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BioWare | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 12/20/11)  | Pub:LucasArts
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PvP in the Old Republic

By Guest Writer on December 15, 2010 | Interviews | Comments

PvP in the Old Republic

Any fan of Star Wars: The Old Republic is probably approaching the game from many different angles. After all, most information for the game has been focused on the hundreds of hours of voice work and the Bioware pedigree story telling. This is all grand and good, but any good MMO doesn't just rely on the first portion of the game. End-game and PvP is just as important, and if The Old Republic gets too caught up in telling stories, the actual game could suffer.


Thankfully, we've had the chance to talk with Gabe Amatangelo, Lead PvP Designer on The Old Republic. Spending some time with him, it's clear that BioWare really wants to make this a game that not only shines in the story, but seamlessly melds it with traditional MMO gameplay stylings. Traditional PvP elements like banners and flags have been changed to stage specific goals. Called warzones, each PvP area offers unique and special elements to keep things fresh, as well as remind players of the universe of The Old Republic. Amatangelo had a lot to say about this, so read on more for his side of The Old Republic.

When you went about designing the PvP element of the game, you really went about integrating the story and the narrative and make the actual PvP elements make sense in the world. How did you go about that?

Gabe Amatangelo:

So like you are saying, we wanted to make the feel of the battle very immersive. We wanted to take out the sort of “otherworldly elements” like banners and flags, and stuff like that. Now when I say “take out” we gave it a visceral coat of paint, because ultimately when you have an objective based PvP type thing, you can say “Hey, there are objectives, there are banners,” but it's a lot more interesting when it's a gun that you are trying to re-aim to an enemy's ship to eventually see it destroyed. I channeled scenes out of Star Wars, like what if we were playing in a scene, and that' what it is. Players will find when they play it that different things will be going on. Key things, like having a tactical appraisal of the PvP, and knowing how to react or be proactive, etc, all that stuff will be very clear. Additionally, there will be a lot of visual Easter eggs, so to speak. So you might be looking up and catch “this” one time, and you might be catching “that” another time. Particularly in the end sequence, you might see your ship go down, then another time you'll look and see stuff going on the ground during the end sequence.

During the battle, any area you are on the map, you'll be able to see the turrets and where they are firing. You won't need to use UI. I mean, the UI elements are there, and we have a cool sort of UI element that in it of itself is very visceral, as you're seeing guns actually aim at ships on the UI element, so you can reference it there, or you can just look inside the game world and see it where the guns are firing.

So in these multiplayer instances, how many players can be involved in it?

Gabe Amatangelo:

Well, that's going to change as testing and time goes on...well, it might change. Currently, it's set at 8v8.

And how big are the areas people will be running around in?

Gabe Amatangelo:

Hmmmm, how can I define the size of the....I mean, it's appropriate for that size. [laughs] It's the best way to put it. It gives you enough distance that you are making and investment into what sort of area you are at, but at the same time it's not so much distance that you are not going to say “hey, I want to move to another area and attack it or defend it or whatever.” It has enough distance that it has key points that you can see when people are going to attack you, so you have a moment to type and say “Hey, I need some help! Incoming! Blah blah blah!” That kind of stuff. The team and I, we've worked on PvP for quite some time on other titles, so those little nuances, we kind of put into this experience.

I know that Bioware isn't a company known for its multiplayer games. What did they have to do to make sure this is a perfect multiplayer experience in regards to PvP?

Gabe Amatangelo:

Like I said, it's like, what does it mean? Player versus player, Bioware's cinematic style. Do you go for a cinematic style with cinematic conversations with one another and trade insults back and forth? No. So, what is it? Well, they gave me and my team the freedom to do what we needed to do to make it a fun player vs player experience that isn't impeded by conversations, but at the same time is at its heart that immersion that is very Bioware centric. At the end of the day, yes, you have the choices and the dialog, but overall just the world and the experience in Bioware games is immersive. We translated that to a PvP experience.

I noticed something that's special about the Star Wars universe is that you've got characters with light sabers, and you've got characters with guns, hiding behind cover and popping over. How did you balance that, as you are going to have players rush ahead, and then you'll have players who can run back really far, shoot shoot shoot, and then run off.

Gabe Amatangelo:

That's a great question. The cover system in PvP, and even in PvE, I think is just so bad ass. I think it's awesome, as it gives it a whole other element to MMO combat, another feel that just takes it to the next level. It's another component. I mean I'm really excited about cover. Now as far as balancing it, as testing and time goes on, we'll continue to tune things, but there's a number of things that can happen. For example, someone is planted in cover, and perhaps they have a specialization that makes it so people can't charge them, while they are in cover, and it allows them to keep the gap for a little while. We're going to toy around with things like that, as well as other things, and we'll get the balance there as well as balance gets in an MMO.

When you were talking about PvP earlier today, you mentioned that players will be able to earn tokens and experience points, as well as the loot. You said that for people who have been looking forward to this game, this is a really big deal. Can you describe why that's a big deal and what some of the rewards will be for players?

Gabe Amatangelo:

I think that the community, and especially the PvP members of the community, they want to know “am I going to get experience for PvP, or will it be a side thing?” No, they will get experience, they will be able to progress their character through PvP if they want to, or a combination thereof, or etc. I wouldn't say it's a big deal for the middle eighty percent of players, but it's a big deal for the players who are very PvP centric, knowing they can progress their character in PvP. So yeah, you'll be getting experience for PvP, at the end of warzone, for killing players, things like that.

And for tokens, you'll be getting it in a similar fashion, and they'll be able to be spent on different things like PvP gear, PvP potions, stim packs rather, and stuff like that.

Anything else you'd like to say about the PvP experience for The Old Republic?

Gabe Amatangelo:

Well, in the months to come, we'll be talking about a number of other features that I'm really excited to about in regards to PvP, and just stay tuned. And of course, there's a completely separate warezone taking place on a derelict ship with a completely different mechanic from Alderaan.

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