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Why I'm Excited for 2014 in SWTOR

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Why I'm Excited for 2014 in SWTOR

JMCA's Avatar


JMCA
02.05.2014 , 01:41 AM | #1
Intro

I am not a fanboy by any means. I love the class stories of the game and part of me still wishes that these could be supported. I know many others agree, and when you consider the pre-F2P TOR development team's Q&As and overall communications with the playerbase it was actually promised. But the truth is F2P SWTOR hasn't been an easy process for anybody and in 2014 I strongly believe that we are in for a very fun year.

I'll go into each of the areas that are supported, those being PvP, PvE, GSF, and Story, and provide my personal take on why they're going to be fun and as good a quality as the obviously understaffed dev team can crank out

PvP

The most encouraging part of the 2014 Roadmap in this regard is that the balance team is taking a good look at every class. This is not because of PvE-related balance, because, as you can find out for yourself on Dulfy's site, every single class is viable for operations. Whether or not specific skill trees are viable is nitpicking when you consider that all you have to do is respec and practice your new rotation.

This means that whatever they're cooking is going to their best effort to make PvP more balanced and to get more people doing Arenas. They made a clear decision that Arenas are what they are committing to competitively moving forward, with Warzones being casual ground PvP content. If they balance the classes for this, then Arenas will be a lot more enjoyable than they have been.

Right now the problem is only certain classes are going to be effective. Operatives/Scoundrels, for example, are god tier. If the other healers are competitive then you wont have to use the same strategy to deal with them in nearly every single 4v4 that pops. If Ranged DPS becomes more competitive than you won't see Smash monkeys in every pop.

Now I realize that the maps we currently have do not support this argument - it's quite clear that the gold standard comp works on every map. But the part that encourages me is that the new arena coming out is supposed to have an emphasis on vertical elements. That means more difficult to access high ground, which makes ranged a LOT more viable. In this regard, BW realizes that melee is too good at the moment and that the maps could be the reason why. A close examination of balance between melee and ranged would only further help on the other maps too.

I am hopeful that they are looking at changing comms out for something else too. This has been brought up on podcasts and a reputation style system of gear unlocking would be an excellent change for PvP. The barrier to entry was lowered with bolster but grinding comms still sucks. A replacement for that system would only encourage more participation.

Progress is being made.

PvE

Tactical Flashpoints are a home run for bringing people into Group PvE. The more hardcore will disagree with this, but the truth is most people need to be broken into grouping up more slowly. These types of environments are great for people who haven't done MMOs before, and make FPs a much friendlier environment. It's a huge understatement how important it is to make friends in an MMO if you want to do Group PvE. The Tank, Heal, 2 DPS FPs are too difficult for casual or new players - this gives them a chance to get together, learn the game, and decide if they want to do something more challenging later on. I think that will make more guilds that start up with a more friendly attitude, which can only improve the state of Group PvE participation.

Operations seem to have a brighter future, although I still believe that these could be replaced with something else that advances the story more effectively. If they test them more and release them in larger time intervals, then they could start rivaling the types of Raids that WoW had 3 years ago. Yes, SWTOR raiding is that far behind WoW. It does seem to be popular enough with people to keep making them though, so it's better to give those people something to look forward to than alienate them.

GSF

This is going to be a big draw for new players in 2014 and will sustain a large surge of F2P players. I know some people are angry about not being able to use a joystick, but that is not enough of a barrier to prevent people who enjoy Star Wars space combat from going "DUDE THIS IS AWESOME!"

Almost anyone who saw the Star Wars videos as a kid were captivated by the space scenes. It's just frickin awesome. Galactic Starfighter is the furthest anyone has come to bringing that kind of gameplay into the market and will definitely be popular in a sustainable way. This was worth diverting resources away from class stories, as much as I hate saying that.

Deathmatch is really fun and the more gamemodes are supported, the more that SWTOR distinguishes itself as an MMO - you can keep your Murlocs and your Quaggans, in SWTOR you can pew pew in space!

I love GSF, and it makes me excited to maintain my subscription.

Story

I saved this for last because it's the one I care about the most. I am convinced that BW has learned from the Story Disaster of 2013 and the very real anger the fans have expressed about the sudden dropping of the class story progression. Now I realize that they have repeated themselves again at the latest Cantina Tour about why they're not going to do them so how does that make sense?

First, let's go over the Story Disaster of 2013 bit.

To their credit, Makeb was well done. The Empire was careful and delicately gaining an advantage discreetly, the Republic was on a heroic humanitarian mission to stop genocide, and the Hutt Cartel was a very real threat to the galaxy if they secured enough of this Isotope-5 stuff. The planet is beautiful, the progression from mesa to mesa was 1000000x better than having to speeder around everywhere, and they did a decent enough job of mentioning your reputation.

But the rest... was a bad joke.

Putting class stories in indefinite limbo is still a festering wound that offended people when RotHC was announced, and still offends today. Individuality and your companions was the distinguishing factor of SWTOR and had all the potential of an MMO that brings people who love great storytelling together. There are so many unforgettable moments and it still is disappointing that those storylines will not be progressed in the same way.

The Dread Masters were a Imperial-only planet storyline on Belsavis that turned into a year long exploration of how to keep people busy enough to not realize how bad the story was. The assumption is that the Dread Masters go from a jail cell to threatening the entire galaxy in a few months - makes sense right? They threatened the Gree, the criminal underworld, took over a planet, planted doomsday devices, and required a joint effort by the Republic and Empire to take down... because DS wizards did it.

The Seeker Droid / Binoculars "exploration" experiment blew up in all the wrong ways. Grouping for the final quests is still a chore for most people because nobody wants to do them. The storyline is good, and the Shroud is the kind of character you want to papercut to death, but having to put up with the loading screens to get on each planet, the clunkiness of the droids, and how long it takes to reach each point made it a less than ideal experience.

The biggest problem out of all of them, however, was a simple one and can be summed up into two words:

Star Wars.

This is about the Republic and the Empire. The Jedi and the Sith. They are at war. The class stories establish that we are the most powerful warriors in the Republic and Empire and are ready to do our parts in the struggle to decide whether the galaxy will live in comfort and contempt under the Republic or in fear and strength under the Empire.

The neutral parties and factions are only there to give one side the edge over the other, not because they can destroy either side. This has been a formula WoW has used for years and only worked because they were the only real MMO option. Dragons, Old Gods, etc. make sense for that kind of storytelling.

SWTOR doesn't have to do that and I am THRILLED that BW has figured this out.

It's show time folks. The "cohesive story arc with the epic conclusion" is two entire expansions dealing with the escalation between the Empire and Republic. The Empire is no longer a suicidal, xenophobic mess of infighting following a false prophet. They are poised to unleash their united fury and devious tactics. The Republic is charging for victory they are mistaken in believing will be conclusive, and is heading for a horrific disaster if they are not careful.

I can be okay with not having the class storylines if the war is the focus and the arc is cohesive. Ultimately, that's what we all proved ourselves for in the first place with our class stories - to defeat the enemy and drive them into hiding or surrender.

It's show time folks. Get your guns and lightsabers ready because choosing a side actually matters to the story now. I can't wait for the new Flashpoints on Korriban and Tython, and for the VA work they did in LA, new expansions and finding out what's gonna happen!

Conclusion

I can't wait for the ball to start rolling on the story and for the rest of the good stuff on the way for 2014. The promise of those wonderful cutscenes from the promotion of the game are finally starting to take form.

The glory and tragedy of galactic war is upon us!

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KidLee
02.05.2014 , 12:37 PM | #2
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ZETA_SCORPII's Avatar


ZETA_SCORPII
02.05.2014 , 12:59 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by KidLee View Post
Good Stuff
100% agree

kimdante's Avatar


kimdante
02.05.2014 , 01:20 PM | #4
Great post OP. Wonderful analysis.

JMCA's Avatar


JMCA
02.05.2014 , 03:29 PM | #5
Thanks

I think there's a bright future for the game, despite the trolling going on about "technical problems" and "too many resources."

Whether people like it or not, game devs don't have the luxury of bosses who want to spend the money to make very high quality content. Corporations want the most profit for the least effort, not high quality effort for high quality product. Quality is relative and subjective to them

Excise's Avatar


Excise
02.05.2014 , 04:52 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by JMCA View Post
PvE

Story

First, let's go over the Story Disaster of 2013 bit.

To their credit, Makeb was well done. The Empire was careful and delicately gaining an advantage discreetly, the Republic was on a heroic humanitarian mission to stop genocide, and the Hutt Cartel was a very real threat to the galaxy if they secured enough of this Isotope-5 stuff. The planet is beautiful, the progression from mesa to mesa was 1000000x better than having to speeder around everywhere, and they did a decent enough job of mentioning your reputation.

But the rest... was a bad joke.
This is a very well written analysis. Regarding the Dread Masters' arc, though, I would add to it: the vast majority of the Dread Master content is irrelevant and did not advance the plot one iota. You could cut much of it out and change nothing else in the story.

Below are the Dread Master related events.

Belsavis (Empire): This was important to the plot, but only Empire players would be even aware of it.

Karagga's Palace: The Dread Masters were behind Karagga going nuts. If you removed this plot, you could change nothing else and the story still fits.

Section X: The Dread Masters are doing random villainy and get stopped. If Section X never happened, the plot would be unaffected.

Explosive Conflict: Same thing as above (with the mild exception that Kephess returns a few times).

Makeb: It's alluded that the Dread Masters were behind Toborro going nuts, but again, remove it and the Dread Masters' story is unchanged. Makeb's Empire/Republic arc might become important later, but so far it hasn't.

Terror From Beyond: The Dread Masters try another evil scheme and are foiled. You could remove this whole cloth and change nothing.

Scum & Villainy: This is the first time that the plot actually moves forward, since Styrak's death is a fairly minor plot point in Oricon.

Oricon: The plot concludes.

So 5 events added nothing to the plot, 1 was Empire only, 1 had only a moderate impact, and 1 finished it.

It was not great storytelling, unfortunately. You don't even get to really know the Dread Masters until Oricon. Until then, they're just a random third party menace.

The_Grand_Nagus's Avatar


The_Grand_Nagus
02.05.2014 , 05:21 PM | #7
One person's opinion is not more or less important than anyone else's. That being the case, if the OP thinks it is the right thing to do to start a completely new thread rather than replying to the existing threads talking about the same subject, then by that same reasoning everyone else should too. So instead of replying in any existing thread about 2014, just post your own. That way every single thread on the first dozen pages of the forum can all be from each individual person giving their opinion of how 2014 will be
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ikinai's Avatar


ikinai
02.05.2014 , 05:31 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by The_Grand_Nagus View Post
One person's opinion is not more or less important than anyone else's. That being the case, if the OP thinks it is the right thing to do to start a completely new thread rather than replying to the existing threads talking about the same subject, then by that same reasoning everyone else should too. So instead of replying in any existing thread about 2014, just post your own. That way every single thread on the first dozen pages of the forum can all be from each individual person giving their opinion of how 2014 will be
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tanerb's Avatar


tanerb
02.05.2014 , 05:47 PM | #9
Your optimism on story in unwarranted.

DarthDymond's Avatar


DarthDymond
02.05.2014 , 05:54 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Excise View Post
This is a very well written analysis. Regarding the Dread Masters' arc, though, I would add to it: the vast majority of the Dread Master content is irrelevant and did not advance the plot one iota. You could cut much of it out and change nothing else in the story.
[-snip for quote length-]
This is pretty accurate, but I think one element of telling a story in an MMO format is that it's often going to fall into this situation. With so many different leveling and elder game options, not everyone who runs Oricon is going to have ever been to Section X. So to make Oricon accessible as new content, they can't have it be too dependent on what's come before.

At best you get some allusions to what's happened on those places in the breadcrumb quest like Darth Marr mentioning that one of the Masters had been killed (or saying "when you killed the Dread Master" if your character completed S&V).

What it boils down to is that doing the various pieces of the progression enrich the experience and the storyline, but aren't necessary to it.

What I wish had been handled better was the development of the DMs as characters, since until Oricon they had the character depth of a Saturday morning cartoon villain, and even after Oricon there was only the barest bit more than that. I wish they had given us the degree of characterization we saw on Oricon back in Section X or TFB, and then built on it from there over the course of the Seeds of Rage quests, S&V, and Oricon.

We might have had something close to fleshed out characters if that had happened, and since it's just character building it would still just be enriching the experience for people who'd played through those elements rather than locking out or confusing those who missed them.
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