Lock and load, agents! Today, I'm not going to talk about game mechanics, gear, or even my own impressions of the leveling experience. I'm going to be talking about Joe Q. Gamer and how much of a fucking retard he can be. This isn't going to be a normal post; it's going to be a profanity-laced rant directed at some TOR gamers who are being rather stupid.
So, the blogosphere has pretty much already cast its vote on TOR. Look, I respect opinions and different viewpoints and crap like that. I understand that some folks ... hell, a lot of folks ... won't like this game. It doesn't speak to everyone. It's a story-driven MMO that puts a premium on plot and the RPG aspects of an MMORPG. This won't appeal to PvP guys, numbers guys, hardcore raiders, or anything of that ilk. I also respect the hell out of bloggers who tried TOR and found it just wasn't their cup of tea. Folks like Nils, Syl, among others.
But if you say that Bioware has done nothing INNOVATIVE with this game, then I will skull-fuck your brains out and shit in your empty cranial cavity. If you honestly believe that Bioware has added nothing to the formula, nothing that moved the genre further, then there are burn victims out there that need your skin. That is such an asinine and contrarian opinion, an opinion formulated for the sheer fact that it's cool to be against something. It's cool to hate on TOR because it's popular. It's cool to hate on WoW because it's mega-popular. It's cool to be the asshole hipster who heard of a band first but then thinks that they sold out when they had commercial success. That's the attitude of an asshole hipster. You probably own an iPad, drive a Beetle, and think Steve Jobs pooped gold
Let's revisit some of the things Bioware has done with The Old Republic. TOR is the first fully-voiced MMO in the market. This can't be overlooked. Hundreds of thousands of players are being sucked into the storylines for this point alone. The dialogue provides a hook for the players to become emotionally invested in their characters and companions. If you're not emotionally invested in your characters and companions, this game isn't for you.
Bioware has brought the RPG to MMORPGs. They have made plot and storyline matter. Yeah, remember the plot for WoW? No? Because there was none (or barely one). Wrath of the Lich King told a coherent story from start to finish - any wonder why it was WoW' high point for subscribers? Even then, it was loosely threaded and your character was a 'faceless hero' heading to Northrend to save Azeroth. In TOR, your character is a powerful, respected (or reviled) hero that plays a central role in the story developing around you. You have a hand in events. You dictate the story. You dictate who lives, who dies. Yes, there is an over-arching storyline that each character class must adhere to, but inside those stories, you are the hero, villain, scumbag, savior, ruffian, messiah, or jerk. It's up to you. YOU. Can WoW say that? RIFT? LOTRO? Can they?
Graphically speaking, TOR is not Crysis. It's not the absolute, bleeding edge of design. What it is is an MMO designed to run on a wide variety of machines. On the high end systems, TOR is the most amazing-looking MMO out there. RIFT doesn't compare. WoW certainly doesn't. The only one that comes close is EVE, and EVE has some truly astounding ship models. If you think TOR looks like crap, crank up the visuals, retard. If you can't, go buy a new computer. You can't run TOR on your Amiga. If you can't afford a new computer, sorry. That's not TOR's fault.
Questing. It's the bane of many MMO players. It's certainly mine ... I hate kill 10 rats quests. But Bioware has forever changed that paradigm by installing bonus quests that auto-complete. Every MMO that will come after TOR will have the feature. It changes the way meaningless quests are completed. Bioware still doesn't make as much use of the holocall system as I would like (I find myself heading back to town way too often for my tastes) but that can be addressed later. Oh, and before we say anything about area looting, RIFT came up with that.
Bioware also rewards exploration by using the codex and datacrons. The codex is your in-game encyclopedia about people, places, things, events, and history. If you're not using it, you are missing a major part of the game. It's on the quest screen, located at the bottom on a tab. Go there, read, learn. Best of all, each codex entry gives you experience! Datacrons are the same way, but they not only give you experience, but also stat boosts. Granted, they are smaller boosts; +2 and +4 to a specific attribute, but they are boosts nonetheless! And more importantly, Bioware makes a game of exploration for those of us who are completionists.
Is that enough innovation for you?