What are SOE doing next with their Free Realms engine? The answer is Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, which I got to play at E3. SW:CWA is aimed directly at the 10-year-old boy demographic, and features lots of minigames, microtransactions, and little else.
Players start out as padewan. There’s no class selection (not even goodies or baddies); every player is human. You can customize your appearance a little bit (but not your size or race). You can also have a pet (I had R2D2). Each player starts out with a few emotes that they can do, and a few more that cause their pet to do something. “Play” takes place at the Jedi Temple, which is essentially just a lobby where you can show off and socialize with other players.
SW:CWA is a “freemium” game: Players can buy outfits and emote packages from the cash store and in-game store to modify the appearance (and behavior) of their avatars and pets. Players can also upgrade from “padewan” to “jedi” by subscribing. Being a jedi grants access to extra things in the shops and extra minigame levels.
There is no leveling up in SW:CWA
At any time, the player can bring up a minigame UI and select one to play. Each game (there is a list below) has about a dozen different “maps”, which are not progressional. You can do map 8 before you do map 1, for example. Some “maps” are harder than others, but map 8 is not necessarily harder than map 1. The reward for completing any minigame is the same – Republic Credits – which can be used to buy things from the in-game store.
There is no world to explore, just the big room that is the Jedi Temple.
Players can “meet” well-know NPCs inside the Jedi Temple, who can give the player special missions. These are minigame “maps” that are not available from the main minigame UI. For example, if you walk up to Mace Windu, he will let you play a special map of Republic Defender.
Here’s a list of all the minigames, and a brief “what’s-it-most-like” description of each:
- Republic Defender: This is a version of Tower Defense with some extra abilities to make it harder to fail. For example, players can call in orbital strikes, and pick up power-ups from corpses.
- Star Fighter: This game is a 3D spaceship shooter on rails. It’s very much like Star Fox.
- Stunt Gungan: This is a “Flying Hamster”-style game, where you launch Jar Jar into the air. The object is to maneuver him mid-air into exploding things so that he goes further.
- Star Typer: Correctly type words to shoot down advancing space ships.
- Speedbike Racing: Like Wipeout.
- Daily Quiz: Star Wars trivia that you can do once a day.
- Infiltration: A Zooma-like rotating match-3 puzzle game.
- Crystal Attunement: A “virus-ey” hex-based convert-all-the-colors casual puzzle game.
- Rocket Rescue: A 2D side-scroller where you fly R2D2 like he’s a helicopter.
- Force Perception: Spot the Differences between two almost identical pictures.
- Droid Programming: Astropop-like match-3 puzzle game.
- Sabre Strike: Kind of like a 3D Arkanoid.
- Daily Spin: Spin the wheel once a day, like in Free Realms.
- Blaster Training: Like Duck Hunt.
- Lightsabre Duel: Looks like a 2D fighter. But you quickly press the directional keys in the right order to hit your opponent.
- Daily Holocron: A daily 1:4 chance of winning Republic Credits
And that’s about it.
SW:CWA isn’t really an MMO. It’s a selection of minigames accessed from a lobby area. Surprisingly, it’s more like Club Penguin than Free Realms. There’s no character progression, just avatar customization and quick-play minigames. It’s a definite step backwards in complexity/interactivity from Free Realms. I also didn’t see anything that led me to believe that two players could play against each other in any way.
I’m at a bit of a loss with this article. The game is clearly not for us. And arguably isn’t an MMO at all. If you know any 10-year old boys who love Star Wars, you might want to point them in the direction of this game I suppose. My gut says that they’ll lose interest quite quickly, but, hey, what do I know.
Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures: You know … for kids.