BioWare and Electronic Arts have spent six years in development on what may be the largest MMO ever made, and now their World of Warcraft challenger will be put to the test — today, Star Wars: The Old Republic is live.
The game's scope is dizzying: as Fast Company explains, SWTOR boasts thousands of characters voiced by more than 1,000 actors with up to 280,000 lines of dialogue, all of which make up more than 1,600 hours of gameplay. MMO developers have traditionally eschewed voice acting due to the prohibitive cost, but with an estimated budget of $150 million, EA and BioWare spared no expense for the SWTOR's narrative polish. And from what we've seen in our brief look at the game, the storytelling is promising — BioWare has blended its decision-tree narration system, which appears in titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, with the MMO format. The real question is whether the rich story component will improve the overall experience, or play at odds with the social aspect of massively multiplayer games.
While SWTOR is not the first MMO to challenge World of Warcraft's crown, it's a compelling and well executed alternative from a proven developer with a massive brand. You can pick it up today for $59.99, with a standard $14.99 monthly fee after the first 30 days, but there's no telling how much it will cost to sell your soul to the Sith.