Update on SW:ToR - Two Weeks Later
In an earlier post on the topic of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I detailed what I thought about the game during my time with it in beta. While most of those thoughts still apply, I thought I would update that post with some new information about the game. My original post can be found here.
I've been playing since day two of the prerelease and I've been enjoying the game. My Bounty Hunter is level 27, has his ship, is struggling to be able to afford his speeder and has his crafting skills about on par with his level. The class quest has been enjoyable. I thought the story line was going to dip after the Great Hunt began but I'm finding the backstory for my companion Mako to be engaging. I still think many of the side quests are repetitive by level 15 but the class quest line seems to have twists and turns in it that I didn't immediately pick up on, making it entertaining. With that, I find myself skipping past the side quests but watching the class quest cut scenes.
Not all is rosy in the land of Star Wars.
Bioware clearly has alot to learn about community management and customer support. Two tuesday updates in a row, they've pointed me to their web site for patch notes which isn't bad in and of itself. However, the web site has been mostly down during the update. Both updates entered into unexpected extended maintenance without nary a word on Twitter or Facebook about the status of the servers. When you could log on to the forums to get a service update, it is usually an hour or more old and mostly unhelpful. I understand that this is their first MMO and these are growing pains, but WoW and EQ are years old now and provide a great template for how these things should work. When WoW was released, they were blazing a trail. That trail is cut down, paved and has nice little parks that you can visit by now. Bioware has a little goodwill to spend here but if they don't get over it quickly, I fear players will let them know with their wallets.
When I think about the items that need to be resolved soon, I come up with the following list, none of which are end game related.
- Fix the interface for the auction house. It's unbearable. I can't do a simple price check on an item I want to sell. Makes selling stuff on the AH unwieldy.
- Add more guild management options and fix the UI bugs while they are at it. Guild banking is needed and mostly expected. The guild management tools in ToR are circa EQ 2004 - 2005 at best.
- Resolve the patch tuesday problems before they patch the game again. Web site should remain available or they should actively use Twitter and Facebook for status updates to the masses.
- Companions need to be able to be inspected, even when they are on a crafting mission. It is incredibly annoying to get a gear upgrade for a companion and not be able to see if it is an actual gear upgrade because they are not on your character screen.
- Companions need to be usable on your ship from the summon icon in the UI.
- Fix the login queues. Perhaps this gets fixed by the 30 day after release point when initial subscriptions drop off but if not, they need to come up with a solution.
All in all, I'm having a blast. The few zones I've seen in game so far, are well done and decently paced. The small bugs can be expected with a fledgling MMO from a company that has never run a MMO before. Even the customer service stuff can be overlooked. For a short while at least. I hold great hope for this game to be competitive with WoW. WoW needs a competitor. ToR needs to show the MMO community that a different game can earn WoW dollars. Maybe, just maybe we'll start seeing different games in the genre. Here's to hoping that Eve Online isn't the last game of its type. Here's to hoping that ToR gets over these hurdles and succeeds where others have failed.