As I sit here downloading the installer for one of the most anticipated MMORPGs in a long time, I’ve been able to think about what all brought me to this point, and where exactly all of my excitement for this came from. Rather than waste time in the eventual review on this, I wanted to make a post now so people would be aware where I was coming from in that review. Three years ago, BioWare and EA announced Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the buzz was pretty much instantaneous. I was one of the many that played the single player “Knights of the Old Republic” games and loved them. The time period, so rich with the amount of books and stories written about it, had been pretty much ignored by game makers in order to focus on the “Vader Era” some three thousand odd years later.
Sony tried to make an MMORPG based in that time period: Star Wars Galaxies. Galaxies was actually the first MMORPG I had ever played – I had played the MUD “Medievia” for years prior, but that’s not a real MMORPG. I loved Galaxies; loved the freedoms of it, loved the player cities, loved everything about it – until Sony decided to abort it and put in the God awful “Combat Update” patch that sent the game straight into the proverbial toilet. I was one of the people screaming that Galaxies wasn’t set in the Old Republic, Jedi could not be everywhere, and shouldn’t even have been able to have been played at all (I so strongly believed this that when I earned the chance to become a Jedi, I stayed Bounty Hunter). When I quit Galaxies, I bounced from game to game – Lineage 2 held my attention for a long time, but it never felt like home; same with EVE Online. So it should come as no surprise that when this game was first announced, I got more excited than I had been since my son’s birth.
To me, this is the promised land of Star Wars goodness, and the potential is there for just about anything to happen. Jedi and Sith running around in limitless numbers? Check. A rich and lush story for each character class? Check. A time period that Lucas hasn’t screwed up yet? Check. Oh, and how about every line of dialogue is fully voiced? Yeah – it’s got that too. Not to mention what promises to be one of the more robust set of mechanics that we’ve seen since WoW exploded onto the gaming scene. I’ve read forums where people compare the SWTOR to being a “WoW in space”, but while there are similarities (because if you have the chance to borrow from something that makes a ridiculous amount of money yearly, wouldn’t you?) there are some really neat innovations as well.
The companion system is just one of those neat new things. If you haven’t read anything on it yet, think of it as a more advanced version of your assassin brotherhood in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood/Revelations. You get up to five NPCs on your ship, and you can assign them to do different tasks to help you out. Going to need a certain material to craft your next armor piece but don’t feel like hunting for it yourself – send one of your companions to get it. Or maybe you have all the components and think that crafting is boring; they’ll do that as well. You can send them on a number of missions other than those two, and each time they go and come back they get their own XP, and gain their own levels. The beauty is that even when you’re not playing these guys will continue to do any task you set them to.
Little things like that, and big things like having one of the biggest stories in MMORPG history are what has fueled my excitement for this game to galactic levels. Speaking of the story, if you’ve ever played a BioWare game, you know they have a thing for dialogue wheels, and giving the player choices that can make them more good or more evil. Well SWTOR doesn’t disappoint in that area either – you can play a Sith that’s as much of a dick as you want to make him, or a Jedi who might not be as pure as Yoda, and the game is designed so that your choices can make that happen. Your end game equipment will even change depending on how good or evil you are, and which side you choose, which is a great little touch to throw in.
Unfortunately there are only eight races and eight classes to start with – and for some reason those races are all humanoid (I was a Rodian in Galaxies), but I’m sure there will be expansions in the future to change all of that. You also have to remember that each class has two different specializations that they can be, meaning sixteen different choices there. SWTOR has the potential to really be “the next big thing” with MMORPGs, and I’m very hopeful that is will accomplish that goal. This is what Star Wars fans like myself have been begging for. This is what we hoped Galaxies would be, and we were disappointed there – but I don’t think disappointment will be found here. The Galactic Civil War starts on December 20th, and I hope you all take the plunge and join me.
If you’re in the game, you can find me on the server “Keller’s Void”, and if you want to meet up and such just ask for my name – I’ll be sure to give it to you.