Star Wars: The Old Republic lets more info escape

Personal starships and PvP give fans what they want

There are few games that have tested the gamer’s patience as much as The Old Republic. Since 2008, we’ve gotten an excruciating drip-feed of classes, features, and a slowly inflated idea of what the game is going to be. Last year’s E3 saw an entire presentation made out of a hands-off demo of one class making a single decision: do you, a Sith Warrior, kill the ship’s captain?

But now, the information snowball is gaining momentum. The way the game will fit together is beginning to shape up, even if we’re still a world away from your journey through the universe becoming slightly clear. However, at every stage, there’s always BioWare’s reluctance to say anything that’s not on the officially known list. And why would it? This is a world of hardcore fans, where even the announcement that people will be able to play a Rattataki bounty hunter is considered hard currency.

BioWare’s official line dictates that it doesn’t say anything until it’s finalized, because it doesn’t want to disappoint people. The truth is probably closer to that it’s controlled by a coordinated strategy to keep the game in the news and fans desperately licking their dry lips. So, here are the recent reveals in full!

Wing commander

Every player gets to fly through space: just not at the beginning

The fans of Star Wars are more demanding than most, and one of the features that always felt non-negotiable was the inclusion of starships. Luke’s time on the Millennium Falcon, bonding with the new people, using the Force against the training remote, and learning to let Wookiees win at holochess – reproducing this will be essential to a game that asks you to live a life in the Star Wars universe.

Daniel Erickson, lead writer at BioWare Austin, explains: “Every player will get their own starship, and there are different starships for all the different types of class. So there’s a Trooper ship, a Smuggler ship, and a Jedi and Sith ship.” From this description, we can assume that the recently-announced advanced classes won’t be receiving unique ships when you pick a path at high levels.

Movable hubs
“The Jedi ship and the Sith ship evoke the Ebon Hawk from the Knights of the Old Republic series, although they are much larger and much more evolved.” But what part do they play in the game? Are they simply glorified mounts? Not at all: “They’re your base of operations, where your companions live, that take you from planet to planet. They’re everything the fans have been asking for, in terms of the fantasy of owning your own starship.” Basically, you can walk around in them. When we ask whether you’ll be able to play holochess, we’re not told no: the rules are out there, and a board has been seen in the artwork so far.

So, do the classes’ home worlds serve as tutorial worlds, a starting area from which you earn your wings and fly free? “Not exactly. There are other ways to get around, so you won’t feel restricted when you start out. We’re not talking too much about how these travel systems work, but eventually you get your ship and you can go wherever you like.” The ship grows with you, and more than just your companions can use it – you can invite other players aboard. It certainly sounds interesting, even if we’re not certain how it’ll work, yet.

What aren’t they talking about...
No one’s talking about where the ships can land and how traveling the universe will work. However, the artwork shows clearly marked docking platforms. Our guess is that you’ll land on one of a small number of instanced hubs, and be forced to explore the planets using other, less cool means. We say less cool, but local transit can be by Return of the Jedi-style speeder bikes. The only downside being you’re not in control of them. So there will be no racing through forests while Ewoks spring traps. A step backwards, if you ask us.

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