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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: Dark or Light?

By Michael Bitton on October 05, 2011

Like BioWare’s previous RPGs, Star Wars: The Old Republic will allow players to make meaningful choices with their characters that ultimately decide whether or not they are treading down the Dark or Light paths. Many people like to think that the Republic are inherently Light and the Sith Empire are inherently Dark, but you’ll be able to go Light or Dark on either side as the types of choices you make will be highly dependent on your faction and class.

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Sith characters will always be evil for example, but they may not all be bloodthirsty at the expense of hurting the Empire itself (killing the Captain for the lulz), and these are the sorts of choices you’ll have to make. A Jedi may choose to allow a Jedi couple in love to continue their relationship and not report it to the Masters (Dark); it’s not all just about murdering or sparing people.

With all that in mind, I’ve recently been wondering how this split will pan out amongst players. I honestly do think the faction split will lean more towards the Sith Empire side of things, but that is pure conjecture based on the way most of these games tend to pan out. Face it, the “evil” types tend to attract more people for one reason or another. But what about the Light vs. Dark split? If BioWare does a good job this too will probably lean towards the Dark side of things.

For Sith (Force Users), the straightforward path is to be evil and murderous, sure, and so I imagine that those who go out of their way to be different will be the minority, but what about Jedi? It’s easy to assume it would work the same way, with Jedi players wanting to be goody-goodies, but what makes Jedi interesting is the aspect of temptation. Most Jedi were faced with temptation throughout their careers, and it’s truly a rare Jedi that can walk the purely Light path. I imagine that just like these characters, many players may find themselves succumbing to the temptations presented to them, especially if BioWare does a good job with their writing, and they’ve rarely been deficient in this area.

I don’t know how the non-Force Users will play out, but with most of the population playing Force Users (they do make up half of the total classes available, and well, lightsabers, man) I think this will largely determine how the overall split shakes out.

Personally, I tend to go against the grain with most characters I end up playing, but things are a bit different in Star Wars.  Let’s use the Jedi Knight example again. Most personalities attracted to such characters tend to be those who enjoy the Paladin experience, the noble hero. While the basic experience of playing a Jedi offers this, the struggle with temptation is truly core to the experience, and is also a lot more interesting to explore. Sure, Paladin stories often play with this as well (take Arthas for example), but it’s not necessarily part and parcel of the experience. Living up to the Jedi Code is no joke, and most simply can’t hack it. For me, I’ll really want to explore those temptations instead of just mashing the Light choices and getting all the superhero dialogue. I want to get into my character and live that iconic struggle vicariously through his inner conflict.

Am I nerding out and putting too much thought into this? Maybe, but I don’t think so and that’s why I chose this topic for this week’s column. One of my colleagues mentioned that Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the rare games that is making him really pre-plan and consider his character before launch.  I have a strong feeling that many of you are doing the same when you otherwise might not. So what I want to hear from you guys this week is: Light vs. Dark? And more importantly, why

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