A classic mode for SWTOR?

The news that the release date of Burning Crusade Classic is June 1st, has me thinking today not of when my character will be rushing through the Dark Portal, but rather of how such a return to earlier times could be handled differently. I will no doubt take my ‘moo’ druid healer through to Outlands, but husband and I have decided to take a break from WoW until 9.1 arrives. We’ll jump on the Classic train again once we have some more Retail content to play through. The all-devouring horde of characters in Hellfire Peninsula competing for quest mobs and objectives on launch is likely to be something to behold, but not something I’d want to actually experience.

The launch of BC Classic also brings with it a new split in the playerbase, some characters (and their players) will move to Classic-only servers, others will move on to Outlands. That splits an already fractured playerbase – already there was the Retail vs Classic divide, but now we have Classic split in two. So, this morning I began thinking whether there would be a way to play the nostalgic version of your MMO of choice without splitting the playerbase on totally separate servers.

My idea actually was based on Star Wars the Old Republic, the game doesn’t have its own version of Classic or Progression servers as yet. As we played the Hammer Star flashpoint for the first time last night on our newer Imperial trio, I was struck by the desire to see the flashpoint as it was originally. No veteran mode, no bolster to level 70 and no healing stations at every boss. Our characters were level 22 when we started, and level 25 by the end, one of those dings came from the hefty experience reward for completing a Conquest daily mission.

The tuning seemed a bit bizarre, very early on there was a static group of about 6 or 7 mobs, including two gold droids, at a corridor intersection and we wiped several times from the brutal damage. It didn’t help that our main CC abilities didn’t work on droids (Mind Trap and Sleep Darts x2). We got past that by dual healing with the companion on backup, but eventually we learned to use our shorter-duration disables (stuns, etc.) to allow us to defeat larger groups without needing to ez-mode it.

Flashpoint tuning issues aside, I was also struck by how fast levelling is now. You really miss the sense of the planet zones you are passing through when you only do the class and planet storylines. All those side quests added so much more depth to galactic and local conflicts. We could just choose to do them anyway, but I feel the game could do with a switch to turn the clock back. Here I think separate servers would be a bad idea: let’s not split the playerbase unecessarily. If you could either create a Classic mode character, or even, switch on Classic mode, that would allow player characters to still see and interact with each other in some form (whether trading, roleplaying or PVP).

The mode could switch off level scaling, disable certain features like Conquest, and bring experience gain back down to vaguely ‘classic’ speeds. That would allow the option to play through planets in a manner close to the original launch experience. I’m not actually that interested in the idea of playing classic versions of the classes, a separate server with a classic ruleset would be needed for that as mixing characters together with modern and classic skillsets doesn’t sound feasible. Personally I like the idea of a mode instead so that classic and non-classic characters still see one another on Fleet or in the open zones. Alt levelling seems like a bigger thing in SWTOR than in most MMORPGs, so giving more control to players on the pace of that would be a real boon. I may be naive in thinking that a Classic mode, whether fixed at character creation, or as an in-game toggle, might be easier to implement than recreating the classic rulset?

This idea was also inspired by all the Skylanders we’ve been playing, platform games have a long history of having a difficulty setting, action RPGs like diablo also do this so it isn’t so far removed from MMORPG-land. If instanced content like dungeons and raids have difficulty modes too, why can’t questing have a new mode to allow us to set our own pace?

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