Star Wars: Uprising is one of a handful of new MMOs making their way to the mobile scene this year. I know we’re all PC enthusiasts here at MMORPG.com, but let’s make no bones about it: if the mobile gaming world can make a solid MMO, I’ll gladly take notice and play the crap out of it. Luckily, with Daniel Erickson at the helm, Kabam RPG seems to be doing just that with Star Wars: Uprising. Oh, and it’s the first game coming out that is tied directly into the new canon. Got your attention? Read on.
I sat down with Daniel Erickson, some of you may remember him from his extensive lore-based work on SWTOR, and found out that not only is Uprising going to be canon… but it’s also taking place right after Return of the Jedi. Oh, and it’s a full-on Action MMORPG. Alex Freed, former lead writer for The Old Republic, countless Dark Horse comics, novels, and more, penned the entire script. Chapter 1 is over 200 pages of brand new Star Wars canon. Classic characters like Leia herself make appearances, and it’s all been vetted and approved by LucasArts.
Shortly after RotJ, Uprising takes place in the Anoat Sector (the Empire Strikes Back sector with Hoth, Cloud City, etc.). Governor Adelhard, come up through the Storm Troopers, a true believer of the Empire and the Emperor. He’s our antagonist, but he’s not necessarily evil. He believes that the Empire is the only thing that can bring balance, order to the chaos of the wars that have plagued the galaxy since time immemorial. He does not believe the Emperor is dead, and he’s not too keen on the “lies” being spread by the Republic. He locks down the Anoat sector, shutting it off from the rest of the galaxy, forms the Purge Troopers, led by General Bragh (see the awesome pin below), and it’s their goal to kill or otherwise “purge” every person passing around propaganda of the republic.
You play a streetkid, as oft is the case in Star Wars, who doesn’t start the game trying to be one. You’re a smuggler, trying to make a living in bad circumstances on a backwater mining world. You and your sister (who, no matter your chosen race, will always match your race – which Daniel informed me made the artists’ lives hell but it was worth it for believability and continuity) are stuck working among several splintered factions across the Anoat Sector. Daniel likened the factions to Russia and the US working against Germany in WWII. We work as friends, but all factions have very different ideas about what will happen when and if we overthrow General Bragh and Governor Adelhard. You, as the hero, can align with any of the factions at any time, all of them at once, or none at all, as each one has their own stories and rewards to be gained.
“Everything in our game is about making a choice for today, but not making a choice and regretting it tomorrow.” – Daniel Erickson, Star Wars: Uprising’s Director of Design.
Uprising has a fully open class-based system. You can learn the smuggler skills, the bodyguard skills, and then slot any five abilities at once to make your ideal build. Learning the abilities will take currency earned with each faction, but the general idea is to give you freedom to make the build that works best for any given mission or party build.
You’ll see people in all of the game’s many social hubs, but all of the action will take place in instanced areas that tie into the missions. In this way, the game’s more like Guild Wars 1 than say, World of Warcraft. You can inspect, chat, group up, form Cartels (guilds) and take part in all of the usual MMO social aspects. Of course, this being a mobile MMO, Daniel was sure to point out that you can just focus on the story and work through the game’s initial 40 levels solo too… but where’s the fun in that?
Chapter 1 will comprise those first 40 levels, with a full story mission series taking you through each individual level. You won’t have to mindlessly grind to progress the story or to hit level 40. And when chapter 2 launches a couple months later, it’ll add 60 more levels and a full-game’s worth of content for free. There won’t be any pay walls here. The only real monetization comes in the form of “wheel of fortune” tickets you can buy with the in-game currency to get a chance at better or rare loot. All of the loot can be earned in-game and there’s no PVP. Daniel mentioned costumes and the like being added too. Kabam is designing Uprising with the core gamer in mind, and they know the last thing that will win them any brownie points is if they straight up go P2W like some of their contemporaries.
Combat is fairly straightforward, with Uprising being built from the ground up for mobile devices it works on everything all the way back to the iPhone 4S, but does not officially support anything older. You don’t have to hold down your left thumb on some virtual joystick to move, instead the game uses “touch to move” a la Diablo. But the action itself is far less reliant on tapping repeatedly. Once you start attacking, your character auto-attacks the nearest mob unless you specifically target one by touching them. Your skills are not just used by pressing a button either. Double-tapping yourself will work your defensive skill. Double-tapping anywhere but yourself will (by default) dodge-roll, but can be slotted with things like grenades later on. Additionally, one of your first blaster-oriented skills is a touch and drag that basically creates a hail of bullets fired anywhere you aim. It’s all very intuitive and feels very solid to control.
Not only will you gain stats and skills while leveling, but there’s a whole host of complete armor sets in Uprising, which becomes one of the game’s chief forms of long-term progression. You see, all of your armor and weapons will level too, and when you collect all pieces of a set, you unlock that set as a cosmetic costume as well. See that bad-ass looking Jedi outfit? Collect all the pieces to unlock its looks no matter what gear you’re actually wearing. Gear is leveled in the same fashion a lot of recent mobile RPGs employ: take lesser items and “feed” them into the ones you want to raise. Some items may seem weaker at the start too, but then you look deeper and realize they can be leveled to something far more powerful than your current items. It becomes a choice of which is better in the long-term as opposed to what’s better right now.
And beyond all the leveling, continuously updated story, and gear collection, daily missions, and cartel missions, there are of course the massive sector battles. This is essentially the game’s main public call to action. Depending on how the rest of the world is fighting, what planets they’re fighting on, and where players are playing, the Purge Troopers and Governor Adelhard may lock down a planet. It then falls to you and other players to fight back and gain freedom back in that area. Hence the name “Star Wars: Uprising”. Not only will winning back these areas unlock great rewards, but when the game first opens this will be how entire planets’ worth of content will be unlocked. You won’t ever go to Hoth if you never take it back from the Empire first.
Star Wars: Uprising is looking like an absolute blast to play, and is oddly enough one of my most anticipated games across all platforms now, not just the mobile world. It’s in limited release now in smaller markets, with a full North American launch due by the end of September for both iOS and Android. You can find out more and pre-register at PlayStarWarsUprising.com.