While fans young and old have been at one another’s throats in the never ending debate of which sci-fi title is truly better than the other, arguments are only finding further reinforcement when comparing the two MMO’s these titles have offered the gaming community. Both can boast large populations at varying peak playtimes, rotating events, and a steady stream of content; but it would seem determining which is the better game can truly come down to the players’ interests and play-styles.
Upon release of either title currently offered, Star Trek™ Online (STO) or Star Wars™ the Old Republic (SWTOR), initial player-bases indicated very positive futures for either title; however whether due to the economy changes of the time or fail points from either title both started as subscription-based but have now shifted to completely free-to-play (F2P/FTP) models.
Though very similar in their means of a money-market for the purchase of in-game items, abilities, and unlocks; both have taken very different approaches in their handling of as much. Any new player in either game can definitely advance through the game itself without spending a cent, but it won’t take long for a SWTOR player to face a hiccup in their progress that only a purchase will relieve. Lockouts in SWTOR such as interface components for game-play like their ability ‘hotbars’ or even simple cosmetic changes such as hiding a character’s helmet or matching their armor colors definitely encourage purchase from their player-base much earlier than can be found when playing STO as a new F2P player. While SWTOR may justify such with their game being completely free while originally requiring a purchase, the same can be said of STO as well. Both games require funds to be maintained justifying the need for some measure of such, but it cannot be denied that SWTOR’s approach can come off as a much greedier money-grab due to such lockouts without a subscription or potential cash purchase. The real catch twenty-two of SWTOR is that nearly all of the unlocks you can purchase using real cash, can potentially be purchased from other players for the credits earned when playing; so long as someone is selling them after a purchase from the money-market. STO offers this same means for some of their purchases, but there are many more purchases bound to the account once bought.
Most MMO gamers will agree however, it is not the purchase or need for funds by the developers that truly gauges which makes for a better game to invest both time and money into. While hiccups of purchases may create enough of a stumble to steer away many players, and fans of the genres may typically find it very difficult to resist the temptations offered by either money-market; the reality of maintaining players’ interests comes down to the game-play and community more than the financial demands beset by them. When taking an in-depth view of either game, it doesn’t take long to determine which game has likely been around longer. STO offers a wide range of varying quests, a huge galaxy to explore, and multiple layers of side games and even means of advancing your characters while not even logged in. Whereas SWTOR does course across a galaxy, the simple truth is it is not much more than a Star Wars™ themed World of Warcraft™ with some minor advancements of progress to the gaming mechanics. See the list for more details.
The Character creation
In either game there are means to customize your characters closely to the icons that may have drawn you in as a fan, only STO actually provides true character customizations that give the player potential for a unique look within the game. While Star Wars™ universe is vastly filled with unnamed species, only in STO can you actually custom design your character even down to allowing you to create and customize your own species for playing. SWTOR offers a wide range of varying equipment and gear that can resemble icons of the genre, and may even be bringing more playable races to choose from into their future expansions and updates, but unique is not something any of the character designs can truly achieve. STO on the other hand not only allows for choosing from a fair range of ‘costumes’ based on starfleet uniforms from their TV series and movies, they also have armor and other gear that can be worn over the uniforms or be equipped but not shown so that the uniform is all other players observe. While SWTOR offers a means to match the colors of the equipment to the chest piece colors, STO takes it a step further allowing complete color customizations in a wide range of the spectrum; not to mention no purchase or subscription is required for as much.
While the fans of both genres range across the generations, Star Trek™ having been around much longer it; comes as no surprise their MMO caters so well to the adult MMO player. Not only in character creation and customizations but so much more.
Females, their gear, and romances
Both games offer their own flavors of scantily clad female outfits and gear to entice male players. Though the ability to show and hide pieces of gear and customizations allowed between the two are extremely different. While SWTOR inhibits with the lack of color customizations, it also follows the trend set within MMO’s of providing a range of female clothing and armors that ultimately leave a player wondering exactly how that armor is actually protecting them.
However for as ‘adult’ as STO may be in comparison when it comes to game-play and advanced structures therein, only SWTOR offers a potential romance element for the player with their crew members and even other NPC’s (non-player characters) encountered within the game. Granted this romance within their MMO with non-players can be argued as a measure of ‘adult’ content, the presence of their scantily protecting armor bikinis and slave outfits could just as easily be argued to be juvenile. Promises of homosexual romance capabilities have been in the works with SWTOR and supposedly will see some development with their upcoming expansion; but again this could be argued to be juvenile as well for as adult the subject matter may seem to some parents out there.
Space battles vary drastically between the two
Probably one of the largest complaints from the players of SWTOR is the poor excuse for space combat. With many of the players to SWTOR having come from Star Wars™ Galaxies (SWG) and enjoyed the X-wing versus Tie-fighter feel of space combat both PVE and PVP with that game, it is no surprise at their utter disappointment in the space content offered by SWTOR. While Bioware™ had maintained a similar play-style offered within Star Wars™ Knights of the Old Republic (the proverbial single-player ‘parent’ to SWTOR), they failed to recognize just how many Star Wars™ fans wanted to be involved in literal star wars and not just a mini-game within their MMO.
Meanwhile STO maintained their ‘parented’ mechanic for space combat from the classic dice driven RPG, utilizing shields photon torpedoes and nearly every aspect dice gamers may recall from the Star Trek™ RPG’s of old. While not initially in the release of STO, they now have fully functional PVP to enjoy as well. While players of SWTOR (especially those from SWG) are still hoping to see memorable space battles played out, this would likely require an entire revamping of their current space game-engine and mechanics.
Whose mini-games are really winning out
With the mention of mini-games as offered within SWTOR, ultimately all there is currently are their space missions. While the genre itself holds a limitless realm of possible mini-games such as sabaac or pazaak for example; the only real break from the general game-play in their MMO is their limited form of space combat. STO on the other hand not only offers dabo for those that enjoy gambling, many of the mechanics in the game could easily be viewed as mini-games as well. Mini-games being breaks from the regular grinding process of advancing a character through the levels of the game.
Coexisting under one creative mind
Now that J.J. Abrams has inherited both genres within the film industry for these titles, the classic arguments shared by fans will have to stand the test of the times to be maintained. No longer segregated but merged under one creative genius, there is no real telling what impacts this could have on either of the games. STO being based upon the timeline as shown from the reboot of the Star Trek™ motion pictures under Abrams, and the potential now available for more Star Wars™ films that could even at some time delve back into the SWTOR timeline; there is truly no telling what the future will have in store for both titles and their attributive games.
Trek Wars anyone?
One can only wonder if Rodenberry is spinning within his grave at such a suggestion of pitting the players of both games against one another. With Disney in control (for the most part) of the future for the Star Wars™ genre; there may very well come a day like those within comic books where DC™ and Marvel™ would create a means of pitting their universes against one another perhaps a wormhole or dimensional warp could result in a game of Trek Wars campaigns.
If not though, don’t be surprised when there are World of Warcraft™/Galaxy of Starcraft™ crossover warzones to further incite such a possibility.