I remember sitting at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in 2015 and watched as BioWare's cinematic for its upcoming expansion to Star Wars: The Old Republic kicked off. Knights of the Fallen Empire's cinematic stood out to me immediately among the various trailers we had seen all weekend, catching my attention like no other. I was enthralled by the story that was being told in this trailer, intent on learning who these twins were that BioWare was selling in the trailer.
I had never played SWTOR till that point, mainly sticking with Lord of the Rings Online and The Elder Scrolls Online at the time. Yet I could not help but be enthralled by what I was seeing on screen. BioWare are master storytellers, and the story being told on screen was immediately enthralling. Who were these two kids? Who was the narrator and why did his two twins require sacrifice? Was the color of their clothing hinting at their eventual destinies - Light and Dark side of the Force?
As I said, at the time I hadn't played SWTOR just yet (in fact, I'd never played Knights of the Old Republic either), so I had no clue who the Eternal Empire was, and who Emperor Valkorion was, and who the eventual new emperor would be. The Sacrifice trailer shown off at E3 2015 was effectively my first foray into Star Wars: The Old Republic. While the MMO couldn't keep my attention at the time once I finally jumped in - which isn't a knock of SWTOR, I was knee deep in ESO coverage for other outlets at the time too - it marked the first time I can remember where a cinematic trailer hooked me on trying out a game.
Normally I'm someone who waits for gameplay. Trailers are cool and all, but I want to see how a game actually runs and what the moment to moment gameplay will look like before I commit to trying something. It's why gameplay trailers nowadays that don't actually show real gameplay infuriate me to no end. However, cinematic trailers are just that: cinematic. They can convey themes, story, ideals, and the look and aesthetic of a game. They can even start to give you an idea of how a game might look when being played (see the action in the Redfall trailer from earlier this year).
This was the first time that practice actually sold me on trying out a game. Since then I've looked at cinematic trailers differently. While I'm not someone who is going to go crazy at an event because a trailer emblazons a screen, I do find myself revisiting trailers every once in a while. The Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker trailer has likely received hundreds of plays from me alone, mainly for the music. But it too is telling a story I'm very much interested to follow. The Elder Scrolls Online typically has some fantastic trailers when a new yearly story is announced, like this year's Gates of Oblivion trailer.
But nothing really took me in like SWTOR's Sacrifice trailer. I couldn't wait to download and try out SWTOR after seeing that - so much so I installed it on my work laptop from my E3 hotel that night. Every once in a while I'll go back and watch it, as well as check out cinematics from subsequent expansions, wondering when the next one is going to hook me into a galaxy far, far away again. Thankfully, it's not a bad time to check it out againt with the Legacy of the Sith expansion incoming.