Star Wars: The Old Republic Updated Hands-On Preview - Jedi PVP

Star Wars: The Old Republic will let you fight head-to-head battles online. We take a Jedi knight into the fray.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic is the highly anticipated massively multiplayer online game from Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare. We're the Jedi knight that got squashed like a lightsaber-wielding grape at a recent player-versus-player (PVP) competitive online press event for the game. Interestingly, PVP combat will be available in several flavors in The Old Republic, including specified PVP+ areas on PVP servers (while player-versus-environment servers will primarily be based on player parties fighting), but BioWare expects that the vast majority of competitive play will take place in dedicated warzone arenas, in which players will be able to earn PVP-specific rewards such as PVP-specific items, titles, and points that will contribute to your character's overall PVP ranking. As with all of our coverage of prerelease games, please keep in mind that all information below is not necessarily final and is subject to change.

We didn't walk away with much of a ranking from our warzone session, which pitted a Republic team (which we joined) against an Empire team (which wiped the floor with us). To be fair, this was our very first shot at PVP, and the same went for most of our teammates--which is why our character, a Jedi knight, didn't flourish in those particular battles. To clarify, all characters in The Old Republic can pick one of two specializations upon reaching level 10. In the case of the Jedi knight, which is the Republic's frontline warrior profession, the character can take either the guardian specialization, which focuses on soaking up damage (known by online game veterans as the "tank" role), or the sentinel profession, which focuses on dealing damage (known by online game veterans as the "damage-per-second" or "DPS" role).

We played with characters that had been preloaded by the developers with skill trees that had already been preset. The character we ended up with was a mid-20s-level sentinel-specialized Jedi knight who was focused almost entirely on offense, with extremely limited ability to control the battlefield and no real defensive options beyond The Old Republic's new PVP concept of "resolve." The PVE game has many powerful character abilities that can subdue enemies by electrically stunning them, pelting them with gravel, or using a ton of other methods, but enabling all these abilities to have their full effect in PVP would make for a frustrating experience, since organized players could presumably lock down an enemy character with debilitating effects for far too long. This is why the game will have a PVP-only skill called "resolve," which works for any profession and can be triggered after a character has been zapped by enough negative effects to fill up a special onscreen resolve meter. When characters use their resolve ability, they can immediately break free of any negative effects that are currently limiting their mobility, which can mean the difference between life and death in some cases, but this powerful ability also has a lengthy "cooldown" timer, so it can't be quickly reused.

Ladies and gentlemen…welcome to Alderaan.

Aside from resolve, our Jedi sentinel came specialized with tons of offensive abilities, several of which require points of "focus"--a character-specific value that gets built up in combat only after performing certain basic attacks. What follows is a list of our character's equipped attack abilities (we were informed that the characters created for the press event possessed even more skills that had not been loaded into the game's hotkey banks). The Jedi knight's basic attack, strike, is a simple lightsaber swing that builds up two focus points. The zealous strike ability is a two-hit lightsaber attack that builds up three focus points. Master strike is a powerful melee attack that hits three times but costs five focus points. Overhead slash is a triple lightsaber attack that costs seven focus points to perform and carries a chance to briefly stun its target, but it has an extremely long cooldown timer. Cauterize is a lightsaber attack that costs three focus points and briefly causes damage over time to its target. Crippling slash is a lightsaber melee attack that costs two focus attacks and has a chance of slowing its target--but it also has a long cooldown timer. Blade storm is effectively a Force push attack that costs four focus points and, if successful, both deals damage and sends its target flying. Force sweep is a lightsaber melee attack that costs five focus points and potentially knocks its target off its feet. Force leap is basically the Force jump attack from Knights of the Old Republic and can be used to quickly close the distance with an enemy who isn't too far, and isn't too close, by leaping into battle with a strong melee attack. Force stasis is a brief stun ability with a very long cooldown timer.

Our sentinel character also came equipped with two power-enhancing abilities (or "buffs," as they're known to most online game players): Force vitality, which increased the defenses of our party for the duration of the effect (generously set at 30 minutes), and Force might, which increased the offensive power of our party for the duration of the effect (and was also generously set at 30 minutes). Our character also had a few different lightsaber stances that could be activated modally, such as juyo form, which was a more offense-focused stance concerned with dealing damage; shii-cho form, a more-balanced lightsaber stance that equally emphasizes offense and defense; and saber ward, a more defense-focused stance. Our character also had a combat focus ability that instantly generated a few focus points (but had a long cooldown timer), along with the game's standard out-of-combat healing ability (which lets every character in the game not engaged in battle quickly recover lost health) and a team-based revive ability that let us quickly rescue any fallen comrades.

Jedi powers will be extremely important in PVP…but they won't be the only thing to worry about.

We should clarify that specializing a Jedi character to deal damage isn't necessarily bad in PVP--but in a competitive match, this is the kind of class that seems like it needs to be played skillfully in the front lines with ample backup from an equally skillful contingent of support characters. What we had, of course, was a bunch of first-timers poking blindly at their keyboards, so we didn't fare as well as we'd hoped--but like we said, this was officially the fault of our teammates, and it's not like any of you can prove otherwise.

We played in the Alderaan warzone, which is an objective-based PVP arena where each faction has a warship stationed overhead from which each team deploys by speederbike. The objective is to capture and hold three different antiair turrets, which, when captured by one team, will open fire on the opposing team's ship--not unlike the standard capture-and-hold conquest mode you've probably seen in games like the Battlefield shooter series. You can capture a turret simply by walking up to it and right-clicking it to initiate the capture process, but the process is interrupted if your character moves or is attacked, so you generally need to clear out any defenders from a turret before you can lay claim to it. Dying characters would respawn back on their faction's warship and were required to hop onto another speederbike and, after watching a brief animation depicting the character swooping back down to the ground below, would touch down and be able to fight once more. The speederbikes on the ships spawned in a row along the ship's launchpad, and interestingly, using different ones caused our character to arrive at different destinations (specifically, near each of the three turrets).

That one big turret in the middle of the arena is the easiest to get to…and the hardest to lock down.

But as we found, capturing and holding all three turrets was easier said than done. This particular arena put all three turrets in a single, horizontal row and was designed to wall in players on the extreme edges so that there was only one path "in" to the center from either of the outer turrets. However, the center turret was placed atop an underground hallway with four entrances, so there was plenty of room for cross-traffic above and below. While we didn't see much action in the tunnel, we spent much of our time fighting for the center turret, which, being the most easily accessible, was the easiest to capture as soon as one team was cleared out. Which also made the central turret the map's hotspot.

We played through several eight-versus-eight warzone matches (with each side consisting of two four-player teams, since eight-player warzone groups had not yet been implemented at the time) and actually found ourselves faring pretty well in the early going, since we focused exclusively on capturing turrets and strongly encouraged our teammates to do the same. Unfortunately, our Imperial foes got wise quickly and began getting smarter about leaving at least two to three defenders at either of the turrets at the edges of the map at any time, happily giving up the center turret on occasion in favor of holding the other two.

PVP battles in The Old Republic seem as fast and frantic as in any other modern game of this sort and require good situational awareness, since Force-wielding characters in both factions have telekinetic powers that can displace your character from your current position--which will also potentially knock you out of range (and out of line of sight) if you have teammates behind you waiting to use support skills to help you out. Controlling an enemy's mobility is as powerful an ability as you might imagine and can be especially nerve-racking when you're pinned down and unable to move while some Sith inquisitor is unloading lightning bolt after lightning bolt onto your head and another Sith warrior is using a Force jump attack to come flying in out of nowhere and hack away a huge chunk of your health.

Knowing that we were playing as a damage-focused character, we did our best to wait for our teammates to congregate at a turret control point before leading the charge against the frailest hostile Imperial character in the area (usually an Imperial agent or Sith inquisitor) in the hopes of inspiring our teammates to focus their fire and knock our targets out. This worked sometimes, but sometimes we didn't quite get the backup we needed because our teammates were, understandably, too busy experimenting with their character classes to play to win. We learned a few lessons of our own in the process. For instance, Force leap is an excellent way for the Jedi knight to open a battle against a lone opponent, but it tends to be a poor choice in a group situation, especially when assaulting an organized enemy group, since the huge forward leap might put you out of range of any friendly support effects, yet it puts you immediately in range of all your foes' close-range attacks.

You can join the warzones in The Old Republic later this year.

The best option for a damage-specialized Jedi sentinel in a group situation generally seems to be to wait until the rest of the group--preferably including guardian-specialized knights and/or heavy-duty Republic troopers--has engaged the enemy and then judiciously use stun abilities to single out weaker targets or stop stronger foes from finishing off squishier friendly characters, such as smugglers. The resolve ability can be helpful when you're really taking fire, but at the time of this writing, it lasts for only eight seconds, and while it did save our lives a few times, it was no substitute for having good healers to back us up and good control characters, such as a Jedi consular, to lock down enemies while we went in for the kill. Yes, our character had two stun abilities, but both had noticeably long cooldowns, and because our team of novices (and we include ourselves in that reckoning) didn't have a ton of cohesion, we found ourselves using these abilities to cover escapes and prevent deaths rather than to stunlock and finish off lone defenders so that we could make more and more turret captures. Again, it's really not fair for us to blame our teammates for our lack of success--they were beginners just like us, after all--but we're still going to do it anyway.

It's clear that in addition to in-depth, story-heavy player-versus-environment quests, crafting, and group flashpoints, warzone PVP will add even more depth to this already-enormous-seeming game. Star Wars: The Old Republic's challenging and fast-paced competitive play will offer a challenge to the most hardcore PVP veterans. The game will launch later this year.

Discussion

131 comments
Elrax
Elrax

@DarthPlush I watch them here or in Gametrailers.com, always on HD when its available. Yet the picture's overall still look much better.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

I really wonder if this will finally be the game that knocks WoW off it's pedestal of king of the MMOs by far. I'll only believe it when I see it, since WoW is in another league in terms of the amount of people playing it vs. all other MMOs, but if one game shows the potential, it's this one.

DarthPlush
DarthPlush

@Elrax It's called "resolution". Where are you watching these videos?

Kooken58
Kooken58

@boomer0901 its all how the concept is put into the game...DAoC was really the only fantasy MMO that did everything right to make world pvp work. 3 Realms, Large open seamless environments and great balance....This 15 minute small scale BG crap has been just way overdone and most players are just sick of it. @pasheffi GW2 is going to be the most like DAoC in terms of pvp with games coming out recently....3 sides, open persistent pvp world zone and territory/ objective base stuff i believe.

Elrax
Elrax

Its funny and interesting how the lighting and overall graphic detail on the picture preview to this article is actually better than the pictures they're showing us or the gameplay videos that are released.

BornGamer
BornGamer

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

boomer0901
boomer0901

Yeah warhammer tried this open world pvp look how that turned out for them. Zerg fest. Also hey instead of working harder on giving a better game, lets focus on token and titles, crap that doesn't matter except to the ADHD crowd, so anyone got the balls to make a really good MMO these days???? Just curious, the mid thirties and later are still looking and waiting.

dancingpancake
dancingpancake

@ 6:27 - Chopin's "Funeral March" from his 2nd Piano Sonata. Any game that uses Chopin is good in my books.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@albatraum i never onced mentioned CTF, or any other pvp rulesets,..i said i dont like battlegrounds(ie instanced pvp) and i stopped playing wow long while ago...incase u havent noticed my comments are putting down this game for planning to imitate wows BG's and item grinds...im not holding up wow as a holy grail cuz quite frankly its an old game that went as far as it could imo... its time to put yeller out of his misery, not addon more lvls.... CTF is a great mode for pvp, instanced pvp however is a very cheap way of the developer not having to worry about blending pvp and pve in one world... it has its uses thou, for those that just want to pop in and do some quick pvp, but i dont see why you couldnt do that in the main game world.... so in conclusion i just dont like instanced pvp...and if u dont like my opinion on the matter... well TS. And yeah i dont like the fact thats its just gonna be like wow in terms of pvp item grinding with tokens or valor...till i get X set... oh wait new patch there is now a Y set...back to grinding...oh wait another patch yay lets get the Z set. I call shinanigans! its time for something new! and dont tell me that, instanced pvp is the ONLY way to go.

Nodashi
Nodashi

@DarthPlush It's very simple. If side A has 3 healers and more healers are queued to side B, they will not be called (so there's no imbalance). That will lead to LONGER queue to healers (since everyone and their moms play DPS). That will cause EVEN less people to play healers, and that will hurt PvE, because finding a group will be hell. OR they simply let it go and the side with more healers win - as in any BG in any MMO. That's what I bet will happen. Most MMOs will do anything to convince people to play tanks and healers, not punish them for doing so, because there's never enought of them when compared to DPS players.

vandread5
vandread5

i might actually try pvp now

DarthPlush
DarthPlush

@Nodashi I don't think you quite understand how it works. The Matchmaking system will detect how many healers are queued up and automatically balance the teams. I don't see how this is punishing to any class whatsoever.

zhuge_liang_
zhuge_liang_

I'm happy if they continue SW:Battlefront 3, not this crap.

horiah
horiah

better SHOW us some PvP, not only TALK about it

Assimilat0r
Assimilat0r

No one shall resist to Guild Wars 2! muahaahah

winnazdaluza
winnazdaluza

You know what? i came across an amazing idea!!! well at least for normal warzones.There should be an aura of weakness which affects all healers and first appears AND increases when they are next to other healers.It would increase with the number of healers next to you therefore making it such that a game isnt completely ruined by having 3 or 4 healers on the opposing side completely negating the other teams damage.Ive been in several battles where you are helpless when 3 healers stand together keep up the other team making it more of a massacre than an even battle.

Eagleheart1980
Eagleheart1980

Outdoor pvp should be a part of any MMO what has a Pvp realm cause it makes the war/hatred that is going on in that Universe make more real. Yeah i liked Rift too and already Trion has been pumping out new things. One sad part from my point of view is that it's a bit too simple to get stronger "lvl" in Rift just as in many other Mmo's & i want that to be a bigger challenge and not getting to max lvl with snapping a finger and ooh la done. Enjoying every moment while exploring the world and getting improved. Oh well,been registered to Swtor site for a loong time and jumping to walls while waiting for release :P May the good spirits protect Bioware.

Nodashi
Nodashi

@DarthPlush So you're gonna be PUNISHED with longer BG queues for being a healer? Not likely. If they do, the game will lack healers for PvE.

DarthPlush
DarthPlush

@Nodashi: Nope, BioWare is well aware of the stalemate games and the over-use of healers, which is why their Matchmaking system will keep both teams with an even amount of healers and tanks.

lostnsantarosa
lostnsantarosa

Omg so i got a bunch of messages. Anyways i am not sure how to respond so hopefully you all see this. First yes there are difference in WOW and ever quest but there is also some things that are similar. Wow is if you will a more evolved version of the MMO. One where it is a lot easier to quest and play without having to be in a party. I expect any good MMO to copy WOWs format in that regard in fact if a game copied every good aspect of WOW I would not mind one bit just as long as the game is fun. Ok and finally to the dude that said BG's suck because they killed world pvp well you suck is all because you need to gank people rather than fight them in an equal setting. World pvp consist of ganking and the occasional group vs group. Where did you do world pvp might I ask because WOW has had BG for a long time. I believe they came out maybe a few months into the game being released. I love BG's and arena. I am not much into ganking. sorry

lostnsantarosa
lostnsantarosa

Muddyoioi no what he want is an MMO based on Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. In fact I talked about this game back in the day when WOW first came out as a "What if they made a Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic MMO!" I talked about how it would be the perfect setting for a Star Wars MMO unlike galaxies and their same time and place as the movies approach.It was galaxies failure to make a cool world which made me allude to that a Star Wars KOTOR game would be awesome! For those of you that do not like MMO's I am so sorry but i guarantee there are more of us that do want it to be an MMO and even if their isnt they are going to make a lot of money off us so it doesnt matter. I cant wait for this game!!! Hello Sith warrior!

lostnsantarosa
lostnsantarosa

Well i love rift! Maybe its not for everyone but it does exactly what I love in games in that it has a very in depth character creation with their talent system aka souls. No I have not read much about guild wars 2, I am just going by the last one. Also when people say they are going to do a bunch of amazing stuff and like you said "If they can pull it off" chance are they won't pull it off. I will reserve judgement until the game comes out but I dont think that they are going to make an amazing non pay for play game especially from a small game company like Arenaware. Published by NCsoft with furthers my pessimism. It is a miracle to me that Trion being a small company made a game as good as Rift. Right now as it stands Rift is my favorite MMO of all time. It beat WOW which was my favorite before this one. I have played a lot of MMO's to. Back on topic, Star Wars has potential to take the crown and finally one more time just to get my point across GUILD WARS 2 WILL SUCK!!!!! you can quote me on that one. Sounds to good to be true? Then chances are it is not true.

xHawky
xHawky

@Shardz7 An ad blocker, a simple browser based plugin, free to download and they work.

Eagleheart1980
Eagleheart1980

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

dakkafex
dakkafex

pvp is as old as the first edition of dungeons and dragons seesh, stop whineing

enstol
enstol

This idea seems a bit old =(

scyldschefing
scyldschefing

All of this looks a little too familiar. I'm already disappointed, and I'm not going to try this game until I hear people say that there are striking differences that set this game apart from the rest of the standard MMO subcription fare. I tried Rift, enjoyed it for a while, but inevitably got bored from how similar it is to every other contemporary MMO there is out there. I'm done with the quest grind, the wait to get into raids to see any real endgame content, the instanced dungeon grinds... In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to GW2.

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

i remember long time ago i saw the cg trailer for this game... i couldnt close my jaw for the whole of next week. but now, this game looks bad. realy bad, no more interest in this piece of junk

Shardz7
Shardz7

The insane level of advertising on this site is making it quite unpleasant to browse lately. And the new layout looks terrible and simply provides more room for MORE ADS. Oh, and speaking of spam...I won't be falling for the 1,530 DLC Bioware has planned for this one. Let's put the GAME back in GAMING and stop with the corporate spam already - we hate this s!)#!

Muddyoioi
Muddyoioi

I wish they'd stop with all this mmo crap. What we want is another KOTOR.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Dull combat Poor graphic and sound Fx Simplistic fights and regions... I think ill try GW2 instead. The more isee of this game the more im concerned about it.

SSeetoh
SSeetoh

good, i see that they have reduced the contrast of the lightsabre effects

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Ok they are definitely doing PVP right. Artwork looks good. I really like how they are rewarding people more for playing multiple specs.

Poodlejumper
Poodlejumper

@godseaterburst See who the publisher is? How often does that publisher make something that's not designed to take every dollar possible?

szwierzy
szwierzy

I personally am so tired of the fantasy-genre mmo. If swtor turns out to merely be wow reskinned for scifi, that would still be good enough for me at this point. I still say Mythic's first mistake was buying the warhammer fantasy license rather than the 40k one (first mistake of many that is.)

nicholaiwolf
nicholaiwolf

Fights look not smooth enough, i didnt like that :/ i hope they will tweak it cuz fighting with a saber should be fast and smooth not pausing in every move like 1 second...

Tgd11
Tgd11

@couchtater12345 Thanks for a good solid reply, the thing is, personally i have just found that if gs gives a game a good rating, then most of the time i am inclined to agree with them, ( i guess thats why i come onto the site every few days sometimes daily) it's just personal opinion really, choose the site you agree with and go to that site lol, as for bioware, i agree that there are lacks of RPG element's to their games as of late, however, i really dig the whole "action/rpg" combined type elements even if it is at a lack of traditional Rpg elements, i also noticed in the most recent Dragon age 2, they re-cycled their environments more so then any other game, they also based it all pretty much in the one city, but oddly enough i still really liked it, as for the gaming community, i think it's too hard to get solid answers on the subject as there is such a wide diversity of opinions, but when a game gets X amount of game of the year awards, high ratings across the board from various companies etc etc then i start to listen and see for myself TL : DR i agree with what your saying, but i still like the new way they are doing things, except more diverse environments in DA2 would of made it even better...

partytimekegs
partytimekegs

Also, I'll be able to run this fairly well on high almost maxed out and I didn't spend over 1,000 Euros on my PC. (i5 2500k, GTX470, 8gb Vengeance, Sabertooth p67, DF-85, WD Raptor 128gb RAID0)

partytimekegs
partytimekegs

I was really excited about this but the more I see it the less impressed I get. I want the game to be good but its hard for me to not doubt the game considering how stiff the animations look and how the combat looks for the Jedi. I guess if the game actually comes out and impresses me I'll just be a Bounty Hunter or Trooper anyways.

smookert010
smookert010

sigh.. If the graphics are to nice the game will have framerate issues.. They prob are counting on 100 people running around each other. LIKE IN EVERY MMO... Meaning you dont need to buy a super pc to run it smoothly, even when your pvping whit 80 people. And yes Guild wars looks beautiful but you will tune down your settings only to have a stable framerate (or buy a 1000+ euro pc)

couchtater12345
couchtater12345

@tgd11 Just because Gamespot gives them good ratings doesn't mean they're good games by any means. If anything you should base you argument off player ratings since that represents the gaming population's opinion better. Furthermore, before Bioware became EA they made excellent games. Baldur's Gate, Nevewinter Nights, KOTOR, and Jade Empire are good examples of the quality games they made back then. However, since their merger with EA you may not have noticed but they rehash the same storyline from their previous games in all the games they make nowadays. Not only do they rehash plots, but they continued a trend of streamlining their games. While this isn't always bad, it often is and has shown to be the case by the mixed reactions to DA2 and the discontent at the lack of RPG elements in their Mass Effect 2 "RPG". So yes there is something to be said about Bioware's recent quality of games since being bought by EA

organbank
organbank

Aye, but you need to appreciate that the KoTOR series had a huge following mainly because it was/is one of the best single player experiences of this generation. Making a MMO instead of KoTOR 3 is a slap in the face for all of those who had supported the series up until SW:TOR. It would be like writing the Harry Potter series and then instead of writing the last book to finish of the tale, turn around and say the final book will only be available via microtransaction and you have to buy each chapter, with the understanding that the last book will not necessarily take into account what has happened in previous books.

FkThisName
FkThisName

So some people didnt get what they wanted. This is what most of us call life, excluding children that dont understand the concept. Let them make the game, seems to be millions of people that approve of their decision.

FkThisName
FkThisName

Biofail... thats almost clever... almost.

organbank
organbank

@FkThisName: may be some of us would of liked EA/Biofail to have completed the KoTOR story line with a multiplatform KoTOR 3 single player, rather than try to milk the IP with this crap.

FkThisName
FkThisName

Its a game, why are so many people taking this so seriously. If you dont like it, dont play it. Just STFU.

organbank
organbank

@Tgd11: you seem to confuse Bioware with EA/Bioware. There is a huge difference! And if you are judging a developer by the scores they get at Gamespot then you really have no place to comment on how good SW:TOR will be. I'll put this in perspective for you. I own multiple copies of Bioware games across all platforms. I have sold all of the games made by EA/Biofail (DA:O and ME 2, I didn't even bother with DA 2) and will not be buying any of their products in the future. Simply because EA/Biofail make half-assed buggy games with no QA and half of the content gutted for DLC. No thanks.