I’ve written before about some MMORPGs as being easy to return to because of time invested and how familiar the game systems and setting might be. This was certainly my experience dipping back into Star Wars the Old Republic this last week. I easily picked up playing my Shadow again, the rotation and ability use was mostly a matter of muscle memory.
I was more aware perhaps of the many sound and visual queues that I appreciate from the game: the dulcet tones of a nearby Gonk droid, the Hyperspace animation on my own ship and the familiar voices of commonly-used companions.
One difference I have noticed is in default difficulty of new content. The story-mode instances and areas for current or last-but-one content is noticeably lower than in Lord of the Rings Online and Everquest 2 to name just two games. That might be, in part, a reflection of me simply playing my SWTOR character better, I had played this character through two expansions of content quite intensively. But I also suspect that SWTOR’s chosen model of story-mode plus optional hard modes (two different levels I think?) for all this content gives the developers more room to cater to all tastes and ability levels.
In Lord of the Rings Online I can happily pluck away at all the pre-Mordor content, but my Champion is utterly unable to solo all but the weakest monsters there. I have even started acquiring some of the ‘light’ gear but haven’t noticed any positive difference yet.
In Everquest 2 for the last two expansions that I have played I’ve done well solo up to a certain point when, inevitably, the difficulty ramps up suddenly as you’re faced with what feels to me (an eternal EQ2-newbie) like a solo raid. This switches the challenge from my companion easily healing me through everything to sudden life or death moments. Oh for a story-mode option in this game’s heroic instances!
Perhaps I’ll have a rude awakening in SWTOR as well, a moment when I hit a sudden wall of difficulty, but if my experiences of the two ‘Knights’ expansions hold true I doubt it. In my first play through of the Nathema content I did wipe once on a boss fight, but it was obvious why immediately afterwards and I was able to beat the fight on the second attempt. Maybe I’m simply more used to this type of content and more attuned to how the devs give players feedback in combat within this MMORPG. I count this return to be one of the easiest I’ve made in quite some time.