Surprisingly (to me anyway) I did get to glimpse a bit of the new Grand Acquisitions Race event in SWTOR in my last session. I got the impression from the teaser video that it was ‘coming soon’, but in fact it’s already live.
I think the event shows some of the potential of what the game could be or have been; but it also shows the flaws in what the game is. Giving players missions to do on varied worlds regardless of their level is excellent – it keeps the worlds alive even after the main leveling zerg has moved onto the worlds designated for the level cap. The previous plague mission showed this in a concentrated form as it brought flocks of players of all levels to Tattooine. Now the players are flocking to Nar Shaddaa and (Republic side at least) to Coruscant. It was great to see the main zones so lively, random RPers were playing out dialogues and PVP-flagged players were roaming around looking for prey.
One of the problems I think Bioware should think about in more detail is how to keep players in the shared spaces of the worlds. Not easy given that the game is split over so many worlds and zones within those worlds. Perceptions do matter, a game can have a very healthy population, but if almost everyone is locked away in instances the world will feel dead. The two events seem to be popular, I’d encourage any future events to be designed to be as ‘open-world’ as possible and to selectively pick some interesting focal locations to bring players in large numbers together as often as possible.
As the plague event did for Tattooine, this one took me already to corners of Nar Shaddaa and Coruscant I had never seen. Is it simply that my class missions never ventured there or a broader issue that the general leveling content doesn’t encourage random exploration enough?