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BadSpock’s TOR Beta preview Op-Ed

BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

*Warning: Long Read – no TL:DR version sorry*


 


First off, this is NOT a review – this is an opinion piece to share my thoughts on my experiences with Star Wars: The Old Republic over the course of the past two Beta weekend previews. That being said, I will try and remain objective and prevent too much bias from influencing this writing.


 


Going to really focus on the “bad” and the “so-so” aspects of the game as there are plenty of “zomg everything is amazing!” posts out there, including some by me!


 


Quick history about my MMO experience to give some reference, been playing MMOs since Ultima Online back in 1999, was a day 1 veteran of Star Wars Galaxies and a WoW veteran from week 1 on/off for almost 7 years. Beyond that I’ve played, beta’d, trialed, and/or demo’d just about every MMO you can think of. EQ/EQ2/Rift/WAR/AoC/EvE/E&B/TR/Aion/CoH/VG/SWG/WoW/FFXI you name it.


 


I put in about 30 hours the previous beta weekend and close to 40 this past beta weekend. The first weekend I played a Sith Inquisitor up to level 17 and chose the Sorcerer advanced class, and this past weekend played the Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Consular up to between 10-13 each, choosing Vanguard, Gunslinger, Guardian, and Shadow advanced classes respectively.


 


The Bad:


 


-There are still a few bugs and glitches. I found nothing game breaking per say and only had the game crash on me once. I tried to access the galaxy map on my ship and the game booted me to desktop. I was able to log right back in and access the map no problem.


-A few times character’s mouths would not move during cut scenes, but I only noticed it a few times this beta versus a lot more often in the previous testing weekend.


-Two or three times I had major lag spikes that would cause the game to “freeze” for 10 or so seconds.


-During the Esseles flashpoint the background to a conversation/scene was all wrong, kind of funny actually the ship was supposed to have jumped away to safety and the background showed the ship still being under attack out the view port. Oops.


-Random little glitches like cloaks going crazy moving around all funny or stuttering to an animation, very random and only a few over many, many hours played.


-Weird little flashes/visual glitches that were not present in the last build. Almost like the invisible lines between areas chose to not be invisible for a split second and were either green or red flashes of very obvious glitches. This happened all the time in quest hubs and such, making me believe it was something to do with the red/green lines for class story areas.


 


-Light Side/Dark Side points:

I am not a big fan of the current implementation.

It kind of pingeon holes you to either go one way or the other and try and min/max the points so that you can unlock the ability to purchase tiers of gear.

Kind of a huge role play / story crutch. No benefits that I know of of trying to stay neutral.

The min/maxer in me wants to pick the obvious +points choice rather then the one my character would want to choose based on their personality I've created for them through the story.

I might have to just play the way I want to play in terms of story and morality and then hope Bioware makes changes/additions to the system to reward people who don't min/max to one side or the other.



 


The maybe/so-so:


 


-PvE Class balance:


 


Some classes were simply easier to play then others. Hard to be objective on this because it may have been my own familiarity with that particular play style, so I’ll try and elaborate by using measurable statistics.


Jedi Knight and Trooper I had to spend a lot more time doing out-of-combat resting/healing after a big fight, and simply put I died more often playing those classes. However on the smuggler and consular I can’t recall if I ever actually died (other than PvP and flashpoints, of course.)


 


It seemed like the Smuggler and Consular just put out a LOT more damage, I could kills mobs much faster and thus would lose far less health and could take on groups of mobs without as many issues.


This kind of makes sense as they are the light/medium armor classes of the Republic, it’d make sense for them to dish out a little more damage to compensate for being squishier, but it seems like the balance is a bit off because the JK and Trooper’s survivability wasn’t improved enough to compensate for the slower kill speed.


 


The Gunslinger was a BEAST in PvE. Damage output was insanely high and with a ranged tank companion I was pretty much untouchable and just a mob killing machine of ranged death and glory. No issue with Elite mobs for bonus quests and such.


I am fully aware this is level 1-10/13 or so and perhaps a much different picture is painted as you get higher in level.


 


-PvP class balance:


 


I only did PvP on the Consular as a Shadow, Smuggler as a Gunslinger, and Inquisitor as a Sorcerer.


Both the Sorcerer and Shadow were a blasty blast, in fact on the Sorcerer I had good damage output and enough CC to be able to just dominate fools. The Shadow with her stealth and double-bladed saber made for a wonderfully fun WoW-Rogue like PvP experience, but definitely hurt for a lack of CC when compared to a Sorcerer of similar level.


 


The Gunslinger, by contrast, was terrible. Just a complete wet noodle of a PvP character. The few times I was able to stay at range and sit behind cover, I thought I’d be putting out enough damage to be enough of a BA to do some good, but that just wasn’t the case. Certainly didn’t have enough stopping power or CC to take anyone on 1vs1 and was constantly focused down by the opposing team.


 


Once the enemy got within melee range or forced me out of cover it was like clubbing a baby seal. At low level (13) the Gunslinger was useless in PvP, perhaps off-put by how OP it felt in PvE? Scoundrel advanced class likely has a lot more tools at this low level to be useful in PvP.


 


-Tanking at low level:


 


I was disappointed with the tanking ability and available passives/active abilities of both tanking classes I played – The JK Guardian and the Trooper.


With the non-tanking classes I got enough passives and abilities at level 10 and at AC choice to really feel like making that AC choice was a significant change over the previous 10 levels.


I was expecting the same kind of passives that some of my companions had, increases to threat generation and/or armor or shield chance etc. but nothing. Nothing. One mediocre ability unique for the AC at level 10, no passives, no new stances – nothing. I honestly felt as if the Companions were receiving a lot more tanking love at this low level.


 


Just kind of a big downer after all the passives and new abilities and game-changing tweaks you get once picking an AC for the Gunslinger, Shadow, Sorcerer.


 


-Talent trees:


 


These seem really hit or miss. Really hard to say without leveling through a max level character and being able to try multiple trees and play styles etc. but for one I don’t really see the shared-tree between the different AC’s used very much.


Why put talents into the shared tree when all the cooler role-defining ones are in the specialized tree for that AC?


In terms of size and complexity and available choice, the talent systems feels very similar to Wrath-era WoW. Good or bad thing? You be the judge.


 


-World size/run speed:


 


These worlds are pretty huge. The sense of scale and size is amazing – but also can be a little tedious. Playing new characters made me really miss the Spring ability my Sorcerer learned at level 14. You will do a lot of running. Even with the available fast-travel speeds and 30 minute “Hearth” ability, you’ll be doing a lot of running.


I found myself trying to plan the best time to use my Hearth and grouping quests to minimize run time. I also found myself somewhat dreading the long run back to town/quest turn-ins when my fast travel options were on cool down or far away themselves.


 


That being said, the Sprint ability everyone gets at level 14 gives you I think 85% run speed increase out of combat, and boy oh boy does it make a difference.


Though I’ve only really seen bits of Coruscant, I’ve seen all of Dromand Kaas and a fair chunk of Balmora and it’d be impossible  to survive the long hauls without Sprint due simply to how big everything really is.


Mob density is also fairly high on these starter and core worlds. Lots of fights you may or may not have wanted to get into. Thankfully, you can just put your Companion on passive and run on by without too much issue, I don’t think I’ve encountered any low-level mobs that have any kind of snare or root abilities.


 


The Good:


 


Honestly? Everything else. I could go on and on and on about the story and the game play and the polish and everything else… but ya’ll have heard plenty of that before.


For what this games tries to be, it does extremely, extremely well.


In all ways the game lives up to the hype, that is, the realistic hype when Bioware said that story and VO will change everything, they were right.


 


Ask yourself, do you care about developer created story and VO and do you like (or at least aren’t too sick of) more guided, so called “theme park” games?


If so, buy this game. You won’t be sorry you did.


No, I haven’t been in beta for months and months, I don’t have any max or even mid-level characters and I haven’t done any open world PvP or raiding or a dozen other things this game offers.


 


From what I have seen, this game is everything I hoped it would be. Judge for yourself.


 


Thanks for reading.

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Comments

  • maskedweaselmaskedweasel Member LegendaryPosts: 12,177

    You did a good job.  I agree with it for the most part,  though  the higher level you get the more entrenched in your classes you get too,  so the gunslinger will end up being a powerhouse in damage, but you'll still drop fairly quickly.  The trick is range, range, range...... (and LOS of course).  You'll die to most melee classes though, as long as they see you.  Find a tank thats not guarding a healer and go to town.

     

    Tanking at the low levels though,   yeah..  not so great.  You don't have very many functions,  but it starts opening up a bit 14+... at least for the guardian.  Haven't played a ranged tank.



  • HerodesHerodes Member UncommonPosts: 1,494

    Since I read it the second time, may I ask what "Op Ed" does mean?
    Never read this shortage before.

  • dubyahitedubyahite Member UncommonPosts: 2,483
    Good write up.

    As far as tanking at level ten goes... There are no tanks at level ten in this game. The instances are balanced so that you don't really need one at that level. It's kind if the same with healers. You're stuck with one heal for a long time.

    Shadow's Hand Guild
    Open recruitment for

    The Secret World - Dragons

    Planetside 2 - Terran Republic

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    http://www.shadowshand.com

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    I find myself having a lot of difficulty choosing what character to play first...

    That's my biggest complaint.

    Trooper was the most disappointing to me, as the "run and gun big dude with a big gun" play style just wasn't my cup of tea.

    I really liked the characters and story of the Jedi Knight, but found the game play to be a little too familiar from the years spent playing a Warrior type in other MMOs.

    So it's really between Smuggler and Consular, but rolling on a PvP server I want to be sure I can cope and while Gunslinger was a lot of fun in PvE I just had a horrible PvP experience with it.

    Seems like the decision is made then right?

    Except the Consular story is not as engaging to me as the Smuggler or Jedi Knight was, and I really dislike the first Companion the Consular gets (just like the Sorcerer companion I disliked.)

    So I am so torn...

    No class really has everything I want, at least not right away, so it's a question of long-term enjoyment which is just hard to judge based on my limited experiences...

    But I don't want to "waste time" at launch by playing the toon that won't be my "main" first!

    Grrr there is just too much that is too good about all the classes, really hard to pick one.

  • ArcheminosArcheminos Member Posts: 283

    Originally posted by dubyahite

    Good write up.



    As far as tanking at level ten goes... There are no tanks at level ten in this game. The instances are balanced so that you don't really need one at that level. It's kind if the same with healers. You're stuck with one heal for a long time.

    Until you get to Hammer Station. Then you still fleshing out your role a bit more.

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by Herodes

    Since I read it the second time, may I ask what "Op Ed" does mean?

    Never read this shortage before.

    I think it's Opinion Editorial as I wanted to make sure this wasn't confused with any kind of "review" because I believe reviews are supposed to be more comprehensive and free of any bias and pre-judgement.

    from Wikipedia-

    An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page[1] (though often mistaken for opinion-editorial), is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. These are different from editorials, which are usually unsigned and written by editorial board members.

  • AmannasAmannas Member Posts: 95

    " No, I haven’t been in beta for months and months, I don’t have any max or even mid-level characters and I haven’t done any open world PvP or raiding or a dozen other things this game offers " 


     


    but hey, posting is free..enter wall text, criting eyeballs for 666 nerd damage

  • dubyahitedubyahite Member UncommonPosts: 2,483
    If you love the smuggler story try a scoundrel. They play very differently from a gunslinger and are more useful in PvP. Stealth, some cc,excellent healing, close to medium range dps with a few long range abilities. Much more PvP friendly.

    Shadow's Hand Guild
    Open recruitment for

    The Secret World - Dragons

    Planetside 2 - Terran Republic

    Tera - Dragonfall Server

    http://www.shadowshand.com

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by Amannas


    " No, I haven’t been in beta for months and months, I don’t have any max or even mid-level characters and I haven’t done any open world PvP or raiding or a dozen other things this game offers " 


     


    but hey, posting is free..enter wall text, criting eyeballs for 666 nerd damage

    If you have ever posted on these forums, you've got enough +nerd to never be crit

    Think I've got enough MMORPG.com cred by now to write something people are interested in reading.

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Something else I forgot to put in the Bad section - though maybe it goes in the So-So section:

    Light Side/Dark Side points:

    I am not a big fan of the current implementation.

    It kind of pingeon holes you to either go one way or the other and try and min/max the points so that you can unlock the ability to purchase tiers of gear.

    Kind of a huge role play / story crutch.

    No benefits that I know of of trying to stay neutral.

    The min/maxer in me wants to pick the obvious +points choice rather then the one my character would want to choose based on their personality I've created for them through the story.

    I might have to just play the way I want to play in terms of story and morality and then hope Bioware makes changes/additions to the system to reward people who don't min/max to one side or the other.

     

  • nycplayboy78nycplayboy78 Member UncommonPosts: 212

    Op Ed = Opinion Editorial 

  • 41eX41eX Member UncommonPosts: 99

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Originally posted by Amannas



    " No, I haven’t been in beta for months and months, I don’t have any max or even mid-level characters and I haven’t done any open world PvP or raiding or a dozen other things this game offers " 


     


    but hey, posting is free..enter wall text, criting eyeballs for 666 nerd damage

    If you have ever posted on these forums, you've got enough +nerd to never be crit

    Think I've got enough MMORPG.com cred by now to write something people are interested in reading.

    Remember: this is just your opinion. You have always been a big ... hmm PR? promoter of this game. I really dont think you can look critically on this game. People who give money for a product need a critical review... but I fathom you would not understand that.

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Member UncommonPosts: 1,809

      good review , first impression, Yes the slow running does try your patience, bioware wanted you to work your way into the good stuff and lvl 14 is not to bad

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by 41eX

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    If you have ever posted on these forums, you've got enough +nerd to never be crit

    Think I've got enough MMORPG.com cred by now to write something people are interested in reading.

    Remember: this is just your opinion. You have always been a big ... hmm PR? promoter of this game. I really dont think you can look critically on this game. People who give money for a product need a critical review... but I fathom you would not understand that.

    Perhaps you didn't read the piece and see it is like 90% a highlight of the bad things, things I didn't like, and concerns I have with the game?

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Member Posts: 6,403

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Perhaps you didn't read the piece and see it is like 90% a highlight of the bad things, things I didn't like, and concerns I have with the game?

    Critical hit.  Disarmed.  Opponent flees.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • TalthanysTalthanys Member Posts: 458

    Decent mark up. I was expecting an entire wall of ToR cheerleading, and was pleasantly surprised you had some critical thinking in the piece. Well done.

    image

  • 41eX41eX Member UncommonPosts: 99

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Originally posted by 41eX


    Originally posted by BadSpock

    If you have ever posted on these forums, you've got enough +nerd to never be crit

    Think I've got enough MMORPG.com cred by now to write something people are interested in reading.

    Remember: this is just your opinion. You have always been a big ... hmm PR? promoter of this game. I really dont think you can look critically on this game. People who give money for a product need a critical review... but I fathom you would not understand that.

    Perhaps you didn't read the piece and see it is like 90% a highlight of the bad things, things I didn't like, and concerns I have with the game?

    Oh I read that piece and you only mention technical bugs. Not that they should be there but  this is not a game design. Technical bugs are in all software programs and I think they will polish the game well enough at launch.



    The only thing that you mentioned is light side/dark side points. I am playing the game right now and there are more things that dont work as they should.



    My verdict in short (I am not writing a review): the game is just ok ... nice story (yeh BW did it right) but some awful game mechanics and design choices.

     

     

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by 41eX

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Perhaps you didn't read the piece and see it is like 90% a highlight of the bad things, things I didn't like, and concerns I have with the game?

    Oh I read that piece and you only mention technical bugs. Not that they should be there but  this is not a game design. Technical bugs are in all software programs and I think they will polish the game well enough at launch.



    The only thing that you mentioned is light side/dark side points. I am playing the game right now and there are more things that dont work as they should.



    My verdict in short (I am not writing a review): the game is just ok ... nice story (yeh BW did it right) but some awful game mechanics and design choices.

    The whole "so-so" section was critical of various aspects of the design choices too...

    I am curious though as to what design choices you don't like and consider "awful" because I bet I can counter them and shed light onto why they were smart/good choices to make.

     

  • 41eX41eX Member UncommonPosts: 99

    Originally posted by Icewhite

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Perhaps you didn't read the piece and see it is like 90% a highlight of the bad things, things I didn't like, and concerns I have with the game?

    Critical hit.  Disarmed.  Opponent flees.

    *window pops* Critical error: division by zero.

  • HerodesHerodes Member UncommonPosts: 1,494


    Originally posted by BadSpock


    Originally posted by Herodes
    Since I read it the second time, may I ask what "Op Ed" does mean?
    Never read this shortage before.

    I think it's Opinion Editorial as I wanted to make sure this wasn't confused with any kind of "review" because I believe reviews are supposed to be more comprehensive and free of any bias and pre-judgement.
    from Wikipedia-
    An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page[1] (though often mistaken for opinion-editorial), is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. These are different from editorials, which are usually unsigned and written by editorial board members.

    Holy... thanks. I believe I read your or someone else` discussion about "review" and "op ed", that is why I asked. IMO (p)reviews are okay, one cannot speak for everyone, and if the sum of a game is bigger than the parts of it, then a game should be worth playing. Or an MMO.
    Sorry for derailing your thread on the first page.


  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by Talthanys

    Decent mark up. I was expecting an entire wall of ToR cheerleading, and was pleasantly surprised you had some critical thinking in the piece. Well done.

    I could go on a LOT longer about some things that don't sit quite right with me, but I didn't want the piece to be too negative or too long.

    My over-all impressions are still very cheerleader-ish if you want I can reiterate those? :)

     

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Member Posts: 6,403

    Originally posted by 41eX

    *window pops* Critical error: division by zero.

    The zero, in this case, being in the denominator of your credibility?  :grin:

    Ahm just teasin dammit.  No fireworks!

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • TerranahTerranah Member UncommonPosts: 3,575

    I liked playing smuggler the best, but I thought BH had the best story out of smuggler, bh, jedi knight, trooper, and sith warrior.  

     

    Still getting the game even though I found the starter world to be rather tedious.  Others say it opens up after you leave the starter world.  I probably should have concentrated on one character instead of trying five different classes but I was curious.

  • TalthanysTalthanys Member Posts: 458

    Originally posted by BadSpock

    I could go on a LOT longer about some things that don't sit quite right with me, but I didn't want the piece to be too negative or too long.

    My over-all impressions are still very cheerleader-ish if you want I can reiterate those? :)

     

    Haha, that's all right. I think I understand your overall stance on the game. I might even agree with you on many of them. The world has gone crazy!

    image

  • BadSpockBadSpock Member UncommonPosts: 7,979

    Originally posted by Terranah

    I liked playing smuggler the best, but I thought BH had the best story out of smuggler, bh, jedi knight, trooper, and sith warrior.  

    Still getting the game even though I found the starter world to be rather tedious.  Others say it opens up after you leave the starter world.  I probably should have concentrated on one character instead of trying five different classes but I was curious.

    I only really played one toon past the starter world and the second worlds are much bigger and the story took a lot more interesting turns on Dromand Kaas then it did on Korriban.

    Balmora is even bigger and I haven't played enough of it to really see how the story progressed.

    From what I have been told from long-term testers, the planets get just stupid big and open.

    That being said, the starter worlds are VERY linear and VERY guided, and while the capitals aren't that much better they at least offer much more variety and the story really picks up speed too.

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