I have jumped back into SWTOR because it is free to play now. I am now feeling more comfortable playing in it since I have been away from GW2 for at least 3 months now. The dodge mechanism in GW2 made it next to impossible to play SWTOR when it first went F2P for me. I kept on trying to dodge much to my chagrin my smuggler just laughed at me.
There are several things about the game that I still much love. The stylized graphics I actually like them. Champions Online was the first game that I felt had stylized graphics that I liked. SWTOR was the second. I like several of the lightsaber animations and several of the force animations as well. The story aspect of the game is a love or hate thing for most players. The people who hated it felt that the game was a theme park game on rails. You would be hard pressed to argue against that thought. However, the ones (like me) that actually liked the story looked past the theme park ride and just enjoyed the story that Bioware was telling. Lastly, I really liked the idea of having a companion for soloing. That was one of my biggest issues with Star Wars Galaxies is that it was more Creature Wars Galaxies when I first played. The idea of having a companion you could summon to solo or flesh out a group that was short a person a great idea.
However, the companions caused a problem in the game. They made the game much more soloable. But, they also made groups much more ephemeral. That is one of my only issues with way MMOs have been going lately. Don’t get me wrong I really don’t want to go back to the EQ days where my shaman was the red headed step child in getting a group. Any group missions on planets were literally a onetime deal with players. Hardly ever did I join a group for a mission to have it last beyond that one mission. Yes, there are flashpoints for grouping but the leveling up portions of a player on the planets were limited. Plus, the flashpoints were a grind fest to me. EQII was more group based early on then they moved to the spectrum of WoW for soloing. There are still dungeons that are contested that players can go into. I like that. Places like that build community. Dungeons build community. I made several friends in EQ in Karnor’s Castle and in Highpass. One of my favorite dungeons in EQII was Stormhold. I loved to teach new players how to tank there.
Solo verse grouping it is a hard balance. Most games these days seem to balance it by separating them. Solo equaling outdoors while grouping equaling dungeons. I miss grouping in the outdoors like I did EQ and earlier EQII. However, I also would love to crawl a dungeon on my lonesome. I would like to see games tackle this in a more innovative way. A simple way off the top of my head would be scaling of MOBs. The more people in a group the more “heroic”. Each additional person in the group increases the XP the MOB gives out. Plus, the additional people also puts the MOB on another loot table for loot and coin. This way groups and solo players could co exist in the same zone. The only downside I could see with this is that people would most likely tend to solo still. I don’t know if the additional XP and loot would be motivation enough to group.