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Star Wars: The Old Republic General Article: PAX 2011 Panel

By Carolyn Koh on August 29, 2011

BioWare dropped a nice nugget of information about PvP in SW:ToR at their panel on the last day of PAX Prime 2011 – PvP.  There will be open world PvP, PvP objectives and PvP servers.  Players will be able to play across eleven different planets and earn both Warzone commendations and Mercenary (open PvP) commendations.  Together, they will provide the best PvP gear. Players can choose to use either type of commendations and can exchange one for the other to get their preferred gear.

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The planet of Ilum, a source of crystals for light sabers will be a contested planet that both the Republic and the Empire will want to control for obvious reasons. The usual PvP maps can be expected, such as last man standing, and capture and defense which they revealed as Voidstar, where sides will switch attack and defense positions mid-way, and we were treated to a short movie of Huttball – a Star Wars version of rugby. A ball spawns in the center of the field and players try to carry it to over their goal line, they can throw the ball, punt it, or just carry it across the field, avoiding opponents and death traps on the field of play. The trailer was complete with cheering audience and sports commentators. I wonder if the real game will also have commentators calling out for some carnage as what’s Huttball without a death or two?

We were also treated to a demo of the Eternity Vault, a high level Operation taking place on the planet of Belsavis. Earlier in the session, they had called for a show of hands for those in the audience that had had hands-on with the game, and then called for another show of hands for those had been playing for a while. “Never mind the NDA stuff.” Showing that open beta would not be far, if they were cavalier about the audience knowing who were in closed beta. They then called for audience members who had played specific roles to fill the Sith team that would attempt the mission. With the Devs vacating their stations and coaching from behind, the eight attempted the mission. We filmed the brave attempt and you can watch the movie below: 

The team also confirmed that they were limiting numbers that could get into the game on the first two days of launch. These days will be reserved for players who pre-order the game and players were assured that this is purely a logistical decision to ensure that servers will not be overwhelmed and that players will have the best launch experience possible.

The Q&A that followed dealt mainly with customization and replayability.

There are many choices for avatar customization, including many, many hair styles and colors, but not slider bars. The comment being that moving your nose half a millimeter to the right will not make much of a visual difference but will take up previous computing resources, and that most player find the slider bar system of avatar customization very difficult and simply press the random button until they arrive at a character they like.

Different sets of armor will drop but players can use social points to purchase cosmetic items. Players will also be able to replicate the looks of current iconic Star War characters like Bobba Fett or Obi Wan if that is the image they wish their avatar to have.

One of BioWare’s hallmarks is allowing the player to play the game the way they want to. This is again reflected in SWTOR and the team gave credit to all the single-player games they’ve developed that’s given them the experience to bring to SW:TOR, citing Dragon Age, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect.

“We simply give you XP for everything you want to do,” was the bold claim.  Players can play the crafting game, PvP, the space game, flash points, missions. All of it or just one element, and crafting is a viable career path all its own they believe.

With the three choices in each step of a quest, a player can play light side with one character; take the neutral path with the next and the dark side with a third. There are rewards, equipment and gear that are associated with choice, and players playing different races and characters will experience the game in different ways. They were also quick to assure the audience that yes, some decisions you make may come back and bite you in the ass, but others are short term or else short ranging and only affect your faction or reputation in a single town or planet.

Finally, they ended by letting the audience know that they will be doing “free play” weekends in September to stress test servers and will be bringing in another large group of testers into closed beta. So if you haven’t yet filled out that beta application, now’s the time to do it.  The Old Republic is getting closer and closer to launch, and we’re all about get a taste!

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