I had been holding off on trying SWTOR until I finally got a computer that would actually run it. I decided to subscribe after reading up on the restrictive F2P...restrictions. Now, after having played 8 characters up to around level 20 and sampling what the game has to offer, I've decided not to resubscribe. Now please don't interpret this post as me dumping on your favorite game, I know just about everyone reading this swears by SWTOR and sees it as the future of how they waste their time for years to come. This is simply a list of issues I had with gameplay and basically why I had absolutely no fun playing it.
I'll start with the things I actually liked about the game. Graphics and sound were, for the most part, top-notch. I had some issues with pixelation around water and/or glowing things, but I moved a setting in options and that cleared it up. The music was exceptionally good, combining just enough John Williams with original ideas. User interface was fine for the most part; nothing innovative but nothing redundant or unnecessary, and very customizable.
The "tutorials" were immersive enough, although I found a disparity in their difficulty levels. The inquisitor's final quest seemed entirely too difficult (I assume pulling to the ledge and force pushing the droids all off is not an exploit, because that's the only way I could do it) and the trooper had an extremely tough quest in the final base on Ord Mantell (apparently you're SUPPOSED to keep zoning back out to med up after every kill to wipe aggro? If so, that's really cheap).
I had never played any of the KOTOR games, so I didn't have any sort of expectations or issues with lore (I understand Korriban is completely wrong, having read some chat ingame). Let's face it, we all love Star Wars. And this game has most of the necessary aspects of Star Wars; starships (well...), lightsabers, droids, an empire, the Force, bounty hunters, wookiees, you get the picture). I never had any problem "believing" i was in a galaxy far, far away. Sure, I missed stormtroopers, TIE fighters, Fetts and R2 astromechs, but SWTOR gives you at the very least an homage to all of that. Combined with the music, it felt cinematic enough for a video game.
Having said that, I very much felt like I was playing a modded version of Mass Effect 2. SWTOR doesn't feel very much like an MMO to me. In fact, during most of my adventures, all those other players seemed more like a liability than a living breathing gaming community. I constantly found myself switching to instances of the worlds with fewer players. I'm sure this hasn't always been true, but IMHO right now SWTOR seems very overcrowded, and not in a good way. I've never seen the amount of resource ninja looting in any other game I've played than I endured in SWTOR. It's a pet peeve of mine, I guess. To do the heavy lifting while mouthbreathers run up and just take take take. It was problematic enough for me to mention in this diatribe, and it caused my blood pressure to rise. So, too, did the need for seemingly everyone to "assist" me with every pack of mobs I engaged. I constantly found myself having to scramble to AoE a pack before "Dirk Skyjumper" ran to my aid, robbing me of quest mob kill credit or quest drops. There were times when quests that should have taken 10 minutes took an hour....because of other players, either because there was simply nothing to kill, or from all the unsolicited "help" I received. On the other side of that, I realize they're trying to do the quests too, but that just reinforces my point...I don't think SWTOR was designed for a heavy population.
Gropuing in the game seemed....well, forced, to me. Basically the result of blind invites (and there were many of those, espeically right in the middle of combat with elites....) I can only assume there was actually a person behind the keyboard. They never typed anything in chat though, not even a "hello" or "thx dewd" or "is it ok if I roll need on everything that drops even if I can't use it?". In short, I felt like my fellow players were either all 10 years old, or (based on what I was reading in general chat) some of the most hateful, misanthropic jerks in the world, or playing while alt tabbing out watching Karl Pilkington videos on Youtube (Disclaimer: I also love Karl Pilkington videos, but I don't watch them while I'm running Esseles). Speaking of Esseles, this is really the only serious "dungeon crawl" i did in a group, and for whatever reason, it took over 2 hours to complete (maybe the other guy hadn't done it either. We had trouble on the next to last boss IIRC, and at one point I glitched and found myself at the very bottom of the ship, and had to map out and run back). After that, I had no desire to invest that sort of time or frustration in flashpoints, or heroic quests for that matter.
Questing in general was repetitive, but I've played enough City of Heroes and DCUO to expect and tolerate this. I don't think there's a computer mainframe on Hutta I haven't hacked into. Some of the "dungeons" felt really long, causing me to stay up a little later than I really wanted to just to get finished and get back to the quest hub. That's not a testament to how great the game is, but rather the driving need to never have to go back, if you follow me. The story-driven quests are definitely a positive in my mind, and the dialogue and "acting" are better than the prequels IMO, but I highly doubt the typical MMO gamer of the 21st century has the patience (or the time) to listen to it and have an immersive experience).
Having tried all 8 "flavors" of classes (but not their mirrors) I have to say that I found myself feeling very underpowered and frustrated while leveling up to 20. I didn't find any of the classes particularly easy to play (all I read on the forums was how facerolly mercenary and sorcerer are, yet I struggled as much with those classes as I did with guardian and sniper. I think we decided (we being the brain trust that is Fleet general chat) that I wasn't keeping myself or my companions geared enough....from levels 1-20........Here's my problem with that; if quest rewards aren't good enough to keep yourself and your companions geared in order to function in the game without someone holding your hand....what's the point in even offering quest rewards? As a newbie, I don't have millions of credits to blow on blues or oranges/mods to "stay geared up" in order to function at the basest level of soloability. Bascially I just felt like I was spending more time reviving my companions and meditating than actually playing the game. Obviously doing heroics and flashpoints would alleviate that...trivializing quest content in the process. There's just no middle ground, besides making gear yourself.............
.........which in SWTOR is more of a full-time timesink than it EVER was in Star Wars Galaxies. Crafting (along with housing and space combat) is one of the few things I praise SWG for, and it puts the crafting in SWTOR to absolute shame. Somehow SWTOR has managed to make its crafting system far less engaging or interesting, yet 100x more tedious and time-consuming (even with 20 companions running crew skills while you're adventuring, you're going to be hard-pressed to make those upgrades at a useful time in your career if you don't literally pause and stand around for a couple days at a time, lest you find your bags full while you're trying to become a Revanite or applying your crafted solution to hydrosupplies (by the way, the Black Bisector questline was definitely worth the fifteen bucks, but only once...). I will admit, SWTOR's crafting is a lot deeper than I expected (and coming from a game like SWG, my expectations were pretty high) but ultimately I ended up taking gathering skills on most of my toons after becoming frustrated with how long the crafting professions took to yield tangible results.
Now on to my biggest gripe in the entire game...space combat. Unacceptable. I recall saying the same thing when SWG was launched, and they did something about that fairly quickly. Don't get me wrong, I did the missions, and I made myself enjoy them, because this is Star Wars (the music says it is anyway) and space combat is part of the package, no matter how poorly designed or implemented (or blatantly ripped off from the Starship mini-game in Clone Wars Adventures...). At least they put starship upgrades in SWTOR....and that counts for something at least...although it's too bad they cost more than any newbie to the game could ever afford at an appropriate level (grade 2+). Here is what I don't understand. LucasArts owns the rights to every Star Wars game ever produced, right? (will some pencil-pushing fanboi swoop in and throw an "actually" at me? Let's find out...). What is stopping them from allowing BioWare to include the code for TIE Fighter or X-Wing Alliance or even SWG:JTL into this game?? I'll have to say that the space combat in SWTOR, while visually stunning and all, is probably the most disappointing aspect of this game about wars in the stars. The ships look absolutely ridiculous with their physics-altering barrel rolls and 360-degree firing arcs. In a game that seems to be hell-bent on immersing you into the Star Wars mythos, when I'm at the controls of my transport ship that's more maneuverable than 1-man fighters 3000 years in the future, playing a literal copy of a mini-game from Sony's Star Wars game (also licensed by LucasArts...?????), there's just a huge, unsatisfying disconnect, a lot of eye-rolling, and a lot of fantasizing about what it SHOULD be like.
About the only other thing worth mentioning in this treatise on why I won't be playing SWTOR anymore is the community, well, in my opinion, the lack of a community. I rolled characters on 4 different servers, just so I could get a taste of the different communities; a PVE server, a PVP server, an RP server, and a european PVE server. Here's what I've found; no difference whatsoever. Everyone seems to be in a very bad mood, that's the only way I can describe it. Is it gamers in general? 2 generations of curmuddgeons with no social skills and a jaded world perspective? Or is it a playerbase who are just as disappointed with the game as I am, but refuse to admit it because this is Star Wars and they "bet it all" on SWTOR? I'm leaning towards the 2nd, and here's why. Yes, there are jerks in every MMO, especially F3P MMOs. I just feel like there are a lot more in SWTOR, proportionately, than in other MMOs. I certainly made efforts to join a good guild, I just couldn't find one. I found three types of guilds; none of which were desirable; 1). The "stand in the newbie garden and recruit every level 1 that comes out of the story instance" guilds, whose highest level member is usually the one recruiting, and whose membership consists of players who are going to delete the toons in less than an hour", 2). The "we're a helpful casual family" guild, comprised of no more than 3 or 4 players who hardly ever log on and don't really socialize when they do, and 3). "One Hundred Twenty-Seventh Legion of the Honorable Sith Empire" is now recruiting, must have vent and raid availability 16 hours a week, go to this website and tell us your life story as part of the application process, you will be evaluated for 12 weeks for consideration as a member of our well-respected gaming community that spans 30+ MMOs. Now, those are all exaggerations......but truly, are they?...
As far as roleplaying on the roleplaying server(s)....I didn't really see any. The only "role-playing" i saw at all was level 50s slowly walking through the jedi temple on Tython. And not just one or two players.....like......50. I mean, is that really the fun thing to do? Is that your idea of roleplaying? I tried my darndest to roleplay as a Sith Warrior and was told to "SUTF"...(yeah, a typo by a player with both hands free) by one of those level 50 Darths walking in the sith temple. Needless to say, I had my fill of "roleplaying" within 10 minutes....Now, I'm betting there will be all sorts of people who attest that they are in an active roleplaying guild and I don't know what I'm talking about. Well, I probably don't....but....where were you?
I realize that I've only really seen 20% of the game at most. And I'm sure the other 80% is just boffo. But it's the journey folks, and the journey isn't particularly fun, you see? There's no way I can possibly suffer through 35 more levels of SWTOR just to see an endgame that may be just as frustrating as the early levels. After having played for a month, my own personal impression is that SWTOR is not a casual-friendly game, and it is certainly not a newbie-friendly game. In fact, I would unfortunately have to put it as the #2 least newbie-friendly MMO of all time (FYI, #1 is, and probably always will be, SWG).
the TL;DR I suppose would be "thanks, but no thanks". With SWTOR, I find myself waiting most of the night to pass before I log on, so there won't be as many players on. Is that because I'm anti-social? Well, not really. I don't mind being social at all....with people who aren't complete jerks. Harsh? Yes. Trutful? I think so. Remember me talking about Clone Wars Adventures? On a lark, I subbed to that as well. 6 bucks a month I think. I'm actually enjoying it more than 3 of the last 4 MMOs I've played....and it's not really even an MMO. It has a large community (probably a lot more kids, but at least they're not total scumbags to anyone who asks a question), the games are actually fun, and test your coordination and skill rather than your ability to memorize a rotation, and in all honesty, feels a lot more like Star Wars to me than SWTOR. I'm sorry guys, I know you love this game. But I don't. And if you're more unsatisfied than you care to admit, just remember there are other paths you might take.
Yeah yeah, and they would seem wisdom but if not for the warning in your hearts......
At any rate, may The Force be with you all, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to enjoy SWTOR.