Ultimately, SWTOR is going to have to pass two tests for me. The first will be measured at the end of early access, when it’ll be time to decide whether to shell out the additional $55 for another 30 days with the game. I have a gut feeling that it’s got better than a 50% chance to pass this test.
The other question will be asked on day 30, when it’s time to decide whether or not to subscribe. The answer will depend just as much on a number of external factors as it does on any quality that SWTOR brings to the table. How much time I have available to play video games at the time is the big one, and given that it’s likely to land in January, that’s likely to not be much. Too, there are other games to consider; in January, how occupied am I likely to be by Skyrim? We may also have a launch date for Guild Wars 2 by then, and I’ll be happily jumping the SWTOR ship for that unless Bioware’s offering blows me away.
And from where I’m sitting today, that’s not likely. I’ve been watching the heavy coverage of both games coming out of last week’s Gamescom in Deutschland, and have been universally more impressed with GW2. It’s only reasonable to say that the jury’s still out on both games; we haven’t seen much on SWTOR’s ship-based housing or space combat yet, for example, and the same with GW2’s World vs. World PvP. Indications are, though, that SWTOR is a great deal closer to launch, even though both games offered playable demos at Gamescom.
All of this may sound like I’m more down on SWTOR than I really am; as I’ve said seemingly millions of times in the past, I expect it to be a good game. My issue is going to be whether it’s good enough to warrant (in my eyes) paying a subscription for, when similar experiences are offered elsewhere without one. And no, the Star Wars property isn’t enough to move that goalpost one inch; indeed, it’s something that the game is likely to have to overcome.
So why did I preorder it? Early access for a $5 price tag at worst. And it’s where the action will be around the launch, and that I find hard to resist.