Star Wars: The Old Republic Hands-On Preview

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Every great Star Wars story has a beginning. Every legendary character has an origin. From Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s humble beginnings on the desert planet of Tatooine to Han Solo’s shootout at the Mos Eisley Cantina to Emperor Palpatine’s guise as a well-meaning Galactic Senator, these stories introduce us to the many different personalities and cultures of the property’s universe. They give us that sense of mystery and awe while preparing us for the journey ahead. BioWare is looking to recapture those feelings and experiences in Star Wars: The Old Republic by giving each of its eight classes their own origin stories, placing them on an origin planet to begin their journey.

When I got my chance to explore the origin content at the New York Comic Con, I fulfilled a desire that I had since first laying eyes on “A New Hope” by taking the role of a Jedi Knight. My character’s story began as a promising padawan, sent to the Jedi home world of Tython by my masters to undergo the final trials and training before becoming a full-fledged Jedi. After arriving at the Jedi Temple by way of space shuttle, I’m greeted by my new master. Our first discussion is cut short as a communication comes in reporting that Flesh Raiders, a vicious species native to the planet, have attacked the padawan training grounds. What’s worse, the dangerous beings have been armed with and taught to use weapons. As a highly regarded, well-trained, and combat-ready padawan, my new master dispatches me to the locale to test my abilities and help those in trouble.

It’s here where the game transitions from dialogue to action. I run to a nearby shuttle that is able to speed me the short distance to the besieged area. Upon my arrival, I find Flesh Raiders both attacking NPC Jedi as well as sitting camped out nearby. My task turns into a typical “kill X number of Y” quest, requiring that I eliminate 10 of the attackers before reporting in to my master via personal hologram communicator of the success against the first wave. Though the context may have been more heroic, it still felt like a bit of a disappointing return to MMO clichés.

This was also my first crack at the game’s combat in the demo, which also feels like standard MMO fair. While the moves are much more pleasing to the eye, it’s still the basic “stand still and press buttons or click for skills” gameplay that we’re used to seeing since the first modern MMOs came on the scene. It isn’t necessarily bad as I still enjoyed taking out the Flesh Raiders in this system, but once again it’s a tiny letdown for anyone expecting something grander.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

My character had a limited set of skills as I was at the very beginning of the game. I had a standard attack with my vibroblade that built up combo points, which could then be spent for my second slashing attack skill that dealt extra damage. There were also two self-buffing skills, like the Shii-Cho lightsaber form stance. Finally there was a skill to fast-travel to your previously committed location and the meditation self-heal skill that could only be used when enemies were not nearby.

Before sending the communication to my master, I see that another Jedi at the grounds is looking for my help. I enter into a dialogue session where the Jedi informs me that a group of non-combat ready padawans went out on a mission into the wilderness of Tython before the siege and are now missing. I’m given the option to search for them and bring them back to the training grounds, which I accept. After bringing up the map, which turns to a helpful translucence while walking, I set out to find the padawans.

Upon finding them a short distance from the grounds, I discover that they were indeed attacked by a group of Flesh Raiders but were able to fight them off. One of the three young force users is injured and in need of medical attention. Meanwhile, the other two argue over what course of action to take next. One wishes to take their injured friend back so he can heal, while the other wishes to leave their friend behind in order to seek revenge on the Flesh Raiders for ruining their quest.

I reach my first light side vs. dark side decision in the game. I can either order the brash and wavering padawan to return to the grounds with her friends and learn that the Jedi Code does not condone vengeance and anger, or I can encourage those feelings and help the two quench their thirst for blood. Being a true Jedi, I choose to outright deny the irritated padawan her revenge, remembering the words of Yoda in “The Phantom Menace”: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

With the trio rescued and taken care of, I return my attention to contacting my new master and continuing my initial quest. The hologram version of my mentor tells me that the Flesh Raiders attack came from a nearby cave, and that I;m to investigate said cave and find the true reason behind the creatures’ assault.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Upon finding and entering the cave, I’m given a bonus for the quest, a nice feature despite the fact that it is once again another “Kill 10 Flesh Raiders” objective. The bonus isn’t difficult to achieve, as the Flesh Raiders are plentiful in the cavern. After hacking my way through the beasts, I come upon an unconscious and wounded padawan by the rear of the underground base. Once awoken, the padawan instantly warns me of who is really in charge of the Flesh Raiders. Another Jedi, this one fully trained and equipped with a lightsaber, approaches.

This Jedi is no longer a true follower of the light; he claims to be the one commanding the Flesh Raiders. He ordered the attack on the training grounds in order to “cleanse” the “weakness” from the Jedi Order. He intended to use slaughter as a means to “improve” his people and bring about a stronger generation of Jedi in his own sick, twisted way. He offers me to join him, but the game doesn’t give me an option to this early in the game. Instead, my light vs. dark choice is to either try to convince the Jedi that his methods are all wrong and he should surrender peacefully, or merely threaten to kill him and his Flesh Raiders without mercy.

I once again take the path of the light, but the Jedi won’t have it. He attacks me for not accepting his offer, and the battle is on. Before long, I’m the one standing above his corpse, an unfortunate end to the situation. It is then that another Jedi, a true Jedi and not an associate of the one I had just defeated, comes to back me up. After  hearing the other padawans’ accounts of what had happened with the other Jedi, the friendly wielder of the force decides what to do next. With a closing of his fist, my ally causes the back section of the cave to collapse, locking the Flesh Raiders inside and putting an end to the overall battle.

While The Old Republic‘s combat doesn’t seem to be offering anything major in the way of revolutionizing our ideas of what an MMO can be, its dialogue system certainly does. With every line fully voiced, it’s much easier to immerse yourself in the world. Plus, giving the player options in dialogue add a level of choice and personalization not yet seen in a modern MMO. Players will certainly feel like a padawan well on their way to forging their own lightsaber and heading off into the galaxy for grand adventures. Add in the lush and beautiful art design of Tython, and the game truly feels like the beginning of a Star Wars legend.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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