I never would have thought it possible, but I actually came to the conclusion that I don't like Pre-CU SWG.
The problem is combat and combat classes. It seems like what they did when they made the game was to decide that they needed a standard MMO combat philosophy despite the game being Star Wars. I know that I sound like an NGE-ist, but that was bad even though I think I now know why they wanted to do it. Some of the biggest problems in my opinion:
-Non-Jedi Melee Class Supremacy:
This seems to have been an attempt to just have melee characters be the tank, but because they have the same (or better) DPS the melee classes have advantages and little disadvantages once you factor in posture change and knockdown as well as all ranged being confined to 64 m shots. Melee should have been so vulnerable to Ranged Fire in the open as to have made it a bad idea. Melee should have been an addition to ranged class primaries, not a solution to every combat situation.
-Ranged fights should have been from cover, or run and gun:
I know that cover mechanics weren't a thing when the game came out, but the best way to avoid getting hit in a gun fight (besides not being there) is to make yourself a small target and to hide behind something solid. Ranged suppression, cover, and haste of fire should have been big things. They could have had snap shots and high volume of fire that was inaccurate but made characters (shooter and target) have a penalty to accuracy.
There should have been a lot of misses in the heat of combat, not the 18th century ship combat approach of bringing cannons to bear and unloading.
-Having 3 Damage pools sounds cool: but they way it was done in pre-CU SWG was badly flawed.
The idea was a rock, paper, scissors I imagine, with the mind pool being vulnerable to represent "Critical Hits," or something. But as Koster said in one of his essays, they never pen and papered the system. If they had then they would have realized that they had created an Achilles Head that would be the main target for attacks. NPCs that hit hard in Pre-CU often do so by throwing exotic damage straight at the mind pool. Mind can only be healed in combat by a Combat Medic, and that at the cost of wounds to the CM's mind pool.
The result is a system where you are supposed to basically drag the wounded from combat and treat them, which is cool if you have a regimented unit, but in most MMORPG groups it means that you die and have to clone, re-buff, and travel back. I see what they were going for, but to make it work like they wanted they would have needed a "Downed State," that was different from the incap that is in the game. Armor and Weapons have a few good types:
Encumbrance was supposed to be the check on wearing armor, but because Doc Buffs quadruple most of the stats encumbrance is just a minor annoyance and in no way makes you want to forego armor for the really hard fights in the game. This means that everyone is in armor.
In truth there is effectively really only one armor in SWG--Stun Layered Composite
. Unless you are a super armorer who managed to gather the necessary components for maxed out Padded, the only real armor is Stun Layered Comp. This makes the game appear to be wholly peopled with combatants who, except for color, all look alike. NGE fixed this with appearance slots so you could at least look how you wanted (or like you were from the movies) but the EMU servers are basically museums and do not have appearance tabs as far as i have seen.
There are weapon types with different damage types, which gives you a reason to have and use different weapons, but some models are extremely hard or impossible to make awesome because they lack the ability to take tissues, or they have fewer sub components that can be of superior quality. Another thing that affects this is Armor Penetration. Some weapons have no AP, so they get a damage penalty when facing armor worn by characters, and are pretty much shit against anything armored. Since everyone always wears armor those AP 0 weapons end up just being sub-par weapons. The DL-44 Pistol and the EE-3 are both 0 AP weapons as I recall. -No Vertical Axis:
While not being able to jump over a log is annoying, the real problem with it is that high ground, firing from rooftops, and being able to otherwise use the vertical situation in combat is lost. This meant that the combat was doomed to always be a circular plane battlefield. It also meant that no daring vertical escapes and pursuits could happen. No truly flying mobs or vehicles, or jet packs. -Marksman by itself is nothing:
The game has basic classes that are the stepping stone to elite professions for combat. Marksman for Ranged, and Brawler for Melee. These are low point expenditure bases on which the potent elite classes are added on certain lines (pistol line leads to Pistoleer, unarmed line leads to Teras Kasi Master). I think that the Base Ranged class should have been more powerful, with the elite classes being less potent but specialized tracks for further expansion into capabilities. The Brawler and Melee Specialties should have been small point expenditure defensive only classes with some sneak attacks and ambush abilities.
As the current system works Marksman in particular is pretty lame and basically serves as a Point Sink for Elite Professions such as Commando and Bounty Hunter. The problem as I see it is that the Elite classes vary wildly in usefulness and power. The points you spend on say Smuggler are essentially wasted compared to if you put those points into Tera Kasi Master and thereby rack up amazing defensive bonuses. Even Bounty Hunter as a profession is pretty lame. If you want to be able to kill the toughest NPC BH marks you need to just take the Missions (Investigation) line of Bounty Hunter up to the 3rd box and just leave the rest of BH for the birds. I think that the rest of the game is beautiful.
I like being a moisture farmer by putting a Tattooine house down damn near wherever I want and then erecting some moisture vaporators with my trusty droid assigned to put maintenance in them. With anti-aliasing provided via card setting overrides and high resolution the game still looks pretty god even after all these years, and having such a big, free world with weather and time is great.
So this is my apology to anyone whom I argued with about pre-CU SWG Combat Classes: I'm Sorry, I was wrong.
But SWTOR gets no love from me even still, because for every thing that SWTOR did right in combat, it did 4 things wrong for the combat game, and a 100 for the virtual world end. On the bright side I feel more charitable towards other games now, as the impossible standard that I had set because of my SWG grief is now cured. In a way it took SWG finally dying like this for me to move on and enjoy MMORPGs again. I needed that chance to say goodbye in my own way, and on my terms I guess.
I still have hope that someday my favorite Galaxy Far Far Away will get an MMORPG that is able to capitalize on everything cool that is Star Wars, while also containing the best elements of an MMORPG, and that those two do not conflict with each other.