Star Wars: The Old Republic is the massively multiplayer game everyone is wondering about. It will combine the years of role-playing expertise and the unique version of the Star Wars universe that debuted in Knights of the Old Republic with the traditional tenets of a massively multiplayer game. We've already covered much of the early game and have spent time with many of its professions, but this time around, writing director Daniel Erickson and principal lead combat designer George Zoeller have shared new details on the Sith inquisitor class with us. This powerful profession was originally based on the character of Emperor Palpatine, the decrepit and thoroughly evil Sith master from Return of the Jedi, but as the BioWare staffers explain, Sith inquisitors start in a very dark place, but they don't necessarily have to stay there throughout their adventuring careers.
GameSpot: Now that we've finally seen and played more of the Sith inquisitor, what can you tell us about the character's eventual career progression as an adventurer? The profession seems relatively frail, and when playing solo, for instance, wouldn't inquisitors most likely need to hide behind a tougher companion character who will "tank" for them?
Georg Zoeller: The inquisitor class allows for a pretty broad range of different gameplay styles, defined by the player's advanced class choice. (This has been covered in our blog update on advanced classes on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website.)
An inquisitor with the Sith sorcerer advanced class definitely benefits from having a tough companion around to take some hits, while a character with the Sith assassin advanced class may prefer a more damage-oriented companion.
Ultimately, this is a matter of gameplay style, and over time, we're giving each class several companions of different types to choose from.
GS: We've seen (and felt) the inquisitor's ability to blast enemies with lightning bolts and incapacitate foes with telekinetic whirlwinds. But at higher levels, what sort of a role do you see the Sith inquisitor playing in an adventuring party?
GZ: The inquisitor is a very versatile class. Through advanced class and skill selection, the player can mold this class to fill any of the traditional roles of characters in massively multiplayer games.
GS: We understand that at level 10, inquisitors, like all other characters in The Old Republic, can choose one of two advanced classes; in this case, the assassin or the sorcerer. How do the two classes differ?
GZ: All classes get to choose between two advanced classes after leaving their origin planet at level 10. Advanced classes let you specialize your character into one of several directions and add new abilities and skills to your arsenal. The two available to the inquisitor are the Sith assassin and the Sith sorcerer.
Characters with the assassin advanced class get to wield a double-bladed lightsaber like Darth Maul, and they can also cloak themselves with the Force and use various powerful lightsaber and Force attacks. Depending on the skills selected by players at each level, this advanced class can develop into a powerful damage dealer, a hybrid, or even a tank role.
Characters that choose the sorcerer class will find a strong array of Force-based abilities at their disposal. There are, of course, the ever-popular Force lightning attacks, such as lightning strike; overload (a powerful area-of-effect attack that throws enemies into a ballistic arc); or the powerful Force storm ability, which can blanket entire areas with deadly lightning strikes.
Depending on skill selection, the sorcerers may also gain access to various manipulative and detrimental Force powers that can immobilize or debilitate their targets, the vicious ability to drain their companion of health to improve their own power, or even the ability to sustain and restore their allies in battle.
GS: At higher levels, what are the intended roles for assassins and sorcerers in competitive player versus player?
GZ: This is left up to how players choose to develop their character, since the inquisitor class is versatile enough to be specialized into any of the traditional roles.
GS: We understand that much of the character's design and story have been built around themes of treachery and manipulation. How will this come into play later in the character's career?
Daniel Erickson: The inquisitor is the thinking-person's Sith. They are looking at the larger picture and trying to discover what's really going on. It's perfectly possible to pound your way through the populace in your bid for power, but [it's] much more satisfying to pull the strings instead. Inquisitors can make their own alliances, turn allies against each other, and generally steeple their fingers together and declare that things are proceeding exactly as they had foreseen.
GS: We also understand that The Old Republic will attempt to embrace a "shades of gray" morality system (like in other BioWare games) that will be independent of your profession and faction. But given that the Sith inquisitor's original design was patterned after dastardly Emperor Palpatine--the corrupted, withered incarnation of evil from the original Star Wars trilogy whose sinister powers let him shoot excruciatingly painful lightning bolts from his fingertips--this idea of playing against alignment seems the least believable for this profession. How can a lightning bolt-shooting Sith inquisitor successfully join the path of the light side and stay there?
DE: The inquisitor does start in the darkest place of all our classes, but the path to redemption is always there. On their best behavior, inquisitors are what Palpatine appeared to be: powerful, charismatic, and willing to make the tough decisions to defend their people. As an inquisitor, you will find there is usually a diplomatic route to control, and once that control is achieved, it's up to you how to use your power.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the inquisitor or about the game in general?
DE: Watch how you treat people on your rise to power as an inquisitor. Those you leave alive may shape your future.
GS: Thank you.