As a reader of this article, I assume you know that last weekend, the scholars over at BioWare had a huge event where they invited everyone who had signed up for The Old Republic beta to come and test their upcoming MMO. This mass invite was invoked to “stress test” The Old Republic‘s servers to figure out just how much they could handle and receive a fair amount of feedback about the current state of the game before the Sith launch their attack on Coruscant on December 20th.
I was one of the inconceivable measure of players who jumped onboard over the weekend, and all I have to say is: it’s pretty awesome.
From the beginning I knew exactly what I wanted to play as: the Sith Inquisitor. As the writing director for SW:TOR Daniel Erickson said “People are going to be drawn to the Inquisitor that both want to be the mastermind and really pull the strings behind the scenes, or people who just really want to shoot lightning out of their hands” and frankly, I am of the latter.
Hit the jump to see some screenshots of the Sith Inquisitor in action, along with my synopsis of the leveling experience I had.
In the beginning of your quest of ambition, you’re a slave who has just arrived on Korriban to train at the Sith Academy to become an acolyte of the Sith. First off, one of the things that stood out to me, was how smooth the game ran on my computer. I have had my doubts on how well it would run after seeing a few of the in-game cinematics, but everything was running fluidly around 60 frames per second (FPS).
After landing, you are dropped into the first cutscene of the game where you join up with your fellow trainees competition – to begin your training at the academy. Right of the bat, the Overseer tells you he doesn’t like you, and just can’t wait to see you crash and burn. After a brief battle of wits with the Overseer, you’re sent out on your first task to find a hermit named Spindral, who would “decide” if I was worthy enough to be trained. After the fighting my way through tunnels filled with ugly toothy K’lor’slugs, I found Spindral.
His test, of course, was essentially kill his acolytes.
From then on, it was fulfilling tasks for the Overseer and doing other things for the various Lords and Darths of the academy – all of which involved fetching many artifacts, interrogation sessions, trying to find traitors among students and staff, and not least of all, doing what Siths specialize in: killing people and things that aren’t so much people. After earning my lightning and stealing the thunder (pun intended), they finally sent me on my graduation task: to retrieve Khem Val a Deshade, who will later become my first companion.
Up until then, I had my honest share of deaths in the game, but as soon as I beat Khem Val into submission, he reluctantly agreed to follow me. This made the missions (read: quests) a whole lot easier for me. Khem Val was my personal tank that held the attention of my enemies, while I quickly disposed of them with some ‘shocks and ‘saber strikes.
After returning to the Overseer – who was completely dumbfounded that I had Khem Val – I was soon taken under the wing of Lord Zash, who made me her apprentice (Editor’s note: Errand boy) and decided to send me to Dromund Kaas, the capital of the Empire. I didn’t get further than that, but I did get to the point where I could choose my advanced class, and naturally, I choose the Assassin. I wanted to see what else the Inquisitor could bring to the dinner table, other than just shooting lightning out of their hands (even though it’s fun regardless). This came with a dual-bladed lightsaber, stealth abilities, and some crazy high damage ‘saber abilities.
Overall, I am quite happy with the Assassin.
Now, I’m officially neutral when it comes to this industry-wide debate, but I can’t say that The Old Republic is a completely different game from all the other MMO’s, but I can’t necessarily say that it’s the same as all the others either. The Old Republic feels familiar, but in a “I know these controls and formula” way. The UI and controls mirror other MMO’s, so picking up on all the controls to bring up your inventory, character panel, or to move, is swift. The UI also boasts a decent quest tracking system that shows exactly where to go, and even places that you need to enter to find your objective.
However, there is still enough “new” that makes it unique. Part of that “new” is the fully voiced conversations system that Bioware is well known for, and has used as their major marketing point. This is a gigantic step above just clicking on an NPC that hands you your quest to read over, then sends you on your way. All quests involve some shape or form of a cinematic theme and feeling, that explains to you what it is you need to do, why it needs to be done, and lets you even get a word or two in on the subject. This makes for substantially better storytelling; with each cutscene fully voiced, and well written. Occasionally, I had to remind myself that I was still playing Star Wars, the MMO, and not the Heavy Rain version of the movies.
In the end from what I saw last weekend, The Old Republic has been well worth the wait. Everything was looking highly polished, and I only met a few minuscule bugs that didn’t hinder my experience. I, most certainly, will be playing from launch.
Reminder: Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out December 20. You can pre-order now, and start playing up to 5 days earlier!
Both Mordil, and I, will be at the midnight launch party, and will be having many fun experiences to share after we return. Keep an eye out for a spotlight of Star Wars: The Old Republic in our upcoming new format for LiveCast!