When you hear “MMORPG”, you’ll probably think of the fantasy genre first. The biggest and most famous ones are fantasy, after all. It sounds really obvious, but it was a thought I had, now while I’ve been playing two sci-fi/science fantasy MMORPGs: Star Wars: The Old Republic (which went Free-to-Play a while ago) and Phantasy Star Online 2 (also Free-to-Play).
SWTOR was developed by Bioware, known for the Mass Effect series where your decisions are tracked on your Good Guy/Asshole alignment meter, which affects the story.
This feature is also present in SWTOR as a light side/dark side meter. The alignment system and the fully voiced interactive dialogue helps with the immersion factor, and it’s definitely a lot more fun than reading walls of text (or impatiently clicking through them) when questing.
The combat feels like typical MMORPG skill-rotation fare done right. There’s no auto-attack, which threw me off at first. Rather, you must use your skills to attack, like in Guild Wars 2… Although I suppose it would be more accurate to say GW2 is like SWTOR.
Right clicking an enemy triggers your #1 skill, and you can’t hold the button down. I’d forgotten what it was like to have more than a handful of skills to use at a time. Now I actually understand why people buy mice with 6+ buttons on the side and keyboards with programmable macro keys.
I’m enjoying the story so far as a level 14 Jedi Sage. As for the graphics, they’re a little dated, but cranked to Ultra it looks alright enough. The only complaint I have right now is that, in true EA fashion, F2P players are annoyingly limited in what they can do. You can’t trade, send mail, get certain quest rewards, display titles, have more than a certain amount of money, and even your PMs and General chat is restricted! You’ll need to shell out dat cash if you’re even sort of serious about this one.
EA constantly reminding you they want your money aside, SWTOR is a good game. I can recommend.
Onto Phantasy Star Online 2, which you may or may not have heard of. I didn’t play any of the previous Phantasy Star games, but PSO2 is a pretty neat hack-and-slash.
You are a member of Arks, a military organization who fight across the galaxy against monsters called Darkers. From the main Arks base, which serves as the lobby, you can accept missions with varying objectives.
The character customization system is very detailed. It gives you a choice of up to three head accessories and like 30 pitch-adjustable voice styles! You can make your character look almost any way you like, except of course if you chose to be a male CAST, then you’re going to look like a Gundam no matter what you do.
The aesthetic is clearly anime-styled: Huge swords, flashy skill effects, the costumes, character portrait cut-ins, and obviously the character design in general.
The combat is 3rd person action-RPG style. There’s a lock on feature, and the option to switch between normal view and over-the-shoulder third person shooter view for precision aiming. (If you play melee like me, you might forget both are there)
The best part about this game is the boss fights. You get to fight giant beasts that sort of remind me of Zelda or Monster Hunter. Use your skill and timing to dodge and block attacks! Fighting is active, past paced and fun.
The soundtrack is not great, and there’s not much variety in gameplay. Each mission consists of running through the map, killing anything in your way until you reach the finish.
There’s no word of any North American server for PSO2 coming any time soon. The SEA server just launched, but is region-locked and allegedly the translation is iffy. I play on the Japanese server with an English patch. It’s not complete, but the main parts are there. (Etiquette seems to be as if you are a guest in the JP players’ home, so you keep English to a minimum in public, keep mostly quiet in JP parties, and don’t be like the morons in Ship 2 Block 20.)
I can also recommend this game.
These will help keep me busy while I wait for Blade and Soul and Tree of Saviour!