I once was told "Show me your greatest strength, and I'll show your greatest weakness." The principle is if you tell an enemy what your greatest strength is, all they have to do is take it away. So I was toying around with what drove me nuts about SWTOR and thought I'd play a little word game with it. I wrote down the 10 best things about SWTOR and then I thought about why each one is also a critical weakness of the game. I would like to mention, that of these, I did not mention the lack of a hood toggle or the generic armor that really starts to look bland after a while.
Ten great things about SWTOR:
- You get to live out a Jedi (or Sith) fantasy
- Lightsabers are bad ass
- You get to use the force
- You can play with other people
- Lots of voice acting
- Light side/ Dark side choices
- Customizable Gear
- PvP battlegrounds
- Spaceships and space battles
- Great Storyarcs
Now let’s turn those 10 great strengths into the 10 greatest weaknesses of SWTOR
- You'll be living out your Jedi(or Sith) fantasy solo if your friends choose the wrong faction.
- Lightsabers start to look pretty generic after 40+ hrs of play time. Plus, unlike the movies, they don't slice off arms and legs. They don't even deflect shots back to enemies. They act a lot more like electric hot sticks than the light sabers we saw in the movies.
- Force powers can be lumped either into throwing dirt or shooting lightning, and as cool as the latter is, it is only valid if your friends are smart enough to choose the sith faction
- There is no dungeon finder, so you don’t really group with people all that often. Most often you outlevel and drop all group quests
- The voice acting is so integrated, that it is great when it’s great, and terrible with it’s terrible, and you’re stuck with it. Lots of horrible-bad voices like the nasally male imperial spy or the bland jedi counseler.
- The dark-side/light-side choices are great idea, until you realize that you get penalized for roleplaying. The rewards favor the metagamer who only chooses one side or the other for the sake of gaining points, and punishes the roleplayer who likely will tread a more great neutral path and ends up grinding out light-side/dark-side points by dropping one of their hard-earned professions and masochist-grinding out diplomacy. It is also worth noting that most class story lines seem more designed for one side or the other, making your choice in light-side (or dark-side) feel either like smooth sailing or swimming upstream (so you better hope you choose correctly as a roleplayer).
- Customizable gear is awesome until you realize that it makes 90% of all quest rewards void. It also makes most crafting professions useless (with the exception of end-game nuts who are masochistic anyways). It also over-inflates the price of certain low-level customizable gear options (bracers and belts to be precise). A great idea that wasn’t thought through. There should be limits to how long the customizable gear is effective.
- PvP battlegrounds can be put into 1 of 3 categories. First, Huttball, which is what you’ll do 90% of the time. It’s a lot of fun the first 100 times. Not so much after that. Two, some kind of defend/conquer in a spaceship scenario. This is basically a waste of time because you either have a team who has no idea what to do facing a team who knows exactly what to do or you lag out. Then there is the capture-the-flag style type with anti-spaceship cannons. This is fun except it’s a lag fest. The bottom line is things are fun for a while but then get real boring after the first 100 or so games. Eventually you realize you are in a perpetual money making machine for Bioware who has convinced you to do the same thing over and over and over and over and all the while fork over $15/month to them.
- Spaceships are awesome until you realize the limitations they impose. There is no easy way to return to your spaceship with the exception of a once/day teleport to your faction’s primary space station. So you spend a long time running back to your ship if you need to get to it. Space battles end up feeling a lot like PvP and Bioware expects you to repeat and grind out space battles. They get very difficult and you find you have to spend a lot of currency getting very powerful space ship upgrades. The bottom line is that all space ship battles either end up being repetitive and boring, or being so hard you fork out a fortune to make it be repetitive and boring.
- The custom stories are great mostly. However, some stories really do shine whereas others seem like they were scrapped together by a 10 year old. And some start out great, but become repetitive after 30 levels. Others are ridiculously boring and only shine after 40 levels. Finally, many really just leave you hanging at the end. Some are bugged beyond belief. And no matter how much you like a class’s story, it doesn’t matter if all your friends insist on playing the opposing faction.
While I'm at it, there are some additional important critical flaws of SWTOR (for the Republic side in particular).
- Jedi Guardians have two looks. They either wear a trooper helmet, or a hood that makes them bald. There is no point in careful selection of hair style. You may as well go with a pink mohawk. It won't matter, because for the next 300+ hours of game time as you grind your way from 1 to 50, and then on to end-game grinding, you will never see that pink mohawk ever again. Bioware has done nothing as far as I know to fix this.
- The republic home city is so horribly designed that the developer of Coruscant should be re-assigned to a new project. As a trooper, you have to make the trip from the space dock to your capital building over 100 times, and most of it is in zones you cannot mount. Even if you could mount, you spend a lot of time running. This doesn't even include the time you spend going to your space ship, and then loading your space ship, then traveling to Coruscant, then loading the space dock, then you get to start running. The Imperial city (whose name eludes me) has a quick travel point right at the docks. It takes you to the center of the city. There are even quick travel points within the city. Why these are not in Coruscant I do not know. But when all your friends pick the Republic faction, you realize you have to be a masochist to enjoy it.
- Bioware in their infinite wisdom has prevented user-created addons. I know many players who hate addons. It was all too common for raiding guilds to require (as part of the guild application) that players use certain threat-monitoring mods. But I enjoy toying around with mods, and customizing the UI environment. I spend all day at a computer, so at home I switch out my keyboard for an N52 gamepad. In WoW I was able to modify the UI so the buttons reflected the N52 layout. I could create custom events on the screen to inform me of procs. SWTOR has sound effects for procs, but for someone with audible hearing disability (like mine), this is just not sufficient. Developers who refuse users the option to create mods, are handicapping their game. I recognize that the recent patch allows allows users to move things around on the screen, but still prevents users from custom add-ons. Furthermore, macros are not available. It doesn't take long before my hands cramp up and I'm done gaming for a while. Bioware needs to loosen their leash and let users customize their environment a bit more.