Star Wars: The Old Republic has had quite a build up over the last year. But it was only recently that the information floodgates have opened. Detailed class abilities, playable instances, space combat and more have all been rolling out at the various gaming conventions and summits. The last few months have been particularly information-packed as the beginning of beta testing grows near. Here’s an overview of everything we’ve learned since the new year.
Get Your Guild On
While excitement was building for what BioWare had planned for PAX East, the SWTOR devs had a little surprise ready the week before the big fan convention. Players can now pre-register their guilds through an official webpage. They can choose what faction and server type they prefer and start recruiting immediately. More pre-launch guild functionality is planned including allying with other guilds and prepping roll-out to live servers.
PAX 2011: Hands-on with Republic Classes
Four Republic classes were available to run an new instance, Taral V: The Jedi Consular Sage as ranged damage dealer with back-up healing, the Smuggler with Scoundrel healing specialty, the tanking Trooper and Jedi Guardian, a dps class specializing in lightsabers. General impressions from the G4 staff was that gameplay felt a little too much like World of Warcraft. The classes played very similar to WoW classes and the new instance was challenging, but not exceptional. The intricate mission system was praised, though, with its Mass Effect-like branching dialogue and voice acting.
Advanced Classes Revealed
In early April, BioWare spilled the beans on the Advanced Class system. Up until now, what was known about Advanced Classes was pulled from screenshots at E3 and other demos. Principal Lead Systems Designer Georg Zoeller posted a dev blog that explained more than had ever been seen before.
Advanced Classes for all 8 core classes are listed as well as how each one shifts their role in the group. Many classes have a healing Advanced Classes, but can still deal damage at the same time. In fact, many of ACs mixed roles leaving only a few as pure classes. Now the real preplanning of your SWTOR toon can begin.
SWTOR Immersion Event
BioWare held a special 2-day Immersion Event in April. G4 got its hands on two Sith classes, the flame-throwing Bounty Hunter and rifle-specialist Imperial Agent. The James Bond-like Imperial Agent was a big hit with our team, making a name for himself on the gangster run planet of Hutta. The class has in-cover and out-of-cover abilities, but no portable cover system early on. Initial class quests has the agent going undercover and when threatened with having his cover blown, the character has an option to kill the blackmailer. Dark side, indeed!
The Bounty Hunter can either go the damage dealer route or heavy, tech-based tanking. Initial quests involve accepting a bounty and has the same starter area as the Imperial Agent, allowing for early grouping. As you can imagine, many of the Bounty Hunter early class quests are focused on killing people in a spectacular fashion. Both classes get an NPC companion class early on that they can either micromanage or keep on auto to do extra damage.
BioWare’s take on space combat is a little different than you’d expect. It’s more of a side mini-game than an integral part of the game. Your ship moves on rails as you fire at targets passing by. Neither experience nor credits are rewarded and the experience is strictly single-player.
On the upside, you can walk around in your ship, hire and train a crew and earn upgrades to your weapons, shielding and engines. BioWare has plans for expanding on this area of gameplay, but not until well after launch. Until then, you can use your ship to travel between planets and engage in space battles along the way, if you choose.
On top of all this, BioWare has been releasing armor progression videos for various classes, sneak peaks at the UI and novel ties in that bring all the lore together. While we eagerly await the beginning of beta and the launch later this year, what parts are you looking forward to the most?
Dan O'Halloran has been an avid MMO player since 1999 and a game journalist for the last 4 years. When not sucked into the latest MMO, he can be found playing far too many mobile games.