For those of you not interested in Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic (TOR) or Bioware you can stop reading now as I just wanted to get a few things off my chest 🙂
I’m going to backtrack a bit and cover some topics that have already been talked about on numerous sites but for me paints a pattern of what we can expect from Bioware in the future. Previously I’ve been a huge supporter of Bioware and up until recently would gladly give them my money for games they released, but that support is waning quickly. However, I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong and for things to turn out differently, I’m just starting to get very worried about the warning signs.
I’ll start with Dragon Age as this piece of news was what pushed me over the edge with Bioware. I’ve been pretty happy overall with Dragon Age although the re-playability of Awakenings was no where near as fun as Origins. To add on that, there’s been no mention of any sort of patch to Awakenings to fix any of the issues surrounding that title. Granted, it is pretty good, but still like all games, there are issues with it some of which are pretty severe. So yesterday they announce a new DLC – Darkspawn Chronicles which does actually sound like a neat idea but continues down the path that has annoyed me with Bioware. First off, the idea of playing a Darkspawn does sound intriguing, so I will give them credit for putting together a neat concept. However, with Dragon Age it appears that Bioware is more concerned with getting out content that they can charge for as opposed to getting out and maintaining quality content. Not to mention that I’m still upset about the whole RtO fiasco in which it appeared they didn’t have the resources to get that content out due to the push to hit the Awakenings in-store release date. Based on RtO I will be shocked if this DLC actually gets out the door on time and am expecting that the new DLC will disappoint on content.
Following on the heels of the RtO disaster and the hype for TOR, Bioware put up a countdown clock to a rumored to be huge announcement at the end of March. All sorts of rumors were swirling around all their various titles but it turned out to be a Bazaar which you could earn points and participate in point auctions. Not only did this bazaar pretty much instantly crash and remain down for a good period of time but it was catered to folks who did nothing but farm social networks for these points. The starting bids for many (if not all) items instantly surpassed a “common” player and were driven to high levels by those who had the points. My issues with this isn’t that it rewarded people for hyping their games but with the way it was rolled out and the insanity of the starting bids. I pretty quickly lost interest in the whole thing as it just seemed pointless if you weren’t 100% dedicated to it.
So, on to TOR – again, I’m a huge Star Wars fan and really hope this game is successful as I’ve been waiting for a Star Wars MMO since I left SWG. However, given their track record with release dates, server stability, and community management I’m not very confident in it. Couple that with how little we know of the actual gameplay and I’m starting to think TOR will be Dragon Age with PvP in a Star Wars setting, or Knights of the Old Republic with PvP :). Not that this is a bad thing, but it isn’t really something I’d call an MMO (I know folks will argue) and certainly not something I’d pay a subscription for. Now based on their bazaar, I’m expecting some sort of mix between subscription and micro-transactions in a similar model to DDO. But this model is troubling when you look at both the Bioware DLC pricing as well as the infamous sparkle-pony. I can’t imagine what Bioware could charge for a sparkle-Tauntaun :).
In addition, based on Dragon Age, I have very little confidence that TOR will have any semblance of class balance and the 40 billion different ways to CC an opponent will make PvP a CC race and those are incredibly frustrating. We keep hearing that things will be different between TOR and other MMOs, but in all honesty the recent combat video seemed pretty darn similar with the tradition skill usage and cool-downs we’ve experienced. The video to me seemed very much like KOTOR (ok, there’s no pause button in TOR) which is incredibly disappointing based on their previous releases. I’m not talking about the skills, as there are some cool ones, but the actual mechanics and guts of the system. And my favorite quote of the video was the “lots of people fighting the same mob isn’t epic” (ok, I paraphrased a bit here) which seems to be a shot at other MMOs and perhaps an admission that there won’t be any PvE raiding. I’m really hoping there’s something there for group play but it seems more like TOR will be a solo MMO with the option to have someone join you on your story. Not to mention that I’m not sure how they have a massively persistent world with everyone working on their own individual story arcs, I mean can they possibly have that many twists to make each story unique?
I know I’ve been pretty harsh on a game that’s not due to release for another year but it is a disturbing trend that I thought I’d toss out to see if I was alone in my Chicken Little thought process.