So those of us who pre-ordered the new digital expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic – Shadow of Revan – were finally given the keys into early access. I personally haven’t dove into it yet. Oh I will, and there’s a spot on the Story Summaries all set for it. But I prefer to play games when I enjoy playing them. After all, I don’t get paid to do write this stuff. (As cool as that would be. This actually costs me money to do. I chock it up to hobby fees. Like glue for model kits or something.) I did however log in to check out the new gear sets, the currency conversions, and of course the new skill system dubbed “disciplines.”
Disciplines are kind of… well, they’re sort of… okay, it’s a pretty straightforward take away from World of Warcraft’s skill/talent revamp from Cataclysm. The majority of your chosen specialization’s passive and active abilities are granted to you along a per-determined track as you level and occasionally grants you points to add bonus talents that are shared for your entire advanced class that give extra benefits that are more universally useful. Unlike WoW’s revamped system, the order that you gain these passives and active abilities is not stashed away on a website, but plainly laid out in the discipline interface.
Of course the main complaint with this whole thing is that it is simply dumbing down the system and removing player choice. To which I can only respond with: Were we playing the same game? Beyond the usual argument that everyone essentially took the same talents based on min/maxing forum recommendations, there just wasn’t enough talents to give you any choice to begin with! I’m serious. In the old talent trees, you had to put 5 points in a tier to get to the next one, yes? Well, 80% of the tiers only consisted of 5 points worth of talents. So you HAD to take all of them to keep going up that tree. The only times I usually found any choice was the occasional tier that had a choice of 2 points into a PvE talent or 2 points into more of a PvP talent, in which case you choose based on your preferred content.
So how is the system being dumbed down at all? I suppose the loss of being able to hybrid-ize and go half and half down two trees is going away, but we knew that. Hell, we knew that was part of the intent of this new system. But beyond losing hybrid specs, all you’re losing is having to manually put those 5 points into the only 5 slots – in other words: busywork. Which for someone like me who field respec-ed a bunch, busy work is something I can do without. In fact I’d prefer discipline paths and the talent points to be on separate resets so I wouldn’t have to re-do the talents every time I switched from DPS to Healer.
I’d argue that this system DOESN’T dumb down the game. It is equally as dumb as it was before. Or as smart as it was? You know what I mean. Nothing has really changed, beyond you not clicking as much in the menus. Hybrids are a bane of any company who strives for a sense of “balance” (Futile as that seems to be in MMOs, or at least in the perception of the fan base of MMOs) so seeing them getting kicked to the curb is no shock. I think people are just over-reacting to change mostly. Choice was an illusion before, and now we just get it straight. Fine by me.
That’s my 2 credits on the whole mess at least.