Monday, March 11, 2013

The Gree Event: a Mystery

My feelings about the Gree Event.

First, I  felt as though the Bioware designers genuinely gave this a good effort and wanted to create a fun and memorable experience.  I could sense the effort they put into creating the new of the planet, into the amazing art assets that formed the backdrop of this area, and the creation and positioning of the world bosses and operation.   On the face of it, This wasn't some slapped-together affair.

As I actually played through it, however, my impressions changed.  I tried to get deep into this event, to experience it as a fully committed TOR fan. But after the newness of the experience wore off, it just felt like another questing area for dailies. If someone were to complain that this event was just a handful of daily quests and another handful of static world bosses, I'm not sure I would argue against them.

And I realize that I've just completely contradicted the point I made in the first paragraph.  That was the kind of mixed feeling I was left with by the end.

Here's the major issues I had with the experience:

No Story Element.  Love it or hate it, the Chevin event was less about quest completion and more about completing the story.  Personally, I enjoyed the Grand Acquisition Race and the story-telling elements behind it.  For the Gree Event, there was almost no story present in the game.  If you did some background reading you might learn more about why we were there, but I had no clue why we were killing the Gree Communications Droid, or the anonymous humanoid race.

The given explanation was that the Gree ship wanted to observe us killing each other and/or their droids so they could learn from us.  To say that the story lacked excitement is like saying the desert lacks water.  I wrote in my brief snap-review on
The actual quests we had to complete were lackluster. I didn’t find any of them exciting or innovative, but neither were they oppressively difficult. The low drop rate of creature samples was frustrating.  The objectives themselves consisted of unimportant busywork that meant nothing to either faction or to the Gree themselves, ancient or otherwise.

The single major drawback of the Gree event was the overwhelming lack of any importance or significance to the event.  Nobody cared.  None of the factions had any stake in this event.  No race or people were threatened, no way of life was even mildly challenged.  Nor was it like the Mandalorian Great Hunt where honor could be gained or lost.  There was precisely nothing on the line.

Nor was there any great knowledge to acquire, no deep lore to un-earth, no tragic or heroic tale of vast civilizations long-dead (something the Gree were supposed to represent).  From the perspective of the characters, this was a flat and one-dimensional exercise in attacking target dummies.

 As a player, I wanted to care.  I wanted to feel as if I was doing something good for the Gree, to help them re-claim their lost heritage, for example. To help connect them with the ancient ship and perhaps understand their history.  Alternatively, the great Gree voyager may have returned as a malevolent force for evil, devouring everything in its path, and for the good of the galaxy we had to join with the Gree to try to blunt its destruction.  Either of these very simple storylines would have sustained me.

And, here at the end, it has to be said.  Is there no one at Bioware who can craft epic stories anymore?

Is this just something that StarWars: The Old Republic isn't designed to provide?  The difficulty here is that epic stories are about grand ideals.  Up to this point, TOR has been busy watering down the grand ideals that Star Wars once was all about.  Freedom vs Oppression,  Power vs Friendship, Loyalty vs Betrayal.  Until we can re-claim the epic scale that was present in the first three movies, TOR will continue to be what the Gree Event has been: Boring.

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