GameSpot had the opportunity to take a firsthand look at the updated Jedi content that has been launched today in the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars Galaxies.
The new content includes an all-new way for players to become a Jedi, the rare and mystical warriors of the Star Wars universe. Previously, players became Jedi characters using "holocron" items that hint at specific professions to master. That is, in order to have a Jedi character, players previously had to master several of the game's many professions (including hand-to-hand combat fighters, crafters, and entertainers) in order to unlock a "force-sensitive" character slot, essentially starting an all-new Jedi-to-be character from scratch.
With the new system, players will instead undertake a series of quests that Sony Online and LucasArts hope will be infinitely more compelling than repetitively trying to master professions. Becoming a Jedi will be the object of a lengthy quest that can be unlocked only by acquiring a certain combination of "badges"--distinctions that players earn for accomplishing various tasks in the game, including mastering specific professions, exploring certain wilderness areas, and others.
Sony Online associate producer Julio Torres explained that the exact badge combination will remain a secret for now, though devoted Star Wars Galaxies fans will most likely try to discover this combination as quickly as possible. Collecting the right badges will cause a mysterious character, known simply as "the old man," to appear during players' adventures. The old man will charge players with various challenging quests, including the defense of a besieged village that is attacked by successive waves of Sith warriors.
We were able to play though part of this village mission and found it to be extremely challenging even with a party of Jedi characters. The quests will also include the earning of the traditional Jedi robe and the crafting of the Jedi lightsaber, with which players will be able to ascend to the humble rank of Padawan.
In addition to the new quests, the recent update also adds Jedi enclaves, one for light-side Jedi and one for those that follow the dark side. Enclaves act as safe havens that shield the identities of Jedi characters from ambitious bounty hunters looking to add a few more notches to their blasters. We took a visit to the dark-side enclave, a subterranean complex at the bottom of several winding tunnels that opened out to a huge arena with raised seats on the edges.
Our last stop was to a recently added dungeon area called the Geonosian Bio Labs, a high-level dungeon inhabited by powerful droids and mutant monsters. This last visit culminated in an epic battle against an Acklay, a huge reptilian creature that took several characters to conquer.
In the meantime, Sony Online is also introducing numerous other changes and tweaks with this update, such as a rebalanced lightsaber-crafting system that better balances the powers and value of rare crystals that can be built into the Jedi weapons to increase their power. In addition to these changes, the Sony Online development team is also preparing for the upcoming launch of Jump to Lightspeed, the official expansion pack that will launch later this year--check our previous coverage on the upcoming expansion for more information. For more information on the original game, consult our previous coverage of Star Wars Galaxies.