30/01/2014

The Future of Flashpoints (and Other Parts of the Game)

The rakghoul event is over (for now) and usually I'd do a sort of round-up post to talk about what I liked and what I didn't, but in this case I feel that I pretty much already said it all in my last three posts. I genuinely enjoyed all aspects of the event and am looking forward to its return. We'll see how it plays out the second time around.

Meanwhile, in the news: there's a new flashpoint coming in 2.6, and there's a little news article about it up on the official website. It's called Kuat Drive Yards and will be a so-called "tactical" flashpoint, meaning it will play slightly differently than previous flashpoints. Firstly, it will be role-neutral, like the Czerka story modes. (But will there be a hardmode?) Secondly, it will be level-neutral, meaning that anyone of level fifteen or higher can do it and will be bolstered. And thirdly, instead of featuring a single story, it will consist of two out of five "scenarios" and feature a random selection of objectives and bosses each run.

Now, in many ways that sounds very cool. Content that lets players of different levels play together is always a positive in my book. And having a certain degree of randomisation to keep things fresh sounds promising as well.

But - and you knew there had to be a "but" - I can't help but think that this also means that this new flashpoint is probably going to have less story to it than ever. If you can play it at any level, it's got to be independent of the main game's storyline to make sense to players of all levels. And randomisation automatically puts a limit on how much of a story you can tell. I'm not saying that's terrible, but I already felt that the Czerka flashpoints felt a little thin on story and were lacking a certain charm because of that.

It's a trend that I feel is noticeable in the game as a whole, what with the recent addition of Galactic Starfighter and a general push towards implementing more systems to keep players busy. Less story content, more random things to do. Again, I'm not exactly saying that's a bad thing. The other week Massively asked the question: "Would you prefer new story content or new features?" and the overwhelming majority of commenters on that article expressed a preference for new features. It's clearly something that adds value to any MMO. However, let's not forget that story is what SWTOR does best. The voiced missions are what really makes it stand out from other MMOs and what drew many people towards the game in the first place. If we want randomisation and mini-games, we can get that elsewhere. I hope that the devs don't neglect their game's major strength too much in this pursuit to expand its scope.

I just can't help seeing a certain irony in the MMO news, when SWTOR, a game that was all about the story at launch, keeps adding new non-story features, while a game like Guild Wars 2, which prided itself in not caring about story at launch (no quests etc.), keeps chugging out new "living story" instalments every two weeks. It's a little bit as if each game is trying to take cues from the other...

8 comments:

  1. I'll reserve opinion for when I actually see the FP myself, but it looks... interesting.

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    1. Oh, I'm definitely looking forward to trying it! The prospect of being able to go in there at all levels is interesting as well.

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  2. I like a bit of randomization in dungeons, I think. It keeps things a little fresher, and also cuts down (for a while) on people assuming you know exactly how everything in it goes.

    That said, my favorite flashpoints are still BT/Esseles with all the story and whatnot, I would like to see more of that.

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  3. Definitely looks interesting, though I am a bit surprised they added a new Reputation Faction just for it. It might be a tad too tedious grinding rep with only 1 FP as a way of gaining it.

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    1. Oh, I didn't even know there was a reputation connected to it!

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  4. It's this one: http://dulfy.net/2014/01/22/swtor-kuat-drive-yards-reputation-vendor-items/

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  5. I don't agree that the low level is the indication of the FPs being 'story light'. BT/Esseles were among the FPs with the most emphasis on story (Foundly/Prison being the other notable story FPs)

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    1. I didn't say that low level equals less story, I said that I suspect it being a random (any) level plus random bosses will make it hard to fit it into any kind of narrative.

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