This week’s column title is a reference to one of my favorite Star Wars novels, I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole, which follows the story of Corran Horn, one of the Expanded Universe’s most beloved Jedi characters. In the book, Corran seeks the tutelage of Luke Skywalker so he may learn of The Force in order to rescue his wife. Corran also popularized the silver-bladed lightsaber, something I hope to see as an option in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Since we kicked off this column I’ve been mulling about writing on what I feel it means to be a “Jedi”, and what I expect or hope it to be like in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Unfortunately, Jedi have been one of the lesser discussed and shown classes compared to the other six, at least up until recently, and so I pushed it aside for some more pressing topics. However, last week Bioware gave us a fairly in-depth look at Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic as part of that week’s Friday Update, and so it seemed prudent to finally discuss Jedi this week.
Jedi have always been fascinating to me, and while that should probably go without saying, as I am a self-admitted Star Wars geek, there’s a bit more to it. Many of us think of Jedi as heroes, and they often are, but the duality of The Force, that temptation to fall to the Dark Side towards a quick path to power, and even walk the harder path of redemption once doing so (such as in the case of Darth Vader), makes for some interesting stories to say the least. While acrobatic lightsaber moves and the mysterious power of The Force are incredibly alluring, they only really scratch the surface of what it is to be a Jedi. The opportunity to really explore the internal struggles that Jedi face in their attempt to uphold their Code while resisting the temptation of “Unlimited powaahh!” has really been what I’ve felt to be one of the most promising features of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the Developer Dispatch released last Friday did a good deal to get me a bit more excited about the game in that respect.
Last week, I expressed some doubts on the effects of the storyline focus of the game, and while I still feel that in some areas it might do more harm than good for the health of the game as an MMO, the potential of the Jedi storyline may just be worth it. As the Developer Dispatch explains, Star Wars: The Old Republic will feature two distinct Jedi classes, each with their own narrative: The Jedi Knight will give the player the experience of what it’s like to be a Jedi on the frontlines, while the Consular offers a bit more of a behind-the-scenes approach, with promises of a heavy focus on diplomacy. The beauty of all this is the fact that both these narratives can be explored from the both the dark and light side, and while making unsavory choices on an action-oriented Jedi character has been done before, I can’t say we’ve ever had the opportunity to play politics and get the Emperor Palpatine side of things.
Another key difference between this approach and the original KOTOR games is that for the first time we’re playing in a much more malleable storyline with characters of our own creation in a persistent environment. Sure, our imagination will be limited somewhat, but it’s looking like we’ll be seeing sides of The Force that we really only saw in the films or the books, and our adventures don’t necessarily have to fit within the canon of a pre-determined character. The original KOTOR, for all its awesomeness, was still incredibly linear. The exploration of the Dark Side wasn’t really as convincing as the Light Side path; I felt more like a bully than anything else. Even with countless murders under my belt, I was still following the orders of the Jedi, making it hard for me to make sense of things. KOTOR II’s Exile was a bit more of a clean slate, and SW:TOR’s approach here looks to be an evolution of that.
Star Wars is a mainstream franchise with varying levels of fans, ranging from those who’ve just seen the films, to those who’ve read every book and played all the games, but most of us share one thing in common: a love for all things Force related. For me, the allure has been the possibilities that could spring from a well told Jedi story, as I’m sure you can tell, but ever since the Jedi craze of Star Wars Galaxies, I’ve wanted to hear the different reasons many of us wanted the same thing. You didn’t have to have your finger on the pulse of the Galaxies community to know that just about everyone and their brother wanted to play one, but finding out the “Why” was a bit more elusive.
So, with that said, why do you want to play a Jedi character? What is it about Jedi that you are drawn to? Is it the simple desire to cut a swath through your foes with a lightsaber? Or is it a bit more complicated than that? And finally, did last week’s Developer Dispatch make you more or less excited to play a Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic? Share your thoughts in the comments below!