Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Quickie: Dear Bioware, Please Let This Not Be It

There’s an interview with a developer of Bioware’s upcoming MMORPG The Old Republic over at G4, with a live group combat demonstration in part 2. To be quite frank, it looks awful. The healer is simply hitting the game’s equivalent of “Greater Heal” every few seconds while the tank seems to mostly sit still, shooting his gun and eating the enemy droid’s shots. This has nothing to do with how Star Wars works and isn’t very interesting as gameplay to boot. People in Star Wars don’t just take shots to the head and have a Jedi healing them – they dodge shots, they parry shots or they have forcefields to render them harmless. I can see body armor absorbing a shot here or there, but the barrage that the tank is taking in that video? No way. And what is that healer doing? Mending the armor?

From a gameplay point of view… Been there, done that. The video shows roughly the amount of group interaction that you would get in World of Warcraft’s Deadmines or Wailing Caverns. This old system really needs an overhaul and Star Wars would have provided the perfect background for making combat more interactive. Oh well, I guess my hopes have to be that this evolves further in the later stages of the game. I’m afraid though, very afraid.

  • I said this on Twitter a lot already: It is just WoW or any other DIKU MUD descendant based on the holy trinity. They simply put it in the future and the Star Wars universe with a fresh new paint.

    For many, this is wonderful news. But I have played this for over 10 years already and if the bare bones of the mechanics are so obvious to me, look so familiar already I really have serious doubts if I really want more of that.

    They indeed have an old problem to solve: Gun fights in MMOs, be it guns or laser rifles, just look a lot more silly than if the “tank” gets beaten close up with weapons.

    But masking this through fun looking abilities won’t change the type of combat. And Bioware’s KOTOR combat or Mass Effect / Dragon Age style combat is not really where their games shine. I almost bet they dumb down things for the MMO setting, it sadly seems to be the norm nowadays. I can’t help but since Baldur’s Gate 1 Bioware’s combat systems have not become more interesting or complex, and SWTOR seems to go even a step back.

    The holy trinity for Star Wars makes me feel sick. Luke tanks shots with his lightsaber, while Han is picking off the Stormtroopers one by one and Priest Leia heals them by raising her hands to the sky every 5-8 seconds?

    Everyone so wants to be able to solo nowadays – but we accept a very restrictive and pidgeonholing system that assigns us very fixed and predetermined roles.

    But a system based on people having to take care of everything and their own? Having to take cover instead of pressing their defense button and waiting for heals from the never-to-be-attacked healer behind him?

    As if it would be a natural law that there can be only one combat system, the blasted trinity. I bet it is only used because it guarantees that next to nobody dies if people got into the pattern. Raiding would then add the additional element of memorizing dance like patterns of the encounter.

    It is sorely disappointing that SWTOR seems more keen on playing it safe and adding the always mentioned “it’s fully voiced” candy on top instead of even trying to create something new.