After the failure of an expansion of World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm, I was orphaned for the longest time without the time sink of an MMO to occupy my daily gaming needs. I quit WoW, possibly for good, in the summer of 2011 and have been looking for something to fill up the free time.

To keep it brief, I quit WoW due to the direction the game was heading. It was partially myself starting to grow up and have more responsibilities in life, but it was mostly from WoW’s gear resets brought in from each large patch. Previously, there was only a heavy gear reset per expansion, but when it started happening each patch, grinding out all the gear for 6 months just for it to become worthless again was the nail in the coffin for me.

Around July, I got wind of SWTOR to be released soon. I patiently waited for another four months before a release date was actually confirmed, and greatly enjoyed my time with the game at release. Unfortunately, despite the player base and stability of the game, and how fun it is while leveling and playing the different characters and classes, it is greatly unfinished at the end game side of things. It’s basically a WoW clone, but they couldn’t even manage to clone what’s right about WoW (such as good looking gear, addons, UI customization, combat logs, character creation, and the polarizing LFD tool).

Don’t get me wrong, SWTOR will undoubtedly be better by the end of this year, but I’m not sure if I have it in me to keep playing for that long to wait for the polish. The game definitely needs a LFD tool, even if it’s kept within the same server. Having to sit around the fleet to look for a group is detrimental to game play. People want to do their dailies while queued up for a flashpoint, hunt datacrons, do space missions, or simply be anywhere but the fleet. Next to LFD, the game needs Combat Logs so players can see their damage and healing output. It’s a crude way to see how you fare with your peers, but it’s a subjective complement to the carrot on the stick when it comes to the progression of your character. Without it, you could be amazingly powerful or the absolute worst player out there, and you couldn’t tell one way or the other. There’s no sense of progression or achievement. That’s where I feel the biggest issues are with the game at the moment.

SWTOR is still in its infancy though. It’s only been 2 months. It definitely needs time to mature, iron out all its problems, and then proceed with providing features to the game to make life easier on all the players. Unfortunately, since it decided to go with the WoW model of things, Bioware needs to pick up the pace. Granted, it does not have the source code to how Blizzard has programmed WoW, it does have the benefit of hindsight to know what players want — to which they have failed to take advantage of.

I am debating mentally whether or not I can stick around long enough for SWTOR to get its act together — not when there are two dark horses right around the corner. I’m talking about The Secret World and Guild Wars 2. The Secret World (TSW) is scheduled for release on June 19. Guild Wars 2 (GW2) lacks a release date, but beta has been opened up for the media, so a release is not far away. I would say that it will release in Q4 at the latest, to take advantage of the holiday buying season as well as the extra free time people will have to play the game.

I’ve considered dabbling in The Secret World, but the lack of hype/excitement for this game is going to pigeonhole this as a niche game, and probably end up not being very popular. It has some interesting gaming dynamics, though. For instance, there is no leveling in the game, nor is there any gear grind. You level up laterally in terms of learning new skills and abilities that’s open to all factions, which means there are no specialized characters that have certain roles. You are your own character, and you pick your role based on the skills you have and what works for the situation at hand. The only thing that matters is the weapon you wield and the skills/spells you possess. Any other gear is simply cosmetic. The deal breaker, out of all of this, is that the holy trinity still exists in this game. You still need tanks, healers, and damage dealers. Not as strictly dictated, but a necessary evil in terms of dungeons and party dynamics.

The media recently were invited to beta access for Guild Wars 2 over the weekend (Feb 17), stirring up even more interest from rabid GW fans dying to get their hands on it. This hype machine may bring on too many high expectations to the game, and it might not deliver fully. That, however, won’t deter me from trying it out. I never played the original Guild Wars, since I was deeply invested in WoW at the time (no time for 2 MMOs, there can be only one!), but given the fact that it’s a one time purchase for the game for unlimited playtime afterwards in a persistent, non-instanced world, it’s an opportunity I wouldn’t want to miss out on. Hopefully, ArenaNet has their act together (vs Bioware) in knowing how to modernize an MMORPG, instead of just copying an older version of WoW.

For the time being, I, along with many others, will be waiting for SWTOR’s upcoming 1.2 patch (aka the Jesus patch), to be the savior of what the trolls refer to as the TORtanic. Scheduled to be released sometime in late March, this patch better fix most of the things that are wrong with the game right now, or bring in some new features that the game is in dire need for. Otherwise, I am highly concerned for its future success.