There has been a ton of news from PAX East this weekend regarding Star Wars: The Old Republic that I wanted to share and collate to save trawling all the different fan sites and forums. The overall impression I got from watching all the videos and reading all the Q&As and forum posts is that the game is looking incredible and very polished already.
The week had already started with some unexpected and exciting updates. First off we got the announcement of the innovate pre-launch guild system, then the fantastic new story trailer.
At PAX East Bioware gave some video demonstrations (the best of which I've embedded below) and also had 45 minute playable gameplay sessions based on either the Taral V flashpoint or any of the starter worlds. Consequently there has been a lot of player reports on the game, and a lot of new information, which I'll summarise below.
Lets start with the best of the videos though. Note that most of these videos are taken by visitors to the stand at PAX East. Having said that, they are high quality (clicking through the links will take you to high res versions), the only slight issue being the noise due to the rest of the convention.
First up are a couple of my favourites to come out of the weekend; presentations by Daniel Erickson on the planets Tatooine and Hoth. The reason I like these is because they show off the art style really well and are confirmation that the higher level planets are absolutely massive with huge, wide open vistas.
Next up we have the on-stand demonstration of the space combat mini-game, which looks like a lot of fun.
Finally we have an official video release which shows 16 minutes of real gameplay footage from the Taral V flashpoint (instanced dungeon), along with developer comments. The game looks to be shaping up really nicely, and it's good to see some real gameplay footage at last. It's definitely worth downloading the high-res version if you are interested.
As I said, there are loads more video available (click here for an idea), but these were the ones I liked best.
Right, time for a wall-o-text! Here is all the new (to me at least) information from the convention, collated in one place. Props to all the info sources that I've linked to.
- Currently there are no companions allowed in end-game raids or flashpoints. This may change. Source: Darth Hater
- Companion romances are possible and very diverse, with "dozens" of different story arcs. Source: Darth Hater
- Some are classic romances while others are bad relationships, with one even cheating on you. "After romancing her you will come back to your ship and see a guy leaving it". Source: Darth Hater
- Armour of different colours can be equipped. There is an optional "colourmatch" system that evens out the colours on equipped armour to give a consistent look. Source: Darth Hater
- There are alignment-specific pieces of equipment in game. Source: Darth Hater
- Best gear comes from three sources; multiplayer end game (raids), crafting, and pvp. Source: Darth Hater
Encounters and Combat
- Some worlds will have a world-boss that will take several groups to take down. Source: Darth Hater
- Ranged classes will have snares and some melee abilities to even out the playing field against melee classes (in PvP?). Source: Darth Hater
- Flashpoints are spread out evenly across the levels once you leave the origin worlds. Source: Darth Hater
- For multiplayer conversations you do not need all the players present. Those absent can join in as a hologram. This limits some conversations choices though (such as threatening physical violence). Source: Official Forums here and here
- Alderaan is huge, around the size of 7 or 8 World of Warcraft zones. Source: Darth Hater
- There is no day/night cycle. Apparently this was a technical decision due to so many worlds being in the game, many with multiple suns and moons. Source: Darth Hater
- Even though there is no day/night cycle you will visit the same places at different times of day. Source: Official Forums
- Terrain effects gameplay. Trees and objects block line of sight and blasters. Source: Darth Hater
- There will be no non-contextual holiday festivals (Christmas, Easter etc). There will be Star Wars lore-specific holidays. Source: Darth Hater
- There are story reasons for high level characters to return to their origin worlds. This will ensure new players will be able to meet and see high level characters. Source: Darth Hater
- Origin worlds are off-limits to players of opposing factions. Source: Darth Hater
- There is no sidekick system, but they are considering a mentoring system "some time in the future". Source: Darth Hater
- Non-combat aesthetics (pets? costumes?) are in game, but they are not yet ready to talk about them. Source: Darth Hater
- Guild wars may be introduced post-release. Source: Darth Hater
- Guild capital ships may be in at release; if not soon after. Source: Darth Hater
- There will be no full zone phasing system. The only phasing will be in instanced rooms to keep groups together. Source: Darth Hater
- There is currently no threat meter, but they are planning to add such features just before or after launch. Source: Darth Hater
- Morality in story conversations will effect character skills, but will not cripple the character (for example if a Sith Inquisitor consistently chooses Light-side conversation options). Source: Darth Hater
- Repairs and mounts are in-game. They are gold sinks. Source: Darth Hater
- Price not finalised, but a fee of $15 per month was suggested. Source: Darth Hater
Finally you can find a whole lot of user reviews of the PAX East play sessions here. They have usefully been collated in the first post.
If there is any more news from the convention regarding SWTOR I'll post it here as an edit.
Right, that's enough Star Wars for one week I'm sure you'll agree! Next time I'll be giving my early impressions of Dragon Age 2.