Lewis B has some great impressions of the upcoming Stars Wars MMO over at Tap Repeatedly. I wouldn’t call them bad impressions per se; I would call them disappointed impressions. He gives praise where praise is due, mostly the script and voice acting. The art style is enjoyable, and then there’s everything else. For the sake of this post let’s just say it’s basically the gameplay millions have experienced in World of Warcraft, Rift, Lord of the Rings Online et al.
While I particularly trust Lewis B impressions, as subjective as many may be, this is approximately the feedback I have seen on this upcoming game for awhile. There are neat shiny bits apart from BioWare’s trademarked storytelling like the cover system or the use of personal mooks to do all the player’s crafting for sure. Yet it’s still a vanilla ice cream regardless of the sprinkles.
Unlike Rift, which in my opinion clearly tried to push the MMO genre with it’s dynamic events, the hundred-million dollar costing Bioware MMO doesn’t seem to push anything. With all the problems involved in stand-and-deliver combat, the holy trinity, kill stealing, boring quest design, etc. of vanilla MMOs, tacking on a shared single-player branching story feels flat. At least Rift tried to get people playing together in unique ways.
I wish no ill will to BioWare or it’s future MMO players at all. It’s just tiring to me, a simple pundit, that this was a huge, monumental chance to change something, anything, in the MMO genre, and it is nearly as formulaic as milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla becoming flavored ice crystals. Vanilla ice cream is, after all, the most eaten ice cream flavor.
I find myself not even wanting to prognosticate on it’s success or failure. One half of me thinks it’s going to sell like freakin’ hot cakes, possibly make back it’s money, and then fall flat. BioWare won’t be able to sustain a fraction of the same support after 3-6 months. The other half of me thinks it’s going to do fine all around. I’ve heard through the industry grapevine that if it doesn’t do well the fallout is going to the genre shaking.
Any reader here knows my zealotry for Guild Wars 2, which is an MMO that appears to have listened to the mass of MMO blogs and pundits and said to themselves “we can do better.” I just wish BioWare had taken that challenge on any level. I don’t see how they do, and it is tiring to want to think or talk about their game more than anything else.
EA/BioWare makes me feel wrong. Wrong in analysis. Wrong in vision. Wrong and tired. I mean my first assumption is idiots don’t make $100+ million dollar decisions, and I’m just a simple pundit. It’s hard evidence to fight against when I want to say “bad choices were made.” I haven’t made an MMO or a hundred million dollar decision.
This is also possibly why even though Guild Wars 2 is much riskier because it seriously pushes the MMO genre, many pundits are excited about it. ArenaNet makes us feel right. All those issues we’ve screamed about for years are being dealt with. It’s like they are listening to us on some level. It validates.
I think that this will all be non sequitur once people get the game. The energy will return because we like to share experiences. I am looking forward to low tide to being over.