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Star Wars: The Old Republic Overview
Star Wars The Old Republic, if you are not already aware, is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) being developed by Bioware. This article is not designed as a Wiki or a Beta review, but more a brief overview of where the game is currently sitting and what is known thus far.
The announcement of the game was met with great excitement from both the hordes of fanatical Star Wars fans and lovers of the Bioware gaming franchise.
It is Bioware's first foray into the MMO market, and they seem determined to do it right. Since Electronic Arts (EA) purchased Bioware in 2007, there were initial concerns that EA would not give Bioware a free reign to continue to produce RPG's of the stellar calibre that has become expected of them. However, it does appear so far that EA have given them this freedom, and with the release of games like Mass Effect II & Dragon Age Origins under the Bioware/EA belt - people are expecting and hoping for good things from their first MMO.
With EA admitting that this will be their ‘largest ever project’ in terms of budget, and Bioware stating that they are going to bring us ‘the next evolution in MMO Gameplay’ – what can we expect from the upcoming MMO? I am going to take you through a brief tour of what we know to date about Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The Fourth Pillar
One of the big selling points of the game is what Bioware is referring to as the ‘fourth pillar’. When they refer to the fourth pillar they are talking about the Story. They feel that the current MMO market is lacking in real storytelling. They are promising a cinematic experience with world story arcs which should leave you feeling invested in the world and your characters and the actions they take throughout the game. And if we know one thing, if anyone can tell a story right, it’s Bioware.
The game is going to be completely voice acted, with every NPC you talk too and every cut scene voice acted by a professional. This is a pretty big undertaking for Bioware and they have employed a lot of people to get the job done.
The game takes place 3,500 years before the rise of Darth Vader and 300 years after the events of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. There is currently an uneasy truce between the Sith Empire and the Republic, but events that will occur within the game are leading the galaxy back to a full scale war.
The Bioware developers have stated that the game was not made instead of The Knights Of The Old Republic (KotOR) 3, but was made in the stead of KotOR 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on.
Your initial choice will obviously be whether you would like to play as a Sith or a Republican. Once you have decided on that, you will have the following classes available to you:
The Sith Empire
Bounty Hunter – Advanced Classes: Powertech and Mercenary
Sith Warrior – Advanced Classes: Juggernaut and Marauder
Imperial Agent – Advanced Classes: Operative and Sniper
Sith Inquisitor – Advanced Classes: Sorcerer and Assassin
The Galactic Republic
Trooper – Advanced Classes: Commando and Vanguard
Smuggler – Advanced Classes: Gunslinger and Scoundrel
Jedi Knight – Advanced Classes: Guardian and Sentinal
Jedi Consular – Advanced Classes: Shadow and Sage
The playable races in Star Wars: The Old Republic are listed below and are in image order from left to right:
Humans, Chiss, Rattaki, Twi’lek, Sith Pureblood, Miraluka, Mirialans, Zabrak.
There will be numerous planets to explore within the game, and each class will have their own starting planet. The planets are listed as follows:
Tatooine, Coruscant, Balmorra, Tython, Korriban, Hutta, Ord Mantell, Alderaan, Voss, Belsavis, Hoth, Taris, Dromund Kaas, Nar Shaddaa, Corellia & Ilum.
Needless to say, the game is going to be huge. Knowing Bioware, each planet will have its own epic story arc and interesting quests to complete.
Everyone will have 'Companions', who will compromise part of your 'Crew'. These Companions will be NPC's that can assist you with fighting, collecting resources and crafting. Bioware aim to make Companions quite deep, with their own stories and quests that you can work your way through. They also aim to remove the mundane grind of 'collecting' resources by allowing you to delegate those jobs to your companions.
SWTOR Space Combat
Starships & Space Combat
It has been confirmed that each player will get their own Starship dependent on their class relatively early on in the game. These ships will be a home base and a place to interact with Companion characters (for example set them quests/resource gathering/crafting). They will also be the mode of transport between planets.
Space Combat has also been confirmed, but with a point that has sparked furious debate amongst the community. It won't be 'open world space combat', but what is called 'on-the-rails' combat. Which basically means you cannot go wherever you like attacking whatever you please in your Starship. A rail shooter will have clearly defined objectives and you are 'on a rail', so you can only move up/down/left/right but the game will move your ship forwards through the action (think Star Fox on Nintendo). Bioware has stated that this combat will feature a large amount of variety, environments, and mission objectives.
Many see this as a positive, allowing Bioware to continue to focus on the 'fourth pillar', and not attempt to develop out of their current scope. Let's not even get into the multitude of balance issues and bugs/lag that would come with an open world type of space combat (think Eve Online). They have also released gameplay footage which shows the Space Combat to be beautiful, fast and silky smooth. My personal opinion (which you may have gathered from this paragraph) is that Bioware are better off going the route they have, for now at any rate.
Points of Interest
- SWTOR will contain guilds, crafting, PVP and various other common MMO elements.
- 'Crew Skills' will be the system behind Crafting, and this will happen on your Starship.
- The main story of the game will be World Arcs. These will be massive group orientated quests that span a long time and will give the players choices on how the war will play out.
- The Republic vs Sith war will develop and change dependent on the players.
- Actions of players can determine who controls a planet and who is allied with each side.
The SWTOR hype machine is definitely in full swing, and the internet is buzzing with the imminent (well, sort of) release, which is slated for mid to end 2011. The launch of this game will be extremely interesting. There is a lot of pain and anger from gamers who feel they have been cheated by a lot of the recent MMO's that were being released unpolished and unfinished (All Points Bulletin, Aion and Tabula Rasa to name a few).
Bioware has a great track record for games, and let us keep in mind that World of Warcraft was Blizzards' first attempt to access the MMO market.
Fanboys are screaming, 'WoW KILLER!' across the Internet, but the more subdued fans like myself, are quietly and eagerly anticipating the release of this game.
Finally, I am aware this article is brief and does not go to in depth, I wanted to provide a quick overview of where the game was currently sitting and what we can expect come release date. If you really want the nitty gritty details I suggest you visit the official website: www.swtor.com