I called them glowy swords. No, really. My friends who were avid fans of Star Wars tried desperately to share the story of the Jedi and Darth Vader with me. But the truth of the matter was, I just didn’t get it. I tried to watch the movies and ended up sleeping through most of them. And Star Wars to me soon became the thing that I figured just wasn’t for me. For years and years, my friends tried to share the epic story and somehow, I was never drawn in.
And then, Bioware came along. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that they did in one weekend what my friends couldn’t do in the last ten odd years. They sold me on the world. Deep dark secret here – I didn’t know Anakin Skywalker was Darth Vader until a couple months ago. Yes, thats how bad it was. And now, after my early access weekend, I know the Jedi Code. And yes, Yoda is my hero. So what exactly happened, and how did I get turned around? The art of fantastic storytelling.
It’s a big step for me to try out a new game – WoW was my first and only MMORPG thus far and I don’t really consider myself a gamer in that sense. It’s also a pleasant surprise for me to find that I truly enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic without having been a long time avid fan of the lore. I’m sure there are a lot of flaws in the game as there would be with any game and I can see that many astute players are already picking these apart. For me, however, I haven’t had this much fun playing a game since I first picked up WoW and played through Vanilla. And so, for the time being I’ll be sharing what I thought the game got right.
The Story: The story is really the driving force here. It is intricate, well-thought out, and compelling enough to keep you wanting to know more. Much of the story starts out small arcs and builds up to a much larger storyline. My favourite part about this is that the story also shapes your character and their perspectives.
Quest responses: This is really neat and something I’ve never experienced. Putting the choice of outcomes in player hands is a fantastic idea. By choosing your response not only do you define your alignment (Dark or Light) but it also makes the story much much more interactive. Response choices happen from the get go and I think they’re really a key element in what makes the storytelling so successful.
Voiceovers: I was blown away by these. A large number of quests have conversations and voiceovers and they’ve been done really well. I noticed in one of my quests that the lip movement of the NPC actually corresponded to the words he was saying. Attention to detail of this sort really blows me away. Furthermore, you can actually hear the alien tongues when you interact with them — with subtitles for communication purposes.
Class quests: Probably my favourite part. The class quests are awesome and I can’t wait to try the rest of them. They go a long way in making the experience unique and I think many of the quests in general strike a good balance between not being trivial and not being dumb hard. The best part for me was to see my arc progress even after I completed my Padawan training. With all of these combined in the storytelling aspect, its hard not to be immersed in the world. I mean, I can’t say it enough – immersion, immersion, immersion. That’s what its all about.
Grouping options: Although the questing can make for a rewarding solo experience grouping up for the conversation is very interesting. It’s fun to see the responses people choose and progress together. I did do Flashpoint Essels and another heroic quest before writing this. With Flashpoint I thought it was awesome that the story unfolded as you progressed with your group through the instance — in this case grouping up only enhanced the story rather than holding it back. I also liked how there were various difficulties in heroic quests – some are for two people whereas others require about four.
Healing Animations: I couldn’t go without touching on this. I can’t really speak for other classes yet since I’ve only played the Consular but I love the healing animations. They have a very monk like feel to them and they look so badass. My favourite is probably the shield I recently trained — no joke it looks like its 4 dimensional. It harkens back to my days of struggling with Mathematica but yeah, it is amazingly cool. I will try to take a video of its movement to post up sometime but if you’re around a Jedi Sage, keep an eye out for their Force Armour.
There are a lot of things that’s really brought this game together for me. The questing is slow-paced and immersive, the currency doesn’t drop from trees, and most important of all, there are lore reasons for many things in the game. All of these make me smile. There’s a lot more I have to talk about but that will be for another post – crew skills perhaps? How has your experience with the game been so far?