I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I’m not playing Star Wars The Old Republic much anymore. There was a time where I balanced my time between Elder Scrolls Online and SWTOR. But now, ESO has completely won over my time. There are various factors that contribute to this of course which I’ll go over later on in the post. But in the meantime, here are the key things that made me switch to ESO.
Large Scale Open World PvP
ESO delivers exhilarating PvP on a scale that SWTOR will never be able to. SWTOR’s antiquated engine simply cannot handle large numbers of people in one area fighting to the extent that ESO’s can (not the ESO is perfect by any means). There is also no support and little incentive for Open World PvP in SWTOR. Something that continues to frustrate me when the solution is pretty damn simple.
My most memorable SWTOR experiences have all involved OW PvP encounters large and small. Despite the lag, it was always fun back in the day to be involved in OW PvP encounters. Oricon, in my opinion, was the closest SWTOR came to incentivising and getting people involved with OW PvP*. If the developers added intriguing titles to OW PvP kill achievements (like they did with Oricon) on other planets/areas it could be enough to get players and Guilds to organise events. Then we can once again have OW PvP in SWTOR.
In ESO I can just hop into Cyrodiil and bam there always something happening. Whether you just want to go at it solo and gank, run with a Zerg or pug group or even just attack or defend keeps, you have plenty of options to suit all types of PvP play styles in Cyrodiil.
SWTOR attempted to add vehicular OW PvP combat with Iokath in Game Update 5.2. It failed miserably. The vehicles were too expensive to purchase, limited use and had unreliable interfaces. Not to mention that earning the currency was gated by doing the planet storyline. This system could have worked if the currency to purchase the vehicles was universally accessible to all PvPers, cheaper to purchase, lasted longer (but still limited use) and again, if there were more incentives for OW PvP.
*I wasn’t around for Ilum at launch so can’t comment on it.
Continuous Consistent Content Releases
The thing that’s impressed the most about ESO since I started playing the game is the consistent content release cycles. There are four major updates a year. One Expansion, one large DLC (new zone) and two smaller Dungeon DLC’s. Each of these updates always includes class balance changes, new features and additional improvements. It feels like there is always something happening.
I’ve been playing the game for a year and a half now and I have still not been able to do all the content in the game. I have done pretty much all the story content and the majority of PvP content. But beyond some Dungeons and a couple of easy Trials, I’ve barely done much of endgame PvE. I’m not in any particular rush to get to it either. PvP in this game is just way too fun.
SWTOR certainly doesn’t have a consistent cycle. Indeed content releases have been erratic at best, inconsistent at worst. Over the years, we’ve had long droughts with no content and generally content releases have been all over the place in terms of the amount of content in them. But more recently, things have been improving. The quality of the content has gotten better and we’ve been getting content at a more frequent pace. As for consistency, I don’t think that’s something we’re ever going to see for SWTOR. It works nicely for ESO but at this point for SWTOR to me, at least, quality matters more than consistency.
When I first started playing ESO, I found the variety of skill trees and endless ability combinations to be very overwhelming and daunting. But as I’ve played the game and gotten to know all the various skill trees available for each class, it’s gotten easier. Various class guides created by members of the ESO community have been excellent resources too and have helped me understand better what works well with what. Though I admit my knowledge is certainly far from complete. I am still learning but I’m enjoying it a lot more now.
SWTOR used to have limited flexibility with its Skill Trees for each Advanced Class. But this was done away with in favour of cookie-cutter, non-customisable, skill trees locked to each advanced class specialisation. There reasoning for this change was to make class balancing easier and to make it easier for players to understand the system.
I never really had too much issue with them making this change but I do miss the old skill trees. But since playing other MMO’s that allow for greater class customisation, I kind of wish SWTOR could take this route. But personally, I would rather SWTOR concentrate on other game features as they already have a great variety of classes. Unlike other MMO’s I’ve played the animations are unique to each faction. Something I have never seen in another MMO. So while I’ve been enjoying ESO Class system I’m not so sure it would work for SWTOR. They’d be better off just introducing a new Class, to be honest.
ESO has multiple regular ‘holiday’ and celebration events. Each Event is run once a year. You always know when to expect them and each year, they sometimes add new things to the events. Hell, they’ve been adding new minor Events too this year.
In SWTOR the events are a lot more in your face and are repeated constantly. There is always an Event happening which is quite tiresome and exhausting. The only exception to this is the Life Day event which only happens once a year (thank god).
Highly Interactive and Immersive Environment
The world itself feels so alive. I can collect butterflies or flowers, kill spiders and other bugs/creatures (that aren’t NPC ‘monsters’) and get crafting materials and fishing bait. So not only does the game have a thriving ecosystem, it serves a purpose. I can pickpocket NPC’s and steal/loot random crates and barrels found throughout the world. If I get caught, I get a bounty on my head. The game not only has a day and night cycle but a weather system too. The world of ESO is incredibly immersive and sucks you right in. This is what originally won me over to the game when I first started playing a year and a half ago.
SWTOR doesn’t have any of these things. Yes, there are crafting nodes but there’s a difference between collecting crafting material nodes and collecting and killing creatures that are a part of the environment itself for crafting. ESO has crafting nodes too but is not entirely reliant on them for materials.
I haven’t given up on SWTOR
I still hold high hopes for what SWTOR will deliver with its 6.0 Expansion. Indeed Game Update 5.10 is giving us a bit of a taste of what we can expect. The developers are continuing to slowly move the game in the right direction gradually correcting many of the mishaps of 4.0 and early 5.0.
Keith has undoubtedly been the key motivator behind this shift. Since he became the lead game producer for SWTOR, the developers have increasingly shifted back their focus to the MMO components of the game while still continuing to deliver story content.
Ultimately the primary reason I don’t play SWTOR much is I don’t have anyone to regularly/consistently play with. When my original Guild <Corvus> left the game during 4.0, I joined other Guilds here and there to try and find a new home but those never worked out for various reasons. So I’ve given up on finding a Guild home in SWTOR.
At this point, content-wise, I’m only interested in PvP. I can only handle so much Solo PvP and besides the gear grind through PvP is incredibly demoralising. To this day I still only have one character in full 248’s. I refuse to grind other content just to get better gear for PvP. I shouldn’t have to do that. Period. I should be able to PvP and get gear at a reasonable pace (like we had in 4.0).
The reality is, presently, ESO is giving me everything I want content wise and gear is reasonably okay to get (but by no means perfect though it’s easy to get gear that’ll get you by at least). I have also found the perfect PvP Guild in ESO. They’re a friendly, helpful, chill but skilled bunch who run PvP Events multiple days a week. If such a Guild existed in SWTOR then maybe I’d play the game again but trust me, there are no Guilds like that.
Not playing SWTOR has nothing to do with me hating the game. It’s just that I’ve found a game that does everything I want better. Not to say SWTOR is a bad game. They are both MMO’s but ESO, I feel, is on a different level then SWTOR. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. I’m still going to keep making SWTOR content and will log in occasionally. But beyond that my gaming time is pretty much going to be dedicated to ESO for the foreseeable future.