Garrett Fuller, Industry Relations
So it’s official. Sort of.
EA’s CEO John Riccitiello admitted in an interview yesterday
that Star Wars: Knights
of the Old Republic will be coming out in MMO form.
Obviously this is one of the biggest game announcements since World of
Warcraft, so we want to try an answer a few questions, bring up some
new theories, and talk what “The Old Republic” may
mean to the MMO marketplace. Let’s face it, the official
announcement from Bioware Austin will have much more punch than a
random statement made at the end of E3. Slip up or not, the entire
gaming industry is now abuzz with KOTOR Online.
Star Wars Galaxies
was the first Star Wars-based MMOG.
First of all, let’s take a look at
style="font-style: italic;">Star War Galaxies,
the first attempt at a Star
Wars game in the online space. SOE published the game back
in 2003 and has hit many hurdles with design, an angry player base, and
changes to the game that many people did not agree with. One of the
biggest things left out of Star
Wars Galaxies was the Jedi, plain and simple. SOE dangled
a carrot to players on the end of a very long stick. There was a secret
way to become a Jedi; no one knew it and few could figure it out. As
times changed and other games came to the fore-front, style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars Galaxies
changed it’s dynamic to match games that gave players more
options. Jedi eventually were made a playable class from the beginning.
However the damage was done and SOE’s version of style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars has never
Now we enter 2009, six years after an MMO in the style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars universe
was attempted. Enter the second coming. Just the name
“Bioware” sends game play goose bumps up every
gamer’s spine. Bioware has a solid reputation in the game
business for putting out some of the best titles in gaming –
from the 1990s with Baldur’s
Gate, all the way up to style="font-style: italic;">Mass Effect just
recently. When players I talk to look for quality in gaming they pretty
much mention Blizzard and Bioware in the same sentence. So now the two
big B’s of gaming will launch into an all out MMO war. Just
the fact that Bioware is behind the KOTOR MMO brings huge credit among
players and developers alike. Let’s not forget to mention
some of the people on the team like Gordon Walton, Rich Vogel, and
James Ohlen. These guys have seen it all in gaming and now have a
chance to set the stage right with a mythology that has shaped the last
thirty years of pop-culture.
The question is: Can Star
Wars be done well enough to satisfy loads of crazed fans
who have been loyal for over thirty years? Bioware’s first
challenge is living up to the hype of style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars. They do
have one thing on their side; with Knight
of the Old Republic there are plenty of Jedi to help them
out. Unlike Star Wars
Galaxies, it may be safe to say that Jedi will be a focal
point in the Bioware MMO. Even more exciting is that the Sith were
around in large numbers as well. So you have the classic philosophical,
light-saber wielding, sci-fi version of the samurai vs. their nasty
cousins all battling it out with the Force in full play.
Quite honestly, from a straight up MMO game play standpoint, pitting
Jedi vs. Sith is the perfect faction war. Players can level up their
respective Force wielders and eventually slug it out all over the
galaxy. Ships, light-saber duels, commanding NPCs in huge battles,
there are plenty of options for players to enjoy incredible MMO game
play. Jedi or Sith, pick the color of your light saber, go out and
fight, it is a simple recipe for awesomeness!
The KOTOR MMOG will
definitely have Jedi.
Not only that, but let’s look at what Bioware is best at,
building in depth stories in their games. Look at the tough character
choices you had to make in Mass
Effect, or even finding and building your party way back
when in Baldur’s
Gate, these games have depth. I expect the KOTOR MMO to
have no less. Clearly one of the stars of the game will be the in depth
world that Bioware creates and the quest writers who take you through
So here are the questions that most of us probably have: Will it be
cross console? My guess, likely, Bioware launches their games across
the boards, there is a strong chance we will see a game that spans
consoles and PCs. How will the game tackle the style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars lore as
well as lore specific to Knights
of the Old Republic? Even though they will have Lucas
breathing heavily over their shoulders, my guess is Bioware has proven
they can get it right in the past and they’ll do so again.
The game can go in some great new directions. Finally, will this game
challenge WoW for top of the MMO universe? Absolutely.
Right now we will still have to wait for the official announcements
from Bioware Austin in the coming months. However, I was assured by
them that their announcements will be huge and pack some serious punch.
When they unveiled Dragon
Age this week at E3, the game had a playable demo, great
screens, and a clear path of being very strong in its development
cycle. I expect we will see a very strong showing when this game is
finally officially announced by EA and Bioware. So sit back and enjoy
the hype, rants, fandom, and craziness that always go with style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars. Even if
it was a small slip for EA’s CEO John Riccitiello,
it was a giant leap in gaming awesomeness for all of us. Best of luck
in development Bioware, we cannot wait to see what you have.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Page.