News for Star Wars: The Old Republic during the last week or so has been coming in at a fairly rapid-fire pace. While it’s not all substantial, collectively there is a good deal to sift through, especially as details from Fansite Summit #2 continue to spill out.
Before we get into the fansite stuff, let’s talk about some of the highlights from last week. Gamers looking forward to the Imperial Agent were thrown a few bones, beginning with Georg Zoeller’s in-depth comments on Snipers in PvP followed by the Imperial Agent progression trailer that debuted as part of the Friday Update. Between Zoeller’s comments and the trailer, I can say my excitement to play a Sniper has jumped up several fold, though I’m honestly a bit more particular to the armor shown for the Operative in the progression trailer. Hopefully I can have the best of both worlds via the item modification system!
Last week’s news also cleared the air some on Early Game Access. Perusing the official Old Republic forums, we discovered a thread that noted some interesting language in the fine print of the SW:TOR pre-order landing page. The language stated that pre-order customers can expect up to five days of Early Access as a perk for their pre-order. We weren’t quite sure if this was new text or simply wasn’t noticed by the community at large when we ran the story, but last week's Friday Update fully confirmed the language, stirring up some interesting discussion. I personally feel the five day head start is more than adequate, though I’m sort of looking forward to the news of some crazy player hitting level cap before the game officially goes live. Come on, we all know this is going to happen. It always does.
This week, members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic fansite community were invited out to BioWare Austin for the second Fansite Summit event, and we’ve already learned some interesting things as information has trickled out. One of the most eye-opening possible revelations coming out of the event comes from SWTOR-RP’s report on their Q&A with BioWare’s James Ohlen. During the Q&A, it appears James confirmed that coveted appearance tab would now be a reality. According to SWTOR-RP, James stated that the appearance tab is “high” on the developers’ radar and will be coming to The Old Republic “soon.”
Reading this made my head spin. I’ve covered this issue many times, and despite there being over 20,000 posts on the topic, BioWare has remained firm on their stance against the appearance tab feature for quite some time now. I’m not sure how this bit of information flew under the radar, but it’s definitely a significant development for those who have been arguing the feature’s merits through multiple thousand post threads for the past couple of years! I want to be excited, but I’m honestly a bit skeptical that BioWare’s changed their stance here. What would be the purpose of the Item Modification system if an appearance tab were implemented? Sure, it’d allow finer control of the stats you’d wear on your non-ATab gear, but it would greatly diminish the need for such a system. I’m holding off on being ecstatic until this has been confirmed through multiple sources.
Now, if you’re not as vain as I am, the real highlights from the summit thus far are the details on the Ilum Open World PvP planet. BioWare demoed both the Void Star Warzone and Ilum World PvP at the event, and while Void Star news is interesting, most of us following the game have the basic idea down already, so I’m going to get into the meat of the more mysterious Ilum stuff instead.
Ilum, for those of you who don’t know, is the sole Open World PvP planet launching with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Ilum is an end-game (level 50) planet that will feature PvE content as well as a large section of the world designated purely for Open World PvP. How large? About half the planet, according to Ask a Jedi. And yes, it’s a large planet! The Open World PvP area of Ilum consists of five control points, including a base for both the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, as well as three contested objectives in between both bases. Both sides will deploy mechanized walkers to the battlefield as well, and players will be tasked with taking out these walkers in order to progress towards the enemy base. In their coverage of Ilum, DarthHater also interestingly noted that BioWare has designed the area’s geography to allow for strategic plays, such as using the valleys surrounding the zone’s major objectives in order to avoid the Walkers or even flank the enemy. Reading this was music to my ears, as it appears the Mythic folks working on PvP in The Old Republic have learned from Warhammer Online’s flat RvR maps. Finally, as far as design goes, it’s also important to note that the Open World PvP area does not ‘reset.’ If your side controls the area, it’s held until the enemy takes it back. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like BioWare is doing anything at the moment to curb players who like to gather up in the wee hours of the morning and take the territory back relatively uncontested. This is considered a valid tactic, and I’m hoping it doesn’t end up ruining the experience. Again, anyone who has played Warhammer Online knows what I’m talking about.
As far as rewards go, we previously learned that players will be able to earn experience, Valor (PvP rank XP), and of course, gear, through participation in World PvP. Information coming out of the latest Fansite Summit has confirmed two additional rewards: a faction-wide buff and the presence of rare resources. The faction-wide buff, which can stack a certain amount of times, allows players to earn additional Valor through any form of PvP, including Warzones. This is pretty neat for players who for one reason or another cannot or do not wish to participate in the big Open World battles, as they will still benefit from the buff. Additionally, it looks like the PvE folk may be somewhat dependent on us brutish PvP types since Ilum’s PvP area will feature rare resources, granting a tangible benefit to everyone in your faction, regardless of their stance on PvP, for holding onto the zone.
Fan reaction to the news is all over the place, with comparisons to Wintergrasp, Alterac Valley, Tol Barad, and more being tossed around liberally. I honestly feel like it sounds more like a WAR RvR lake on steroids, which is exciting to me as I enjoyed WAR’s RvR, despite its flaws. WAR’s RvR has come a long way (for the better) since launch, and I’m hopeful we’ll see the lessons learned manifest in The Old Republic’s Open World PvP. The only thing that’s setting off alarms for me at the moment is BioWare’s stance towards those early morning players who look for opportunities to take the objectives uncontested. It’s going to end up being pretty silly if the only time people try to flip the zone is when no one is actually around to fight. Players tend to gravitate towards the path of least resistance, and so I feel allowing this sort of thing could be detrimental to the health of the entire experience.