Not Dragon Age: SWTOR Reveals

By Alec Meer on November 6th, 2009 at 11:32 pm.

Almost forgot there was another Bioware game in the offing (two, in fact – Mass Effect 2 also looms) amidst all this cheery chatter about Dragon Age. The Old Republic remains The New Hope of both Star Wars games and mainstream MMOs, and while we’re all lacking a clear picture of quite how it’s going to play, Bioware are at least providing a steady drip-feed of new info. This time, some of their thinking behind the Jedi class, and the revelation of what another class will be – boo-hiss-baddies, these ones…

The new class is… the Imperial Agent. Which appears to be like a Storm Trooper, but not shit. In fact, it doesn’t really have any direct analogy to famed Star Wars characters/tropes, but it sounds like a neat way of shoring up the Sith Empire’s ranks with guys other than evil Force-users. Here he is:

Check you out, Mr Frowny. Decent details are scarce until next week’s promised bigger reveal, but here’s a summary:

The Imperial Agent is heavily inspired by several classic Star Wars characters such as Zam Wessel and Grand Moff Tarkin. Imperial Agents work behind the scenes to get the work of the Empire done. Specializing in high-tech gear, the Imperial Agent always has the right tools at the right time. They use abilities of subversion and subterfuge to infiltrate and assassinate enemies of the Sith Empire with deadly efficiency. Players who choose to be Imperial Agents in The Old Republic (TOR) will see the underbelly of the Empire in a whole new light.

Like the sound of that, do you? WELL DO YOU? More piccies here, if you need ‘em.

Also, here’s that dev diary about the Jedi class. Which is guilty of multiple counts of purple prose, but offers some hints as to how playing the class that every bugger wants to play will be. There will be choice as to what kind of Jedi you are, by the sound of it, so hopefully the online galaxy won’t be flooded with identi-Skywalkers. It also suggests there may be ways to deal with a Jedi other than pure combat, in which he would obviously have an edge. May just be wishful thinking or an excess of film reference, but it is an interesting idea for sure. The main source of conflict to Star Wars films’ lead characters hasn’t been mortal peril so much as the threat of corruption – to turn that into a prevalent element of SWTOR other than straight light/dark choice would be fascinating.

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52 Comments »

  1. Railick says:

    Why are the light sabers so fat?!?

  2. Serenegoose says:

    Is there anything on how they’re putting a personal story in an MMO? I was talking with my partner last night, and both she and I are -interested- in TOR, but we’re confused as to how you can have a deep story experience surrounded by thousands of players having deep story experiences on the conveyor belt of respawning villains.

  3. Railick says:

    Even the handle is awful big

  4. Thranx says:

    Oh SWTOR… how I want to love you, even tho you opted for the non-realism graphical design… I want to love you, dear SWTOR, but you are a Star Wars game… which means you can only cost $3.25 to create and still sell 50k copies… which means you will be crap.

    *sigh*

    I want to get excited… but I have low expectations. Hopefully bioware will do it right, alla the KOTOR series.

    • Lagmint says:

      “Oh SWTOR… how I want to love you”

      Does anyone else see “SWOTL” everytime someone uses the acronym for this game? Christ that keeps bugging me, I am repeatedly disappointed there’s no sequel to it ;)

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Ermm… so you’re suggesting that it’s going to suck, despite Bioware’s impeccable pedigree with Old Republic?

      I guess it must suck to be baselessly cynical about everything.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “how I want to love you, even tho you opted for the non-realism graphical design”

      Stopped reading there.

  5. Jimbo says:

    Assuming they’re keeping the traditional MMO group dynamic, they need to split the Jedi and Bad-Jedi into 3 individual classes serving 3 distinct party roles. ie. Jedi Guardian / Lightsaber Tank, Jedi Sentinel / Force DPS, Jedi Consular / Force Healz, or something along those lines.

    If there’s just a class called ‘Jedi’ and they’re awesome at everything (or even if they’re not), it’s going to have about 95% of the players and group combat will just be 5 Jedi hitting stuff, rather than 5 people acting as a co-ordinated unit.

  6. Sobric says:

    All the cool kids will choose the bounty hunter anyway.

  7. Railick says:

    I'd rather have just 1 Jedi class and have that branch out as you go along into either light/dark jedi (sith) and then have you choose what areas to excell in as you level up. Still there is no indication in any of the movies that a Jedi can heal people, they should have the powers and abilites they have in the movie and leave it at that. They certainly aren't tanks that could take on a large group of people alone as even 1 person can kill a Jedi if they get lucky just using a blaster :P Of course we all know they won't go this route and the Jedi will be a tank or something and just stand there swinging his light saber at enemies for 2 or 3 minutes while the enemy takes lightsaber hits visually as sparks of light until they finally die :P

    anyone else want an mmorpg with lightsaber combat like it is Jedi Academy? (but better)

    • Jimbo says:

      Yeah the branching option could work, so long as you are forced to specialize. The thing is, the group dynamic is really the only fun thing about WoW-Style MMOs, and I don’t see where your typical master-of-all-trades Jedi really fits into that.

      There is already a precedent for Force Healing in the KOTOR universe, plus WoW has magic healing, so you know TOR will have it.

  8. Pantsman says:

    I’m sorry Zam, but if you only appeared for about five minutes in the new trilogy, you don’t get to be a “classic Star Wars character”.

    • Springy says:

      The litmus test: If we need to look it up on Wookieepedia, it ain’t a classic Star Wars character.

    • yutt says:

      Because every Star Wars game should be based around the dozen characters people who have only watched the original trilogy know! That’ll never get old, nossir.

    • Dave says:

      Yeah, but she was one of maybe two cool characters of the entire prequel trilogy. The other was that droid with the grievously bad name.

  9. Dolphan says:

    TOR will be part of the EU (at least I imagine it should be, KOTOR certainly was), so Jedi healing wouldn’t be any sort of leap. Jedi do all sorts of things in the EU that aren’t mentioned in the films. And, IIRC, KOTOR still invented a new ability, Bastila’s battle meditation, although that was a plot device rather than a gameplay element.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      Battle meditation comes from the novels, where it was retconned to explain that the Emperor was doing it at the Battle of Endor, explaining why the Imperial Fleet was doing so well against the rebels to start off with and then things went a bit crap and their biggest warship was taken out by a single A-Wing.

      I guess ‘dramatic licence’ wasn’t good enough and they needed some Force-related reason why it happened. Sigh.

  10. Rath says:

    If Jedi can be corrupted as a gameplay mechanic, it should be implemented in reverse for the Sith as well.

  11. Weylund says:

    All Star Wars games should have a Microsoft-y “passing process” whereby they are forced to prove, via rigorous testing, that their lightsaber combat is as good as – or better than – Jedi Academy. We’d have a lot fewer shit Star Wars titles if that were the case.

    And yes, that means that games like Republic Commando should have lightsabering too. “Watch your back!… oh, wait you killed them all.”

    And X-wing and TIE Fighter (because you know some sweaty army of nerds at LucasArts are building sequels… right?) too.

  12. Frosty says:

    Are you kidding me? Jedi Academy had horrible horrible lightsaber combat. I’d rather let them do it KOTOR style, with some lovely reptitive animations. Oh yes.

  13. Jugglenaut says:

    Can’t we just have both actiony Jedi Academy lightsaber fights and RPGy KOTOR lightsaber fights? Not that I’m saying both should be in this game, but there really is a place for both of them in the video game industry.

  14. Weylund says:

    Oh, you can have lame-o KOTOR fights too (“ooh! I spunz my lightsaba at you head and did … twoonty damahge!”). They just have to be better in some definable way than Jedi Academy’s. By which I mean involving spinning, leaping, parrying, and cutting people’s arms off in real time.

    • Psychopomp says:

      And in real life, just involved clicking M1 really, really fast.

      Also, it seems to me like you just don’t like RPG’s.

    • Weylund says:

      It involved more than that – the way you fought, the strikes and parries, were all keyed into your movements.

      My hatred of various RPG tropes and the crap role-playing games being touted as good these days doesn’t mean I don’t know good lightsaber (Academy) from shit lightsaber (KOTOR… Galaxies…). They’re freaking laser swords. They don’t do “damage.” They dismember, maim, and kill.

      If KOTOR (or Galaxies) had stuck with a “parry strategically and first one lands a blow wins”, I’d have been happy. Smacking M1 as a stormtrooper shoots me in the face and little numbers fly in the air is a crap representation of a very fun weapon.

    • Pantsman says:

      Except then success in combat would depend on the player’s skill, rather than that of his character, which would rather defeat the purpose of an RPG.

    • Weylund says:

      Player skill comes into play in plenty of modern RPGs. Fallout 3 or Oblivion, for instance? Just because the system involves player skill doesn’t mean it can’t be influenced by character stats.

    • Pantsman says:

      Those aren’t RPGs exactly either. They’re action RPGs. There’s a reason a lot of purists are unfriendly to them, and it has a lot to do with what you just mentioned.

      It doesn’t mean that they’re not good, but they aren’t, strictly speaking, RPGs.

  15. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    I would be so excited about this if it wasn’t an MMO.

    I just can’t enjoy that sort of combat system anymore.

  16. An Innocuous Coin says:

    I still can’t get over how lightsabers and blasters need to be applied twenty times over before something dies. You think it wouldn’t ruin the disbelief considering a dude is flipping around with a laser sword, but it completely does! Sadface.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Obviously, the “lasery” power of a lightsaber depends on your force power. Samuel L Jackson as a Jedi? Super death laser. Child Darth Vader? Can’t even stop a blaster.

  17. Hermit says:

    So in his younger days, Grand Moff Tarkin was in fact Evil Sam Fisher?

    • Bobsy says:

      In his younger days, Grand Moff Tarkin was Van Helsing. Duh.

    • Persus-9 says:

      Indeed, then he changed his name to ‘Who’ by deed poll to get out of fighting Dracula for the rest of his life. After that got his PhD for inventing a time machine, he then fought some daleks before travelling way back in time to a galaxy far far away, changed his name to Tarkin and became an imperial Grand Moff.

  18. bill says:

    I want to play as grand admiral thrawn. I want to inspire fear in my enemies just by the possibility i might be alive.

    Well, actually, I don’t really want to play KOTOR3, because if it’s a single player experience then i don’t want to pay a monthly fee, and if it’s a MMO experience then i don’t want to play it.

    So, anyway… what’s on telly?

  19. Tei says:

    Goods news:

    SWTOR pvp will play exactly like Planetside. With whole planets to fight, vehicles, fling… event two “space maps” with space stations to conquest. Exactly like Planetside, but awesome, with modern graphics.

    Bad news:

    I lied.

  20. manveruppd says:

    I, too, am curious to find out how they’re planning to work this supposedly branching storyline with real consequences to your actions into an MMO. My guess is there are 2 ways they could go about it:

    a. The easy way, where your actions don’t _really_ have world-alterign consequences. In this way, after every plot branch (by which I mean a mission/quest where you have a significant choice to make) you still end up in the same hub as everyone else regardless of what choice you made, but the NPCs there might be offering different quests to you.

    b. The hard way, by which they’ll use some kind of mix of instancing and phasing to make sure that plots truly diverge with meaningful choices, and the places you visit will be drastically different depending on the choices you’ve made thus far. Players who made different choices to you will be invisible to you in plot-significant areas, thus fragmenting the population to an extent (although there’ll probably be pvp-specific areas where you’ll be able to join up with everyone again).

    Whichever way they do it though, I’ll be curious to see if they’ll make all the plot-significant missions (where you’ll have a plot-altering choice to make) group-based or solo-only. I’m guessing they’ll be soloable, as it would sort of suck for you to get carried down a plot path you didn’t want to go simply because the group leader makes the wrong dialogue choice. :p

  21. NewName says:

    Tei: You just made a grown man cry :’(

  22. BooleanBob says:

    Sort of like a grumpy Spectre, then.

  23. UK_John says:

    Well Star Wars is all about the story, and you cannot have a story in an MMO, so I don’t have much hope for this as entertainment, but it’s Bioware and it’s Star War and it’s a fawning media that doesn’t ask hard questions any more, so I am sure it will be huge (not as huge as WoW though – maybe not even half as huge!)

  24. shiggz says:

    I’m burnt out the MMO formula. Very unlikely ill buy this.

  25. hitnrun says:

    manveruppd: If I had a significant net worth, I would bet on option A.

    Every big MMO suggests they things like this, going back 12 years now. It never happens. (With the exception of EVE, which isn’t really the same thing.)

    Actions do not have consequences in a massively multiplayer environment. Ever. Bioware has made it pretty clear, albeit indirectly, that they’re going to end-around the problem by relying heavily on single player, “instanced” experiences.

  26. Harlequin says:

    I love the blatant assumptions regarding the use of the “unholy trinity” of MMO combat being applied to the classes in this game. It’s fairly obvious from looking at gameplay vids and reading developer diaries that they are looking to shy away from this tried and tired mechanic. Inherently, there are going to be shadows of it, but I’m not getting the vibe at all that this game is going to be “tank and spank.”

    Also, how is an Agent like a Storm Trooper again? I must have missed those sniper rifles and skin suits in all of the movies. Someone looks like a Storm Trooper in this game. And that someone, rather ominously has a name that starts with “T”.

  27. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    *rolls magic 8-ball*: This will not end well.

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