Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Old Republic: Possible WoW-killer?

As I stated before I'm going to turn the spotlight on some upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (or MMORPGs, for people who enjoy acronyms).

First up I'm going to take a look at what may well be the only one of these games that has a chance of taking down the behemoth that is World of Warcraft, that being Star Wars: The Old Republic.

First off, ToR is set in a similar time period as BioWare's two standalone RPGs, Knights of the Old Republic (1 and 2), meaning they can basically ignore the three most recent prequel films (or as they shall henceforth be referred to as, "those three shitty films.") This is a Good Thing.

BioWare have stated that they intend ToR to be the first MMO you can play on your own, as you will have powerful NPC allies available to help you and these allies will be different depending on what class you will be playing. Hopefully they will do a better job of it than Guild Wars did with their henchmen, at least initially.

With a release date of Spring 2011 BioWare have been ramping up the information they have been putting out about the game, from the recent reveal about space combat being included, to giving details about the dual specialisations available to various classes in the game.

As you can see, ToR's space combat in particular seems graphically impressively, conveying a sense of what made the original three films good with none of the prequel suck that has tainted the series to date. The recent revelation stating that everyone gets their own ship (which vary according to your class) has also been an interesting turn. Ships unveiled to date include the Jedi Consular's Defender:

as well as a Sith Fury:

Including space combat should help to differentiate it against the original Star Wars MMO, that being Star Wars: Galaxies. A big bucket of badness that is somehow still going, Galaxies had no space combat at launch and its other failing grace was to make the process to become a Jedi so long and arduous that it took 5 months for the first person to unlock their "Force-sensitive character slot" as it was known. Oh, and Jedis died permanently after three in-game deaths (something later removed from the game).

Thankfully, BioWare seem intent on not repeating Sony's mistake, to the point where the Republic get two Force-based classes and the Sith Empire likewise receives two Force-based Sith classes, all playable from the very beginning of the game with no special unlocking required.

So, on the one side you will have the Republic with their four available classes, namely:

Jedi Knights are the typical melee fighters with magic - sorry, Force - powers, that you've seen in the films. Obi-Wan Kinobi, Anakin Skywalker, etc. They can choose a specialisation between a Guardian (more of a tank-ish Jedi Knight) and a Sentinel (out-and-out melee DPS).

A Force-based class that relies more on crowd-control and healing abilities than pure damage, the Consular seems to be ToR's answer to the support class question. Their specialisations have yet to be revealed.

The Trooper seems to be your ranged damage-dealer that will employ rifles as well as grenades and possible a small number of melee moves for close-cover fighting. As with the Consular, specialisations for the Trooper have yet to be announced.

For everyone whose heart contains a secret yearning to be Han Solo, your dream is about to be made a reality. Another ranged DPS class, the smuggler can use nearby terrain to his advantage as cover, enabling him to set up powerful strings of attacks. The two specialisations for the Smuggler are a Gunslinger (as the name suggests a pure ranged damage-dealer who relies solely on his blasters) and the Scoundrel (who will employ devices such as a medi-pack and an invisibility belt in order to be able to get in closer to his enemies without arousing suspicion).

And then of course we have the other faction, that being the Sith Empire. Everyone who was rooting for Vader, this will be your faction of choice. Their four classes are:

The Sith's answer to the Jedi Knight, Sith Warriors are a melee and Force-based class who rely on sheer strength to destroy their enemies. Their specialisations are the Juggernaut (tank) and the Marauder (pure melee damage).

The Sith's mirror of the Jedi Consular, Inquisitors will likewise be the healing and support class for the Sith Empire. Expect Force-lightning-based crowd control abilities and lifedrains to be part of their stock in trade. As with the Consulars, Inquisitors have no announced specialisations at this time.

As with the Han Solo fetishists, anyone who thought that Boba Fett was the unsung hero of the films will be at home with the Bounty Hunter class. A ranged damage-dealer that relies on pistols, grenades and (of course) his trusty flamethrower, the Bounty Hunter's specialisations have yet to be unveiled.

A ranged damage and utility class, the Imperial Agent employs technology to gain the upper hand over his enemies. Stun darts and defensive energy fields will help shield the Imperial Agent from danger, and his ability to call in orbital strikes over his foes' location should make this an interesting class to play.

So that's a brief run-down on all of the playable classes. Throw in an auction house and crafting and you can poke a stick in ToR and call it done.

The Old Republic is scheduled to be released sometime this coming Spring. Let's hope BioWare doesn't let it slip, because this could well be The One.

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