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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: Combat Musings

By Michael Bitton on February 09, 2011

Developer activity on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums is still running strong and it’s honestly quite refreshing to see the developers so much more active with the TOR community. I know I’ve mentioned this in my last few columns, but honestly, with the way things were previously, it bears being said!

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In any case, this past week Bioware’s Georg Zoeller got fairly involved in some discussions centering on combat in The Old Republic, and there were some nifty tidbits to come out of that discussion.

One of the first things that caught my eye was Zoeller’s comments on early class abilities. Zoeller notes that even when you choose your Advanced Class you will still keep the abilities of your base class, and you’ll even gain new abilities from your base class throughout your progression.  I like the idea of my early abilities still being useful later on, as many games tend to have abilities you use early on and then get replaced entirely by something else later, which is great if the ability sucked to begin with but not so fun if you actually enjoyed using it. Not only will you keep your early abilities, but they will also work differently depending on your Advanced Class choices. Zoeller used the Jedi Consular as an example of this:

“All Consulars have the 'Project' ability seen in various videos (using the force to throw accelerate large rock into enemies). However, depending on Advanced Class skill choices, the damage and secondary effect of those rocks may differ from Consular to Consular. Some are even capable of throwing more than one rock at a time...”

Neat!

Speaking of early abilities, Georg also responded to a player who brought up the idea that being able to attack while moving early on would be “unappreciated” if not earned later on through a character’s progression. This is a fairly old school way of thinking, and Georg was quick to point out that the idea with The Old Republic is to make players feel heroic from the get go and to that end players will have access to class-defining abilities at level one, using the Sith Warriors force leap ability as an example. Georg also notes that players will be fighting three to four enemies at once right out of the gate and that they are not interested in using basic features as a progression mechanic.

Basically, you won’t have to wait until 10 hours in to do the cool stuff. This isn’t necessarily news, but for me it can’t really be said enough. I can distinctly recall the days when all the MMOs out would not seem to embrace this idea and how frustrated I was with having to wait until forever just to beat some ass. Heck, even City of Heroes, which gave you access to cool looking powers early on didn’t really feel heroic (or villainous) until around level 20 or so, as Stamina was necessary to make the flow of combat anything but torturous.

I did kind of gloss over the fact that you’ll be able to attack while moving, and yes I know this isn’t news either, well, the blasting part wasn’t in any case. I, however, wasn’t totally aware you’d be able to basically conduct lightsaber battles while moving (they are melee attacks after all) and I’m unsure how this is going to work with their syncing animations. I’m getting flashbacks of the goofy joust-style saber fights from the early Jedi Knight games. The Matrix Online had heavily choreographed animations and it required a very rigid combat system in order to do that believably. The Old Republic is quite a bit looser than that, but still manages to do some pretty cool animation synching. I’m just not sure how that will work if people are running around like maniacs (which they are most certainly going to be doing, especially in PvP).

Do you prefer the modern MMO approach to combat (fast paced, action packed)? Or do you prefer the more traditional MMO approach to combat where you are required to earn most of the cool capabilities over time? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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