Regarding the subject for a few reasons from my early-to mid-game experience, with over 100 hours of play and through level 30, I'm wondering if many more than expected will unsubscribe to TOR more quickly than anticipated.
As opposed to what one might read from an advertising site that suspends disbelief in favor of advertising money, my mmo consumer-oriented constructive open thoughts are as follows.
It (TOR) has had one of the most robust box/digital downloads since its’ release, and knowing that historically ~60% of mmo enthusiasts over the last several years looking for massively-multiplayer entertainment in past games unsubscribe 3-6months out from lack of massively-multiplayer features and content to justify $15/month, it comes to reason that when the majority discover how non massively-multiplayer this game is, it will be the same % of unsubscribers, maybe more.
Maybe more because Bioware fans that are historically very entertained by Biowares Single-Player Cinematic RPG’s will be scratching their heads as to why their paying $15/month for what feels like their new Single-Player RPG, as opposed to a community-centric organically influenced massively-multiplayer game. Hmmm…Im burnt out on the hermit-shallowness of single-player rpg’s, and even in a robust guild, this game thrust me into a mostly single-player rpg experience.
- Tor feels like having the least Massively-Multiplayer features & content of any mainstream labeled mmo aside from STO.
- My transition from Starter area to early-game felt like AoC's Tortage all over again. Very entertaining and lush game-play with story and players abound that you relied on to cooperatively complete content in a challenging environment, leading to post-early game to mid-game where your game-play becomes more redundant of the same content and much more confining in very closed-off and tightly pathed instanced zones.
- Post starter area to mid-game content is not organic; there are absolutely no open-world dynamic events or community triggered or driven events; everything is a short-term staged scrimmage against static & predictable moles that add nothing to the atmosphere, other than those mobs standing on a cube waiting to be attacked by a player.
- So for now, the game-play feeling is one of extreme & heavily instanced linearly pathed & redundant content ‘without’ open-world post-starter to mid-game, but confining pathed maps barren of players.
- About it being heavily instanced; This game is an instance based game, like Guild war 1 was, and plays much more like a CORPG than a MMORPG. Everything is instance based. Even the "open" worlds are instanced or sharded, so If you enter any planet, regardless which one, you will see that it's divided into instances/shards. “Taris instance 1", ect. So even if there is 300 people on your planet, you will never see more then 20-30 of them since the rest is divided into another instances. That certainly removes the feeling of immersion, community, and mmorpg, just as STO proved it did. So if you want to play with a friend which is in another instance you need to transfer to his/her instance to be able to see them. Okay…whatever….he is standing in the exact location I am in what should be a virtual world, but within another instance/shard. But the thing is, this transfer to access game-play has a 30-min cooldown time to transfer to another instance again; lol. Ridiculous. So if Im grouping with one buddy or guildie and then want to make another group quest with another friend, you can’t unless your 30-minute cooldown is up. No open world here.
- Having said that, there are no open-world challenging cooperatively community driven and influenced content; no community-influenced or incentivised dynamic events which involve the battle of Republic vs Empire factions, compounding there being absolutely no meaningfully faction vs faction game-play early to mid-game.
- I don't feel as though players are important to the community or core of game-play, that other players involvement in game-play, traversing a map, mission completion involvement, crafting, merchandising, or trades matters.
- Therefore, I dont get the sense that there is any importance placed on player/community crafting, merchandising & economy when there is the high drop-rate or green, blue and orange items in the general game-play quest-lines and drops from general mobs. Therefore, crafting, merchandising and trades for an emphasis on a massively-multiplayer community-driven economy is significantly undermined.
- Eventhough my server is "Heavy", getting a group for a Flashpoint or Heroic near-promptly is uncommon, as there doesn't appear to be any players in terms of numbers that should account for it being "Heavy".
- There is an incredible emphasis on single-player-esque quests. Bioware has certainly compounded the term ‘Questing’ into ‘Laborious Chore’. The mass amounts of side quests that are a core game-play design feature which I always end up with is astounding; a full quest log of the same fetch, kill 10, 25, 50, fed-ex runs, etc. It really does take away a lot of the feeling of urgency from your main story and importance of completion and de-emphasizes massively-multiplayer. Character progression is mostly a redundant & repetitive single-player chore due to this.
- Heavy “personal” cinematic story, the illusionary 4th pillar, is just another feature which is independent of massively-multiplayer, and derived from the single-player rpg genre, thus compounding the fact that TOR is more of an over-priced single-player rpg than a mmorpg. The voiced-over personal story content is fine for a single-player rpg, but becomes awfully tedious and disinteresting for its complete lack of massively-multiplayer value. In addition, it is not a feasible way to make a long-lasting MMO, nor is it the watershed moment in gaming history that either Bioware or an Advertising site makes it out to be.
So, not only is it massively-multiplayer irrelevant due to it’s complete inorganic nature, being that it has no relevance on community or impact or influence there-of, this story-driven content is developmentally costly, and this single-player rpg diversion, however pleasant it may be in the short term, it's not a viable long-term mmo content model.
- There is no multi-user feature to space combat, it compounds the feeling of the game (TOR) as a single-player game even more-so. So, space combat is single-player, not massively-multiplayer. It's static and doesn't contribute to the struggle of Republic vs Empire within what should be an influential massively-multiplayer environment.
With space combat in it's current developmental state and having it featured as a main element of game-play without any massively-multiplayer content or features is disappointing to say the least. Who would have thought that they'd be paying $15/month for content that amounts to Star Wars X-Wing Fighter game-play.
- Player-involved against player-involved combative & cooperative and competitive content is pathetic and massively-multiplayer meaningless. One can’t choose the warzone they want to play. Only to have 3 shoe-box mini-map 10 v 10 warzones to randomly get pushed into is shallow. There are no meaningful personal rewards or achievements that one can accomplish early to mid-game to strive to differentiate you within the community, or strive to differentiate your guild or faction within the community. Many matches leaves one side down from early game and serial leavers that flood a match compounds loss, while level 10-20 players are matched with level 40-50 players with greater access to skills in a bolster system that is nothing but ineffective. All while pugs are matched against pre-mades with gives a sizable communication, familiarity, cooperation and coordination disadvantage to the pug team. Nothing Bioware generalizes about addressing this is going to address one of the worst pvp-bolt-on fiascos in mmorpg history.
- Targeting system is horrible and doesn't work well in Warzone matches, compounding the frustration of aforementioned flaws of the PvP system.
- The "Stuff" bioware is "working" on is "stuff" that should have been launch-ready; such as UI. Speaking of, the UI staticness and lack of functionality and modification is horrible, while Raid frames are rudimentary and lacking by not updating correctly without being able to see debuffs at all..
- LFG system is completely useless, can't search globally for people who are LFG.
- No combat logs.
- On a labeled Heavily Populated server, zones seem barren of players, compounding the lack of feel of massively-multiplayer.
- Character / Race customization not close to any other mainstream MMO, not to mentioned complete lack of gear appearance customization, which is arguably another indicator this game lacks the massively-multiplayer features to really allow players to distinguish themselves in what should be a persistent massively-multiplayer universe, as opposed to being a mirror image of the other players standing next to you.
- Alignment doesn’t matter. Options are provided to where the only way to get rewarded in the game for your choices is to pick all the light-side or all the dark-side. You can certainly answer the questions as you think your character would, but you lose out. For example, alignment rewards are written to be lightpoints - darkpoints = reward level. Not only non-sensical, but in addition, it completely misses the boat on a 3rd faction; the neutral faction. But lets stick with just Light and Dark, so if one painstakingly accrued 1000 lightpoints and 1000 darkpoints, you would think that one should be able to choose Light-rank I and Dark-rank I rewards.
Lest we not forget that these choices have absolutely no impact or influence as to how the game-play mechanics or environment treats you in-game.
- Longevity overall from a single-player rpg perspective, there is enough in this game to keep one occupied for a month or 2, but from a lack of mmorpg persistence of game-play and lack of organic game-play perspective, it falls flat for all the aforementioned reasons.
MMORPG Score: 3
Single-Player RPG / CORPG Score: 8
Overall Score: 5
TOR is a well produced Single-Player / CORPG in a multi-user lobby-system environment, though doesn’t hold an entertaining or remarkable continuous play value for $15/month for a prolonged period of time as a mmorpg.