Don’t get me wrong – Star Wars: The Old Republic gets a lot of things right. The voice acting, companions system, storylines, and combat are top-notch (although I’m pretty sure the Republic Trooper’s basic intro storyline was lifted from Die Hard 2). But there are a lot of things SWTOR gets wrong too – aspects of the game that very, very nearly break it.
- No way to disable auto-self-cast. If you use a healing ability or a buff and you don’t have a friendly target selected, the ability gets used on you. Period. This is merely frustrating in solo play – for instance, when you’re trying to heal a tank companion – but it’s nearly game-breaking in groups, since of the many ways MMOs have given us to heal people, “1) manually select heal target. 2) cast healing spell.” is the least efficient and most clumsy.
- Very limited ways to see your target’s target. This is largely a tank-focused complaint; it’s very difficult to see what your target has selected as its target. (It’s true that there’s a circle on the ground under your target’s target, but that becomes almost impossible to locate when you have more than three participants in a fight.) Not being able to tell what your target is targeting makes it exponentially more difficult to make sure you’re keeping aggro on everything – again, especially in large melees, when you can’t necessarily tell which direction each mob is facing.
- No way to rearrange the user interface. Largely a matter of preference, yes, but this makes my list because by default, the chat box overlaps the left-hand action bar on a widescreen monitor. Ugh.
- Poor event-collision detection. Here’s what I mean: during combat, you see that your tank companion is handily dealing with all of the creatures attacking you, so – since the quest calls for you to search the corpse at your feet – you decide to get that done with while your tank is finishing off the rest of the NPCs. You right-click the corpse, wait for the “Gathering…” bar to complete, and then, when it finishes, you get an error message: “Cannot perform this action while fighting.” The game doesn’t check when you start the action; it doesn’t check during the action; it only checks at the end of the action. This means that it’s not only possible but easy to waste quite a bit of time mistakenly gathering during combat because the game won’t tell you you can’t until the gathering “cast” is over. But this leads into…
- Prohibiting user actions during combat. User actions like gathering from nodes, opening chests, or interacting with quest objects. This comes very close to actively encouraging griefing and node-stealing – because if you’re fighting the mobs around a node and someone else decides to come and gather it, there’s literally nothing you can do about it except ask them to please not. The game will not let you let the tank deal with the mobs so you can pick up the Dielectric Stem or open the Security Chest.
- An Auction House system that borders on actively hostile to players. Want to buy something from the auction house? I hope you can guess which broad category BioWare’s decided to place it in, and then what narrow category it goes in within the broad category – because you can’t even search by name until you’ve selected a primary and a secondary category. This not only makes buying difficult, it makes selling difficult, because it adds unnecessary extra steps to the process of finding out what the current average price is. (It’s especially difficult for selling because very often the seller’s reaction is “I don’t know what the hell kind of item it is, I just want to see what I can get for it!”.)
- And finally, no same-sex romance options. Really, BioWare? You thought this would fly?
A final note, by the way: I’ve seen people saying “well, you can’t expect SWTOR to have all the features in it at launch that WOW has seven years in.” While I disagree – the state of gaming is the state of gaming regardless of whether the game was released in 2004 or this year, and you don’t judge a car company’s new line against the Model T – I’m not comparing these features with WOW, to be honest.
I’m comparing them with Rift.
And Rift got them right at launch, nearly a year before SWTOR shipped. (Even the last one! Check out Kira Thanos and Uriel Chuluun. ♥) This stuff is ridiculous, BioWare. Fix it.
Anything I’ve missed or forgotten? Leave a comment and remind me!