Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview from E3 2012 -- Hands-on with Hypergates and HK-51By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Jun 12, 2012
Star Wars: The Old Republic has proven time and time again that it is an MMO that can almost do no wrong. After hosting one of the strongest and smoothest launches for a recent MMO, BioWare marched out two successful and well-received patches. In keeping with their previous work, everything I saw from SWTOR at E3 this year was exciting and promises months of soul-consuming content.
One of the major themes of the upcoming content will be hypergates. Opened by the Dread Masters to release an ancient evil, both the Empire and Republic will have various tasks in dealing with the mess the Dread Masters have made. One bit of concept art I saw featured a Jedi Knight standing in front of a huge monster that, when the camera panned out, stood dozens of stories high. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was an H.P. Lovecraft game.
Along with the hypergates, BioWare will be adding a number of new abilities, PVP features, and different warzones. It also introduces a new planet called Makeb that promises hours of additional story-based gameplay. One addition the team at BioWare was particularly excited for was the addition of a new companion, the HK-51. An upgraded version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’s HK-47, this deadly assassin droid is available to any class after completing a gut-wrenchingly difficult quest.
Another huge change to the game BioWare is making is that beginning in July, the game will be free to play up to level 15. This is undoubtedly an attempt to draw in new users after a recent drop in membership, and not a bad idea at all.
In my playthrough of some new material, myself and a few other players started off by heading down a ramp into a mass of enemies. After stomping them to death with great prejudice, one of our ranks and myself activated a bridge. Doing so prompted more enemies to run across the bridge, at which point we deactivated it, watching them fall to their doom. Darwinism at its finest.
From what I saw during my twenty minutes of hands-on, upcoming content for SWTOR will not significantly change gameplay; only adding new features, like a much sought-after group finder functionality. Now if only BioWare could find some more people to play it, they would be set.