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SWTOR Subscriptions Drop Below One Million, F2P Coming in November

Posted Tue, Jul 31, 2012 by Martuk

EA held its Q1 2013 earnings call today and Ten Ton Hammer had the chance to sit in and find out the latest on Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), and we sensed a disturbance in the Force when EA CEO John Ritticello in his opening comments said “The disappointing results of Star Wars: The Old Republic were largely offset by a powerful performance from Battlefield 3 Premium service.

Prior to the earnings call, EA and BioWare announced that SWTOR would be making the move to free-to-play this fall. The earnings call narrowed the date down a bit more stating that the free-to-play jump will happen this November. As expected given the server migrations, SWTOR’s subscription numbers continued to decline as EA President of Labels Frank Gibeau stated that subscriptions have now dropped below the one million mark, indicating that SWTOR has shed at least 300k more subscribers since May when the MMORPG lost 400k following a successful launch in December 2011 that saw more than 1.7 million players join the game.

"Although it launched well, subscriptions have been on a declining trajectory and have now slipped below one million. Last year we announced that the breakeven point was roughly 500,000 subscribers. And while we are well above that today, that’s not good enough, said Frank Gibeau.

The message from players exiting the game is clear – 40 percent say they were turned off by the monthly subscription. And many indicated they would come back if we offered a free-to-play model."

Despite the decline, EA reported a 69% growth in subscription, advertising and digital revenue over the year spearheaded by SWTOR.

Source: EA Q1 2013 Earnings Call

"40 percent say they were turned off by the monthly subscription"
Another case where they just get it wrong. We're not turned off by the monthly subscription. We're turned off by the repetitive gameplay and going through the exact same zones and quests with each character.

A lot of people are leaving because of the poor state of the servers. People don't want to pay for something that just doesn't work..

For me what did it is when they locked my servers 50s out of PvP. That and EV was so bugged we couldnt get passed the 2nd boss.

Couldnt PvP
Couldnt Raid

I already stated before launch that if this game wants to be successful, its going to need a strong endgame. The leveling curve only lasts so long, and the endgame needs to be a major part of their design if they want players to stick around.

There is a giant list of minor things, I could add as well. It all just adds up in the end. I feel the game is actually very good. Great game, poor management & execution.

i agree the game had potentail but utterly fell flat, EA has always seemed to mess up a game some how. everyone who bitches at me for saying things like you just said i just lol at them, your toon's story only lasts so long before it is over, and the end game for SWTOR is a fucking joke.

and they closed the greatest star wars MMO ever for this... STAR WARS GALAXIES was a ton better, what it lacked in story it made up for end game content and innovative shit that made you want to play it for ever

I see it like this just enjoy the game. Play it with good friends/Guildies. Do stuff differently then would would normally do with each character. Go to different servers and see how they play things out differently then you. I mean i join a RP server and the way its played over there is quite different from the normal PvE and PvP like servers.

At least this has more to do with dubbing and audio than the other games I’ve done posts on.

Very few things actively enrage me. I don’t get pissed off at something for being just awful. Manos: The Hands of Fate is a nearly unwatchable mess, but you can tell why it’s bad, you can look at the production and easily identify all the factors that lead to a world-class pile of shit. No, it takes something beyond mere ‘badness’ to agitate me to the point of actually hating something, it takes horrid mediocrity. When I watch any of the Transformers films I am pissed off because there could be a good movie in there somewhere. (Gigantic robots beating the shit out of each other is one of the things that you have to try to fuck up.) And it’s not even a hatred of Michael Bay that makes me hate the Transformers films; I have no problem admitting that I like Michael Bay’s earlier works (Bad Boys, The Rock, and Armageddon are all wonderfully cheesy action films; they’re not remotely good by any means, but they’re fun), my problem with the Transformers films is that they’re bad Michael Bay films. (Which is kind of like saying I hate a Big Mac because it’s bad fast food, the overall product still isn’t good, but there is a right way to do it [In & Out] and there is a wrong way to do it [McDonalds].) Regardless, if you were to ask me what was worse, Manos or Transformers 2, I would say Transformers 2. There is no expectation of Manos to be anything but Manos, there is no potential there, so its massive failure on every level isn’t as irritating as a large-scale blockbuster that is merely mediocre and bloated in its bland badness.

This brings me to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Calling Star Wars: The Old Republic so bad that it should legally be reclassified as a hate crime may be a bit of hyperbole, but I don’t care, as far as I’m concerned it is that bad. Not because it’s anywhere near one of the worst games ever made in terms of tangible, objective quality, but because it’s a big budget pile of mediocrity and lazy, half-explored ideas.

As such, I’ve decided to channel my rage towards this shit into list form, because I like lists, they don’t require any cohesive flow (not that I know anything about cohesive flow to begin with), and they’re easy to make. Also, I must point out, that while I do love the original trilogy (especially Empire), I am not a massive Star Wars nerd. If it wasn’t in the films or in the games that are directly connected to The Old Republic, it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned. So I’m wrong based some fact mentioned in tie-in novel/comic 81,927, I do not give a single flying fuck about it. (And I do have quite an impressive repertoire of fucks to give.)

Pictured: Innovation.

1. Innovation.
While I maintain that entertainment is entirely subjective and my feelings towards this game are not concrete facts, there is one thing that I can bring up against this game that is a one hundred percent completely objective fact. That fact is: this game is not innovative (excluding the crafting system’s usage of companions – which while based on existing concepts, is actually competently executed and fresh – but it still does not have nearly enough impact in the overall scheme). Regardless of your feelings of this game, claiming that it is an apex of innovation is objectively wrong.

Here is a short list of features that SWTOR lacks in comparison to its contemporaries, some of which are games that have been out since 2004! The ability to swim, third party mod support, the ability to heavily modify the UI, day and night cycles, the ability for more than 200 people to be in the same instance of the game, a true seamless world, the ability to save items to a cosmetic set for appearance purposes only, true world PvP, bracketed battleground PvP, true space exploration, non-rail-shooter space combat, the ability to dual spec, the ability to use macros, and so on. Fuck even Lord of the Rings Online had all that minus the world PvP and the space shit.

But The Old Republic is the first to put voice acting and a single player story into an MMO, right? No, not by a long shot. OK but, Bioware was the first to put a single player story with choices and nearly every thing having voice acting into their MMO right? Technically yes, but it’s so horribly integrated that it’s nothing more than taking a standard Bioware singleplayer game and forcing me to deal with an idiot player base while playing it. It’s the equivalent of going back to 1990 and duct taping a portable TV to the back of your driver seat, then claiming you invented a new in-car entertainment system. Or for a different analogy: it’s like taking some peanut butter and some jelly, but instead of mixing them together to form something that is both the same and new, you just eat some peanut butter then some jelly and try and pass it off as the same thing as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What would SWTOR have needed to be truly innovative while still being a singleplayer game stuck in an MMO? To actually intergrate the Bioware singleplayer archetype into an MMO effectively. Things like player on player interactions in conversations, inter-party companion banter, co-op class story quests where your party members could be part of the story as well, possibly some sort of ‘objection’ system where players could challenge another player’s decision during a conversation and get into a terse argument amongst themselves. Yes, all of these things would require a lot of effort to be pulled off effectively… but you know what else requires effort? INNOVATION!

Now I muss stress that lacking innovation in and of itself is not bad. Certain things aren’t innovative for a reason, the status quo works, it doesn’t need to be changed. Companions and side-characters are always fun, the tank, heal, DPS, group setup is a tried and true formula for all group based RPG combat, and raids and instances are great group content and can provide fun and exciting challenges and if done correctly can make the monotonous grind for better gear completely worthwhile. These elements are not bad, they’re just not innovative. My problem with innovation in regards to the game, is that the elements it borrows (everything), it executes poorly.

Pictured: More innovation than you can shake a stick at.

2. Why copying WoW will never make a “WoW Killer”.
SWTOR had very strong launch, reaching a million sales in unprecedented amount of time. However, the same could be said for Lord of the Rings Online, or Rift, or Age of Conan, or Warhammer (although I think Warhammer only got to like 800,000 in the first week). My point is that SWTOR is not breaking new ground in it’s “WoW killing”. Now what game has come the closest to reaching the summit of the MMO market that is World of Warcraft? Guild Wars. I bring this up because, excluding the similar fantasy setting, the two games have nearly nothing in common. I don’t know why video game developers have absolutely no business sense, but it’s been proven in every other industry that the copy but tweak slightly formula doesn’t work. As I mentioned in number 1, I have no problem with SWTOR copying WoW on a conceptual level, but when I see dev interviews with Bioware lying through their teeth about how I’m not going to be doing standard MMO bullcrap, only to start playing and be immediately greeted with some fetch quest or some kill X of creature Y bullshit, it really pisses me off.

Jeff Strain at Arena Net said it best, “I personally have heard numerous designers and producers working on unreleased MMO projects describe their game in these terms: ‘It’s like WoW, but…’ I just shake my head when I hear this, because the team that is best poised to deliver a successful game that is an evolution of WoW is… well, the WoW team. They’ve got their thing, and they’re good at it. Let’s all carve out our own thing, and be the best at it. Truly great games are made by passionate teams who are on fire with the notion of changing the industry. If you are aiming at a competitor rather than aiming to make something fresh and innovative, you’ve lost.”

3. Brand recognition and holy shit this doesn’t make any fucking sense!
To get into the actual flaws of the game proper: this game does not feel like it’s set in some ancient times before Star Wars as we know it. Now I know that making a Star Wars game without it feeling like Star Wars is stupid, but you can make something new and still have it feel like it belongs in the same universe as an existing work. Knights of the Old Republic and The Sith Lords were great about this. The Old Republic? Complete shit. Let’s just look at overall visual style of the two factions. The Republic is blatantly a reskinned version of the Rebel Alliance and the Sith Empire is just a reskinned version of the Galactic Empire. This wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t completely break the universe. What do I mean by that? Well the Sith Empire uses what basically looks like prototype Imperial technology, their ships are the triangle design that resemble Star Destroyers, their fighters look like prototype TIE Fighters, their color scheme is black, white and red, their troops look like black Stormtroopers, they use the Imperial emblem, etc… This all posses a really big fucking problem when the Galactic Empire was just using updated Republic technology. One could argue that this was because Palpatine was heading up the militarization of the Republic and decided to base the designs off old Sith Empire stuff, except many things prevent this from being possible. The Sith Lords shows that the Star Destroyer type ship was a Republic design since at least the Mandalorian Wars, KOTOR 1 and 2 had enemies visually resembling the Galactic Empire but they were all using REPUBLIC equipment, SWTOR features shit like prototype Clone Trooper armor (which makes even less sense, as Clone Trooper armor was based of a Mandalorian design) and prototype walkers being utilized by the Republic, and not only that, but the prequels themselves contradict that notion because the entire Jedi Order would have instantly called bullshit the second the guy they were already suspicious of starting modeling the military after the Sith Empire. (Granted that last one assumes that anything in the prequels was based on logic, so it doesn’t exactly hold up.)

And so I must ask, why!? There is no need for this. It does nothing but detract from the game. Revan’s Sith Empire in Knights of the Old Republic had a great slick, metallic, fresh from the factory theme going on, the Sith Triumvirate in The Sith Lords had a run down and destroyed theme, these worked. Revan’s equipment was produced by an ancient factory designed to mass produce crap at insane speeds. Darth Nihilus and Sion were both products of the destruction at Malachor V, so it fit to have them cruising around the galaxy with salvaged Republic equipment and scrapped together remnants of Malak’s military. There really isn’t any connected theme to the Empire in SWTOR. Why all the black and white? Why the Stormtroopers? Why not a visual theme that suggests bloated opulence and massive gaps between social classes? The Sith Empire has this whole “Sith purity” bullshit going on, so why not reflect that with some gaudy red color scheme? But no, creating a fresh and unique visual style to everything would require actual effort and talent. (Again if there is an extended universe explanation for this, I don’t care, it’s still fucking stupid.)

Instead of creating fresh visuals that both invoked a nostalgia towards the beloved trilogy that spawned this franchise, while also being new and exciting; this game is filled with tired, overused shit that sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s like the developers thought the people playing the game had the brain capacity of a piece of Styrofoam (which is probably true considering how godawful the community for this game is) and needed to be reminded at every moment that they were indeed playing a Star Wars game.

4. How making everyone special means no one is.
When you make something that everyone has, it’s not special. When Bioware was making this game they said they intended every Jedi Knight to be Luke Skywalker, every Smuggler to be Han Solo, every Sith Warrior to be Darth Vader, etc… that simply doesn’t work when you’re in an MMO. If Bioware made a singleplayer or even co-op game that would be fine, but when it’s an MMO and I have to run around looking at thirty billion Zabrak Sith Assassin’s named some variation of Darth Maul (Mual, Maule, Maaul, Maull, Maal, Luam, ect…) and everyone and their brother has a lightsaber, you can’t make that claim. It’s all about saturation. When you reach the point of massively multiplayer you automatically remove any thoughts of individual exceptionalism. Every Jedi Knight isn’t Luke Skywalker, every Jedi Knight is just another mook in a long line of Jedi Knights. Yes the class story lines do attempt to make each character feel special, but the problem is that after you emerge from your singleplayer story (where you get to be the most important, perfect snowflake in the universe), you’re once again reminded that everything you just did isn’t special.

Yes, in a singleplayer game obviously no one believes that they’re the only person in the world playing this story, but they’re still allowed to do their own thing with in the confines of their game. You’re special because you’re the only one in that particular version of the game. The appeal to an MMO isn’t the game telling you that you’re special, it’s the massive community and making yourself special through your own efforts. By creating hard and engaging content it allows players to distinguish themselves. The Old Republic has none of this.

5. Voice acting and how it’s not a substitute for decent gameplay.
I will openly admit that when it comes to the main character voice acting I do not have a complete picture as all eight of my characters are female and I have no desire to replay the game with eight males. I was however exposed to a moderate amount of male voice acting through grouping with my friends, but there were a few classes (such as bounty hunter) where I never got a chance to check out the male voice, nor do I have any desire to. (Bioware doesn’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to primary protagonist male voice acting.)

Alright, it’s no secret that this is where this game’s entire budget went. So how is the voice acting? Good*. Three hundred million dollars good? No. Worth having to put up with shitty gameplay good? Fuck no. Able to be used as the sole selling point of the game good? Fuck to the no. It’s merely good, not great, not the zenith of auditory perfection that such an outlandish budget and effort should produce, simply good*. (Yes, I know that one to three hundred million [reliable sources claim two hundred million without advertising] is not the highest budget ever, but these are voice actors; if this was a film with real actors the budget probably would have been roughly equivalent to the United States’ GDP.) Now note that ‘good’ comes with an asterisk because there are some moments of just amazingly shitty voice acting. My personal favorite so far being an instance on Tatooine where the male Imperial Agent manages to cram two full sentences of dialogue into five seconds of speech. (When a dubbed anime manages to deal with having to cram too many words into too few flaps, better than your prelay video game… there are some serious problems!)

The other reason I hold reservation in calling the voice acting ‘good’ is that, while I did enjoy the voices, there is more ham in this vocal cast than at a pig farm. From Kari Wahlgren being so ridiculously upbeat and cheerful (even while playing as a full dark side Jedi Sentinel); to Xanthe Elbrick taking Jennifer Hale’s penchant for trying way too hard to sound intimidating and draining all emotion out of it, giving everything that comes out of the Sith Inquisitor’s mouth a slow, dry, cheesetacular delivery; to Jennifer Hale doing everything hammy about her Shepard performance; to Grey Delise’s almost note for note rip-off of every cliché tough, no-nonsense, action-girl character in existence; to Athena Karkanis’ penchant for being half asleep during her dialogue (to be fair to Ms. Karkanis, the Jedi Consular story is so boring and irrelevant that I would be half asleep too); to Bertie Carvel with his weird voice that manages to both be a suave, debonair spy voice and completely phoned in at the same time. (Seriously the male Imperial Agent shouldn’t be Cipher Nine, they should be Cipher Not-giving-a-shit.)

I’d be lying if said I didn’t enjoy the voice acting, but it’s definitely a guilty pleasure. Of course there are some performances that aren’t filled with comedic line readings. I’ve really enjoyed Jo Wyatt as the female Imperial agent. Granted my Operative does nothing but pick the bitchest/most trolling options I can, but I think Wyatt does a decent job at that.

The secondary characters funnily enough have a lot more believable performances than most of the protagonists (and considering that some of those are comically evil Sith, that’s saying something), apart from Steve Blum being at least forty-five people in the vocal cast, the minor character, companion, and secondary character acting is where the voice work really shines. It’s still not great though; it has a very flat recorded in a vacuum feel to every line (an unfortunate side effect to having to record different reactions to every choice the players make), many people’s emotions don’t always match up with their responses, but it’s definitely the only highlight of this pile of shit.

6. THE FUCKING DIALOGUE WHEEL!
Fuck this thing. Fuck it long. Fuck it hard. Fuck it sideways. Fuck it six ways from Sunday. Fuck the person who invented it. Fuck the games that use it. Fuck literally everything about this piece of shit. I fucking loathe the dialogue wheel to the point where I can’t even form coherent thoughts about how much it pisses me off without devolving into a rambling stream of ‘fucks’ and ‘shits’. It’s not just that it’s bad, it’s that it’s stupid, broken, misleading, and often hampers the player’s ability to role-play. One good improvement to the dialogue wheel in SWTOR is that they changed it up so that upper-right isn’t always the good/appeasement option and lower-right isn’t always the bad/conflict option. But that’s it. Not only is the already shit dialogue wheel made worse in this game (it’s now just a dialogue semi-circle) but in an attempt to make my most feared dreams come to fruition Bioware found a way to make the previously misleading text excerpts (which only give you a vague idea of what you were going to say) even more misleading now (sometimes what’s on the wheel and what you actually say aren’t even remotely fucking related). So yeah, fuck the dialogue wheel.

7. How the morality system is completely and utterly fucked.
It takes a special kind of failure to take something that is already broken (the two point morality scale) and break it even more. Not just to the point of being broken, but to the point of being irreparably damaged beyond any hope for salvage or repair. This is especially jarring considering that Bioware’s last morality system (paragon and renegade in Mass Effect) was actually one of the best two point morality systems around. It was still victim to many of the pratfalls associated with two-sided morality but it also was far less restrictive than a simple light side/dark side linear scale.

Compounding on the already monumental and cataclysmic failure of resorting to the piss-poor lineal morality, Bioware also managed to make morality in The Old Republic as completely fucked as possible. And it lets you know just how fucked it is fairly early on. How early? Well I was about an hour (a little bit less probably) into the game when I realized that morality was totally and irreversibly broken. I was playing my Chiss Agent (because blue girls are the best girls – seriously, the fact that every class can’t be Chiss is a travesty) when I was presented with an encounter where a man was threatening to blow my cover. Following the wonderfully restrictive dialogue wheel I was given three choices on how to deal with the situation. Bribe him. Kill him. Fuck him. Now let me get this out-of-the-way right now: to praise Bioware; I applaud the ability to whore your way out of a situation. When playing a spy class, I expect some zesty romantic escapades. The issue however comes from the option to fuck him or bribe him being considered light side choices and the option to kill him being considered a dark side choice. We’re not talking about Joe from accounting that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a criminal attempting to blackmail and intimidate you. I’m not trying to say, in a real life situation, that would justify murder, but what I am saying is that bribing him or emotionally manipulating him shouldn’t be considered the moral high ground and killing him shouldn’t be worth as many dark side points as shooting a child’s father in cold blood while said child watches.

See the biggest and most glaring flaw with morality in The Old Republic is not that it’s blatantly black and white; it’s that it’s fucking retarded. Often times there will be light side choices that are only light side by simple merit of not being the dark side choice, or the other way around. And if that wasn’t enough there is absolutely no fucking consistency in what is and is not a dark side or light side choice. For example: there is a mid-level Imperial instance where you are given control of a missile battery and the evil choice is the unthinkable act of targeting the Republic fleet with the missiles. These aren’t some missiles carrying some inhumane toxic weapon that violates all standards of decent warfare; you’re not shooting civilian or non-combatant targets. It’s an enemy fleet of warships. That’s the evil choice. Okay, I’ll accept it on the grounds that you’re directly causing a massive loss of life. That would be fine if immediately after the instance I couldn’t go hop in my ship, find the nearest space battle, blow away 100+ Republic pilots, cripple a ton of Republic cruisers and capital class ships (presumably killing hundreds if not thousands of crew members), nearly destroy a Republic space station (also presumably killing thousands of people), and suffer absolutely no morality loss. And it’s not like that’s an isolated incident. It happens all the time. It’s okay for my Sith Sorcerer to shock a man to death while he’s begging for his life because he was a gigantic douchebag… on Nar Shaddaa; but on Tatooine it’s not okay to shock a guy who isn’t begging for his life and is equally a douchebag. (Although it is okay to let Steve Blum murder him for revenge.)

There just is no fucking consistency. It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t A) completely railroaded into having to make an either or choice (excluding the very rare moments the game is nice enough to give you a morality choice with a neutral option or no counter morality option) and B) forced to pick between playing either light side or dark side. Yes, you can indeed play a neutral character. Except that Bioware forgot (they claim they didn’t have enough time) to put in neutral morality gear. This isn’t the first time Bioware has forced me to nerf myself, so it’s not surprising. (I had to play through all of Mass Effect 2 without a helmet and all associated stats because Bioware forgot to include a ‘hide helmet’ option.) The only good thing is that The Old Republic is easy, so the stat losses from playing a neutral character are negligible.

8. Challenging gameplay is only for people who aren’t mentally handicapped.
I miss hard games. Games that would actually challenge the player. Games where you couldn’t literally two-man every single thing in the game excluding battleground PVP and raids. Unfortunately as the game market grows game developers have decided that gamers have the collective abilities of a wet sponge. This pisses me off. I honestly believe that shitty gamers are a product of hand-holding and casualization and many people have the skills and ability to not suck at everything if they were forced to actually exert effort. Is it too much to ask for a game that isn’t piss easy?

9. Why making romance simulators instead of video games should be punished by death.
I don’t support the death penalty in most cases (I think prisoners on death row should be doing something more productive – like mining snow in Alaska), but there are some instances where I feel that capital punishment should be applied. Railroading me into really, really, really badly written romances is one of those instances.

I don’t mind having romanceable NPCs in theory. The problem is that they’re so poorly written, and they’re so poorly written because game developers need to pander to everyone or gamers will start complaining about how they don’t have their perfect fantasy woman/man (for the rare group of lonely women that exist). It’s like a dating sim, the reason why there are multiple routes is that so every lonely social reject can have his/her girl/guy. It’s why those characters come across as cold, manufactured components, carefully assembled to resemble a list of desired traits and qualities that have the most appeal. No one wants to play a dating game where you have to deal with realistic relationship issues. Why would they? If they wanted that they could actually (and I know this is kind of out there) go out and interact with a real member of the opposite sex.

So when making your super awesome story driven game, you need to focus on that same wide appeal, that’s why my Agent can have a lesbian relationship with her droid. Because why not!? It has tits and therefore is obviously fuckable. Who cares if it’s stupid and nonsensical, we have to make sure there is a romance option available to the droidsexuals of the world. That’s why every character is bisexual. And I don’t hate Bioware and EA for trying to appeal to as many people as possible, if I blew three hundred million dollars on an unpolished turd I’d do everything in my power to make sure it was a turd with wide appeal too. My issue with the romance-retardery is that Bioware has always been the company with “good writing” and if Bioware is going to continue to be lauded as that, I’m damn well going to bitch about shitty romances that obviously only cater to the fantasies of the lowest common denominator.

Edit: Upon actually trying to take one of the homosexual relationships on an alt (my mains all took the heterosexual romance options in hopes of finding a romance of greater cheese value than the Jacob romance in Mass Effect 2) I discovered that they have not yet been implemented in the game. So while my friend’s Agent can (and is) boning his droid, mine sadly can not. However, the romance options are still extremely poorly written and if Bioware does follow through and turn every character bisexual, then the original point will stand.

Edit 2: You cannot plow the droid, my friend was joking when he informed me of his man on metal love. So props to BioWare for not going down that road… yet. However, I think it says a lot about the continuously degrading quality of Bioware’s romance options when someone can tell me that the droid is a romance option and I just accept it at face value with no questions asked. I mean, we’ve already reached the point in Bioware games of having sex with an alien race that die if they leave their biosuit, so the leap to being able to screw a droid seemed entirely feasible.

10. BUGS!
There are no words to describe how unpolished this game is. Yes, every MMO has a buggy launch. But most MMOs don’t play like a rough beta at launch. Even WoW’s launch (as godawful as that was) wasn’t as buggy as this. And they’re not minor bugs either, they’re things like broken animations and visual glitches in character story line cutscenes. This game plays like it has absolutely no QC. You know how sometimes you’ll be playing a game and the AI will get caught up on the invisible (to the player) wall that exists between two cells? Or maybe you won’t be able to target an enemy through that transition? Or maybe you will get caught up on that transition? It’s harder to find places that doesn’t happen in The Old Republic than places it does. This is especially shitty when you have an AI controlled companion following you all the time and they get stuck because they can’t properly enter the next area. Then there are the myriad of random problems, like falling through the world, getting teleported to limbo, left-click getting disabled if you double-click to fast with any of the mouse buttons, skill-queue’s overlapping (if you have a talent that reduces the cast time of your ‘next’ skill after X conditions are satisfied, you can actually get it to apply to your next two to three usage of that skill as long as it has no cooldown due to the skill-queue overlap), temporary invisible walls, shitty terrain that can get you stuck in ‘infinite fall’ mode, enemies going dead and doing absolutely nothing (not that I’m going to complain if the AI doesn’t want to fightback), loot-chests glitching out and simply not opening, instance flashpoint bosses disappearing while changing phases, etc… And then beyond that there are the tons of conversation and cutscene visual bugs like super-tiny NPCs, characters going through the motion of pulling out and using their weapons (despite the model itself still being holstered), the ‘camera’ randomly focusing on something completely wrong (such as a gigantic floating chest board in space where the NPC is standing… instead of the hologram that said NPC is supposed to be projected on), character animations simply freezing leading to people sliding across the floor while T-posing, the wrong conversation starting, infinite conversation loops and class quests, etc…

My point is that this game is buggy. All MMOs are buggy, but not all MMOs are buggy in nearly every aspect of the game. The game is just unpolished. It’s like a beta that accidentally got a retail release. And that beta was programmed by three guys in two hours, while on drugs, and suffering from severe sleep depression. It took Bioware nearly two weeks to patch a game ending bug in one of the class questlines! Even fucking Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing was winnable at launch.

11. Optimization and how licensing an engine programmed by retarded monkeys is a bad idea.
I can’t really blame Bioware for the Hero Engine for being shit. I can blame them for licensing an unfinished engine, I can blame them for programming their game on it, and I can blame them for the final product being one of the single worst optimized games ever released. I was originally not going to bitch about this as I can run The Old Republic with no issues (performance issues that is); then I got my friends to play and one of them has a computer that can’t run SWTOR to save its life. This initially confused me because he can play something like Skyrim (clearly the more graphically intense game) with absolutely no problem. Of course Skyrim isn’t on the abomination that is the Hero Engine. SWTOR is. The Result? SWTOR is horribly, horribly optimized. No one should have problems running this game! If you have a peice of toast and some silly string you should be able to fashion a computer capable of running this game. And yet general chat is still filled with people bitching about performance issues, I still have to run in circles for two minutes while I wait for a buddy to actually load the environment (although I maintain that he should learn to play with a gigantic black screen of nothingness), I still have to deal with no support for true HD textures because Bioware claims that MMOs can’t support them. In short… DON’T PUT YOUR GAME ON A SHIT ENGINE!

12. Making decent animations is hard!
The animations in this game are bad. I really have nothing to say beyond that because it would take more effort than was put into the animations that Bioware felt were acceptable for a retail game.

13. Revan and The Exile Meetra Surik.
I’m not going to complain about how making a canon version of a playable character that you’re supposed to create and shape based on your whim, is not only stupid, but damaging to the very fabric of a role-playing. I am going to bitch that the canon version of Revan is complete shit. (I can’t even begin to start talking about the unspeakable crimes The Old Republic visited upon The Exile with out completely flipping out and killing a kitten, so I’ll sum that up with this: Fuck. You. Bioware.) Fucking up Revan takes a certain degree of just contempt for everything that is good. It’s like taking a shit on the Mona Lisa, you just don’t do it. You don’t take Revan: the first man (canonically a man) to be called Darth, one of the greatest military minds in the galaxy, the master of both the light and the dark side, the basic living embodiment of the force; and turn him into a foppish bitch who can be defeated by four schmucks. Thankfully Bioware didn’t kill Revan, so there is hope still… like completely retconning everything and instead having Revan be a full on raid boss that instantly wipes your party that doesn’t have a shit voice.

14. How to make your reused resources as blatantly obvious as possible.
When you have a multi-million dollar voice acting budget you think you’d be able to avoid having to resort to reused audio. Maybe get them to do like three takes if you want that stock ‘I’ll accept this quest’ line. Or, if you’re Bioware, you could just have it be as blatant as fucking possible. And that’s just in the voice acting, that’s not even counting the reused buildings (all of them), settings, and other copy and pasted shit. Like many other games, SWTOR is fortunate that Dragon Age II already set the bar as low as possible when it comes to reused resources, but for its scope, size, and supposed grandeur there is no excuse for SWTOR making me visit the same place over and over again. (It’s so bad that there are outposts with copy and paste buildings literally right next to each other.) It’s like they just didn’t care.

15. Space Combat.
Star Fox 64 came out in 1997. Why the fuck am I playing it in 2012!? Because that’s what space combat is in this game. On-rails bullshit. You want a new ship? You want multiplayer free-roam ship vs ship battles? You want space missions to not recycle after a certain level and not become ‘that mission you already did but harder’? TOO FUCKING BAD! And the worse part? As horrible as all that is. Space combat is probably one of the few bright spots in the game.

16. The Player Base.
There are no words in the English language to describe just how bad the player base for this game is. I don’t usually like to devalue words like ‘genocide’ and ‘holocaust’ (although I believe I did call The Mobile Suit Gundam Movie Trilogy dub a ‘audio holocaust’) but group of people who make up this game’s community, are worse than genocide. If an alien race came to Earth and only saw the SWTOR forums. I would not hold anything against them when they decided that the human race should be eradicated. Between vehement defenders and general chat that makes Barrens General look like a gold-standard of maturity and enjoyable discussions, Star Wars The Old Republic may just have the single worst community in gaming history. Worse than Call of Duty… no, worse than any competitive multiplayer game. I would rather listen to six hours of ten thousand angry teenagers bitching at me than listen to one minute of the TOR community.

17. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Dull.
There is some good to be found in this game. The Imperial Agent storyline is genuinely entertaining and worth playing through and the Sith Inquistor storyline is also entertaining, although it’s more of a guilty pleasure as it has more than enough moments of complete retardation… but between the trolling, sith politics, and Xanthe Elbrick’s ham, I definitely enjoyed it. There are also a few side quests that got a chuckle or two out of me and a few moments where I found myself not completely hating the game.

There is a lot of bad to be found in this game. (Not counting the aforementioned shittiness in points 3 to 16.) Every single Republic story is boring shit. (I do have to give credit to the Consular story – it’s the first time you actually get to be the boring irrelevant side character.) The Bounty Hunter story goes to shit after Act 1 (even squandering some excellent opportunities), and the Sith Warrior storyline is just dull and generic (although Baras is pretty enjoyable).

There a metric fuckload of dull to be found. The game looks like shit. I don’t mean it graphically looks bad, or that I hate the art style. I mean the environments. They look like shit. They’re all just these boring, dull, tired settings. Even places I was interested to explore like the ruins of Taris or a non-destroyed Alderaan or places that are extremely relevant in the Star Wars universe but I never heard of them like Ilum. They’re all just boring. This is a result of the ‘brand awareness’ that I already talked about. Because everything in this game is just blatant reskins, there is no chance to create new and amazing environments. Everything is ‘safe’ shit we’ve already seen. This even extends to the music. I originally thought this game had no original music because literally everything I’d heard was recycled shit. Sometimes things can be recycled like the Star Wars theme or “The Imperial March” (although using “The Imperial March” for the Sith Empire only further solidifies the copy/paste feel), but others just feel wrong and out-of-place. Like using the eerie music from Luke’s battle against Vader in Return of the Jedi for a scene of a Jedi building their lightsaber. Or using music from The Sith Lords for anything in this game. It belongs nowhere fucking near The Old Republic.

Bioware has been recycling their games for years and I think that The Old Republic is the final culmination of that. It just feels like a mediocre effort, taking elements from games that handled them far better, and shoving them into one unpolished, uninteresting mess. Imagine standing atop a serene cliff overlooking a beautiful ocean, and while you look at this wondrous seascape you realize that no one loves you, you will never be truly happy, and you will die a lonely, unfulfilled shell of a person, who never accomplished any of their goals. Playing Star Wars: The Old Republic is kind of like that, except of course the ocean is some bland texture because God won’t include true HD textures outside of conversations and the trees to your left are sliding across the ground.
Final Score:
Star Wars The Old Republic as an MMO: 0/10 (It’s an MMO that’s biggest problem is being an MMO. It can’t fuck up more than that. You can make a car out of gold, but it’s still going to be a shitty car.)
Star Wars The Old Republic as a co-op game that had extra players leak into it: 4/10.

Side Note: New content patch apparently will have zombies. FUCKING ZOMBIES! Even Star Wars Galaxies waited until it was nearly dead to resort to zombies. There are only two reasons to have zombies in your game. Either it’s A) about zombies or B) a game featuring a gun that summons a land shark. I haven’t played the new content yet, but according to word of mouth it’s far less Left 4 Dead + SW:TOR than the trailers implied. Although I still question who on Earth thought adding more Rakghouls to the game was a good idea. Why not a less boring enemy? I finally did get around to playing Kaon Under Siege and it is indeed not Left 4 Dead + SW:TOR. Left 4 Dead was at least fun. It is however generic zombie bullshit and quite possibly the single worst instance ever made in any game ever. (It’s not hard, it’s not fun, it’s not interesting, it’s just one long boring pile of crap.)

Added Note: This is a cathartic rant to vent my anger towards this game. If you can’t handle that please leave a comment informing me of just how much I do indeed suck. If you are enjoying the game and are not one of the people who feel the need to start a holy-war every time someone mentions any flaw involving it, and are actually a decent and upstanding human being, please by all means continue enjoying the game. I did not enjoy it, however you are more than welcome to. That’s what makes humankind so great, we have different opinions. If you however, are a member of the Bioware Defense Force(TM), please reevaluate your life, you not only validate the ire given to the SWTOR community but you actually make the game less enjoyable to play.

GG_25_02

I really don't understand racism in the real world. People are what people are, regardless of skin pigmentation or where their ancestors came from. There's really only one real-world race - the Human Race - and I loathe everyone equally.

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