As we wait for the next phase of the Star Wars: The Old Republic press beta to begin, Mike, Chris, Garrett, and I sat down and thought a bit about our Republic Companions. We won’t go into too many spoilers, but below is a brief overview of each and how they behave while playing the game and interacting with the many characters of SWTOR.
Rest assured, those who are worried, that while companions are a main facet of the game, it’s not hard at all to manage them, and it doesn’t make the game suddenly “single-player” because the companions won’t fulfill the need of having more people on harder missions. What they do is add to the story experience the same way characters add to the story of Mass Effect or KotOR. And while it is a little silly to see dozens of Coros Riggses or Aric Jorgans running around, there is some customization to help make them look somewhat different from player to player. Still, it’s a significant thing to mention: everyone has companions, in the beginning you’ll all have the same ones, and it’s a bit weird to see people running around with doting clones. That said, we each feel that the depth of characterization and gameplay is enhanced by having them at your side, so it’s really a double-edged sword.
Read on for more thoughts on each specific companion.
The Smuggler – Corso Riggs
The Smuggler’s first companion is a human by the name of Corso Riggs. He’s literally the second person you meet while playing the Smuggler. And while I won’t spoil much, you two quickly become friends with a common enemy in mind. Though it’s not a loose alliance like you might expect between smugglers and roguish types: Corso really seems to like your character and value him as his “Captain.” He’s a wise-ass, and I get the sense that he’s also a bit green in the world. When you get past the Smuggler’s starting planet, Corso pulls you aside and tells you about how happy he is to be off his home planet and seeing the world. It’s kind of interesting, because it’s almost like you’re being tasked with “molding” him into the hero or villain he will become. He’s definitely leaning on the Light Side though, as I was frequently awarded with his approval whenever I did the goodly deeds of a do-gooder.
Gameplay wise, Corso is a ranged tank that will come in very handy for your squishy Smuggler sensibilities. Playing a bit like a Trooper in this regard, Corso has some handy stuff at the outset like a lasso that pulls enemies in close to him, and a stance that really ups his threat and defense. It makes taking on packs of enemies (a frequent part of SWTOR combat) much more manageable. But I hear that he has other skills later on for more threat management, as well as a damage stance to focus on DPS, and support abilities to help out with healing the like in heated battles. In all, he’s a really helpful chap. Even if he is a bit of a rube.
The Trooper – Aric Jorgan
The Trooper's first companion is a Cathar by the name of Aric Jorgan, a no-nonsense member of the Republic military who the player character butts heads with early in the Trooper's story. Aric ultimately joins up with the Trooper for reasons I won't spoil for you here, but let's just say he's not terribly happy about it. Aric's a real grump, but he's pretty useful in a firefight. Armed with a blaster-cannon of his own, Aric and I double-teamed groups of enemies with hails of blaster fire, ensuring we made short work of anything in our paths.
Initially, Aric can focus on single target damage or AOE damage modes, allowing me to manage his skillset for different situations, though I'm not sure if he gets any other stances later on. Like many of The Old Republic's initial companions, Aric doesn't feel like someone you'd ideally want on your team from a personality standpoint. It's easy to just about hate the cat-bastard before he ends up joining you, so I wasn't all too pleased when I got saddled with him and his whiny commentary, but at least he made himself useful.
The Jedi Consular – Qyzen Fess
For Jedi Consular you get a companion named Qyzen Fess. Qyzen is a Trandoshan and like all other Trandoshans his only purpose in life is to acquire enough points to appease the scorekeeper. You are introduced to him early on but he does not become your companion until later in the story. I will not ruin it for you but the way he is bound to your character is pretty fun. I really enjoyed how this was achieved and being a fan of Trandoshans it made sense why he would follow you.
Qyzen has the ability to draw some agro and can absorb some damage. I let him tank a bit on one of the group instances. I would heal him while he attacked some of the bigger mobs. He has a taunt type skill which allows him to keep mobs from attacking you. This came in handy as a healing Consular. He can hold his own in combat but I did get him killed a few times. As long as I kept remembering to get improved gear to him he was able to help out quite a bit in many situations. While interacting with Qyzen I got the feeling he was very honorable. So if you play your character just as honorable Qyzen's friendship with you will increase rapidly.
Maybe it was my love of Trandoshans but I really liked this companion. Normally these characters don’t play much of a role but it feels like Qyzen is your friend and not just some random NPC given to you.
Jedi Knight – T7-01
Who doesn't want their own R2-D2? Sure Jedi have to avoid attachment to things, but they can attach themselves to a droid… right? T7-01 is the Jedi Knight companion and finding the little droid is one of the coolest parts of the opening story. One of the best things about T7 is reading his dialogue. I don't want to give too much away, but T7 is a welcome companion on your journey as a Jedi Knight. With some great lightening blast skills and the ability to hold off multiple opponents while you can finish some heavy hitters with your lightsaber, T7 is just awesome. I've never seen such devotion in myself towards a droid before... if that makes any sense. You will find yourself totally digging T7's ability to help your character as well as his part in the story.
Now if they can just make a Droid Phone like him.