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July 15th will mark the 10th anniversary of single-player RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, one of BioWare's best games. BioWare will be celebrating this milestone with in-game events for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the MMO inspired by KOTOR.
On that day, BioWare will be giving out Cartel Coins through the official Old Republic Facebook page. Cartel Coins are a virtual currency that was introduced when the game went free-to-play late last year. They can be used to buy premium items and services. On July 15th, players will be able to buy a new title called "Revan's Heir" for 10 Cartel Coins. Revan, if you recall, was the Dark Lord of the Sith who was central to the plot of - ugh, I can't do this anymore.
Stop the music. Oh, are we not playing music? Fine, start playing some music and then stop it. Preferably on a record player so it'll make that loud scratching sound.
Old Republic celebrating KOTOR's 10th anniversary just doesn't feel right. In fact, it's just depressing. Old Republic is the whole reason that KOTOR doesn't exist as a series anymore.
When Old Republic was announced back in 2008, KOTOR fans sensed that that the series as they knew it was over. Instead of creating single-player sequels, BioWare was pushing all of its chips into developing an MMO based on the franchise. Not to worry, BioWare said. They likened Old Republic to a compilation of several KOTOR games.
"Our fans ask, 'Why aren't you doing Knights of the Old Republic 3?' What we're really doing is Knights of the Old Republic 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12-plus," designer James Ohlen said in 2008. "We have that much content and that many stories…We really get to do a lot of things we really wouldn't get to do in [a] KOTOR 3."
To an extent, Ohlen was right. Each character class in Old Republic has a well-written, distinct storyline. You could argue that each game is almost like its own KOTOR game. Not quite, though. In order to progress through the story, each class has to play through hours and hours of shared filler quests. That makes leveling up a second character exceptionally boring. Plus, once you've finished the story missions, you're left with the usual MMO grinds: daily quests, raids and player-versus-player. None of them are particularly unique or exciting in Old Republic.
Old Republic, therefore, is like several KOTOR games in one. However, these pieces of original story-telling are trapped in a very average MMO. Instead of simply creating more story content, BioWare has to put all of their effort into maintaining the MMO that ties them together. They need to make more Warzones for the PvP crowd, more Operations for the raiders, more cosmetic pets for...whoever the hell likes those. It's no wonder that so many players stopped paying for monthly subscriptions soon after launch; why keep paying for a game when most of your money is going toward content you don't actually want?
I'm often left wondering what would have happened if Old Republic was never released. What if, instead of making an MMO, BioWare had released each of the eight class stories in Old Republic as individual, downloadable games. No padding, no multiplayer - just character-driven campaigns running a few hours long that take players from greenhorn mercenary to galaxy-renowned bounty hunters, from Padawns to Jedi Masters, and so on. How much money would BioWare have made if they stuck to making Knights of the Old Republic games instead of trying to fuse them to a samey MMO? How different would our opinion of the company be?
I don't want your "Revan's Heir" title and I don't want your free Cartel Coins. We ought to be getting Knights of the Old Republic 3, not some limp-dick vanity title in its misshapen, microtrasanction-driven successor.