After watching G4's coverage of The Old Republic so far, I have to admit that I'm not sure if I should be excited, or a bit disappointed. I feel a wide range of emotions after seeing the extremely skimped interview, which went over a brief rundown of the game and some of its mechanics. After a great amount of anticipation for any news about the game at E3, I am left with a very bittersweet taste in my mouth. Let's discuss the ups and downs of the lackluster E3 showing thus far.
Initially, the week started off with The Old Republic website releasing a new webisode of its galactic time line series. This was a nice little snack while we waited for the smorgasbord that is E3. Right at the beginning of the event however, we were force thrown by the amazing new CG video released from Bioware entitled “Hope”. As per their usual fashion, Bioware dazzled us with their stellar storytelling (leaving most of us hoping that they will get smart and one day just release a full CG movie!). The action sequence depicted a lone squadron of Republic commandos going up against a full Sith battalion. We then heard that there was going to be a full half hour interview on G4 that would show actual game play, as well as answer some questions for us! Running on barely any sleep from the previous night, I made sure that I took a nap so I would be fresh as a daisy to watch and absorb as much as I could.
All of my excitement was a bit dashed however once the interview actually started. The hosts started off by saying that they would spend the full half hour showing off player ships and PvP combat (which we all knew meant that we would actually see about ten minutes of actual footage which twenty minutes of commercials)! I eagerly turned up my TV, excited to finally see some more hard info on the game. The developer was lead to the stage by the 501st and the cheers of the crowd; I have to say that I got swept up in the moment as well. Getting a glimpse at some solid game play seemed too good to be true from Bioware. Then reality sunk in; buzzwords were thrown around and poor camera angles ruined the little bits of game play that we could actually see. We were promised some exciting news and yet, why do I feel a bit disheartened? Let's list the reasons why the interview left me feeling... Deceived if you will (nyuck nyuck nyuck)?
First off, they started the interview talking about player ships; did they really? All we heard is what we already were told from their initial announcement. “Players will get their own ships and it will be their home/base to explore the universe yadda yadda yadda.” This is all well and good, but where are the answers to the other questions glaring them in the face? The biggest in my opinion being, will players be able to even fly their ships? Granted, I can't really complain about player housing being implemented right at launch so I guess I can take this one with a grain of salt, for now. Secondly, they stated that they would finally show off some PvP, which was nowhere to be found in the interview. We did see some PvE which seemed to live up to my expectations. The animations were smooth and extremely well done; the combat seemed to flow like what many veteran MMO players are already accustomed to. Nothing too ground breaking here, but it all looks to have Bioware's signature polish gleaming all over it. The interview ended with a little snippet of a Sith Inquisitor on Korriban, displaying the “open world”. I put that in quotes being that when I actually saw my first in game glimpse at the planet, it seemed extremely closed in. We were only shown about fifteen to thirty seconds of game play on that planet however, so I am doing my best to not throw my hands in the air and scream “liars!” just yet. In many interviews, Bioware has stated that The Old Republic has “a sand-boxy feel to it” and man do they have to live up to that hype now that they have put it out there. If they can't make good on that promise and I am stuck playing in an Aion style prison, they will seriously damage their reputation in my eyes.
Earlier in the Electronic Arts E3 presentation, Greg Zeschuk from Bioware and Mary Bihr from LucasArts spoke a little about The Old Republic before unveiling the “Hope” cinematic. The key points that the pair hit on were PvP and player star ships. Firstly, they talked about how starships would be a rite of passage for players, as well as an expression of their individual style. We keep hearing ships being described as “a home for players to explore the galaxy from”. While those buzzwords do sound well and good, I'm looking for some hard answers on the matter, not just more honey poured into my ear. Next, they spoke about the PvP battlegrounds known as “Warzones”. From the way they make it sound, teams of players will go head to head in combat on certain areas of planets. My first thought is this sounds like Warcraft battlegrounds, which makes me breath a sigh of impotent frustration. I was hoping for a much more robust design choice in terms of PvP and possible instanced battlegrounds seems like a cheap way out. While I do appreciate tactical team based PvP scenarios, I don't want to be pigeonholed into one style of PvP. In WoW, instanced battlegrounds struck a heavy blow to open world PvP and that is something that I hoped wouldn't happen in The Old Republic. This is all speculation as usual however, being that Bioware is playing the stubborn kid that won't put his shoes on in regards to releasing substantial information. Who knows if this is the only PvP system in place for the launch of the game; Bioware could always surprise us.
Right now I feel a bit like a parent whose child is making poor life decisions; it's not that I'm mad, I'm just disappointed. I was expecting much more out of E3 this year from Bioware and yet, hope still remains. I have yet to hear back from Garrett, Jon, and the gang over at the convention to see if they got to get hands on with the game. Their analysis, when explained to me, could very well shape next weeks article towards either the light or dark side of the spectrum. There is still much more show to come this week, so I'll be keeping my nose to the ground in hopes of digging up some more information for you guys and gals. The questions I ask you all this week are; how has The Old Republic's E3 display influenced your current frame of mind on the game? Has your opinion changed, how do you feel about the way that Bioware handles their dissemination of information? How do you feel about the announcements made so far at E3? Keep yourself tuned to the website throughout the week for updated information from the MMORPG.com gang out there in LA. I'll see you all next week with hopefully better (and more) news.