Updated Fri, Dec 21, 2012 by jeffprime
I've been a lifelong fan of Star Wars and can still remember seeing the original movie way back in 1977. (My dad took us a grand total of two times in the year that the movie ran while everyone I knew saw it almost weekly!) To this day, I still get goose bumps when the Rebels begin their assault on the Death Star and poor Porkins still gets blasted into space chum. So you can imagine the fever pitch of excitement I reached when I heard that one of my favorite companies, BioWare, was making a Star Wars MMO. Every detail I heard about SWTOR made me salivate in anticipation of the game's eventual release. I suppose that's why, when I began to hear some rumblings about SWTOR before its launch, but I paid the naysayers no mind.
As soon as SWTOR launched, I began to play in earnest. Sadly, very early on, I came to realize that the Force was not with SWTOR. In fact, it had turned to the Dark Side of fun and enjoyment for a variety of reasons. While I might wish I could blame its problems on Jar-Jar, or Lucas' mad decision to have Han shoot second (Han shot first!), the sad truth is that the Force wasn't with SWTOR due to some ill-fated gameplay decisions by BioWare.
When I think Star Wars, the first thing that comes to mind is awesome space combat. As mentioned above, the assault upon the Death Star is my single favorite movie scene ever, and I still sit down to watch it if I come across it channel-surfing. I couldn't wait until I got to try my hand at space combat in SWTOR, and when I did....
To put it bluntly, the space combat in SWTOR is a joke. Instead of facing off against interesting computer AI or against other players, we get saddled with a prettier version of Star Fox. Mindlessly repetitive space combat on rails is not fun, it's tedious. To make matters worse, there are only three to four scenarios with differing variations. While I wasn't expecting the glory days of X-Wing versus Tie-Fighter, I did expect something more substantial than a timid mini-game.
What boggles my mind further with space combat in SWTOR is that, when I complained in various forums, I heard SWTOR apologists say that the space combat component was added late to satisfy certain fans and not considered a central component of the game. WTF? I suppose I could understand this attitude if the only Star Wars movies we'd experienced were the crappy prequels with their incredibly lame segments of space combat, but how can any Star Wars lover write off space combat given the incredible space battles of the original trilogy, not to mention the rich legacy of space combat sims by LucasArts such as X-Wing, Tie-Fighter, and X-Wing versus Tie-Fighter? There really is no excuse for the shameful space combat currently in SWTOR.
I'm not a big PvP player because I have the reflexes of a three-toed sloth, but I don't mind getting dirty from time to time. However, the way PvP is structured in SWTOR really leeches the fun out of the experience for me for two principal reasons.
First, you have no choices; when you queue up for battle, you have to play a random scenario chosen for you. Normally, this means that you're stuck in Huttball hell. I got Huttball at least 90% of the time I queued up for PvP when I originally played. I can honestly say that I hate Huttball with the simmering rage of a million suns. I've gone back since SWTOR went F2P and, while I didn't get popped with Huttball, I still had no choice as to which map I was going to play. Why can't SWTOR allow players to choose their own scenario? Other MMOs, such as Warhammer Online, allow you to do so. By being able to choose what map I'm going to play, I can play scenarios that I enjoy and not waste time playing the ones I find tedious. Having a choice equals having more fun, in my opinion. Not being given a choice destroys my enjoyment and increases my frustration.
The second reason that the Force isn't with SWTOR in the PvP sense is how abilities function. I played a Bounty Hunter because I didn't want to play any kind of Jedi and I wanted to dish out lots of damage. Imagine my surprise when the vast amount of my attacks do not work on the move. Why in the name of God can't I pull a trigger while I'm moving? They do it in the movies, so why can't I do it in the game? In addition, the range of all my "long range" attacks, such as blaster fire or missiles, had the same range of a Jedi's force jump. There's nothing like the joy of running up to get in range of shooting a Jedi to see him force jump at me just as I'm pressing my attack key. A few lightsaber strikes and then he force pushes me back out of firing range. I had foolishly thought I might have an advantage in open ground, being armed with a blaster and missiles versus a sword, but no. Just let me pull the trigger as I'm moving is all I ask. If BioWare wants to confirm that moving while firing a blaster is perfectly reasonable, I'd be glad to take them down to the local paintball range to see the action.