that cannot be fixed unless it was completely rebooted. We have a story driven game that isnít story driven thatís filled with cliche quests that have nothing to do with anything focusing on a single player story that has no effect on the universe at large and actively discourages grouping up as a result.

The game fails because it has a whole exciting universe build up, with tension and sith and jedi and everything a Star Wars fan could hope for, but itís focused on all the wrong aspects.




2. They ruined the story of Revan forever.


Spoilers for Kotor 1 and 2, as well as the foundry below:

Spoiler




3.The class stories are not good.



Iím going to start this off by stating that the Agent story is one of the best, if not THE best, things that BioWare has ever done. Ever. This story is brilliant. Every single thing about this story screams classic BioWare, the ones that gave us Jade Empire, not the Mass Effect 3 BioWare. This story is so genius, Iím surprised BW even included it, considering how the Agent is one of the least played classes in the entire game, and has been nerfed to hell and back ever since the first patch.

Most other stories, sadly, are not up to par. The Sith Warrior story is pretty cool, and thatís it basically. Given that the they advertised that the game is story driven with epic plots, having most of the class stories ranging from decent (trooper) to outright terrible (counselor) is not a good sign. With most of the budget going to VO and story development, I really expected them to be better.

With the exception of the Agent story, none of these are anywhere near the quality of past BW titles.

The biggest offender in my opinion is the Jedi Knight story,
Spoiler


I didn't write much here, since this point is subjective, but I was on the whole disappointed with most of the stories.


TL;DR:

1. The game isn't plot driven, it just adds voice overs over the same quests you've seen countless times before, and focuses on the wrong aspects of the story.

2. Revan had no business being in this game, and is a complete contradiction to how he was portrayed in the previous games.

3. The actual class stories are not up to par with anything BW has done before, not including the Agent story, which is genius.

Lionflash's Avatar


Lionflash
05.31.2012 , 09:39 AM | #2
As for your #1

I think that, while yes, what you say is true. You have to consider the restrictions that are in place because of the genre. You can't have a meaningful outcome from a desision because life MUST go on in the world. You can't blow up Alderran because people still need to go there.

Against games like Mass Effect, SWTOR's story is a 4 / 10, but against other MMOs it's story is a 10/10 (IMHO). I forgive it's shortcomings because I understand the restriction on the writters, and Kudos to the IA Story writter for making the best of what he had to work with.

I'm glad they did what they did, and while some stories fall short, there are 100s of them. They can't all be great, but I appreciate the fact that they are there...considering.

trussasp's Avatar


trussasp
05.31.2012 , 09:40 AM | #3
Hi OP:

Well, I would say I agree with at least your first point, more or less in full.

Here's my counter-argument.... I loved KOTOR, and after a year or so away from it, I played it again, and chose the opposite path. It's been so long, I don't remember whether I did light first time through, or dark.

BUT, would I have played KOTOR through, let's say, thirty (30) more times, in rapid succession? I don't think so.

Like it or not, that's what an MMO is. Doing the same stuff, over and over. They build in layers of stuff to make it appear you are not repeating the same stuff, but.... you are.

These MMOs are, by design, rinse/repeat, grind up and redo things, over and over and over.

You can't do the same STORY over and over and over, can you?

Even if they made the best freakin' stories ever in the SWTOR class quests (which I don't necessarily care about in this game, but you, and others like you, did), would the average MMO player be interested in redoing the stories?

Not really.

MMO <> single-player story-driven game.

(typos, sorry...)

SWTOR tried to go halfway between single player and halfway between the MMO crowd, and (it would appear) have satisfied neither group.


SWTOR isn't all that repeatable, plain and simple. Even if the "stories" were the best stories ever, would you really want to hear them, over and over?


The first time I went through Esseles, I listed to all the dialogue, but the 5th time? Uck...
(and therein lies the problem for SWTOR)

MMornard's Avatar


MMornard
05.31.2012 , 09:47 AM | #4
Well, I respect your opinion, but mine differs.

My only regret is that I got to the end of the story with my Jedi too soon. I expected leveling to be more like WoW, where in five years I never got a character to max level. But they've said more content is coming.

SWTOR is KOTOR that I can play with my wife, which is exactly what I wanted. I am happy.

trussasp's Avatar


trussasp
05.31.2012 , 09:50 AM | #5
Hey MMornard:

I would use your post as another area the designers of SWTOR really messed up.

They should have made the levelling curve for SWTOR much much slower.

It took me maybe 6 months to hit level 60 on my first WoW guy.


People hit max. level on this game in like 3 days, which might have possibly been OK if they had tons of endgame content.

Verce's Avatar


Verce
05.31.2012 , 09:50 AM | #6
OP, you completely missed the point imo. It is impossible to actually make 8 different stories that appeal to everyone. The agent story appealed to you, and it alone was worth the box price.

Every story has a different flavor that is set to appeal to a different "crowd". So, working as intended imo.
What can change the nature of a man?

dalekjs's Avatar


dalekjs
05.31.2012 , 09:51 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Lionflash View Post
As for your #1

I think that, while yes, what you say is true. You have to consider the restrictions that are in place because of the genre. You can't have a meaningful outcome from a desision because life MUST go on in the world. You can't blow up Alderran because people still need to go there.

Against games like Mass Effect, SWTOR's story is a 4 / 10, but against other MMOs it's story is a 10/10 (IMHO). I forgive it's shortcomings because I understand the restriction on the writters, and Kudos to the IA Story writter for making the best of what he had to work with.

I'm glad they did what they did, and while some stories fall short, there are 100s of them. They can't all be great, but I appreciate the fact that they are there...considering.
That's true. My point however is that they should have focused on the story at large instead of the character story. There should have been more Tatooine's imo, and that should have been their focus. I'm not saying that there should be life altering decisions like the Alderaan point you make, for instance, but that the main story that drives everything shouldn't be your character story, but the planetary story and the story of the universe at large.

dalekjs's Avatar


dalekjs
05.31.2012 , 09:54 AM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Verce View Post
OP, you completely missed the point imo. It is impossible to actually make 8 different stories that appeal to everyone. The agent story appealed to you, and it alone was worth the box price.

Every story has a different flavor that is set to appeal to a different "crowd". So, working as intended imo.
I'm not saying they don't appeal to me. I'm saying that they are, in general, very poorly written and not up to standard to BioWare's writing in past games. Take, for example, the Inquisitor story. Without going into spoilers, I loved the premise, but I found the delivery sloppy and poorly paced.

Pretty much all of these stories are appealing to me (I am a SW fan after all), but most of them just aren't up to par is the point I was trying to make in my third point.



trussasp :

My point isn't that they're grindy. It's that the game isn't really story driven. Adding voices over cookie cutter quests and calling it story driven isn't really true. If that's the case, WoW is also story driven.

irishfino's Avatar


irishfino
05.31.2012 , 09:56 AM | #9
I had a debate with someone in my guild over #1. My point was yours: this doesn't feel like an MMO. It's me doing my story and a whole bunch of other people doing the same/similar in the same space. We went back and forth for a bit before I realized I was getting no where and went to solo low level flashpoints because I have nothing else to do.
I'll probably die if you group with me, but I'll go out with both lightsabers drawn stabbing someone in the face. Probably you, but it's cool. Forever Shenanigans!!

MMornard's Avatar


MMornard
05.31.2012 , 09:59 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by trussasp View Post
Hey MMornard:

I would use your post as another area the designers of SWTOR really messed up.

They should have made the levelling curve for SWTOR much much slower.

It took me maybe 6 months to hit level 60 on my first WoW guy.


People hit max. level on this game in like 3 days, which might have possibly been OK if they had tons of endgame content.
Well, I'm not a highly skillful player, so it took me about a month playing (for me) very obsessively -- I was on semester break all through January so I played several hours a day. I also did every side quest.

But yes, I wish leveling took longer, I agree. To some extent it was my own fault -- my wife and I play together, so we double-teamed every enemy we encountered. But still, leveling seemed to happen awfully fast.

Actually, I don't care if I level any more; I'd be perfectly happy with more Jedi story that didn't even give you any rewards other than playing through the story.