Star Wars: The Old Republic
This Is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with more story content than every other BioWare game combined. That got you interested, didn't it? That unbelievable boast (from the mouth of Rich Vogel, studio director at BioWare) encompasses classic RPG serials Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect and Jade Empire.
Star Wars: The Old Republic will be huge. Set 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, it'll also wrap up any loose ends you may have been fretting over. You'll discover what became of Revan, Bastila and our twittering robo-chum T3-M4. BioWare are keen to allay any fears that by taking the MMO route they will dispose of Star Wars mythos which fans have come to love. Instead, The Old Republic will be built on the tenets BioWare are famous for: deep storylines, fully realised and meticulously scripted companion characters, branching dialogue trees and player choice.
But that sort of narrative doesn't work in the MMOs we're used to playing. You couldn't have the trolls and dwarves of Warcraft embarking on identical story arcs. You couldn't have every inhabitant of the Warhammer universe chasing down a single nemesis and keep it feeling personal and unique at every point along the way. There's no 'twist' in City of Heroes. How can BioWare properly weave a story into an MMO?
Well, most notably they're giving every class their own storyline and overall quest, each with their own starting planet, villains and game content.
From the moment you start a new character you can expect a lengthier story arc than any other BioWare game, and that's just for your chosen class. Start over as a different class (Sith, Jedi, and others) and you'll be approaching the game from another angle, with an entirely distinct story and agenda.
"Imagine playing KOTOR" offers Daniel Erickson, lead writer at BioWare, "and then playing Mass Effect in the very same game. That's the kind of scope we're after. A role-playing game has four pillars: you've got a exploration, combat, progression and story. For whatever reason, MMOs seem to leave story behind. Our speciality at the studio has always been putting story into these games.
So one of the things we talked about really early on was how to bring back that fourth pillar. How do we bring story, which belongs in an RPG, into the MM0 space?"
"Our solution was to have your chosen class define your story," continues Erickson. "So if you're playing a Jedi you're going to have a completely different experience than if you're playing a Sith. You can't have all these people going forward and having the same, unified experience.
"You can't build a storyline for both the guy dreaming of becoming Darth Vader, and the guy dreaming of being Luke - it wouldn't make any sense."
"Once you've chosen your class," adds Vogel, "you've got something larger than KOTOR, just for your class. We like to think of it as each class getting its own trilogy of movies, essentially."
"And inside of that," claims Erickson, "you've got all of the player choices, all of the light and dark side decisions, all of the quests which have choices both big and small that effect what happens in your story and where your story goes."
While BioWare won't yet divulge exactly how many classes to expect, they happily state that each class will be associated with "heroic roles" from the first and second movie trilogies. "We also want to make sure that the conflict is between dark and light," claims Ohlen, "so we can confirm we'll have Sith and Jedi in the game. But we also want to ensure other popular heroes from the movies are represented, and you can probably guess at what those might be."
So expect archetypes Luke (nice Jedi) and Vader (naughty Jedi turned Sith), along with Han Solo (rogue explorer), Boba Fett (bounty hunter), and Darth Maul (total Sith) to name a few obvious fellows.
I leave out Chewie, because it's likely the character creator will allow you to choose a species within a class, doubtlessly leading to terrifying Wookiee Jedi and Twi'lek bounty hunters not seen outside Star Wars' Expanded Universe.
This isn't the first time Lucas' epic has entered the MMO arena. 2003's Star Wars Galaxies was a wonderful social experiment in which folk.were given the choice of being Rodian dancers, occasional Force-enlightened supermen, or seven-foot-tall bears. BioWare claim to have learned a lot of lessons from Sony's failed outing.
"We're not in Sony's restricted space," assures Erickson, "Star Wars Galaxies ran up against the problem of setting itself in a time period that didn't have Jedi. We do not have that issue whatsoever, as people saw from KOTOR. Our time period has tons of Jedi and tons of Sith, so we escaped that problem entirely."
An interconnected collection of planets and all the space in between acts as the backdrop to all this adventuring. Familiar locations from KOTOR will appear alongside planets drawn from the wealth of Star Wars fiction already out there. For instance, Sith players will begin their game on the Sith homeworld, Korriban, their opening quests carefully guiding them through the required training before they may leave the planet.
The planet Tython, from the rich Expanded Universe, is the birthplace of the Force - it's here where the Sith and Jedi originated, split and went their separate ways. With the Jedi's temple having been smashed to bits in KOTOR, the order have returned to occupy the planet. The total number of planets isn't being spoken about, and neither is the sort of scale we can expect once you arrive on the surface, but exploration will be a key component in The Old Republic.
Space will exist in some fashion too (rather than being a mere swooshy loading screen between locations), but again BioWare aren't keen to lift the lid on exactly how it will be implemented. One thing is certain, and that is that there'll be times when you'll be flying in space. If that's not enough information for you, well I honestly don't know what to say.
You'll be visiting all of Star Wars' most iconic worlds, in care-free Han Solo-esque romps across the galaxy. "It's not just KOTOR stuff either," insists James Ohlen, creative director. "It's stuff from the movies and the Expanded Universe.
If you love Star Wars, we want you recognise that this is the Star Wars you love. We're not forcing KOTOR on new players, but all the unanswered questions are there to discover if you want"
From Baldur's Gate right through to Mass Effect, companion characters have been a staple of BioWare's games. The expertly constructed NPCs (from sassy assassin droids to intemperate hulking aliens) will fight alongside you, offering a helping hand when it's needed and engaging in awkward elevator conversations while the game loads the next area. They act as conduits for relating story too, at any point you can strike up a chat with a companion and they'll have at least a snippet of character-infused narrative to fire at you.
Nothing's changing with The Old Republic. "Companion characters are a big part of how we do our storytelling," claims Erickson. "There'll be a very large variety and amount of companion characters that are available for all of the different classes. Everybody will be adventuring with companions. They won't be like World of Warcraft pets - they'll be people you interact with, like in a typical BioWare game."
A writing team four times larger than BioWare's standard (which is already significantly girthier than your typical game writing team, being in the "double figures") drawing from all of the developer's past titles ensures there'll be wealth of different characters in The Old Republic. Though how you'll meet them and how they'll stay unique to you is unclear. "We had a challenge when we realised that players running about in a public world will eventually see their companion running about with another player," admits Ohlen. "Athough we've solved it" How? Procedurally generated party hats? He laughs: "I can't tell you how, but we've solved it."
If you think this is sounding more like a single player RPG than a persistent online game, that's because it really does, The Old Republic is deeply rooted in BioWare's experience in offline adventuring. Even the company's morality system has survived the genre transition, pegging you as a light or dark character based on your actions, regardless of your chosen faction. Even in the first few hours of the game the quests will have multiple outcomes based on player choice. Those outcomes will impact on the story, something no popular MMO has ever attempted.
The delineation of sides won't be as neat as your usual Alliance and Horde division. As in KOTOR, you'll find Dark Jedi.trying to spoil their faction's well-preened image. Similarly, Sith characters can do good deeds like any other, even if they'll presumably have less lightning at their fingertips.
Whether or not BioWare will employ KOTORs sliding scale of morality (in which good deeds negate bad) or Mass Effect's cumulative one (in which both good and bad deeds aggregate) isn't known. Fans seem to have favoured Mass Effect's system, as it made a great deal more sense, so it seems a safe bet that it'll reappear in The Old Republic.
A fog of rude mystery currently hangs over the specifics of The Old Republic's more traditional MMO features. Crafting will be in there, as well as PvP, with ongoing battles of an unknown scale taking place between the Sith Empire and the Old Republic. Character development will be "familiar to BioWare fans and MMO fans alike", and when pressed for information on how classes will differ in terms of skills and abilities, BioWare simply nod and say, "Have we told you about our companion characters yet?"
Clearly it's early days for The Old Republic, and the company's priority is placating an already vocal crowd of fans who think KOTORs about to be diluted in the vast lake of Worlds of Warcrafts, Warhammer Onlines and Ages of Conans. "We'll have thousands of players in a persistent world," assures Ohlen. "We're building an MMO for MMO players, but we're also appealing to BioWare fans through the story systems we've built. "We're giving you the Hero's Journey. We're creating an MMO that will be able to do everything you can do in other MM Os." So there'll be no skimping on the essentials then? "No way, if you come to The Old Republic looking for Star Wars, you'll get it," adds Erickson. "If you come looking for an MMO, you'll get that too."
Going hand-in-hand with character progression are the ways in which it is rendered visually. You only have to look at the recent Warhammer Online to see how precious and particular players can be when it comes to the look of their characters - it's important to have an avatar that reflects not only the time you've spent playing, but the choices you've made along the way. "We spent a lot of time ensuring that progression is rewarded visually," explains art director, Jeff Dobson.
"A level one guy lends himself well to a simpler outfit, regardless of your background. "As you progress you'll recover things or find loot, that sort of thing - you'll basically look flashier and cooler. We take characters from the movie and think, what level is that guy? And that becomes the target: Darth Vader is your top level Sith dude. Luke on Tatooine, he's a level one anything, you know? He's just getting started!"
"There's so much room for customisation," adds Erickson, "and different paths to take.
Something our art team's worked really hard on is making your character not just say, 'Hey, look at me I'm really high level' but 'This is how I choose to play my guy.' If you choose to play a dark side Jedi and approach the world in that way, you'll look like somebody you shouldn't screw with."
Stylised realism is the term BioWare are using to describe their visual style, a sort of halfway house between World of Warcrafts system-friendly environments and City of Heroes' colourful characters. "We wanted to make sure we had a unique look," explains Dobson.
"We didn't want to look like anything else out there. At the same time we didn't want to cross the line and become too cartoony or so stylised that people couldn't relate to it. We really strive to make our game look like our concept art. Quite often I'll walk past somebody's PC and see some nice concept art suddenly begin to move on their screen."
BioWare promise that the combat itself is being built with attention paid to that all-important authentic Star Wars feel. Lightsabers will connect properly and blaster bolts will be deflected. Steps are being taken to avoid the floatiness of animation usually associated with MMOs.
"With our combat system," explains Ohlen, "we wanted it to feel different to other MMOs, we wanted it to feel like Star Wars combat. With a lot of other games, combat is too slow-paced and non-interactive. I can't go into too much detail, but we're ensuring it looks and feels like Star Wars." "Oh, it's also real time, all the time," laughs Ohlen. "You can't pause the server to queue up moves."
A New Hope
With an impeccable sense of self-awareness, BioWare are carefully navigating the expectations of millions of RPG fans. The shift into a multiplayer gear will be jarring news for some, casting doubt on whether we'll ever see a 'proper' single-player KOTOR 3, but The Old Republic is already promising to deliver far more than that. Almost certainly the biggest writing team in the industry is creating a series of intertwining legends in the Star Wars universe, creating more story content than every other BioWare game combined, and what they've revealed so far is hugely exciting. But no pausing mid-battle? Pfft, not interested.
Bioware's Exciting New Star Wars: The Old Republic ' reveal at GamesCom last month was so stupifyingly tedious that it's unlikely you even encountered it at all.
Once Peter Moore had staggered off the stage (he'd been lurching about in front of us on a Wii Balance Board for whatever reason), Ray Muzyka took the floor and prepared to drop the next hot info-tato on our laps. What could it be? Playable Wookie class? First look at the game's space combat?
Well not quite: he was here to announce that The Old Republic will be localised, voices and all, into both French and German.
Ya Ya Jawas
To be fair, that's a remarkable undertaking. Some of the more fantastic stats BioWare cart out when talking about their story led, fully voiced MMORPG are that it's the product of a writing team four times larger than usual, that the script is longer than 40 novels, and that there'll be more story content than every other BioWare title combined. That's a lot of text for them to grind through Babelfish.
Besides the underwhelming revelation of German-speaking Jawas, an infinitely more exciting 15-minute playable demo was also on offer, taking the scenes which were shown at E3 of a Sith Bounty Hunter confronting an impudent Imperial captain on his bridge and allowing us to choose his fate for ourselves. In this instance, we instead take on the role of a Sith Warrior - the classic, lightsaber wielding, melee-focused villain. The captain we're sent to punish has disobeyed his orders, and we're to either kill him or simply give him a sound telling off. This a decent B indicator of how nasty and nice actions are available to both Sith and Jedi. The telling analogy BioWare give is one of a Nazi officer who, rather than defect outright would instead plot to assassinate Hitler.
The Old Republic feels remarkably similar to Knights of The Old Republic when played, especially when the presentation didn't actually demonstrate many massively multiplayer qualities. There were no groups, the Imperial ship was an instanced area so there were no other players to be found whatsoever -instead we're facing the disobedient captain by ourselves, and at the top of the dialogue tree the option to slice the man in two is too tempting to refuse.
What follows is an attack on the ship by the Republic, and without their captain the crew are unenthusiastic in their offers to help you fend off commandos. Had I chosen to spare the man his life I'd have not only the expertise of a high-ranking Imperial captain (who'll tip you off as to the best route through the ship), but the resourcefulness and respect of his crew (who'll throw themselves headlong into combat beside you). Depending on precisely how much a righteous arse I was after letting the captain live, I'd get varying levels of help.
Had I entered this instance with a group of Sith players, as you would do normally, each opportunity to respond would be randomly bestowed upon an individual player - an interesting dynamic, but one that could potentially frustrate. While dicing the captain is a popular choice, doing so on behalf of teammates and impacting on their personal storyline seems mightily unfair.
This is a moot point however, when there are two freshly-seared halfcaptains strewn about the deck. My lonely onward journey saw me battle through countless assault droids, and the odd be-sabered Jedi.
Force-loaded abilities bring you within melee distance, such as a dramatic leap towards targeted enemies, while area-of-effect blasts take care of larger crowds or mobs.
Force Choke makes a welcome appearance too, working as you'd imagine, crushing throats and decimating hit points. Such abilities are powered up through normal lightsaber combat, which is as impressively choreographed as that of KOTORs. Sabers connect properly and character animations are peppered with visual flourishes, all leading to a sense of physicality that's simply not found in other you-hit-me-then-I-hit-you MMOs.
The demonstration ends with a BioWare rep frantically demanding that I loot the corpse of a fallen Jedi to retrieve his weapon, before I swan about the shuttle bay flaunting my dual sabres, deflecting blaster fire and vaulting triumphantly about the room.
You can't get the measure of an MMO in 15 minutes (it takes about two hours, to be fair), but you can quickly ascertain whether or not a game feels right, and The Old Republic feels absolutely right The resemblance to KOTOR here is as reassuring as it is startling. That said, we're far from understanding how BioWare's massive, plot-structured universe is going to hang together beyond simply smacking people with glowsticks.
What's certain is that The Old Republic will be unlike anything we're used to: an MMO built not upon genre incumbents, but BioWare's shimmering history of class-leading RPGs. With so much still under wraps though, all we can say for now is bonne chance. And, erm, achtung.
A Treat Of Peas
Teaming up with LucasArts and Dark Horse has led BioWare to the creation of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Threat of Peace, a web comic which introduces the Star Wars universe in which The Old Republic is set, and strings together a bit of narrative leading up the arrival of new players, acts, tackling such events as Republic convoys over Korriban.
If that means nothing to you, the art looks pretty and the words are nice. And it's free, so you're not allowed to complain that it's baffling fan service. Head to swtor.com/media/web comic to have a look, or just Google it or something. It's the internet Hardly rocket science.
Not That Long ago, in this galaxy, LucasArts and BioWare announced a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe. Or at least some version of it. As BioWare producer Blaine Christine says, "What's important about the setting is we're about 3,000 years before the events of the original films, which is a great opportunity for us to actually work with LucasArts to define the history of the Star Wars universe." In other words, they're making it up as they go along.
We've seen The Old Republic a couple of times, at E3 and GamesCom, and on each occasion it was described as "Knights Of The Old Republic 3,4,5, 6 and 7," a well-worn sound bite that, if nothing else, represents something of a bargain.
The other key point that has been repeatedly stressed is that TOR (as the cool kids are calling it) will be the first ever MMORPG in which every single character is voiced. From Sith Lords to stormtroopers, some poor sod has sat in a studio recording thousands of lines of dialogue for you to sit through when what you all really want to do is take someone's arm off with your lightsaber.
The Old Guys
As for the all-important character classes, we've already been told about the Jedi Knight, Smuggler and Trooper (Republic) and the Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter (Imperial). Improbably, the final pair was unveiled in a mock-up of a spaceship interior in a disused dairy in east London. Drum rolls please for the Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor.
The former is something of a Yoda character, or an older Obi-Wan Kenobi, taking a more thoughtful approach to combat by employing telekinetic powers and throwing in the odd Mind Maze: "These aren't the droids you're looking for.'' As for the Sith Inquisitor, think of the gnarled face of the Emperor, using Force Lightning from a distance, while still being handy with a lightsaber.
According to producer Blaine Christine, the philosophy in creating classes differs from traditional MMOs: "Rather than come across this in a way that was 'We're building an MMO, what archetypes or classes do we need within an MMO?' what we went for is this is first and foremost a Star Wars game so we want iconic characters and moments from Star Wars. It should pretty quickly evoke some imagery.
"If you think about Jedi Knight, you think about Luke Skywalker. If you think about the Bounty Hunter you think about Boba Fett, and obviously that is all deliberate."
A further reveal is that characters will have companions, which if you think of that walking carpet that followed Han Solo around does make vague sense. Specific companions were revealed in the shape of the Jedi Consular's mate Kenval, who gets in close to absorb damage, and the Sith Inquisitor's pal Xalek The Kaleesh, an apprentice much like Darth Maul to The Emperor.
Having previously played the game in Germany and leathered some stormtroopers, this time round we got to play as a Sith Inquisitor in a proper quest. Switching the monitor on to find ourselves eyeballing some bloke, he turned out to be the quest-giver and started going on about something called The Hate Machine.
Given a multiple choice of three different answers, each primed with attitude, we could either refer to his story as "Fascinating," ask him "And you are?" or simply dismiss the whole scheme as "Crazy." Though we didn't have an opportunity to test it, we suspect the outcome of that discussion would have been the same, and as such we found ourselves charged with the task of heading into a tomb in order to disable the aforementioned Hate Machine. Finding it on a map was easy enough, as was battling the few random enemies en route. Unlike other MMOs, there's no auto attack in TOR, so you have to select your powers wisely, and we took great pleasure in meting out a few blasts of Force Lightning.
Having found The Hate Machine in a ruined atrium, we were informed that disabling it involved jamming it with a set number of corpses of the giant flesh-eating K'Lor'Slugs squelching around the immediate environs. Job done, we were escorted from the room by R2-D2.
Han the healer
As any MMO player will confirm, customising your character is key to enjoying yourself if you're going to be stuck with them for hundreds of hours. As producer Blaine Christine says, "Part of that is understanding there are different play styles. You've got solo-ers who want to go through the game by themselves and experience the story. Or maybe you're more of a social gamer and you're going to be in a group."
We were shown the example of the Smuggler (effectively Han Solo) who can be a Gunslinger - a smooth talker who employs cover and dual pistols - or a Scoundrel who specialises in stealth, up-close combat and crucially, medicine, effectively making him a healer. Who knew Han had such a sensitive side?
Strange To Say it, but when you first start playing The Old Republic you forget it's going to be built like an MMO. Missions, such as the one I played at LucasArts HQ over the course of this year's GDC, are doled out in such dramatic and wordy ways that you're temporarily blinded to the fact that the bomb-pursuit you're on is essentially a World of Warcraft quest in space boots.
Secure a ZR-57 bomb that's deep within a Separatist fortress on the planet of Ord Mantell, having taken down a force field at another point somewhere within said fortress? Well, that's a little bit of a "fight your way into a zombie castle and bring back some fairy dust" retrieval quest isn't it? As a side-mission there's also the option to obey the will of a snarky journalist called Lamalla Rann who has a colleague that's gone walkabout on a nearby island, who wants him and his scattered recordings found for a handful of credits. This too is straight from the school of "Brother Tooms was out collecting magical herbs on the Island of Death, where there happen to be werewolves, I hope he's not dead" quest design.
This isn't meant as criticism, as we're certain the The Old Republic will sit comfortably within the realms of the badass, but with the expectations that come with the Knights of the Old Republic badge there are just things that need underlining. You can have all the voiced NPCs in the world, they can be as pleasant funny or sarcastic as a writer can make them, but the next group of humans you come across are still going to be a bunch of ultra-dim cannon fodder mobs who stand next to a log until you cross the boundaries of their magic circle of aggro.
If anything, the wordiness and high falutin' tendencies of The Old Republic make this difference between quest-giver and XP-harvest mob ever more stark -even if human mobs do have basic AI routines that make them hunt out cover.
Again though, this isn't necessarily a problem - just another thing that needs to be highlighted in an attempt to manage the vast amounts of expectation revving up behind a game that's being set up as the second coming. Yes, it's well on its way to being an excellent game - but in the hubbub it's easy to forget that it'll still be an MMO with most of the usual contrivances of the massively multiplayer role-playing genre. You need to also be aware that the game is still in its early days, so things will change and develop over time.
In fact, one of the few things that stands no chance of being tweaked before release, and therefore something we can most certainly complain about right now, is the fact that some of the NPCs have cheesy American grins and awful hair. Personally, I like my Star Wars characters looking as scruffy as a nerf herder. In any case, as a fledgling Republic Trooper - and an inductee of Havoc Squad, "the finest military special operations group in the galaxy" no less -1 had to carve my way through a cavalcade of the respawning separatist bastards.
Unlike Force-powered characters who operate from a pool of mana/ force, my lady Trooper worked on an action point basis - the more basic blaster rifle attacks I used, the more points gained that could be spent on her more powerful special abilities. These included slamming i a rifle butt in the face of my foes, leaving them out for the count on the ground for a while, a more concentrated stream of rifle power and two sorts of grenades - a light one with an approach to more convivial damage, and an ace heavy one that attaches to the midriff and panics those it attaches to.
This is a fun and engaging set-up, and one that more than shows off the fast-paced and up-front combat The Old Republic is aiming for - having you set against groups of bad guys, and unlikely to be taken down in one-on-one situations. The way that combat is regular enough to conserve action points between separate bouts to use on your next group of foes gives a great feeling of flow and momentum to your passage through the instance.
What you realise as you play, however, is the sheer amount of info that hasn't been unveiled about the game - essentially all the constituent parts that will make it an MMO. Grouping, PvP, the ways in which your BioWare-tagged companions will be seen by other players, mounts, hubs, economies, crafting,-travel between systems... even the area described above had to be played through in an abundantly solo fashion. Perhaps behind the scenes BioWare are still playing around with different options, or perhaps talk of the more social aspects of the game don't fit within the set-instone LucasArts PR plan. More likely it's a mixture of the two.
In any case, The Old Republic remains the greatest gaming hope around - how can a title with more content than every BioWare game put together not cause unquenchable salivation among our happy crowd of PC gamers? Before long though, we really do need to start seeing how the game will operate with some of the said happy crowd running amok inside it and armed with lightsabers.
The Thing About Star Wars: The Old Republic - and bear with me - is that I couldn't imagine it before I played it. All this talk of huge, unique stories, every class starting off on its own planet, and all players having companions - I just couldn't imagine how it fitted into the MMO template.
To be fair, that's because BioWare are being tantalising prick-teases. They're feeding us recognisable snippets of their brand of unsurpassed world weaving, morally complicated decisions and long-term consequences, and the occasional glimpse of how that might fit into an MMO template. The game's lead writer, Daniel Erickson, says that it's a chance for them to go back to that stage, when they'd all first heard of MMO gaining, and remember all the things they'd imagined it might be. In reality, it's very much like a cross between Mass Effect and World of Warcraft.
The Bounty Hunter, as a class, is a traditional ranged damage dealer. He's best at a distance from his enemy (why get closer, when your shortest ranged attack is 10 metres?) We're only at level six, admittedly, so our arsenal has yet to beef up, but that's the implication at the tutorial stage.
There's a heat mechanic that works like mana in reverse - decent attacks like the Flame Thrower build up heat, and that sets an upper limit on what you can do. However, you can - once a minute - vent your heat instantly. It's a generous cooldown, and backs up the promise that this game be about fighting multiple mobs heroically, and less about "sitting on a hillside, eating bread". In fact, there's a heal-over-time option that you can use out of combat, that renders WOWs food mechanic redundant.
The story is, as you'd expect, excellent. It's the one thing we can be sure of from the combined forces of LucasArts and BioWare (assuming old Georgie doesn't decide to lend a hand). Our Bounty Hunter - a Rattataki; bald, gothy, violent and the first non-human playable race -is doing the bidding of Nem'ro the Hutt.
Nein'ro asks us to decapitate key members of the rebellious Evocii, which we can - again, as you'd expect - do with varying amounts of evil. Role-playing is limited to three in-character options: you can be aggressive, professional, or sympathetic but. just like Mass Effect, the summaries will be delivered in thoroughly believable dialogue. I choose to not complete my mission, and bring back a fake head. This fools Nem'ro who thinks all Evocii look alike, because he's a fat racist. The next mission locks off that route, because we have to send the head to the victim's wife.
LucasArts and BioWare have recently revealed Advanced Classes too, although it's a typically frustrating reveal. At some point, each of the eight classes will refine into two advanced professions. The Sith Warrior was the only example given, and he'll refine into Juggernaut or Marauder: tank and melee DPS classes, respectively.
Cannily, this takes the total classes to 16 without re-doubling the amount of dialogue that has to be written and performed. Both advanced classes will share the same epic class storyline. The total amount of dialogue written so far amounts to 50 Star Wars novels. They didn't want to make that a 100. Save that for the expansion packs: There's a certain scepticism, that believes that the MMO and story led single-player RPG are two such well-honed and distant genres, they can only combine at the expense of each other. An MMO can never replicate the immediacy of Knights of the Old Republic's combat, for example, and only a freakish WOW player actual reads the quest text. However, the playtests have all shown a dogged attempt at innovation, so we're looking at an MMO with unexplained levels of social interaction and PvP, but a bloody good story. If the bold promise to replace cooking, crafting, and general grinding with engaging story holds up to scrutiny, then we're on board.
There Are Few games that have tested the gamer's patience as much as The Old Republic. Since 2008's Christmas issue, we've been fed an excruciating drip-feed of classes, features, and a slowly inflated idea of what the game is going to be. Last year's E3 saw an entire presentation made out of a hands-off demo of one class making a single decision: do you, a Sith Warrior, kill the ship's captain?
But now, the information snowball is gaining momentum. The way the "game will fit together is beginning to shape up, even of we're still a world away from your journey through the universe becoming slightly clear.
However, at every stage, there's always BioWare's reluctance to say anything that's not on the officially known list. And why would they? This is a world of hardcore fans, where even the announcement that people will be able to play a Rattataki bounty hunter is considered hard currency.
BioWare's official line dictates that they don't say anything until it's -finalised, because they don't want to disappoint people. The truth is probably closer to the fact that they're controlled by a co-ordinated strategy to keep their game in the news, and fans desperately licking their dry lips. So, here are the E3 reveals in full and, as a special bonus, everything else!
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