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Star Wars: The Old Republic Interviews: Advanced Classes Interview

By Garrett Fuller on June 03, 2011

MMORPG.com:

How will players get to the advanced classes system? Once unlocked, how much customization will players find within the advanced class they choose?

Georg Zoeller:

Advanced Classes are introduced once a player has reached level 10 and left the relative safety of their Origin World. Their class quest will lead them to the capital planet of their faction (Dromund Kaas for Imperial players, Coruscant for Republic players) where they can make their Advanced Class choice. This choice is not optional.

Once an Advanced Class is chosen, the character's gameplay options broaden dramatically, as do the choices for customization:

  • The character continues getting new active abilities through their base class at their class trainers.
  • Additionally, the trainers will now grant access to Advanced Class specific active and passive abilities upon leveling up.
  • Finally, by choosing an Advanced Class, the player unlocks two skill trees unique to their advanced class as well as a 'shared' tree available to both classes. The skills allow the player to define the role they want their character to play on the battlefield.

Example:

As a Jedi Knight, I will spend most of the first ten levels of the game on the lush planet of Tython, home of the Jedi Order. As I explore the planet and rise from simple student to Padawan to Jedi Knight, I learn new abilities such as 'Sweep' (An arcing area of effect melee attack), 'Force Leap' (A powerful force Jump to engage enemies from up to 30 meters range) and more. I also acquire my first companion, T7-01, an astromech unit and build my first lightsaber.

Once accepted into the Order as a full Jedi Knight, I will eventually make my way Coruscant, capital city of the Galactic Republic and, as one of my first actions there, make my choice of Advanced Class.

I have two choices at that point:

  1. Train to become a Jedi Guardian - a frontline fighter trained to wield a single lightsaber with deadly perfection. Choosing this Advanced Class will give me access to heavy armor and, after a few levels, access to Soresu Form, a combat stance that reduces damage taken and creates additional threat on those engaged in combat.
  2. Train to become a Jedi Sentinel - a highly mobile Jedi Knight specialized in dealing high amounts of damage in a short time. Choosing this Advanced class will train my character in dual wielding sabers and, after a few levels, grant access to Juyo Form - a combat stance that grants a stacking melee damage bonus.

Once I have made my choice, I get to spend my first skill points in one of the three available skill trees, which will start to define my character's role and gameplay.

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MMORPG.com:

The Sith Warrior can become the Juggernaut or the Marauder, can you give us some examples of skills that make up these two advanced classes?

Georg Zoeller:

Some signature Juggernaut abilities gained automatically upon leveling up are:

  • Soresu Form (a tanking stance)
  • Sundering Assault (a passive that adds a stacking armor debuff to the Assault ability)
  • Force Push (a force attack that throws enemies in a ballistic arc – perfectly for throwing enemies over ledges or push a pesky kiting player in PvP out of the melee dead zone into Force Charge range)

An example ability from one of the skill trees would be:

  • Strangulate, a passive skill that adds pushback resistance to the channeled Force Choke ability.

For the Marauder, some of the automatically learned abilities are:

  • Juyo Form (a DPS stance)
  • Rupture (a dual saber attack causing a powerful bleed for additional damage over time)
  • Force Cloak (a very short duration combat stealth that can be activated upon killing an enemy)

An example ability from one of the skill trees would be:

  • Close Quarters, a passive skill that decreases the minimum range for Force Charge from 8 meters to 4 meters
MMORPG.com:

The Bounty Hunter has a similar design with the Mercenary and Powertech, can you tell us about skills that define the offense and defense of these two specializations?

Georg Zoeller:

For starters, the Mercenary gets to dual wield blaster pistols, giving that Advanced Class a slight edge in damage output over the Powertech, which gets access to a Shield Generator, a definite plus on the survival / defensive side of things.

The Bounty Hunter Advanced Classes offer a lot of cool gadgetry in their skill trees, so depending on the player’s skill point distribution, there’s a huge difference in how combat plays and looks between characters:

  • The Mercenary’s Arsenal Skill tree for instance offers access to powerful missile technology and blaster modifications, transforming the class into a formidable long range damage dealer.
  • The Mercenary’s Bodyguard tree contains technology to support, bolster and triage the Mercenary and his allies, including experimental goodies such as the Kolto Missile, a modified short range missile that explodes above the dedicated area, dispersing a fine mist of the popular restorative agent among allies.
  • The Powertech’s Prototype tree offers gadgetry and attacks for the close range minded player, including a retractable armor blade modification for vicious melee attacks.
  • The Powertech’s other tree, ‘Shield Tech’, has abilities centered on survivability and damage absorption.
  • The Firebug tree, shared between both Advanced Classes, deals mainly with improvements and additions to the Bounty Hunter’s flame thrower.
MMORPG.com:

The Jedi Knight offers players the Sentinel and Guardian, what are the main differences when playing these classes? What options are offered in terms of skills for players to explore?

Georg Zoeller:

The Jedi Guardian is the Republic's answer to the heavily armored Sith Juggernaut. Trained in different light saber combat stances and supported by the Force, they can usually be found taking on multiple opponents at once, decimating them systematically with their lightsaber.

Skills for the Guardian include:

  • Defiance, a Vigilance tree passive ability that grants the Guardian additional focus whenever an opponent manages to stun him.
  • Hilt Strike, a Defense tree active attack that involves smashing their opponent's face with their lightsaber hilt for a stun.

The dual wielding, medium armored Sentinel may be less survivable when surrounded by multiple enemies, but what they lack in defense, they more than make up for in damage and utility.

Skills for the Sentinel include:

  • Blurred Speed, a Watchman tree passive ability that reduces the cooldown on the Force Leap ability
  • Force Camouflage, a trained Sentinel Advanced Class ability that enables the use of a short duration combat stealth with additional threat reduction upon defeating an enemy.
MMORPG.com:

The Gunslinger class for the Smuggler is easy to figure out, but what about the Scoundrel? It seems like a very gadget heavy class, what skills will players be able to use?

Georg Zoeller:

Gadgets, explosives, a trusty scatter gun and an urge to avoid a fair fight whenever possible is what the Scoundrel is all about. Some examples available to the player via the skill trees:

  • Terminate, a scattergun ability that deals extreme damage to wounded enemies, usually finishing them off.
  • Shrapnel Bomb, a crude, thrown explosive device causing explosion damage and bleeding wounds to all targets.
  • Slow Release Medpack, an over-time medical pack applicable to smuggler and allies alike.
  • Decloaking Screen, a modification to the stealth field generator that projects a temporary protective screen around the Scoundrel whenever they exit stealth.
MMORPG.com:

The Trooper seems like an overall heavy tank class. Can you give us examples of the skills that differentiate the Vanguard from the Commando?

Georg Zoeller:

The Trooper's Vanguard Advanced Class lacks the heavy assault cannon and medical support equipment of the Commando's skill trees and focuses on survivability and massive damage instead.

Example skills and abilities include:

  • 'Storm' - A Vanguard trained rush ability similar to the one seen in the 'Hope' cinematic trailer.
  • 'Harpoon' - a Vanguard trained attack that involves a rocket propelled projectile that strikes through the distant target and allows the trooper to rapidly pull them into close combat range.
  • Cryo Freeze, a passive skill from the Tactics tree that decreases the cooldown and improves the duration of the trooper's Cryo Grenade ability.
MMORPG.com:

The Imperial Agent breaks down into the Sniper and Operative. How do these stealth style classes work in conjuction with the more melee heavy classes?

Georg Zoeller:

The Operative gets access to the stealth field generator, the Sniper does not. In regards to synergies with more melee heavy classes, it really comes down skill point distribution. The Sniper gameplay is a lot about setting up your attack, delivering maximum damage from long range and utilizing cover for defense while the Operative relies a lot more on his stealth field generator to get behind targets (preferably those paying attention to one of those heavy melee classes) to introduce them to their scatter gun at close range.

Another option available only to the Operative via skill tree choices is medical support.

MMORPG.com:

The Sith Inquisitor looks to be more of a force heavy mage style class. The Sorcerer gives a clear definition of using a lot of Force power. What about the Assassin? Is it a Stealth/Mage hybrid class?

Georg Zoeller:

In combat, the Sorcerer relies heavily on Force powers, most prominently Force Lightning, to damage and disable their opponents. Their mastery of the Force leaves little need for the stealth and subtlety of the Sith Assassin and while, like any Sith, they get to wield a lightsaber, few enemies get close enough to experience that deadly weapon.

The Sith Assassin is something entirely different - Versatile and trained in both Force and dual bladed lightsaber combat, players can use skill points to specialize in either option - or choose a hybrid approach. It is even possible to choose skills to allow the Assassin Advanced Class to fill the role of a tank.

MMORPG.com:

Can you give us some insight into the Jedi Consular specializations? How will the class be defined from the Jedi Knight?

Georg Zoeller:

When you ask people what kind of character they would want to play in a Star Wars MMO, the majority usually answers with 'Force User' - so we decided very early in the development process for the game that there would have to be two Force User classes on each side.

While the Jedi Knight, regardless of Advanced Class, is usually found in heat of battle with their lightsaber, the consular is much less predictable:

  • A Consular with the Shadow Advanced Class, utilizes the double bladed saber to strike from stealth alternating between Force and weapon attacks. Depending on skill point distribution, they can act as a powerful burst damage dealers or highly survivable melee class.
  • The Sage Advanced Class develops the Consular into a long range damage dealer or force based healer, depending on skill point distribution. The range of most of the Consular's base class attacks, such as the powerful Project ability, doubles when this Advanced Class is chosen. Powerful new long range attacks, such as the devastating Force Quake area attack, also become available over time.
MMORPG.com:

In terms of the two factions how do the Advanced Classes stack up? Does every class have its equal? How are you handling class balance?

Georg Zoeller:

To ensure faction balance, each Republic class has it's 'nemesis' on the Empire side, balanced for equal access in utility, mitigation and damage potential, etc.

At the same time, we're taking care to retain the proper Star Wars feel and identity for each of the classes (e.g. a Trooper won't get access to the jetpack/jetpack themed abilities the Bounty Hunter has and the Bounty Hunter won't get access to Assault Cannon style weapons).

Visually, each of the classes has their own set of animations, sounds, visual effects and appearance to ensure that characters can be easily identified on the battlefield and to support the unique feel of each class.

For Advanced Classes, we're working to ensure that each class is viable in their roles (e.g. all Advanced Classes that can fill a medic role are designed to be fully viable as such) and that there is no second class citizen.

A lot of thought is also going into the design of the technology based classes to ensure they match the Force using classes in capability. Jedi are fearsome opponents, but certainly not immune to some well timed shots in the back from an Imperial Agent's sniper rifle or the flames of a Bounty Hunter's flamethrower.

As always, please remember Star Wars: The Old Republic is in ongoing Game Testing and as part of that, any of the details provided here about skills and abilities might change before the game launches.

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