I don’t see their faces anymore. I don’t care if they are good or evil. I don’t think that, in another life, we could be friends. All I can see are my people and those who have to be destroyed. If their name hangs red above their head, they are my enemy and must die.
This is in StarWars: the Old Republic of course and I’m talking about the eternal war between the between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, the war between good and evil.
Bioware has managed something amazing; I care about my faction. I want the Republic to beat Empire into the dust, hopefully with lasers.
I’ve been an avid MMO player for years and I have never once experienced this sort of loyalty. Sure, when I first started playing World of Warcraft there was certainly a vague animosity towards the other team. If you were Horde, you sort of didn’t like the Alliance and vice versa.
I started playing WOW on side of the Alliance and I did have a feeble ‘fuck the horde’ view because, well, you know fuck those guys. This mild dislike ended to moment I switched to my troll character however.
This is not the case in Star Wars: The Old Republic. My main character is a smuggler on the Republic side. I spent weeks and 50 levels fighting the evil Sith. I saved Republic soldiers. I put a stop to the Empire’s attacks and did everything in my power to destroy my eternal enemy. If I saw a red lightsaber, I killed whoever was carrying it.
I didn’t really have an Empire alt until after the 1.2 Legacy patch when Bioware added perks for having two characters. Picking the Bounty Hunter class, I started my journey to the dark side.
Something became very apparent very quickly, I didn’t stop hating the Sith. These lightning wielding jerks were still my enemy, even though they were technically my allies. Despite the fact that the Empire was paying me piles of credits, I did everything in my power to undermine their agenda. If they asked me to kill a bounty, I let my target live. If I was supposed to bring someone in alive, I killed them.
I’m a loyal citizen of the Republic and I think I know why. In WOW and many other MMOs there are a lot of quest that both factions run. Some unprejudiced, unaligned NPC will ask any old player to collect 25 batwings for a batwing soufflé. You’re not likely to see this in SWTOR. If some wrinkly old Jedi asks you to collect tauntaun bladders for his lightside goulash, that goulash is most likely most likely a potent recipe for the destruction of the Sith. Most of the quests a player is given tend to stick it to the enemy in some way or another.
Another reason for this loyalty is the lack of a powerful common enemy. In World of Warcraft there is almost always some giant evil force out to destroy Azeroth. Some ‘big bad’ is so terrifying and destructive that the Horde and the Alliance put aside their differences and work together. What do you do if some sort of giant undead ice king raises an army to conquer the world? Call for a truce with your eternal enemies to take him down. Is there a giant dragon terrorizing the skies? Work with the people you’ve been at war with for three RTS games and one MMORPG. In the end, the ‘war’ in World of Warcraft feels more like a lover’s spat.
Now, there are common enemies in SWTOR as well but you are fairly often fighting them to spite the other faction. If a player is asked to kill a bunch of zombie like rakghouls, it’s most likely just to rile them up to attack the other side. There is no call to set aside arms for the greater good.
After 50 levels working for one side a person tends to find themselves aligned to it. At least I certainly did. My loyalty isn’t born from a like or dislike of players of either faction. My feelings towards the people on both sides are about the same. I don’t hold a grudge towards the guy who wanted to shoot lightning out of his fingertips. But when I login to Star Wars: The Old Republic, all I see are my people and those who must destroyed.