This past weekend at PAX East we got the chance to sit down with Star Wars: The Old Republic. The show was sold out and the Star Wars line was quite a wait to get in and play, thankfully early Saturday morning they opened it up to press. So we ran through what was called a Flashpoint. More on that later, for now I can say this was the first build we have seen in a long time from Old Republic and the game has definitely made some major improvements in the last few months. With expectations high, Star Wars definitely delivered with this build and surprised our team at PAX.
First let’s talk about the Flashpoint. The Flashpoint is really just an instanced dungeon that is woven into your story line. So consider it similar to running a normal instance with a small group of players. The instance took place on Taral V in a jungle setting. Our team made up of about four players had to go in and rescue a Jedi from the Republic. The game setting looked great and the instance ran very smoothly. One of the best things Star Wars: The Old Republic has done is to improve on the pace of the game from the last time we had seen it. As far as the term Flashpoint being used for an instance dungeon, it sounded fine, especially when you realize how it fits into your story. We played a Republic strike force, and I did ask if there would be an opposing style Flashpoint for the Sith, who are running a different mission in the same zone; I quickly got a “no comment.”
I was playing a Jedi Guardian and the class had a lot to offer in terms of combat and control. My role in the fights was really an off-tank to the Trooper who was leading our team as the main tank. The Trooper could take a lot of punishment so he was handling the big jungle monsters and imperial heavies. The Guardian allowed me to make quick melee work of the other groups we fought. More relying on the light saber than the Force to accomplish goals, the Guardian still had a lot of options. With some great attacks and power ups the Guardian can control agro and finish enemies quickly. Again I want to point out the speed of the game which has improved drastically since the last build we saw. The light saber fighting flowed much faster and felt more like an action RPG.
In the Flashpoint we fought our way through the jungle to get to the Imperial base. We had a Vanguard Trooper, the Jedi Guardian, and a Scoundrel Smuggler. I could not tell what the Jedi Consular specialization was. From what I saw the Scoundrel was really a support class. The Smuggler stayed away from direct combat and kept us all alive with med drones which translated into what many MMO players would interpret as regular healing. The Vanguard Trooper was a straight up shooting tank. The class took a ton of punishment and was able to drop foes as we approached them with rapid fire. Being a support tank with the Jedi Guardian I unfortunately did not get to see much from the Consular player in our group. Overall the team I was with worked very well and the classes definitely had to support each other to get to the base. No one was bored by any means.
The demo was fast paced and full of action. Much different than my impressions of the game from E3 2010. The personal story line kicked off the Flashpoint and players got right into the action. The demo was highly focused on game play and did not disappoint with the number of options and abilities each character at their command. This build for Star Wars: The Old Republic was the best yet and it left me wanting to play a lot more. It also left me truly wondering what character class to choose. I really liked the Guardian and look forward to future demos in 2011 as we get to E3 and PAX Seattle. Bioware has definitely been hard at work during the winter months and it shows. Star Wars: The Old Republic looked amazing at PAX East and left me wanting more.