Star Wars: The Old Republic Hands-On - New Character Details and Playing the Sith Inquistor

We try out this upcoming massively multiplayer game based on the Star Wars universe first explored in Knights of the Old Republic.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, game developer BioWare, a studio founded by two medical doctors on the foundations of nerdy swords-and-sorcery role-playing, made the jump to deep space with Knights of the Old Republic, a Star Wars-themed role-playing game that told a story that predated the events of the motion pictures by several centuries. Some years later, the developer is now working on a massively multiplayer online game in the same universe--a game that will let you play as a Boba Fett-like bounty hunter, a Han Solo-like smuggler, or a Mace Windu-like Jedi knight…among others. We recently had a chance to get a bit more insight on the game from its developers, and we also had our first chance to play the game using the Sith inquisitor profession, which we'll discuss shortly.

For starters, all eight playable professions have now been revealed for the game. Previously, we'd revealed the Republic trooper, the smuggler, the Sith warrior, the bounty hunter, the Jedi knight, and the Imperial agent. The studio has now revealed the final two professions: the Sith inquisitor, an evil Force-powered character reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine who is capable with a lightsaber but possesses an array of even-deadlier Force powers; and the Jedi consular, which is patterned after the Knights of the Old Republic profession and is also good with a lightsaber but is better with light-side Force powers and tends to look for ways to resolve conflict with words, rather than with a fight.

The Jedi knight smashes his foe with a lightsaber and knocks out the rest with a well-placed Force push.

The development team reiterated its commitment to deliver an enjoyable Star Wars experience above all else and suggested that this outlook also influenced the game's character design. Rather than focus on standard online role-playing game archetypes such as healer, tank (frontline fighter who soaks up damage from enemies), and DPS (or damage per second, a combat character that focuses on dealing as much damage as possible), the team is focusing on creating characters who are fun to play and provide the kind of experience you'd expect from playing such a character in a Star Wars game.

However, in the interest of game balance, the studio is adding several game features that will help make the game enjoyable to play without having lopsided character classes or forcing players to group with certain other professions to have any kind of chance. For starters, each class is being designed around a number of different themes that can apparently be specialized in to customize your character around your playing style. The example given was the smuggler profession, whose general themes include luck, recklessness, opportunity, and cowboy. These themes contributed to designing the class around two different archetypes: a gunslinger archetype that uses such skills as taking cover in combat and using a "dirty kick" attack in melee, while carrying dual pistols into battle and using smooth-talking skills to get out of sticky situations; and a scoundrel archetype that focuses more on stealth and critical headshot hits, as well as unconventional medical skills--reminiscent of the way Han Solo rescued a frostbitten Luke in The Empire Strikes Back by gutting a tauntaun and shoving Luke's body into the beast's warm carcass.

In addition to this open-ended character design, the team will add computer-controlled "companion" characters that your character will meet and join over time, and can call upon as needed. Two examples shown by the developers were Khem Val the Dashade, a Sith inquisitor whose powerful lightning-based abilities provide excellent ranged damage, and Xalek the Kaleesh, a Sith apprentice who deals heavy bursts of damage with his lightsaber attacks.

The Jedi consular is handy with a lightsaber but is more of an investigator and advisor than an all-out gladiator.

The presentation ended with a hands-off demonstration of the Jedi consular character in motion on the Jedi home planet of Tython as the character did battle with squat humanoid "flesh raider" enemies. The consular seems to be pretty handy with a lightsaber but is even better at using Force powers, including mind maze, which is an ability that temporarily stuns a group of enemies and prevents them from attacking, and Force slam, which is a telekinetic power that lifts an enemy in the air and then smashes it down into the ground. The consular also has a meditation skill that briefly incapacitates the character but quickly regenerates spent Force powers--a much-needed feature that would have been welcome in Knights of the Old Republic and will probably make the lives of Jedi characters much easier in The Old Republic.

We then moved from our hands-off demonstration to hands-on time with the Sith inquisitor profession on the starting planet of Korriban. Korriban, as you may recall from the Knights of the Old Republic games, is the homeworld of the evil Sith--effectively, the dark Jedi of the Star Wars universe. In both of those previous games, Korriban was a world in transition--while the Sith have established a home base and training ground on the planet, they also run an active excavation outfit in the Valley of the Dark Lords, a series of deserted desert tombs where mighty Sith warlords, and their mighty Sith secrets, lie entombed.

In the Knights of the Old Republic games, players ran missions for the Sith to explore these tombs in search of artifacts, escaped slave laborers, and treacherous rival Sith students. In the Old Republic, as a Sith inquisitor you'll end up with similar tasks, though you'll also take on new quests and find yourself working for, and against, numerous Sith academy trainers in short order. Our session began with our character's initial meeting to speak with our first Sith instructor. Once we did, the game initiated a dialogue sequence reminiscent of those in Knights of the Old Republic, complete with branching dialogue options (including straightforward answers and wise-guy remarks) and quick camera cuts between different characters. The instructor, who addressed us simply as "Slave," made a few casual death threats before sending us out to the Valley to retrieve a set of holocrons (basically, data discs) from the tomb of the fallen Sith lord Zash.

Ahh…now we're getting somewhere.

Eager to explore Korriban and zap as many people, places, and things with lightning as possible, we made our way to the shortest possible route to the valley entrance using the onscreen minimap, but not without passing by another quest-giving Sith trainer, who demanded we assist her with a different mission--that of smuggling a captured and brainwashed Jedi off the planet to help spread confusion and chaos on Tython. While the trainer very much seemed like a coldhearted Sith and repeatedly threatened us when we did not immediately accept the mission, it raised an interesting question: Who exactly had been brainwashed, the captured Jedi or the Sith trainer who demanded we smuggle the prisoner safely off Korriban? We pondered following through on the quest but decided that it might not offer as many opportunities to zap things with lightning, and we instead made a beeline for the exit.

The Valley of the Dark Lords in The Old Republic looks like a much huger, more-detailed version of the preliminary dig sites from the Knights of the Old Republic games. The entire area is still an inhospitable desert but, in this case, is bathed orange from the intense heat of the sun. The valley opens up into a series of huge dig sites laid out next to each other, and the central walkway is cluttered with metal girders, digging equipment, and other industrial debris. We made our way down to the valley and headed to the tomb to which we were assigned--which was helpfully marked by a waypoint on our minimap--to meet an archeologist character waiting on the outside. The character, who was not a Sith warrior but was still seemingly as cruel and impolite as any Sith, demanded we seek out something called the "Red Engine," essentially a multiple-location puzzle that could be fully activated only when each differently located fragment was anointed with the blood of a slain enemy. That was all we could stand, so we went running headlong into the tomb in search of something, anything, to start zapping.

Fortunately, the ruins were full of living things to make dead. On entering the tomb, we found a separate holocron left by a dead Sith initiate that claimed that rebellious slaves had turned on their captors and reprogrammed the local maintenance droids to attack Sith. So we not only had a reason to destroy escaped slaves and mutinous droids, but we also had a quest to do so. In addition, the tomb was infested by giant caterpillar-like monsters known as "K'Lor Slugs," which, to our delight, turned out to not be immune to lightning bolts.

Our character was apparently built up to be a few levels higher than a character in this area normally would be and was equipped not only with a deadly lightsaber, but also with numerous special abilities. Like in all massively multiplayer games, these abilities are bound to hotkeys on your keyboard, expend a certain amount of energy (in this case, your character's Force energy), and require a certain amount of time to "cool down" before they can be reused. However, unlike World of Warcraft and EverQuest, and more similar to games like City of Heroes and Champions Online, The Old Republic doesn't have a basic auto-attack that will automatically make your character repeatedly whack away at your currently targeted foe. Instead, our character had a basic "saber strike" melee attack and various lightning-based and telekinetic Force powers, such as a simple damaging blast known as "shock"; a powerful stunning attack called "overload," which caused our character to leap upward and strike the ground with his lightsaber while stunning all nearby enemies; and "whirlwind," a telekinetic power that incapacitates a single foe by lifting it off the ground with a gust of wind.

As a Sith inquisitor, you'll be able to do this all night long when The Old Republic launches. Whenever that is.

These powers helped us easily carve our enemies into mincemeat as we activated the first few parts of the Red Engine by slaying enemies nearby while picking up the first few holocrons for our main quest. Sadly, time flies when you're destroying enemies you have completely outclassed, so we were unable to complete any of our main quests within our allotted playtime. However, we had plenty of opportunities to crush our enemies and found that while the inquisitor class seems to have limited lightsaber skills, its Force powers more than compensate and definitely make you feel like you're playing a very powerful and dangerous character.

The Old Republic seems like it has much to offer--powerful character classes built on Star Wars fiction rather than stodgy old massively multiplayer archetypes; playable Jedi and Sith characters from the outset; and did we mention the lightning? Though we've finally had a chance to play, we can't help but feel like we've barely scratched the surface of what seems like a very deep game. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.

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93 comments
amirhosein
amirhosein

this would make a great rpg with co-op, but mmorg???!!

Engerys
Engerys

this game looks likea an updated star wars galaxies, i hope they dont scew it up like Sony.

zaphodbblbrox
zaphodbblbrox

It's going to be a good game, Bioware has a perfect track record. Although, at this point, it seems to be more about REplayability as opposed to sustained play with one character, where you have a ton of "endgame" content. (like wow) Who knows? I'm excited!

inextremo88
inextremo88

@GetafixOz: Haha.. But it's not like time and with that I mean anything between few months to a year can fix smth that's broken from ground up.. and as an example I got Warhammer.. They got one more year and a half to fix the game.. meshed it up removed more things than they added.. and didn't even bother to rethink some aspects that have been game breakers for many after release.. anyway not to say that swtor is broken, I don't and can't know, but this is Bioware after all.. They proved many times that they got what it needs to create great storytdriven games.. If those guys can't pull it right.. I don't know who can..

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

"We want to make sure we are going to have a very polished experience so we are going to take the time we need to get there" ....MMO Industry translation........rushed out in late January after an inadequate pay to play beta..... God I hope Im wrong and hes telling the truth for once. This game MUST rock or I will hack George Lucas's leg off and beat the lead Dev of Bioware to death with it.

bluemistake2
bluemistake2

@anthony55b you do relize that the console version of dragon age was a huge succes? camera angles aren't an issue at all and it is fairly simple to port a game therefore more profit since all versions of the game were already a success therefore you fail

crazyDoomDragon
crazyDoomDragon

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

anthony55b
anthony55b

as long as Bioware doesn't attempt to port this to x-box, after they screwed Dragon Age with crap graphics and limited camera angles, stick to what you know Bioware, and this game should be a success

foxred
foxred

Bioware is, first and foremost, an RPG, story telling, plot line based game superpower. Based on a reviewer's "one" sentence about something or even this short article you can't really make a knowledge based decision. Hopefully there will be a "free to try" for 7 to 10 days approach to give us a chance to really give this game a look on a personal basis. Bioware and the "don't put it out until it's right" approach to software have been tempered a bit by the Activision involvement but honestly they don't tend to put out dreck. I am looking forward to more reviews and maybe giving it a try for myself. I just don't want the WoW type More of the Same all the time. Once you've figured out how to solve the problems (and most of the problems and fights follow similar patterns) it's all MTS. Unique situations, individual NPC or character / role story lines like Dragon Age Origins help as would some kind of major game changer where a situation that "can" but "doesn't necessarily have to" arrive can alter the fabric of reality within an instance or region of the game (spawning a moderate cost add on content if necessary).

Vargre666
Vargre666

I dunno...I had high hopes for Bioware and an MMO based on Star Wars but the more I read, the more wary I become. "Unconventional medical skills"? Wtf is that? They're basing skill sets off the ONE time Han Solo cut open a taun-taun to stuff Luke into? That seems kinda far-fetched. What about races? So far every class is just human. No Wookies? Twi'leks? The animations still look incredibly stiff, the art style they used is...going to take some getting used to. I dunno. Im aware the game still doesnt even have a release date, so a lot can change from now till then but at the moment, it just looks like one more MMO to add to the rapidly growing mountain of said game genre's. One thing ill add...reading everyone else's posts, its good to see that people are seeing this game for what it (so far) appears to be. I thought this game might be the one to topple WoW from its throne, but I thought WAR might be "the one" and I was so sadly mistaken.

tar_uial
tar_uial

i think if u like the kotor series u will love this game it looks amazing but this game needs more blood like lightsaber wounds

superb-play
superb-play

Look awful character textures , and i think its even more boring look at environment , weapons how awful they look

whispershade86
whispershade86

i luv the look of this game i cant wait to make a dark yoda character :p.... crush u with the force, i will...... lol

Dartarin
Dartarin

In response to Knight 47k, its called an expansion, once you beat the finish the story, new story is added.

Punkz7
Punkz7

This game is going to be amazing, looking at the game play trailers its showing that the game is going to be a major hit. The Sith-Lord and Bounty Hunter quest looks heaps good and its pretty its gameplay is pretty good for a work in progress...

Knight_47K
Knight_47K

Maybe we should get to conspire and kill the freaking Sith Emperor himself. I still don't get how a 100 hours story is incorporated into a MMORPG. What happens when the 100 hours story is finished? Do we get to free roam and talk to other players. Or do we get to kill every one we see? Will all the companions be online players? And where does the online play come in? will our campaign be filled with other online players? So many questions? To say the truth I only wanted to play it as an SP. You know like KOTOR. But this might be interesting.

Knight_47K
Knight_47K

I hope it's better or atleast as good as dragon age Origins. But since KOTOR was great there is no reason for Old republic of being not good. I hope its mature and has tons of gore. And force powers are devastating. It's gonna be an epic!!

Havoc10K
Havoc10K

true, besides, who cares ? it's always DPS/Tank/Healer.

forhekset
forhekset

Dunno why people are so worried about so much 'force' usage and how powerful it will be. It's essentially exactly the same as magic in fantasy RPGs.

forhekset
forhekset

Still not convinced this is going to be good. Feels like the same old to me.

undersquirl
undersquirl

off: DeViLzzz, i bet you think game developers are evil too... my god you are retarded. on: this game looks sick. can't wait to get my hands on it. BIOWARE FTW!

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

I don't care if everyone on the planet plays this I will never start playing an mmorpg again where I join a guild and try to clear all end game. I play WOW and once again WOW has become a time sink even though it supposedly is for casuals now. If you raid and do what most people do it is not casual and I expect nothing different from this Star Wars game either. Parents keep your kids out of this garbage if you can ...

Ellrex
Ellrex

whare can i get this game

hengabung
hengabung

Valley of the Dark Lords.... More like the Valley of the Kings in Egypt lol

WTF2000
WTF2000

comming along nicely

fubbal
fubbal

This game looks ok but I still want kotor 3,and no this is not kotor 3,4,5 and so on.Its a cash cow mmo and what better universe to do it in.How about the knights of the old republic universe. Still it does look ok but that could change depending on how much I gotta pay a month lol.

darder10
darder10

looks pretty sweet to me

ribtor
ribtor

Im a Star Trek fan, but this game is going to do STO in the poop shoot.

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

Sith inquisitor looks freaking sweet...

Sgt-Damain
Sgt-Damain

Where do you people think the name 'stormtroopers" came from if not Germany? German Stoßtruppen, "shock troops"

Erock4430
Erock4430

I know this game has a semi-stylized look but so did WoW and it's game mechanics were good. Given Bioware's reputation, I'm sure they will wait for however long it takes to make sure this game is as polished as possible. The storytelling mechanic seems a bit ambitious but given Bioware's superb ability to tell a story within a game, I'm sure it will work well. I can't wait to play this game

tntgrunge5
tntgrunge5

the ending of the video was a total wonder!

hvalhajen
hvalhajen

@ BondVII, not true, you get a chance to get picked out for testing and i do belive those chances are slim

supermanmega
supermanmega

idk why but this just looks really lame to me....but maybe once i see some gameplay videos ill change my mind

b_ux
b_ux

Oh, but there is.

Chronikas
Chronikas

Enough already! When and where can I pre-order?

BondVII
BondVII

So for all who DONT know... free beta access for star wars old republic! http://www.swtor.com/ Just register and you get BETA!

FDs-Nemesis
FDs-Nemesis

This game looks incredible! Cant wait to get my hands on it! I just wish they made some sort of port for the consoles...

Neilo_
Neilo_

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

Blythe31
Blythe31

Oh dear god, COME OUT ALREADY! haha. Hearing so much news but not seeing much or even news of a closed or open beta is making the wait more painstakingly slow.

SrTVBR
SrTVBR

Can´t wait to play it...

Elrax
Elrax

@mariostar001 Well I wasn't sure, but I know someone told me the same thing. Though I don't see why some people care to disagree. Though its quite evident they were based on Nazi, look at their costumes too.

CptAsbjoern
CptAsbjoern

Inquisitor seems to be the class for me :D

spector000
spector000

You people get off topic before Han Solo can say " Hyperspace"

calebtheshark
calebtheshark

@rann89 What the hell does Sith and Hitler have to do with each other? Star Wars is Fiction..Sith is fiction, Hitler and his gang of nut cases were real.

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

@Elrax. Rumor? The Empire was based upon Germany in WWII. Spacefights were based upon air battles, uniforms were the same, the leader was a tyrant (Well many leaders are), and more I'll have to look up in my books.

The_Hazor
The_Hazor

Seriously, Plz don't make cheesy design. hats and lightsabers look a bit cheesy. cheesy cheese! It's ok to use old cool designs. Should be customizable lightsabers and helmets and stuff. Like a program where u can save and use the models in the game. And make symbols and stuff. Not the kind of "customization" where you only have already predesigned items and stuff. combine the two.

jeremyalexander
jeremyalexander

I agree.. The jedi may very well be stupid over powered. However, I look forward to playing a hard-to-catch smuggler. The kind of, know the name, never seen the face, kind of character. :)