Will Star Wars: The Old Republic's Free-to-Play Deal Turn it into an Online Sing
Posted by soaote on December 8th, 2012
? Star Wars gamers have plenty of reasons to feel uneasy on November 15th. Way back in 2005, that was the date when Sony Online Entertainment dumped the infamously disappointing New Game Experience on the late Star Wars Galaxies. This time 11/15 brings the free-to-play revamp to Star Wars: The Old Republic, but this is no NGE-like disaster. To the contrary, from what I've seen so far this conversion appears to give away the moisture farm, with free access to all of SWTOR's best features -- to the point where BioWare's taking a big risk it won't have anything of value left to sell. I refer, of course, to the stories. Almost a year on, I remember the buildup to my Jedi Knight's final confrontation more vividly than I recall my experience with entire other MMORPGs. Most alarmingly, I remember the names of my AI companions more than the names of most of the players I met along the way. Even the weaker stories, such as the Jedi Consular, still resonated with more power than I've found elsewhere in rote quest text, or even in Guild Wars 2's recent glorification of the insipid Trahearne. The Glory of the Story All the better, then, that SWTOR's new free-to-play plan will let everyone experience all of its eight class storylines for free (along with every side quest), all the way to level 50. For players who were only ever interested in the story and yearned for a Knights of the Old Republic 3 -- and there were a lot of them -- this is a victory. BioWare appears to have given up the futile chase for the traditional hardcore raider and PvP players in order to cater to the crowd that made it a famous studio: roleplayers who appreciate a good yarn. I remain convinced that Star Wars: The Old Republic's worth experiencing for that alone, particularly if you roll a Jedi Knight or an Imperial Agent. In those two questlines, you'll find shades of the KOTOR3 you may have been looking for. Very little of the stuff BioWare plans to charge for gets in the way the enjoyment if the story. Of course, if you want anything besides quests, you're going to have to pay for it -- and at times the prices can be alarming. Packs of the premium "Cartel Coins" start at $5 for 450, according to a phone meeting with Senior Producer Blaine Christine earlier this week, and increase in price up to $40 for the best deal. Want an extra quickslot bar? That'll be 250 coins for one character or 540 for the whole account. Want to access the guild bank, or your own ship's cargo hold? That'll be 600 and 425 coins, respectively. Further restrictions for free-to-play characters extend to chat and the ability to hide your headgear, and you can't even wear artifact gear unless you plunk out 1,200 cartel coins. Free, From a Certain Point of View Needless to say, "free" can get expensive fast under this model (especially since BioWare doesn't include any ways to earn its premium currency in-game, unlike Guild Wars 2 or Lord of the Rings Online), so it comes as a relief that that players who've already bought the retail version and paid a subscription in the past are rewarded with a "preferred" status. As a preferred player without a subscription, you're allowed to keep most of what you'd had prior to the conversion, such as cargo hold access, the ability to equip their existing purple gear, and the like. This status goes to anybody spending cash on an item that's worth $5 or above on the cash shop. All in all, considering the alternative, it's a generous offer. The decision to lock seemingly key features behind paywalls may seem draconian, but I don't see anything on the list of paid features that has much to do with advancing the story. Right now, if you're not the social type, it looks like it should be possible to reach 50 without spending much, if anything at all, and leave when the story stops. If all goes according to BioWare's plans, of course, these storyhounds will fall in love with the rest of the package and pick up subscriptions rather than plunking out 240 cartel coins for weekly passes for PvP and flashpoints. However, I can't shake the feeling that most of us who were attracted to SWTOR's standard MMO content have already played it or passed on it for lack of time; story tourists, meanwhile, aren't likely to find much to love past level 50. That means this could become a very disposable MMORPG. The Single-Player MMORPG Based on the plan for the upcoming update provides any indication, BioWare knows this, and story will play a massive part in future content. The first post-F2P patch will introduce a new, purchasable story zone called Section X, which will include the possibility of recruiting everybody's favorite assassin droid, HK-47 of KOTOR fame. This content structure appears to render SWTOR less like a standard MMORPG and more like a standard single-player BioWare game in the style of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. All of that's good news for us, then, but perhaps not for BioWare. It's potentially problematic that SWTOR's story remains its only significant draw over its competitors, especially in a year filled with bold new MMORPGs with ideas that outstrip BioWare's increasingly dated "World of Warcraft circa 2008" design. There was a time when I was okay with that style -- I even defended it while I was still in awe of the attention given to the narratives, but when I logged into the test server after an absence around a month earlier this week, I felt the age of its general design weighing heavily upon me. Will The Jedi Return? After the innovations of 2012, SWTOR's 2011 style just feels old. Guild Wars 2 redefined much of the existing expectations surrounding traditional questing and grouping. The Secret World enjoyed praise (if not success) for its engaging investigations missions and classless gameplay. Even Rift is turning some heads with a promising spin on traditional player housing in its upcoming Storm Legion expansion. Based on my conversations with my former SWTOR guildies, I get the sense that I'm far from alone. The free-to-play option will attract new many players, yes, but it offers little reason for those of us at the level cap who forsook SWTOR out of disappointment with its PvP, operations, and general gameplay to return. At the same time, the free-to-play conversion marks the end of SWTOR's significance as an MMORPG, just under a year after its release. It marks the day when it finally embraces and settles into its lampooned role as a single-player game that lets you see other players running around (complete with a multiplayer PvP component!). For the casual player, that's a huge boon. But if the folks at BioWare consider the significance of what they've done here, someone other than Luke or Han is bound to have a very bad feeling about this. offgold.com provide the cheapest Guild Wars 2 Gold,guild wars 2 key,gw2 items and powerleveling.All of about GW2 game services,to buy guild wars 2 gold. http://www.blogster.com/javadjavad/guild-wars-2-gets-a-free-trial-next-week
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Joined: August 31st, 2012
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