Star Trek and Star Wars are always do things differently. Star Trek space battles play out like large naval ships swapping cannon fire and Star Wars space battles play out like World War era biplanes engaged in dog-fights. On the ground, Star Wars is all sword and sorcery with a sci-fi coat of paint, while Star Trek alternates between cowboy-style fist fights and cowboy-style shoot-outs with hand phasers and phaser rifles replacing six-shooters and shotguns.

People are going to compare the upcoming Star Trek Online to the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic, so I might as well throw in my two credits/latinum as well.

When it comes to revealing the back-story of their MMO, SW:TOR has remained fairly consistent. Every few weeks you can expect some kind of little video consisting of barely-animated concept art on the screen while a professional voice actor tells you what happened in a specific battle in the war. Their latest installment concerns the Battle for Bothawui. It’s a delicate balance for Bioware which allows them to give just enough information to stay interesting but not so much information that they will run out of back-story to reveal before launch.

Star Trek on the other hand is not consistent with how it reveals it’s back-story. For months, the Cryptic strategy to engaging potential fans in the story of Star Trek was to release an occassional wall of text known as “The Path to 2409“. It’s really hard to convey how boring these updates were without copying and pasting a wall of text about how a fictional Federation president has declined to run for another term. But this month, they changed strategy. Rather than giving fans another boring fan-fiction detailing the difficulties of diplomatic talks, they just put out a couple videos on gamespot in which guys in Star Trek T-Shirts talk about Klingons destroying their enemies while gameplay footage plays in the background. Holy cow! Talk about a change of pace.

When it comes to what features the two developers are focusing on and highlighting, they couldn’t be more different. Star Trek is most proud to show off their space content whether that’s in the background of their latest video, or in their old trailer. Their space ships are front-and-center while ground combat is never shown for more than a few seconds. Meanwhile Star Wars: The Old Republic exclusively shows ground-combat in their game-play video. Developers from Bioware won’t even confirm the existence of space combat for their MMO.

Star Trek Online’s character creation engine promises to be one of it’s strongest points. The engine is so robust that you can create your own race if you like. And what would you expect from a company that can boast their current MMOs have the best character creation process out there? On the other hand, TOR’s character creation options are a low priority. You can count the number of different hair-cuts that appear in TOR’s game-play videos on one hand. They have promised it will get better when the game is closer to launching, but it’s clearly not a priority for them in the way it is for Cryptic.

Based on Bioware’s past work and their claims to have recorded “40 novels worth” of voice acting, it’s pretty safe to say that story telling and content are priorities for Bioware. Cryptic’s track record with content hasn’t been stellar with Champions Online and City of Heroes. STO players will be lucky if they are given some tools to create their own missions and story arcs out of the box to fill out the parts of the universe that Cryptic doesn’t.

This isn’t to say they don’t have their similarities. They both have set the year of their game to the point which gave the most freedom to mess with the license. For Star Trek this meant the future and for Star Wars this meant the past. Your NPC companions in SW:TOR are analogous to your NPC bridge-officers in STO. Both games seem like natural evolutions of what these companies have done with their previous games. When one of these games sets a release date, the other won’t be far behind.

The only question left is… which will you play?

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

16 thoughts on “STO vs TOR”

  1. Here’s a tip: I won’t play the one with a “standard” priced sub AND a cash shop.

    1. Isn’t that likely to be both? STO is likely to be setup like Champions and SW:TOR has all but said they will have micro transactions. The days of flat rate MMO’s are dieing.

  2. I’ll be playing the one that doesn’t have the albatross of Jack Emmert hanging around its neck.

  3. TOR.

    Star Wars is my preferred IP, Bioware my preferred developer and ground combat my preferred system. I also prefer story over putzing about with my nose width.

  4. Likely to pass on both. Zero interest in WoW:SW, and I’ve never been a huge fan of CoH and what it focused on, plus the ST IP does little for me.

  5. Neither.

    Star Trek Online isn’t going to be that great due to being passed around from one studio to another and finally ending up in the lackluster and recently failing hands of Cryptic Studios.

    SWTOR is way over-hyped. Also, from everything I’ve seen so far it’s really just a single player game but “online” rather than a true MMORPG.

  6. I always thought the Star Wars universe was a lot more realistic than the Star Trek one. I never bought into the idea of gigantic ships filled with thousands of passengers doing battle. I think the idea of motherships with fighters is a lot more realistic.

    1. Star Wars feels more real that Star Trek because while it’s tech is BS, it’s internally consistent. Aside from the midichlorian misfire, it all feels plausibly “of a piece.”

      Trek is filled with “science-y” technobabble, but the capabilities of the holodecks, transporters, and warp drives change radically based on who’s writing about them today.

      Remember the “Warp drive is breaking the universe! We must have a warp drive speed limit!” episode? The speed limit they never mentioned again in any series? I gave up after that one.

  7. I might play through SWTOR once jsut to see the plot and then ditch it just as I did KOTOR and KOTOR2. Both of which were worth 1 spin but not 2.

  8. I wish I could say that one of these has me excited. They may turn out to be great games but the frenetic hyperbole machine surrounding SW and the lack of trust in development on ST has me turned completely off on both counts.

    I trust BioWare to make a great game but nothing I’ve seen or heard makes me excited about SW:ToR. I haven’t seen much on Trek but I just don’t see the IP translating very well into an MMO, much less an RPG.

  9. Love Star Wars. Love Star Trek. I’ll be playing both.

    Will they be the Holy Grail of the MMOG universe? No, but they’ll both have their little quirks that provide months of entertainment. Even if they are shallow, instanced worlds, I’d rather play a flawed persistent world than a single player/co-op snoozefest. Run along now, Borderlands and Dragon Ages awaits you.

  10. I think SW:TOR will win. STO is done by Cryptic, and they are really bad in one regard: Their space battles are jaw-dropping awesome, but I bet it will have about as much or lack of content as Champions Online, no proper balancing and the item shop on top of the sub.

    In the end both worlds are not my fantasy world of choice, but I have more faith in Bioware. I question their focus on voice acting and story for an MMO, but that’s another debate.

  11. I’ll play a demo of both eventually, if available. Whether I spend more time than that depends on the business model and whether or not they are any fun.

  12. TOR. The storytelling of KOTOR I&II really lured me in, and I’m confident TOR will deliver on their promise to create “KOTOR III, IV & V”.

    Don’t know if I’ll stay for long – but I’m sure I’ll play through the story more than once.

  13. So far I don’t much care about anything I saw regarding TOR other than the cinematic. Voiced NPCs are nice but not a seller to me.

    I’m a diehard trek fan and I have zero hopes that -any- of the things which made the series great will translate well to whatever it is Cryptic is doing. For a boring, repetitive, grindy experience we already had Voyager on TV years ago. Was an MMO needed?

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