After leaving The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), I've been bouncing back and forth between different games and couldn't find anything that interested me. I then returned to Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) since I knew there were new stories to play and was excited to rekindle my passion for the game. This is a post about my experiences coming back to SWTOR three years later, the good, the bad and the ugly so you can decide if it's a game worth playing a long side me.
- The Story - The best part about SWTOR, then, and now has been it's story. There are eight core stories then a plethora of ones to pursue after the class specific story. After leaving the game during the Makeb update I picked up playing Revan's story line. I could tell the extraordinary detail and vision they had for a massive story arc. While the graphics are dated, the quality and story telling seemed on par with a great single player game. Cut scenes, impactful choices, Star Wars lore and incentive to keep going and play them over made it easy to blow through Revan over the weekend. Continuing on was even more rewarding and it's hard to put down, but lets not forget this is a multiplayer game.
- Solo -My next point can be good or bad depending and that's that nearly everything in the game can now be done solo. From flashpoints (called dungeons in other games), stories, quest, leveling, etc all solo. This is also a dangerous problem because it gives players little incentive to group up and take actions. However, they did implement guild housing, taking over planets and claiming locations as a guild which gives incentives on that planet. While I personally love it since I can complete content at 3am when my son is asleep, it can be viewed as a negative.
- Player vs Player (PvP) - Oh my god, I love SWTOR PvP. Instanced based, high pace, always someone to fight and competitive arenas I love the PvP. Do I miss ESO's large scale PvP? Not really. I felt it mainly came down to gear and who had more numbers vs anything else. SWTOR tried open world PvP and failed miserably but has a great instanced based system. However, it's far from perfect. Win trading, throwing matches and toxicity are the main reasons I left the game in the first place and they are still there. Overall I can't get enough of PvP and love the experience still.
- Advancing Your Character - A huge problem I had with ESO was character advancement, specifically gear. You could spend eight hours in a dungeon you didn't want to play, just waiting on RNG (random) to bless you with a specific piece of gear (or not). SWTOR has two systems, one RNG based and one where you earn tokens to buy specific pieces you want. Additionally, every action you take at end game helps you reach that goal. Think of it as ESO's champion points, but better. Lastly, gear isn't as invaluable as it is in other games. Yes, end game gear is super impactful, but it doesn't make or break your performance, you the player control that.
- Heavy Micro-transactions - The Electronic Arts money fest hasn't stopped what so ever and now you can buy tokens to instantly get a character to 65. Most games have something similar implemented along with cash shops but SWTOR's shop allows you to sell items from these cash shop items on an open trader. This can be considered pay to win since you can use gold to purchase end game gear (though not top of the line). As gamers, it seems we cannot escape this type of business model now a days and I had to ask myself, do I keep playing games or retire from it until something better comes along? I decided to spend little on it as to not promote it, but accept the fact that we are going to be farmed for every emotional penny we can spend on electronic items. Whether in SWTOR or ESO, micro transactions aren't inherently bad, but they can ruin a game.
- No Mega Server - One of the major plus sides to ESO is the mega server. You have everyone on one server allowing for a larger community and one that's more active. However, SWTOR has had many server mergers and when I returned, I found mine nearly completely dead. I then transferred to the Harbinger and was excited to see a lot of life. The fact remains, the mega servers in ESO are a great idea that was well implemented and I wish it was in SWTOR.
- Combat - Another thing I loved about ESO was the combat and action bar. SWTOR has the old MMO model, one with 30 buttons, long 1.5 second global cooldowns and limited crowd control breaking. While I prefer ESO's model, it's not a deal breaker to go back to this type of game play. SWTOR has also simplified the "builds" into really only a few important choices otherwise your class is dependent more on how you play rather than your build. More games are going to a simplistic setup mainly for casual folks that don't have the time and or want to to invest hours into "getting gud," and I understand but don't like it.
Should I Play?
Yes if, you like instanced based PvP, massive story, simplistic leveling and character progression.
No if you want a game free of micro-transactions, super populated and action based combat.
For me, I've decided to come back and play this game as my main MMO because I love the story, I can progress my characters slowly without a massive time investment and most importantly I'm excited about making content. Yes I will keep my ESO guides posted, but look forward to a lot more SWTOR content in the future. Thanks for reading and hopefully this overview can help you decide on if you should play this particular MMO or not.
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