Hands On: The Old Republic – Part One

By John Walker on October 20th, 2011 at 5:03 pm.

Stop hurting my droid!

I’ve had access to The Old Republic for the last couple of weeks. Which is good. Below is the first of a series of articles I’m going to write about it, thinking about different aspects, and playing as different Republic classes. Today it’s Jedi Knight, and just how it is that BioWare’s moral choices and quest styles fit into a massively multiplayer world.

In the end, no matter what makes The Old Republic different from the MMOs before it, what you’re doing eventually comes down to killing ten rats. But here’s the thing: you care about why you’re killing ten rats. And that, above anything else, is what makes TOR different enough to be properly interesting. It’s impossible not to appreciate the difference voicing a game makes. It’s extraordinary to appreciate the difference being able to answer back makes. The Old Republic is unquestionably a BioWare game.

Of course, it’s a BioWare game in an MMO. Which never stops feeling like a bear trying to wear a centipede costume. Undeniably WOW-like in its approach to structure, the more I play of TOR, the more I feel like I’m embroiled in the developers’ struggle to squeeze their sort of game into someone else’s mould. And to a decent extent, it’s working.

BioWare let me into the beta for the last couple of weeks, with free reign to play with the four Republic classes, Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler and Trooper, right up until each of them finds a spaceship. Well, it’s an enormous game, and I’m the sort that even when previewing on a beta, can’t just skip a sidequest. That woman will die! That corrupt politician will get away with it! So obviously I picked Jedi Knight, because I’m not insane, and have pretty much focused on that.

Which of course means being a Padawan, and then showing just remarkable ability in the Force! Not precisely an original idea, but perhaps an inevitable one. The earliest quests are themed around the attacks of Flesh Raiders, a formerly intellectually benign race, who are turning on the locals with seemingly organised attacks. So someone must be organising them.

Of course, what you’re actually doing is killing ten Flesh Raiders. Then maybe setting free ten people from Flesh Raider cages. Then killing a bigger, scarier person, and running back to the mission giver to collect your XP and prize. What you’re actually doing isn’t starkly different from anything you’ll do elsewhere. But the difference is that paragraph above – the one which tells you why you’re doing it, and why you should care.

Sure, most MMOs will attempt that now, but few are as convincing. Certainly in my experience I can never remember why I’m completing a quest in other games. But here, having a voiced cast of genuine characters, with emotional reactions and ongoing roles, something shifts. Really, just having conversation choices at all feels exceptional – having the game react to those choices more so.

You can turn down a quest, unless it’s core, but if you take it you’re either going to take it gracefully or like a dick. Either way, you’ll still be doing the quest, of course. How you feel about yourself is by far the most affecting factor, and it’s an effective one. But then of course, there’s the familiar KotOR Dark/Light divide, and that’s at play here too. Certain decisions you make, that usually define how you’ll end a quest, will score you points on either side, and upset or please the person you’re dealing with appropriately. Then on top of that, you’ve got companions, and how you behave will change your relationship with them – albeit in a crude numerical system, but it means you’re constantly aware that your behaviour is having an effect, no matter how hypothetical it may be in that moment.

As my investigations continued, it revealed an ancient race of droids, dating back to the original Force War. What this means for the Jedi, desperately attempting to recover from a large war, is unknown, but plenty of people want you to find out more. Of course now you’re just hitting droids instead of Flesh Raiders, but… You get the idea.

This is all moving toward passing the tests, that (like in every other game BioWare have ever made) you don’t do because something more serious breaks out, and your eventually proving yourself to be a bit rather special. That rings no more true here than it ever has before. In fact, it rings a lot less true, because you can see all the other a bit rather special Jedi wannabes running around you doing the same quest. But hey, we’re all capable of suspending our disbelief for such things, and so consider mine suspended. (I like to think that all the other players are getting back and being told, “Well, you did a terrible job compared to John.)

And being a Jedi means: lightsabre! Which is why it was the only option. Oh, and you get an R2 droid as a companion, who bleeps and bloops to you as you trundle about. That’s rather fab. Come level 10 you’re endowed with a specialist class, a choice from two for each class. I chose Sentinel, because, well, it gives you a second lightsabre. You can probably see my approach.

At this point you’re on Coruscant, an absolutely enormous playing area, interconnected by travelling points, bulging with sidequests, cantinas, spaceports and vast, elegant structures. The scale on which it’s built is remarkable, even if most of the rooms inside a place are empty. However, a bustling marketplace is jam-packed, and most times you head off in a new direction you’ll find an extra quest from someone wanting the help of a Jedi.

And they’re not always wanting the sort of help you’d imagine a Jedi would want to give. This, again, is where TOR is very different. Sometimes you’ll not do certain things because they’re unethical. Or indeed you may certainly do things because they’re unethical, depending upon how you’re playing. And even if you’re a tedious goodie-two-shoes like me, there will still be times when making the “Dark” choice is the only one you’ll be willing to pick.

For instance, will you interfere in the democratic process to prevent someone with extremist views from pursuing them? Often it’s an ideological difference, and you’re on planets where the locals aren’t really too bought into the Jedi ideology just now. They’ve had the shit kicked out of them in a war, and many see the Jedi as having let them down, while the Sith appear strong. And just because you’re amongst them, it doesn’t mean you can’t agree with those you’re talking to. If you want to.

That’s the point I want to get across with this: the story works, if the format feels strange. It’s enormously frustrating that you have to kill things on the way back out of supposedly shutting down some nefarious group’s activities. It’s daft to see 50 other people doing the same. But as awkward as the bear may seem in that centipede costume, it’s still a bear.

All the classes are currently frustratingly slow to start, especially the Smuggler who I shall be telling you about next time. But once things kick off, and you’ve got ten quests down the right side of the screen and six different people pissed off at you for something, four flashpoints available for when you find someone else to play with, and have I mentioned, two lightsabres, it’s jolly hard not to want to keep going for more.

I’ll be back with more in a few days, thinking about the Smuggler, and talking a bit more about how I feel levelling and skills are working, along with crafting and companions.

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196 Comments »

  1. Khann says:

    I am absolutely sick and tired of WoW-like gameplay, and have had very little interest in this because of that.

    But….

    I don’t know, there is just something in me that makes me want to play it so badly. It may be those damn lightsabres.

    • A-Scale says:

      Bring me 10 Jawa pelts, young Padawan

    • Smashbox says:

      Bullseye ten womp rats in your T-16.

    • db1331 says:

      Freeze 6 Han Solos in carbonite and deliver them to Jabba.

    • Yosharian says:

      Not convinced by this or anything else I read/watch about TOR, that it will be any better than WoW. And I am definitely sick of WoW.

    • Grygus says:

      The difference from WoW mechanically on a minute-to-minute basis is indeed small, but there are differences and I think they do matter. There is no autoattack, so combat is slightly more involved. You also start out as an acknowledged badass in combat, so from the very start you are the tough guy called in for tough missions, and you never have to kill rats or wolves to prove yourself, and you can take on three or four regular mobs at once, right from the start. And you usually know exactly why you’re slaughtering ten innocents, which does add enjoyment to the proceedings. Yes, at its core the gameplay is the same, but I think many (perhaps most) people sick of WoW aren’t actually sick of the moment-to-moment gameplay; what they’re sick of is not caring. In TOR you are much more likely to care. Whether that’s enough will obviously vary. It’s enough for me.

    • MadMatty says:

      Yeah enough WoW – Plz

    • Wulf says:

      Bioware is one of those developers that makes me sad, sort of like Bethesda, but I’m more angry at them than Bethesda because I know that they should be more capable than this. I don’t know whether it’s EA’s involvement, but they’ve been scared of risks and choosing the bland route forever, so… it’s probably not EA’s fault, then.

      But yeah, I knew I wouldn’t be a fan of this when they explicitly said that you were implicitly a moron if you broke any of WoW’s rules when developing an MMORPG. This is something that they said. And with everything I see and hear about TOR, I believe it more and more. WoW was about being an underling and working your life away for the smallest amount of reward that the person tasking you could get away with giving you. Real life is like that, why would I want to work my fingers to the bone in a game as well? Yet somehow Blizzard made it psychologically addictive.

      It didn’t work on me, but I saw people actively lose their entire social life to this, I had one room-mate who… well, I won’t dig that up because that’ll just make me all angry again, but suffice it to say, his WoW gaming habit made him seem far too much like a druggie to me. It was much easier to buy the arguments that gaming is ‘bad for you’ somehow around that time, because for some weak-willed people, WoW actually is bad for you. I fear it. I fear losing people to it.

      Thankfully, none of the friends that I currently have have even the most remote interest in TOR, and I’ve been sure to kill off any passing interest they have by showing how Bioware is adhering incredibly closely to Blizzard’s ‘psychologically addictive you-pay-them-for-a-second-minimum-wage-job’ approach. Which isn’t exactly hard to prove.

      I just wish that Bioware had gone with something else.

      The thing is is that the way John describes this confirms my fears of Bioware also upholding Blizzard’s ‘subscribe to grind, grind and subscribe’ approach to gaming. Which means that there’s so much padding and repetitive content between actual content nuggets or new zones that you just keep playing and you subscribe just another month to see what’s around the corner. I don’t want that.

      By comparison, I prefer games like Guild Wars, Champions Online, and what Guild Wars 2 will be – anti-grind with unique gameplay and speedy progression. CO was really a surprise to me, ever since they went free-to-play they’ve actually removed a hell of a lot of the grind in the game, and the keep adding free content! It’s silly! I mean, on the Public Test Server at the moment they’ve even added a bunch of story content for free, which you can complete quickly and without grind.

      I suppose that matters to me. I hate grind.

      I don’t want gaming to be a job, the psychological addiction aspect of loot and a lack of closure has never worked on me. I know it works for a lot of people, but watching growing Numbars does nothing for me. In fact, if I base my self worth on ever growing Numbars then I see it as a testament to just how much my life sucks. I have better things to do.

      I just cannot stomach grind. And I know this game is going to be filled with it.

      And that makes me sad.

      It also makes me sad that they’re basing this in the most boring part of the Star Wars Universe, and that they’re picking the most pedestrian races, and that originally they weren’t even going to allow same-sex relationship options. I mean, if I think of all this, I read it, and think about it… it screams pedestrian. It’s just all so incredibly average. Dull. Perhaps uninspiring is the word. I don’t look at this and gasp, and think ‘Gosh, I really want to play that!’ but rather ‘Meh, this is just a case of Yet Another WoW Clone.’

      They could have made it buy to play, then they could have made it grind light, they could have used more experimental sorts of gameplay, they could have taken risks with the structure and style of their game, they could have gone with a more unusual area/time of the Star Wars Universe, they could have had more exotic class options, they could have had more off-the-beaten-track race options. They could have done all of these things. They have done none of these things.

      Ultimately, disappointment. I am actually a Star Wars fan, and frankly, Star Wars deserves better than this. It deserves better than this, the Force Unleashed, and better than just about every Star Wars game, ever.

    • Durkonkell says:

      I prefer this thread as a list of star-wars themed WoW quests, so…

      De-activate 10 tractor beam emitters so that you can escape the Imperial Fortress.

      (Bonus objective: Become more powerful than you could POSSIBLY IMAGINE).

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I don’t think Bioware really needs to care about our expectations from an MMO. When raped remastered Star Wars movies can break sales records, I don’t think they need to worry much about this not taking off. Star Wars fans would gobble it up even if it’s terrible.

    • Reapy says:

      In addition to being sick of wow gameplay, I’m also somewhat sick of seeing the whole “You don’t kill rats right off’ argument made about MMO’s…. I mean every game has to start you off on an easy opponent. If you make a 400 foot tall swirling giant (*points at guild wars 2*) that has the combat mechanics of a rat, it’s still a rat.

      I guess thematically killing rats is basically like time to crate in some respects. Maybe the only way to be creative is to be a rat killing low level adventurers.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      1. time to crate
      2. time to rat
      3. time to sewer

    • Aquamarine Jesus says:

      I’m also not a fan of the WoW-like questing, in fact I pretty much despise questing in MMOs. I do however like playing an MMO with other people *gasp*. The things I think WoW got right: cross-server instances/battlegrounds and endgame content. The endgame content especially is really what made me keep playing. It doesn’t seem like this beta lets you get far enough to see any of that, but I’d like to see more about the flashpoints.

      In WoW, it’s now possible to level a character almost as quickly as questing by running instances, and battlegrounds, at least until 60-70. This gives a viable alternative to people who don’t want to grind out quests. In fact, most of the time I spent questing was solo and, really, I’m not playing an MMO for a single player experience. The best thing about this system is the ability to queue from anywhere, and be transported to and from the instance/battleground.

      I really hate to waste the time running to instance entrances and PUGing a group together, so I’d like to know how flashpoints work exactly. The questions I’d like to see answered are:

      * Must you have a premade group or can you enter/queue a flashpoint solo and get grouped?

      * Must you spend time travelling to a certain point to enter the flashpoint or can you queue from anywhere ala wow instances?

      * How do the rewards of completing a flashpoint compare to spending the same amount of time questing?

      * Is it possible to raise the difficulty of a flashpoint once it has been completed for increased rewards?

    • ASBO says:

      Well this is an RPS first for me: I wholeheartedly agree with everything wulf said.

      Edit: Actually I thought The Force Unleashed was quite enjoyable.

    • Davee says:

      I feel a lot like the OP. A bit split on this and not convinced.

      Bioware = instant turn-on.

      WOW-ish themepark MMO gameplay = instant turn-off (I’m not against the decision to go MMO though, just how they appear to have done it).

    • Bremze says:

      @Wulf: “Just all so incredibly average” is something I felt playing Mass Effect 2, so this doesn’t really surprise me, but I hoped Bioware would atleast try to make this a bit more action-y like the newest crop of f2p mmorpgs.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      @Wulf: Sorry man, just thought I’d mention that your posts are getting waay too long for my tastes. Not a personal attack, just every single one is an essay, like.

    • Ian says:

      We should just make a Wulf checklist that RPS can stick at the bottom of a given post, then he comes in and ticks which ones he would have mentioned and we’ll know exactly what he would have written. Options like “Grind rant”, “Dull setting”, “Backhanded insults about anybody who likes games I don’t”, “Guild Wars 2 fapping”, etc.

      Not that I disagree, I think SWTOR looks a bit nothing (I play WoW, for it’s numerous flaws. If I wanted more WoW I’d just play it twice as much and I’m certainly not paying for two lots it) but for certain games it’s becoming a bit “Wulf By Numbers”. :-P

    • ffordesoon says:

      I love BioWare games. Aside from DA2 , they’ve never disappointed me.

      That being said, Wulf raises a great point. To wit: BioWare has always seemed so dreadfully modest, and while I’m sure that means they’re lovely to work for, it often leaves the games feeling palpably unambitious in some way. Which, frankly, is completely insane, because obviously they’re ambitious. They’ve made some of the longest, biggest, most content-rich games ever. But I’ve always detected this weirdly restrained attitude in their games, and it’s baffling to me. It’s as if they’re scared of thier talent. Like, “Our players will create and control a galaxy-hopping badass with complete diplomatic immunity through a trilogy of games in which their saves carry over and affect everything they do. Wait, what? Of course they’re human! Wh– Of course they’re saving the universe! Do you want us to make zero point zero Canadian dollars?!”

    • daibakuha says:

      @Aquamarine Jesus

      I can answer some of your questions about Flashpoints and group play in general:

      First of all there is no RDF in SWTOR, and if you played wow long enough you wouldn’t like it as much as you do, it leads to a horrible community where everyone acts like dicks to each other without any repercussions.

      Second, you don’t need to use dungeons to level up with a friend, this is a big deal for me, but Bioware has designed the game more around leveling with friends that even WoW is. In wow it can often take longer to do quests with friends, based solely on how the objectives are laid out. In SWTOR not only do they make it possible to quest with buddies, they reward you doing so, people who quest together will level faster and obtain social points for participating in group conversations(which can be spent on neat social rewards, things like social gear).

      now on to your questions about Flashpoints:

      * Must you have a premade group or can you enter/queue a flashpoint solo and get grouped?

      Yes, this is to build server community, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full group, companions can fulfill some group roles effectively, you aren’t gonna want a companion tanking or healing a group, but they can dps just fine.

      * Must you spend time travelling to a certain point to enter the flashpoint or can you queue from anywhere ala wow instances?

      Currently there are two hub areas (one for the republic and one for the empire) where you can access every flashpoint.

      * How do the rewards of completing a flashpoint compare to spending the same amount of time questing?

      hmmm good question, I would say that depending on level you get a fair amount of XP per flashpoint, you won’t spend all your time in flashpoints like wow though, story is too good to leave questing out of the equation.

      * Is it possible to raise the difficulty of a flashpoint once it has been completed for increased rewards?

      All flashpoints are going to be playable as hardmodes at cap.

  2. RauTheLegendary says:

    My biggest issue with the game is that I would play it as a singleplayer game. And I don’t feel like paying a monthly fee in order to play a singleplayer game.

    Here I am, still grudging over the fact that they decided to make an MMO instead of just KOTOR 3.

    • Jumwa says:

      I would say “Likewise” if not for the fact I intend to play it co-operatively with my partner.

      But the issue still remains: are we willing to pay a monthly fee for a co-op game that we’ll just be playing to see the story of? I’m doubtful.

    • Cooper says:

      Question regarding this:

      Do ‘core’ quests require a certain level to accept (or are do not scale to your level, but require a certain level to not be impossible.)

      Because my hope with this game has been to subscribe for 2/3 months, complete it as ‘single player’ (i.e: most of the core stuff) and call it done. Thereby negotiating the desire for more KoTOR and the dislike of MMOs.

      BUT, if core quests require level-grinding – which takes time – I worry I’ll find myself spending too much time levelling-up in order to actually complete the game…

    • woodsey says:

      You’ll be able to do the next quest in your story when you’ve done the previous one; no level requirements.

    • kingcanute says:

      It is playable as single-player, but there are some very cool stories in “Flashpoints” with great, compelling voice acting.

    • Jumwa says:

      If you don’t bother doing side or group quests, however, you will find the content gets very hard very fast. Even not doing the (annoyingly interruptive and over-abundant) group quests can leave the game getting noticeably more difficult pretty quickly.

    • mR.Waffles says:

      I’m willing to pay 15 dollars a month for continuous single player KOTOR.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Quoting writer from Masivelly : “I’ll probably get some flak for saying so, but the bull-headed focus on story makes TOR a single-player game in many respects. Some people will love that, but I was left shaking my head at what might have been. Various BioWare luminaries have been quoted as saying that TOR is the equivalent of Knights of the Old Republic III through XIII — or whatever the actual numbers were, I forget. That raises the question of why they didn’t simply make III through XIII as the single-player RPGs that the company is famous for.

      The answer is recurring revenue (i.e., it wouldn’t be forthcoming with offline sequels like it will be with a quasi-MMO). Like everyone else in development circles nowadays, BioWare’s decision-makers see MMOs not as virtual worlds but as the logical next step in their quest to monetize absolutely every aspect of a title…”

    • hotcod says:

      Each class has a 3 chapter class story that can be played solo. The first chapters are, so bioware says, longer than the original kotor. Even ignoring group content such as flash points and pvp you do the maths on how much content that is promising across 8 classes… even if you make rather harsh guesses about cross class content and the like that’s a HELL of a lot of single player game.

      So while paying month to month maybe a bitch it’s rewarding you with a lot of solo content. Add in all the mmo side of things and it seems that even for some one going in thinking “I’m just going to play solo” there seems to be a lot on offer.

    • Alceste007 says:

      I am also a huge fan of bioware games, but not a big fan of MMOs. I got a chance to try out a tester weekend and I found that I liked the game. I am planning on playing through the story then getting Mass effect 3 when it comes out.

  3. TODD says:

    more like Star Wars: bad game for idiots tbhtbhtbthtbhtbthbth

  4. Mr Bismarck says:

    Two lightsabres is nice, but can you craft hats?

  5. KlaxonOverdrive says:

    This is my problem: if a game is more about levelling more than it is about the actual gameplay that allows you to level — no matter how awesomely that levelling is gussied up — it’s going to become quickly tiresome.

  6. Devenger says:

    I’m surprised John didn’t play a Jedi Consular. Would have thought he’d want to get into the healer role, you know.

    • sqparadox says:

      What’s funny is that the fourth screenshot is of him playing a Jedi Consular, not a Jedi Knight. That Trandoshan is Qyzen Fess, the starting Jedi Consular companion.

      http://www.swtor.com/info/holonet/biographies/qyzen-fess

    • Dozer says:

      Is it necessarily John who took that screenshot though?

    • Aufero says:

      Given that the second screenshot is also being used as the title shot in today’s Ars Technica article on playing the beta, I’d guess some of these are stock shots supplied by Bioware.

    • sqparadox says:

      It’s not necessarily John in the screenshot, it could be a stock shot or even simply another player John was playing with. My point was that it’s a screenshot of a JC, but for that matter it could be a shot of a JK with a JC party member (or even simply a JC standing around nearby); the JC off-screen but his/her companion in the same shot as John’s JK.

    • tyren says:

      One of the Massively writeups said they were explicitly not allowed to show screenshots they took themselves for their article, so I imagine the same is the case here.

  7. Bostec says:

    So is the Jedi Knight the tank like class?

    • woodsey says:

      If you want it to be – class roles are pretty flexible. You’re not going to have to fulfill a tank role just because you want to play the Jedi Knight’s storyline.

      http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?p=9672671#edit9672671

    • Bostec says:

      Thanks for the link, intresting read. On the contrary it was because I don’t want to be a Jedi Knight if it was really only for tanking; it will probably be the most rolled class, Jedi Knight, not tanking that is.

    • woodsey says:

      They’ve released some data about how many people have been playing which classes in the beta and its been surprisingly even; I think the Sith Inquisitor had nudged ahead but not by much.

  8. ResonanceCascade says:

    Dammit. I’m torn between my love of the KOTOR games and my hatred of MMOs.

    • Wildeheart says:

      Could not agree more

    • Jesse L says:

      But Master, are MMOs truly more powerful than single-player games?

    • Azradesh says:

      I’m going to get it and play it as mostly single player until I’ve had my fill with all the classes I want to play, and then stop playing. If that takes more then a month, fine, but I don’t think it will.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      MMOs are quicker, easier. More seductive.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The Dark Side? I’ve been there. Do your worst.

      (I’m probably going to buy it)

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      “Your MMO thoughts betray you father. I feel the good in you. The single-player.”

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Single player I want. Buy this, I will not.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Buy, or buy not. There is no trial.

    • Durkonkell says:

      TillEulenspiegel: Well done, Sir!

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Thankfully, I don’t really like Star Wars that much, so I can happily ignore it until it goes free-2-play (and if it doesn’t I won’t be anxious over not playing at all).

  9. Dolphan says:

    And that’s me sold, pretty much. I vaguely enjoyed WOW played almost entirely single-player, so as long as this is living up to its KOTOR heritage story-wise I’m there.

  10. sneetch says:

    I have to say I love the idea of this game, the voice work and quest lines and so on but dozens of jedis farming 10 droids each just seems off for me as does the sight of light sabre armed characters (as Adam so succinctly put it in his Secret World article) “flailing at each other in a determined but ineffectual fashion”.

  11. Marcin says:

    Can you flunk out of the Jedi order by constantly taking the more ambiguous path on quests? Because if all the effect is just on your companions … well that’s the MMO bones awfully close to the skin.

  12. Enzo says:

    I really hate the fact that modern Star Wars = hundreds of light sabers. This universe is so huge, yet they still focus on two factions (Jedi vs Sith) just because the lightsabers are colorful and bright. If I’m going to play this game (doubt it) there’s no way I’m picking a jedi/sith class.

    • Aufero says:

      Try Trooper. Jennifer Hale and Brian Bloom did the class voice work, so you can’t go wrong with either character gender.

    • Grygus says:

      Only half the classes even have access to light sabers, and of those several builds do not use the saber as a primary weapon. It is entirely possible to have a full well-rounded party without a single sparklesword in sight. If there are a million light sabers running around it will be because of player preference, not game design.

      The two factions are Republic and Empire, not Jedi and Sith; although in the case of the Empire, the Sith pretty much run things, they’re still not synonymous.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Ah, I didn’t know that Jennifer Hale did Female Trooper. Noted!

      A couple of questions for those with KNOWLEDGE OF THE GAME: Are the two factions actually asymmetrical or is an Imperial Agent Operative basically the same as a Smuggler Scoundrel? If they are effectively different classes for each side, isn’t that going to be a total nightmare to balance?

      Secondly: As someone whose favorite KOTOR character was a scout, is there a class that offers the same kind of play style in TOR?

    • Coriolis says:

      The classes are meant to be mirrors so smuggler=imperial operative. They may have very minor differences (none have been revealed yet though).

      If I remember my KOTOR right, scout was sort of like a ranged rogue… so the smuggler scoundrel/IA operative is probably closest, although they are reportedly about half ranged and half melee as a class. If you really liked long range gunning, then probably the sniper/gunslinger version of the smuggler/IA would be more to your liking.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Thank you for your answers!

      Although now that I actually think about it, what I enjoyed about being a Scout in KOTOR was not so much the combat style, but having tons of skill points, being able to use your skills and wits to defeat enemies using the environment. A little bit like a ranged rogue! :P

  13. UmmonTL says:

    I’ll most likely play the game but why did they have to model it after wow? My biggest problem with the game from what I’ve seen is the combat, guy’s standing in front of each other and whacking away until one falls down. Only that some of them shoot lasers at each other until the other falls down, oh wait with magic wow had even that. The whole HP mechanic just doesn’t fit the star wars universe, laserswords don’t partly damage you if they hit.
    The quests, well, I can live with that. A good story behind them makes even grindy quests somewhat worthwhile and as long as there is some variety it’s all good. As long as they don’t make any major fuckups I’m expecting the non-combat part of the game to be pretty fun.

    • Azradesh says:

      Didn’t you play KOTOR? It’s the same as that but with out NPC party management and the ability to pause.

    • Wulf says:

      KoTOR was different to TOR in two important ways:

      1.) You tended to take on bigger groups.

      And the more important one…

      2.) There was actual visual feedback to powers.

      This was discussed in regards to The Secret World’s trailer, and TOR has exactly the same problem.

      You stand there ineffectually flinging a light-sabre at a person.
      Person stands there ineffectually shooting you in the face with a pistol.

      Person does not acknowledge the light sabre slashing through them.
      You do not acknowledge all the bullets which should now be embedded somewhere inside your head.

      Even Champions Online, an incredibly low budget game compared to this, got that right. Guild Wars, years ago, got that right. But this? Eh. This is the WoW approach.

    • Azradesh says:

      Wulf, the visual feedback in KOTOR was minimal and rubbish, SWTOR’s feedback is at the same level. As for the first point I think you might be right. It’s the MMO side effect of making the players a bit weak and rubbish compaired to what they’d be in a single player RPG.

      SWTOR:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL4il3SZ_Hc
      KOTOR:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iv7ITYRTXCg&feature=related

    • Coriolis says:

      Wulf, have you actually looked at videos of KOTOR and SWTOR? Your point 2) is pretty much just flat out wrong.

      As for 1, you’re probably more or less correct (although flashpoints probably change that). Having said that, if you want a game where you’re a hero fighting against a group and that actually means something, you’d have to play Diablo or other much more action oriented games, not KOTOR. Even though kotor was group vs. group, it pretty much ended up with you killing people one by one, which frankly isn’t a very great style of group vs. group play.

    • Nick says:

      visually similar, possibly (which is bad thing, it looks as stale animation wise as the KOTORs and they were kinda shit animation wise to start with) but mechanically its not, unless this is a D20 system..

    • hotcod says:

      @Azradesh

      There is in fact NPC party management, well a party of 1 anyway :) The companion characters have grown a lot and are now almost fully skilled characters which you have full control over. You can do anything from having them fully automated, to having a few skills you trigger to you being in full control of their skills.

      What’s is really promising about this is bioware have said that a player who drops out of a flash point can be replaced by one of the remaining characters companion characters and that the group would still be able to complete the content and such.

  14. BobsLawnService says:

    I would buy this if it was a single player game. It doen’t make any sense to me that this is an MMO.

    I predict 18 months and the lack of subscribers will cause it to turn free to play. I might try it as a single player game then.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I think a lot more people play MMOs solo than is assumed and I bet a ton of people give in to the internet requirement and monthly fee to play this.

    • ahluka says:

      Same, fingers crossed for F2P! Like someone else mentioned earlier, I’m torn between my love of Star Wars and my general disgust for MMOs.

      Well maybe disgust is too harsh. I’m just bitter because I realised I wasted months of my life on WoW and didn’t enjoy three-quarters of them.

    • aircool says:

      I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    • Burchard says:

      I already made the same prediction a few “exclusive hands-on wots-its” ago. I’m sure EA is looking for massive box sales, committed long term subscription packages, and simultaneously developing a F2P transition.

    • chabuhi says:

      @StingingVelvet

      Alone together, right? I agree – I think a lot of people are in it (any MMO) for the adventure and experience of whatever that virtual world may be. And many, like myself, only “socialize” when it’s required in order to accomplish something. The rest of the time you just want to be entertained.

      I don’t know, maybe it’s because I come from an age when video games were almost exclusively a solitary pastime (you could, of course, “play socially” but generally not in the context of the game itself). I guess I view games the way I do television or movies – I may watch a show or movie with someone, but not for the incidental interaction with that person (or people), I do it in order to consume the entertainment.

      This may be a bad analogy, but I don’t tend to eat off the same plate as my friends. We each have our own serving, we may talk about the food, but in the end I’m there to fill my gut not theirs.

    • Wulf says:

      I give it six months before they finally admit that their decision to copy WoW was a bad one. And their lack of subscribers has them make the game F2P, and has them actually look at how they can make TOR different from WoW. When that happens, I may just pay attention, maybe. But they can’t change the other, more boring choices they made, as I discussed above.

  15. Drake Sigar says:

    I just keep shaking my head and asking myself why this needs to be an MMO at all.

  16. StingingVelvet says:

    The context and story probably would make boring MMO gameplay something I could enjoy, but I still don’t see why I would pay $15 a month to play a singleplayer game. That’s essentially what I would be doing.

  17. aircool says:

    Never been a fan of the sabre’s-with-light thing, and I’d written this game off after seeing all those dreadful looking preview clips…

    But I’ve changed my mind over the last few weeks (absolutely nothing to do with the beta, nothing at all) and see potential in this game.

    The Force is strong in this one.

  18. Aerothorn says:

    The problem I have isn’t just the MMO aspects, it sounds like Bioware is sticking with the exact same storytelling structure they’ve been using since the original KOTOR. It’s like they think they discovered the epitome of narrative mechanics and refuse to believe that things can be done better.

    Me, I’m tired of the binary “you’re a saint/’you’re a dick” dialog choices. I’m tired of predictably serving as psychoanalyst for my companions until they want to bone me. I’m tired of knowing what’s going to happen in most quests because Bioware uses the same quest structures over, and over, and over.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I bet that, no matter what class you pick, your starting area has something bad happen to it or your character is otherwise forced to leave.

    • Grygus says:

      @Teddy a reasonable guess, but it’s not true, at least not generally (I’ve played six of the eight classes through their starting areas). You leave the area either because you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, or because you’re still working on it and the trail leads you someplace else. They all feel perfectly natural, at least so far.

      None of the starts involve amnesia.

      The choices are not always black and white, either. Obviously save the babies/eat the babies choices exist, and some of those are really fun, but several quests are two shades of gray and with imperfect information, much like choices in The Witcher. Some are two seemingly good/bad (but mutually exclusive) choices, and I have no doubt that there will be many arguments over the assignment of Light/Dark side points to some of these dilemmas.

      I think the writing is good; much better than you seem to be expecting.

    • kingcanute says:

      Agree – I can think of a few quests early on that are really tough as far as choices go – where the “light side” choice feels wrong morally, for example.

      And the narrative development of your character feels very organic and not overly video-gamey, as far as I’ve played it.

    • Wulf says:

      This is one of those areas where I say that every MMO developer whose name begins with B could learn a lot from Obsidian, whose name does not.

      See, Obsidian are good at nuanced, morally ambiguous choices that will really task your sense of ethics. The Vault 34 choice in New Vegas continues to be one of the best choice-and-consequence scenarios I’ve ever seen in an RPG. Ever. It’s truly an incredible, beautiful thing. And the funny thing is is that no matter which you choose, you still can’t decide whether that choice made you a saviour, or the world’s biggest dick. And you’re burdened by that choice, it never feels right. There is no obviously correct choice.

      But Bioware, like Bethesda, tend to love their morally simplistic approaches. This is Good and this is Bad, this will make you a Saint, and this will make you a Demon. Any nuances will be ignored. There are decisions in Mass Effect 2 for example, one where one decision that will create long term good actually marks you as a Demon for some mild inconveniences caused in the present. And I boggled at that. It’s like Bioware’s writers are incredibly short sighted. And they haven’t even considered what the future of their own Universe will look like.

      But when you have an Obsidian game, you’re a normal guy, and there are choices. There are many choices, and they may be anywhere between good and bad, hell, they might all be bad, or they might even all be good, or they might trick you into believing one or the other, and you have to muddle your way through and make the best decision you can, and then you have to live with the consequences. Some people might think highly of you, others might think you’re some sort of monster.

      It isn’t like… a bunch of Good choices makes you a Super Saint, whom everyone loves, despite the fact that you’ve been murdering your way to get there. It isn’t that simplistic. In Obsidian games you actually have to use your head, you have to think and feel your way through scenarios.

      But in Bioware games they actually do mark the choices as Good and Bad, so you know the outcome in advance, and you know how they’re going to spin it. You might not even agree with it, but the entire Universe will agree with Bioware’s point of view, and sometimes that’ll take me right out of the game. Like, this is the Good choice, and everyone in the Universe recognises it as the Good choice, even if I don’t. Whereas by contrast, in an Obsidian game, you’ll have characters that see all the angles of a choice, and you’ll hear varying opinions. Generally Obsidian games are more clever about this, they know how to handle nuances.

      So, yeah. Does anyone see why having an entire Universe agree with a developer’s morally simplistic choice is a bad thing?

      And Skyrim suffers from the same moral simplicity as any Bioware game. You are gud, you slay dragons because dragons bad, there is no way that contextually the dragons can be good, in any way, from any viewpoint. Nope, that’d be too complex for the tiny minds we gamers have. And we can’t even pick to take on the supposed evil side, either. Noap, we are gud.

      Sigh.

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…

      I want to get Obsidian to write up a design document on how to properly handle narrative, along with meaningful choices, and meaningful consequences, how to handle things subtly, how to handle nuances, and how to do go beyond good/bad moral simplicity.

      I then want to take this design document to all RPG developers whose name begins with B and force them to read it, at nerf gunpoint if necessary. Then I’d force them to play every Obsidian game. Then I’d force them to play Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. And then… maybe then… they’d get it. Maybe.

      :|

    • Azradesh says:

      I agree, but I’d just like to mention that Bethesda have hinted at *good* dragons.

    • Nalano says:

      To be fair, Wulf, ME2 isn’t so much Good versus Bad so much as it is diplomatic versus violent. You can be a hero and you can be a badass, and they’re not mutually exclusive.

      Otherwise, yeah. It’s pretty much all enforced black and white.

    • Wizardry says:

      Hey Wulf. Why should RPG developers care about Obsidian’s tightly scripted, flow-chart like moral choices and consequences?

    • Grygus says:

      @Wulf: As I have already stated, you are wrong about TOR lacking any decisions with some subtlety. Have you played TOR? I do not agree that Obsidian could have done any better. Also, this game’s stories have endings, which is a fair trade for Obsidian’s masterful lead-ups to train wrecks. Lastly, the Light and Dark indicators, while present by default, are optional and you can turn them off if you want, which to me is pretty much the ideal presentation.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think the issue is less about the specific “wording” of plot-lines, but rather the existence of “numeric quantifying” good/bad actions.

      The problem is always “player intent” vs “game assumption”. Half the responses I pick in Bioware games I took to be light-hearted phrases… until it turned out I was literally threatening to kill them, garnished with +10 evil points.

      That everyone suddenly knows I’m evil, even if they’re from different factions or weren’t witnesses makes it more questionable.

  19. Dozer says:

    Which never stops feeling like a bear trying to wear a centipede costume.

    And thus came Horace, the Endless Bear.

  20. orangedragon says:

    Got to play in beta. There’s unfortunately not enough depth for it to even be played as a single-player game. Same old, same old when it comes to questing and leveling up. Ah well.

  21. skyturnedred says:

    “…running back to the mission giver to collect your XP and prize.”

    I wish at least the sci-fi games would allow you to radio in “Job done.” and then the quest giver could just put the money on your account. And mail the new hat, possibly.

    • orangedragon says:

      That would be pretty awesome. Then maybe my mail box wouldn’t always be empty :’(

    • GrassyGnoll says:

      @skyturnedred

      They did this in City of Heroes, was a great help.

  22. Sardukar says:

    For many such as myself, who played WoW for years until tired of it, the question is, “will this satisfy our WoW-fatigued MMO need?”

    Millions of people played WoW until tired of it. If TOR is a WoW retread with Star Wars skin, stories and voice acting, is it worth a month’s or more play? Preferably more. I know my entire online crew won’t drop money or time on an MMO unless they think the investment bears months-long fruit. It’s how MMOs differ from, say, FONV or DXHR: comparatively shallow gameplay and setting, but with long term playing rewards.

    Voice acting is neat, but our two friends in beta say you get used to it really quick and it doesn’t overcome the obviousness that you’re playing WoW ( Or Rift or WAR or..) in space.

    Do you see yourself sinking half a year of your time into this game, John?

    • Azradesh says:

      Why anyone would want to sink half a year into any game in a single stretch is beyond me. Some MMO players have such odd mind sets when it comes to playing them.

    • Sardukar says:

      And fair enough. That does seem more than a little weird, doesn’t it? It is nice to have a game you can have reliable fun with any time you’d like it, for as long as possible. If I could play DXHR or P:T or System Shock 2 forever, I would, believe me.

      Diablo and SC 1 + 2 are also played for years. Counterstrike, too, now I think of it.

    • Azradesh says:

      I’ve played WoW on and off for some time (though not at the moment) and found that many of the people I played with weren’t actually having fun. They just kept on playing though. They seemed to forget to have fun.

  23. Obc says:

    i really enjoy the new questing style in WoW since Cata. i replayed the gilneas starting area for the 3rd time and wasn’t bored at any point. so is this game something for me?

    another thing: how is the none questing experience? how is crafting? how MASSIVELY is it? right now it sound like a singleplayer game with a few 5man dungeons…so what is so massively about it?

  24. vecordae says:

    Nothing defines the relationship between a Jedi and his ubiquitous R2 unit quite like the seething sexual tension

    • arccos says:

      *Boop Tweet Deet Deet*

      “What do you mean I’m not meeting your needs? I… I didn’t know you felt that way…”

      *Hwoooooon*

    • vecordae says:

      That entire scene? Better than 90% of the stuff in the Star Wars extended universe fiction and 100% better than anything ever written by Kevin J Andersen. You should work that into a book and pitch it to them.

  25. reticulate says:

    I’m not convinced that they can merge the single player awesome of, say, KOTOR, with a classic MMO.

    The fit just doesn’t feel right. For one thing, there’s very little in the way of emergent gameplay. I mean, no matter how much they pretty it up, you’re still doing bullshit fetch quests for NPC’s.

    Here’s an idea – do Star Wars, but on the Eve model. A persistent, PVP galaxy that rewards interaction beyond just shooting mooks for quests. Make the interaction pervasive and interesting, let it grow on its own rather than being scripted all up the ass. I know Bioware can escape the shackles of their history if they just make the universe work right, and it means they can stand on two legs – great single player adventures and player-driven multiplayer games.

    • arccos says:

      I think that’s kind of what they tried to do with Star Wars Galaxies originally. Different people had different jobs in the universe. Had they made it even a little more interesting and took it further than they did, instead of stripping out the ideas, I think it would have had Eve for lunch.

    • Captain Blood says:

      I don’t recall much emergent gameplay in the KotOR games. I loved them to bits, but it was the setting, characters and plot that I enjoyed, not so much the mechanics or feeling of wild experimentation with a force-powered toolkit.

  26. Hoaxfish says:

    The earliest quests are themed around the attacks of Flesh Raiders, a formerly intellectually benign race, who are turning on the locals with seemingly organised attacks.

    er, were they called Flesh Raiders when they were benign?

  27. Lukasz says:

    I’ll probably get it on sale a year or even two from now and just play it as single player doing only quests with other people just to grind enough xp so i can continue SP without too much difficulty. MMORPG are not my thing but I loved KOTOR games and want more :(

  28. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Can you play a Droid?

    • Wulf says:

      That’s one of the things that amused me about KoTOR II. Which I liked quite a bit.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      There was something sinister going on with that R2 unit – an unfinished plotline. How the hell did he disable HK?

      Huh?

  29. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    Hmmm. The more I read about this the more I think I’ll give it a miss. Something about mmo games just bore me.

    To quote a line from star wars

    Guild wars 2 You’re our only hope!

    One last question, can you craft a gold bikini

  30. Arcanon says:

    I’ve been randomly invited for a weekend of Beta Testing recently, and dedicated myself to my Grey (neutral Light/Dark) Bounty Hunter….cause Jedi and Sith are both stupid xD

    I’ll agree with John Walker, there’s nothing revolutionary in SWTOR as an MMO, BUT the storyline makes all the difference, expecially if your class has a good voice actor (FemBounty was excellent, I think she might have been Jennifer Hale…so yai). This also makes questing more meaningful, even when it’s just grinding.

    Also, Companions are dead useful, use them for fighting, use them for crafting (the crafting system is pretty clever imo), and they are also part of your personal story main quest.

    Quest rewards are smarter than WoW, you won’t get weapons or armor your class doesn’t use. You’ll also find “commendations” related to your planet or flashpoint (dungeons) and use them to buy what you want and not what the quest-reward-window offers you.

    The early (level 10) advanced spec choice and consequent talent choice gives you a decent degree of customization, that will radically define your role (in the Bounty’s case, Powertech can be either a Energy Shield tank or a Flamethrower-close-range DPS, Mercenary a badass DPS with Dual Guns or a support healer).

    But “roles” are also the biggest flaw in the game IMO….. I played 2 Flashpoints during the Beta, and a dozen Elite Quests (3 or more people), and that’s where WoW’s shadow killed my gaming experience: spend half an hour to find a tank and a healer, or no Flashpoint for you. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s one of the things I always hated during my WoW days.

    Also, for game design reasons, classes can only use ONE WEAPON TYPE….and that’s totally gay.

    If this had been KOTOR 3 I would have insta-bought it. Instead, I’ll drop it and wait for Guild Wars 2.

    • Wulf says:

      So you have to endure a WoW-style traditional MMO for a morally simplistic, linear story?

      How about I don’t play TOR and go and watch a good film instead? :P

    • Arcanon says:

      Pretty much, at the end of the Beta I was bored already.

    • Grygus says:

      I think the OP projected, or allowed other people to project, WoW onto this game. I have done all group content and flashpoints to 15th level with not one tank OR healer in any of my groups. Sometimes you simply don’t need them because high DPS steamrolls the content. Even when you do (e.g., bosses), companions can perform the roles. No idea how long this holds up, and I would expect it to stop working eventually, but my experience so far is the opposite: I only wait long enough to get x number of people, regardless of their class or build, and off we go.

      Yes, there are already players who demand certain classes and demand 10th level to run the level 9 flashpoint. Those players are being idiots.

    • Sardukar says:

      “This also makes questing more meaningful, even when it’s just grinding.” Yeah, Grinding. I realsie an element of this is present in most games, but I don’t enjoy it anywhere it is presented. Repetitive, non-constructive content in order to stretch out gameplay? No, thank you.

      Can’t remember grinding in KotOR 1 or 2. Thinking maaaybe when BW said this was KoTOR 3,4 and 5 all in one, they weren’t being accurate. Or even honest.

    • Captain Blood says:

      +1 Grygus. I was constantly suggesting to people who were ‘just looking for a healer so we can do this thing’ to give it a go without a healer. None of the small-group flashpoints or heroic quests say anything about requiring particular character types – they just have a number next to them, for suggested number of players. Companions fit the bill quite nicely too – so if you only have three in your group, one of your companions can fill the fourth spot fairly ably.

      Didn’t Guild Wars 1 have something similar with NPC companion characters?

    • Arcanon says:

      This may work for low level content, but if you chose to play that level 19 Flashpoint Darth Malgus invites you to (Tomb of *something*) or higher, then you would start feeling the need for roles. And for the informazion of those who didn’t get into the Beta, your group is 4 people max, companions included (2 players and 2 companions, 3 players and 1 companion etc…). So the flaw is still there, and it’s a big one.

    • daibakuha says:

      It’s not really a flaw on the games part if there aren’t a huge number of people in the beta. I would even say, considering the number of hybrid classes in the game, that healers and tanks are going to be a LOT more present at launch. On top of that it’s a lot easier to level them in SWTOR than in WoW, healers in particular do really well solo questing as do the tanking classes.

  31. Erithtotl says:

    It’s interesting they are restricting impressions to the early levels. A friend of mine who was in one of the betas said that the game was pretty good up to about 15, after which it became a major drag (as combat never got more interesting and the levelling rewards started to stagnate). That was an older build so maybe it’ll be much better come launch, who knows.

  32. Koozer says:

    In Galaxies I went out of my way to craft my own R5 droid, and started down the path of the Jedi myself. That’s the difference here. Also, Mon Calamari.

  33. El Armonista! says:

    I think I’ve probably played about 10 hours of WoW at the most, spread out over a couple of attempts to “get it”. Something never quite clicked though, maybe I came to it too late, or maybe it was the setting.

    I did, however, rather enjoy the mechanics, so if anything is ever going to convince me to play an MMO it’s a Bioware Star Wars MMO.

    Consequently, I am preeeetty excited about this. Hooray!

  34. Julio Biason says:

    (Probably jumping ahead some articles but) Let’s say that, instead of being a Sentinel, you decide to be a Guardian (tank). How does that work? Can you freely change your specialization? And, if you can, do you need to run around getting new gear or stats work out by your specialization?

    • Arcanon says:

      Each class has 2 Specs, each Spec has 2 talent trees that cover different roles, and a third generic tree, which is the same for both Specializations. You can reset talent trees, you cannot, however, change Specialization, ever. Unless Bioware listens to it’s players and removes this stupid penalty.

    • Grygus says:

      I don’t understand this. How is that a penalty? You can’t change classes in WoW (at least not until Blizzard figures out how to charge you $50 for it.)

      At tenth level you’re not choosing a build; you’re choosing a class. That shouldn’t be a flexible choice! They gave you ten levels to figure out which way you wanted to go. That’s ten more levels than most games give you. If you get your class wrong, you will have to re-roll. That’s true for every MMO of which I am aware. Not sure why it’s suddenly this horrible thing.

    • Coriolis says:

      Basically, if you’re a guardian, you’ll be able to spec into a guardian damage dealing character, or a guardian tanking character. But you won’t be able to dual-wield lightsabres like a sentinel would or use the abilities of a sentinel. And yeah, those specializations at lvl 10 are what you would call a class in another game, then a specialization.

      Every class does have the option to be either dps or one of tank or healer (except sentinel/gunslinger which are just dps).

    • Sardukar says:

      “At tenth level you’re not choosing a build; you’re choosing a class. That shouldn’t be a flexible choice!”

      Why shouldn’t it? Why shouldn’t you able to have that freedom? What is so wrong with letting players switch classes easily? Is there a Big Book of Game that forbids it?

      More freedom, please, and less D&D for D&D’s sake.

    • Chris D says:

      @Sardukar

      I would guess the story changes depending on specialisation, so if you change it you’re suddenly in the wrong story branch. It’s a trade off between easy experimentation and narrative persistence, and if the big selling point is the story then that’s pretty much a deal you have to make.

    • Captain Blood says:

      Chris, from my limited experience in a recent beta, your story depends on initial class, not advanced class.

      The advanced classes get plenty of different abilities, and pretty much all of the advanced classes use some different gear to their alternate – for example, if you decide you want your Trooper to be a Vanguard (tank/dps) you can use shield generators and blaster carbines, while if you go Commando (hur hur) you ditch the carbine for a portable assault cannon and no shield generator. So if you wanted to switch your vanguard to a commando, you’d have several bits of kit to hang on to in case you wanted to switch back, as well as multiple new abilities to learn to use.

      In PvP, or even in a large-group flashpoint, I’d also prefer to know that the person playing the main healer has been doing so for a while, and didn’t just switch over from being a stealth melee dps character yesterday.

    • Arcanon says:

      Let’s be fair here, Advanced Specs aren’t different enough to be called “CLASSES”…c’mon, talent trees in WoW made your character even more different, and no1 forbid you to switch from, say, Shadow Priest to Holy Priest, 2 completely different gameplay styles. So why is this forbidden in SWTOR?

      [quote:Grygus] “If you get your class wrong, you will have to re-roll” [/quote] More likely, “if you want to change class playstyle, you have to reroll”, which is the reason Bioware introduced this I’m sure, to make you play even more, even if the difference between specs isn’t that great to justify such a freedom limitation.

    • daibakuha says:

      You can switch between advanced classes currently in the beta, it’s expensive and Bioware said they may put a CD on it, but currently, you can.

      EDIT: I will argue that advanced classes do change up the game play more than others here have mentioned, even the Jedi Knight is different, the Sentinel is a duel wielding medium armor class, while the gaurdian is a single saber heavy armor wearing class. The gaurdian plays more like a warrior, while the sentinel plays more like an enhancement shaman from wow.

  35. Devan says:

    “It’s impossible not to appreciate the difference voicing a game makes. It’s extraordinary to appreciate the difference being able to answer back makes.”

    Unfortunately, I don’t appreciate it. It’s the difference between reading dialogue in a book and hearing it in a movie; they can both be immersive if the writing is good.
    Not that I mind having voiced NPCs (aside from the knowledge of how much that’s going to slow down future content development), but the real problem I have is with the voiced Player Character. What’s with that? It’s bad enough in Mass Effect and DA2 where you’re shoehorned into a predefined character, but at least MMOs are supposed to be about making a character that’s your own. Much of the time, your own idea of what your PC will be does not match the voice and dialogue animation that is assigned to it, which is a shame if you ask me.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I tend to agree with you about the voicing issues. Though having a lot more attention focused on it will hopefully lead to better acting in those roles. It does make adding or changing content much more ponderous. Adding, say, a new race, would require an immense amount of recording, syncing, testing etc. Way more than the text based alternatives.

      I think that SWTOR will require some fiddling around with alts to see what the voices sound like, so you can decide on ‘acceptable’ choices. I know that I will already be avoiding the male Bounty Hunter, as he is written and voiced as some teenage dick-waggling wulverine wannabee. The female Bounty Hunter being voiced by Jennifer Hale may be the way to go. Bioware really should have some voice examples to help you choose, but I doubt that’s likely.

    • Grygus says:

      You do get a short voice sample while creating your character. Generally the voice acting is varied and of high quality. This isn’t Oblivion. That said, the game does make certain assumptions about your character – for most classes it is assumed that you are young, for example – so it is possible to make a character who is at odds with his/her voice. I think it’s a small price to pay, because these voices are better than the ones in my head.

  36. Nick says:

    “But hey, we’re all capable of suspending our disbelief for such things, and so consider mine suspended.”

    I’m not =(

    • Grygus says:

      Then you could play one of the classes in which you are not the Superman, which is all of the non-Force using classes. The Bounty Hunter has you as a talented but no-name Bounty Hunter, trying to earn a reputation. The Smuggler casts you as a successful smuggler, and you’re certainly competent but you’re not presented as the Best Ever or anything like that. The Trooper and Imperial Agent mention that you graduated at the top of your class in training, but that’s it – the implication being that there is at least one of you for every class that graduates.

      The Force class’s storylines are all much like the Jedi, though I think that’s okay; since George Lucas made the Force something you’re born with instead of something you could come to with training and discipline, how could they not be Destined Heroes?

    • Nick says:

      Or I could not play the fairly dull looking MMO ruination of the KOTOR franchise.

    • Grygus says:

      Well if you’ve already decided that strongly that you hate the game, why even read this post, let alone comment? It hasn’t been released, you haven’t played it, but you’re willing to go on record as calling it “ruination” of the KotOR line, when in fact I predict that a core complaint will be that it’s too much KotOR III. Looking silly aside, it seems like you’re wasting your time here.

  37. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    inb4 golden bikinis for 19.95 dollars

  38. almightybooka says:

    Anybody else get disgusting Bear-Centipede images?

  39. Nemmy111 says:

    Hoooooly shit, reading all this garbage cracks me up. Ok heres the rub. First off, every MMO that has been out since everquest has had action bars, targeting, etc. Theres no way around it, AoC tried it with the archery thing and we all know how bad that was. Second, of course the UI is going to look like wow, its an MMO and theres no real way around it (and to answer all the fan boys out there, Eve online had one, and so did GW.
    What you should be wondering about is this: is the pvp going to be balanced, is the end game pve going to be rewarding and challenging, will flash points be difficult (they did a large patch recently in the beta completely overhauling all the easy FPs), will it be difficult enough that you wont get bored. Saying this looks like another games in its genre is like saying “I’m not buying COD (or BF3) because it looks like every other FPS out there” Well ofc it does, its an FPS. Game mechanics and game play should be ur primary concerns. If how a game LOOKS is ur primary concern, u might want to rethink gaming all together.

    • Nick says:

      Amusing that you call other people fanboy.. as this reads exactly like one.

    • Nemmy111 says:

      Kinda hard to be a fan boy whenever I haven’t played the game. I was talking about the fanatical following that the 300k+ eve subscribers and near 1 million subscribers that GWs had. Those games also ‘looked just like wow.’
      Will I be a swtor fan boy? I dunno, maybe at a future date. Depends on if they get the IMPORTANT things right. For example: game mechanics and game play. From what I’ve read about it so far they are doing things mostly right, but I’ve lost faith in the gaming producers as of late. Games like wow, rift, league of legends feel more like I’m playing a business model instead of a game.

  40. Danorz says:

    same old cake, thicker layer of frosting

    • Grygus says:

      Sure. If you like cake, more frosting is a good thing, yeah? And if you don’t like cake, what does it matter? Are you mad at the cake for not being a pie?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I know a wide variety of cakes which don’t really go well with frosting at all.

    • Grygus says:

      I propose that those foods be given a different name to distinguish them from the more commonly known “cake”. How about MUD?

  41. Sweetz says:

    I participated in a beta weekend and didn’t particularly enjoy my time. However, I only tried playing a Smuggler, and based on the closing comments of the article, perhaps that was a bad choice.

    The crux of the issue for me was this: a single player game is not improved by making it an MMO, and I’m even not sure an MMO is all that improved by trying to make it a single player game.

    I had never played an MMO before, and I was overwhelmed by TOR even though it’s one of the simpler MMO’s according to others. I was so focused on learning how to play the game and figuring out tenants of the MMO genre that it just assumes players know (stuff like how to talk to different groups and people in the chat) – that I couldn’t focus on the story. However, even if that wasn’t the case, I imagine that the MMO stuff – worrying about drop rates, camping unique monsters, looking for parties for group quests, doing raids or whatever would still push the story elements out of focus for many people. The story seemed more like window dressing and not the player’s primary motivator like it is in well done single player RPGs.

    Seeing several dozen people running around going through the same story with the same companion character doesn’t help in making you care about it.

    I think that people who like the game will play it for same reason they already play MMOs: gameplay, social aspect, carrot-on-a-stick psychology (i.e. getting better equipment) – not because of the story. As such, the “full-featured” story in the game just seems like such an awful waste of creative effort – better it be expended on a proper single player game than an MMO.

  42. eleion says:

    Is there a class that can focus on crowd control (a la CoH’s controllers)? In KotOR there were a lot of light side powers that could be used to control the battlefield, so I have been hopeful, but I haven’t seen any verification.

    It’s the only way I can actually enjoy an MMO…

    • Grygus says:

      No. Crowd control exists – in fact I think every class has some form of cc – but it is not a focus of the game or any one class. You can shut something down for 3-8 seconds generally, and then your cc is on cooldown. This is nice for PvP, when you don’t spend a significant portion of the time watching your character not respond (I am glaring at you, WoW.) For PvE it means reducing incoming damage but you can’t eliminate a combatant unless you coordinate cc among several players or you are killing things very quickly. Still, it can be surprising how much of a difference eliminating a few seconds of incoming damage at the start of a fight can make.

  43. Mynameisthad says:

    Is knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re” really not a requirement for writing articles for this site?

    • matrices says:

      No but don’t worry, not being a douche is not a requirement for posting on this site. As you must’ve figured out as soon as your post appeared. Right here. On this site.

      I hope your happy bud.

    • Nick says:

      Is confusing ignorance with typographical errors fun?

  44. Space-Pope says:

    I played the beta, and found the game exhausting and boring. There’s only so many times you can be told someone’s sob story about killing space orcs before you find yourself wanting to skip through. For all their supposed work on voice acting and storytelling, I still couldn’t tell you a single important piece about any of the story quests that I played. It felt like nothing more than getting a voice actor to read through every MMO quest’s mandatory text, followed by a stop every few lines to get your bog standard Bioware “nice, neutral, or evil” reaction.

    YMMV in regards to giving a shit about the plot, obviously, but even the bits in between the story portions were nothing more than WoW, circa TBC. Kill X number of these, click on these things, bring this stuff to to this guy you’ve never heard of. Rinse and repeat until you win the game by spending the required number of hours letting your brain rot.

    • Grygus says:

      If you can’t tell one important thing about any of the stories, then you weren’t interested or paying attention to the stories to begin with. I will agree that without the story, TOR is merely a competent MMO; the story is what makes it good. If you come in with something against that then it is bound to disappoint, though I’m not sure why anyone would buy (or even try) a game whose stated strength is something that doesn’t appeal to them.

    • Space-Pope says:

      Maybe you’re right. But there’s the still the wholly undeniable fact that you can see (at least until you hit the phased areas) other people doing the same exact quests you’re doing. To know that Jedi Knight Trainer Man has the same exact problem for myself and the 100+ other people in the same zone takes a lot of the urgency, drama, and interest out of the story.

    • Grygus says:

      Fair enough. I can honestly say that this doesn’t even occur to me, but I suppose that might be annoying. Perhaps you are insufficiently self-absorbed.

    • Arcanon says:

      Some of the quests are “instanced”, to help you keep your immersion…..but many more have this kind of problem. But the thing that took me away from MY story is the fact that…..everyone is going around with YOUR companion….WTF, she/he/it is part of MY story, why are you…ah frak it :(

    • daibakuha says:

      You can change companion appearance in the game, and you won’t see their names when you see other players. Also, you can change companion armor as well, so the chance that two companions will look exactly the same is lower than you think. Besides, there are 5 companions per class, if you encounter someone of the same class, they might not even be using the same companion.

  45. Hoaxfish says:

    Can someone answer me this about Star Wars… why don’t Jedi run around using guns and their Force-powers?

    I mean Force-powers are good, but don’t need lightsabers to work.

    But Jedi are always getting stuck trying to melee someone because their only weapon is a glow-sword… which in turn they have to use to deflect blaster-fire because they’re over-exposed. Why not use guns so you don’t run around in the open like a giant target?

    • Arcanon says:

      It’s all Lucas’ fault. In the original Trilogy the Lightsabre was used pretty sparingly, but when Luke used it you knew he meant business, but for the most part he uses blasters…..cause his enemies are ranged, duh.

      Then came the prequels…and it was estabilishes that all Jedi, no matter the race, had to wear robes and use Lightsabres, including Yoda (and that totally ruined him for me). It’s used so much it becomes inpractical in it’s own universe, like when Obi-Wan tries to kill Grievous with his damn Lazer Sword and realizes only at the end that a blaster would have killed him much more easily…

    • bill says:

      Yeah. Lucas just about ruined the sequels by taking every-small-point from them and making it some kind of sacred rule.

      And by turning jedi into kung fu using morons, instead of cool samurai like they used to be.

  46. irongamer says:

    The voice acting and story were nice. I really enjoy learning new styles of gameplay, unscripted encounters, and more dynamic combat, SW:TOR doesn’t offer anything new in any of those departments.

    I remember back in the day there were a number of ideas tossed around that may have made SW:TOR a little different from the standard mmo gameplay/combat formula, but those seem to have fallen out along the way.

    This is disappointing as I feel there needs to be some strong non-ship based scifi mmo’s out there. The speed of combat is pretty fast, so at least it has that. The combat for the Bounty Hunter has a tiny bit of Tabula Rasa feel to it.

    If you are a Starwars fan and enjoy KOTOR like story and voice dialog you will most likely enjoy the game. If you are looking for something fresh and new gameplay wise… hold out and hope GW2 or Firefall can deliver in that department.

    PS. Do you work for Bioware Grygus?

  47. fenriz says:

    ok so, the difference with WoW is actually a remarkable one, caring about the story in a MMO is actually revolutionary! It’s the crucible where drama and reality mix, it’s a great thing.

    But it can’t remain plain mental effort from the player, roleplaying CANNOT be a strain of imagination, because if it is it has no impact on the gameplay.

    Caring about the story, so roleplaying, has to be forcibly imposed to the player by the game itself. This can only be done with serious PvP consequences to your story-driven choices; ive been saying it for months ever since i wrote an article about it: The player’s character’s career, everything he does, has to be the result of his choices. That’s how he will care about story!, that’s how the “pillar of story” will rise above every other gameplay pillar and dominate it, and that’s how TOR can be seriously different from WoW even though it’s exactly the same in its superficial structure. Story can change everything, but if it’s not powerful enuff, if it has nothing to do with the actual game experience, its pillar collapses out of lacking strong foundations on the common grounds of gameplay, and what’s left is WoW, that is, a shabby, generic, purposeless game structure.

  48. Lemming says:

    I’m a big Star Wars fan, A KOTOR fan and I’ve even been a WOW fan for a while, but I’ll be getting Guild Wars 2 and here’s why:

    Reading this article, I got the feeling that the point that made the difference (the dialogue and storytelling) were the unique thing about the experience, but not nearly enough to warrant the game’s existence as an MMO. I get the feeling that all that story and dialogue has been a bit of an overblown waste of time ill-suited to the rest of the game. I’m failing to see the reason anyone would pay monthly for this game as it sounds skin-deep in meaningful MMO content.

    Sure, some prefer to game alone even in an MMO (I’m one of them) but WoW captured the zeitgeist in such a way that I think any of us would just be bored shitless to see the same formula repeated in a new game. It’s like seeing the same magic trick after it’s method has been revealed. KOTOR deserves better. Being an MMO doesn’t expand this franchise, it dilutes it.

    I feel genuinely sorry for the amount of effort that must have gone into the dialogue options and voice work, only to be tacked onto what sounds like a been-there done-that click-fest.

    Guild Wars 2 on the other hand seems to be genuinely trying new things in the MMORPG space, and for the price of £0 a month.

  49. Jake says:

    I’m actually not all that bored of WoW style mechanics (bored of WoW though) but won’t be playing this because I hate Star Wars. The fact that it will have a zillion guys running around with lightsabres (which I assume are meant to be really rare) just makes it seem even less appealing. That said, voice acting is worth quite a lot, it was surprisingly brilliant in DC Universe.

    • hotcod says:

      The old republic time line has by far more Jedi than you’ve seen even in the prequels. There is an open empire of Sith which is ruled by both a human sith nobility and the last of the actual sith race. The “rule of two” hasn’t been thought up at this point because it’s not been needed. Both sides are at war and the use of the force in that war is front and centre and so both sides are likely being far more active in their recruiting.

      So while there are arguments about why having lots of lightsabers does not work too well in a lot of ways fact is in the old republic time line there are more Jedi and Sith than in almost any other point in the galactic history of the expanded universe.

      Or in other words, given the number of people in the galaxy light sabers are rare… but a lot less rare than at other points in history and given that you are getting involved in a war including Jedi and Sith you’ll likely be around them a lot more than the normal person

    • Arcanon says:

      The fact that Lightsabres got rare and all the explanations in the comic books are just a shameless RETCON imo. The only reason Jedis all had Lightsabres in the prequels is because Lucas allowed his fans to alter the story: everyone loves Lightsabres and Darth Vader, so he made 3 movies filled with Lightsabres and Darth Vader, even if the Jedi that wields it is physically incapable of swinging them:

      http://images.wikia.com/starwars/images/5/5e/Movie_poof.jpg (hey, I know where I’d be swinging fightning this cartoon)

      http://www.thelogbook.com/toy/council1/oppo.jpg (he’s a worm!)

      and so on…which is why I liked ranged classes more, if you don’t like Lightsabres all that much you can pick non-force-users.

  50. Kuroko says:

    Reading this makes me wonder why is this even an MMO?

    Shouldn’t an MMO be about playing with other people? I think that the Bioware SP style does not fit with classic MMO style.

    Making it an MMO is just a bad excuse to charge for a monthly fee. This would probably be much better if they just developed a new KOTOR instead.

    • jezcentral says:

      I’d still pay for a Bioware SP that got constantly updated. If they allowed co-op play, even better. Play against other people, better still. Co-op play versus other people, best EVAH.