Updated Fri, Dec 21, 2012 by jeffprime
BioWare made a big deal out of the various story lines and the choices that players would make while playing SWTOR. However, there are no real ramifications to those choices. While certain choices will affect the affection of your companions or your Light Side/Dark Side points, you can always change that by running flashpoints or daily missions. There are no real ramifications for making choices during or at the end of a mission.
For example, you cross a Hutt crime lord by taking missions that harm his business. Does he put a price on your head so that assassins randomly attack you for the bounty? Are certain vendors or areas closed off to you due to your reputation? Nope. While you have the illusion of making choices in a mission, there are no real-world consequences for your character in SWTOR. Nothing really good or bad happens to your character outside of accumulating Dark Side/Light Side points and companion affection.
Here's an example of consequences in another game, Witcher 2. I met a group of elves who asked me to supply them with weapons so they could hunt local game for food. However, elves and humans have had a lot of friction. My choice was to deny them weapons and have them starve or to give them weapons and hope they would use them only for hunting. To make matters more chaotic, I only had a limited time to make my decision. I decided to give them the weapons and felt I had done a good deed. Later on, I wandered into the next human village only to find out that the elves had attacked it and there were dead humans littering the streets. It felt like someone had punched me in the gut, but it showed that my decisions had consequences.
It would be nice if SWTOR had some sort of mechanism in place to have some ramifications for your character's actions. Right now there isn't, and I spend my decision making time on figuring out how to maximize the points I want from the conversations.
While I've given a number of reasons why the Force isn't with SWTOR, there is still hope. (You're my only hope, Obi-Wan!) BioWare could make some changes to turn SWTOR to the Light Side. First, they really need to introduce free-form space combat. Heck, they could even market it as an expansion and I would pick it up if the price wasn't too steep. It would be even better if there were more than fighters in the new space combat. I would happily just man a turret on a star destroyer or smuggler's freighter for the sheer joy of it.
BioWare should introduce some consequences for your actions to make SWTOR more exciting. Even having certain merchants charge the players more or refuse to deal with them would be a start. Personally, I love the idea of having various factions putting contracts out on players, which would result in hit squads randomly attacking the player while they were traveling across a planet or in an instance. Playing a Bounty Hunter, I think it would be fascinating to have small groups of Jedi hunting me down for my crimes.
SWTOR should also implement choice into their PvP. Players should be able to choose what maps they wish to play on and not be stuck with what the game decides for them. Players should also be able to start their own PvP session by choosing to run a specific scenario or even to rotate between scenarios. Lastly, I would also like more content in SWTOR that was scalable or to have a random mission generator. I don't want to be stuck doing dailies or the same dungeon runs over and over again.
When SWTOR was announced and then launched, I had high hopes. Alas, I realized all too quickly that the Force wasn't with SWTOR for multiple reasons. My personal differences with the game center around the woeful space combat, the frustrating PvP, and the fact that the decisions I make don't really have an impact. In order to turn SWTOR to the Light Side, BioWare will have to make some significant changes. I fervently hope that this disturbance in the Force will eventually be addressed.