In the Q&A session yesterday, it was noted that based on feedback from the beta testers, BioWare has changed companions so that they can no longer be killed. Here is a link to the official forums discussion the issue. Apparently, companions were dying too “easily” ruining the gameplay for players. So instead of working to implement a method of obtaining a new companion, BioWare decided to make the companions immortal.
I’m opposed to this for the following reasons:
- Indestructible companions reduces the challenge of the game. If you are engaged in a group fight, and don’t have to worry about the health of your companions, that reduces the challenge of the game. Do you keep battling the general with the twin blasters, or do you run over to help your healer? That question is no longer an option in the game. Keep moving forward and try to clear the room. Your companions will be behind you dealing damage, healing, etc.
- It makes players less willing to take risks. Immortal companions makes the “easy button” a little bigger. Players will be less willing to gamble, because the reward has been diminished. I enjoy the risk component of MMOs. Yes, there can be disappointment if you fail (like a dead companion), but the thrill of victory is increased ten fold if you are able to pull it off. Having something such as a companion’s survival on the line would make a battle more exciting for me.
- Strategies would be less complex. There were several instances in KOTOR where I would need to pause the battle, examine the room and assign my companions to do a particular task or concentrate their attack on a certain group of enemies. Indestructible companions would reduce the complexities of in-game strategy. Do I help my companion? Does my healer help my companion or me? Is there something in the room that I can use that would take out the enemies before they reach my companions?
I realise that the companions will probably be incapped when their health runs out, but BioWare is famous for making sure your choices have a lasting impact on your character and that should include death. A few MMOs have experimented with permadeath only to pull it back later, most likely because the protests from the player base was too loud.
Permadeath on your main character would cause too many people to quit the game. Permadeath on a companion would be annoying, but as long as you could recruit and train up another companion for the next quest, it would be a challenge that I would welcome.
BioWare probably won’t make death permanent for any companion, but perhaps they will implement some sort of penalty other than incapacitation for a companion’s health that ticks down to zero. Only time will tell.