Dark or Light

The Darker Side of Smuggling

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Last week’s Friday Update continued the ongoing progression video series for Star Wars: The Old Republic, giving us a closer look at the Smuggler’s Scoundrel and Gunslinger Advanced Classes. The video actually turned out to be a lot more amusing than I thought it would be, and having had no plans to play the Smuggler, the video really sold me on it. I don’t actually intend on playing a Smuggler at launch, but damn does it look tempting. 

BioWare has drummed up the Smuggler storyline as really capturing the Han Solo fantasy and being fairly comical in nature as a result, which was evident in the trailer. It also helped that the video was rife with Harrison Ford references. I say Harrison Ford and not Han Solo because there were actually references to the Indiana Jones films as well as the Star Wars films. The amusing situations the Smuggler can get himself into (and out of) really went a long way towards illustrating how well BioWare seems to have captured the Han Solo Smuggler fantasy. But it also begs the question: What about the darker side of Smugglers?

You see, Han Solo wasn’t always a hero. In fact, Han was a bit of a villain in A New Hope and his journey is one of redemption. This is why most fans are up in arms over George Lucas changing later editions of the films to have Greedo shoot first, and then ultimately have them both shoot at the same time (awkwardly, I might add). George didn’t want Han to shoot first because it makes him appear villainous, but well, that was the point.  It’s incredibly ironic that George would go back and ‘fix’ one of his rare strokes of genius, but I digress. The point is, not all Smugglers are heroic, or start out heroic, and so I’m wondering if BioWare is going to adequately explore this side of the Smuggler in The Old Republic.

You might be saying, “But Mike, that’s why there are Dark Side and Light Side points. Of course they’re going to explore that side of the Smuggler!” To that I would say, yes, but it’s possible that the other side of the coin may only be explored to an extent, the same way KOTOR explored the Dark Side path (you were still ultimately doing the Jedi Council’s bidding up until near the end) or the way TOR is handling the Jedi classes. Sure, you might be able to make some unsavory choices, but the overarching story may tilt strongly towards the lighter side of things. For example, if you’re playing a Jedi Knight in The Old Republic you won’t be able to cross over and become a Dark Jedi.

The problem with Smugglers is that while they may be loosely aligned with the Galactic Republic in this timeline, they are generally considered part of the ‘Underworld’ faction (if you can call it that) for a reason.  The lack of a Dark Jedi story for the Jedi classes is unfortunate, but in my opinion, being forced into many of the campy Smuggler situations really only fits a narrow scope of Smugglers. It’s still appealing, but it makes it difficult to imagine yourself as anything other than Han Solo. Dark Jedi are a corruption of what is generally considered to be a ‘heroic’ class, and so telling the Dark Side side of the story adequately would be welcomed, but not telling it isn’t necessarily deficient.  In a game designed around roleplaying, it’s easy to roll with a Jedi who is still a Jedi and still feel unique, but much harder to shoehorn a character into a class that appears to be so closely emulating the Han Solo experience. Maybe I just want to be a dirty spice-dealing remorseless bastard; perhaps someone like Davik Kang or Vilmarh Grahrk. Basically, I’m seeing a lot of the funnier aspects highlighted all the time but not much in the way of the seedier aspects of playing a Smuggler.

Speak up, Smugglers! Are you looking to fulfill the Han Solo fantasy? Or are you looking to embrace the darker Smuggler themes? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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