Less than a week after saying I wouldn't be playing SWTOR I went out and bought it. I'm a weak willed fool I know but I just couldn't help it but there was no way I could pass up playing the biggest MMORPG to be released since WoW was first released back in 2004 (2005 in Europe). Plus, LIGHTSABRES PEOPLE, COME ON... LIGHTSABRES! Don't worry, don't worry I'm not giving up on WoW or anything I have far too many commitments in Azeroth ranging from my closest friends in guild to my mission of crafting our PvP'ers into well honed killing machines and finally of course my continuing task of writing basic mage guides for all of you. But I have to be honest with you all here and admit that, with the exception of PvP, WoW has gotten a little stale for me. It's not Blizzard's fault (or maybe it is, this is something I hope to explore), but rather it's an inevitable fact that after five years of playing (and seven years of release) and basically being the unchallenged king of MMOs for pretty much that entire period. It's difficult to see how you can do things better when you're already doing everything in that genre better than everyone else. But at this point it's where Blizzard's flaw came in, they were doing everything already better than everyone else and largely everyone else just tried to copy WoW with only relatively minor changes. Blizzard stoppped innovating, and with that glaring that in mind along came Bioware - a primarily single player company but one with a strong franchise with the Knights of the Old Republic - who genuinely have strived to do things differently and so far I have to say it's paying off.
In the next few weeks I'm hoping to give you guys a full first impressions article of my starting bid to rule the universe but I have to say that straight off the bat Bioware has made the questing experience far more enjoyable in SWTOR compared to anything in WoW. Yes ultimately it still boils down to kill 10 X and collect 15 Y quests, but the presentation of these quests as they built into your personal story (based on your class) is amazing. At first I was wary, how can it be a personal story when a chunk of the server population is doing the same questline as you? But with dialogue options, the lightside/darkside meter and the fact that your choices actually affect how your story plays out, the story feels intensely personal. Currently I'm playing a Sith Assassin with a heart of gold but s streak of arrogance, and you know what? Through the dialogue options I've experienced so far I can totally play that. That feeling of personal connection with your character and the development of his/her story is something I really feel has been missing in WoW for a long time. Now I say that as someone who is not a roleplayer, and dedicated roleplayers may feel differently. Ultimately in WoW roleplayers can craft their entire story in their head, and not being a roleplayer I don't know how much the dialogue options restrict genuine roleplayers' immersion. But personally, as someone who enjoys PC games with strong storylines where I can build a connection with the characters and can direct how their story plays out through various options without having to worry about generating an entire backstory, dating profile and and local dialect of obscure language for my toon, this is awesome and one of the biggest steps forward in MMORPGs I have seen.
Ultimately I still love WoW and will never abandon Azeroth but this is the first other MMO I've played that has grabbed my attention and I'm hoping that Blizzard learns A LOT about how to innovate within the genre from Bioware ahead of Mists of Pandaria.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my full first impressions/review article and some gameplay videos.