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E3 2011: What We Now Know

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Just as E3 was kicking off last week we took a look at some of the Star Wars: The Old Republic information that had begun to trickle out. As one might expect, there have been quite a few developments since then. Indeed, by the time last week’s column went to publish much more had already developed. Ah, such is the pace of E3 week. In any case, with E3 now behind us, let’s take a look at some of what we now know.

With EA and BioWare showing Star Wars: The Old Republic on the show floor this year those of you not at the show were able to see a lot more of the game than usual  as many outlets were livestreaming, heck, even EA put on a livestream (alternatively, check out the official Tatooine Developer Walkthrough). While the official livestream wasn’t exactly full of excitement, SWTOR Lead Writer Daniel Erickson fielded numerous questions coming in from fans and also confirmed something many fans had been speculating about for some time: yes, there will be a Jawa companion. Blizz, the ironically named Jawa, will be exclusive to the Bounty Hunter and is every bit as cute as you’d imagine. What I don’t think many of us expected watching the stream was that he’d also be a complete badass. The little guy was showing up Erickson himself in the bits of combat we did get to see. I plan on playing an Agent at launch, but man I’d love to be able to sic my very own Jawa on someone in world PvP. Getting laid out by a Jawa has got to be embarrassing.  Oh, and speaking of the Agent, a new female droid companion named Scorpio (who supposedly hates the agent’s guts for whatever reason), was also quietly revealed at E3 via press kit screenshots and some videos from the show floor that players have dug up.  Interesting!

The stream also gave those who may have doubted how expansive SWTOR’s planets would be something to chew on as Erickson conducted the entire demo on Tatooine and it was clearly quite a massive planet. Fortunately, Daniel had a vehicle on hand to get around on, giving fans their first live look at vehicles outside of the previously revealed game features trailer.

Death was also discussed in the stream, and differed significantly from my previous hands-on experience with the game.  In previous demos if I died I’d have to respawn at a medcenter unless a friendly player or teammate right clicked me to revive me on the spot, but it appears BioWare has added an additional option: the medical probe. Players can now choose to call a medical probe when they die which basically allows them to revive themselves right on the spot with roughly ten seconds of super-cloak where they cannot be detected by anyone so they can get back to safety and try an encounter again. Daniel noted that each successive death would push the counter on the medical probe up further so players can’t just use it to zerg something. The jury is out for me on this mechanic.  I’m generally a fan of being able to get back into things fairly quickly, but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I can just act careless because I can get back into combat quickly. It’s hard to say how things will pan out in this area but I’m hopeful nonetheless.

Finally, I wanted to touch back on the Eternity Vault, which I felt may have been an Operation (raid) in our previous write-up, but was unable to confirm with the information available at the time. The Eternity Vault is indeed an Operation; in fact, BioWare put out yet another new trailer, this time focusing entirely on the Eternity Vault and it looked absolutely action-packed. I’m still wondering about raid sizes, however. There looked to be a whole lot of players in the Eternity Vault trailer and I’m not really a fan of the 24 plus raid endeavors. I know many of you have fond memories of 40 plus man raids and such but really, it’s like herding cats just getting that many people on and in one place most of the time. I still feel the magic number is 16 and I’m hoping that is what they end up settling on.

I’d like to end on one final note, and that is the fan reaction to the show coverage. I’ve been really surprised by the fairly large number of gamers who thought E3 was a total letdown for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Say what you want about the game, but I think we’ve learned a great deal at this year’s E3 and while there is still more to learn I honestly think you’d be hard pressed to say BioWare hasn’t been forthcoming with the amount of information and media coming out of the show.

With that said, were you pleased or disappointed with Star Wars: The Old Republic’s showing at this year’s E3? What were the most pleasing surprises? Biggest letdowns? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, for even more E3 minutiae be sure to check out the E3 coverage compendium put together by MMORPG.com community member gaou!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB