I mentioned when I came back I wouldn’t be blogging exclusively about World of Warcraft. There’s another game that has my attention, and that game is Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). The game is currently in beta testing, but still under the NDA. That means that people in the beta can’t talk about it, other than to confirm there is a beta and they are in it.
There is a beta.
I ain’t in it.
(This is my sad face.)
Here’s a quick introduction to SWTOR if you aren’t familiar with it. Basically, it’s BioWare plus MMO plus Star Wars. From BioWare’s Dennis Dickenson “It's a spiritual sequel to the KotOR games and focuses heavily on bringing BioWare story into the MMO space. It features a highly polished and fluent evolution of traditional MMO combat systems. It has the bells and whistles of a modern MMO, it's faithful to the IP and universe it's set in and it features BioWare's signature features such as story, companions, etc."
SWTOR has two factions: the Sith (Red) and the Republic (Blue). This is sort of like the Horde and the Alliance. Each faction thinks they are doing what is right.
There are 4 classes in the game. The game boasts 8, but it’s actually 4 with different names depending on whether they are Sith or Republic. The names for the classes are Jedi Knight/Sith Warrior, Jedi Consoler/Sith Inquisitor, Smuggler/Imperial Agent, and Trooper/Bounty Hunter.
It will be a story driven MMO. Every character and NPC will have voice over. You don’t need to read the quest text, you listen to it. The story is driven by key choices that you, the player, make.
The game is set thousands of years before the movies and 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic. There is a galactic war going on between the Jedi and the Sith. This was a time in the Star Wars lore long before the Sith instituted the ‘Rule of Two’. This rule was quoted by Yoda during The Phantom Menace: “Only two there are, a master and an apprentice.” During the time that The Old Republic is set, there are literally armies of Jedi and Sith fighting.
Each class is has its own quests. The game is broken down into Class Quests, World Quests and Galaxy Quests (loved that movie). There are no repeated quests if you cross faction. Play through as a Republic Trooper and then if you play a Bounty Hunter, you won’t see a single quest repeated. That’s pretty cool.
The Smuggler and the Agent use a special combat system called Cover. You have certain abilities that you can only use in Cover and you get a defensive bonus against people attacking you.
The game also features a morality system, which I think of like alignment from my pen and paper role playing days. Each decision you make will give you Light side points or Dark side points. As you accumulate more Light side or Dark side points, you will get access to bonus powers. Some gear has been shown to require you to have a certain amount of Light or Dark points. Yes, Sith players can earn Light side points, and Republic players can earn Dark side points if they choose.
Combat is very similar to World of Warcraft. You have a hot bar with different abilities your character can use. It’s fast paced, and you are taking on groups of 2 to 4 enemies at once. It looks like a ton of fun.
Every class seems to have multiple forms of crowd control spells. Every class has an out of combat heal, and rez. Consolers/Inquisitors have an in combat rez. At level 10 you move from your base class into your Advanced Class. For example, Jedi Knights can graduate into Guardians, (Tanks), or Sentinels (dual wield Damage Dealer). This is similar to the specialization system in WoW.
There are three classes capable of specializing in tanking. The Trooper (Advanced Class called Vanguards), the Jedi Knight (AC called Guardians), and the Jedi Consular(AC called Shadows). Guardians and Vanguards appear to be typical mitigation tanks with heavy armor. Shadows are evasion tanks with high dodge.
I will mostly be talking about the Jedi Knight (Guardian) class as that is the class I’m most interested in.
What WoW players might think of as instances or dungeons are called Flashpoints. A flashpoint is a small, story-based mission, that requires a group. In WoW, dungeons need 5 players. SWTOR flashpoints require 4.
When you get to maximum level, you can do Operations. This is, is a large story based mission that requires a large group. We called these Raids in WoW. WoW raids come in two sizes, 25 players and 10 players. SWTOR Operations also come in two sizes, 8 players and 16 players.
Battlegrounds are called Warzones. I don’t have too much interest in them, because I’m not much into PVP, but I am intrigued at the way they are handling Tanks. All tanks get a skill known as Guard which can be cast on a friendly player and makes them take 50% less damage while the tank is alive. A pvp taunt? Sort of.
If you want to learn more about the game, you can check www.swtor.com, which are the official forums. The have some striking and unwanted similarities to the WoW official forums.
I get most of my information from a blog called DarthHater. It’s a good read and you should check it our if you want to know more about the game.