SWTOR is Copying WAR’s PVP Tanking Mechanics


While skimming through SWTOR PVP links on Google, I noticed that:

The second guy got it right base on what I read.

I am glad that SWTOR is borrowing the tanking mechanics from WAR – these mechanics made tanks in WAR valuable in PVP and mad fun to play.

I often read complaints from players, bloggers, and media folks that games don’t innovate enough, but in my opinion, what game developers don’t do enough is copy the great features from other games while delivering true innovation.

RIFT is a good example of blending innovation with parity. In my opinion, RIFT clearly innovated in several areas…

  1. Flexible class spec customization: each of RIFT’s 4 classes has 9 talent trees, and for a given spec you can mix-and-match 3 trees however you like. By comparison, WoW’s 10-class system with 3 fixed trees per class feels incredibly rigid and limiting. In RIFT, you can spec your Mage, Cleric, or Rogue to be a MDPS, RDPS, or healer. And Clerics, Rogues, and Warriors can all tank in PVE
  2. Rich, elegant warfront map design: RIFT’s maps have similar mechanics to maps from other games. E.g. Codex = WoW’s Arathi Basin, Whitefall Steppes = WoW’s Warsong Gulch, etc. However, the maps in RIFT have terrain features that encourage and create opportunities for tactical play, as exhibited in my most recent RIFT Cleric PVP video
  3. Integration with social media: you can record game footage in RIFT with the press of a button and then upload to YouTube, and RIFT integrates with Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr

…while copying other practical, sensible features from other games, such as:

  1. Distinct PVE gear vs PVP gear systems (e.g. Valor is WoW’s Resilience, etc)
  2. Achievements, which originated in WAR and were copied by WoW

It will be interesting to see how/where SWTOR and GW2 innovate and where they choose to copy from other games.

I have been a huge advocate and supporter for RIFT – it was the first AAA-quality launch of an MMORPG in the past several years, which in itself was a big deal. I am concerned with some of the proposed changes in Patch 1.5, such as how key talents work (for Clerics) and how the stats work. I also believe that now is not the right time to be introducing disruptive changes to the playerbase, given the impending launch of SWTOR and GW2. By changing stat mechanics, RIFT players may have to re-gear, which usually means re-grinding, and some players may simply write a game off and jump ship for perceived greener pastures.

RIFT can’t create meaningful differentiation in terms of lore-based IP – the buzz around known properties such as Warhammer Online (3 years ago) and Star Wars (now) has already proven that – but RIFT can differentiate itself from much of the MMORPG market by iterating thoughtfully and carefully with each Patch.

If any of you have tried SWTOR, let us know what you think of the game. I have heard that it feels more like a single-player game than most MMORPGs and that the PVP was not so good. But I have not tried it myself.

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Posted in Guild Wars 2, RIFT, SWTOR, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
20 comments on “SWTOR is Copying WAR’s PVP Tanking Mechanics
  1. Dyu says:

    Will you be trying SWTOR?

  2. Postal says:

    The Beta NDA is still up so nobody can go into too much detail, but whoever told you the PvP was bad was pulling your leg – it’s pretty bloody impressive. If you liked WAR’S combat mechanics then you’ll dig it. Obviously the game itself isn’t as focused on PvP as WAR was, but it was probably the most surprising aspect of the game considering everyone had all but written the PvP off due to it being a story-driven game.

    It’s rather fluid, which makes all the comments from people who haven’t played the game about it looking ‘stiff and unnatural’ all the more amusing.

    Obviously it’s not quite ready, but if they continue on this track, and add some more Warzones (think Scenarios) after release and continue to support PvP players, then it could have a good life. They’re also implementing objective-based world PvP zones in WAR’S fashion, but they’re not in Beta yet apparently.

    Huttball is fun as hell too – the map is like a classic Deathmatch map from Quake or Unreal Tournament. Lots of angles, high gantries, branching paths, overlapping routes – very novel.

    • taugrim says:

      Postal :

      The Beta NDA is still up so nobody can go into too much detail, but whoever told you the PvP was bad was pulling your leg – it’s pretty bloody impressive. If you liked WAR’S combat mechanics then you’ll dig it. Obviously the game itself isn’t as focused on PvP as WAR was, but it was probably the most surprising aspect of the game considering everyone had all but written the PvP off due to it being a story-driven game.

      It’s rather fluid, which makes all the comments from people who haven’t played the game about it looking ‘stiff and unnatural’ all the more amusing.

      Obviously it’s not quite ready, but if they continue on this track, and add some more Warzones (think Scenarios) after release and continue to support PvP players, then it could have a good life. They’re also implementing objective-based world PvP zones in WAR’S fashion, but they’re not in Beta yet apparently.

      Huttball is fun as hell too – the map is like a classic Deathmatch map from Quake or Unreal Tournament. Lots of angles, high gantries, branching paths, overlapping routes – very novel.

      Thanks for the insightful post, all of that is encouraging to hear re: SWTOR PVP.

      I really loved PVP in WAR. The main issue I had with WAR was simply the quality of the implementation – both the client and the server were very buggy and unstable. The overpromise / underdeliver thing didn’t turn me off as much as it did a lot of other players I talked to in the game.

      • Postal says:

        You should have been an EU player under GOA’s management ;)

        It remains to be seen if BW can handle large scale open PVP, but the plan is interesting at least. One main planet for RVR-style PvP at launch, fighting over enemy bases with spawning turrets and heavy weapons for underrepresented sides (an attempt to thwart zergs by the sound of it). You breach enemy defences, and it calls in a bombing run to destroy the base – the bombing raid is fluff, but at least somewhat interesting fluff!

        But they’re just promises at this point in time. The most encouraging thing is the response by Beta players right now. It’s not 100% positive – they never are – but folks sound generally pleased with the direction of the game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “in better shape right now than AoC or Warhammer were after 6 months live”.

        The game’s not going to reinvent the MMO for this generation, but its certainly an impressive, polished culmination of the lessons learned from the last generation of said games. That being said, folks should be wary of hype. Some people have astronomic expectations for this game which will NOT be met, in any way shape of form, and they seem to be content with reinforcing those expectations without any evidence on a daily basis.

        Don’t overlook the storytelling aspect either – there’s a reason Bioware has pushed that so prominently. It’s genuinely bloody impressive. The voice acting is far and beyond what I was expecting. Some stories are better than others, but once you do MMO quests with dialogue, overarching planet stories and moral choices, other MMOs just seem so meagre that department.

        • taugrim says:

          Postal :

          It remains to be seen if BW can handle large scale open PVP, but the plan is interesting at least. One main planet for RVR-style PvP at launch, fighting over enemy bases with spawning turrets and heavy weapons for underrepresented sides (an attempt to thwart zergs by the sound of it). You breach enemy defences, and it calls in a bombing run to destroy the base – the bombing raid is fluff, but at least somewhat interesting fluff!

          It’s awesome that BW is working on a planet for RVR-style PVP. I’ve always believed that that kind of content is the most sticky for PVP players – the game developer sets up the stage but it’s the players who “create” the content and swap stories on the forums.

          Postal :

          But they’re just promises at this point in time. The most encouraging thing is the response by Beta players right now. It’s not 100% positive – they never are – but folks sound generally pleased with the direction of the game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “in better shape right now than AoC or Warhammer were after 6 months live”.

          That says a lot. Usually players are pretty negative on the forums.

          I think a better comparison for quality is RIFT at launch – it was much better than even WAR at 1 year after launch.

  3. Postal says:

    Oh, and regarding your thanks – I’m just returning some of the favour, your videos made me a good Swordmaster ;)

    • taugrim says:

      Postal :

      Oh, and regarding your thanks – I’m just returning some of the favour, your videos made me a good Swordmaster ;)

      SM 4 life!

      The concept of tank-relevant PVP is attractive to me, especially after the great experience I had in WAR.

  4. Valentus says:

    I was glad to see they copied tanks in WAR, and I believe they’re also adding a detaunt ability to reduce damage to all friendly group members from a given target, so great for debuffing a deadly dps class. Knights/Warriors also get a protective leap to reduce damage to target ally for a good percentage for a few seconds, so they should be very viable in PvP.

    I’ve played the game and can tell you it’s looking extremely promising. I really think it’s going to be the new standard people compare future MMORPGs to a year or two from now, and has the potential to match or beat WoW in subscriber numbers, given the worldwide popularity of Star Wars. It just does so many things right, and is the first MMORPG that really puts emphasis on the RPG aspect, with a fully voiced game and complete class storylines for each of the 8 base classes with something like 300 voice actors employed in all. It makes other MMOS seem cheap in comparison, which is an odd thing to say considering how much money goes into them, but questing and grinding has always been low points of the genre. In terms of new character replayability alone it just towers above all others.

    As far as the “single player game” apprehension that seems to be going around it’s funny because the game has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from AAA MMO title and more, in addition to full class stories, companion characters, your own ship and full voice acting everywhere. It’s as if people hear “story” and “mmo” and perhaps “Bioware” and get worried, when in reality all the group instances group content, raids, open world pvp, scenarios, and RvR is as prevalent as ever and should be, but are enriched and not hurt by having a personal story. Perhaps it was just that at the time when the game was unveiled and being talked about earlier on, there just wasn’t as much coverage to these multiplayer elements yet, and so people heard “story driven mmo” a lot and assumed it was to the detriment of the rest of the multiplayer experience.

    The full extent of PvP remains to be seen yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually turns out better than Warhammer online. It’s got scenarios for your quick fix like WAR, but it’s open world pvp and RvR actually look better on paper so far. For starters you can actually roll on a PvP server and have roaming open pvp like in WoW, and not just be restrained to RvR lakes. Secondly RvR is consolidated into one planet(at least so far announced) fighting over something that actually has meaning: lightsaber crystals which 50% of the classes use. RvR in Warhammer felt a lot of times like leap-frog: you take a keep, I take one due to splitting of forces and sheer number of keeps and area to cover, which heavily favored zerging. And even when it was fun the keeps were poorly designed for the sheer number of players packing into one. On the Ilum RvR planet there are just 2 “keeps” and it looks like they’re heavily influnced by WAR so I’m sure they’re learned a thing or two about design and mechanics.

    Here’s a video detailing Open PVP & RvR:

    • taugrim says:

      Valentus :

      I’ve played the game and can tell you it’s looking extremely promising. It just does so many things right, and is the first MMORPG that really puts emphasis on the RPG aspect, with a fully voiced game and complete class storylines for each of the 8 base classes with something like 300 voice actors employed in all. It makes other MMOS seem cheap in comparison, which is an odd thing to say considering how much money goes into them, but questing and grinding has always been low points of the genre. In terms of new character replayability alone it just towers above all others.

      I have yet to play a game, aside from maybe LOTRO, that created a true immersive feel. I have found questing and leveling in most games to be tedious and not an experience I enjoy doing multiple times.

      What you wrote sounds promising!

      Valentus :

      The full extent of PvP remains to be seen yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually turns out better than Warhammer online. It’s got scenarios for your quick fix like WAR, but it’s open world pvp and RvR actually look better on paper so far. For starters you can actually roll on a PvP server and have roaming open pvp like in WoW, and not just be restrained to RvR lakes. Secondly RvR is consolidated into one planet(at least so far announced) fighting over something that actually has meaning: lightsaber crystals which 50% of the classes use. RvR in Warhammer felt a lot of times like leap-frog: you take a keep, I take one due to splitting of forces and sheer number of keeps and area to cover, which heavily favored zerging. And even when it was fun the keeps were poorly designed for the sheer number of players packing into one. On the Ilum RvR planet there are just 2 “keeps” and it looks like they’re heavily influnced by WAR so I’m sure they’re learned a thing or two about design and mechanics.

      I’ve been waiting for a game to deliver the fun factor of WAR’s PVP but in a AAA-quality game. I feel like RIFT has delivered the latter in terms of quality, and the warfront design is good, but the World PVP in RIFT is still not as rich and active as what I experienced in WAR.

  5. Danegar says:

    I’m in the SWTOR Beta, and I’m very disappointed as a strong Bioware and Star Wars fan. The game would have been best left as a single player or Co-Op game than a MMO. It’s exactly opposite of Star Wars Galaxies in every way.

    The PvP is pretty lame, Huttball gets extremely old and overall isn’t done very well. There are lot of obstructions, which can be a good thing unless you have a level 40+ with a speed boost sipping through the field against a group of bolstered low level characters. They bolster everyone to 50, but while your damage may be on par, you are still short a lot of powerful abilities and spec points so the field isn’t even. They really should take some pointers on how PvP was done in SWG and I hope their world objectives are worth the open world PvP like DAOC instead of WAR and other poorly done RvR/Open PvP attempts.

    Crafting is the same generic everyone crafts the same thing nonsense, you send your companions to gather resources on missions, or you harvest from nodes. Your companion does the crafting and it takes a minimum of 1 minute. Sure, you can only have one companion running around with you so you can have an idle companion do your crafting for you, but it’s a lot of upkeep that isn’t really necessary.

    Space combat is a rip off of Starfox, a 14 year old game, and not at all dynamic. It would have been more suitable for speeder based travel minigames or something, but as 1/4 of the elements of the game it is a very sad letdown. Space on rails…

    No housing, very little character customization, cookie cutter crafting, uninspired space combat, unimpressive PvP… however, the game has a GREAT storyline. SWG had almost no storyline but did great on all the rest mentioned above. So very much opposites. Early on Bioware stated that they wanted to have a good mix of sandbox elements, but they aren’t there. To be honest, the game is KOTOR 3 with a boatload of Darth Buttercups running around to remind you that you aren’t immersed in the Star Wars world. Right now there isn’t anything in the game to justify a monthly fee, thus nothing to justify it being a MMO.

    • taugrim says:

      Danegar :

      I’m in the SWTOR Beta, and I’m very disappointed as a strong Bioware and Star Wars fan. The game would have been best left as a single player or Co-Op game than a MMO. It’s exactly opposite of Star Wars Galaxies in every way.

      I assume you’re comparing SWTOR to pre-NGE SWG, right? I didn’t play SWG but I heard great things about it.

      Danegar :

      The PvP is pretty lame, Huttball gets extremely old and overall isn’t done very well. There are lot of obstructions, which can be a good thing unless you have a level 40+ with a speed boost sipping through the field against a group of bolstered low level characters. They bolster everyone to 50, but while your damage may be on par, you are still short a lot of powerful abilities and spec points so the field isn’t even. They really should take some pointers on how PvP was done in SWG and I hope their world objectives are worth the open world PvP like DAOC instead of WAR and other poorly done RvR/Open PvP attempts.

      WAR was more or less the same re: the bolster effect – it helped you to be more competitive but you still didn’t have as many talent points as other players, so you had fewer abilities.

      I didn’t play DAoC either, but it remains a singularly distinctive effort, esp with the 3-faction system to create a check for player population imbalance issues.

      Danegar :

      No housing, very little character customization, cookie cutter crafting, uninspired space combat, unimpressive PvP… however, the game has a GREAT storyline. SWG had almost no storyline but did great on all the rest mentioned above. So very much opposites.

      When you mean character customization, are you talking about player ragdoll customization, or class customization, or both?

      Thanks for weighing in, it’s great to hear more perspective on the game.

  6. Postal says:

    That’s partially what I was alluding to – for some reason, many people were expecting a sequel to Star Wars Galaxies from this game, which it clearly isn’t. If you were expecting that, then I’m not surprised you’re disappointed, really. The game will not be for everyone.

  7. Danegar says:

    taugrim :
    I assume you’re comparing SWTOR to pre-NGE SWG, right? I didn’t play SWG but I heard great things about it.

    Well, even post NGE there were still a lot of great elements in SWG, the crafting, housing, appearance customization, item customization, space combat, and PvP ( except the abilities and CU changes sucked but the overall feel and PvP system was great ). You can’t help compare the two though, even though they are two completely different games. SW:TOR will always live in the shadow of SWG’s Memory. SWG did a lot of things right until they tried to make it more like WoW and dumb it down for the masses which was its downfall.

    taugrim :
    WAR was more or less the same re: the bolster effect – it helped you to be more competitive but you still didn’t have as many talent points as other players, so you had fewer abilities.
    I didn’t play DAoC either, but it remains a singularly distinctive effort, esp with the 3-faction system to create a check for player population imbalance issues.

    DAOC had THE best PvP of just about any MMO before or after it. You had keeps to take, open world PvP and then Relics that you could take. Those relics gave each realm a realm wide buff and losing them not only removed the buff but increased the realm that took it’s buff ( three relics for each realm ). So RvR really mattered in DAOC, plus it had great elements like being able to climb keep walls and stuff for rogues, little touches that have been completely forgotten in any form of PvP since.

    taugrim :
    When you mean character customization, are you talking about player ragdoll customization, or class customization, or both?
    Thanks for weighing in, it’s great to hear more perspective on the game.

    Visual appearance, yes. Each class has a choice of two classes and those two classes have a choice of three trees to raise plus the main classes root abilities. But mainly visual appearance is kinda limited for clothing, which isn’t a system/mechanics issue but just an overall addition to the other abundant problems.

    • taugrim says:

      Danegar :

      SW:TOR will always live in the shadow of SWG’s Memory.

      Certainly, players of SWG will compare SWTOR to their previous experience with a Star Wars IP.

      My guess is that the majority of people following SWTOR never played SWG. MMO’s have grown in popularity by leaps and bounds since SWG.

  8. Danegar says:

    Postal :

    That’s partially what I was alluding to – for some reason, many people were expecting a sequel to Star Wars Galaxies from this game, which it clearly isn’t. If you were expecting that, then I’m not surprised you’re disappointed, really. The game will not be for everyone.

    My disappointment has to do with they are not living up to what they originally stated the game would be. More than anything I’m disappointed that there isn’t enough to justify this as a MMO right now, it would make a truly epic co-op game though.

    • Postal says:

      I thought you were fair up until now, but that’s quite a ridiculous statement. They ALWAYS said it would be a themepark, action MMO. Not once did they suggest a sandbox world like SWG. In fact, they stated on multiple occassions it wouldn’t be like SWG at all.

      And this doesn’t justify a launch MMO? Fully voiced questing, world quest arcs, unique class stories and quests from level 1 to 50, advanced classes, PvP Warzones, Open World PvP, Objective-based PvP, levelling through PvE and PvP, Valor Ranks, Hundreds of titles, great armour and weapon customisation, PvP gear, Raiding, Flashpoints, Crafting, auction houses, player ships and 16+ LARGE planets?

      It sounds to me like it’s more feature-packed than alot of AAA MMOs have been at launch!

    • Valentus says:

      Not enough to justify it as an MMO? I can’t take your arguments seriously. It sounds more like the fault lies with you for expecting it to be SWG revisited, whereas I never saw any indication they were going anywhere other than the standard format that has proved successful.

  9. Postal says:

    Oh and we DO have housing of sorts. You get your own personal starship that has a fully explorable interior, where your companions hang out, with crafting areas and such. They’ve said more personal customisation will be added post-launch. There are 6 unique ships shared by the 8 base classes. That’s your housing right there, it’s a nice alternative to the regular kind of housing you find in MMOs. I don’t think I went back to my LOTRO house more than a dozen times over two years.

    I do agree about Space Combat though. It’s little more than a minigame, but to be fair, BW were always honest about that. With the level of noise about it, though, I would be very surprised if they weren’t looking to expand and improve it post-launch.

    Also, “the exact opposite to Star Wars Galaxies in every single way” might be what some folks are looking for!

    • Valentus says:

      Yeah I like spaceships more as a form of housing personally because it actually serves a purpose and is something you see and use frequently. Space combat does need work though, but at least it looks quite good. They’ve really got some great looking skyboxes in this game.

      And as far as character customization, you can actually swap out all the slots that give stats in a piece of gear(scope/barrel/etc) with new modules if you like its appearance and want to keep using it, so I don’t know how someone could say there is “very little character customization.” I don’t even remember the last time a major MMO has offered something similar.

      Also BioWare has indicated interest in doing Guild capital ship pvp, so I’m excited to see what they come up with. If space combat isn’t improved by launch then it should definitely be when that comes out.

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