Interesting news: Analysts predict around a million subscribers leaving Warcraft for The Old Republic. That seems like a lot.
I spent all day yesterday actually playing the Old Republic beta. Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about MMOs, so I can't really comment on the game from an educated perspective. Also, because I'm either lazy, an idiot, or both (take your pick), I can't get any of my screenshots from the game. I'm going to break this down into a simple like/dislike of what I saw in the beta.
Things I Liked:
- The game looks very nice, and has some incredible draw distance. On one planet, you visit a Hutt's palace, which towers above the city. After leaving the city and murdering vagrants in a swamp, I could still see the palace, dominating the landscape.
- The game seems to be entirely voiced. When you speak to a significant NPC, the game moves to a Mass Effect-type cinematic. It even has the Mass Effect conversation wheel. There are actually characters in the game.
- The game seems quite amiable to playing solo.
- I played a Republic Trooper until that server crashed for a while, when I started a Bounty Hunter character. These characters have very different starting stories. Yes, they actually have stories, in different environments, on completely different planets in fact. You don't just pop up in the newbie area along with everyone else. These opening stories seem similar to the origin stories in Dragon Age. I don't know how long they continue. After about eight hours per c|ass, I was still playing them.
Things I Didn't Like:
- Like all MMOs I've ever played, the gameplay is repetitive and dull. You kill the same critters over and over and over again. Terrain makes little difference, so the tactical considerations in these encounters are always the same, unlike say, a shooter where in spite of killing the same enemies, you meet them under widely varying circumstances.
- Only the plot-critical parts of dungeons are instanced, so to provide enemies for the zillion players running around, critters spawn extremely quickly. They spawn in about a minute, in exactly the same spot. It's very frustrating to kill a tough enemy only to have a clone of your previous encounter pop up two feet from you. (I had a screenshot of three identical wreckage piles of a robot I had killed three times).
- Leveling up is extremely simplistic. You gain XP like in most RPGs (versus a skill-based system like in The Elder Scrolls or Star Wars Galaxies), and you level up. Your stats are adjusted automatically. Other than getting more health and doing a little more damage, you don't really notice much of anything. It'd be nice if I could specialize my character a little more. You can also learn new special movies from trainers for small amounts of money. It seems in the long run this will end to the same c|asses being essentially identical.
Where I'm liking this game more than my previous MMOs is the story. Yeah, the gameplay's boring and a grind, but at least I have a reason for killing the same critters again and again.