SWTOR morality and gear

I’ve just read a quote of the day post on Biobreak, which started me thinking about the morality system in SWTOR (The original quote comes from Healing the Masses blog).

The quoted text addresses making uninformed choices in The Secret World. This is the rival ‘story is 4th pillar’ game to SWTOR. I’m not comparing the qualities of the two games here, I never played TSW and have no interest in doing so. The topic of uninformed choice is very relevant to SWTOR however. I’ll requote the subsection of the original text of most relevance to this post:

Making decisions without knowing the background, the people or motives invokes us to rely more on our intuition, for better or worse… and I have never had an experience as thought provoking as this in terms of game stories and my own morals.

I like the conversation system in SWTOR, and the choices that you have to make. I do wish however that the Light/Dark side alignment system had been left as a story-related mechanic only. They should never have attached gear rewards to that!

Instead it should have only had an effect on how you are perceived by your companions and other NPCs who could justifiably know at least some of the decisions you have taken. Perhaps some other force sensitive types could intuit a general feeling of your moral stance as well? This could affect the dialogue options available as well as the kinds of welcome you receive.

I can’t see that light or dark gear is that useful in a game with PVP and PVE raiding endgame? Unless they’ve released new ‘tiers’ of alignment gear it seems like a mistaken confusion of a clearly RP/story oriented mechanic with the MMO staple of gear progression.

Of course this is old news now and the time is long past for making core changes to the game’s mechanics. When I played through I ignored the alignment system’s gear linkage – I chose what I thought was right for my character on a case-by-case basis. Often he accrued some dark side points due to Bioware’s sometimes dubious interpretation of their own moral compass.  But that didn’t matter, it added to the game that I was thinking about my character’s motivations at such a level and so often. No other MMOs have really taken me that far into characterisation and for that I applaud Bioware. In the same way that TSW made the quoted author think about morality, SWTOR was very effective at making me question my character’s moral choices, especially as a (mostly) Light side Jedi.

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4 Responses to SWTOR morality and gear

  1. Shintar says:

    To be honest alignment is pretty irrelevant to gear as it is. The one area where it really had a visible effect used to be colour crystals (blue saber = good guy, red saber = bad guy), but that limitation was lifted not long after launch. As far as I’m aware the only limits that are left now are attached to a couple of low level relics, but you can always find alternatives without that sort of restriction.

  2. pkudude99 says:

    You haven’t tried TSW? I know that the horror genre part of it put me off at 1st, but since nearly any fantasy game includes the same horror-themed monsters, it didn’t put me off that much. I absolutely love the skill wheel and the combat system — enough so that I actually had a hard time going back to Rift with its slower paced combat at 1st. (See 3rd paragraph of this post).. Of couse now I’m used to Rift’s system again so I’m letting TSW fall by the wayside a bit, but I still love the game and make sure to log in a couple of times a week.
    They just announced this morning that they’re going to the GW model of buy once play forever, so pick up a copy and drop in!

    And to the post’s point… like Shintar says, there’s really nothing that LS/DS gear can get you that you can’t get elsewhere, so it’s really not a big deal.

    • Telwyn says:

      I can see that it isn’t important, but somehow it seems off-base for a Bioware game to tangle up the morality system with clear rep grinding for gear. Regardless the game does offer the chance to do some introspection on moral choices for your character (I wouldn’t say SWTOR makes me question my own morality but then I don’t pretend to have a Jedi’s moral outlook ;-) ). Really that was the point of my post, that the gear-grind element of the LS/DS system does not have to detract from it’s strength in the story-side. I wonder if many players did go against their judgement/concept of character just to ‘max out rep’ though?

      • pkudude99 says:

        I’m sure most did, actually. Before I found the setting where it shows which options are the LS/DS ones, I was playing a trooper and trying to pick what I would do in the situations in which he found himself. But when it gave me darkside points for trying to reunite a family (which is, to me, the epitome of lightside) and I realized due to that that I’d be forever second-guessing what the Bioware devs thought was LS/DS, I said “screw it” and turned on the option to see what they were, then simply always chose the LS or DS option for whatever I’d decided that character was going to be. And even with that, I think I only actually bought a couple of relics off the faction vendors. They didn’t have anything else worth buying, so the LS/DS was actually pretty useless and I could have gone for perfect neutrality and not noticed any difference in the game.

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