The First 10 – Star Wars: The Old Republic
Level 4. My first story mission had me meeting the likes of two key Sith personnel: the hermit Spindrall and Inquisitor Zyn. These are two characters that really embodied the one-dimensional personalities seen throughout the Sith Academy. The former is a soft-spoken old man who tricked me into a Hunger Games-style deathmatch, and the latter is a borderline-masochistic detective who strong-armed me into torturing a helpless victim. While Prectorr did everything almost too willingly, I felt as though there was potential to better tap into these moral dilemmas, instead of just as a means to get to the next objective.
SWTOR tries very clearly on multiple levels to really immerse the player in a memorable story. Of course, story is very tricky when it comes to MMORPGs, as each character is just “another guy” and there is no finite endpoint. Because the game world does not center on your character, contrary to Bioshock or Mass Effect, there’s no way to really feel any sense of attachment to other NPCs. The muckety-mucks that roam the halls of the Sith Academy try to project the Sith’s core tenets of power and fear, but they just come across as schoolyard bullies. “Do this because we’re mean Sith, GRRR!” doesn’t really provide for compelling storytelling. Even though the game puts such an emphasis on personality through dialogue, these flaccid characters prevented me from really caring about developing my personality.
Level 6. I had now crossed into the second half of the introduction period on Korriban, and really began to notice how deep this game is. After completing a handful of basic fetch quests, mission requests from NPCs were becoming a bit more complex than just “go there and kill that.” One mission in particular had me charging through a tomb to procure the brain of a boss creature. Once I secured the brain, I had the the option to either return it to the psychotic Sith scientist for Dark Side points, or return it to his more down-to-earth protégé to help discredit him for Light Side points.