Star Wars: The Old Republic E3 Demo Report

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Until now, the general public has only seen bits and pieces of Star Wars: The Old Republic, but at E3 2009 LucasArts and BioWare are finally showing off a brand new CG trailer, some gameplay, and the Smuggler class for first time. Even though the game still isn’t in beta, TOR looks great, moves fast, and definitely takes a fun approach to MMOs. Having a very active story for players to explore along with the MMO elements of PvP and massive Jedi vs. Sith battles, TOR looks to deliver where other Star Wars games have come up short.

Our first look at the game while at E3 2009 began with a trailer of the sacking of Coruscant. Fast paced and action packed, the Sith make it clear they are here to wreak havoc with the Dark Side as their ally. As is the case in all BioWare games, story and character choices make all the difference in the world. TOR will be one of the first MMOs to use full voice over capabilities. Your responses are in text but only briefly and help to drive the story line in the game. BioWare uses its classic cut scene format to give players a heroic journey in the Old Republic.

We got a first look at the planet Hutta, home of the notorious gangsters the Hutts. The Bounty Hunter class was shown off and the team was quick to explain that they want players to truly feel the badass storyline, which can definitely draw some parralels Boba Fett. The class has great features to blast foes, use jump packs, rockets, and even fire a deadly flame thrower that works as a crowd control device. We later saw the Bounty Hunter working in full effect with a Sith as they took on an Imperial ships entire crew after the captain disobeyed a direct Grand Moff order. Team work counts, but the two classes made some nasty work of any opponents.

Our first look at the Smuggler class followed in the tracks of Han Solo himself. Both the Smuggler and Bounty Hunter are ranged classes, were the Jedi and Sith focus on melee. The Smuggler wears less armor and works on a unique new system that allows the class to take full advantage of cover in the game. The cover mechanic shows places where primarily ranged fighters can jump or roll themselves into a defensive bonus in the environment and is one of the first times a system like this has been used successfully in an MMO.

In the Smuggler segment, we got a chance to see Ord Mantell, where a civil war between the Republic and separatists gives the Smuggler plenty of options to run guns and information . Bounty Hunters have all kinds of weapons at their disposal with flash grenades and barrage fire as well as close combat dirty kicks and point blank head shots.  

Next we were taken into a Flash Point, which is similar to an instanced scenario where your group gets to make choices based on a story line. As mentioned above an Imperial transport ship captain has disobeyed a direct order from a Grand Moff. You are there to deliver the result. Do you obey your Sith tendencies and kill him, or let him live to help you in your quest? The choice is yours and impacts the gameplay to follow. In this instance the Captain lived and the ship was boarded by Republic troopers. While the Captain evacuates the ship out of the fight, it is your job to fight off the Republic troops who board the cruiser.

But of course it wasn’t easy; there were some Padawans and Jedi with them. A quick note: Making the choice to spare the Captain gave us points towards the Light Side, so obviously there are Dark Side points as well. Your Light Side / Dark Side standing can impact the type of loot you'll receive.

For the next few minutes of the demo we watched as a Bounty Hunter and Sith player characters took on the Republic forces. The action was fast paced and the two players moved through multiple opponents in full fury. The Sith is definitely a full melee character with loads of lightsaber attacks and Force Chokes. Also Force Lightning can be used as a crowd control skill, which then gave the Bounty Hunter some easy targets to blast away. The game play moved much faster than many MMOs and plays similar to console game speed. Once the troopers and Padawan have been eliminated a Jedi Knight drops in and fights both players in an epic boss battle. As the Sith triumphed we saw some serious loot drop off the Jedi that both classes could use. The Sith was now able to wield two lightsabers, while the Bounty Hunter got a powerful upgrade to armor.

After the demo the BioWare folks explained that Star Wars: The Old Republic is being made with all the trimmings of an MMO. Full PvP, groups, raids, guilds, auctions, and crafting will play major parts in the game design and have players building up their resources to battle it out across the galaxy.

After the demo we got the chance to sit with Gordon Walton and Richard Vogel to talk about the experience. Look for that video on Ten Ton Hammer very soon. Gordon and Richard both stressed that fun and heroic Star Wars fantasy is really what is at the core of The Old Republic. From what we saw, the game is fast paced and delivers where other Star Wars games have failed in the past. There is a lot to look forward to in the coming months with Star Wars: The Old Republic. The team continues to work hard on balance and gameplay to bring the best experience to fans, and they want everyone to feel a longing to play in a galaxy far, far away.
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