Sunday, November 27, 2011

[SWTOR] Beta Weekend 2

Alright, this was the second beta weekend I've participated in and probably the last one before launch. Here are some more thoughts.

Advances in Griefing

Every time the MMO genre takes a step forward, it seems like the griefers also move forward as well. Bioware's main emphasis is story, and it should be no surprise that the griefers will seize upon that.

The new griefing in SWTOR: spoilers in general chat.

I would strongly suggest turning off the general chat channels when you start a new character if you care at all about spoilers. People will spill details about your companion and plot twists.

As a bonus, with the chat channels turned off, you won't have to listen to the constant chatter about World of Warcraft. Seriously, this makes me want to play WoW even more, because at least there people are not constantly talking about WoW.

But not having the chat channels active does make the game feel like less of an MMO. Part of the draw of MMOs is the fact that you are playing with other players, sharing an experience with them. Seeing chat go by is a large part of that experience, and I do miss it when it is turned off.

Other Classes

I tried the Republic Trooper and Sith Warrior, with a little of the Bounty Hunter and Smuggler. These stories were all good, but not quite as good as the Imperial Agent and Sith Inquisitor.

I took the tanking advance class of the Republic Trooper, the Vanguard. It's ... a bit odd. It's a "short-range ranged" class, as far as I can tell. Melee range is 4m, and long range is 30m to 35m. But the Vanguard's core skills have a range of 10m. So you're not in melee, but you're not really at range either. It does feel a little weird.

The Bounty Hunter is the exact same as the Republic Trooper. However, the skills are skinned in the inverse way, which is kind of neat. The Trooper starts at full Ammo, and abilities uses up Ammo, and Ammo slowly recharges. The Bounty Hunter abilities, on the other hand, generate Heat, and the Bounty Hunter starts with zero Heat, and Heat vents over time. The systems are the exact same numerically, I believe, but are presented in opposite ways. It's rather amusing.


I did manage to try some more flashpoints (dungeons). It's odd, but I've never managed to get into a "fresh" flashpoint. I always seem to join groups who are partway through.

I didn't try healing again, I just went with the Trooper and Sith Warrior.  The flashpoints went reasonably well. I really like Bioware's conversations with multiple players. That system is superb.

In one flashpoint with the Sith Warrior, I got to see a strong advantage of the companion system. One person left midway through, after a wipe. So I brought out my companion, and the three of us plus the companion continued through the instance. It worked reasonably well. Then we got to a boss that wiped us a couple of times, and another player brought out a different companion who could heal. We beat the boss with that configuration. (Though to be fair, it was also because we figured out how to avoid the boss' special move.)

I don't know how effective a companion will be in the higher-level dungeons (as opposed to the introductory ones), but it was really nice to be able to "patch" the group and keep going, instead of having to find a new person.

The only problem with flashpoints so far, in my view, is that it doesn't really feel like you are in a group. The sense of teamwork, of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, is very weak. It feels like four individuals attacking all the mobs, rather than one team. Perhaps the sense of team will grow stronger when the tanks and healers come into their own.


To be honest, the major thing this beta has done is to make me second-guess my choice of class. I was originally going to go with a Jedi Guardian. But I found the Sith Warrior mechanics to be awkward. And for some reason, the Sith Empire is much more interesting than the Republic. The Sith Lords are very well drawn, and it seems like the Republic characters are much less memorable.

Of course, the problem with the Sith faction is that most of the (vocal) Sith players appear to be "Hur, hur, look at me, I'm evil."  That's always annoying, and is going to be especially annoying in a game that actually allows players to act evil.

I'm still definitely looking forward to the game, but I now have no idea what faction or class I am going to play.


  1. I've actually tried healing in the beta, on the smuggler it's pretty cool. Healing seems to be triage like cata actually.

    On notes of spoilers... It could be server culture? On my server they were actually talking about the dead orange pixel. There's even a fb page for it now :)

    And yeah I agree, the Sith empire seems to have a more varied storyline compared to the republic :)

  2. What is that WoW? you have a patch tuesday? ok, WoW, I will sate you. I will sate you SO hard instead of SWTOR betas

  3. This was my third go at the beta test and I must say, I agree with you about the way the Flashpoints and grouping works. It's fun sort of swarming through a dungeon area- cutting down packs of mobs and bosses you certainly couldn't take on alone or even with your companion- but it does lack that feel of cooperative play. One of the few things I never tried was healing. I've never been very interested in it elsewhere. Maybe I should've given it a go. Oh well.

    I also agree the Sith storylines feel much more robust than the Republic ones. I found it much more enjoyable trying to walk the path of the dark side without being a complete ass, than I did being a goody-two-shoes and trying to walk the Light path. I hope they give you more Light/Dark choices.

  4. I hope that Troopers can still go after a Sith with a knife like in that one trailer.

  5. Funny you mention the griefing: here's my comment on the post-beta survey. I'm going to stick it on my site, too, but you can have first look.

    Other comments?

    Nothing beyond what I said before. It's a really enjoyable game, but it's not really industry-redefining as some of the press has claimed. If you really want to redefine the industry, you need to do so with community management; don't let the game become the dregs of humanity like Blizzard did with WoW. Already people were griefing by intentionally giving away plot twists in general chat. How do you plan to deal with behavior like that? In a "story-centric" game as you claim to have made, having people do that is akin to cheating in a mechanics game; they're ruining everyone else's experience. Please don't be like Blizz and tell us to police the community; don't tell us to report them - the surprise is already spoiled. Don't tell us to leave general chat; us having to leave a communication tool because others can't behave is unacceptable. Find a solution, however harsh, and implement it. The number of griefers and jerks you lose as customers will be MORE THAN made up for by the number of people looking for a nice place to play since WoW's turned to a pit of vipers. Bring in that crowd, players disgruntled with the WoW community, and keep the griefers out. It's better to err on the side of caution, after all.

    In the end, the only thing that will keep people like my wife, my buddies, and I playing is feeling like it's a nicer place to be than Azeroth. The game play is not different enough to keep us, the cut scenes are not enough, the flashpoints are not enough, only knowing that the devs are looking out for the common good and not the bottom line will. Otherwise we and the 11 million other WoW players might as well go back to familiar ground and be bothered by griefers there.

  6. I must have been lucky this weekend... because I didn't run into any of this spoiler-griefing, but I can see where it would cause problems!

    I played both a Jedi Knight and a Sith Warrior to at least level ten. Tried a Consular, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter and Trooper. I'll be going with a Jedi Knight Guardian... but the Sith were so intriguing... and backstabbing!

    We did one flashpoint. Hubby and I were Jedi Knight guardians and our friend was a consular healer... it made for an interesting and at times tedious make up but we finally brought out our healer's companion and made it through. It was nice to all be able to play what we wanted [2 tanks and a healer] and be able to make it through an instance... er... flashpoint :P Not sure how that will play out in later levels...

  7. "And for some reason, the Sith Empire is much more interesting than the Republic. "

    I was thinking the same thing and finally realized why it feels this way. The choices you have to make as a Sith are far more compelling (to me) than if you play a Jedi.

    A dark side or light side choice for a Sith may to let someone live or die. Most light/dark side options for Jedi seem to be simple things like lying or accepting a bribe. It just feels as if your choices as Sith are weightier somehow.