View From the Road

View From the Road
Five Reasons Why The Old Republic Is a Threat to WoW

John Funk | 11 Jan 2010 21:00
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#3 - It's Not WoW Lite: It's true that the IP of Lord of the Rings and Warhammer both predate Warcraft, but the problem with those games was that they follow the WoW formula - or rather, the EverQuest formula that WoW refined and polished. You jump into these games and you see elves, dwarves, and orcs in a fantasy world as warriors and sorcerers, getting quests to kill ten wolves and moving from town to town. Sure, if you look at every game in-depth you can see that they all do their own things beyond the superficial similarities to WoW, but someone playing the 10-day free trial won't see those differences. They'll see the similarities and wonder, "Why do I want to play WoW Lite when I could just go back to playing actual WoW?"

To start off, TOR is sci-fi, not fantasy, which is a huge advantage in itself. There are no orcs and elves wielding spears and bows, they're Twi'leks and Wookiees with blasters and lightsabers. Even if the underlying game were just the EverQuest model in space, a change in setting can go a long way in making it not feel like the same game. KotOR combat doesn't feel just like a clunkier version of WoW's combat (like certain other games I could mention that start with a W and end with an arhammer), so if the folks at BioWare Austin can replicate that feel in MMOG-form, they'll have a much better shot at getting people to stick with their game than going back to "the real McCoy."

#4 - It Could Be Something New: This is very much related to point #3, but while TOR is strongly based on "not being just like WoW," it also earns points on "doing something fairly different in the MMOG space." Yes, every fan of any MMOG on the market can point to their game and protest, saying that "It lets you fight and control territory on a scale no other game does!" or "It lets you poke sheep in the ass with a spoon!" but again, these are things that really only matter to passionate, high-level players. WoW offered easy accessibility and fun gameplay as well as a heavily quest-based experience from level 1 onward; any game that wants to emulate its success needs to push its strong points early on as well.

So with TOR you have heavily narrative-based gameplay where one's dialogue choices and actions can affect the story you play through (see also: Flash Points) and a game where every single NPC has every line of dialogue fully voice-acted. Those are two huge selling points that have never been done before - or if they have, certainly not in a game of this scope, nor a game with this budget - and that can be demonstrated as soon as you begin playing. By offering a new experience, BioWare increases the odds that players will stick around because it's something they can't get easily - or at all - back in WoW.

#5 - Lightsabers: Fwp-shhhhsssss... wronnnn, worrrarrang. Wrorr-K-SHH! K-SHHkrilkrklkkrlk, wrooonn, wroaonng.

I think that point speaks for itself.

BioWare Austin's Old Republic may be better poised to be a serious challenge to WoW like no other game in the past five years but, after all, there are two sides to every story, and every point has its counterpoint. However, that may be a story for a different day. Or a different week.

Check back next week for the 5 reasons that WoW has nothing to fear from Old Republic.

John Funk still can't make up his mind about being a Jedi Knight or a Sith Inquisitor.

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