...that is the question.
Ever since first learning about Star Wars The Old Republic back in 2008 I've wanted to play the Smuggler class. I always tend to play "rogue" type characters as my first character in a new MMO, and the chance to be go on a Han Solo inspired adventure appeals to me.
Except I now have a problem that has been building for a while.
With every new class update Bioware is doing a great job of making each class look exciting, interesting and worth playing. The latest case in point is the recently released Trooper class progression video. In fact they are doing such a good job that I currently cannot choose between a Smuggler, Jedi Consular or Trooper for my main character (and that's just on the Galactic Republic side)!
So, I thought it was time for a more detailed look at each class in the hope that it will help me choose which to play. I don't mean a look at statistics and individual abilities, but rather what roles the classes can have and how they feel to play based on what we know so far.
Let's start with the Galactic Republic classes, as I will be playing a Republic character as my main. The information below has been revealed either through official Bioware updates or from journalists and fans invited to various hands-on events.
Smuggler class video
Obviously based on the character of Han Solo, the smuggler can play the roles of ranged dps, burst ranged dps or healer depending on the Advanced Class choice and how the character is specced. The class story for the smuggler has been called a "comedy action adventure" by the developers, with the smuggler always up against impossible odds and "in way over his head". The smuggler's story starts with him being double-crossed and his ship being stolen.
The smuggler has a new game mechanic, being one of the cover classes (along with the Imperial Agent on the Empire side). This means they can roll into cover (natural cover can be highlighted during combat) and whilst in cover they cannot be hit and can use special cover-only skills, which sounds like an interesting twist on normal MMO combat mechanics.
As with most stealth/rogue type MMO classes smugglers can't take much in the way of sustained damage (unless they find and use cover or stealth their way past enemies), but they seem to offer good support roles as well as being able to be specced as pure healers or damage-dealers. The smuggler was my primary choice and remains so for the time being as I like playing sneaky rogue types for my first foray into a new MMO, though I am being swayed towards other choices right now.
I think the story sounds fun and not too serious, which would make a good entry to the game, and the cover systems sounds different and interesting. My only current concern with the class is how well the cover system actually works - is it fluid, fun and effective or is it awkward, clunky and not needed? The only way to find out is to play!
Trooper class video
Trooper progression video
The trooper is based on no particular character from the Star Wars movies, but rather the hordes of Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers that make up the bulk of the armed forces. It can play the roles of a ranged tank, dps or healer (as a combat medic) depending upon the Advanced Class choice and how the character is specced.
Little is known about the class story quest other than you start as a new member of Havoc Squad, an elite squad of Republic special forces marines. There have been hints that much of the story conflict may come from having to decide whether to follow orders or to do what is truly right.
There are several things I like about the trooper class. First of all it just looks amazing, especially with the massive weapons they can wield and the great looking armour. Secondly I like the idea of having a ranged tank, which is a little bit different to most MMO tanking systems - you still have to hold aggro and absorb damage, but do so from range. The class also apparently has great dps.
Another reason for considering playing a trooper is that Jennifer Hale is doing the voice-over for the female trooper. I've written before about how Hale's performance makes playing the female Shepard in Mass Effect such a joy, so I'm hoping she can bring the same steely no-nonsense vibe to SWTOR as well.
I don't have many concerns for the class other than tanks aren't generally my favourite role, at least for my first character, and I would rather play a Consular (see below) for healing.
The Jedi Consular is the class we currently know least about. The class video and progression video for the Consular have still not been released. We do know that it takes it's inspiration from the characters of Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and the journey they took as people with unusual talents, growing into them. According to the developers "the key element of the Consular’s story is mystery, using intelligence and courage to seek the truth" - whatever that means! Hints have been dropped that they must often choose the grey path (neither light nor dark) and bring balance to the Force.
Consulars can fulfil the roles of healer, tank or dps depending on which Advanced Class is chosen and how they are specced.
I'm considering a consular, though not currently as my primary character, because I always like to try playing a healer at some point, and the Consular seems to fit the bill best as a pure healer. I also like the fact that one of the race choices for the Jedi Consular is Miraluka, a force-sensitive race with no eyes - they see everything through the Force. I think this gives them a unique look as they wear face veils over their vestigial eye sockets.
Jedi Knight class video
Jedi Knight progression video
Obviously the Jedi Knight is based on the character of Luke Skywalker from the movies. The class can fulfil the roles of dps or close range tank depending on Advanced Class choice and spec. The class is apparently about getting into close range quickly, dominating a fight and protecting allies.
Not much is known about the Jedi Knight class story and this is a concern for me. Not because I am worried the story will suck, but because from what I've seen story plays a huge part in the game and I'd rather play something that I know I'll be comfortable with to start off. The other main concern I have for this class is that I think everyone and his dog will be playing Jedi at the start. Understandably it's the ultimate Star Wars fantasy for a lot of people, and I'd rather not be one of the herd at the launch of the game.
Overall, I am still aiming to play Smuggler to begin with, but I am not 100 percent decided. Both the trooper and consular appeal as well, and as more information is released there is a good chance I will change my mind. Right now the only class I know for sure I won't start with is a Jedi Knight for the reasons I outlined above.
Part of the issue is the decision to make most of the classes able to fulfil most of the primary combat roles (tank, healer and dps) depending on how they are specced. Whilst this is a great move (it means that flavour-of-the-month classes and unwanted classes are less likely) it does make the decision harder - I can't use my preferred role as the main factor in making my class choice.
So, those are my thoughts right now. I'll be posting again soon with my thoughts on the Sith Empire classes as I'm sure I will be playing for the Dark Side when I begin to make alts.
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