Digital Tabletop: Ye Olde Republic Numbness

Before I get into the gritty, welcome to Digital Tabletop, my new column to discuss things RPG, MMO, table-top gaming, etc. I’m going to be a bit all over the place with this, covering a wide variety of games, systems, and even books (believe it or not I do still buy them!), but it should at least be an interesting read either way. Now onto this week’s topic at hand, why I’ve lost all care for Star Wars The Old Republic.

So I do have a thing for MMOs, and I have a thing for Star Wars. So I should be chomping at the bit to get any kind of info on Star Wars The Old Republic, right? I’m not. At the moment I cannot bring myself to care, and really I can’t see how anyone else can.

I’m guessing a ton of people are going to get pissed at this but hear me out. The game has been in development forever, and we’ve got a ton of nice details, and some lucky people have actually gotten in to Beta the game and even just play it outright at PAX. But while we’ve gotten some nice details on gameplay, character interaction, the fact that we’ll all each have our own personal story for each character and so on. There are a ton of important details they’ve been mum about and a bunch of baseless and generic statements out there about the game in general.

One of the things as a player I should know about by now, and this has been a problem with every game Bioware has put out since Mass Effect, is what the damn system requirements are going to be to run this game. It’s not a console title so we’re going to have to play it on a PC or a Mac with some good Windows emulators. There are no PS3 or Xbox 360 fallback options. Whether or not your computer can handle the game is a pretty big thing to have out there. What we’ve gotten hasn’t exactly been helpful, and pages of guesses by players without any real input from Bioware on it gets you some really wild speculation.

Next up on my hit list is cost. They haven’t announced what model they’re using at all and while most people agree they’re not going the free to play route, there hasn’t been any kind of announcement as far as the actual monthly fee is going to go. So again there’s wild speculation from as low as ten a month to as high as thirty. Then there’s the fact they’re still discussing micro-transactions which have been a part of every Bioware single-player RPG since Mass Effect from extra companions to quests and armor, so we may be seeing those as well. Having played Dungeons and Dragons Online for over a year now, I’ve gotten used to these, but I’m a free to play or premium player there and only drop money in occasionally as opposed to monthly. Monthly or VIP players with Turbine get all the bells and whistles and only have to pay for things above and beyond the game, like weapons, potions, or resurrection items. So if they do go the micro-transaction model with SW:TOR on top of the monthly fee, I might be mildly pissed if I’m going to have to pay to gain access to extra content at the start. Again, no word from EA or Bioware on this, just a vague hint at an announcement at E3 and a lot of runaround whenever it’s brought up anywhere else.

What’s really sparked my lack of caring any more is the lack of a solid release date. I’ve heard them discussing April to December of this year to as late as the middle of next year. Sure I’d like the game to be polished when it comes out, but unlike a stand-alone RPG, you do updates and often with an MMO. It’s part of the game to make sure things are running smooth. I haven’t played one MMO yet that doesn’t have a bug list as long as my arm. They fix one, two more pop up. It’s the way it works when dealing with a game as massive as an MMO. So while we’ve gotten lots of nice tidbits and screenshots and gameplay videos and hands on with it, some of the more important bits haven’t even been ironed out yet.

Then there’s the claim that the Old Republic will be the first MMO to tell a story. That’s not even remotely accurate. It might be the first to tell a personalized story, or a more in-depth story, but there have been plenty of MMOs that have an over-arching story you get involved in and not just jump from one quest to another. Hell, Guild Wars had not only an over-arching story, but it got a bit more personal on release when you made a character that originated on the new continents. Was it as in-depth a story as they’re promising with Star Wars? I’m hoping not from as much as they’re touting, but they aren’t the first to put story to MMO, so bring that high horse down a bit.

It’s hard to care when you’re on a budget and I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who is, and you’re not given any info to work something like this into a budget. Hell, they’ve already set up space on their website where you can form and join guilds and chit chat with people, and yet we still have no idea when it’s coming out. Really? I can set up a guild but I don’t even know if my aging gaming rig can run this beast of an MMO. This just seems to be cart before the horse to me and that just doesn’t work. Until there’s some solid release/requirement/cost info on this game, I really can’t bring myself to care, and this is from someone who was drooling when they first announced it as a sequel to two of my favorite Star Wars games of all time. Maybe when it gets closer to release I’ll start to get the fever again, but hearing how amazing a game will be only gets you so far.

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