E3 2011: Star Wars: The Old Republic Updated Hands-On Preview - High-Level Play on Tatooine

We hit E3 2011 to try out some high-level exploration and questing in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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The 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo is under way, and highly anticipated games like Star Wars: The Old Republic are on display. Having already shared an overview of both the game's E3 demonstration and what lies ahead, we took the opportunity to get our hands on the game once more, this time to try out a higher-end quest on the desert planet of Tatooine. Lead writer Daniel Erickson explained that the planet is the "second-to-last one in chapter one" of the game's story arc and suggested that the world is "absolutely huge, way bigger than anything the press has seen so far." Please note that this story may contain minor plot spoilers.

We played a few sessions as Imperial characters but were advised that Republic characters would land on the planet on the other side, at Anchorhead--just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Dune Sea, a huge tract of open desert and a site for open faction-based player-versus-player (PVP) battles. According to Erickson, the version of Tatooine that appears in the game (which takes place thousands of years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and hundreds of years after the events of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) is sparsely inhabited and even more sparsely governed--so it's not like there are any authorities that are interested in getting involved when a bunch of players from opposing sides decide they want to settle their differences with lightsabers.

Our first session was as a level 26 Sith inquisitor, specialized to the damage-dealing sorcerer profession. This character had a ton of different abilities, and nearly all of them involved dealing damage to enemies either through zapping them with lightning or inflicting some sort of Force-based malaise that would deal damage over time. The inquisitor also possesses a few healing and defensive skills, but for the most part, we were too busy fricasseeing womp rats to explore these to any extent. As it turns out, this particular prebuilt character had a single companion, Xalek--a fledgling Sith who came equipped with damaging lightning-based attacks of his own.

Our second character was a high-level bounty hunter--a profession with which we were extremely familiar, given our previous time with the class, and which was equipped with more-powerful versions of the missile launchers, flamethrowers, and pistol flurries we've already covered. The bounty hunter's companion was still Mako, the chipper young human girl, though her character model had been updated to look a bit more slender and a bit less young. We also noticed that the bounty hunter's basic conceit--the idea of building up "heat" within the character's armor suit, which needs to be vented periodically--seems to have been tweaked so that most of the basic attacks we had equipped generated barely any heat, putting us in no real danger of overheating.

In any case, we made short work of any rills, womp rats, wraids, and Sand People foolish enough to cross our paths with either character--though to be honest, we were moving too fast on our personal speeder to care. As we mentioned in our pre-E3 story, the game will launch with personal speeders and other quick-travel vehicles to help players cover ground quickly, and our own vehicle, an upright hovering contraption that resembled a cross between a hovercraft and a Segway, helped us move at so brisk a clip that we were able to completely duck past most of the clusters of hostile Tatooine wildlife on our way to our destination.

In this case, our character had been sent to Tatooine to investigate the remains of a failed operation by Czerka Corporation, the coldhearted, money-grubbing conglomerate that appeared in the Knights of the Old Republic games. It appears that the company had originally set up excavation operations on Tatooine but abruptly pulled out--so our job was to figure out what it was that Czerka had unearthed that had spooked them so badly. Our first lead was Darth Silthar, a high-ranking Sith lord who had been investigating a legend propagated by the Sand People before mysteriously disappearing. We headed out into the desert in the direction of our clearly marked goal using the game's handy-dandy overlay map (which still goes transparent when superimposed over the world, letting you see where you're going as you go), stopping only to get a side quest from an Imperial officer whose company had been waylaid. It seems that the soldiers had been ambushed by agents from the Exchange--the intergalactic crime cartel that players infiltrated in Knights of the Old Republic--but it also seemed that this would be a "heroic" level quest that would require two or more companions to complete. Since we were on a time limit, we declined this mission and went on with our primary quest.

The next leg of our mission lay in the deep desert, specifically in the dusty pockets of the Sand People, whom we butchered mercilessly to eventually discover the missing Sith lord's compass. After we equipped and used this quest item, the next step in our journey was revealed--the missing Sith lord was holed up in a nearby desert cave filled with Sand People, whom we obliterated by patiently tackling each small cluster of foes, rather than charging in headfirst. When we located our target, we found him to be an old man who lay dying, but who was still convinced of an ancient legend of a mythical being in a white room--a being revered by the Sand People. We grew tired of listening to his prattling, especially when we were given a dialogue option to gain either light side points or dark side points, and immediately chose to draw our lightsaber and finish him off. However, the old man's last words indicated that clues to our quest were scribed on a Sand People mural deeper in the cave, which we briefly inspected and then immediately set aflame--again, to gain more dark side points.

We then returned to the Sith base of operations on Tatooine to report our findings to the presiding officer and took every opportunity to unsentimentally point out that the foolish old Sith was dead, dead, and dead. However, our conversation was punctuated by a brief cinematic sequence that showed other crew members of the Sith expedition being electrocuted by their archeological equipment, causing them to rise once again, this time shambling slowly and speaking in tongues. It seems that they have been possessed by the spirit of a being known as The Imprisoned One, who seeks to take control of all living beings and eventually, the planet. We killed off these possessed grunts and then regrouped with the commanding officer to try to get some sense of what happened. While the flustered soldier had no idea where this being came from, he was very clear that we could not allow its influence to spread, particularly to outlying settlements where some Tatooine inhabitants possessed conventional levels of technology--possible vectors through which the being could replicate itself. We were all ready to set out to contain the threat when the demonstration came to an end.

Tatooine's real charm hasn't yet revealed itself to us--we didn't get a chance to explore the huge world to any appreciable extent, or to engage in an open PVP battle. Still, now that we've had more time with higher-level characters, particularly ones specialized using the game's advanced profession system, we're gaining more of an appreciation for just how powerful a character in The Old Republic can be. As we've mentioned previously, the game will offer a huge story-based experience for each of its eight professions, along with PVP, raiding, crafting, romanceable companions, housing (in the form of your character's persistent ship), and space combat, so The Old Republic will have a ton of stuff to offer when the game launches later this year. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.

Discussion

103 comments
Gorakka
Gorakka

Soon as this game comes out: /social-life

JGMagellan
JGMagellan

A monthly fee is nothing new and it supports new content, expansions, etc that most people want. If you can't afford $15 a month to play a game as much as you want, just don't go to one movie a month, or don't order that pizza and have a PB&J instead lol

Scisor50
Scisor50

@emanwell Yeah the monthly fee is an epic bummer... and still dumb each time I think of it. But I've never actually paid monthly fees for any game. xD I loved these two games (Knights of the Old Republic) so I might just pay this time.

emanwell
emanwell

Oh well, too bad I'm not into mmorpgs, I'll never pay monthly fees for a game. They should release Kotor 3

Conduras
Conduras

u roll to be able to talk with the NPC ? lmao

YaleCollier
YaleCollier

if only i wasnt married with kids....this game would take up all my time....sigh to bad i wont be able to play...looks much better than galaxies when it self destructed

stormboss
stormboss

@whitey_rolls the game only need 500 000 subs to be profitable ,so if the gets 1 mil they are good for the next years. @aymanstile the graphics are better then those from wow and are one of the best of mmos

usermikey
usermikey

They should make a current gen game that played like StarWars Jedi Power Battles for PS1/etc. @- player Co-op, with updated graphics, and of course maybe less linear.

sheldonsands
sheldonsands

Im so amped for this game. It's going to be like galaxies only its not going to suck. Bioware FTW

FiskMunk
FiskMunk

@gizmofather Oh teh ironyz

Maddogtaylor
Maddogtaylor

Cant wait for this, i think now there is no denying wow is now over and done with and this will be a nice replacement for it, at least untill blizard get their act together and make wow 2 :P

ultralesus
ultralesus

Wait... Space combat? =O I don't remember hearing anything about that. I hope this isn't EVE space combat... Click, click, boom. I'm only going to feel like Han Solo if I can actually control my space ship. But whatever. I'm already sold on this.

Chewin3
Chewin3

I like the idea that BioWare is making this game. Each and everyone of the classes you choose will have an unique story line, and the story will be much in depth than other MMO's. I played a lot of MMOs. They have good stories, but often are a let down. Plus, this game has cinematics and voice acting, which other games has this kind of cool thing? That's right, no one. Star Wars: The Old Republic takes the cake... ...and no, the cake isn't a lie.

J_I_B_B_E_R
J_I_B_B_E_R

Wish I had more time to play MMO games again :(

abbasreza
abbasreza

Game looks good, hopefully it'll be a good change from wow

gilgren
gilgren

looks good but... it should be a lot more fluid =/

Garuthen
Garuthen

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Garuthen
Garuthen

Lots of hype for this game.. Looks ok, but after all the footage I've seen and interviews I've read all I have to say is..Guild Wars 2.

aymanstile
aymanstile

this looks like a cool smartphone game. Oh wait, its actually on pc. Based on those visuals I'm pretty sure my droid can play it.

deeper1kyo
deeper1kyo

In hopes the EU beta will start soonish......

Lokey7
Lokey7

@whitey_rolls 1,000,000, are you joking! This game will have 2 millions subs in first week of its release. It is Star Wars dude. And if I compare the game 1 year ago and now it is greatly improved. It has great story and game play so I 100% sure this game will last for years and will have many millions subs.

Meteor7
Meteor7

@JTrockin I am glad this game is an MMO, this world needs more MMOs. @whitey_rolls 1,000,000 is a good sub number for an MMO, though the dwindling can be avoided if the content is worth it and a good release. We shall see what the numbers look like farther down that road

johneese
johneese

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Arda_Daghan212
Arda_Daghan212

What's with mmo type games nowadays, well Star Wars The Old Republic started out I don't know how many years ago but after that DC Universe, a game including Gladiators which I can't remember the name and X-Men: Destiny. I guess MMO type games are more of a long-term games and they have monthly payment so I guess it's about money. I'm a little shocked about this game, all those years working on this game and seeing the effort of one year. I mean either they're really lazy or we will experience a lot more than we first anticipated when we play this game. Well I'm not going to buy it if it requires monthly or every three months payment and it probably will, if you want to upgrade the game all the time than make DLC's so that everyone can play and give money whenever we want to. For example I pre-ordered DC Universe and played it like 3 months and after that I didn't want to waste my money anymore and now it's on my shelf and a waste of 60$. Love to play but hate to pay...

whitey_rolls
whitey_rolls

Not sure why people get so excited about this game - looks like a typical MMO to me aka 1,000,000 subs first couple months and then the numbers will dwindle, minimal staying power ....

BornGamer
BornGamer

The blaster rifle looks and sounds weaksauce. ^ Not sure why this observation was deleted... Maybe Gamespot is in EA's pocket.

kiopta1
kiopta1

I do hope this comes out soon...cause I really want it and I don't know how long I can go waiting for ME3.

Doomrul
Doomrul

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

JTrockin
JTrockin

Looks amazing. Shame it's a MMO.

Nodashi
Nodashi

@Doomrul Hey man, I'm not angry, I just explained something really obvious to someone on the internet. My fail to realize you where trolling, obviously.

musalala
musalala

looks Like WOW in space...

bhmg
bhmg

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Doomrul
Doomrul

@Nodashi But why so angry ? Why so furiously defend ? Why so blindly "assume" and "expect" and "hype" ? I suppose "the page views" correlates with the number of people like yourselves sir. Thank you for explaining.I am starting to understand.

kpsting
kpsting

Love the interface...

Oni
Oni

I've played this game and I won't be getting it when it's released. This is not KotoR 3. No matter how many times they tell you it.

Assimilat0r
Assimilat0r

Star wars the old republic i will play for sure till Guild Wars 2 is not out then bye bye SWTOR

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

I am wandering...Are ppl actually gonna take on other classes than Jedi or Sith Respectively?

Nodashi
Nodashi

@Doomrul The popularity is based on page views. People are watching E3 and checking on games not launched yet. See? One line, not 20 pages.

Doomrul
Doomrul

a game becoming number 1 on top 10 most popular list on a major gaming website even before it is released , actually today's (08.06.11) top 10 list contains only 2 games that are currently on the market ... You can write a 20 page argument about it friends ! But to me it doesn't make a tiny bit of sense at all... No sir , I just can't understand it...

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

What's with Bioware and the "magically appearing" enemies as of late? Too complex to have them come running in or what? For a company that's been planning to "take a share of WoW" they sure are emulating far too much of it (as do most MMORPGs). Not saying this looks bad but will approach with caution from what I have seen of late. Beautiful world true and I do like the artwork although it is somewhat cartoony but I don't want WoW in space with a George Lucas flare to it regardless if everyone can take part in the conversation or not. Also what the heck is the point of having those conversations if no matter what you say you'll end up fighting? Are we supposed to feel more "involved". Withholding final judgement.

CarlitosWay
CarlitosWay

Ill be completely honest. My opinion of this preview will not be based off of reading it. I did not read it because i do not want everything spoiled for me. High end play and raiding is something id rather find out through trial and error. I do not want to go in expecting something, especially since this is all still subject to change. I will comment on the screenshots. That one True blooded Sith looks menacing, and that droid female robot is... interesting. I also dont like how the Gadaffi stick looks. And the stage demo was good, however the person playing apparently is an idiot. So slow, and barely explored any of the attacks and such. My god he was horrible. However, i do like how the game is looking. Looks fast paced, while at the same time fluent. Too bad we couldnt see the boss fight. That woulda been cool.

buds228
buds228

this looks ridiculously bland =( I really hope the game is better than this footage suggests.

CarlitosWay
CarlitosWay

@johnusss Apparently, you havent read anything at all. Even on GS, they had a preview discussing how PVP was being handled, both on battlegrounds and off. Players who start in PVP servers will be flagged in "contested" or opposing planets (Sith walking on Tylon, Jedi walking on Korriban). The PVE servers will the option to turn on your pvp flag, like most games.