Ok so from the header you may have guessed I hate Biowares insistence on forcing me to use companions, not in their single player games, that actually adds something, but rather in the massive multiplayer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Here’s why.

– I’m picking the companion that works best with me not the companion I likeBecause companions have set classes, you’re always going to favour certain classes based on what class you choose to be. They might have some interesting personality or funny lines but that alone will make you struggle in game if they are not a good class synergy.

This means as long as you aren’t a healer, you’ll probably want to use the healer companion, so you can play with less downtime, since that’s the only class that can self-heal, heal you and cut out the resting between fights that all the other classes require. It also means you don’t have to constantly revive your companion if they are a tank, because apparently the tank companions suck and die regularly (unless you’re a healer I suppose). Damage dealing companions often don’t work if you are a damage dealer yourself because you’ll find the initial idea of two dps on a target is great, right up until the point you remember you’re squishy and can’t tank and neither can your companion so one of you is dying (or both).

– Get out of the flippin way! – Some fool at Bioware thought it would be hilarious if every time you went to click on something in the game world your companion would stand in front of you and make you click on them instead. The issue gets worse if your companion is bigger.

– Companion Gear Looting – This one does show how poorly Bioware understands the mind of the mmo player. What we have here is a mechanic intended to make companions more engaging, the loot you find can be worn by a player or a companion and most players have a companion that uses most types of gear.

Then what you get in an mmo environment are the players that think they are special and that all the gear is for them or their companions, never mind if that’s an upgrade for you, that player will roll need on it because a companion he/she has can use it, so now not only might you have to compete with your group mates…you also have to compete with their companions for gear upgrades.

– Companion Gear Upgrades – Because you have to keep fitting new gear for your companions it makes it less likely you will switch between companions, since an undergeared companion will underperform in their role and if you used all your mission rewards and loot drops to gear all your companions every planet you would be the one underperforming.

– Get Away! – They’re on you like white on rice, they’re in your view at all times, eyeballing you constantly, they’re in many conversations over your shoulder, breathing down your neck. They are always there watching…reminding you they exist.

– Paid by the hour – Ok it’s feasible the cost to send a companion away to do gathering is because of travel expenses not because you’re paying for their accommodation in a 4 star hotel. However, if I want to go harvest something, it costs me nothing but time. Since it also takes them time why do I have to keep paying for them to gather materials? I have to pay them, there is no way for me to find the rare materials by gathering myself.

– I hate everything you stand for but I won’t leave – When you have to choose an option in a conversation, your companion gets to judge you, sometimes they like you sometimes they hate you but you can be sure of one thing. If you’re not male and looking to bang a female companion as light side, the ones you like probably hate you.

You can bribe them with gifts but that somehow seems a stupidly wrong mechanic, which costs you a fortune to have the companion you like, approve of you, who apparently you can’t kick off your ship no matter how much they dislike you or your moral belief. Why does it matter if they don’t approve? because it matters to their effectiveness in crafting/gathering.

– Less Player Interaction – For an mmo, I consider this a pretty unforgivable one. A game that encourages players to play together provides a means for those players to play with fewer people. Companions aren’t great at their roles, but they are manageable by much of the group content. 2 players and 2 companions can do quite a lot including heroic 4 instances which are intended for 4 players, what this means every time you’re spamming general LFG is that you can do them with fewer players if you’re smart but it also means fewer players are willing to group with you,  given the disturbing shift of solo in massive multiplayer games over the last 8 years I really don’t think players need any more excuse not to group up than they already have.

How could these problems be fixed? Some of them are integral to the game unfortunately, however they could allow us to choose the class of our companion, allow us to get rid of a companion entirely and replace them with a droid that has no opinion of us but will dutifully work fullfilling that companions role.

Give us a companion click-through option for companions so that wherever they stand they don’t block mouse clicking in the world and give us a command to tell the companion to stand “way over there” so they aren’t stuck glaring at you on screen wherever you go, a follow distance slider I suppose.

There is some companion specific loot in the game but nowhere near enough, if they could create more companion specific loot they could remove the option to equip player loot on companions but that would be a fairly major job,  so I doubt it will happen.

At the end of the day, they’re just pets, Bioware has given them some verbal responses and an unlockable quest as they like you more but they still behave as pets. In other mmos if you want a pet class you choose the pet class, in SWTOR if you don’t want a pet class you have to play another mmo. Bioware had a great idea about companions but then the mechanics guys just F’ed it up.

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