While Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMO and is also set several hundred years after the events of the Knights of the Old Republic games, Bioware often likes to say that The Old Republic is “KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6..” etc. This week we’ll talk about what that really means and what we hope Bioware brings over from the beloved RPG series.
First, I’m going to air something that is probably not going to go over well with you guys: I loved KOTOR II way more than the original game. While Bioware did not make KOTOR II, it is still part of the franchise and I honestly feel that despite the bugs and clearly unfinished ending, it was a much more interesting game to play for a number of reasons. The original KOTOR was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I think a lot of people hinge its awesomeness on the big Revan twist near the end of the game, mixed perhaps, with a bit of nostalgia. KOTOR II simply offered more meat.
I could’ve kept my love of KOTOR II over the original a secret, so why did I confess something unnecessarily? Well, I’d like to see more of KOTOR II in SW:TOR than I would the original KOTOR. I recently replayed both games and I found that the first was simply too black-and-white, while KOTOR II explored the gray area between the dark and light sides of the force. At the most basic level, I hope Bioware will allow players to go beyond the black and white of the dark and light side in the game’s storyline content by allowing players to explore the shady middle ground. This would be especially important for Smuggler and Bounty Hunter characters, as it would allow for situations where the character could play both sides against the middle.
One of the most obvious inclusions from the KOTOR games in Star Wars: The Old Republic are companion characters, and much like the original games we’ll be able to influence them and in some cases even romance them, but what I’d really like to see are two things: a companion character similar in scope to KOTOR II’s Kreia, as well as the inclusion of master-apprentice companion characters. When I talk about characters like Kreia, I don’t necessarily mean a powerful Force user, but more along the lines of what she actually meant to the player character. When we normally think of companions, we think of characters to bring on our own adventures, but how about companion characters that actually seek to manipulate our adventures and choices as well as have their own agendas?
Master/apprentice relationships, specifically for the Force user characters a’la KOTOR II, but also for non-Force users would also make a great addition, and the player wouldn’t necessarily have to be the master. Perhaps a Smuggler character could be working under the wing of a much more experienced and shady character or perhaps the Smuggler is training a greener character as his own sidekick, so to speak. I feel the link established between the player character and Kreia and the player character and his/her own apprentice in KOTOR II offered a lot more depth than simply whether or not the people you pick up agree or disagree with your politics or moral code. In my recent playthrough of KOTOR II, I took on Atton as my apprentice after manipulating his own insecurities, facilitating his fall to the Dark Side. Earlier in my playthrough, Atton would lament my questionable decisions, however, after his fall he took great pride in our random murders and my often questionable choices. Exerting such strong influence on your companion characters was incredibly rewarding, especially when they previously faced the opposite direction with regards to their moral compass. I’m hopeful that Bioware will allow us to explore these relationships a bit deeper than simply filling points on the red or blue bar through our storyline decisions.
Crafting is another area I’d like to see Bioware borrow from the KOTOR games. Sure, it wasn’t incredibly complicated, but it worked. Gear would be considered modular in most cases, and players could acquire and breakdown components to create modules to slot into them, tailoring the gear to their own specific needs. It’s a pretty basic concept, but I really don’t think I want to find myself fishing on my Sith Warrior or arguing with a Bounty Hunter over an ore resource node. I just don’t think it fits well.
Pazaak, Swoop Racing, and other mini games would also be welcome additions to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Given the fact that Bioware created Pazaak for KOTOR I imagine it’s quite likely that we’ll see the popular Old Republic card game make an appearance. On the subject of mini-games, the Star Wars films and Expanded Universe are replete with many little games and I hope to see more than a few represented in the game’s cantinas or casinos, especially in the seedier areas of the game world. Heck, it would be nice if they were included in the storyline as well. For example, perhaps a Smuggler character could resolve a testy situation by beating someone in a game of Pazaak or Dejarik? Swoop Racing, like Space Combat, would also be a fun distraction, and it would be nice to be able to race alongside other players for once.
Also, we NEED Jennifer Hale (the voice of Bastila Shan, the female Commander Shepard, and many other awesome characters) as Satele Shan. Make it happen, Bioware!
This week, I’ll leave you all with a pair of questions: What were your favorite bits of the KOTOR games? And what you specifically like to see Bioware bring over to Star Wars: The Old Republic from them?