The moderately publicized embargo placed on some well-known media sites, who were given a chance to try the very early gameplay of SWTOR, has been lifted. These sites are all giving their thoughts on the game’s early levels based on an early version of the game. Take that for what it’s worth. I’m in the SWTOR Beta, but as a player I can not disclose any information. I plan to give you guys my honest opinion, and by that I mean a glimpse at the reality of all things SWTOR, but that will have to wait for a few more months.
Here’s what a few of the writers for these media sites had to say.
“If you’re the type who ooohs and aaahs over the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (or your average Dungeons and Dragons paperback), you’ll probably have a similarly high opinion of TOR’s story. If that’s not your thing, you’ll probably roll your eyes a few times while searching for a way to skip the dialogue and pick up the inevitable kill 10 Separatists objectives. [...] I’ll probably get some flak for saying so, but the bull-headed focus on story makes TOR a single-player game in many respects. Some people will love that, but I was left shaking my head at what might have been. [...]” – Jef Reahard, Massively
“I was often faced with multifaceted choices that really got me thinking about what I’m doing and what the best course of action is. I often found myself both surprised and impressed with the writing of the content when it came to moral choices on the Trooper. It’s really telling when I go into a situation with my mind made up on what choice I’m going to make and only to be convinced by an NPC to reconsider the implications of my actions against my actual intentions.” – Michael Bitton, MMORPG.com
“So what’s the general impression? Well, it’s really solid. [...] That said, a lot of The Old Republic feels very safe, sticking to things that have worked for other games in the past, and rarely attempting anything new or experimental.” – Nick Kolan, IGN
In each of the impressions I have found, it seems like the consensus is that the story will make or break the game. Surprise, SWTOR is very much like a Bioware RPG. If you don’t enjoy how the story creates an experience, and would rather go kill “10 separatists” then you’ll likely be bored with how contrived SWTOR is going to feel. I’m not at all surprised by this being a common theme among the media. It’s a safe way to “review” a game. I’ll let you all know what I think later.
Feels like this niche media NDA lift was lack-luster. The comments have all been middle of the road and even handed. No one has taken any sort of stand or used this stage to talk about any specifics. I don’t know if it’s because they’re trying to maintain relationships with Bioware or because each of these writers (or their respective sites) are just not as into the details of a game like I am. Had I been given the opportunity, I would have latched onto 2-3 major details (good and bad) and dug my heels in. That’s probably why no one ever offers me these opportunities.
Despite personally knowing all these details already, I was hoping for some really meaty stuff. I think it’s a shame that all we walk away knowing is SWTOR is set in the Star Wars universe and conversations will have good and bad choices. Womp womp.
Update: Gamebreaker.tv has, in my opinion, the best coverage of the “Mini-NDA Lift”. You can watch it here.