Lethal Injection: Flashpoints: To Exist Or Not To Exist, That Is The Question!
Last Thursday, GameSpot was lucky enough to be able to reveal a Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ gameplay trailer of a brand-new Flashpoint entitled Taral V . The video is great, and really shows the intense group combat that BioWare is working hard toward delivering. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this and watch it now. And then please come back. :)
To answer the question, Taral V is just a Flashpoint location.
With that confirmation, my heart skipped a beat.
After all, this is an MMORPG with a massive open world in which we’re going to explore, adventure and basically spend a lot of time. Why would a planet exist only in an instance, and not in the open game world? And just how many instanced locations (fauxcations?) like this would exist in the TOR galaxy?
So, why is this such a big deal?
Well, from a gameplay standpoint, it isn’t. Honestly, this could potentially open up many more locations for gameplay than would otherwise be possible by having BioWare need to fully realize a planet in order to adventure there.
But, if the location and the story are important enough to be written, then shouldn’t it be important enough to exist in the game world? It just doesn’t feel right in an MMO context that we’ll be adventuring in places that don’t really exist. To me, this feels more like how a single player, linear, closed-world game might present content to a player.
And to be clear, I’m not asking for a planet like Taral V to be fleshed out with all of the niceties of other planets. It doesn’t need resource nodes, alien civilizations or quest hubs. But players should still be able to travel there, even when they’re not doing that specific Flashpoint. If players want to travel there just to look at the sky, they should be able to do that in the spirit of freedom that an MMO world affords us.
Now, we don’t know for sure how BioWare will handle this. I’m working on an assumption that since it’s been described as a Flashpoint-only planet, we are unable to travel there the same as we would to other planets via the in-game starship navigation system (and actually, at the time of writing, we don’t know for sure how BioWare handles that either.)
The bottom line for me is that this tends to create a sense of disbelief. It breaks the immersion that is otherwise being so painstakingly crafted. Gabe Amatangelo, Lead PvP Designer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, mentioned this when describing how they wanted to hide the “gamey” aspects of Warzones. So why introduce something seemingly as “gamey” as adventuring in location that really isn’t there?
For an MMORPG, I feel that a primary design goal should be to create a sense of place, as well as offer freedom to players and facilitate immersion at every opportunity. Traveling to a planet in an instance, that you can’t otherwise travel to, seems counter to that ideal.
So, what do you think? Does it matter to you that certain locations will be presented this way? And how many could be like this before it would be a concern to you? Or perhaps, you think this is the greatest idea in the history of ideas! Take a minute and let us know your thoughts below…