Sometimes, being a game is okay, even if you’re an MMO. I’ve talked many times about how game worlds deserve more emphasis, but let me take a step back and say that having some “game” in your virtual world is a good thing. I agree with folks that wish TOR was coming packaged with fully explorable space. But, does that mean what we’re being given will be no fun? Absolutely not. MMOs are video games, plain and simple, and inasmuch as we want more from them, we should also expect good gameplay to be a default component. On rails space combat isn’t bad gameplay, it’s just not free-form– and, that’s okay.
Honestly, reading so much disappointment for TORs space combat is a bit of a surprise. I was under the impression that most players would be happy to get space combat at all. I guess I was wrong, beggars can be choosers. But, hey, that’s never bit anyone in the ass before, right?
If you’re worried that the ship combat we’re getting isn’t good enough, I’d ask you to take a step back. This is a Bioware game and an MMO at that. Are you really worried that there won’t be enough staple MMO fodder to keep you busy? This game is set to be absolutely packed with things to do and places to explore. Space combat should, and still, be low on your list of selling points. Remember, until recently, it wasn’t even part of the game. It’s there because Bioware tried to give us what we asked for. And for something so “tacked on” I think it looks pretty damn polished. Like I said, they’re set to out-fox The Fox.
I’d also point out that, for a starting point, we’re pretty well off. This is just what we’re getting on launch day. Bioware knows players want more to do in space. Consider this a baby step and a hint for things to come.
But, to return to the title point of this post, stepping back from the “grand story” and “breathing world” is okay if it means delivering fun game play. It might not be normal for the MMO-scene, but who said it had to be? From where I’m sitting, this has the potential to be a wonderful time waster, along the lines of Tetris, Afterburner, and the other great games we grew up with. If done right, it could also be one of the best mini-games we’ve ever seen in a mature, adult-themed MMO. Why is this bad?