I often see sentiment like ‘why does anyone give Bioware money, SWTOR and ME 3 are crap’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed is just boring now, why buy it?’ or ‘Rome II was shit! Why would you buy Total War Attila!?’ We also have the rather embarrassing times when players declare that they’ll boycott a company only to buy their products anyway. We attribute this to simple-mindedness; those who hate SWTOR assume that SWTOR players play SWTOR because they are stupid. We assume that those who boycott CoD only to buy it anyway do so because they are weak. But this is not the case (ok, sometimes it is, but let’s not be totally dismissive). For instance, I realize that Rome II really was garbage and Creative Assembly are greedy bastards. SWTOR has serious problems, it is a dreary MMO. I know that. But I bought Total War: Attila and keep a subscription to SWTOR going. The reason is rather simple: the raw potential. Let me explain using something most of you won’t have a predisposition toward: the British sci-fi show Doctor Who.
It is about The Doctor, a near-immortal man with two hearts who travels through time and space in a blue police box that’s bigger on the inside. Sounds corny? It gets worse. He has the sconic screwdriver, a telepathic screwdriver that makes things blow up, except for wood, only it can sometimes blow up wood as well. The show is riddled with inconsistencies like that. The Doctor frequently breaks his own rules and because there is time travel involved the whole show is prone to cringeworthy plotholes. Add to that the fact that there are only ever two or three main characters, who you may not like when they change, and it is very easy to hate Doctor Who. Sometimes, I hate it too. I also watch every single episode and will probably do so for all of time.
Why? You have all of time and space to play in. You could tell such amazing stories. Occasionally it does. There is the potential for something excellent in each and every episode, and although it often falls flat on its face, leading to massive frustration, there are times where it hits the mark with perfection. For example, the Season 9 episode ‘Heaven Sent’ was an instant hit. It featured The Doctor, alone (no annoying companion), trying to solve a puzzle whilst being stalked by a monster for just under an hour. It was Doctor Who at its finest, letting the acting of Peter Capaldi shine through to become many people’s favorite incarnation of The Doctor.
In short, Heaven Sent is the reason I still watch Doctor Who. Those times where the show lives up to its raw potential are worth waiting for, but to get the full effect you need to keep up with what happened previously. The same is true of Bioware or Assassin’s Creed. Yes, Bioware cannot make a great MMO – that much is for certain. But the Agent storyline is so exquisite that I’ll put up with it. Its new expansion (Knights of the Fallen Empire) is, like Heaven Sent, everything that makes the company good distilled into brilliance. It’s cheesy, featuring an 80s-style montage, and clichéd romance, and worth going through a slightly dodgy Jedi Knight story to get to. It also has excellent moral choices and excellently written characters. It is Bioware living up to its potential, showing that although a lot of people assume its glory days are behind it, they can still write one hell of a story. Because of that potential I will keep buying Bioware games, even though they never discount their DLC.
The same is true of Total War. I didn’t like Rome II because quite simply it was terrible. But Attila ticks all the boxes. It is an interesting time period – the fall of Rome. The campaign has a compelling hook – surviving the Hunnic hordes. It has politics and warfare in equal measure, exceeding the intricacy of Shogun 2. Attila lived up to everything that Total War can do and as a result, when Total War returns to history, I will play it – and Creative Assembly’s DLC habits won’t stop me.
It is for this reason that many people still play Assassin’s Creed. I don’t like Assassin’s Creed. I’ve played Black Flag, thought ‘nice ships’ and left it at that. But I get why people buy it year after year. Like Doctor Who, there is a lot of bullshit to put up with but it has such potential with all the settings in history to choose from and, in fairness, it chooses well. Unfortunately it has too many flaws for most to stomach. But from what I understand, Assassin’s Creed 2 was great, and so many will keep playing to see inklings of that game seep through into the latest one.
In short: you will keep buying from Ubisoft, you will keep buying from EA, you will keep buying from Warner Brothers and you will even keep buying from Konami. Because for all their greed and incompetence, they can produce masterpieces. Yes they can’t even get Tetris right, but they can occasionally get Star Wars right, or make Metal Gear at its finest. And it is for those moments that we remain loyal. They drag us kicking and screaming, but they drag us all the same. So, bitch all you want, people are still going to play SWTOR.