Oh, massively-multiplayer online games. We used to have so much fun. I would come home from a not-particularly-grueling day of school and log in for a few hours of mindlessly killing badly-animated Everquest baddies. Then, when I was all grown up and in college, we had lots of fun killing little rabbit things outside San d’Oria. Just as recently as last week, we were crawling through the dragon-haunted depths of Blackwing Descent in World of Warcraft.
But the bloom is off the rose, MMOGs, because I find myself more and more running to the comforting arms of my mistress, single-player games. How can we reinvigorate our failing relationship? Couples counseling? Key parties?
What is this? A The Old Republic trailer? Oh. Oh my. I am in love.
BioWare can generally be trusted to make entertaining software. The new E3 trailer is really just an interesting mash-up of much-touted game features, like space battles, crew skills, and lightsaber combat. Jaded MMO forum commenters, ever paragons of rationality and objectivity, are quick to call it WoW in Space, preferring instead the riveting action of EVE Online, or Microsoft Excel in Space.
But I dare even the most hard-hearted nay-saying naysayer to watch the trailer and not feel a little of that old Star Wars excitement. There is something downright quixotic and intoxicating in the Old Republic mythology, a vision of a fantasy world sans the usual trappings of elves and dwarves. A bit of magic that is not mired in quaint woodsy hollows and cold stone castles.
Projected for a late 2011 release, The Old Republic is the answer, I hope, to our MMO prayers. Rift promised us more of the same, if better-executed and with a fresh coat of paint. Guild Wars II hopes to innovate and bring about a dynamic world. But The Old Republic promises, and I think the trailer shows, fully intends on delivering, a paradigm shift in themepark MMOs, from barely-interactable point and click worlds, to fully-voiced, story rich, fun games with immersive lore and the sorts of features modern MMO players expect.
Cautiously optimistic? Nay; I am unabashedly excited for the release of this game, and Bioware’s E3 showing has only whetted my hunger for a new Star Wars experience untainted by the hack writing of George Lucas.