Star Wars: The Old Republic Hands-On
We finally got to play BioWare's hugely anticipated Star Wars massively multiplayer online game at GamesCom, and we unleashed the power of the dark side as a Sith warrior.
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One of the most hotly anticipated PC games on GameSpot at the moment is Lucasarts and BioWare's upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Mixing George Lucas' epic sci-fi universe with BioWare's successful role-playing experience seems like a pretty safe bet after the success of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series. That game mixed successful MMO pillars, such as combat, progression, and exploration with something BioWare excels at: compelling, narrative-rich storylines. Announced late last year, details about the game have slowly emerged since then, and so far, we've seen a number of Empire and Republic classes, including the bounty hunter, smuggler, trooper and Sith. We finally got a brief play of SWTOR as a Sith warrior at GamesCom 2009 in Cologne, Germany.
Before we got hands-on, we were treated to another demo and briefly introduced to the Sith homeworld of Korriban. We saw the massive pyramid-shaped Sith Academy in the distance and a quest that involved clearing a tomb of grave robbers so we could collect some valuable Sith artifacts for our quest giver. Our BioWare guide, playing as a level four character, made quick work of the raiders, as well as some giant K'Lor slugs and their smaller broodlings at which point we moved on to a familiar setting: the hands-on section from the same demo that we saw previously at E3 2009.
Playing as a Sith instead of a bounty hunter this time around, we arrived on a Sith warship with another player, with the task of disciplining the captain who has defied his superior's orders. After a brief cutscene, we engaged in some multiplayer dialogue, which allowed both us and our party member to choose our own responses and then ultimately decide whether the captain should live or die. We saw the former decision played out at E3, so we decided to go against Sith convention and show mercy. The captain didn't take our kindness for granted and requested that we help him defeat some Jedi scum about to land on the ship.
Our decision to save the captain instantly resulted in a new path opening up to us. Instead of taking a right turn toward a shuttle bay elevator, our route instead took us left, into a different area of the ship. The basic controls are all very standard for an MMO: right-clicking the mouse selects other characters, powers are mapped to the keyboard's top button row, and W, A, S, and D keys are used to move. Your character won't automatically attack an enemy within range however, so you will need to keep using those powers to make mincemeat of those Republic dogs. Certain powers, such as basic attacks, earn action points, while others use them. After fighting a few low-level Republic troopers, we'd earned enough to use the Force charge power. This ranged attack lets you perform a huge leap attack to quickly get up close to an enemy. The impale power, meanwhile, stabs your lightsaber through an enemy for a powerful attack. Area stun temporarily freezes enemies in your vicinity, while Force choke lets you perform Darth Vader's powerful signature move. It won't be enough to kill Jedi apprentices and knights, but it will sap a fair amount of their health and feels totally badass. If you succumb to the powers of the light side and die, you won't necessarily have to begin the quest from the start, and numerous items, such as bacta cylinders, will be able to revive you. Finally, we were also told by a BioWare staffer that you will earn more powers through player-versus-environment main and side quests.
For more information about the Sith class read our recently published Q&A with SWTOR's creative director James Ohlen and associate lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi and visit gamescom.gamespot.com for the rest of our coverage from GamesCom 2009.