Star Wars: The Old Republic Impressions - Combat, Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, and Gameplay

We finally get our first look at this massively multiplayer online game in action.

E3 2009 is well underway at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and one of the most highly anticipated--and mysterious--games on display has finally revealed itself. Star Wars: The Old Republic is being shown in playable form for the very first time to the press here at E3, and the game looks great. From what we can tell, it'll have all the best elements of BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic single-player game, updated with all the best features from BioWare's more-recent games since then (such as Mass Effect). And, of course, it'll have online multiplayer for you and your 1, 000 closest friends.

The demonstration we watched started with a new bounty hunter character--a large, bulky male character with dark hair and a deep, menacing voice. Star Wars: TOR will apparently have full voice acting for all of its characters, as well as full cinematic cutscenes similar to those of Knights of the Old Republic. In the demonstration we watched, our new bounty hunter started his life in a small bounty hunter conclave on the planet Hutta (home planet of the Hutts, which has previously never appeared in a computer or video game before). He made his way to a central chamber where his mentor, a character named Braden, awaited. On greeting Braden, our character was sent into a cutscene in which Braden introduced two other non-player characters who will help you on your way, and made vague references to The Great Hunt, which is an event held by the warlike Mandalorians to see which bounty hunter can land the greatest prize. This event will apparently be the focus of a bounty hunter character's storyline. After swapping terse, not-so-pleasant pleasantries with our mentor by choosing responses from a circular dialogue wheel (some dialogue choices will have serious consequences that will not only change the game's story, but will also change the outcome of your character's adventure and may award you light side points or dark side points, as in KOTOR), we headed outdoors.

Hutta was apparently colonized by Hutts who turned the once lush planet into an industrial wasteland, and we saw that reflected in the landscape outside of our starting building. Huge, tall trees with hanging branches were scattered among large, metal buildings with long networks of pipes sticking out of them, and the sky was a sickly yellow color. Off in the distance, we could see a tall Hutt palace, which apparently houses the Hutt slumlord who will eventually be a fledgling bounty hunter's ticket off the planet. For the time being, we sallied forth and found some enemy human soldiers skulking around the area and engaged them in battle. The bounty hunter is a "ranged" character that will primarily rely on blaster rifles and blaster pistols. He also has several abilities (keyed into a hotkey bank at the bottom of the screen) based on firing powerful energy blasts, though the character also has some close-range abilities, such as a wrist-mounted flamethrower, which can spray multiple targets with incapacitating flames to control crowds.

After seeing the bounty hunter, we switched off to see the smuggler character in action. Though you can read more about this profession in our interview, smugglers will be nimble gunslingers who prefer sneaky tactics and good cover to heavy armor. Apparently, the primary story arc for the smuggler profession will involve smuggling a huge arms shipment to the besieged Republic army, but for the time being, we were able to see what a smuggler does in battle against a handful of enemy soldiers. This profession will have a unique cover system that will, when you acquire a target enemy, immediately place a stick-figure silhouette in the world, which provides the best cover. It's best to first head to that cover area and then start firing. In fact, cover is so important to this profession that some of its abilities may only be used while crouching behind cover.

Finally, we were able to watch a group session with a party of our bounty hunter character (at a higher level, in bulkier armor) and a Sith character sent on a mission to capture a Sith warship whose captain disobeyed a direct order from a high-ranking official. The mission started in a huge control room reminiscent of some of the areas in KOTOR, but they were much better looking, more detailed, and populated with several non-player characters going about their business. Our party confronted the captain and engaged in "multiplayer dialogue," which is another one of Star Wars: TOR's unique features. During the conversation, our bounty hunter and our Sith team members were each given a dialogue option during the conversation, which ended with the group decision of either killing the captain as punishment or sparing his life. Decisions like this will apparently give you and your party members a few moments to cast your votes before the game locks in the party's decision. In this case, we chose to kill the captain, which was an evil act that earned our characters dark side points, and according to BioWare, changed the course of the game (the following sequence of events we're about to describe apparently wouldn't have happened had we spared him).

After killing the captain, we exchanged a few cold words with the ship's remaining crew before the vessel came under attack by a Republic battleship. The battleship was being led by a Jedi strike force intent on destroying us, so we headed down to the docking bay to attack our attackers as they breached the ship. This battle also let us see some of the abilities of a Sith character, including the force jump ability, which works more or less the same as it did in KOTOR. You select a faraway enemy and on activating the power, your character leaps forward and performs a powerful lightsaber attack. Sith characters will also apparently have access to abilities, such as force choke, which also work just like in KOTOR. You select an enemy to gesture at, and that foe will be lifted in the air by an invisible force and claw at his or her throat while being incapacitated and taking damage. Sith characters will also have some form of force lightning. The version we saw was an attack that stunned all nearby enemies in a tight radius. The Republic soldiers came blasting into the docking bay to attack us but were no match for us--not even the Padawan of the Jedi knight character put up much of a fight. Finally, the Jedi made his appearance and seemed to pose a real challenge because he had force powers of his own, but using the bounty hunter's and Sith's abilities together, such as having the bounty hunter trigger his jetpack to dive-bomb the Jedi while the Sith character dueled on foot, eventually brought the mighty Jedi knight down. At that point, we did what any good Sith would do--looted the corpse. Apparently, the Jedi had been carrying some sophisticated scanner equipment for the bounty hunter, while the Sith simply picked up the Jedi's lightsaber and wielded it in his other hand. So, yes, like in KOTOR, you'll be able to dual-wield lightsabers.

Now that we've finally seen what the gameplay in Star Wars: The Old Republic is like, we have to say that we're more intrigued than ever and really can't wait to actually play the game. And we'll be able to do that as soon as the game is released, which will happen...when it happens. BioWare Austin isn't committing to a release date, but that's just as well. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates on this promising online game.

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Discussion

139 comments
bradenzzz
bradenzzz

lol @ the mentor's name in the 2nd paragraph. I'm famous!

Psyco_Llama
Psyco_Llama

first, it will almost CERTAINLY cost per month. Second, it will be awesome! Loved the first two KOTORS, this will be as good or better.

Samustar
Samustar

looks amazing. i just worry about the monthly costs. im not sure ill play if it has a monthly rate.

Demised
Demised

Bioware has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to creativity and atmosphere... This game seems like it's going to be one of the top games released by them that proves their dominance in that area

Algeron5
Algeron5

this game looks.... really amazing. the only gripe i have is this: i bet itll cost per month, with no free member access. i dont have the kind on money to pay per month for this but... Cest la vie. it looks awesome!

Vanine_28
Vanine_28

Ow me Ow my..This game will be something els i reckin.

lsemulation
lsemulation

I will have to agree that this game is going to be putting a new twist on MMOG's, considering they are offering multiplayer dialogs. Will be more like the paperbased RPG system and will give roleplayers a great enjoyment of participating with their team mates. The gameplay trailers will be good to see and of course getting a set release date to expect to will be good as well :)

Esorevik
Esorevik

The game seems to go right in the way to success. I am craving for some real gameplay trailers. The cinematic was completely awesome and I love it (regardless it says nothing about the game besides the historical setting). To moldytoast83 and GamerJ5, I did felt a bit angry when they said "this is the first time Nal Hutta appears in a game", so I guess I can be on my way to be called "geek" ^-^'

starduke
starduke

What, no bounty hunters dual weilding lightsabers? Dang, I want to be a force using, light saber wielding, bounty hunter! Sort of like that one Boba Fett comic where he fights Darth Vader, except actually using the force. I'd like to see a starwars game where you're not stuck being a jedi or a sith if you want to use the force. It'd be cool. How 'bout a Jedi Bounty Hunter that goes after Sith, or visa versa?

Jka333
Jka333

I actually want them to take a couple more years on this. That way they will have lots of time to make some amazing things. Go Bioware!

AqUaBlaDe123
AqUaBlaDe123

trailer cool game Gay they alreadyt made star wars galaxies so its a knock off

Gammet25
Gammet25

I really would like like to try out this game as it sounds like a lot of fun especially when just seeing the awesome trailer

rohit9891
rohit9891

This is just totally awesome...I really want to play Kotor again after hearing about this.

GamerJ5
GamerJ5

moldytoast83 if that makes you a geek then what am I for knowing that Nal Hutta means "Beautiful Jewel" in huttese?

Toblerone_5
Toblerone_5

I might have to buy bootcamp just for this!!

Gorthin
Gorthin

how much will it cost per month?

X4sodo4x
X4sodo4x

Subscription are there for there service also there profit but nothing wrong with subscriptions, your paying for there patches and updates etc and if there service is as good as blizzards "besides the 4hr gm wait times" i dont mind paying.

vunkster
vunkster

Theres nothing wrong with being a geek, moldytoast83.

volcomsk83
volcomsk83

This is going to be great, i love bioware and lucasarts. i guess no release date is a good thing, they are not rushing it, make it good!

moldytoast83
moldytoast83

Ugg... I'm going to feel like a total geek for saying this... but Nal Hutta is the home planet of the Hutts and it was in Star wars:empire of war... which means it has appeared in a video game... does this make me too geeky?

lmwrpro
lmwrpro

@lidocain So true indeed.

Lidocain
Lidocain

It's Bioware. Can anyone remember a game they made that wasn't a smashing hit?

S-Wade
S-Wade

Pay-to-Play is fine, but $20 is far too much a month to play a video game. $15.00 is more reasonable and they will still make a huge profit.

zanza86
zanza86

A monthly fee is far better in my opinion, if the game is good which it looks to be, you tend to pay the subscription and not go looking for other games for a very long time. I would prefer to pay $20 a month for a game that I enjoy playing than to pay $100 a month for new games that I get bored of once I complete.

baal46
baal46

-AMAZING- trailer. I have a good feeling about this game. And yes, it WILL be pay-to-play just like any decent mmo. Sorry to burst the bubble of you underage/poor/cheap hobos out there.

FDs-Nemesis
FDs-Nemesis

i just quit wow today because i had better things to do.. (now to completely contradict myself) but i think ill keep my eye on this becuase im a huge star wars fan. although i wouldve prefered to have a couple of rpg's i think this game could turn out well

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

This game looks insane I can't wait to get it.

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

The trailer looks kick ass - but i hope the gameplay is as exciting, MMORPG also spells possible rinse/repeat boredom that plagues all online multiplayers. High hopes that bioware will deliver on this one...

jmsbond35
jmsbond35

Regardless of what any of you guys think, there's no reason for them to not have a monthly subscription. It makes no economical sense. But I'm right there with ya.

Mrpdoc806
Mrpdoc806

Peoples if its an MMORPG it's pretty much sealed in that it's play to pay. I hope they offer like a 10 day free trial so you can see if you like the game or not. Hell I'll still play it if its Pay to Play. lol Bye bye WoW! XD

Mrpdoc806
Mrpdoc806

Omg that sounds amazing! Can you only be a Bounty Hunter if you're with the Sith? I think they said that at E3 and that The Trooper is the Republic Counterpart to the Bounty Hunter. Also how does the light side points/dark side points work? If you're a jedi arent you automatically on the Light side and Vice Versa with the Sith?

Kablouwskan
Kablouwskan

I could care less if this game is monthly subscription. i kno itll be worth it.

dragonvizard
dragonvizard

I really want to play this game. If it has a monthly subscription fee, it will be a major deterrent for me. I hope it doesn't.

Melvin418
Melvin418

(Reply to REflexHalo3) I would also like there to be no monthly fee and an increased retail price because that would save me more money in the long run. I agree that more people would buy the game under these circumstances. However I believe that if the game were consistently entertaining over a long period of time, it would keep players coming back and paying. I think the money from a smaller more dedicated audience would outweigh the money from a larger audience. Since the game developers believe they are making a game that will last, they choose to use the monthly fee because....well...they can.

gmax
gmax

Hmm... Perhaps some more Jedi goodness for Old Republic fans... Eventually.

REflexHalo3
REflexHalo3

I agree with MasterSmacker completely, this game is turning out real good but just cause' they want more money the company sets up a monthly subscription fee. Why not just slightly increase the retail price and completely remove the fee altogether. If they did that alot more people would buy it. PS: This is just my opinion so don't go thumbing my comment down just cause' you don't like it or agree with it, instead post me a reply detailing and justifying your reasons why my suggestion is not viable.

MasterSmacker
MasterSmacker

I hope there's no monthly fee thingy...otherwise I'm not playing it.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

That trailer was insane. Holy crapness. I HOPE this isn't pay to play. :P I will most definately play it if I don't have to pay every month. Either way, this looks really awesome. Excited to see more. :)

titust755
titust755

hmmmm only 1k of people per server??? or did i read that wrong?

Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

From what I've seen on E3 I'll wait for more information.

Zepher_Shine
Zepher_Shine

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