The lights are on
Power Member - Level 10
I was initially resistant when it came to trying out the
most successful massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft. A friend
of my mine consistently urged me to play, explaining every facet of the game
that made it so impressive and addictive. It took a lot of convincing, but I
finally bought and subscribed to WoW right as the first expansion pack, The
Burning Crusade, was launching.
I leveled slowly, grinding away through the unfamiliar world
of Azeroth. My friend would check on me and comment on my progress. "C'mon,
man," he would say. "This game doesn't even really start until you get to the level cap." For a lot of MMO
enthusiasts, this statement probably rings true. Many players see the journey
from level one to the game's cap as the work
you have to do to have the fun. Once
these sorts of players get to the level cap, they begin what's called the "end-game
content": generally a series of dungeons, quests, and bosses that yield the most
treasured items in the game.
When I got to the level cap in WoW, I dabbled in a little
end-game activity. I brought down a few raid bosses. I tried my hand in some
arena player versus player action. I even managed to score some decent threads
for my Tauren Druid through my end-game endeavors. However, all I really wanted
to do was make another character of a different class and play through that
level one to cap grind once more; I just wanted to reroll.
Rerolling in WoW could prove tedious after a character or
two. Sure, there was some variety in the beginning areas as each race had its
own theme and style to explore early on. As you progressed, though, you started
to see far too familiar quests and lands very quickly.
Oh hey, look, it's the Barrens. Again. And I killed that owl guy. Again.
My most recent time-destroyer, Star Wars: The Old Republic,
handles this aspect of MMOs a little differently. If you know anything about SWTOR,
then you're probably aware of the dialogue and narrative gameplay elements
implemented in the experience (for the uninitiated, it's quite similar to
Bioware's other titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass
Effect, and Dragon Age.) Each class in SWTOR gets its own story quest to follow.
The narrative is the driving force of the game's exploration
and progression. You don't just go to Balmorra because you're level 20 and
that's just what you do when you're level 20. You go to Balmorra because your
Sith Warrior is on the galactic trail of a Jedi, following every step of an
intricate plan setup by your master.
With four classes on each allegiance, making eight very
unique quest lines to explore, there are plenty of reasons to reroll once I hit
the game's cap. Even the quest hubs that every class shares (of which there are
many) have variations in dialogue and interactions.
In case you weren't sold on SWTOR yet, that's my Sith Warrior Force Choking a Jawa.
The most interesting example of this can be seen with how characters
in the game seem to fear and respect my Sith Warrior. Every NPC calls me Lord
and bows upon meeting me. Meanwhile, my Bounty Hunter is just some ragtag galactic
freelancer. Most quests seem to be offered with the excuse, "Well, I guess we could use a bounty hunter like
you. There's no one else around to do it."
As excited as I am to check out every class SWTOR has to
offer, if only to see where each narrative goes, there is part of me that
actually misses the less-than-engaging method of questing that WoW offered. I
made a character that was of the same class as my main in SWTOR for the purpose
of going to another server, and almost immediately everything felt a bit stale.
Since it was a story I already knew, I just wanted to grind quests and level up.
There are different ways to approach each class's story through the light and
dark side system, but I'm not entirely certain that would add enough variety to
merit being really engaged in a second play-through of a class.
On top of that, you do travel to the exact same areas as
every other class. From a practical standpoint, this makes perfect sense for
making groups with other players. However, landing on Dromund Kaas loses
anything unique or special after the tenth time.
I've been playing SWTOR since the first day of the pre-release,
and I've really enjoyed just about all of my time with it (saved for some of
the rough patches that are typical of an MMO at launch.) After playing every
class, I feel like this game has earned my monthly subscription at least long enough
to see each of my characters reach level 50. Each of the class's paths has been
interesting enough to keep coming back and hopefully it stays that way.