Companions and MMOs

Cover image of Digital Download Star Wars The Old Republic package

Digital Download x 2

My Next Great Adventure (who needs a life?)

Like many others I know, my household has purchased two pre-order copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I really hope their “holiday 2011” release window is them playing a Scotty from Star Trek, and under-promising with the intent to surprise.  This is a big game with a very large fan base. If it were me, I’d be really nervous about opening night.

We should get all of our pesky chores done while we can because once the game releases, I can’t see us having much free time. I’ll admit, when we were heavily into WoW and Rift, the house got really dusty and the carpets didn’t get vacuumed much.

In preparation for the game, I’ve been playing several other Bioware titles. I will admit, I have never been a big fan of micro-managing a party of NPCs. I didn’t like it much in Neverwinter Nights, and I rarely did more than the default tactics in Dragon Age. My main trepidation about the game has been the companions and their integral role. I know this will set this MMO apart from others I’ve played, and I hope it is in a very good way, but this is a wait and see for me.

4 variations of a SWTOR companion

Borrowed from Darth Hater's coverage of SDCC 2011

Putting on my optimist hat,lets explore a few things I’m antsy to see succeed:

  • I’m really looking forward to seeing how companion crafting and gathering may be a big game changer for me. One thing I hope it removes is watching some other player ninja my ore or herb while I kill the critter that was guarding it. If I can kill and my companion picks, this equals a win.
  • I know there are plenty of great healers out there who love to heal. There are also many who love to tank. I’m lucky to have had several in my guilds during my MMO experience. However, even good healers and tanks want to take a break from time to time. This is where companions could play an intriguing role. I am hopeful that the companion AI is capable of keeping a party of 3 players alive in a Flashpoint or maintaining threat as a tank. This would be a very big game changer if it works.
  • Having goals in an MMO is very important to how long I enjoy it and whether I’m willing to put up with grind. Having companion-enhancing goals adds a layer to the game that I hope is fun. I hate grind and from what I’ve read, so do the SWTOR devs. My definition of grind changes depending on the goals it supports. I think doing quests to support my companions will be fun, as long as I don’t have to forgive them for blowing up the Chantry just to keep them around to heal me. If the designers can keep my companions from having too many of their own agendas in the game, I think I’ll be content doing quests that support them.
  • I’ve laughed out loud many times over the comments made by companions in Dragon Age. Their interactions with each other have been both amusing and highly annoying. I’ve found myself avoiding having certain combinations of them along on my adventures just so I didn’t have to listen to them harp on each other. I’m glad that we only have one tagging along while we adventure in SWTOR. I can stand to listen to them bicker on the ship, but I hope I’ll get more of the laugh out loud interactions between them.
  • I can see the game designers having many RP and goal-oriented options because there are companions in the game. I know they want to keep separation between classes in the game by having certain companions that are unique to the classes chosen, but I’d sure love to be able to recruit my own Jawa some day. I’ve gathered many a unique mount and pet in my time, I can see this being even more of a draw for something that has actual dialogue and skills. Will it happen, maybe not, but we have many years ahead of us to explore the options.
  • Sending a companion off to sell vendor trash has me giddy. I am a pack rat, I collected fire beetle bellies to sell off in Neverwinter Nights for pete’s sake. I never have enough bag space in any game. I often have bags full of crafting components. The thought of offloading that junk onto a companion makes me stand up and take notice. I’m willing to put up with a whole lot of grief on their behalf if that is part of the game.

I still have a lot of questions about how the companion experience will work out for me. However, the giddy anticipation far outweighs the trepidation.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s