The Old Republic Diaries; Day Six.

Taking a day off was a good idea, it gave me some time to get my thoughts together.

I’ve spent a bit of time playing some other classes in order to see if I get a better contact from them, and that project is still ongoing. But I’ve really noticed something that’s driving me mad.

Now, I am all for story. I love story. I love moral choice. But The Old Republic has so much of it, so many branches, so many options and sometimes on a timer, that it all skips along without much grace and charm.

The voice acting itself is shocking to my ears. Considering the amount of money they spent on these voice actors, one must assume that BioWare were satisfied with this work.

I just get the sensation that the whole story aspect is being blown out of proportion too – essentially, it’s a rep grind in all but name. You act like a twat or you act like a saint in order to gain the required light and dark reputations to use items, weapons and such forth.

This is hardly a new mechanic in the MMO space.

I’m also going to say this very matter-of-factly; I think The Old Republic plays like a game from four years ago. Somehow, somewhere along the line, BioWare forgot to keep up with the myriad of changes and battles waging in the market, forgot to see what Blizzard were changing, what Trion were adding to Rift, what Funcom were doing with Age of Conan, Cryptic with Champions Online. There are lots of other MMOs which in the last few years have tackled graphical fidelity and engine issues, player interaction, server stability, server spread, social grouping and relaxed interaction.

They’ve also made the games more relaxed, less of a chore in the midst of a grind and more calming. People who say they want an MMO to be difficult are in the minority after all – the majority of us are there to be entertained, to have fun, to enjoy ourselves. If you want difficulty, that’s great – I like a challenge sometimes too, but I wouldn’t want my desire for a challenge imposed on others who don’t. Making a game too tough in areas, too difficult to progress in, too awkward to get into leads to players getting worn out and frustrated, which doesn’t end up in subscriber retainment.

The Old Republic, from my first 20 levels on Sith Warrior, is a game that probably would have been hailed and lauded four years ago, maybe even two years ago. But with the dynamic changes of the industry, with Trion Worlds entering the fray with such a polished and finely honed new franchise, with Blizzard taking the time to finally listen to its playerbase, with Champions Online, EQ2 and others now free to play, we’re in a world where we expect more – demand more.

And I’ve got to say on that front, The Old Republic is disappointing.

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